Car stereo 3: 2014 Ford Focus Wagon

2014 Ford Focus Wagon Titanium

In November, 2014, I upgraded my small compact car to a new Ford Focus Wagon. It's a 125 hp Ecoboost Titanium trim, manual 6-speed, with a few gadgets thrown in for good measure, like navigation, dual zone climate control, heated windscreen and SYNC smartphone connectivity. Actually it was a special "Ecoboost Edition Plus"; a sort of blow-out sale of then-current stock to speed up the arrival of the 2015 Focus. The price was substantially reduced (about €4000 down from the list price) and the car was ready almost overnight. I even got a very reasonable trade on the Daihatsu. I've owned a station wagon before (a Fiat Marea Weekend), so it feels like coming home, although the Ford is a much more powerful, yet much more refined and much more luxurious car. And it doesn't have 170000 km on it.

Back on topic! After listening to the stock 6 speaker system for a few weeks, I decided the first upgrade would be the tweeters. The stock tweeters sounded muffled and veiled. I popped the covers and saw half decent soft dome tweeters looking like they should sound better than they did. I took their measurements and started looking for suitable replacement units. For the time being I left the covers off so I could more easily make the swap. Then I drove with music on for a while and lo and behold! They sounded loads better. Louder, brighter, the works! It was the stupid covers that made them sound so bad! So...

I simply modified the covers. I cut out as much plastic as possible without damaging any of the clips, and wrapped the entire cover in speaker cloth that I know sounds transparent, which I stuck onto strips of double sided tape. Some tweaking was necessary to put the covers back on. Done. Cheapest sound upgrade ever.
  

I simply modified the covers. I cut out as much plastic as possible without damaging any of the clips, and wrapped the entire cover in speaker cloth that I know sounds transparent, which I stuck onto strips of double sided tape. Some tweaking was necessary to put the covers back on. Done. Cheapest sound upgrade ever.

This is what it looks like after modification.
  

This is what it looks like after modification.


For the time being I'm keeping the speakers in the front and rear doors. I hope they will sound better (less boomy, less mushy) when they no longer have to supply the lower register.

So, on to actual installing the stereo. First things first. Even a light car stereo, like this one, needs good juice. The best way to go about getting good juice is to run a positive supply wire directly from the car's battery. The battery is under a tidy cover that comes off easily.

I ran the main supply wire directly from the battery terminal to a fuse installed on the side of the battery box.
  

I ran the main supply wire directly from the battery terminal to a fuse installed on the side of the battery box.

The battery box has an opening on the left large enough for even the heaviest gauge.
  

The battery box has an opening on the left large enough for even the heaviest gauge.

Then it runs through the engine compartment to the passenger side...
  

Then it runs through the engine compartment to the passenger side...

...where there's a large grommet behind the glove box. From there, it runs underneith the passenger door to the seat. The door seal comes off really easy but the door step takes a bit of force to take off, but once that's done you have a lot of room for cables.
  

...where there's a large grommet behind the glove box. From there, it runs underneith the passenger door to the seat. The door seal comes off really easy but the door step takes a bit of force to take off, but once that's done you have a lot of room for cables.


Next up: rewiring the head unit. I looked up the wire color coding of the head unit, and cut the the front speaker wires and the antenna power wire. I left the rear speakers connected.

I hooked up the cables to and from the amp to an industrial connector and socket, so reconnecting the original layout will be a breeze.
  

I hooked up the cables to and from the amp to an industrial connector and socket, so reconnecting the original layout will be a breeze.

This is everything hooked up, including the amp remote, for which I used the aforementioned antenna power wire.
  

This is everything hooked up, including the amp remote, for which I used the aforementioned antenna power wire.


For the amp I picked the same spot as in my previous car: under the front seat. The passenger side this time, because it's easier to route the wires to and from there. The subwoofer cable runs underneith the rear door to the trunk. The remote and speaker ins and outs run through the center console.

Here's the wiring mess after everything was routed under the panels.
  

Here's the wiring mess after everything was routed under the panels.

I kept all wires long enough to reach the back seat so I wouldn't sprain my back wiring the amp.
  

I kept all wires long enough to reach the back seat so I wouldn't sprain my back wiring the amp.

As long as I'm still tweaking the amp settings, I will keep the amp slid from under the seat. Once I'm done I'll hide it from view.
  

As long as I'm still tweaking the amp settings, I will keep the amp slid from under the seat. Once I'm done I'll hide it from view.


Last but definitely not least: the subwoofer. A big question rose: do I use what I have on the shelf, or do I buy a new subwoofer driver? I don't need to show off my car stereo (never cared much for that), nor do I need 140 dB. I'd settle for something small and inobtrusive, yet powerful enough to blast away any daily frustrations on my commute. I still have a second Monacor SPH-300KE, an excellent 12" hifi woofer (the first went into our home theater system), but it requires a rather large cabinet of 70 liters. The SPH-300TC woofer coming out of my previous car setup is now over 20 years old, and while it's in good condition, I don't think I should be using it anymore. A dedicated car sub driver like the €90 Hertz ES200.5 doesn't exactly cost the world and only needs a tiny cabinet of 11 liters, and it performs almost as good as the SPH-300KE does in a 70 liter cabinet, while only needing about 50% more power.

So, scrap that idea of using off-the-shelf woofers, I'm buying a new Hertz ES200.5.
  

So, scrap that idea of using off-the-shelf woofers, I'm buying a new Hertz ES200.5.


In a station wagon there's no question where to put the subwoofer: in the trunk. Still, I wanted it to take up as little floor space as possible, so...

I built a narrow upright cabinet, to be installed against the back seat, and neatly fitting under the roller cover bar. It's a closed cab of around 15 liters, which gives a nicely damped response with a Q of around .65. I wrapped it in self adhesive black carpet and used the (trimmed) steel grill I took out of the old sub.
  

I built a narrow upright cabinet, to be installed against the back seat, and neatly fitting under the roller cover bar. It's a closed cab of around 15 liters, which gives a nicely damped response with a Q of around .65. I wrapped it in self adhesive black carpet and used the (trimmed) steel grill I took out of the old sub.


There was a slight hiccup. The back seat has a slightly curved backside, that I hadn't measured, and I had to correct for that in the cab. It got pretty messy because of that, so that's why I'm not showing you the bare build of the cabinet.

So right now I have everything hooked up, and I'm doing some stress testing to see if it needs more tweaks.

Comments

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