Why waste your money on the car when it’s the sound system you care about?


There is apparently a subculture of people who decide to economize on the car part of the "loud stereo in car" formula (since they really don't care about the car—it's all about the music) and put their loud stereo on the back of a bicycle instead.

This quotation from the article caught my attention:

"People say, 'It's the next best thing to having a system in a car.' But it's better because you don't even have to roll down the windows."

I had been unsure what to think about people who drive down the street with their stereos blaring. Are they audiophiles who prefer their music loud? Or are they jerks who like to annoy other people with loud music? That quotation sort of settles it.

Comments (20)
  1. nathan_works says:

    There's a parallel to be made with motorcyclists with very loud exhaust pipes..

  2. Mark (The other Mark) says:

    This quotation from the article caught my attention:

    "and the near-deafening music had his friends bobbing their heads as they worked on their bikes.

    The bikers said they have heard no complaints about the noise they make from residents or people they pass."

    The bikers haven't heard any complaints about their near deafening music? Imagine that.

  3. SimonRev says:

    Combining deafening motorcycles with deafening music — is there any wonder that he hasn't "heard" any complaints?  Can he hear anything less than about 115 DB?

  4. Phil says:

    @Simon> it's important to note that this isn't motorcycles, this is bicycles :-)

  5. David Crowell says:

    Funny.  I'm going to sell my car and live car-free.  I get around by bicycle and occasionally ride the bus.

    What will I miss about the car?  The stereo.

  6. EricEspo says:

    @mott555, as my father (who's been riding for 20+ years) points out, though, the noise comes out the wrong end of the bike.  By the time you can really hear it, the bike is probably in front of you.

    It's really just a vanity thing, and an extraordinarily annoying one that that.

  7. Luke H says:

    We have the San Jose Bike Party come down our street … a lot of them have systems like these, and lots of flashing neon.  First time I saw them go past in their hundreds, I was rather taken aback … which quickly turned into just being annoyed as they seemed to keep on coming for about an hour :(

  8. Brian Tkatch says:

    I always wanted a way to redirect the sound pollution back at these inconsiderate offenders. It would be satisfying to have their eardrums pop and their windows shatter. But with the bike, i lose the spectacular windows shattering part.

  9. tsrblke says:

    Raymond, was there every really any thought in your mind that these were audiophiles?  A true Audiophile would cry at the poor overmixing of bass and the distortion the loudness causes to the rest of the sound.

  10. Mason Wheeler says:

    I love that XKCD.  Reminds me of something my grandfather did IRL once.

    He was a communications engineer working as a contractor to NASA on the space program.  They were about to launch an unmanned rocket to the moon (I don't remember which one) and they needed to track telemetry data.  Because of the curvature and rotation of the earth, they can't keep line-of-sight to it from the launch site for more than 8 hours (1/3 of a day).  So he found himself in Spain, about 120 degrees east of the US-based tracking site, getting ready to work on some monitoring equipment.

    If you've ever been to Europe, you'll be familiar with plazas.  Entire city blocks used as municipal parks, right in the middle of residential districts.  They're very common, and he was staying in an apartment complex right across from a plaza.  And the night before the rocket was going to go up, there was some sort of activity going on at the plaza.  A bunch of people were there, and some guy was running a raffle.  He had a loudspeaker set up and he was loudly announcing ticket sales and the opportunity to win prizes, etc, and he had it pointed directly towards the wall of the apartment building, so the sound would bounce off it and reflect back over the whole plaza.

    So my grandfather went down to talk to him, trying to explain very politely in somewhat-broken Spanish how he had some important work to take care of tomorrow and he needed his sleep, and would the announcer mind please turning the loudspeaker in a different direction?  The guy seemed to understand, but he decided not to.  So my grandfather shrugged and went back inside.

    Another guy from the same project was staying at the same apartment building, not far away.  Both of them had record players.  (Remember those old-fashioned record players, huge cabinets with two speakers the size of modern guitar amps?  Yeah, those.)  So they brought the other guy's record player into my grandfather's room, pointed both of them out the window, wired the speakers together, cranked the volume to maximum, and put on a record of a Scottish bagpipe band.

    The announcer got the point and turned his loudspeaker away very quickly.  Moral of the story?  Never mess with an engineer! :D

  11. lefty says:

    > Are they audiophiles who prefer their music loud? Or are they jerks who like to annoy other people with loud music? That quotation sort of settles it. <<

    I think they prefer to be known as audiophiles with the social skills (and hearing loss effects) of a thermonuclear device.

  12. Chris B says:

    "Are they audiophiles who prefer their music loud? Or are they jerks who like to annoy other people with loud music?"

    When/if I see one of these guys whose trunk lid/license plate isn't rattling with every hit of the bass, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

  13. Chris B says:

    "Are they audiophiles who prefer their music loud? Or are they jerks who like to annoy other people with loud music?"

    When/if I see one of these guys whose trunk lid/license plate isn't rattling with every hit of the bass, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

  14. Rick C says:

    @Mason Wheeler:  I did that on a smaller scale in college.  The people in the next room in my dorm played music loud and late, and the RA wasn't effective:  he'd tell them, on receiving a complaint, to turn it down, and they would…for a minute or two.  Our building was made out of cinder blocks.  I took the speakers to my stereo, which weren't all that big, and held them up against the common wall of our rooms, which turned the whole wall into a speaker, and put the volume up, playing some hardcore punk.  They cut their music to a reasonable volume REAL FAST, and I never had to complain about them again.

  15. Mott555 says:

    @nathan works

    As a motorcyclist (disclaimer: I also consider loud street vehicles of any sort to be annoying and you can't hear my bike unless you're way too close anyway) loud bikes make some sense. Motorcycles get cut off by cars all the time and the majority of motorcycle collisions are caused by the other vehicle's driver not paying attention. The loudness can be viewed as a safety feature to alert other drivers that a motorcycle is nearby. Of course, if the other person is listening to too-loud music and/or has their ears iPod'd up as is typical in these days, loud pipes don't really help.

    On-topic, I've always assumed people with loud car stereos were just jerks. I live on Main Street in a college town and it's not fun waking up at 2:00 AM to drunk college kids with rich parents driving up and down town, shaking my whole house with their way-too-powerful subwoofers and insulting my ears with lyrics such as **** this ****** and ***** your mom's ****** * ***** ***** the ***** ***** ** ******. (So far I've resisted the urge to get my BB gun out and start shooting at their cars as they drive by.) At least I only have to put up with that during the fall, most students like that are freshmen and drop out during their first semester.

  16. q says:

    Darn. I wanted to address that to mott555, not no nathan. Sorry.

  17. wrkq says:

    We did the same when my brother was a few months old, and some students on the other side the wall started to practice violin(?). Speakers to the wall, Pink Floyd on the gramophone (yes, black vinyl disc player)… and they promptly moved the practicing to a room further away from the common wall.

  18. Danny says:

    @Rick C

    When some noise happens indoors near you and you need your sleep is very easy to shut them down (after they deny your initial request of course), just enter their room with a isolated U bend wire, plug it in the outlet and watch how the entire party comes to an end.

    Best in my college was that an entire floor of rooms had only one fuse so if you did that in any room you get an entire floor in dark, which meant you can just roll over in your bed and shortcut the fuse.

    But Mason was talking about something that was outside, separated from your electric circuit – but i guess with a wire-cutter you could solve that too.

  19. There's some great feeling of fulfilment when you turn up to a meeting "only just early" (only a couple of minutes before you're due rather than the usual quite a few minutes) with some Wagner playing out at a slightly too high volume with your windows down!

    It seems though that each time I do that, the car park is devoid of people. Turn up normally and it's full of people smoking/having a natter.

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