BCD396 External Amplified Speaker Solution!!

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Sep 30, 2006
London Ontario Canada
I usually listen to the 396 in a big truck (International 9200) with a very high ambient noise level... road noise, CB background chatter, Sirius Radio background noise, etc... and unfortunately, the little half-watt speaker just doesn't cut it.

I tried the external Uniden 20 watt external speaker, with only limited success, and was in the process of searching for a used Motorola amplified speaker locally (with no luck). As I was cruising down the street in Woodstock, Ontario, I noticed the local "Sound Man" electronics store was having a sidewalk sale... Always the sucker for anything electronic, I stopped in. I was explaining my scanner situation to the tech who was on duty (and he WAS the store tech,) and he picked up a small external 12-volt audio amplifier, and said this would solve the problem. $20.00

It is a Kenwood KAC-425 2x40 watt amplifier. What I liked about it was the fact that it was adjustable for input wattage via a small dial on the rear... tunable all the way down to 300mw. Small size, too... about 1" x 4" x 6". I brought it home, and installed it. Since it had outputs for two speakers, I took advantage of that fact and plugged it into two twenty-watt Uniden Bearcat external speakers, (one under the passenger seat, one mounted behind the drivers' seat) hooked up the electronics, plugged in the little 396, and turned it on.

Yowsers !!! Almost blew me out of the truck.

Where before I was straining to hear at the 15 volume level, it is now comfortable to listen to at the 4 volume level... at the 6 level and above, the scanner transmissions can be heard outside the truck with the (loud!) engine running!

Further testing revealed that the I could not transmit on the CB at the same time the amp was on, due to an unnerving feedback screech of the loudest magnitude... Rather than make a trip back into town for a cut-out relay, I installed an available mini-switch in the dash beside the CB.. it's a simple matter to flip the switch and momentarily shut down the amp before I transmit.

This works in my truck... lots of interior room to install things, the dash is metal, lots of grounds everywhere (including the factory-installed dashboard battery terminals). Total installation time was just under two hours, including wiring, routing wires and drilling the holes to mount the amplifier and the extra speakers.

If anyone else is looking for an alternative amplified speaker solution, this may be one avenue to persue.




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