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Bass Install

The Esprit is a wonderful car, but it's ICE (in car entertainment) has never been very good. It improved with the interior change when the speakers moved from behind the seat to the doors and gain components (separate speaker and tweeter). This was an improvement, but still the Esprit lacks a good sound.

This is mainly due to the interior space and the choice of speakers. The sound has plenty of high and mid, but no bass. Now bass is easy to add nowadays with so many tubes and boxes available, but the Esprit has space issues. To add bass you normally need an amp and a box. Bass Boxes are large and are normally fitted in boots of normal cars. This is not possible in the Esprit, as the engine is in between. Now it is possible to fit a bass box, you can either fit a small one in the passenger footwell (which takes up space and isn't particularly neat) or fit one in the front boot. Fitting one in the front boot is a large job, as the box will need porting into the cabin. There is also the problem of the amp the box needs to run, this needs installing and wiring and will cost a minimum of around £100, added to a box and speaker cost of around £150 minimum all uninstalled.

LEW has been looking for an alternative way of getting some bass into the Esprits cabin. Favourite was installing a box in place of the central map pocket. Using the pocket as a template, you can make a MDF box with an 8 inch sub. This will need covering in leather to match the interior, an amp to run it and all the wiring that goes with it. LEW continue to look into this bass problem and came up with an easier and cheaper alternative.

Clarion produce an active sub SRV303 (needs no external amp) which will fit perfectly behind the Esprit seats. At around £139 each (including p&p) and no extra costs involved it's definitely the cheapest option. With no amp and little wiring, it's also the easiest install. With regard to how good it is at bringing the missing bass to the Esprit cockpit, that remains to be seen. But due to LEW's system already running one amp, a second would make installation quite a job, so it was decide to go with the Clarion option. Here's how it went.


This is a quick and easy job for someone with stereo install experience, a little more difficult for the beginner.


You will need the following parts:

Clarion SRV303 active sub

You will need the following tools:

Wire strippers

*Remember to disconnect the battery while working on the cars electric's*

Here's the spec:

SRV303 active subwoofer
20cm air-compression counter drive active subwoofer
120W max power integral amplifier
Detachable control panel with 5.0m cable
Compact size allows flexible mounting options - under seat or in boot
RCA or speaker level inputs allow connection to any type of radio
Controls for level, low pass filter and phase select
Low pass filter (50  / 70 / 100 / 120Hz)
Frequency response 20 - 200Hz
Dimensions 330W x 75H x 230D (mm)


The Clarion SRV303 active sub comes with everything you need to install it. You will need a stereo with RCA on it's rear to give the signal to the sub (you can use speaker wires if your stereo doesn't have RCA's, but you'll probably find these running the other speakers, so you'll have to cut into them). LEW decided to purchase 2 units (one for behind each seat) to make sure there was enough bass. Also this install was done while the carpets where being replace, so LEW wanted to install everything now, as the install could be made very tidy, with all wiring hidden. Adding an extra unit afterwards would make the install much more difficult than doing it now.


The Clarion's extra features include a detachable control that can be mounted up to 2 metres away from the unit. LEW decided not to use this, as the unit will be accessible behind the seats.


LEW's interior was stripped out when we started the install, which makes it easier. If your starting with all your interior intact, it shouldn't be much more difficult, just hiding the wires will be more difficult. Remove the seats to make working easier (not really possible with them in) and then mark up (or scratch with a screwdriver if you've no carpet) where you want to mount it. Then drill the four holes for mounting.


Once it was mounted the seat was put back in to make sure everything fitted ok. If you normally have the drivers seat all the way back you'll not be able to do this will the box installed on the drivers side. So check this before fully installing. Wiring up was simple in LEW's car as the power, earth and switch, plus the RCA's where already there from the amp install. We just split the wires using connection boxes to power the amp and both the boxes. An Earth and Power had already been run from the battery.


You can see how the wiring was done for the amp install, which is what really needs doing for this install. alternatively you could take the power from the stereo, by spliting the live, ignition live and earth behind the stereo and feeding it to the sub, the choice is yours. You'll need to take an earth from either the battery or stereo, as the Esprit is fibreglass and you won't be able to earth it off the body, as you can in most cars.


Once everything was in and working, all the wiring was trimmed to size and taped down so the carpet could go in. For those not replacing the carpets at the same time, you can run the wiring under the rear window trim and down the side of the sill, or straight down and under the carpet on the sills. LEW advise if only fitting one unit, to fit it behind the passenger seat, as this will make the install easier.


The amp was wired up and the subs were connected. You have a connector that goes into the sub with three wire coming out. One live, one earth and one switch. The live and earth need to be connected to the battery or cut into the stereo install, the switch needs to be connected up to the electrical ariel wire on the back of your stereo, or an ignition live, so the subs only runs when the ignition is on.


You'll also need to run the RAC outputs from the back of the stereo to the sub unit. I've used an RCA splitter to feed the amp and both the subs. These are cheap and just turns each connection into two. LEW doesn't have a stereo, as we use an mp3 player, so our RCA's run to a jack for the player. Once the carpets were fitted the install was finished. Remember to check that the system is working as you go along. You don't want to finish and turn it on, only to find something's not working!


You can see the finished interior here with the sub units fitted. You can see the units behind each seat (just). They look good and fit well, a good install.

LEW's Verdict

LEW's verdict on the sub install is that it's the perfect addition to the Esprits interior and ICE. You can make your own mind up about the install and price. The sound you will need help with. On testing the new system once it was wired up, the extra bass was there, but because LEW was running bass mids at the rear and 2-ways at the front, there was not enough high range. LEW replaced the rear speakers with Alpine SPS 170A 2-ways (as you'll see from the pics) to increase the high range. These also have adjustable tweeters, so you can direct the sound (in theory), which means they can be pointed outwards and away from the seat backs. Once this was done the sound was much clearer.

The overall sound now has a nice punch of bass to it which was missing before and a much fuller sound. This is what I would want from a normal system in a car like the Esprit. You won't get the sound of an expensive system with a large base box, but you will get a fuller sound. Depending on what sort of level you play your music at and how much bass you want, will make your decision on whether to install one or two units. Personally LEW feels that one unit will be enough to fill out the sound. Two allows you to adjust the two units to different frequencies and volumes giving you more control over the bass. Just remember, they are only 7" speakers, so you won't get a deep thumbing bass of bigger installs. This is just to fill out the sound and give you a better quality system at a low price.

LEW fully recommends this installation to Esprit owners, especially those with speaker in the rear, who have very little bass. LEW is very happy and will not be making any more alterations to it's ICE system.

This mod was performed by kato on his 1992 SE

If you have any comments, feel free to e-mail me with at admin@lotusespritworld.com


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