Parts Express Dayton RSS390HF-4 15″ Reference Home Theater Subwoofer Review

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If you are in the market for an affordable yet high quality 15″ subwoofer for your next DIY project, then look no further than the Dayton Reference 15″ subwoofer. While Dayton may not be a household name, they produce some of the best affordable speakers, subs and amplifiers on the market. This sub is perfect for the DIYer looking to get extra clean and extremely low bass yet has the space for a large cabinet. With a 4.5 to 5 cubic foot cabinet, this sub is more than capable at producing sub 20 hz frequencies that can that can rival $1000+ commercial subwoofer systems. This sub makes the perfect centerpiece to any high quality, high output home theater system and you will be hard pressed at finding anything else like it at this price. Click Here for Additional Information on this subwoofer.

Click Here for sub 20Hz Home Theater cabinet/enclosure plans using the Dayton 15″ Reference Sub

Build Quality

To be honest, this is one of the highest quality subs I have seen to date. While I didn’t have a chance to weigh it, this thing easily weighs in excess of 20-30 pounds. The cone is very high quality and very attractive. The rubber surround is extremely heavy duty and very durable. The basket is a first rate heavy duty cast piece. The sub features heavy duty push type gold connectors so no soldering or crimp style connectors needed here. Simply push the connector open and slide the speaker wire in. All in all, everything on this sub screams high quality. There is not a single part I can point out as being cheap in any way. Build quality is a perfect 5/5. Click Here for Additional Information on this subwoofer


Specs on this sub are very impressive and easy to work with. The sub will work in both ported and sealed cabinets so any DIYer can easily build an enclosure to get massive amounts of bass. This sub can also be used in an existing enclosure provided it is large enough. Specs feature:

-500 watts RMS and 800 watts MAX for high output
-Frequency response of 18-90 hz.
-FS of 18 hz for extra low frequency reproduction
-14mm XMax for high excursion
-2.5″ voice coil diameter
-4ohms impedance for getting the most out of your amplifier
-150oz magnet
Click Here for more Specs

I would say the specs on this sub are easily a 5 out 5 which makes it easy to build an enclosure for provided you have the space for a large cabinet.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is where the RSS390HF-4 really shines. I have mine in a 5 cubic foot (approx) ported enclosure using the Dayton HPSA500 500W Subwoofer Amplifier and this thing really rocks. It easily produces sub 20 hz frequencies. I have had every thing from 8″, 10″ and 12″ subs in all different types of enclosures and this 15″ in a ported enclosure produces some of the lowest, cleanest bass notes I have ever heard, hands down. I mainly use mine for home theater purposes and after building the cabinet and getting it all hooked up, I went back and watched some of my older movies , I heard (more like felt) notes I never even knew were there. I will post the plans and specs for my easy to build enclosure later for those interested in building your own. One of my favorite bass tracks is on the Flight of the Phoenix remake. The first scene where the plane is flying and about to land is simply amazing. It must be heard to be believed. All I can say is, you won’t hear anything like it from any subwoofer south of $1000 and you definitely will not hear anything like it at your local Best Buy. Once you hear this subwoofer you will be amazed at what you have been missing in your movie watching. I rate the sound quality of this sub a perfect 5/5. Click Here for Additional Information on this subwoofer

Overall Impressions

My overall impressions are that this is basically the perfect home theater sub for the DIYer wanting $2000 worth of sound quality at a quarter of the price. It produces some ultra low clean bass and will work in a variety of both sealed and ported enclosures provided they are large enough. About the only downside on this sub is the fact that you have to build or use a rather large enclosure to experience the extreme low frequencies. If you have the room though, the Dayton Reference 15″ subwoofer is probably your best choice. I give it a perfect 5/5 and would even consider any other subwoofer at this price point. Click Here for Additional Information on this subwoofer

Harbor Freight Hot Blade Decal Remover – Remove Foam Tape and Pin Stripping the Easy Way

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The Harbor Freight Decal remover makes taking off decal, pin stripes and the like very easy to remove from your vehicle without damaging your paint. The decal remover is essentially a soldering iron with a box cutter type blade holder. Best of all, it’s less than 10 bucks! This thing works great for removing foam tape adhesive from body trim as well. No need to use harsh chemicals that might mess up your paint not to mention it takes only a fraction of the time.

Find the Hot Blade Decal Remover at Harbor Freight

Using it is pretty easy. Slide on a box cutter type blade, it comes with two blades by the way but the blades it uses can be found at Home Depot and the like. Once you have the blade on, simply plug it in and let it heat up for about 5 minutes. Be sure you are using a fresh blade so you don’t damage your paint. Once ready, hold it at about 30 degrees to the surface you are scraping and slowly start scraping. You don’t need to apply too much pressure as the hot blade will do all the work for you. The hot blade will remove most of the foam tape, decal, etc but you will have some residue left.

Removing the residue is also fairly simple with this thing so no need for chemicals. To remove the residue, unplug the device and let it cool off. Once cool, again place it at about 30 degrees to work surface and slowly remove the residue. The long handle makes it real easy to hold at the 30 degrees unlike the regular scrapers that are short and difficult to place at the necessary angle.

Conclusion, if you have a lot of decals, foam tape, pin striping, etc to remove from your vehicle then this thing is an absolute must and I highly recommend it.

How To Get Black/Ebony or Espresso Finish on Any Hard Wood Surface

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You’ve no doubt tried using one of those ebony stains you find at the big box stores only to end up with something that’s nowhere near being black and you can pretty much forget about espresso because I have yet to find a stain that’s even labeled as being espresso.  So how do you get that black or espresso finish?

The answer is  wood dye!  This stuff comes in either  liquid  or powder form with the best being the powder form.  I have had best success with water as it yields a totally black finish.  Now don’t bother trying to find these at Home Depot because they simply do not carry these dyes so you will need to buy online. Woodworker’s Supplies carries a huge selection of  JE Moser brand. Either the Ebony black or Flemish black will work great.

With dyes, not only can you just about any color but they are superior in many ways. For starters, they very economical because a small of jar goes a long way. The powder keeps for a very long time. Even when mixed, it doesn’t evaporate, it requires no stirring because the black never comes out of solution once mixed so you end up with a consistent color.

So just how black can you get?  The pic below has 2 pieces of oak, one dyed the other stained with Minwax Ebony stain. I’ll let you guess which is which.

You might be thinking, black is great but how do I get an Espresso color?  Now you could get an espresso dye but one set back with the dye is that it doesn’t give you that deep rich almost translucent color. That being said,  if you use the black as a base then apply a stain / polly you will get an amazingly rich dark Espresso color that is dark yet translucent that still lets the grain show. Below is the technique I have been using with great results on everything from baseboards to doors and furniture.  If you just want a black, then you can simply skip step #5 and go directly to clear poly.

The Espresso Technique

1. Prepare the wood as you would for any other stain application so sand to a relatively smooth surface.

2. Once sanded, apply the dye. On solid lumber, you can apply relatively liberally for thin woods or veneer you want to apply just enough to get it black but not so much that it’s wet. One of the great things about the dye is that it soaks completely into the wood so you don’t have to worry about streaks or anything like that.

3. Let it dry. Instructions say to let dry for 24hrs but I’ve had success with applying the next step within a couple of hours. You will know it’s dry when it goes from black to a very dark charcoal gray.

4.  One of the downsides to using this dye is that it causes grain raising so you will need to steel wool it to knock it back down.  You don’t want to sand the black as you will end up with wood color again. If you want a smoother surface than what the steel wool gives you then you can safely apply 2-3 coats of poly then sand. This will protect the dye from sanding through. Of course you want to sand carefully.

5. Skip this step if you just want a black color. Otherwise, this is where the magic happens for the Espresso look.  To achieve the Espresso color, you will need a can of Minwax Polyshades stain/poly in one  Bombay Mohogany color. Use satin even if you’re going for a gloss look as a final application of clear poly will achieve that.   You can find this color at Home Depot. Without the black underneath, this stain usually gives you a burgundy color but with the black you end up with the Espresso color we’re shooting for. 1 coat will suffice as it will give you that deep rich color that allows the grain to still come through. More coats will obscure the grain and will not be as rich and deep in color.

6. Once dry, steel wool the piece to accept the clear poly as the piece will be rather dull.

7.  Finish by applying either gloss or satin clear poly depending on what you’re going for.

That’s it! There’s your Espresso color. It’s rather time consuming and laborious but the results are well worth it.  Below are some pics of projects where Ive used this technique.