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      12-25-2012, 09:39 PM   #1
Mmmdreamer
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Review: ACM Test Pipe and ESS Tune...trading cats for horses

Prior to adding test pipes and tune I had Dinan Rear, AA Filter and RPI Scoops performance wise. I got the Dinan because I didn't want drone and because it was a relatively quiet exhaust it would always leave the option of going catless without being obnoxiously loud. When ACM (a local shop for me) decided to release test pipes it became a no brainer.

ESS Tune:
I installed tune on it's own first and had it for about a week before the test pipe install. I went from 080E (I've got a 2008) so ESS gave me two files - one to go to 240E and then one for the tune - setup for catless, no cold start and no rev limit. Also doesn't show CEL for no cats. Why ESS? Well ACM was doing a promotion with pipes+tune together and for me, ESS is a proven dedicated tuner, just look at all the SC kits around.

Having had the car for a year, I'm pretty familiar with the feel of acceleration - after applying the tune you can definitely feel a difference. Even in low RPM it felt more peppy and it would pull harder above 4-5k. It provided some new life to the engine for sure. Whether I would get the tune on it's own is debatable, ultimately I feel it's a must if you go catless to help maximize performance.

ACM Test Pipes:
I expect these are quite simliar to turner and MS pipes, where x-pipes have a lot of varieties with resonators, HFCs etc - test pipes have a pretty simple assignment: Replace those bloody cats! The test pipes are tremendous value IMO - you get all the power of a full x-pipe, but you also don't go crazy loud nor do you get any wack smells since the secondary cats are still in place.

Sound...wow. This is the sound I've been dreaming of and all the youtube videos can't do it justice of hearing it in person. No drone, quiet when you want it to be which means compared to just axle back if you're just driving around town there is almost no difference. WOT - different ball game. It's probably 30% louder but it's also the quality of the sound which is most pleasing. The Dinan seems to limit raspiness so it sounds pretty smooth yet aggressive. It really screams and and w/ added power it rips into the high revs freely. Where the Dinan alone add some volume in low RPMs, at high rpms it wasn't much different from stock - you'd get a lot of engine but not much exhaust. Now volume increases in tone and pitch as you race to 8k which is more what I'd expect.

Powerwise - I'm very happy. I was skeptical of whether 20hp from a tune alone could be felt on a 400hp car, but because it does change the overall dynamics, it made the car more enjoyable and the power could be felt. Couple that with the test pipes and you have a very very rev happy car. Every gear just feels much stronger. Not mind blowing like a SC'd car but it's a very nice bump in power. It's probably coupled with weather getting cold but I found before if I accelerate from slow roll in 2nd, I wasn't likely to get wheel spin but now doing the same thing it will tend to break traction at 5k+ which is kinda cool and scary =)

Thanks to Sal+Lalit @ ACM and Asbjorn @ ESS for helping me through all my questions.

btw if anyone knows of a basic windows app that can trim/edit mp4 files I can post some of my gopro clips.
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      12-25-2012, 10:05 PM   #2
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Great review. Seen the test pipes at ACM and they looked great. Props to Sal and all the guys ACM !
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      12-26-2012, 09:46 AM   #3
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Thanks Spencer!
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      12-26-2012, 10:07 AM   #4
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Thanks for sharing! You got a great pair of solid test pipes and quality tune!

Enjoy the new found power.
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      12-27-2012, 10:49 AM   #5
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Glad you like the combo. I recently did some testing on my stock NA motor with our new exhaust system and I was surprised how much of a difference 20-30 hp could be felt in this car. Test pipes and a good tune are a very affordable way to add solid gains to these cars.
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      12-27-2012, 12:04 PM   #6
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I can't agree more - ACM test pipes, ESS tune and ACM muffler- the car is much more responsive and sounds great.
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      12-27-2012, 01:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FLOSS M View Post
I can't agree more - ACM test pipes, ESS tune and ACM muffler- the car is much more responsive and sounds great.
FLOSS was that you I spoke to at ACM? You had the IB e92 and getting the black exhaust tips...I was waiting for my install slot after you =)
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      12-27-2012, 02:18 PM   #8
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yes - it was, nice upgrade!
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      12-27-2012, 03:32 PM   #9
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Enjoy it. It's always fun to have some time with the car before doing these kinds of mods--you can appreciate the difference so much more.

I followed a similar path, starting with just the Dinan mufflers for a year or so before adding their midpipe and software. The change I notice is very similar to your description.
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      12-27-2012, 07:44 PM   #10
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I agree, although I have an xpipe with HFC which is essentially like test pipes with secondary cats, the sound is sublime and transforms the car into a raw racecar sound.

The best part though is there is absolutely no drone or difference in quietness when you drive normally. This is a huge benefit in comparison to every axle back which almost always gives drone and gives a boomy bass sound to the low revs.

Catless just makes so much sense, especially with HFC or secondaries as there is no smell to worry about or anything. Really a win-win with no compromises
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      12-27-2012, 08:55 PM   #11
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You got a great pair of solid test pipes and quality tune!
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      12-28-2012, 10:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paradocs98 View Post
Enjoy it. It's always fun to have some time with the car before doing these kinds of mods--you can appreciate the difference so much more.

I followed a similar path, starting with just the Dinan mufflers for a year or so before adding their midpipe and software. The change I notice is very similar to your description.
Saw some of your track videos including that close call with 4 wheels on grass! Hoping to get some track time in next year, I only managed one day at Poconos his year which was pretty fun. How do your videos work w/ all the readings, is that hooked up to the ECU and gopro?
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      12-29-2012, 12:19 AM   #13
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nice Spence! def. leaning towards getting this same mod on mine within the coming months! cant wait!
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      12-29-2012, 02:02 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mmmdreamer View Post
Saw some of your track videos including that close call with 4 wheels on grass! Hoping to get some track time in next year, I only managed one day at Poconos his year which was pretty fun. How do your videos work w/ all the readings, is that hooked up to the ECU and gopro?
There are numerous ways to do it--from something basic like an iPhone with Harry's Lap Timer app (cheap) or the all-in-one AiM SmartyCam (expensive), to more complex systems like Traqmate or RaceKeeper. I use the RaceKeeper system, which consists of a base unit that sits on the floor that contains the accelerometers and "brains" of the system, and numerous wired attachments to it, including small bullet cameras that mount to the inside of the windshield for a view of the track and inside of the back glass for a cockpit view, a microphone that I mount up by the rearview mirror, a magnetic GPS antenna that mounts to the roof, and a cable that attaches to the car's OBD II port by your left leg to get ECU readings of RPM, throttle position, temps, etc. While it takes some time to get all of the components of the system set up in the car and the cables routed, the nice thing about the RaceKeeper is that it automatically integrates the video with all of the data using its software on your computer. What you see in my video clips on here is just a small portion of the data, edited down to make it friendly for importing to the web. The amount of data I see on my computer in the RaceKeeper program is almost overwhelming. I certainly don't know what to do with all of it, but I'm trying to learn as much as I can. A nice feature is that the program allows you to compare runs side-by-side, so you can see at any given point in time differences in track position, speed, g readings, throttle position, etc.

Check out the recent post over in the track/autocross section that has a listing of all the upcoming track events for 2013 in the Northeast. Lime Rock, NJMP and Watkins Glen are all easily accessible to you and worth the trip!
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