From mquraish at 6SpeedOnline.com
Location: Seattle, WA
Finally found a great car audio installer.
Hi all, I’m new to the forums as a member. I’ve been an avid DIY car enthusiast for many years now (’81 RX-7, ’90 Miata, ’93 RX-7, ’01 330xi) having done much of my own maintenance, upgrades, and tinkering. I have finally made it up to the Audi A6. I love the car, but the Bose sound system is not quite what I was looking for. I did not have the time or energy to do this myself now that I have 2 young ones, so I shopped around for a custom stereo shop that would cut no corners and had a passion for what they did. I “interviewed” many local shops in the Seattle greater metro and surrounding area and found Systems Unlimited in Bellevue, WA. Charles Maddy is the owner, has been around for 23 years, and does impeccable work. His lead installer on my car was Mike R. They are both passionate about their craft like no others I’ve ever met in the business. They sell quality, and stand 100% behind their workmanship. Now I will say that if you are price shopping to find the best deal on components or an install, stop reading. This post is not for you.
Charles was the ONLY guy I spoke with that was excited to work with me on my install ideas. Rather than the usual “I don’t know if we can do that” all he said was “that would be really cool – let’s do it.” He was a pleasure to work with, and stands behind his work. I know this sounds like an advertisement, but it’s just so refreshing to find a shop like his after dealing with shoddy work and pressure salesmen for so many years that I felt compelled to share his work. I’m happy to answer any questions I can, and I would encourage anyone looking for high end work in any make/model car to seek him out. It seemed like my car was the most mundane in that shop considering the others were Bentley, Ferrari, and Porsche. He’s super personable.
Mike R. was the lead installer and in my experience there are 2 kinds of installers – those who do, and those who try to do. Mike does, and does well. His meticulous attention to detail guarantees that everything fits perfectly, works perfectly, sounds great, and will not break. I made sure they knew that I expected the “20 year install”. I keep my cars for at least 10 years each, so I needed all the top quality install techniques like soldering rather than crimping, running wire loom rather than just zip-tying along, running wires along factory pathways instead of haphazardly, etc.
I can be seen as a PITA customer as I know just enough to be annoying. But Charles and Mike never felt challenged or threatened – they were interested (excited even) to work with me and bring my ideas to reality.
My install is below for anyone wanting to know what can be done in this car.
CAR – 2013 Audi A6 Prestige package
INSTALL GOAL – I wanted a totally stealth install. Stereo tuned such that with only minimal subwoofer gain adjustments, it will faithfully reproduce all genres of music from rock to vocals to rap to electronica.
COMPONENTS – Dyn Audio Esotar front stage with all new speakers, Arc audio amps, Dyn Audio Esotar 1200 subwoofer, Fosgate 360 Sound Processor, Bel STiR radar detector, Blinder Laser QUAD jammer system, Standartplast (STP) deadening material.
FRONT – it’s hard to see since the black plastic grill matches so closely with the black plastic of the Blinder and Bel components. The Bel detector is mounted nice and high, and the Blinder detector/jammers are right next to the headlights. Other shops recommended I place them all low to the ground in the last rung of the grill (easier install, but WRONG thing to do). Anyone who studies up on laser jammers knows you stealth the car, not the install.
BACK – due to the silver car, the rear detectors are pretty easy to spot if you are looking for them, but otherwise seated nicely. They sit just a few millimeters under the trunk lip. I saw the wire routing, and it’s appropriately sealed along the side of the taillight so there will be no leaks.
BEL/BLINDER DISPLAYS – the Bel comes with a dot matrix style display that we mounted in the mirror – it’s not etched so when the display is off, the mirror looks like normal (no cutout showing a display behind it). The Blinder only has a red LED that alerts it’s doing something, and the brain of the Blinder does the voice alerts (the eventual plan is to relocate the brain’s speaker to the headliner console). Both Bel and Blinder units will mute the factory radio when they alert.
BEL SPEAKER – the Bel speaker for voice alerts was taken apart and the speaker and circuit board were rewired/relocated into the headliner console. Now the voice alerts are crystal clear as they are right next to the driver/passenger. I will eventually have the guys locate a second speaker there to accommodate the Blinder voice alerts. Kudos to Mike (installer extraordinaire) who took it upon himself to do this since he felt it would have made the install better.
BEL/BLINDER KILL SWITCH – I wanted a stealthy kill switch for the radar/laser combo that would instantly turn on/off the units with one flick of a switch. Mike built a custom bracket and locked it onto the bottom of the gear shift boot. All functions of the gear selector still work without any compromise (even the tiptronic action).
BEL/BLINDER USB COMS – The Bel and Blinder units have USB communication for database and firmware updates. The guys built a custom bracket that blends right in at the factory fuse box location in the driver’s side dash panel.
BEL/FOSGATE CONTROLS – The Bel STiR and the Fosgate unit have controllers that needed to be mounted in such a way that they were readily accessible, but relatively hidden. Thanks to the huge compartment in the center tunnel just in front of the gear selector, I had a covered compartment that easily fit the units, they were recessed into the compartment so the install was much cleaner than the usual “double stick tape” method other shops my use.
DOOR SPEAKERS – the mids were replaced with 3.5″ Esotar 430s and the factory 5″ ported woofers were replaced with 8″ woofers pulled from an Esotec System 362. The Bose speakers and enclosures were all removed and new custom molded plates were made utilizing all factory bolt patterns so that the original equipment could be thrown back in down the road in case I decided to remove it when selling the car. The components are made of thick plastic that was heat molded to fit perfectly, and last forever – any wood-based enclosure would have eventually rotted and been ruined by the damp climate here in the Pacific NW.
Bose woofer enclosure in place – removed – replaced.
Bose paper thin mid replaced with meaty Esotar 430
SUBWOOFER – Bose paper woofer gone, and Esotar 1200 sub mounted in stock location with carpet covered back deck bracing complete with an LED strip to provide some actually usable illumination to the gigantic trunk
CENTER/TWEETS – The dash had the tweeter and center channels replaced with the Esotec 342 bundle tweeters, and an Esotar 430 mid, respectively. Notice the GPS aerial for the Bel STiR next to the Esotar 430. This really fills in a cleanly blended front stage with matching sonic qualities between the doors and center.
AMPS/DSP – Arc audio amps (3 of them) and a Rockford Fosgate digital sound processor are tucked away in the driver side quarter panel. The factory Bose amp bracket was removed, and Mike (again, working on his own accord to make sure the install was impeccable) custom built a beautiful set of brackets to accommodate all the new components along with the original Bose components, and not take up ONE INCH of my trunk, nor cut one hole in the factory panels. It was just amazing workmanship to deliver my impossible request of leaving this daily driver fully usable, and demanding it have a stellar soundstage. The system was tuned to have flat response across the entire spectrum and center stage was time aligned to be in front of the driver, not the center of the car. Also, the DSP only runs the front sound stage and the sub. Otherwise, the rear channels are still run by the factory Bose. I saw no need to spend more money on the rear passengers. And rear fill is unnecessary for me unless I was watching a movie (which do I have briefly and the LFEs are pretty impressive now!).
SOUND DEADENING – Sound deadening was accomplished with Standartplast, or STP, on all major panels including the doors, trunk lid, and rear quarter panels. This gives each surface a good dull thud when you bang on it, and it has prevented any body panel vibration noise. It’s a Russian company that uses the technology derived from cold war deadening of their submarines. Their regular deadening mat is about 30% thicker and heavier than Dynamat Xtreme. Sorry, didn’t catch any pictures of this.
VCDS PROGRAMMING – Luckily Mike R. has experience with VCDS programming and has has the real Ross-Tech cable. They were able to enable Video in Motion, Gauge Needle Test Sweep, Windows/Sunroof operation from remote, double chirp on unlock, removal of nav warning when entering data at speed, enabled hidden menu.
IF YOU MADE IT THIS FAR, THANKS FOR READING AND I HOPE YOU GOT SOME IDEAS FOR YOUR OWN RIDE.