This is by far one of the most challenging jobs I have completed to date. It was a build that was mostly communicated through using WhatsAp as this client resides in Russia. The idea behind this Rubicon build was to design it completely around the client needs. He wanted to have the ability to have an off road vehicle that had a stealth reference audio system. Typically, these two things do not go together. So we had our work cut out for us in order to come up with a sleek OEM looking design that could work in conjunction with the vast amount of off-road accessories.
Since we have the ability to adjust and conform the design around usable space, we started with the off-road accessories. Rigid lights were added in every single nook and cranny of the Jeep. If you look close enough, some lights have lights. The client gave us a list of lights he wanted and where he wanted them on the Jeep. We took his wish a step further and wired in a relay network to use the ambient lighting and were able to trigger them to work with parking, turn and brake lights. So each Rigid light had a factory function associated with its spot light. All of the lighting accessories are controlled through through touch from the 10” Alpine Restyle Radio. The vehicle was outfitted with Body Guard bumpers, fenders and step bars. The inserts were paint matched to the body color of the vehicle. Custom acrylic license plate holders had to be fabricated in order to work with his European License. The front license plate features a built in housing for the front Alpine camera. A compressor and tank were installed to hide under the vehicle on aluminum brackets to give the client the ability to put air in his tires in an off road situation. A junction was flushed into the side of the front bumper for easy access.
The factory battery was removed and replaced with the largest XS Power AGM battery that would fit. Low profile aluminum battery posts had to be made in order to clear the hood and accept all of our additional power runs. A mount was made towards the firewall to house two Stinger circuit breakers that would be the main power to our audio equipment. A weatherproof fuse holder was installed under the hood for easy access to all accessory fusing.
The entire interior was removed and SoundShield acoustic treatment (18 tubes) was applied for a total of 4 layers on the floor. A layer was also applied behind each plastic interior trim panel. This was to offset the loud environment of the vehicle. Surprisingly, the end result was that of a modern SUV. When driving you didn’t feel like you were driving a Wrangler. While the seats were removed, we installed a leather kit to match the stitching of the seats to the paint of the vehicle.
The original design of the audio system consisted of a Mosconi Pro 1/10 Amplifier on each speaker of the front stage. That consisted of a set of Focal Utopia M TBM tweeters, Utopia M midrange, and 6” woofers. That would be six amplifiers total on the front stage for ultimate isolation eliminating any sort of cross talk. We then would have a Mosconi Pro 5/30 that would run the rear sound bar Focal Utopia WXP active and would then have its mono channel powering a Focal Utopia M 10” subwoofer. During the installation, the client brought up the idea of installing a steel security enclosure for the trunk to conceal the amplifiers and valuables if the top were to be down. This brought us back to the drawing board when it came to our sub bass as any idea of installing a subwoofer in the trunk was now eliminated. A steel enclosure would be the worst place to house a subwoofer enclosure for resonance reasons. The next option I proposed to the client was a passenger footwell enclosure for the Utopia 10. This would have been optimum for staging and would have worked out pretty nicely considering there is a good amount of space that would retain comfortable passenger occupant space. The client asked if there were any other options and the next best option would be to create a front 4 way and use two Focal Utopia M 8” mid bass woofers as kick panel sub bass. We both agreed we would be compromising deep bass for punchy bass and footprint. The client chose the kick panel option as this would work best with his taste of audio as well as space he would be giving up in the front.
We then proceeded to create two kick panel enclosures that take up minimal space and use a dead pedal on the front for an OEM look. The dead pedal design was taken from the brake and gas pedal to have it resemble a factory part. The acrylic grill design was pulled from the factory grill design and emulated to fit our opening. The kick panels bolt directly into the OEM door sill and body of the vehicle. The factory dash pods were modified to fit our Focal Utopia M 6” woofers. Since there were 4” woofers in this location before, the OEM grille had to be modified to allow more air to move through. The factory dash grill was cut out and a new design was made to accent the 6” woofers. These use the same OEM grille design and complimented with Focal badging. Considering we had to now add a midrange and tweeter, the OEM dash location would only allow one. So new pods had to be designed and fabricated to house both of these speakers. I retained the ability to have it snap into the factory location. These pods were finished off with matching silver accents and grilles were created to match the factory appearance. Much like smaller woofers from factory headlining the front stage from factory, the same was to be said for the rear. 4” woofers and tweeters could be found in the rear OEM sound bar. This creates an issue when trying to upgrade because the sound bar is completely molded plastic. So a new design had to be made and the factory inner sound bar had to be cut. A layered acrylic mount was made to house our Focal Utopia M WXP component set and a OEM style grill was used to stealth the speakers into the sound bar.
Our entire audio system ran through a Mosconi 8to12 Aerospace DSP which was tucked under the passenger seat on a steel bracket. The DSP controller was housed in a custom pod that snaps into place right about the rear view mirror. The controller was dissembled from the Mosconi housing and it was bolted into a stacked acrylic mount behind smoked acrylic. This gave the illusion that is was a factory panel and when the car is off, it is completely hidden. The “up” and “down” switches for the motorized MyTop soft top were integrated into this pod as well. Since the Mosconi has a red ring around the volume knob, I thought it would be a good look to do the same with the MyTop switches. This gave a consistent look as everything was illuminated.
The Mosconi was tuned with four presets. The first preset was the ability to use the brains of the audio system which was our main source unit, the Alpine Restyle. The Alpine Restyle completely replaced the OEM source unit and retains the OEM dash controls. Preset 2 and 3 is used by our Astell & Kern SP2000 DAP. Preset 4 is a valet mode in which no speakers are active.
Upon testing and tuning of the equipment, a white noise / switching noise could be heard from the front stage tweeters and midrange. These each were being amplified from a Mosconi Pro 1/10 in SQ mode. With just the speaker connected to the amplifier with no input, this noise was still present. I brought up the issue to tech support at ORCA to confirm an issue with the amplifiers when running in this orientation to a non mid bass / sub bass speaker. So we had to go back to the drawing board and our four Mosconi Pro 1/10 amplifiers were replaced with two Mosconi Pro 4/10. We bridged each amp to each midrange and tweeter. We still separated left and right channels to keep cross talk to a minimum. This eliminated our noise and we proceeded with the installation.
We wanted to completely hide the amplifiers in the vehicle. With this many amps, it would be a tough task. We always try to prioritize serviceability and functionality within our design. So we mounted all the amplifiers on a base plate on the first layer of the trunk floor. We then built it up creating a false floor and trimmed in new side panels to cover the steel enclosure supports. This gave the look a finished trunk rather than just the open carpet concept of the Wrangler. Inspiration was taken from the trunk door insert. This design was implemented into our acrylic side panels. Our side panels trimmed directly into the floor insert and steel enclosure. The floor insert was covered in matching carpet and was designed to be removable in efforts to service the amplifiers and fusing. The front of the trunk is trimmed to the trunk door maximize storage space. This panel separates from the rest of trunk trim to gain access directly to the system fuses.
When everything came together on this project it made for a truly unique Wrangler experience. A complete off-road machine that has reference audio. By far the best Wrangler I have ever listened to. The audio system itself was a ton of effort and work in which looks as if not much, if anything was done. Our first international project is in the books!