"How to Have Excellent Audio With Original Appearance"
By Shaun Laughy
Shaun has taken a step beyond just installing a radio, he has installs a Sound System, complete with all the bells and whistles that include a sub-woofer masquerading as a LAT -72 radio, a CD changer, and a sneak antenna. A unique approach worth consideration for the audiophile.
Like many Tiger owners, I believe that the most harmonious music comes from the two tailpipes sticking out behind the car. There are times, however, when a little music can go a long way towards improving the enjoyability of the drive -- particularly during long road trips. I also feel it important to avoid cutting up the car unnecessarily in order to install modern, high quality audio components. With these thoughts in mind, I decided to focus my attentions on finding a solution that would give me the best of both worlds: Great sound, with an original appearance, and no additional cutting of the cars structure..
Out with the Old
I can say with complete confidence that many cars have better sound than was in my car when I bought it. Many. Even really old beaters. Two tin cans with a string would get better reception! Basically, the system used an early 80s Blaupunkt AM/FM/Cassette unit tied to two 4 Pioneer speakers. In a questionable moment of artistic flair, the installer had also hidden a small telescopic antenna behind the weatherstrip in the passengers side A-pillar (by the windshield). Even better, as there was no direct path for the antenna cable to follow, it was openly stretched from the door opening to the under-dash area right near the glove box. Needless to say, performance was not enviable from any perspective.
With the understanding that I was probably not going to be able to find anything that looked old while giving me the up-to-date sound that I wanted, I decided to see what options were available for hiding the good stuff away while, at the same time, giving the approximate appearance of an original radio (which I did not have). Tall order!
After much looking, I decided on a product called Secret Audio, which is manufactured by a company called Custom Auto Sound , located in Anaheim, CA. During the search, I also came across a product called Hidden Audio, but this turned out only to be a din-sized Blaupunkt AM/FM/CD unit that had the ability to use a remote control. As I really wanted to have a system that I could hide away but still control fully from a fixed, lighted LCD panel, I chose the Secret Audio system.
Finding the Artist
This was a tough one! Every car audio place I went to seemed to be staffed by young kids who had no understanding whatsoever of what I was trying to accomplish. No matter what I said, they all wanted to install DIN-sized decks in an under-dash enclosure and could not comprehend why I didnt want to harm the car and why I didnt want big speaker enclosures in the back seat. They also didnt get why I didnt think that the stereo itself wouldnt look cool with the big digital display and all. Finally, after thinking that I would never find anyone who really understood my goals, I happened by a small shop (Mobile Man Electronics in Port Moody, BC, Canada) when I was out for a Saturday drive, in late September, 2001. In meeting the proprietor, Bruce Sancan, I finally found someone who got it. As a matter of fact, he was assuming my thoughts and concerns before I even had a chance to relate them to him.
Although we had formed a basic plan, and I had pretty much decided to work with Bruce on the project, the car went into winter storage shortly after our initial meeting and, as a result, I didnt talk to him again until early June of 2002. His first comment was, Oh, you came back!. Then, we immediately fell back into planning right where we had left off.
The Pieces of the Puzzle
I have to start by saying that this system ended up being much more than I had originally intended, and Bruce worked with me to try to minimize the financial impact of the monster we were creating. He sourced several components that were good quality, although not current models, such as the Kef 8 subwoofer, and sold me an MB Acoustics 800 watt amplifier that he had as an unused demo in his shop. For the higher frequencies, he sourced some Cadence 6 two-way speakers with separate mid and tweeter inputs, as well as angle-adjustable titanium tweeters. The balance of the equipment is comprised of the Secret audio head-end, remote display and control unit, 6-disc CD changer and pocket remote control.
The Cunning Plan
Now, the real problem. Where the hell do we put all this stuff so it cant be seen but so it will still work properly?? Some parts were pretty simple.
For example, the Secret Audio head end could be placed under the drivers seat,
while the amplifier could occupy the same space under the passengers seat.