Well, I've got it in the car and working ... Still a lot of cosmetic work to do; (pods color just looks bad, I need to trim the upper curve on them to mesh better; the sub/amp trim panel is still a skeleton; etc.etc.) but I'm taking a break and listening to them for now.
I gotta say I *REALLY* don't like the alpine unit at this point. It's firmware is glitchy, the PC software is crappy, the auto-setup doesn't work properly, etc.etc.etc. So far:
-The software wouldn't install on my laptop. Gets at 95% or so, gives an error (numbered without description) and backs out. A call to support just blamed the laptop (a dell netbook with win7, good antivirus, all updates, and no other issues). Ended up having to get my wife's PC, haul it downstairs, get an extension cord, and run it by the car.
-The software in the unit concerning the microphone is often disfunctional (mic tests out fine on my PC, but plug in to the box and try to run a sweep and it says "mic error"). Unplug and plug the mic 5-6 times and if I'm lucky it'll start working. However, if I connect to a PC - even WHILE it's got the mic error - it will pick up and utilize the mic no problem.
-The unit will not work until you've completed the auto-setup process. The auto-setup process must complete 4 mic sweeps (see above for why that became a HUGE issue).
-According to the instructions, if you get to the mic sweep portion of the setup, you can then plug in a PC to complete the setup that way. Great! Only if you do that, it doesn't consider setup complete, so next time you boot the unit up it tries to go through the setup process again.
-During bootup it gives you an option to set your crossovers for a multi-way setup (as mine is). Then it just ignores your selections and you have to set it again later. No idea whether it uses the settings for the mic sweeps.
-Manual includes not one single shred of instructions for the PC software, only a vague reference to being able to use it.
In short, it does exactly what it says it will do ... but only after several hours of armwrestling the stupid thing around its own firmware. I don't think I've ever messed with a less functional setup process in my life.
It's in and working and sounding great now, but I just can't recommend this thing. Maybe I got a defective one, but other than the mic error these all seems like design flaws...
Having said that, I'm liking all the rest of the setup! The crossovers in the JL amp are excellent - I'm not using them because I want to keep the time delay from the Alpine working... If it wasn't for REALLY wanting time alignment, a $20 line converter and the amp could do the job without the alpine being in place at all. And it's got plenty of power - The subs will boom if I make them, and the whole system gets crazy loud with no clipping. The speakers are excellent; I've got the mid/highs crossed over in the 400hz range, which I was nervous about considering it's a 2" mid, but it handles it fine even at very high volume. The midbass is almost like a little sub; I'm playing around with the crossover point there - I think 70hz is probably going to give the smoothest transition while still maintaining bass-up-front illusion (any higher and I start picking up cues from the subs), but I was able to go down to 60 without losing any significant oomph.
I'll get some pics later, but right now the RCAs are something of a rats nest from the fight with the Alpine, so I need to at least straighten those up a bit first
Also... I don't listen to a lot of extremely bass-heavy music, but as a test of power consumption I cranked the subs quite a bit past what I normally would and listened to Rage Against the Macine on my drive in this morning. Not enough to see the impact, that's for sure. I pulled in with the dash showing pretty much exactly what it normally shows for efficiency, range, and battery. I didn't see any change at all in power consumption on the energy meter. I'm starting to think none of the gauges really measure the energy that goes to the 12v battery... or maybe consumption is even lower than I thought. Either way, good news, but there might be room for an even larger amp system without major power impacts.