photos: Cole Kelly
So when one starts planning out the mods to a car, one thinks in terms of power and style, naturally. Which makes good sense, but what happens if you are an audiophile and want to extrapolate more from your stereo? Over my period of ownership of the TTS, I’ve found that its BOSE system had its limitations and after a great deal of research, found this was mostly due to the factory speakers and amps. The RNSE unit has the potential to run a high fidelity system, but it needed a boost and Audison from Italy created a smart way to harness that potential in their Bit One. This became the new heart of our new car audio set up.
The only shop I would trust to turn out this level of top-drawer custom install in my home town of San Francisco is Sound Innovations of Hayward, California. The owner Ernesto and I sat down for an hour or so and mapped out what would comprise the TTS’ new premium level sound system. My budget was moderate so the fact that the newer “VOCE” line of speakers by Audison were recently released to the American market, got me pretty excited.
During the course of this audio build I insisted on two non-negotiables:
#1. This system and install could not add any additional weight to the TTS
#2. I wanted all of the components to be able to be hidden, or look stock.
We contacted Elettromedia USA, distributor of the Audison line and, about a week later, everything we needed for the install had arrived. First things first. The Sound Innovations crew got right down to ripping the car apart in order to make way for this new system. Junior was the lead on a good portion of the fabrication involved in redesigning the interior of this car and Daniel lent his skills to the technical side of things. He also did his own share of custom fabrication as well.
STEP 2: Sound Deadening
With the car stripped down, Daniel formed out the Cascade Audio sound deadening V-MAX product on the doors and floor pan. This product served in two capacities. It silences the panel rattle plus it keeps the good sounds in and the undesirable sounds out. Its shocking what a big difference a good sound deadening solution (like the Cascade items) make in quieting down the inside of an already well insulated and German engineered car interior.
STEP 3: Hardware Installation
Sound deadening applied, the guys turned their attention to installing MDF trim rings for the VOCE separates. For the TTS, we used the K6 2-way components and the AV 3.0s to handle the mid range frequencies. The heart of this system is really the Bit-One Digital Signal Processor, which allows you to continue using the OEM RNSE or MMI unit in a far more robust way. It affords you the ultimate in flexibility for final tuning of the sound specifically to your car, which you can think of as a custom listening pod tailored to your specific interior. With the Bit One you can even go as far as dialing the sound to be relayed and hit your ears perfectly depending on your seating position!
STEP 4: Bit-One Finishing Touches
Daniel crafted this spring-loaded mount for the Bit-One controller inside the OEM ashtray. As I stated before a good car audio system should be heard and not seen. Going stealth was the only way I wanted to fly. The controller drops down into the ashtray cavity and is completely hidden from prying eyes… when need be.
STEP 5: Blending the Subwoofer
Junior needed to sheer away some of the excess flashing around the OEM rear speaker mounting panel in order to fit the 12” Audison Subwoofer inside the rear passenger side wall. Once again, stealthy is the name of the game here and by having a custom sub enclosure sunk into this rear panel, this leaves the small interior of this car open and useable.
For those of you who don’t know about this process, the guys created a mold from the inside of this new sub woofer cavity. They laid up a few layers of fiberglass to essentially hold the shape, popped it out and continued the lay up in the fabrication shop next door. This pod was reinforced through many stages of glass and resin, in order to ultimately become filled with a loose baffling material to create the punchy high-fidelity bass I was after. I listen to all genres of music and this system needed to be able to perfectly reproduce all of the nuances of well-engineered recordings unlike the factory system, which is flat out unable to get that level of range. Maybe audio is more important to me then other folks, but once you hear what a great car audio system sounds like, it’s hard to accept anything less.
STEP 6: Lightening & Finishing the Amp Rack
It would be a misstep to build a car audio system that added additional weight over OEM to a sports car like the TTS or any high performance car for that matter. Ernie and I took that as a major priority when designing the layout of the amp-rack. Junior used a hole saw and hacked out 3” holes every 3-4 inches to keep weight down and the finished amp rack would only weigh 7 lbs, yet still have the correct rigidity and structure to serve its purpose.
Due to the complexity of this rear section Junior and Daniel built a new set of interior rear quarter panels out of fiberglass and finished them in the same suede as the amp-rack cover panel. It was fascinating watching masters of custom fabrication like these guy, executing what they know best. Ernie and his guys are totally obsessed with the finishing touches and high level details, so when the dust settled this system really looks near stock.
STEP 7: The Reveal
The final reveal happened for me after being out of state for a few weeks. Needless to say I was blown away by the fit and finish of the custom fab work and the sound was well beyond anything I was expecting. The Bit-One DSP combined with the SR1Dk and SR4 SR Series amps clearly have the capacity and range to faithfully power these VOCE speakers and the way the Audison line works together seamlessly is a nod to their overall vision and quality.
The final 2 items on our checklist were to install a custom set of Audison speaker grille badges, and address some weight savings. Removing the entire rear seat assembly, saved us 56lbs and the other big part of this weight savings plan was the instillation of a lightweight Odessey PC1200 battery. According to their website, the battery features 3 times the life, twice the power and, in this instance, 1/3 less weight! With all of the new components, Odessey Battery, custom fabricated panels and sound deadening we still ended up being lighter without the rear seats, by 11 lbs.
Considering the new setup of Project TTS:SF, I struggled with the best way I could demonstrate how superior this Audison sounds through a written installment and a highly compressed youtube video. At this point, I could spout out technical merits and specs, but that’s what the Elletromedia-USA website is for. The goal with final chapter of Project TTS/SF was to share the process of how a high-end system can now be achieved and built, affordably. The bottom line is that Audison and Sound Innovations delivered the goods tenfold.
The Final Note on Project TTS/SF
As a final note, this audio install marks the final installment and webisode of this project series. It’s been a long and fun trip with this car, but it is now time to move on. I would would like to thank you for being the most important part of this build-up. Without your encouragement and feedback this whole series would never have happened. Furthermore, I endorse and support all of the companies who partnered up with us for this series and hopefully you’ll consider doing the same.
The reason most of these companies chose to be involved in this project is because to them it was an organic way to support the scene and be a part of a very different kind of build-up process.