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Ike’s Blue Van

by Steve Gibbs

Auto Sound and Security (Vol 6, Number 12)

Ike German's competition GMC Safari van doesn't have a catchy nickname. Ike being a quiet sort of guy and all. But, it would be easy to come up with one. How about The German Tank, No? Maybe... Ike's Capades. Still no. Because German lives in Charleston, South Carolina, how about Swamp Thang... maybe not. If Ike's installer, Chip Lucas, has his way they'll soon call ike's van World Champion.
German, a long-time competitor on the crank-it-up circuit had an auto accident in 1994 totaling his Mazda B2000 pickup and its competition sound system.

When time came to put a competition system in his new van, Ike went to Chip Lucas owner of Auto Sound Specialist in North Charleston. Lucas and German decided that this time around, they would aim high. Their goal: the world SPL record of 1 57.3dB, currently held by Doug Smith of Ohio.

Rather than rush in with a bunch of 1 5-inch subs and a wall of amplifiers, Lucas gave the matter careful thought. "We believe the theory that 50 to 65Hz is the range which produces the greatest amount of sound pressure. That's the approximate frequency response of a good 8-inch driver," Lucas explained. "So rather than try to cram in as many 15-inch drivers as we could, we decided to use 8-inch drivers... a LOT of 8-inch drivers."

Lucas and his installation crew did numerous measurements and concluded they could put 56 8-inch drivers into the van in a folded, concave arrangement behind the front seats. The speaker placement (each 8-inch driver is 57 inches from the center of the dash) was designed to take full advantage of microphone placement during an SPL competition. After creating the speaker box design, Lucas selected components which would suit his system design and budget. He chose Fultron products for their quality and cost. "It's good equipment and it doesn't cost too much," he said. In addition to 56 8-inch Fultron ProSeries drivers, German's van also has eight 5.25 Fultron mids, four in each of the front doors. High frequencies are handled by the eight tweeters which are located in the dash. A center channel was also included in Ike's blue beauty, consisting of four 4-inch mids mounted in the center console.

Powering the wall of 56 8-inchers are 14 Fultron MX200 amps. Two MXISOs power the midrange speakers, while a pair of ME!OOs take care of the tweeters and center channel speakers. Combined, the amps crank out a grand total of 3,200 watts! The power is channeled through a Crystalline preamplifier, a Fultron EQ12 equalizer, and a CX30 crossover, all of which are mounted in the overhead console. Where voltage is concerned, German's van is equipped with a Delco 160-amp alternator, four tractor batteries, and four 1-farad caps.
To provide a source signal for Ike's van, Lucas selected a 9075 detachable face head unit and a 9900 10-disc CD changer, which is courageously mounted in a compartment in the center console. "Most CD changers in high SPL vehicles like this one are mounted out of the vehicle's cab so that vibration won't make the changer skip," Lucas explained. "We constructed an elaborate foam compartment that sort of suspends the CD changer and prevents skipping. It's highly resistant to SPL shock, so the changer can actually be used in the vehicle during SPL testing."

German uses the van only infrequently and sometimes prefers to leave it with Lucas at Auto Sound Specialist. When he does drive it for pleasure, he has the option of turning off 48 of the woofers and operating on about 750 watts. "It's a very nice system," admits German, who prefers jazz. "The sound quality is really very good." Fultron's director of product development, James Roth, has been in the van and was highly impressed with its performance. "It's one of the best sounding 'boom' systems I've ever heard, but with all those 8s, it can still rumble like a maniac."

So far, German has had the van in only a few area sound-off competitions, taking five out of six first place trophies. His maximum SPL, so far, is 156 decibels. "We haven't pushed it yet," said Lucas. "We can go higher, maybe past 157.3." That would mean a new world record. It may be premature to start calling German's van "champ." So, until the world record falls maybe we'll just call it Ike’s Blue Van.


ImageAll 56 (yes you read that right) of these 8-inch woofers reside 57 inches from the center of the dash
ImagePowering the massive amount of speakers that reside in the van's cab are powered by these 18 Fultron amplifiers


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