The Eleventh Hour
Every year, when the Consumer Electronics Show rolls around, I start to get excited. Not because of the show—because most of the time I don’t even go—but for a couple of other reasons. One is all the-new technology that hits the streets, which means a lot of press releases hit my inbox, letting me know about the latest and greatest 12-volt products out there. But also because we build our whole issue around the show. That means in addition to the event coverage and a whole bunch of new products, which are conveniently compiled in a section called New Products, we also dedicate all of our tech installations to audio- or 12-volt– related products. This month, we have a state-of-the-art install from Alpine, an amp rack build for a massive system, and a basic (sort of) install of a head unit, separates, amp, and sub.
I’m not sure what it is, but nothing else gets me giddy like a school girl in this business like hearing some big bass coming out of a truck. As much as I like to see a truck dragging down the road throwing sparks or a fresh off-road build hitting the trails, it just doesn’t quite tap into that emotion. And to be perfectly honest, I’m not very much of an audiophile at all.
I built my very first speaker box when I was 14. I didn’t even have my first VW yet. But since I knew that’s what I would soon be getting, I took measurements from a friend’s car in my high school parking lot and got to work. I didn’t even know the merits of “particle board” at the time. I thought using plywood was a good idea. I built the rectangle box with 1x2 braces in the corners. And are you ready for this? My dad had a stockpile of brand-new factory 6x8s, not even 6x9s, so I cut holes for four of them, evenly spaced across the front of the box. I think my last step was the best: I painted the box to “seal” it, inside and out, with several coats of white house paint. Looking back, it was free, it sort of worked, and now it seems pretty hilarious. I moved on to bigger and better ideas by the time I had a car that ran, but that box ended up in my surfer buddy’s Squareback for quite a while.
Fast-forward a couple of years, and I began to meet some of the heavies in the car audio game, since my friend’s shop, Fine Line, was located next to Sound Decision, a high-end audio place owned by Lee Bower. He came from Audio Chamber and once had his yellow Toyota on the cover of Truckin, flanked by local high school cheerleaders. Bob Grant just reminded me that same truck was in the “Cars That Go Boom” video by L’Trimm, but I digress. So I was seeing all these top-quality systems, but I was still broke. I pieced together a system that ended up getting swapped between my Blazer and a few different Volkswagens several times. I’m pretty sure it was a Kenwood head unit, and I have no idea what the component speakers were. But the star of the show was a giant Coustic amp that probably made about half of whatever giant number of watts it was touting (800, I think), and two 10-inch MTX Thunder boxes. I’m sure it sounded like crap by today’s standards, but man I thought I was the s%$# cruising in the Blazer with the top off and the Beastie Boys’ “Licensed to Ill” at full volume.
So I guess that’s what it is—being reminded of my golden days and simpler times and all that other stuff old people say all the time. But it worked. Each of the three stories you’ll find in this issue evokes that feeling I get when we fire up the system and begin to get the tuning dialed in. It’s one of the coolest things ever, and it really never gets old