At T.H.E. Show Newport Beach, attendees were treated to the sights and sounds of high-end cars with high-end audio installations. From the tricked out Mercedes with gull-wing doors to the Saleen, hardly anyone could walk by the Hilton without doing a double-take.
And then I met Dan, who goes by the Audiogon username Danzspkrman. We struck up a conversation about how easy it is for audiophiles to take on tons of debt to create the perfect system. Dan, like a lot of us, spends a great deal of time in his car commuting to and from work. Being away from home became a dilemma – how could he justify the expense of the ideal listening room when he’s not around to enjoy it?
By thinking realistically about his busy life, Dan figured out a solution when thinking about getting a new car. “Instead of paying thirty grand for a car, I can just buy a cheaper, unassuming one and spend the rest of my budget on a killer audiophile-level system!”
We walked out to the parking lot and tried to find his car in a sea of vehicles. Unassuming is right the word – it took us ten minutes to locate it! From the outside, you’d never know how much he’d souped it up. The faceplate on the stereo doesn’t even advertise what lies inside. “This is my stereo on wheels,” he smiled, and explained how he’d gotten it to this point.
After picking out a silver Kia sedan, Dan visited a local car audio installation shop with good word-of-mouth reviews and began working with them to design the ideal mobile listening room. Since he was dropping so much coin, he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty either. Dan worked with the installers to build custom enclosures and determine optimal placement for the tweeters. It took nearly a month and an extra hundred or so pounds of gear, but in the end, Dan couldn’t be more pleased with the result.
Popping the trunk, Dan let me have a look at the custom woofer enclosures. Aside from cutting the trunk’s capacity by at least half, they’re so well installed that it looks like the car came with them inside. Like a proud papa, Dan picked a tune with heavy bass and told me to listen. “Not even a little vibration, right? Usually, you see these young guys driving with the bass up so high that their cars are about to shake apart. Not mine!”
We were in a busy parking lot across the street from the 405 AND the Santa Ana airport, but hardly any extraneous noise can be heard once Dan turned it on. Take a short listen below.
So what can we take away from Dan’s story? He made a choice to forego the traditional audiophile route because he was realistic about the amount of time he’d be able to enjoy it and where his budget ended. Whether you’re thinking about revamping your whole system, adding a new component, or even where you’ll be able to enjoy your listening session the most, Dan’s methodical approach is sure to be helpful.
Members, where have you saved to splurge later? Have you turned your car into HiFi on wheels? Let us know in the comments below!