View Full Version : Cadillac Escalade SQL Custom Build

Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 01:53 AM
The goal of the build was to create an installation that looks like it was professionally completed - meaning all custom fiberglass, all wiring, and audio performance related items applied/installed need to look like I didn't do them in a garage.

Tall order - probably why this build is taking so long.

I drive my vehicle everyday, to work, to the gym, I meet clients (and often drive them), and home again. So my downtime needs to be very limited. This is probably the main reason for taking so long over my lack of ability. I guess that and going through readings from keep_hope_alive to give myself a better knowledge base before digging in.

I knew I wanted an SQL type installation, though I don't want to go too far overboard, as installation and finish items can be changed or adjusted overtime to suit your personal tastes or to refine the sound further. The SQL statement - both item are somewhat subjective - though my preference is definitely SQ, I just like it loud sometimes, though I don't want to sacrifice too much on sound.

I know there will be comments on equipment, or dislike of the installation, or even the overall build - go crazy. I have pretty thick skin, and I'm building this for myself - once again - garage build. What I have learned from keep_hope_alive, keep it clean and pay attention to how you install, as this will be the main factor in archiving overall sound quality.

There will be pictures attached to this build over the next few days to bring you all up to date from start until now. There is still a lot to be done before I can say its finished, though its coming together.

Please enjoy the build.

Vehicle: Cadillac - Escalade


Cables & Related

Monster Cable - MPC I404 4C (5M) - Separates/components
Monster Cable - MPC I404 2C (5M) - Subwoofer
Monster Cable - 202 LN (12ga.) - Speaker Wire
Monster Cable - (10ga.) - Sub wires
Kicker - Power Cable (0ga.) - All power, ground, BIG 3
Kicker - Misc terminals, fuse block, etc
Rockford Fosgate - Distribution block


DC Power Inc - Alternator
Optima - Dual Group 34 Red Top batteries
NVX - Sound Deadener
Many yards for electrical tape, wire loom, foil tape, and tie straps

Head Unit, Speakers, Amplifiers

JVC - KW-AV70BT Double DIN
Alpine - Type X - SPX 17PRO (front components)
Alpine - Type R - SPR60 (rear fill)
Alpine - Type R - SWR12D4 (2 X subs)
Kicker - ZX650.4 - components/coaxial power
Kicker - ZX2500.1 - subwoofer power

12-28-2012, 01:59 AM
Cool cool let's see some pics! Are those the new type rs?

Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 09:57 AM


As you can see its a fairly standard Escalade, with the only major upgrades being 26" black wheels (summer) and the removal of the roof rack. I'll shave the trim this year and blackout the tails - that's pretty much it. Maybe a lowering kit, though only if I need to do suspension work.

Using this as a work vehicle, I need modifications internally and externally to be mild though tasteful.

On to the build.......

Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 10:07 AM
Thinking that the ideal situation would be to make the replacement of panels in the event I sell or remove the equipment for some reason simple and as cost effective as possible, I opted to build tweeter pods. The woofers will be in the factory locations - though the door will be deadened, sealed, and baffled.







Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 10:12 AM




Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 10:16 AM




Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 10:44 AM
The Sub Box - not so much a box........

I hoped to build a 1 cubic foot sealed enclosure, with the use of 1" MDF & Fiberglass. With that said, the rings (both layers) are 1" as is the internal support structure. With vibration, and all related possible structural integrity issues with a fiberglass box like this I wanted to make absolutely sure that the subs are well supported.

Is it overkill? Probably.









Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 10:49 AM





Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 10:53 AM





12-28-2012, 11:02 AM
Beautiful job. Can't wait to see what it will look like finished. (Of course an Audiophile is never finished ;-) )

Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 11:06 AM
Rear Amplifier Panel

I had intended to wreck only a single panel in this (aside from the tweeter pods). All wires, cables, and installation items were to be done cleanly without damage and seem somewhat factory - or at least like I didn't build the components in my garage.

I wanted this panel to be a 2 piece unit, as with a "factory look" build there should be the retention of some factory features - like access to the jack, and rear door actuator. I also wanted to be able to remove the sub box and install the 3rd row if I needed to. Goal achieved thought know it isn't to everyone's taste.





Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 11:13 AM
That's all I have time to update this morning.......

Many more pics to come.

12-28-2012, 11:31 AM
Im confused on the SQL sub stage. Type Rs and kicker amps? With all the work and money your investing it seems to me like a poor choice of your sub stage. Nice work and project, just seems wierd to put the type rs in that app.

12-28-2012, 11:44 AM
Im confused on the SQL sub stage. Type Rs and kicker amps? With all the work and money your investing it seems to me like a poor choice of your sub stage. Nice work and project, just seems wierd to put the type rs in that app.

agreed ,i'd gone with some id max or daytons instead,sme with components ,i'd gone with some dls gothia 3 way components instead of the type x comps

Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 12:28 PM
Destined2Race & mylows10 - I assume you both did not read the opening statement.

This setup can be refined in any way to suit taste. If I want new amps, I replace the single MDF rear panel and install new amps. If I don't like the front stage - I replace it.

The main point was to integrate deadening, use quality cables, and get the installation right - the rest of the items are a few twists of screws to replace.

Also, mylows10, my first idea was 3-ways, though after discussions with keep_hope_alive (an acoustical engineer might I add) I opted to go to a 2-way setup. He stated the best sound will be had in prepping the doors correctly, and less about components. Whatever I don't like, I can replace, as long as the installation base is solid.

The reason for going to the Alpine Type X Comps - I really love the tweeter and the crossovers. If the woofer is less than desirable then I will replace them. The Type R subs were a sweet deal I couldn't pass up, they are the new 2012 models which are apparently better than previous years and more closely resemble a Type X sub. Which would seem is not either of your preference anyway.

Regardless, there will be more pictures to come..........

12-28-2012, 08:40 PM
very cool build looking forward to seeing the progress

Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 11:16 PM






Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 11:22 PM
This was today, I have finally spared some time to prime this panel out. The pictures were all taken when the panel was still wet, that's the reasoning for the inconstant finish. Tomorrow I'll sand it out with 150, Rage Gold it, sand out again, re-prime, and hopefully just sand out a final time before texturing it in preparation to have it match the factory panels as close as possible.

Though the actual amplifier mounting board is carpeted in the closest i color I could find to the factory color - It's only alright - definitely not close. with luck I'll have the rear area completed this week.




Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 11:29 PM
The rear build and wiring I had worked on last week, although all images were taken with the same iPhone, a few were quite dark and grainy by comparison. I guess they are light enough to get what they are - good enough, right?







Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 11:42 PM
One of the essential parts to a build is the use of butyl dampening material on panels. The only part of this that I struggle with is how when you ask someone the required application volume or even thickness you can get 6 different answers from 4 different people (yeah, that's correct!). I know there is a difference from treated vs untreated panels musically and frequency wise within the panel - though the actual metrics for this seem like voodoo.

I have been told some of the following: single layer, 25% of major panels - 100% single layer - Overlap 2 layers - Only the doors need it - Bang the panel, if it resonates; apply there.

Regardless, I am starting here as applied below to see what difference this small amount makes. I will be doing doors exactly like keep_hope_alive on his Civic, this is definitely where I don't want to mess up. To me the doors definitely are key to a great installation, this is no place for trial and error.





Mommy Wagon
12-28-2012, 11:52 PM
The front wiring was again performed to be a somewhat "factory" looking installation. Everything just as in the rear was bulk loomed in the console splitting off in he dash to follow the factory wiring channels, and zip tied in place.

I had opted to place the crossovers in the console, with each unit separated into 2 access holes with the cables tied together by loom with additional length so I may pull them out for adjustment later. This will make tuning and phasing much easier, as there is no disassembly required to perform these actions.

I opted to use Red for Right and BLack for Left - Genius hey?!?!? Actually I did it when I loomed the wires from the front to back so I knew which was which. I decided to carry it on throughout the process.






Mommy Wagon
12-29-2012, 12:00 AM
Today I have decided that tomorrow I will paint all of the dash "wood" to match the tweeter pods. I find the fake wood to look like the plastic it is more than a great high depth faux wood. The other reason is I quite like the charcoal metallic finish on the tweeter pods. It's off now anyway, might as well take advantage of the situation while I can!

I'll tackle the beautiful plastic on the doors when I have them apart to finish the deadening, build filler panels, and baffles.

Mommy Wagon
01-02-2013, 07:42 PM
Big 3 (or Big 6) & Charging System

The factory charging system in the 07-12 Cadillac Escalade is terrible. I have been left on many occasions in cold weather with an overnight no start condition, as have many other owners of Escalades. I have had the battery replaced under warranty, and numerous AVR tests completed - poorly designed system - that's it.

Fortunately GM was good enough to provide a secondary battery location under the hood of this platform, leaving only the addition of "Police Tahoe" cables and a hold down to make the addition of a second battery easy. This is probably the route I would have taken if I was only concerned with cold day or extended parked start up. The too small 615CCA battery only become marginally better when you have 2.

I opted to utilize a similar wiring layout to the "Police Tahoe" option, though I did refine it with the addition of a distribution block, a larger inline fuse, and 0 gauge wire for ALL components. What I can tell you is after properly grounding the engine, frame and body, the slight alternator whine I had with un-amped (direct to deck wired) speakers is now gone. A minor change in the initial charging system plan, the Optima batteries will remain as an option if this system fails - I went with Group 34/78 Motormaster Spiral AGM batteries - as these are made by Exide, are non-spillable, and seem to be pretty good, and are slightly better priced than Optima.

What you will see is both batteries are 0 gauge to the frame and block, the areas on both block and frame were cleaned and prepped properly. The frame was also shot with adhesion promoter, primer, and a gloss black implement style paint. Every cable end/ring was heat shrunk and was covered in split loom.

The only component I am awaiting is the DC Power Inc 300amp alternator, then life will be good.

Maybe it's overkill, maybe not. What I can say is it has changed how I will be grounding the amps in the rear now - I will be taking both grounds through the floor to the frame.

Below is the sketched layout as installed with pictures to follow............


Mommy Wagon
01-02-2013, 07:46 PM
Frame Ground:

Frame Ground Finished:

Starter & Battery Link

Distribution Block:

Inline Fuse:


Second Battery:

Mommy Wagon
01-02-2013, 07:51 PM
Interior Trim Panels

This was a last minute audible call. I didn't like the factory plastic fake wood to begin with, and I really like the Duplicolor Textured Metallic. This is what I had used on the tweeter pods, and previously on a Yamaha R1 (trim again & exhaust shields)I used to own. It only seemed natural to match the panels to the tweeter pods, though I need to figure out what I am going to do about the steering wheel trim.

These were all removed, washed down with wax and grease remover, then scuffed thoroughly with a Scotch-Brite pad (new and clean). Final wipe down with lacquer thinner to remove all dust and contaminates, and an even coat of adhesion promoter. Then 2 coats of the Duplicolor Textured Metallic.

I will get the door panel trim done when I have the doors apart for the deadening and baffles.



Sub Woofin
01-02-2013, 07:54 PM
i love the fiberglass job!

01-02-2013, 09:38 PM
very nice man im tuned

01-02-2013, 10:22 PM
looking good. like how your taking the time to run the wires really good.

01-03-2013, 09:49 PM
Like the build sir really clean. Have you thought about or can afford the Rockford Fosgate 3sixty3? It would allow full and complete control of everything on that set up. So then you would have more control of how your system sounds. Sound q or slamming bass if you want it. Tuned in for the build sir.

Mommy Wagon
01-03-2013, 10:30 PM
Subsonicrc, the reason why I opted to build the way I did is so I could make changes easily. With how the cables run down the Center, I would only have to flip the speaker wires to the other side and add some out put RCAs to the output on the amps and I can go active.

After the install is complete, and I have had a couple of months tuning and listening I'm sure there may be changes.

If the install is good, hopefully the base may remain the same and its only a few screws and (possibly) surface panels to be changed.

01-03-2013, 11:21 PM
I didn't mean to make you repeat yourself again sir sorry for that. I was just curious if you thought of using a processor or not. I understand the way you did the layout and I wasn't questioning that sir. I don't down or say anything against people's choice of equipment. As we all have our own experiences or preferred choices. I've seen those RF unit in quite a few SQ type vehicles. The system build is never done no matter how far you get lol.

01-04-2013, 12:05 AM
In for more pics

Mommy Wagon
02-18-2013, 08:18 PM
This weekend was the start of sealing up and deadening the doors. Much more labor intensive than I anticipated, and I will only be getting the front doors completed this weekend; as I initially expected getting all passenger doors and rear access completed in one swoop.

Cleaning the doors in prep wasn't as difficult as I had expected. I used brake cleaner to wipe any contaminates off, there was almost no dust/dirt inside the door - this was also a pretty big surprise.

I have gone as close to 100% coverage that I am able to (inside/out), and I can tell you the sound of the door inside and out from an impact standpoint is night and day. Even closing the door with the panel off has a completely different sound.

For this go round the new Alpine SPX 17PRO front woofers will not be going in. I will be putting the factory Bose speakers back in until I can get the panels finished and the amps in. The nice part about doing it this way is a real comparison on how this application can change the characteristics of even a low grade factory speaker - maybe this only proves the theory of "installation over product" to me - though time will tell.

Also being installed is a rubber diffuser behind the woofer, this was a recommendation taken from others installs - I assume with such low power and a crappy Bose paper cone woofer that this may not really make a huge audible difference, can't hurt thought right?

First impressions - Interesting.

There is definitely a noticeable difference in the mid-bass - bass reproduction. Performing the door sealing will not fix or repair something lacking nor will it give you "more" bass. What it will do is give you more accurate reproduction and wake up your mid-bass. This will give you a more controlled and musically correct sound.

This increased control is what I had noticed immediately when playing Cee Lo Green, The Police, Qwote, Alicia Keys - and then I had arrived back home and it was time to turn the car off. Previously the bass/mid-bass from the factory Bose speakers was "sloppy" and felt like the speakers bottomed when loud on certain songs. I am now using the same speakers, and feel they maintain better response after completely sealing the interior and exterior panels.

Quite excited to be installing the Alpines soon!!! (I think?)

P.S. Sorry for only giving you guys cell phone pics, I just don't feel like dragging out the SLR when building

Mommy Wagon
02-18-2013, 08:33 PM





Mommy Wagon
02-18-2013, 08:38 PM






Mommy Wagon
02-18-2013, 08:40 PM

Looks good, sealed tight.


Mommy Wagon
02-19-2013, 11:13 PM
Received word today that my DC Power alternator will be shipping out on Thursday (Feb 12, 2013) and should be in my hands by the following Friday.

I guess I know what I'll be doing next weekend (for that 20 min anyway), there will no longer be excuses not to finish panels and the sub box with the power now there!

For a quick look at the product ordered and referenced previous (DC Power - 300SPX)



With this alternator, the dual battery set up, and a 100% zero gauge main power and ground - I should have enough power

03-10-2013, 10:06 AM
Great build. Love how u painted the interior black. Maybe one of these days gm will realize how bad their faux wood looks. Has been that way forever.
At first i thought the amp rack was a bad idea, it quickly grew on me tbough and is a greag use of space.
Any updates?

03-10-2013, 10:52 AM
just curious why you moved the tweeters back from the factory location...

Mommy Wagon
03-10-2013, 11:17 AM
I still haven't received the alternator yet from DC Power, I have a sneaky suspicion it didn't ship when they had projected. Usually I'm no more than 5-7 business days shipping from anywhere in the US. This really is the big hold up to being able to finish the power side.

Still on the list:
Install alternator
Rear doors (deaden/seal)
Finish amp rack/panel
Finish sub box
Build baffles (front & rear)
Ground amps to chassis
Ground loop head unit (there is the smallest amount of whine, at low volume, which no passenger seems to notice - drives me nuts)

I guess that is still quite a list to complete before I'm "finished", and I won't get a chance to do any of it for a few weeks as I'm in MI next weekend through mid week cutting that weekend out.

As for moving the tweeters from the factory location, I have always preferred the sound of the tweeter when it doesn't reflect off of the windshield. I could have built the tweeter pods to be on axis in the A-pillar trim, but its too late now. My worry was the distance between the tweeter and the mid if I had also used the factory location, there is already a huge difference between the spaces whith them both in the door.

Since I am not going active (to start anyway) and I wanted to damage as few panels as possible this seemed a good option.

Mommy Wagon
03-10-2013, 11:21 AM
Great build. Love how u painted the interior black. Maybe one of these days gm will realize how bad their faux wood looks. Has been that way forever.

I know right!?!?!? How can you finish a vehicle off in this category with such poor finish an detail?

I'm not even saying that GM should have used real wood, but at least something with better feel - even aluminum, carbon fiber, alcantera, or something that doesn't scream cheap fake!

Mommy Wagon
04-08-2013, 12:04 AM

It finally arrived a week and a half ago, I just havent had time to install it yet.

Really is a great looking piece, it's too bad it's going to be under a closed hood.

I will get to installing this within the next month, if I ever get to the amps and speakers..............

Mommy Wagon
04-08-2013, 12:10 AM
Last weekend I finally got around to texturing and painting the rear panel that will hold the amp rack.

The texture look heavy until I sanded the tops off with 240 grit paper, which looked pretty good after final painting.







Mommy Wagon
04-08-2013, 12:19 AM
Today I opted to start assembling the rear panel FINALLY, as the project went deep last July and I have really been dragging my...... Anyway, the entire rear will need to come apart to reroute the wires/cables, or I will need to clearance the panel to accommodate the wires/cables in their current position. Regardless, it was a rookie mistake that I new better on. The rear part of the panel fits well, its only the front part that doesn't fit by about an 1" - the thickness of the cables! I should have mocked it up before finishing........ Oh well, a few more weekends when I have time - this will also give me a chance to figure out if I am rerouting, clearancing, or both to get that panel to sit correctly in the front.

It also was not my day with the T-Nuts, I stripped 2. Color looks off, but it's **** close - I'll grab some shots in the sun when it finally decides to come out!

Was definitely a good time to stop when I did.