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Best Exhaust w/o drone?

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Old 01-14-2011, 03:46 PM
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Best Exhaust w/o drone?

Just got an '11 Expedition EL King Ranch 4WD, and am looking for an exhaust (cat-back) that has a little more aggressive sound than the factory exhaust, without any obnoxious drone in-cabin.

Any ideas? I'd rather have a bolt-on system, and stainless-steel is a MUST as I'm in Michigan and it's driven year-round.

Thanks for any help!

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Old 01-16-2011, 04:10 AM
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Magnaflow gets my vote. sounds great, and only makes alot of noise when you stomp on it. otherwise it's a healthy rumble that isn't overtly obnoxious.

Flowmasters (Dronemasters) are extremely loud. They do sound good, but the absolute noise gets old very quickly. My last SUV had Super 40's on with dual 3.5" tips. Would set off car alarms and at 65 mph was headache inducing
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Old 02-18-2011, 12:13 AM
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Tylus, do you actually have a magnaflow system on your Expedition? your signature reads "bone stock'. ???

Jettix2, here's a cut and paste from a previous thread on my experiance with Magnaflow on an Expedition:

"I would suggest running (not walking) away from Magnaflow on an Expedition. I had their 3" mandrel bent cat-back on my 2005 and couldn't stand the drone. Mine you, I like loud, and have flowmasters, spintechs, and Corsa on my original Shelby GT350, BOSS302, Paxton Viper, etc. and straight pipes on one Harley, but the Magnaflow didn't work well in a daily driver Expedition IMO. I beleive the main issue is the large box-like interior volumn which amplifies the drone. I've driven F-150s with a similar setup and they weren't bad, probably because the muffler was beyond the smaller cab and interior, but I just couldn't stand it in the Exp. The drone was from like 1700 to 2100 rpm, or 55-75 mph. Ended up cutting out the 2 month old Magnaflow high dollar muffler, throwing the POS in the trash, and replacing it with a Stainless works muffler. Still a little drone, but tollerable for a DD. Good luck.. "

Stainless works has a bolt on system for the new Expeditions.
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Old 02-18-2011, 03:08 PM
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Exhaust drone & exhaust noise while both are different by definition, both are created as a result of impactors/promoters. Exhaust drone is that which is caused by harmonics- a soundwave generated which in essence takes the exhaust sound and sends it back up the exhaust system (towards the engine) and is released or transferred into the passenger compartment. This transfer typically happens where large contact areas exist that have little to no sound dampening qualities and/or materials- as a result of the muffler construction or vehicle manufacturer.

Exhaust Noise (in passenger compartment) is what most people actually complain about. While harmonics do play a contributive role, it is not the primary cause.


I would love to tell everyone that “x” is the cause 99% of the time for exhaust noise complaints, but it is typically a series or combination of numerous factors which leads or develops the level of noise which is uncomfortable to the ear. The first “rule” of an exhaust system is that the noise should be generated at the point of discharge (ie tailpipe tip). Obviously, if the tip terminates at your door or immediately under the passenger compartment, the sound level will be much greater at the exhaust discharge point than if the tip exits the rear of the vehicle, but this is common sense.

Assuming that there are no exhaust system leaks and isolators are correctly installed at all mounting points, what is not acceptable by industry standards, is when an exhaust system has been installed correctly, exiting well past the passenger compartment to have substantial exhaust sound transfer into the passenger compartment at a level which does not allow a person to talk without raising their voice to well above ambient noise levels. Whether you love to hear your engine roar (which I do), stereo blast or have a conversation, this interfers with your ability to enjoy what you like.

Now for the Causes

The first problem is most muffler shop staff today have little to no knowledge of exhaust systems, the “tricks” to installing a system that will “please” the customer, and simply verbally repeat the marketing materials provided to them by the system manufacturer. As previously noted by several others, there are 3 basic muffler designs, Absorption, Diffusion, and Chamber (Resonator), no matter which one suits your ear best, the criteria for promoting unnecessary in-cabin noise is the same.


Exhaust system material thickness should be no less than 16 gauge- double-walled pipe was commonly available through the 1970’s until manufacturers began seeking ways to reduce costs. Many of the “Muffler Chains” who marketed lifetime warranties always used double-walled pipe before “stainless steel” became the “in-crowd”. If a shop had it available, I would choose double-walled aluminized coated steel or 14 gauge stainless steel (depending on environmental conditions or personal tastes) - it is very quiet, solid and in terms of costs, pipe is pretty cheap, depending on length, 16 gauge aluminum coated runs about $11 to $20 wholesale (depending on diameter), stainless about double for the same gauge.

The muffler should be located as close to the axle (far away from the passenger compartment) as possible, allowing at least 3” of straight run pipe before a bend occurring (if installed to the forward position of the axle), with the overall length as long as possible. In the oem location, 24" will fit fine, located at the head pipe, 30" will fit fine as well and eliminate almost any possibility of drone in this particular location due to the size, length and insulation qualities (and yes, Allied does make units this long).

With regards to the 5.4/4.6 engines, The head-pipe (the pipe installed in between the exhaust manifold and the muffler) should be no greater in inside diameter the 2 7/8”, at 3” it now becomes a contributor.

Duel Tailpipes should be limited to no greater than 2.25” inside diameter, single tailpipes 3” maximum inside diameter- tips which are larger can certainly be installed but should be limited to 12” in length and have a discharge point past any material that may “catch” a soundwave or exhaust. When you exceed these diameters, it now becomes a contributor.

Tailpipe length in general should be as short as possible, minimal bends, etc, terminating past the axle, 1.5" past the body or bumper. Lengths greater than 4 feet promote “drone” (ie harmonics), typically about 3 feet past the muffler.

Pipe diameter reduction should occur before the muffler. While many muffler installers like to use mufflers which reduce pipe diameter or split the exhaust at the point of discharge at the muffler, or install reducers to connect the tailpipes after the muffler induces “noise”.

Ultimately, it is the quality of the material and the installer which 90% of the time leads to a successful installation. I would like to also emphasize that it is not necessary to spend a fortune on a muffler ($100+) or system to have an excellent sounding, performing and long lasting result.

While there are mufflers that will out flow a glass pack design, it also depends on the design. Does the glasspack use "louvers or perforations" - Louvers reduce the flow by as much as 50% but Allied resonators (that sell for $40-$50 each and available at any muffler shop) in independent test flowed 90%+ of a "race spec muffler". Others using other brands consistantly showed similar results. With regards to CFM flow requirements, a 5.4 relatively stock engine has a max CFM intake of 480 CFM, which will give to an idea of just exactly what you need also

Broader performance ( Independently tested cfm flows of the more popular mufflers, glasspacks and resonators @ 15” wc, here atre the results:
2 ” diameter straight pipe 521
2 ” diameter straight pipe 365
2” diameter straight pipe 283
2 ” diameter tailpipe 268
2 ” round glasspack- no louvers 274
2 ” round glasspack- with inward punched louvers 133
2 ” round glasspack- inward punched louvers/installed backwards 141
2 ” inlet/outlet Dynomax SuperTurbo 268
2 1/4” inlet/outlet Thrush CVX 260
2 ” inlet/outlet Flowmaster 2-chamber 249
2 ” inlet/2 ”outlet Cherry Bomb turbo 249
2 ” inlet/outlet Flowmaster 3-chamber 229
2 ” inlet/2 ”outlet Maremount Super C (OEM Replacement) 149
2 ” inlet/2” dual outlet Maremount 183
2 ” inlet/outlet California Turbo 229
2 ” inlet/outlet Hooker Aerochamber 324
2 ” inlet/outlet Hooker MaxFlow 521
2 ” inlet/outlet Maremount Cherrybomb Vortex 298
2 ” inlet center/outlet offset Borla Turbo 373

CarCraftg did testing as well which confirmed the above but additionally measured noise levels using a 355-cube SBC with 10.0:1 compression, Air Flow Research 190 aluminum heads, a CompCams 292 hyd. a Victor Jr. intake, a Holley 750-cfm double-pumper, and 1 5/8 Headman headers.

DynoMax Super Turbo 89 123
DynoMax Race Magnum 94 133
Flowtech Afterburner 92 124
Hooker Competion 92 122
Hooker Super Competion 90 125
Summit Turbo 89 124
Summit Fully Welded 92 125
Thrush Boss Turbo 90 123
Thrush Magnum Glasspack 92 128
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