NTPOG 5th Gen Bass Shaker Installation

Author: Todd Marcucci
 


What the Hell Is A Bass Shaker?
Aura Systems is manufacturer of home, car, and professional sound equipment. The Bass Shaker is a product that they began producing which is essentially a transducer- it vibrates directly proportional to an applied voltage. This is no new concept (Hello, can you say SPEAKER?) but it is different in that it is designed to vibrate a mass, NOT move air with a cone. It has remarkable low-end clarity and efficiency.

Why use it? Because it's neato! Seriously, the ones that I purchased ran me $25 for the pair plus shipping. I'll go more into that later. If you want low end, and I mean CLEAR low end with low distortion and a lot of punch, you're typically looking at a high-dollar 10" or 12" woofer with some serious (and clean) power behind it. Due to the Shaker's high efficiency and low moving mass, you can accurately reproduce low frequencies with low power and quite frankly, crappy power. Even the top-of-the-line Shakers by Aura only handle about 50W RMS.

These aren't a replacement for a sub. Well, they are, but you have to understand the theory. They don't work well with anything over about 70 or 80Hz. Vocals sound like hell through them, so the HAVE to be crossed over. The padding in the seat does a lot to help this, but I still recommend at least a 90Hz crossover or lower (I run mine at 60Hz). A sharp rolloff (12dB or more) helps as well. These will add the "punch" of a large woofer without the space requirements or the cost. You'll still need some mid-bass like what a 6" woofer or 6x9 is good for. This will give you a little "boom" since the Shakers have mostly "punch." The stock 6x9's serve me well for this purpose (with the stock amp).

A note of caution: these things are LOW power. Driving it with anything over 20W RMS probably not a good idea. I'm using a 50W RMS amp with gain at 1/2 and the head unit's output at 1/2. Take this as a warning that these will not operate very cleanly with more than 20W RMS (they happen to be a 4 ohm load, like a normal speaker).

For a little more info on the lude's stock system (and upgrades), check Gary's Prelude Audio System FAQ.

What You Need
I cranked this project out in a ridiculously short amount of time. It took me longer to plan than to build:

- Phillips screwdriver & pliers (or socket/wrench set)
- At least 3ft of 1.5" x 1/8" steel flat stock (or bigger)
- 12 1/4"-20 x .5" to 1" bolts and locking nuts
- Old towel, packing foam, or other soft padding
- Amplified source of some type (with crossover!)
- Enough speaker wire, loom, and wire ties to get to your amp
- 2 "Aura Interactor" systems from MECI, item # 220-0255F @ $12.95 ea.

How...
You'll need to acquire the above Aura Interactor. This was a device, fun in itself, designed to interface to a Nintendo (really any audio source) and strap onto you, "transmitting the engery of the game:"

  

Personally, they do a helluva lot better in the Prelude than in the plastic flak-jacket that they made. A torx driver and a few minutes later, and you've liberated the driver that each one of these things has:

Now, you'll need to remove the skin off of the targeted seat. This may seem impossible at first, but after comparing the Helm's poor seat description to the seat itself, I figured their "locking" mechanism out. Look at the bottom of the seatback, where it meets the seat bottom (this is easiest from the back seat with the front seat reclined). The front piece of material comes back, making a half S-turn back into a "U" channel in the seatback's fabric. The Honda diagram wasn't that easy for me to follow; here's mine:

You'll need to try and hold the seatback's material by the edge while pulling (gently) the front's material out of the U-channel from behind. It's easiest to do this from the side near the zipper.

Once you get the material apart, you can fish out the rest of the zipper (it's tucked up in the seat material). Now you can unzip the material and slide it up. Be careful as to how far you slide it up, as there are occasional springs sewn into the material to hold it on the seat. You should be able to bring it up enough to do the work without damaging or having to remove them.

Here's what you're shooting for:

You'll need to mount the braces for the Shakers where the holes are circled.

Framework
Now you need to brace these so they'll mount on the seat. You should be able to use anything that's stiff, like flat steel stock, but you'll need to of course account for the shakers' mounting holes AND the bolt in the center (ie you can't mount it to a piece of 6"x6" flat). I cut two pieces of 1.5" x 3/16" steel flat. They're uneven lengths as well- I measured 1-7/16" for the top one and 1-1/2 for the bottom one. I suggest you measure again to be sure... and that you have clearance for the bolts you use to mount them to the seat holes.

Once you get them cut, you can place the shakers and see how they'll mount. I placed mine about 2" apart, centered on the seat back. Note, too, that you need them towards the center; they'll stick out a little, requiring the "padding" that was called out earlier. Too far towards the edges and you might stretch the seat material unnecessarily. Once you settle on a location, mark and drill at least 4 of the mounting bolts for the shakers. The tighter they are against the brackets, the more bass you'll feel.

Here's a shot of the installed drivers:

Now you need to wire them- I used 16 ga. speaker wire, soldered to the terminals, run through wireloom under the carpet to the trunk (and my 4ch. Kenwood amp). Remember to keep the drivers in phase!

Wrap it Up
Once you run wires, you can button things back up. The seat upholstery takes patience, but it's possible. Be careful not to tear the fabric and try to "chase" the front material back into the rear's U-channel in the reverse of the image shown above. Once you get the hang of it, it's pretty easy.

Before you start cranking it, remember the warnings on crossovers and power- try not to overdrive them. Just like normal speakers, the voice coils are designed for a certain power input (your guess is as good as mine). Based on the low cost and size of these guys, I bet it's low. Overpower it and blow the coils, that simple.

Update
I recently picked up a set of Pro Bass Shakers used- these are much higher power (50W RMS) versions of what's shown here. Unfortunately they are much larger as well. While I was only able to fit one of the Pro's where I had two of the small ones show here, It's output with 50W RMS behind is phenomenally greater. It sounds (feels) awesome, I HIGHLY recommend the Pro over these smaller ones (if you can find them). They do come in a pair, though, at $150, so either plan on doing both seats, two cars, or go into it with a friend.

I'd also like to offer another source: Parts Express. They have a great reputation and usually have Aura's products in stock (and cheap). They don't carry the Pro's (as of the time of this writing) but they do carry the mid-level version that is takes more power than those in this article (but less than the Pro's). I believe you will only be able to fit one, but it still should be well worth the $10-$15 investment.

Hopefully you find these as cool as I do! If you have any comments, additions, or corrections, as always, email the author.



This page last updated 4/3/01.