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Alpine CDA-9886 Head Unit

The next component to choose was the headunit, and this was Randy’s most difficult choice of the entire system. Confronted with so many features, options, cosmetics and dancing displays to choose from, anyone can quickly feel overwhelmed. His eyes had glazed over and he looked confused, so I stepped in and pulled him aside. After a bit of logical discussion, we knew he wanted a head unit with AM/FM and HD ready tuner, CD, and maybe Bluetooth. Randy is not an MP3 guy, so no iPod connection was needed, (but it’s getting harder to buy a head unit without it these days) nor did he care for video or navigation. Understanding what you need or want before you go shopping is a big help. Then I told him to go and use a few units, check the feel of the controls, look carefully at the displays and find some choices that are easy to use and operate without really looking at them. Re-energized, with a firm plan of attack, we went back into the demo room and spent the better part of half an hour fiddling with a few radios.

When it was all said and done, his final choice was an Alpine CDA-9886. When I asked him why he chose that model, his reply was simple and logical. “I like the way the volume knob feels and with the animations turned off, the display is real easy to read. The most used buttons are placed where I can use them without looking and the way it’s laid out just makes sense to me. Plus, I’m going to add the HD Radio and Bluetooth options.” That folks is the best set of reasons for choosing a head unit I’ve ever heard. I’d like to think I had a bit to do with the logic involved, but it doesn’t really matter. There are many other good things about the Alpine CDA-9886 as well that came into play during the installation and setup, such as the ability to turn off the internal amplifier and the easy one button press to access the most often used features like subwoofer level and tone settings.

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Alpine PDX-5 Amplifier

To drive all the new speakers, Randy was again attracted to a compact sized solution, and with a bit of help from a fairly knowledgeable salesperson, quickly decided on an Alpine PDX-5, five-channel amp to drive the whole system. The Alpine PDX-5 amp uses a full range Class D design for excellent efficient at all power levels and provides 75 watts to each of the full range channels and 300 watts to the subwoofers. This power mates perfectly with his choice of speakers and maintains his minimalist approach to getting his bump on. The Alpine PDX-5 also comes with built in -12dB front and rear crossovers and a -24dB crossover for the subwoofer output.

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Wiring / Accessories & Custom Enclosure

With all the gear selected, we needed the wiring to make it all work, and for that Randy chose a Stinger SPK5241R 4-gauge Pro Power amplifier wiring kit and some additional Stinger gear. The subwoofer enclosure was constructed out of ¾-inch MDF, and when completed had an interior air volume total of about 0.8 cubic feet. We covered it in matching black trunk liner, and secured it to the chassis with ¼-inch thick custom aluminum brackets I made in my garage. The Alpine amp found a comfortable home on the back side of the enclosure, and a trim panel with the Mitsubishi logo embroidered in red trimmed out the amp and hides all the wiring.


LAST WORDS

The complete system total for Randy’s car came as a pleasant surprise, as he’d been under the impression this was going to cost around 5 grand by the time all the shots were fired. As it turned out, the entire system including the Dynamat and custom woofer box construction and trim work came in at just under $3,000. And in case some of you thought I’d forgotten, the weight of everything we added to the car came in at just under 117 pounds!

Over the course of two weekends Randy and I (mostly Randy) put the Evo back together and when we had it dialed in and tuned, we went for a ride. He was completely stunned at how much quieter and solid the car felt overall. In his words, “This can’t be the same car, it feels more like my S- Class inside!” Well, it’s probably not really as uber-quiet as the big Benz, but once again the benefits of sound control were clear. The Evo’s interior was transformed into a much more peaceful and enjoyable place to spend time. The doors close with a solid “thunk,” and the exhaust resonance as well as the frenetic noises from the turbocharged engine are all now greatly muted. Tire and road noise is reduced as well, and this high performance hotrod is actually quieter inside than a new Galant. The systems general sound quality and output also came as a surprise, the Kicker woofers supply more bass than he’d ever had in a car before and the Alpine speakers contribute clean and articulate output to what is actually a very musical system. Randy’s also thrilled with his new hands free Bluetooth functionality, and is quickly finding his favorite HD stations around the Valley of the Sun.

From my point of view, this was a great build. We came in well under budget and built a simple yet effective system that far exceeded expectations without losing anything that made the car fun to drive! I’m not sure what his next project will be, as the Evo is pretty complete, but he did mention he knows of a 1969 Opel GT in need of restoration and likely a new stereo… happy listening.

 

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