In the Hot Seat with Garry Springgay

Real world questions from readers like you! Have a car audio related question? Send it to us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it !

Matt: Hi there. I have a 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe. It has two  Kicker CompVRs powered by a Kicker ZX 1500.1 amplifier. The system shuts down when I crank on the volume. I have already blown the amp once. I have been told that my amplifier is not getting enough power through my $30 four-gauge CCA wiring, and that the voltage drops to below 10 volts. I don’t believe this, since my wiring is already rated for 2,100 watts, and my dash voltmeter never goes below 12 volts. So my question is: What do I need to do to keep the amp from shutting down?

Garry: Matt, unfortunately you can seldom go by the wire manufacturer’s watt rating as it’s printed on the package, unless the kit is full-spec, 100-percent copper. Those numbers found on the cheap CCA kits are typically very optimistic, and shouldn’t be believed. 

CCA wire is fine if you run a larger-gauge than you normally would with copper. I suggest going up two full gauge sizes to get performance equivalent to copper. At this point, you’ll find the large gauge CCA cable is about the same price as the four-gauge pure copper kit. There’s no free lunch when it comes to physics. 

With your existing cable, you have several things working against you at this point. First, you are trying to power a high quality amplifier that can draw in excess of 100-amps of current with a very inexpensive copper-clad aluminum wiring kit. Premium components will never work well with inexpensive, low-performance cables. Despite Internet marketing claims, CCA wire is NOT equal to copper cable of the same gauge size. CCA wire has over 30-percent higher resistance than pure copper wire. Add to this that most of these el-cheapo kits are under-gauged to begin with. This means that as the amp’s current demands increase, the actual voltage delivered to the amp is reduced. In many cases, the voltage can drop by several volts between the battery and the amp terminals. Your truck’s voltmeter is not fed off the CCA cable, so it does not show the problem. Running that wire with that amp is like putting retreads on a Ferrari. 

Buy a good quality, pure copper, full-spec four-gauge wiring kit, or a much larger-gauge CCA kit and replace your existing wire. Then make sure your alternator and battery are in good condition. Once you get those points looked after, that Kicker amp will provide you with all the power it was designed to, and you won’t have to worry about damaging it or starving it for power any longer.

Mike: I have a Focal FPS 4160 amplifier and a Focal Sub P 30 DB subwoofer. Can I drive the woofer’s dual coils with the front and rear channels of the amp in bridged mode?

Garry: Your amplifier is designed to work with no less than four-ohm loads in bridged mode. If I recall correctly, the Sub P 30 DB is a dual four-ohm coil woofer rated at 300-watts, or 150-watts per coil. You could conceivably connect each woofer coil to a set of bridged connections on your amp, but you’d have a lot more power on tap than the woofer was meant for. This would work, but you’d need to be careful with the volume control.  

Another way to do this would be to wire the woofer coils in series, which would give you an eight-ohm load. A bridged output on that amp will produce about 200-watts into eight ohms. This would work fine, but it will not give you all the power the amp is capable of, and you’d only be using one set of outputs.

If it were up tp me, I would use that nice Focal amp for my mids and tweets, and get a small, capable two-ohm mono amp to drive the sub. Good luck whichever way you go! 

 

Casey: Hi, I enjoy the magazine and I get lots of great ideas from you guys. This is my first time writing to a magazine for help. I tried an Internet forum and got too many different answers, so I want to ask the pros. I have three older JL Audio subwoofers that I want to put in a single enclosure and drive them with a Hifonics Colossus amp. The woofers all have dual six-ohm coils. How do I wire this setup to get absolute maximum power from the amp?

Garry: Hi Casey, glad to hear you enjoy the magazine, and also happy to answer your question. 

Frankly, this one is pretty obvious, so I’m surprised there was another way even discussed. This was a popular woofer configuration back in the 1990s. Since your Colossus amp is capable of driving one-ohm loads, to maximize power delivery you’ll want to get a final load as close to one-ohm as possible, but without going under one-ohm. 

The easiest way to do this is to wire everything in parallel. This means connecting the woofer’s positive terminals together, and then the negative terminals are connected together. This results in a three-ohm woofer configuration. Now, if you parallel all the positives together and then all the negatives together, the final impedance for the three woofers will be about 1.5-ohms. Your amp will drive this load with no problem and you will be getting the most power possible to your rather cool, old school woofer system. 

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