RAISING THE WOOF: Audio addicts compete loud and clearMontana man tops sound scale, but Grand Forks man wins for loudest actual car
The rear window of Caleb Paulson’s Saturn is stenciled with a little attitude straight from Dickinson, N.D.: “If it’s too loud … you’re too old.”
By: Patrick Springer, The Forum
The rear window of Caleb Paulson’s Saturn is stenciled with a little attitude: “If it’s too loud … you’re too old.”
The 17-year-old from Dickinson, N.D., fit right in at a competition Sunday at a parking lot in east Moorhead called “Audio Heads Mobile Madness.”
It could have been called “Guys with really loud car sound systems.”
Welcome to the subwoofer subculture.
About 30 competitors came from as far away as Glendive, Mont., and the Twin Cities to find out whose car audio system could crank out the most decibels.
That would be Bruce Dufner, whose Chevy Astro van topped the sound scale with 156.5 decibels. For the curious, that’s louder than a military jet taking off, a noise that produces about 140 decibels.
The 51-year-old railroad worker from Glendive did it with a huge set of speakers hooked up to four amplifiers powered by an array of 18 batteries, all concealed behind dark glass windows.
His competition theme song? A test disc playing a frequency of 62 hertz.
It’s natural to ask why, a question often met with an evasive shrug and a mischievous smile. Here’s Dufner’s stab at an answer:
“Just to be louder than anyone else. Just like any competition, you want to be better than anyone else.”
For the more musically inclined, rap is heavily favored because of its pulsing bass beats, the soundtrack of the subwoofer set.
Honors for the loudest actual car at Sunday’s competition, sanctioned by the Mobile Electronics Competition Association, went to Leif Wall, 30, of Grand Forks, N.D.
He has a Chevy Impala with a backseat occupied by big subwoofer speakers, but otherwise unimpressive and even a bit drab looking with an unwashed cream paint job.
Or, as Wall puts it, “This one’s built for sound.”
His Impala’s sound system, which, he’s proud to point out, is rigged to play music, not merely test frequencies, blared a respectable 151.4 decibels.
“The first time I heard bass I fell in love,” he says. “It’s hard to explain, but I’ve been into audio, stereos, my whole life.”
Many of the auto audio heads who turned out for Sunday’s competition spoke of the thrill of feeling the bass vibrate, turning their cars and their bodies into extensions of their speakers.
Wall’s hearing, by the way, recently was tested, and checks out fine. The high frequencies are the first to go, he says, but audio heads specialize in low frequencies.
Still, the pain threshold to the human ear is 130 decibels, and 160 decibels can puncture an eardrum.
A few, like JoJo Rusten, have paid the price for their high-decibel hobby. He once was fined $120 by a police officer who was waiting at a stop light three cars ahead of him.
“He said I was shaking his laptop,” he says.
A visitor wants to know: Isn’t anybody worried, just a little, about hearing loss? The question elicits laughter.
“We’re all young,” Rusten, 23, says. “We’ve got time to live.”
And time to be loud.
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.