Saturday, April 7, 2007

Round 4: Major Build Part1 - Steg K Competition Series K2.02 Amplifier, Amp Rack and Subwoofer Box

Having decided on another amp to power the Focal 27KX sub I set about doing research on getting the best amp with the available budget I had. I was initially keen to get another Steg QmosII amp to complement the 105.4x that I was going to use. However news of Audio Active's (The Malaysian distributor for Steg) launch of the latest Steg K Competition series amp changed by mind. The K Competition series is very competitively priced against the QmosII and best of all had decent damping factor (1000) compared to the QmosII series (>500) and also very very competitive power output. Most sub playing enthusiast will tell you that high damping factor is a very good thing to have as far as driving subs are concerned. There has been some debates on the K Competition series's the sound quality but hey I'm only using it to drive the sub. And being unable to audition and do comparisons there's only so much I'm willing to pay. Welcome to the wonderful world of ICE in Penang where you can spend big bucks without getting a chance to decide if the sound quality balance is right for your ears in the first place.

I finally settled on the K2.02 2 channel amp as it was a tad cheaper than it's closest equivalent the QmosII QM 220.2X. The K2.02 makes up to 615watts into 4 ohms when bridged to mono mode. More tech details in Steg's K Competition Series amplifier web page. Serious stuff but hey the Focal 27KX sub is a serious subwoofer :) The amp cost me 2.3K smackers damage by the way. Pix below of my K2.02 amp upon unpacking from box. The black satin finish looks cool but smudges easily. For power hungry junkies there are bigger more power K Comp series amps in the range.

With the amp decision made I had to decide on my config. Settled for the QmosII 105.4x amp bridged into 2 channel and high passed to drive the Focal K2Ps while the K2.02 is bridged into mono mode and low passed to drive the Focal 27KX sub. The Bremen HU features a separate sub-out and high/low pass filters to make my life easy.

Now most people would just wire things up and live happily ever after but not me. With the total equipment and cabling cost approaching 15K at this point I just had to have an install that was aesthetically pleasing. More like IASCA World Class Actually! Blame it on this web page! I set about discussing with Uncle on how to have such a build and soon my car was parked at Uncle's. Turned out to be quite an adventure too!

The size of the amps and layout proved to be quite tricky for the amp rack as this also had to accommodate the subwoofer box. I settled for a 1.2 cubic ft box to ensure that my bass is nice and tight. Also with this size the box can be positioned side by side with the amp rack. Apart from looking world class my brief to Uncle was that I wanted max boot space and of course to retain my spare tyre. The Slowtra is a daily driver after all and not some show car :P Quite a challenge eh? Pix below of the amp rack being fabricated from MDF. Would've been nice to use Nomex honeycomb carbon but NO budget.

The little black box is the fan. With everything enclosed a fan is needed to ensure proper cooling air circulation so that things don't get too hot! And here's my beefy subwoofer box.

Pardon the picture quality. Only had time to visit Uncle's after work during week days and only had my Nokia 6630 phone then for picture taking duties. Things would be quite dark by then and the poor Nokia was maxed out in it's pix taking capabilities. And here's the picture of the pylons and part of the false floor platform already situated in the Slowtra's boot. The amp rack and sub-box would be located on top of the platform.
Picture below of the amp rack, sub box and false floor in place.

Everything would be covered up by this panel! Took quite a while to fabricate as the clearances had to be correct to clear the boot hinge. Panel will be wrapped in vinyl material for the oem look.

Finally after 2 weeks things looked much more presentable. The bottom of the rear deck where the stock speakers were previously located is covered up by another panel. I settled for an old school Rockford Fosgate AGU fused distribution box as this looked much more elegant than the latest riced up versions. The sub box has been wrapped in boot upholstery at this point. The funky looking holes are for the fan. The amp rack incorporates neon blue lighting while the mini compartment for fused distribution box makes do with LED blue lighting.

Uncle even fabricated a mini-rocker switch for me just in case I wanted to have the lighting turned off with the boot opened. Pix below of the switch in it's discreet location. Guess where this is?

Picture below of the spare tyre well's cover panel's bottom surface. The cover is also fabricated from MDF. To take out the spare tyre simply lift out this panel like the stock cover Really neat.

Things are nearing completion after bout 3 weeks. The various cables (interconnects, speaker cables & power cables) alone cost me more than 2K! Will cover the cabling in a separate article.

Fab work from Uncle David. Only problem is the usage of mild steel fasteners. Arrggggh! Had to personally make a couple trips to my fastener shop to purchase stainless steel items for Uncle. Amps are now in place and wired up.

The brackets at the side are meant to hold panels to cover up the exposed areas in the amp rack including the cabling. Told Uncle to remove brackets. Not going to cover up my megabuck cabling! Pix below of the front cover panel after wrapping in vinyl. The front cover panel is secured in place only by 2 screws. Simple to remove when maintenance work is required.

Pix of work completed and everything installed. Temporarily using thin perspex transparent panels where the amps and fuse box are. These are fastened to the front cover panel via self taping screws. Have on order thick acrylic panels but these take time to machine and will be fitted later. Super neat and classy looking IMHO.

Was ready to drive home at this point but then a Bro of mine by the name of Eric Lim aka Iceless had to let me audition his megabuck system using TRU Technology Billet Series amps. The amps sounded so good and out of this world that I just had to get one to replace my Steg Qmos II 105.4X. This meant I had to modify the amp rack a bit as the TRU amp has different dimensions compared to the Steg. Luckily the TRU amp isn't that much wider than the Steg and still able to sit in the 105.4X's original position. Doing the required mod meant everything had to be dismantled again. Bummer! Stay tuned for Round 5! :)