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 UtahCamaro.com (coming soon!).