HOW THINGS GOT STARTED
After meeting popular YouTuber Cameron Alford at SEMA last year, we here at MagnaFlow reached out to him to see if he was interested in trying one of our new xMOD cat-back performance exhaust systems for the Ford Mustang. Once the discussion began, it quickly became clear that what Cameron was really interested in was an upgrade for the aftermarket exhaust on his 2018 Subaru WRX STI.
While Cameron enjoyed the exhaust tone of his current system during spirited driving, he found it to be extremely harsh and tiresome on highways and long journeys. That’s where we came in. At MagnaFlow we jumped at the opportunity to learn firsthand what enthusiasts in the Subaru community are looking for when it comes to their exhaust. It seemed like a perfect potential application to expand MagnaFlow’s new xMOD line.
After giving Cam a tour of our warehouse and manufacturing facility, it was time to get started on his new exhaust system. The first thing we did was put the WRX on a lift in our Research and Development Center to take a look at the existing exhaust setup. This was an important step, as it allowed us to acclimate ourselves to the layout of the aftermarket exhaust already installed on the car.
Once we got a feel for the design of the existing exhaust it was time for the real work to begin. We started by removing the old exhaust system in order to make highly detailed 3D scans of it. Doing this allowed our engineers to load the scan data into a CAD (computer-aided design) program, from which we could then create a STEP file. The STEP file allows for specific instructions to be sent to the robotic pipe bender on the production line in order to create the exact shape we were looking for. The robotic bender is intelligent enough to compensate for variation in room temperature and oil viscosity to ensure perfect bends. After bending, the sections just needed to be cut and then they were ready for assembly.
In addition to having a central and rear muffler, we decided to add a quarter-wave resonator near the exit to create the exhaust tone Cameron was looking for. The quarter-wave resonator is the secret behind MagnaFlow’s No Drone Technology (NDT), but more on that in a bit. Cam also chose a 4.5” diameter carbon fiber tip to complete the setup and give the exhaust a modern aesthetic.
Cam thought the new setup looked “amazing” with its resonator and muffler visible behind the aggressive-looking carbon fiber exhaust tip. However, after taking it for a test drive it was apparent that the exhaust tone itself didn’t quite hit the mark yet. He felt as though it sounded “too basic,” not letting enough of the EJ motor’s unique character shine through.
Muffler vs. Straight Pipe
After Cam returned from his test drive and shared his thoughts on the new system, we decided to take advantage of the new setup’s xMOD design to change things up without having to start from scratch. In Cameron’s case, this meant swapping out the central muffler for an xMOD xTreme straight pipe in order to raise the pitch of the exhaust a bit and bring back some of the previously muffled sound from the motor.
But What Is xMOD?
xMOD is all about modularity. By designing sections of the exhaust system to be easily swapped out, MagnaFlow’s xMOD system gives you plenty of options to adjust the tone of the exhaust to your specific purpose or liking. This is made possible thanks to xMOD’s interchangeable muffler modules. Going from MagnaFlow’s signature deep exhaust rumble to a more raucous, racy note is as simple as swapping out the central muffler module for our xTreme Delete straight pipes. No cutting, welding or professional installation is required.
Are We There Yet?
After installing the new xTreme Delete straight pipe Cam took the Subie for a long drive to put it through its paces. The result? Well, he felt it was “so close” to what he was looking for, but he was just “not in love with it.” There room for improvement.
Understanding What Subie Fans Are Looking For
The next morning, Cameron sent over a few recordings he previously made of some of other aftermarket WRX STI exhaust systems to give us a better sense of what he was looking for. While he liked the tone of the old aftermarket system that he arrived with, he found it too obnoxious and tiresome to deal with at cruising speed and on longer drives. Our solution? An additional large quarter-wave resonator. The benefits? Fewer deep notes to muddle the tone from engine, as well as additional droning-reduction thanks to the improved noise cancellation made possible by NDT.
But What Is NDT?
NDT stands for No Drone Technology, which is MagnaFlow’s term for its quarter-wave noise cancelling resonators. Each of these resonators are tuned to the vehicle’s natural drone frequency, eliminating most of the droning noises that would otherwise permeate the interior while driving. NDT functions on much the same principle that noise-cancelling headphones do, with one sound wave (in this case, the droning tone) cancelled out by an opposite sound wave produced by way of resonating exhaust gas. The difference between headphones and NDT being that NDT is passive, not active noise cancellation, meaning that it just needs to be installed in the system in order to do its job. This is unlike electronic devices that require electrical power in order to produce the cancelling sound waves.
How About Now?
Success! The addition of a large NDT quarter-wave resonator to the center of the system was exactly what the setup needed to get the tone Cam was looking for. Not only did it further reduce drone, it also cut down on some lower exhaust notes that had still been holding back the rowdier character of the EJ motor.
After a test drive Cam was ecstatic to report that the system had an awesome tone akin to the best aspects of his old aftermarket system, while not being annoying and wearisome like that setup was. Additionally, the option of deeper exhaust notes and more tame characteristics of the MagnaFlow muffler module are only a quick swap away thanks to the benefits of it being an xMOD system.
FROM PROJECT TO PRODUCT
Understanding What Fans Want
When Cameron suggested making a project out of his 2018 Subaru WRX STI’s exhaust, we at MagnaFlow saw the opportunity to gain greater insight into what the Subaru aftermarket community is looking for in an exhaust system. Car culture is extremely broad and diverse, with different niches having very different tastes and preferences. Therefore, understanding these varied interests is, well, in our interest. As a result of our journey with Cam to create the perfect exhaust for his STI, we learned a lot about what that market is looking for in an aftermarket exhaust system.
Where Can I Get an Awesome System Like This One?
Because of the insights gained while working on Cameron’s Subaru, we are excited to announce that the xMOD performance exhaust system we developed with him is now available as an official MagnaFlow product! Whether you’re looking for the exact tone that his car now has—or something tamer and deeper sounding like our earlier attempts—the MagnaFlow xMOD cat-back performance exhaust system for the Subaru WRX and WRX STI has you covered.
Available now for the Subaru Impreza WRX and WRX STI (2011-2014), as well as the Subaru WRX and WRX STI (2015-2021).
Have questions? Give us a call at 1-800-990-0905, and we’d be happy to help.