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Car Audio Competition Systems vs. Daily Drivers

By Dave Sumner - XSNoise Car Audio

I get a lot of questions about how to build outrageous car audio systems. Most of us read the magazines and see the installation pictures on the internet and at local audio competitions and dream of taking home the trophy. Being better than the car that everyone drools over, or hitting harder than the top dB kings. But you need to be realistic when you start putting your system together. The magazine cars are not daily drivers, and the ones with the coolest installs don’t have to worry about being parked in school parking lots or on public streets.

Most of us drive our cars everyday. Our cars satisfy our transportation needs. That doesn’t mean we drive sissy cars, it just means that they serve a purpose first, and satisfy desire second. Myself, I drive a 1999 Dodge Avenger everyday. It’s a great car; looks sleek and goes fast, but I park it in a shopping center parking lot and it has the normal grime and dings that come from driving it. It produces about 950 watts of bass and 50 watts of full range sound. I run 2 amps (mixed brands), and 4 mixed subs in a semi-simple box that I built one weekend. I replaced the factory "crap-o-matic" speakers with upgraded aftermarkets, but stock size and in the stock locations. It sounds real good and I like listening to it loud enough to make other people notice, but I haven’t busted the sound barrier or made the neighbor’s windows shatter. It’s a daily driver and it‘s designed to be one.

My company’s sound car rarely gets driven and only sees a shopping center parking lot during competitions. The subwoofer enclosure alone has close to 50 man hours tied up, and the equipment is changed out as soon as the new product lines come out. The car’s interior was designed around the stereo system, as opposed to the other way around. The seats are uncomfortable and it rides like a brick. Its built for show - not go.

The best systems are the ones that combine the two worlds. The real world meets the show circuit. You can have a righteous system and you can blow other cars away on the road, but it also looks good and retains it’s practicality. Hopes of gracing the magazine pages or hall of fame awards are slim, but it turns heads and gets 30 miles to the gallon. Most importantly, it’s affordable for you.

So when you are designing your system and the dreams start to fill your head, it’s okay as long as your feet stay on the ground. If you’re building a street cruiser, get what you like, do something a little different than the other guys, and still be able to carry bags from Wal-Mart. If you’re building the next show circuit car, have a daily driver on stand by, be prepared to drop close to $40,000 for equipment and professional installations, and have some fun. The choice is yours - they are both fun and both are what makes the sport grow. Unfortunately, most of us can’t have both. You need to decide what road your going take, and then design the system accordingly.

Next month we’ll discuss system layout and design.

Dave Sumner 
XSNoise Car Audio 


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