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!

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.

Camaro Aftermarket Subwoofer Install (Part 1)

There are a lot of forum posts trashing the Boston Acoustic system that comes in the Camaro. Personally, I think it’s pretty good for an OEM system. Distortion at high volume (22 for me) is minimal, good sound range and clarity (maybe a hint of muddiness) and I love that they nailed the sound staging- the music comes from right in front of you. The one major element that the BA system lacks is bass.

Chevy offers an OEM subwoofer solution. I checked out their subwoofer but I didn’t feel like it was a good fit for me. I confess that I’m not a big MTX fan and I wasn’t impressed with the specs (200 watts for two 10″ subs isn’t enough for me). I also didn’t like the placement of the MTX sub box (right behind the rear seats- you lose the pass through). Here is a picture of the installed box. It’s really not bad looking at all, but it wasn’t what I wanted. And at $1145 installed I was certain I could put together something that would work better for me.

In the end I decided to go with a JL Audio 10W7AE, a JL Audio JX1000/1D Amplifier and a sub box from subthumb (& their custom Camaro RCA Output T-Harness).

I picked the 10W7 because I have a 10W6 in the Vette and wanted something that could hit the deeper notes with a little more power. I briefly considered the 12″ JL Audio sub but, in my opinion, the 10″ subs produce tighter bass. The weight & cost were also 12″ sub deterrents.

I got the JX1000 because at 3 ohms it puts out 750 watts RMS (the nominal impedance of the 10W7AE is 3 Ω and it can take 750 watts RMS). Compared to some other amps I looked at it seemed like a good value.

And I went with a sub box because they are a killer deal for a custom fitted solution. I had the box cut for a 10W7AE, and it came carpeted (super close match to the OEM grey) and was excellently constructed. In the past I have commissioned and helped build my own sub boxes, but I don’t think I could have pulled off this box.

Anyway, here are some install pics (after which I’ll talk about performance):

I dug down to the battery (trunk batteries rock). Measured out the wire (4 gauge for this project). Unclipped the factory amp and…

…plugged in the harness. This harness is a lifesaver. It taps right into the preamp audio signal (before it goes into the factory amp) and gives you RCA outs. Then you can just plug in your sub! Got the sub box ready (I like to cut away fabric where the seals hit the box).

Sub ready for install. The W7AE subs have a unique mounting system which looks really cool, but it is a little trickier.

Attached terminal connectors to my wires (power & ground) and then installed the fuse. Here’s a pic of how the connector sits on the battery.

Getting the Subthump box in takes some doing. Had to move a couple wiring harnesses and cut part of the trunk carpet wall (side note: when you buy the box you’ll get a link to installation instructions). Once it’s in, the box fits great. The amplifier wired up. I ended up mounting the amp to the sub box (I do what I want). Moved the wires out of the way to clean up the look. Then cut my Lloyd’s  trunk mat so it rested against the sub box.

And here is the finished product. Personally I like being able to see the amp and I especially like having the sub mounted off to the side. For me this is more aesthetically pleasing than the factory sub. Total install time was about five hours (I ran into some unexpected complications) and the total I dropped on this project  was a little less than cost of the MTX sub.

That’s it for Part 1. in Part 2 I’ll talk about the sound, tuning, and my late night stereo shoot out.


The First Aftermarket Additions!

When you see the picture you’ll realize this is a totally silly post. Whenever I get a car I  change out the floor mats and I put a sticker on the vehicle. So, voila!

The mats are made by Lloyd’s. Two in the front and a trunk mat. I love the red stitching- it’s a great highlight. And then I put on a Benchmade and an Autobot sticker (I have a thing for stickers).

I am actually in the process of getting several “real” upgrades done (exhaust, interior lightning, tinting, new rims, etc) but I’ll save those blog posts until the projects are finished.

Camaro 2012 SS Impressions

I’ve had my car for more than a week now and I thought I’d take a moment to write up some of my thoughts. In a way my perspective is slightly skewed, since I’m coming from a Z06 Corvette that many people might consider “better.” However, at this point my Z06 is so modified that it’s almost uncomfortable and the Camaro is a welcome change.

First off I think the 2012 Camaro represents a great value. After looking at some 2010 and 2011 models I got a new SS with the RS package. For what you pay you get a well engineered and executed muscle car that, in my opinion, lives up to the hype. The car is stylish, drives well, has plenty powerful and comes with a lot of features I wouldn’t have expected in this price range.

Styling Exterior: I love the way the new Camaro looks. I think it does a great job of channeling it’s predecessors while evolving into a modern street machine. The angular lines of the car give it a very aggressive look and it seems to turn a lot of heads. I like the wheel design, but I’m not a big fan of the stock silver color or the way Chevy gouges you for OEM alternatives. I got the model with no sunroof (more on that later) and I think the reverse mohawk (not present with a sun roof) is a great look for this car.

Styling Interior: The 2012 interior has been updated a bit. Online it seems like people complained that Camaro interiors seemed cheap, but the 2012 SS interior seems excellent. The leather first rate and everything flows smoothly together in a comfortable way. The sun visors are a little silly, but that’s really the only thing. I like the design elements like the lighted doors and retro gauge cluster. The HUD looks great too- super bright and clear.


The seats are very comfortable. They are power adjustable in pretty much anyway you can think of (the exception being lumbar support) and they hug the contours of the body very well. There is ample room in the front, although the back seats would be cramped for adults (since I plan on carting my kids around back there I’m not too worried about it).

Speaking of space-  As I mentioned I opted for a model without a sunroof. While I prefer the look with no sun roof I was interested in getting one. However with a sunroof I didn’t fit !  Even with the seat all the way down my head hit the roof liner (I’m 6′ 4″ and I have a long torso). Without the sun roof I fit comfortably in the car and my head plenty of clearance.

I feel like the controls (temperature & radio) are all well designed and intuitive (the iPod interface, while not perfect, works well and I love seeing the song name in the HUD). The steering wheel controls work well too (I rarely use them in the Vette, but have used them quite a bit in the Camaro).

The updated 2012 steering wheel feels good, but possibly a little on the high side (you can move it down, but then it covers the speedometer & tachometer). I don’t know what the 2010 & 2011 steering wheels were like (seems like people didn’t like how they felt), but I preferred the look of them.

Driveability: The car is very quiet both at a stop and while driving (keep in mind that I’m coming from an 800hp ear splitter). The short shifter is very crisp and the transmission engages nicely. The clutch release is light and tightly sprung (it pops up too quickly for my taste), but the pedals all have a good feel.

The Camaro handles very well. Steering is responsive and it corners with a good amount of control and stability. The 2012 model has the FE4 suspension package (different from previous models) and the ride is smooth and even. You can still get good sense of the road but becoming “one” with this car seems like it may take a bit of work.

Performance: The SS has a 436 HP LS3 V8. Power-wise this is pretty substantial but coming from an 800HP Vette the Camaro almost feels underpowered. Acceleration is quick and consistent (and the engine sounds great) but you can feel the weight of the car (at almost two tons it is a heavy car). Don’t get me wrong- there’s plenty of power but it’s it’s less than I’m used to. Not to worry though- I have plans to make the car much faster :).  The LS3 engines lend themselves very well to upgrades (think “forced induction”).

The brakes are very good, but stopping distance is longer than I’m used to and I can feel the weight of the car when braking. The car may benefit from some and upgrade, but the Brembo disc brakes perform admirably and I’m perfectly happy with them for now.

I’m quite impressed with the Boston Acoustics sound system in the SS. It won’t blow your head off and it’s slightly muddy, but it does a good job with sound range and there is very little sibilance at high volumes. Everything seems mixed well and the balance is excellent (sound seems to come from in front of me). Chevy offers the option of an MTX subwoofer system, but I’m working on my own JL audio based sub (more on that soon). The ability to hook up my iPod to the stereo is also very nice (although there seems to be as issue and sometimes the music intermittently crackles).

Features: I have mentioned a few already, but I’ll just recap here. Love the leather power seats- very nice (also seat heaters- not a big fan personally). I think the HUD is a good addition and is well executed. I like the integrated auxiliary inputs for the stereo. The steering wheel controls are great. The backup camera and proximity warning system is really cool (useful? don’t know yet). Really cool gauge cluster beneath the stereo. The short shifter feel really good (the throw is longer than I expected though). And then there’s tons of standard options too – auto dimming mirrors, ABS brakes, high intensity headlights, integrated garage door opener, etc.

Conclusion: Super happy with the car! As I have said I think it’s a superb value and it’s very well executed in almost every regard. I’m really excited to drive it more (just putting some personal touches on it before I “debut” it to family & friends).


The King and Queen

Yes, right now I have two cars. It’s not a crime. Sure, maybe it’s a little decadent. But both cars are actually very different. The other night it occurred to me that the Camaro and Corvette were like a King and Queen from a chess set. Both part of the same game, important, similar but with stark differences.

The Corvette is simply known now as Nemeis (goddess of divine retribution). With her sleek curves and light build the Corvette is clearly a woman. Like her chess counterpart she is smaller than the King, much more powerful and very aggressive.

The Camaro will be known as Chronos (the god of time). Chiseled, heavy and imposing the Camaro is obviously a man. Like his chess alter-ego he is larger than the Queen, slower than she is, yet in his own way a more powerful presence.

I feel like these two cars compliment each other very well. I wish they could have babies. A boy and a girl: Corvaro and Camette. Yeah.