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Next Level Audio Installation

Building an Amp Rack for Show Points and Big Bass

Mar 8, 2018
Contributors: Tim Wepprecht
Photographers: Jeremy Cook
There was a time when building out your truck’s audio system meant adding some quality audio components and calling it a day. But now that’s just the tip of the iceberg for show trucks—and lots of daily drivers. Many truck owners and builders are taking several extra steps to ensure their truck stands out in a crowd, not only with big bass, but with the presentation as well.
Recently, we were out at Audiotistics in Victorville, California, and were intrigued by all the high-caliber builds happening. One such vehicle was a Ram that already had some 12-volt upgrades completed by the shop but was back for a full audio rebuild. The head unit was pretty easy; Tim Wepprecht and the crew updated the double DIN hole with a new Kenwood eXcelon unit. The component speakers (mids and highs) were already replaced in the last go-round. The big change taking place when we discovered the truck was the finishing stages of a giant “blow-through” box that was pretty much bulletproof even before the spray-on bedliner treatment and which took up about half the bed. Housed in the behemoth box are four 12-inch subwoofers from Shok Industries.
Photo 2/37   |   Audiotistics is located in Victorville, California, just a hop, skip, and two jumps from Truckin headquarters. We arrived at one of the nicest showrooms we’ve seen and knocked out the install and amp rack build in a couple of days.
The last aspect of the build—and the one we were interested in following—was the amp rack, which would be located under the rear seat. As is the case with many crew cab trucks, the seatbacks are mounted directly to the cab wall, while the seat bottoms flip right up. So while the sub box opening would be hidden, the area where the amps would be mounted is easily accessible. This is the area Audiotistics would take to the next level.
Amp racks take on many shapes and sizes, depending on where they are mounted. While this one would be pretty flat and straightforward, that didn’t stop Tim and the crew from adding all kinds of tricks and details. Follow along to see what it takes and let them know if you’re looking for something similar in your truck.
Photo 3/37   |   Some of the high-end components we’re using include the Kenwood DDX 6903S with Apple CarPlay in-dash touchscreen along with four 12-inch Shok Industries subwoofers and a Full Throttle FT-1100 battery.
Photo 4/37   |   SounDigital provided the amps in the form of a 1200.4 1,200-watt four-channel amplifier and a 5000.1 5,000-watt one-channel amplifier.
Photo 5/37   |   The Ram we were working with already had a previous interior build, including the smooth and painted bezel that made the Kenwood head unit a plug and play affair.
Photo 6/37   |   The Full Throttle FT-1100 battery was installed in the stock location. The crew also fabbed up the huge power and ground wires and ran them to their destinations.
Photo 7/37   |   The blow-through subwoofer enclosure was built specifically for the bed of the Ram. This thing was built mega-strong and coated with bedliner material for durability.
Photo 8/37   |   From inside the cab, you can see the four 12-inch Shok Industries subwoofers ready for action, as well as the section that seals the cab to the bed and box. With this era Ram, the rear seatback is mounted permanently to the cab wall, concealing the subs.
Photo 9/37   |   But the seat bottom flips up easily, revealing the Audiotistics custom amp rack, the focus for this story. The first step involved using 1/4-inch-thick MDF strips cut 1 inch to get the outside shape of the amp rack. The strips are glued together using CA Glue to hold the shape.
Photo 10/37   |   Now, the template is firmly attached to ¼-inch MDF with double-stick tape.
Photo 11/37   |   Then the outside of the ¼-inch MDF is trimmed off with a ¼-inch flush trim spiral bit from Mobile Solutions.
Photo 12/37   |   Next, the amp rack windows and window insert rings are designed on the program for the CNC router.
Photo 13/37   |   Then we sit and watch as the CNC router cuts out the ½-inch MDF amp windows and rings.
Photo 14/37   |   Before moving on, the Audiotistics crew test-fits the amp rack trim rings on the MDF cutout.
Photo 15/37   |   Then they continue the process by adding a 45-degree bevel on the inside of the amp rack ring to add detail and depth.
Photo 16/37   |   Here is a close-up of the bevel. It’s details like these that add up to a show-quality installation.
Photo 17/37   |   After the amp window frame is attached to the amp rack, a ¼-inch flush trim spiral bit is used to cut out the inside of the amp rack window.
Photo 18/37   |   The window insert is test-fit, making sure the gaps are good for two layers of vinyl to pass through.
Photo 19/37   |   Once again, the spiral bit is used on the table router to cut out the center of the logo insert.
Photo 20/37   |   The logo insert is test-fit into its frame. Then the fun stuff begins.
Photo 21/37   |   The crew begins molding the amp rack to the outside of the window frame with 3M Marglass fiberglass strand body filler.
Photo 22/37   |   Then the fiberglass filler is sanded using 36-grit paper until the contour is even across each section. This can be a long and tedious process, but Tim and the crew have it down to a science.
Photo 23/37   |   Once the sanding is complete, each section of the amp rack is wrapped with black vinyl. A glue pot is used on both surfaces before the vinyl is stretched and formed around all the contours.
Photo 24/37   |   On the backside, the excess vinyl is trimmed off and glued flat.
Photo 25/37   |   Some sections are wrapped with red to match the Ram’s body color.
Photo 26/37   |   The boys started getting fancy by cutting sections of mirrored acrylic out on the CNC router.
Photo 27/37   |   With the mirrored acrylic cut, they were ready to peel off the protective plastic layer.
Photo 28/37   |   Next, the crew test-fit the amps on the mirrored acrylic, making sure the wire relief notches lined up with the amp.
Photo 29/37   |   The mirror wasn’t enough, so Tim is seen here adding SMD LED strip lighting to the amp rack.
Photo 30/37   |   With the SMD LEDs all wired up, we were ready for final assembly of the amp rack.
Photo 31/37   |   Finally, the last insert panel was upholstered and ready to pop into place.
Photo 32/37   |   The Audiotistics logo was reverse-etched onto the acrylic and mirrored acrylic, which will reveal a pretty cool effect once installed.
Photo 33/37   |   The acrylic, complete with LEDs and etched logos, was installed in the amp rack, followed by the mirrored sections.
Photo 34/37   |   The amps were once again double-checked before the rack was mounted in the vehicle.
Photo 35/37   |   With the amps mounted in place on their mirrored platforms, Tim began mounting the amp rack under the rear seat.
Photo 36/37   |   The multicolor Audiotistics and SounDigital logos are lit up and ready to shine.
Photo 37/37   |   Our installation is complete, and our amp rack is seriously looking good. That was a lot of ground to cover, but now you have a glimpse of what it takes for audio build-outs at this level. If you’re looking to go above and beyond with your audio install, give Audiotistics a call.


Apple Valley, CA 92307