So, backtracking to the letter C from Wednesday when life got in my way, I’m going to ramble a bit in a topic I touched on in my tribute to Alma.
I’ve always loved cars, and I’ve always loved music. In high school for an elective I actually took a class in electronics rather than art for a change. When I got a little older, my friends were mostly guys who had aftermarket stereos in their cars – maybe just a sub, or an aftermarket deck, but factory never really cut it.
The guys I dated all had a system. And my ex, well one thing he did for me besides the princess (which is why I’d never regret some mistakes with him — because I would t have her or be where I am now) was give me 12v car audio as a hobby.
Originally I got into it to spend more time with him. He convinced me the factory crap in my Fiero was just that, crap. And here’s where it gets interesting. Remember the craze over Beanie Babies in the late 1990s? Yeah, I sold one and it paid rent and for a deck & speakers.
I started going to competitions with him, and I was hooked. I sent a press release for our competition team to a few industry magazines. The next thing I knew, I was flying to world finals to cover it for one of them. I worked with AutoSound & Security until it folded, covering competition.
By that time, I realized I wanted to compete too. I decided not to see how loud I could make my car, a self-described granny sedan. I went for sound quality — attempting to recreate concert-quality reproduction in a mobile setting.
I had a lot of help along the way. I became a sound judge, and helped run shows. I ended up my last season competing taking second in one competition organization at nationals. (Of all the trophies, that one I kept.)
I gained a world-class sponsor, and decided that my old sedan was on its last legs. My ex got me a new Integra (new to me) and a week before we were ready to do the install – it was stolen.
Got it back, got ready to go again, and it was stolen again. And that was the end of my competition drive. When I saw the Teg at the impound lot … Stripped and burned out. That was it for me.
Fast forward about ten years — my little station wagon (“crossover”) has a small amp, and a little loud-ass woofer. It’s fun to roll up at a stop light when punk teens are thinking they’re system is the shit … and then they get shut down by a “soccer mom” in a station wagon.
Here’s the thing — if you have a car manufactured in the past five years or so, what we did in sound quality ten and 15 years ago — is why your factory stereo sounds and performs better than they used to.
Manufacturers like Kicker, JBL, Infinity, Panasonic, Pioneer, RF, MBQuart and more – used to sponsor car audio competitors to demo their wares at shows. Now, they are the factory systems.
Ten years ago, putting tweeters in the a-pillar or a center channel speaker in the dash was considered extreme. Now it’s stock.
The staging in the mister’s 2012 Chrysler is so much better than what I’d come to expect, with the right speakers, deck, and amps – it could out-perform some (certainly not all) of the cars I loved spending hours listening to back in the day.
If you ever have the chance to visit a car stereo show, and sound quality competition is on the list – tale a chance and take a listen.