Competitive car audio circuit growing in B.C.
Photo SUPPLIED BY ERIC FISH
For more than five years, the three brothers who form Surrey-based Team Shadow have competed in and judged the international competitive car audio circuit.
“We always thought it would be exciting to try and build the loudest stereo in the world,” said Shadow’s Robert Riquelme. “We made the loudest in B.C., and last year [ours] was the second-loudest in Canada.”
In a competition, judges measure two-second tones that can reach more than 180 decibels. To contain this sound, Team Shadow’s pride, a 1986 Honda Civic, is fitted with one-inch thick plexiglass, a floor of four-inch concrete and reinforced windows.
Riquelme, who also owns a car audio store, offered tips for people interested in car audio. He said that it doesn’t cost a fortune to have a nice sounding car.
North Vancouver’s In Car Entertainment (ICE) offers vehicle customizations such as ostrich-skin upholstery and crystal-encrusted grills to pro snowboarders, actors and professional athletes. Owner Eric Fish said many customers take time to develop their system.
“People’s needs change over time,” he said. “They may start off liking a lot of bass, but then start liking a clearer sound more.”
When building a car stereo, Fish said to start with the head, which can be a CD or DVD player. He noted most heads are now iPod, Satellite Radio and USB compatible.
“The head is the root of the tree,” he said. “Everything else extends out from there.”
In an e-mail interview, Rolando Angeles from Ralph’s Audio wrote that the head unit should also allow users to control the sound, similar to an equalizer. Pick a unit that doesn’t limit the ability to add other components.
“Good CD players will have nice buttons that don’t feel like they will fall apart after a year,” he wrote. “The volume control knob should feel sturdy and useable.”
Riquelme said speaker choice depends on a customer’s favourite music genre. Sub-woofers are best for bass-heavy music like hip hop, while smaller speakers with high quality mids and highs are best for rock.
To test, bring in a favourite CD and play it through several different speakers.
When shopping for amplifiers, Fish said to look for units that offer a strong level of RMS, as opposed to Max power, which he said isn’t important. Match a stereo with the car’s power capabilities – its battery, alternator and cables – and properly ground the system. Otherwise, power surges can damage the vehicle.
“If the lights dim, it could cook your battery and wiring and affect the computers,” said Riquelme.
For those interested in showing off their stereos, the competitive scene here is growing. Riquelme said Team Shadow is hoping to host a few competitions this summer.