If for some reason you’re denied a mutha-thumpin system for one reason or another, it can be the best excuse to turn to a novel idea — sound quality! No one is going to give you a ticket or scold you for having your system portray the music as accurately as it would be at a live musical performance. And rather than a pounding headache, the potential plus is raising the goosebumps on your skin from ultimate musical accuracy along with hearing that will last a lifetime. The point is this: There is definitely a time and a place for bass that can strike fear into the hearts of innocent bystanders the next time you play any track from Lil’ Jon. But, most of the time you’re enjoying your ride, musical accuracy should be of the utmost importance. In this case, all you’ll really need at most is a pair of 10-inch woofers. Of course, sometimes you want six ten-inch woofers, or, hell, six 18-inch woofers. But one of the most important knobs not found on a lot of novice systems in a ‘Subwoofer Level Control.’ This can let you pound when you want to and have musical accuracy when you need to. SPL vehicles are awesome spectacles, but their owners can’t sit in the vehicle when they’re at full-blast — they have to be operated from outside the car. This certainly isn’t practical for your daily-driver.
The reason why I pointed out that is that you’ll need “at most” a pair of ten inch woofers for accurate sound quality is that it can be difficult to sell your parents on the idea of a loud audio system for your first vehicle while living under their roof. They probably won’t like the idea of you installing ANY subwoofer system or amplifier for fear of driver distraction (which is just no fun AT ALL — we all NEED aftermarket equipment). After all, if you have the bass pumpin’ on volume 11, you probably will not be able to hear an ambulance or police car barreling through an intersection. But, if you would like to show this to your folks, let them know a pair of 10-inch woofers can be used to give accurate bass extension without creating unnecessary distraction if you’re not a maniac with the volume knob. If your parents are still not allowing you to install any aftermarket audio equipment in your car, how about letting them know about a subwoofer level controller mounted in the front of the car installed by a professional installer who alters the gain structure of the system by turning down the amplifier gain. In essence, this would be like installing a governor on your car so it could not travel over a certain speed (pay attention parents — your son or daughter can have a subwoofer system that can play at a level predetermined by you and a MECP-certified installer). Alpine (MRD and MRV series) and Kenwood (Excelon series) both have amplifiers that have covers over the level controls so the gain is set by an installer and then is difficult to alter by the end user. Additionally, an installer can place any amp in a location that setting the levels is nearly impossible. They only need to mount the amp in a trunk corner with the trunk wall blocking the gain control so it can’t be adjusted by the end user. Now you can have your cake by showing your parents that your vehicle’s bass cannot be over a certain volume while, at the same time, having all the sound quality you need...When you establish trust with your folks, you can return to the installers to have them give you the extra dB (to be used when appropriate).
If you have a crazy-loud system and you find yourself constantly getting in trouble by annoying neighbors and setting off car alarms, the easiest thing you can do is turn down the volume knob when you know it will piss people off. The next effective method is to add sound-damping material to every part of your vehicle. Most of the time we get in trouble for bass — it’s usually not from the bass itself but from a rattling trunk lid or license plate vibrating with energy from the bass pressure that attracts attention to your vehicle. Sound-damping materials is also an effective method for obtaining better sound quality, so it should be standard-order on any install. But for reducing noise, the first place to start is usually the trunk because that’s where the subs are.
Finally, if you are serious about having it loud and accurate but are still getting in trouble from the neighbors, take a serious look at your ride. Anything that you can do to trap sound pressure inside the vehicle will help prevent your neighbors from getting annoyed. Luxury vehicles with thicker glass and plusher carpeting resonate less than your average old Korean econobox. If your vehicle has ancient weatherstripping, check that out as a culprit — if air can leak though it so can sound...
We’re the last guys to tell you to have a wimpy system — we’re just showing you options of having killer sound if your neighbors and parents are dead-set against you having a mutha-thumpin’ system. The best advice: start off with a system that can portray the music accurately. Then, if you choose to become a basshead and want to add four more subs and another 4000 watts, go right ahead. Just make sure you have the money to move out so you don’t have to hear the noise of your parents and neighbors once you take the key out of the ignition. An accurate system will always get the respect of your parents and your neighbors and give our industry some of the respect it deserves. Turn down the bass and let your folks enjoy some of their music — you may even get car audio gifts for the holidays!
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