Obviously SOMEONE knows their car audio stuff here! NICE write-up, especially for beginners in car audio!
I just have one thing to mention: equalizer/tone settings. I've watched a ton of videos about all kinds of different ways to set gains, and the best were with an O-scope, which I recently purchased. My head unit and amp are about to be replaced, so I haven't worried about using any tools to set my gains just yet. At this point, everything is set by ear and seems to be perfect.
But what I always wondered was if you set all your tone controls in your head unit to flat, then set your equalizer frequencies all to flat, THEN set your amp gains, the minute you turn up the frequency levels, won't you then introduce clipping by cranking up frequencies? The answer I found was YES! Several professional installers have done videos that suggest you set your amp gains with your equalizers (in the head unit and/or external) set they way you will listen to your music most. And this makes more sense.
If you turn your bass to flat and don't have it up when you set your gains, the minute you crank up your bass you're NOT going to like what can happen. SO, for this reason, once I get my head unit and amp plus 4 new speakers installed in the next few weeks, I'm going to try setting my amp gains FIRST with my equalizer settings the way I plan to keep them most of the time. You can always turn them down, but don't want to turn them UP if you set your gains with them at a certain level.
I'm sure this might sound like a bunch of crap to most of you, but it certainly makes sense to me. I'm not making this stuff up, I've actually saw several videos suggesting doing it this way. Once I try it, if I don't like the results, I can always set things to flat and do it all again. I'll set my head unit's equalizer to CLOSE to flat, then my external 7-band parametric equalizer will be left the way I listen to my music 90% of the time. If it works as I expect it to, I'll be happy! My new head unit has a built-in 25-band equalizer, so THAT going through an external 7-band might be frequency overkill in my opinion. So yeah, I'm going to have my highs way up where I like them, and my bass flat like it always is on my head unit (but turned way up on my bass level control on the equalizer.
Okay, time for everyone to tell me how wrong I am or how they can't believe I even posted this! I get sarcastic comments all the time on facebook when I offer advice from what I've learned in my 45 years around car audio, but it's usually from people younger than my own kid, so I just ignore it. As I mentioned above, I don't make this stuff up. Anyone who thinks I'm wrong about setting amp gains with frequencies adjusted above flat can watch the same videos I did. It would sure be more adult than slamming ME for posting this.
NO, I'm NOT saying the original post was by any means incorrect! I'm merely stating that there is an alternate way of setting gains that makes more sense to ME personally. The rest of you can do it the way stated at the beginning of this thread.