Camaro Aftermarket Subwoofer Review

So here are a few of my Camaro stereo impressions thus far.

JL Audio 10W7AE Subwoofer:

Wow. Just wow. This sub is amazing. The 10W7 provides so much more depth and bass than the 10W6 in the Corvette that’s hard to believe. I honestly feel like this is all the bass a rational person could ever want. Even with the sub turned up the sound is full and smooth.

JL Audio JX1000/1D Amplifier:

I had originally intended to use a Kenwood XR-1S (the same kind my Corvette has) but the preamp signal in the RCA outs carries six volts which would fry the Kenwood. I opted for the JX1000 because it can take the six volts with no issues. The JX1000 also mutes the outs as soon as the receiver is turned off so there’s no sub thump when things power down (this can be an issue with the stock Camaro stereo and some aftermarket subs and I didn’t want to use a ground loop isolator if I didn’t have to).

Feature-wise the JX1000 is pretty straightforward. I picked up JL’s remote so I can control the gain while I’m driving. This is especially nice on cars where there is no separate sub out (hence no way to adjust the sub volume). Everything works just like it’s supposed to. It’s powers the sub with no issues and sounds excellent.

Performance with the Boston Acoustic System:

I wrote about how I thought the Boston Acoustic set up in the Camaro was pretty good for an OEM offering. I stand by that. As the speakers have broken in the seem like that have lost a little off the clarity but it could be that the sub woofer just overpowers them a bit.

I had to do some tweaking with the stock stereo settings (which is tricky, since they don’t give you too many options) to try and balance the stock speakers with the 10W7. Not physically balance- I’m talking about the volume and frequencies. Overall I think the stock speakers and the JL sub compliment each other quite well.

As far as physical balancing goes I think the staging in the Camaro is exceptional. The music is right in front of you, just beyond the dash (possibly that front center channel makes a difference). Even the sub tones sound like they are coming from the front of the car.


As I briefly mentioned already the box I got from was excellent. The fit in the Camaro’s trunk is perfect. I mounted the JX1000 onto the subwoofer box because there was room and because the box seemed very sturdy. I checked to see how much vibration the amp was enduring and it’s pretty minimal- the sub box is like a rock. In addition to being impressed by the performance, I’m also visually satisfied with the outcome.


I’m pleased enough with the Boston Acoustic speakers and JL Audio sub & amp that I’m not planning to add aftermarket speakers (woofers & tweeters) or an amp in the near future. I think the music I listen to is well served by the configuration as-is. With the Camaro I do think a sub is critical if the musical experience is important to you.

Stereo Shootout:

At the onset of my stereo shoot out I was pretty sure I preferred the Camaro. So to make things more fair I decided to fix a few issues in the Vette. I spent a long time trying to isolate and eliminate the alternator whine (not gone, but much better). I moved the staging to the front of the car and did a lot of tuning; I think it makes a huge difference in sound quality and enjoyment.

So with the stereos on more equal footing I will shortly commenced the 2012 Camaro vs. Corvette stereo shoot out.Stay tuned!

To Blog or Not to Blog

I already have several blogs that I update on a regular basis. I love to blog. I wish I could blog for a living (I’d probably have to blog about interesting things though… how boring). But I’m trying to decide if I want to add another blog to my pile. I’m already the busiest guy in the world (especially when it’s convenient) but I feel like it’s important to create a record of what we do as a family.

This wouldn’t be a  “Hey look what we did!” kind of blog. Rather, I’m interested in making quick little posts when we do something as a family so my kids can look back and see that we cared. We spent time with them. We loved them. Sometimes we’re so busy living in the moment that we forget what we’re doing (which means there’s no way we can ever remember what we did).

Yeah, not sure what I’ll do (blog? no blog?) This is a big decision and I’m sure not going to make it tonight at two in the morning. “Oh man! I did what last night?” If I commit to it I’m in for the long haul.


Camaro Mods So Far

I think in general when someone gets a car they do something to make it theirs. Maybe it’s a few stickers, some seat covers, a new shift knob or all of the above. I already mentioned that I got some floor mats, put on a couple stickers and added a sub woofer. Here are my other mods to the car so far.

Upgraded exhaust: I added the OEM GMPP axel back exhaust (made by Borla). With regard to the stock exhaust, I thought the tips were okay I really disliked how the stock mufflers looked under the car. The upgraded exhaust is less constrictive and gives the car a nice growl. Sure, there are better exhaust options, but I wanted the warranty (for now)

Interior Accent Lightning: This was a splurge, plain and simple. I had added some accent lighting in the Vette and I really liked the idea of having something like that in the Camaro. This factory option has lights that shine out of the cup holders and in both footwells. The coolest part is that a toggle switch allows you to switch between red and blue.

Fuel Door: I looked at some aftermarket offerings for the fuel door, but really liked the design of the OEM upgrade. My plan is to powdercoat it black at some point.

Custom Chevy Bowtie Emblems: I’m not a big fan of the gold colored bowties so I got this custom painted set (I picked the colors).  I had originally wanted to do all red, but I did a mock-up in Photoshop and decided all red looked like a clown nose. After playing with different color combinations I thought the contrast of the pinstripes looked best.

Tinting: I had ceramic tinting added to the windows. I stuck with legal tinting on the two side windows (I don’t know why, in retrospect) and then 20% on the rear sides and back. I also had the taillights blacked out (I think it makes the car look more menacing).

Also, if you’re local I can recommend Tint & Clear Bra Specialists in Midvale for any tinting needs. I have used them several times and they have been excellent.

Powercoated Rims: At first the silver wheels grew on me; I thought they added a nice contrast. But before long I knew I wanted to get black rims. I shopped around a bit, but I couldn’t find any rims I liked better than the 20″ OEM’s. LA Wheel offers a wheel exchange program so I decided to try it out. They sent me a pair of black powercoated OEM wheels and once I got them I shipped back my silver ones. Compared to buying new rims it was fairly inexpensive.

The rims are 40% gloss which makes them much less shiny that the body of the car. I think it provides a nice contrast while still giving the car a more aggressive look. You can see below that I’ve already dinged the wheel (in a car wash- don’t go through car washes with any car you care about).

In the coming months I may have the opportunity to have a prototype turbo kit installed on my car (kit at cost w/ a free install) so I’m considering that. I’m also considering trying out a supercharger (Whipple of Kenne Bell?). My goal is to have my Camaro more powerful than a stock ZL1 by May of next year. But I digress –  that’s mechanical stuff, and this post was meant to be about cosmetic mods.

The only other cosmetic additions I’m considering for now are a body kit and some racing stripes. I just need to find a reliable dealer to who can do these right.

Magento. Simply the Best.

Notice anything different about our website? Probably not- that’s how seamless the transition was. Of course there’s still a ton of configuration left to do so the new features won’t start popping up for several months but we are on Magento!

We recently acquired a competitor and their website was running on Magento. After using it for a few weeks it became clear that we had wasted  a small fortune building our own software. Magento is significantly ahead of where we were (and seems to be ahead of everyone).  In just the few short weeks we have been using it we’ve seen a nice bump in sales.

If you run any kind of ecommerce company and you have been using a a cookie cutter “box shop” or hosted solution it’s time to take a serious look at Magento. It’s affordable, stable, fast, secure, scalable and boasts more features and usability that any of its competition*. Our motto at work is “evolve or die” and Magento had breathed new life into our company (maybe they should change their name to “Life Cart”!).

*Some of the other ecommerce solutions we compared it to were Shopify, Yahoo, BigCommerce, Volusion, Shopping Cart Elite, Fortune3, NetSuite Ecommerce and custom built solutions on the OS Commerce platform.

Credit Charge Chargebacks Suck.

I know what it looks like. I never update this blog. But that’s not actually the case. I have written nearly a hundred blog posts for Cam on Commerce, but have kept them nearly all private. Why? Some are personal, some contain proprietary information and many are simply uninspired rants. And this post may be an uninspired rant… but I am so mad about credit card chargebacks that I just wanted to do something.

Here are work we have what I would consider fairly advanced fraud detection techniques and tools. We actually catch most fraud and we’re able to do that because there is some indication that fraud is occurring. But recently we have been hit by a string of more advanced fraud with no signs of anything amiss.

In the world of ecommerce we rely on AVS (address verification system) codes to determine if the purchase is authorized. Legitimate orders will have the correct address, zip code and CVV numbers submitted to us. When we authorize the card the AVS response (from the credit processor) will show something like “YYY” (yes, yes, yes) indicating the shipping information provided matches the info that the credit card company has on file. We then ship the order with a signature required.

If the customer later says, “I didn’t order that” and initiates a chargeback (a process where the purchase is disputed and the credit card company returns the customer’s money) we have the ability to “fight” the chargeback. We can show that we shipped the order to the confirmed billing address and that the customer signed for the package. When we have this evidence the chargeback is reversed and the money is returned to us. This has always worked well for us until now.

Lately it seems that people with stolen credit cards are changing the confirmed billing address (the crook can simply call the card issuer and add another “authorized” billing address). Then they submit the order to us and, since it looks 100% legitimate, we ship it out. When the credit card chargeback comes we try and fight it. Initially we will win but then customer tells the credit card company that the card was stolen, the billing address modified and reiterates that they didn’t make the purchase. The credit card company takes the money from us again and says our only option is arbitration.

Don’t attempt any arbitration! You will lose (we found this out the hard way). Arbitration will always rule in favor of the credit card company (who butters their bread?) and then to ad insult to injury they charge you – the merchant – a $500 fee for arbitration costs. WTF?

Are you with me here? We get a 100% legitimate looking order. We ship to to the confirmed billing address (w/ a signature required). If it happens to be fraud it is us – the merchant – who pays the price for doing everything correctly. The customer gets their money back. The credit card company charges us a “chargeback fee” (usually $15-$25). The thief gets their loot as well. We, as the merchant, have no recourse whatsoever and we have lost our inventory, our time and any profit we might have made on the item. Where is the justice in this? Where is credit card company’s accountability?

We have lost thousands of dollars a month this way and I don’t see any solution for the problem (short of  paying for a service that guarantees payment with matching AVS codes). I believe the credit card company should absorb costs of fraudulent transactions of this kind. If they let a crook call up and change the card’s billing address then I certainly feel they – not me – are responsible for this fraud.

Posted by Cam, May 23, 2010

Travel Trailer (If It Makes You Happy It Can’t Be That Bad)

Fran loves the outdoors- you know, “nature.” She’s always trying to get me to go on camping trips with her family. Sometimes I give in and go. But when I finally make it back to civilization my question is always the same: “Why?!” And to this day I don’t quite get it. You have a nice comfy home but inexplicably decide that you need to go sleep somewhere uncomfortable, in the middle of nowhere in a pretend house. But before you go you have to pack up things that will make your trip more comfortable, you know… more like the home you just left. And then when you get back you have to unload and clean everything and you utter that timeless and possibly ironic phrase, “It’s so good to be home.” But it was all worth it because you saw nature! But like I said, Fran loves it.

She has wanted an RV for a long time. One of her favorite Disney cartoons is Mickey’s Trailer (I love it too). When I watch the cartoon I can almost see the appeal. We’ve gone to the RV shows up in Sandy (she even went by herself w/ the kids once- this is a serious woman) and I have to admit that it’s pretty fun to walk through them. She’s rented RVs and taken trips too (I think in preparation for owning one).

Well a few weeks ago Fran decided that instead of an RV it would be more practical and less expensive to get an RV trailer (remember it is Mickey’s Trailer). That bee flew so deep into her bonnet I didn’t think we’d ever get it out. Day and night Fran obsessed over trailers ceaselessly encouraged by her enthusiastic sister. After weeks of searching Fran finally found one that was perfect: The Flagstaff Microlite 23LB. And when we find something perfect we jump on it (this often causes it to break and we feel silly).

Fran found the trailer while visiting Access RV, down in Salt Lake City. They were very helpful, never pushy and they gave her an excellent deal. I would recommend them without hesitation if you’re looking for an RV or trailer RV.

The floor plan is, in my opinion, very well thought out (nothing feels cramped) and he trailer can comfortably (well you know, “comfortably”) sleep our entire family. The build quality seems good and my initial impressions of the trailer are very positive. No, it’s not a mega RV with water beds and a theater, but you could almost call it practical and I think that’s part of the appeal.

Here are a few pictures of the interior. On the left you can see the bathroom in the back, part of the kitchen, the dinette and TV. The trailer has heating, air conditioning, full plumbing, and the entertainment center even comes with surround sound. On the right you can see the bed and some of the cabinetry.

Here’s a better shot of the bathroom, the three bunk beads and the kitchen (I would feel like I was playing house if I cooked there- oh wait, I totally would be!).

After we brought the trailer home we drove it over to work  (where we could plug it in) and camped in it overnight with the kids. Boy were they excited!  We ate pizza, drank Martinelli’s and watched – wait for it – Mickey’s Trailer (and The Three Amigos). It was a lot of fun, but four kids in the trailer can be a little challenging.

And speaking of challenging:  Initially we had some trouble figuring out where to keep the trailer. Prior to our purchase we had rented a storage unit but the trailer ended up being too tall.  That was for the best though- it would have been impossible to back in.  Fran ended up finding a storage place right off Orem Center Street with covered pull through parking which has been really nice. There was a lot to learn at first too and that was a little daunting. But now I think Fran’s got everything under control now and I’m really excited for her.

I still think camping is funny and I think it’s even  funnier to go “camping” in an RV. The tent wasn’t comfortable enough but it’s so important to be in the great outdoors that you bought a little rolling house. And it has a bathroom and a kitchen and a TV to make your trip a little more bearable. And then maybe when you get home you can say, “Well, that wasn’t so bad. Maybe we’ll do that again.” But you know what, if it makes my wife happy then it makes me happy. I expect that the family will have a lot of fun in Mommy’s Trailer. And maybe, maybe, one day I’ll go trailer camping with the family and I’ll find myself enjoying it too.

Posted by Cam, May 23, 2012


Mini Sports Cars – The Smorvette

As we were heading back to our car after lunch I noticed a Smart Car in the parking lot. I knew they were small, but seeing one sitting there with a person in it made the car seem more like a go-kart (I might have been so amused that I took a picture). Anyway, it reminded me of an email that my Dad sent with photos of shrunk cars (it was a “is this the future if gas prices keep rising” email).

Smorvette : Mini Corvette

Smamborghini: Mini Lamborgini

Smorsche: Mini Porsche

Smerrari: Mini Ferrari

Smamaro: Mini Camaro

This last picture was not in my Dad’s email. I thought the mini cars were cool and went looking for a shrunk Camaro. Since I could’t find one I made my own. If you’re curious, this picture is what I started with and no, I don’t think I’m a Photoshop god.

Personally, I don’t think I’d drive a mini. Sometimes when I end up behind a hybrid car I think “Ha ha! I’m driving behind you undoing all your planet saving.”

Whine, Whine, Whine…

The stereo in my Corvette has always had a small alternator whine (audible through the tweeters). It never bothered me enough to trouble shoot it until I upgraded the alternator and the whine became about twice as loud. Since I was planning on doing a stereo shootout of sorts (Corvette vs. Camaro) I decided that it was finally time to take a closer look at the problem.

I started by unplugging the RCA cables on the amps, but the alternator whine lingered. I pulled out the speaker wires from the amps- still there. Even though I was sure it wouldn’t make a difference, I pulled out the stereo fuse. As expected, no change. Even with almost everything unhooked and zero power running to any components the noise persisted. I tracked the noise down to one spot: rear passenger tweeter.

In the Z06 Corvette the battery is in the trunk. Along the passenger side of the car there is a substantial cable connecting the alternator and the battery together. I was pretty sure this cable has something to do with the problem, but I wasn’t sure where to go. I had to bring in the big guns- Studio head JW Brown. I explained the situation and he offered me this explanation: The crossover was being electromagnetically induced by the power cable causing the tweeter to emit the alternator whine. Duh!

In theory something somewhere might not be grounded correctly (and no, I don’t need to do the “Big 3” upgrade, but thank you). I checked a few things, but it seemed like the simplest solution would be to just relocate the crossovers. It was sad…I was so proud of how I mounted them when I put in my stereo. In any event, I went to work pulling everything apart.

I moved the crossovers to the rear left storage compartment (the battery is in the other storage compartment). The sub woofer also sits in the left compartment, but there is plenty of clearance for the crossovers too.

I figured since I was this far in I’d go ahead and run some better speaker wire to the rear speakers & crossovers. And one thing that had always driven me nuts was that the RCA cables running to the sub amp were a little too short thus necessitating the use of an extension. I finagled them a bit (moved the diagonally underneath the trunk floor) and was able to get enough slack to plug them directly into the amp.

I did fairly comprehensive testing to ensure that the relocation had eliminated the alternator whine and to ensure there would be no interference in the crossovers from the overhead sub. When I hooked everything back up this time I did a much better job than my original install. This time around I was meticulous about wire position and made sure all the connections (+-) were correct and secured tightly. I even reinforced the amp rack.

When I was done – and this was a big project spanning several hours a day over three days –  I fired her up and heard… sweet nothing. I took the car out to road tune the stereo and with the stereo off there is still a tiny noise from the speakers but it’s so much better it’s not even an issue. Only someone afflicted with OCD (me) would even notice. Hooray!

Check out my stereo shoot out on (coming soon!).