In-Dash Bass Processor/SPL Meter
Owner’s Enjoyment Manual
ongratulations on your purchase of the world’s finest in-dash
bass restoration processor with an SPL (sound pressure level)
display. Whether this is your first product from the rainforest
dwellers of AudioControl or you are already a firm believer, you
will definitely enjoy the EPIC-160. Remember, it comes from
AudioControl, the experts at bass enhancement and building SPL
displays and measurement tools.
Now before you start salivating too much just thinking about
what the EPIC-160 can add to your system, take a few minutes to
sit back, have a latté, decaffeinated if necessary, and read through
this manual. It contains lots of useful facts and information (and
besides, we spent a lot of time writing it)!!
Features Of The EPIC-160
Here are some of the cool features that are enclosed in this
magical box:
• Patented bass restoration circuit
- U.S. Patent #4,698,842
• SPL display up to 160 dB
• Battery Voltage indicator
• Speaker level inputs
• Para-BASS Controls
• Balanced differential inputs
22410 70th Avenue West • Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043 USA
Phone 425-775-8461 • Fax 425-778-3166 •
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Patented Bass Restoration: The EPIC-160 contains the most
popular bass maximization circuitry in the world made famous by
The Epicenter. This circuit accurately recreates and injects low
frequency information back into the signal path. What that means
in everyday terms is that the EPIC-160 will give more bass impact
to your best compact discs, MP3 tracks or even your old tapes (if
you happen to have any lying around). US Patent #4,698,842.
SPL display: AudioControl designs and manufactures a
complete line of professional real time analyzers/SPL meters and
microphone calibrators that are used by professional sound contractors, studio engineers and are the standard measurement tools for
sound-off organizations like IASCA and USACi. It is that background that lets us equip the EPIC-160 with a 160 dB capable
microphone and SPL display.
Battery Voltage Indicator: The EPIC-160 gives you the
option of measuring the SPL output of your system and it also
allows monitoring of the battery voltage of your system. Wonder
why your SPL is a little lower this week versus last? Many times
you should check your cars electrical system to make sure it is still
putting out like it used to.
Speaker Level Inputs: If you are like most people and like
the look and features of your factory installed source unit but feel
it’s lacking power (and bass), we have good news. The EPIC-160
has a unique high impedance speaker level input that will interface
with most factory installed source units (even Bose) and let you add
amplifiers and speakers to your hearts content. However, unlike
some of the cheesy LOC’s (line output converters) available, the
EPIC-160 offers a very high fidelity sound quality input.
Para-BASStm Equalization: The EPIC-160 will increase
your bass, and control it. The EPIC-160 uses our
Para- BASS equalization circuit to help shape
the enhanced bass to match with your
speaker system.
Bulletproof Warranty: The most
important feature of all. Every AudioControl product is selflessly designed and manufactured by the occupants of our
rainforest factory. We take every effort to ensure that you will have
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many years of enjoyment out of your EPIC-160. To ensure the
performance of your new toy, we highly recommend that you allow
your authorized AudioControl dealer to perform the
installation. Not only do they have all the right knowledge and tools, but also in the unlikely chance the
EPIC-160 should fail, we will back it with a limited
five years parts and labor warranty. Should you
choose to install it yourself we will still give you
one-year parts and labor warranty. To activate
your warranty, you need to FILL OUT AND
We also recommend that you save your invoice or sales slip as
proof of installation and ownership. Not only is it necessary for
warranty purposes, but should your EPIC-160 turn up “missing”
some day while you are out watching the salmon run, you will find
insurance companies are very unforgiving without proof of purchase.
We interrupt your reading of this manual to provide the
impatient people with “Quick Install” information and guidelines:
The AudioControl EPIC-160 was designed to produce bass
like you have never heard before. With that said it is important to
take the following precautions during its use.
1. If you have an equalizer in your system, turn down any bass tone
controls and initally use the EPIC-160 to pump up your bass.
Otherwise, the results could be, shall we say... interesting.
2. You will want to reduce any bass tone control, loudness control,
or other secondary bass controls prior to turning on the EPIC160. Once your system is up and running, you may then opt to
use them again, although we doubt it!
3. Good bass response requires an appropriate choice of speakers
and amplification. Since the bass frequencies always require
more power and cone area than higher frequencies...BE PREPARED. Small speakers (smaller than 6x9 or 8”) and lack of
power will be detrimental to your system (and themselves).
Now back to your previously interrupted Owner’s Enjoyment
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Quick Install Information
The EPIC-160 needs to be installed in the signal path between
a source unit and an external amplifier(s). Although it can be
installed after an equalizer, it must be installed BEFORE A
Figure 1: Basic EPIC-150 System
Once this is done, you need to hook up + 12 volt power, -12
volt ground, remote turn-on, and connect the illumination wire. If
you need to know more, then read on. Heck, if you don’t think you
need to know more, you should still read on, because you can never
know too much.
Frequency Center
Para-BASS Bandwidth Wide
Range from 30-250Hz
Input Grounding
Ground Isolation
200ohm or Ground
Choice of beverage
Micro-brew Latté
Page #
Note: Moving jumpers or adjusting the Para-BASS controls
can change these configurations.
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The Front Panel
Ê Bass Restoration Control a.k.a. “The Knob”: This knob
controls how much of the restored bass is added to your audio signal.
Being that it is a knob, this means you can SLOWLY increase or
decrease the amount of processed bass. (Read as: LISTEN FIRST,
Ë Restoration: By pushing in this switch you engage the bass
restoration circuit.
Ì Para-BASS Controls: These two knobs control the ParaBASS equalization functions of the EPIC-160. The “Frequency”
knob allows you to select the center frequency that you want the
EPIC-160 bass maximization circuit to affect. The “Width” knob
adjusts how wide of a range around the center frequency the EPIC160 will affect.
Í dB/Volts: Although this sounds like a new heavy metal
group, this switch allows you to select whether the display on your
EPIC-160 is showing SPL levels in dB (decibels) or electrical levels
in volts. Rock on!
Î Peak Hold: If you ever got high score on Space Invaders but
nobody was there to watch, you know what this switch is for. When
engaged, the display on your EPIC-160 will show the highest SPL or
voltage reading that it measured (as long as your EPIC-160 is turned on).
➏ SPL/Voltage Display: This super bright display will show
either the sound pressure levels or battery voltage depending on
where the dB/Volts switch is set.
Ð Bass Restoration Indicator: If this light is flashing, your car
should be bump’n!
Ñ High SPL Warning Indicator: Since you will probably
brush over our warning about SPL and potential hearing damage, this
indicator light comes on at 120 dB to give you a gentle warning
about how loud your system is.
Ò 160 dB Microphone: Behind this tiny little hole is the microphone element that measures your systems SPL. Should you wish to
have very low readings make sure you cover this opening.
Figure 2: EPIC-160 Front Panel
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Figure 4: Top view of EPIC-160
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The Top View
Ê Power Connections: This nifty connector is a godsend to
anyone who has tried to wire up their gear with their head crammed
under the dash. You can wire up the power, ground, remote turnon, and illumination from the convenience of the driver’s seat and
then casually plug it in the back of your EPIC-160.
Ë Outputs: These RCA connectors should be connected to
the next component after the EPIC-160, such as a crossover,
equalizer, or amplifier. Just remember, for maximum performance
the EPIC-160 must go before any crossovers!
Ì Inputs: The EPIC-160 has two sets of quick inputs, MAIN
and SPEAKER LEVEL. These inputs should get their signals from
the main source unit/head unit and should attach to either RCA
jacks or speaker leads that are coming out of your source unit.
Í Input Grounding: For most systems you can leave this
jumper set in the BALANCED position. In some systems, the
source unit may look for a ground through the RCA connection to
the amplifier and create a ground loop, which in turn can cause a
whine in your system (we are not talking about Pinot Noir). In that
event, you should go ahead and change the jumpers to the UNBALANCED position.
Î Illumination Selection: These jumpers let you switch the
backlight illumination from green to amber. Given our devotion to
protect the Rainforest, the EPIC-160 is shipped in the green mode.
Ï Ground Isolation Selector: Occasionally alternator whine
may appear in a system because the source unit and amplifier are
using different grounding schemes. To help in this situation, we
have provided alternative grounding connections. Make sure your
system is turned OFF before you move these jumpers.
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The Story Behind
The Epicenter Bass Restoration
Now that you have purchased the EPIC-160 you may ask
yourself, “Why would I need to restore bass?” The truth is that
during the recording process, low frequency information can be
“mixed” down or filtered out during the recording process. It’s not
that recording engineers are out to get you; in fact they are looking
out for your best interest and are concerned that many speakers
systems can not handle “truly” low bass information.
The patented circuit inside the EPIC-160 is designed to reproduce the low frequency information by looking at the upper frequency ranges and detecting musical harmonics. These harmonics
then allow The Epicenter circuitry to drop a few octaves and
reproduce the “missing” bass notes.
The bottom line is that The Epicenter technology gives you
deep, body shuddering, heart stopping bass. Can you handle it?
Figure 5: How The Epicenter Circuitry Works
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Before you go out and design yourself a 140 dB
plus SPL monster, you might want to consider the
Nuclear Explosion
200 dB +
Airplane Engine take off at 100 feet 140 dB
Jack Hammer
130 dB
Normal conversation speech
60 dB
If you have dreams of rocking around your neighborhood,
blowing away Mr. Rogers and all your friends with decibel levels of
160 or higher, you might think twice. In fact, in many areas if your
place of employment is louder than 85 dB, your boss is obligated to
provide you with ear protection. Therefore, should you choose to
expose yourself to SPL greater than 100 dB by cranking up your
system, you should utilize some sort of ear protection.
Now we don’t want to rain on your parade or discourage you
from “letting it loose”, but do be careful with your ears because like
your brain cells, once your hearing is gone, it don’t come back. Of
course always avoid inhaling, especially through your ears. Since
many of you get caught listening to your music, we have equipped
your EPIC-160 with a warning LED that comes on when it measures sound pressure levels greater than 120 dB. Above 120 dB
you must use hearing protection to avoid damage!
Up to this point everything you have read has served to educate you on the operations of the EPIC-160. We are sure that you
are chomping at the bit to install the EPIC-160 so we recommend
you read the following sections very carefully.
A. Placement & Mounting Of The EPIC-160
Placement: By definition, the EPIC-160 in-dash processor
was designed to be installed on or near the dashboard of most cars.
Regardless of where you “physically” install the EPIC-160, it needs
to be placed in the signal path as close to your source unit as
possible; definitely BEFORE any crossover circuit.
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Mounting: The EPIC-160 is flexible enough to mount almost
anywhere, although somewhere on the dash or in a center console
is the most logical. You will want to be able to access it while you
are sitting in the driver’s seat of your vehicle. The EPIC-160 is
designed to be mounted almost anywhere in a vehicle, although it is
recommended to avoid hot spots like the firewall, engine compartment, or tail pipe. The mounting location must also be safe from
water seepage or areas with bad seals (rubber gaskets, not sleek
furry mammals who eat salmon). If there are old (or new) water
stains, stay away. We have provided brackets to assist you in
mounting the EPIC-160 chassis under your dashboard or wherever
you may choose. The screw holes on the EPIC-160 chassis also
allow for easy installation underneath a radio or with a dash kit. It
is of utmost importance to mount the EPIC-160 securely to avoid
any undue stress or breakage from over acceleration or braking.
B. EPIC-160 Power Wiring
• ENLIGHTENING INFO • Disconnect the negative terminal of your car’s battery before working on any electrical connections. Failure to do so could lead to a dramatic spark in your life.
Remote Turn-On: Connect a 22 to 18 gauge wire from the
head-unit’s remote turn-on to the “Remote” connector on the
Positive (+12V) Connection: Insert an 18 gauge or larger
wire into the connector labeled “Power” on the nifty connector of
your EPIC-160. Connect it to a good, fused (1 amp), constant
source of 12 volts (we suggest the battery.)
Ground Connection: Use the same gauge wire as you did for
the positive connector and run it from the “Ground” connector on
the EPIC-160 to the negative terminal of the battery, a ground buss,
or a verified ground location. The factory head unit ground is NOT
Illumination: The connector labeled “Illumination” on your
EPIC-160 controls the backlighting of your unit. If you run a wire
from this connector to a switched 12-volt source, such as the
“Remote” turn on wire on your source unit, you light up the backlighting on the EPIC-160. A better idea is to connect the illumination
wire to a factory dash light dimmer and you now have the ability to dim
the backlighting of the EPIC-160 with your dash lights.
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C. EPIC-160 Audio Wiring
Planning: As you may already have guessed, there are
numerous ways to configure the EPIC-160 in your audio system.
Spend a little quality time planning out your system and even
sketching it out on paper if you can. The following diagrams are
just a few of the system options:
Figure 7: EPIC-160 with EQX
Figure 8: EPIC-160 with THREE.1
Figure 9: EPIC-160 with factory installed source unit
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Figure 10: EPIC-160 with EQS and 4-channel source unit
Adjusting the Para-BASS Controls
The bass response in a system is affected by four factors (1)
the acoustics of the vehicle, (2) the location of the speakers, and (3)
the music on the tape, CD, or source unit, and (4) amplifiers,
speakers and speaker enclosures. Because of the variations in the
recording process, we developed the EPIC-160 to help restore any
low frequencies lost during the recording process. However, the
acoustics of various environments are different. With this in mind
our coffee-laden engineers developed the unique Para-BASS TM
The “Frequency” control allows you to select a center frequency (the frequency most affected) between 27 and 63 Hz. The
“Width” control then allows you to control the shape of the filter
centered on the “Frequency”. You will want to use a real time
analyzer or a good set of ears to set this control.
No Power: If the Power LED on your EPIC-160 will not turn
on, check to make sure that the power wire and remote turn on
wires are connected or a fuse has not blown.
No Bass Restoration: When your system is playing and yet
you don’t hear any difference in the sound, trying turn the knob
clockwise. If you still don’t hear any affect, then check to make
sure that you have the EPIC-160 in the right part of the signal
chain. It must be installed BEFORE any crossovers in the system.
Note: If you are using a source unit with a built in crossover
or processor, you must run a full range output to the EPIC-160’s
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Sounds Distorted: Should your system sound distorted or
your speakers are moving way too much, you should decrease the
amount of bass restoration by turning the dash control knob
counter clockwise.
No Display: The display on your EPIC-160 should always be
showing either the systems SPL or the battery voltage. If the
display is showing nothing, see the above section on “No Power”.
The EQL Concert Series is our award winning dual bandwidth, trunk mount equalizer. Thirteen full octave and 1/2-octave
spaced bands help tame even the most wicked acoustical environment, your car. Need a crossover and an equalizer. The EQX
Concert Series is just the ticket.
The 3XStm is a 4 channel, 2way crossover with breathtakingly
steep 24dB per octave slopes. If
performance is important to you,
then you will appreciate the 3XS.
If more signal voltage is
necessary in your system, don’t feel
alone. Many customers have added
Overdrive or Matrix line drivers and felt like they had new amplifiers in their systems.
Do you want to make your
home audio system sound just as
good as your car audio system?
Good news! AudioControl makes a
complete line of products signal
processors that do the same amazing things for your home audio or
theater system.
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And now a word from the legal department...
People are scared of warranties. Lots of fine print. Months of
waiting around. Well, fear no more, this warranty is designed to
make you rave about us to your friends. It’s a warranty that looks
out for you and helps you resist the temptation to have your friend,
“...who’s good with electronics”, try to repair your AudioControl
product. So go ahead, read this warranty, and then take a few days
to enjoy the EPIC-160 before sending in the warranty card and
“Conditional” doesn’t mean anything ominous. The Federal
Trade Commission tells all manufacturers to use the term to indicate that certain conditions have to be met before they’ll honor the
warranty. If you meet all of these conditions, we will warrant all
materials and workmanship on the EPIC-160 for one year from the
date you bought it (five years if it is installed by an authorized
United States AudioControl dealer). We will fix or replace it, at our
option, during that time.
Here are the conditional conditions:
1. You have to fill out the warranty card and send it to us within 15
days after purchasing the EPIC-160.
2. You must keep your sales receipt for proof of purchase showing
when and from whom the unit was bought. We’re not the only
ones who require this, so it’s a good habit to get into with any
major purchase.
3. Your EPIC-160 must have originally been purchased from an
authorized AudioControl dealer. You do not have to be the original
owner, but you do need a copy of the original sales slip.
4. You cannot let anybody who isn’t: (A) the AudioControl factory;
(B) somebody authorized in writing by AudioControl to service
your EPIC-160. If anyone other than (A) or (B) messes with
your EPIC-160, that voids your warranty.
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5. The warranty is also void if the serial number is altered or
removed, or if the EPIC-160 has been used improperly. Now
that sounds like a big loophole, but here is all we mean by it.
Unwarranted abuse is: (A) physical damage (don’t use the EPIC160 for a jack stand); (B) improper connections (120 volts into
the power jack can fry the poor thing); (C) sadistic things. This
is the best mobile product we know how to build, but if you
mount it to the front bumper of your car, something will go
6. If an authorized United States AudioControl dealer installs the
EPIC-160, the warranty is five years.
Assuming you conform to 1 through 6, and it really isn’t all that
hard to do, we get the option of fixing your old unit or replacing it with
a new one.
This is the only warranty given by AudioControl. This warranty gives you specific legal rights that vary from state to state.
Promises of how well the EPIC-160 will perform are not implied by
this warranty. Other than what we have covered in this warranty,
we have no obligation, express or implied. Also, we will not be
obligated for direct or indirect consequential damage to your system
caused by hooking up the EPIC-160.
Failure to send in a properly completed warranty card negates
any service claims.
© 2003, AudioControl, a division of Electronic Engineering and Manufacturing, Inc.
All rights reserved
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All specifications are measured at 14.4 VDC (standard automotive voltage). As technology advances, AudioControl reserves
the right to continuously change our specifications, like our
weather, although we are working on it.
Maximum input level........................................................... 15 Vrms
Maximum output level ................................................... 13.5 Vpeak
Frequency response ........................................10Hz-100kHz;+/-1dB
Total harmonic distortion ..................................................... 0.003%
Signal to Noise ratio ............................................................- 130dB
Balanced input noise rejection ................................................. 60dB
Microphone acoustical level................................... 70 dB to 160 dB
High SPL Warning ................................................................ 120 dB
Input Impedance .............................................................. 10 Kohms
Output Impedance............................................................ 160 Ohms
Power supply ................................................ High headroom PWM
Power draw ........................................................................... 300mA
Recommended fuse rating ...................................................... 1 Amp
Size .............................................................. 6.75" W x 5" D x 1" H
Weight ....................................................................................... 2 lbs
Patent Number ..................................................................4,698,842
making good stereo sound better®
22410 70th Avenue West
Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043
Phone 425-775-8461 • Fax 425-778-3166
© 2003, AudioControl, a division of Electronic Engineering and Manufacturing, Inc.
All rights reserved
AudioControl, Making Good Stereo Sound Better, Performance Match, The Epicenter, EQL, EQX, and EPIC-160 are all trademarks of Electronic Engineering and
Manufacturing, Inc.
This literature was conceived, designed, and written on a bleak, windy, and dreary
rain-drenched day at our home in the Pacific Northwest Rainforest. The wheat beer was
cold and so was the weather.
P/N 9130720
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