Thursday, February 02, 2006

T#15: More show than go

Well actually, it might be more accurate to make some sort of Elvis related comment – coz what I really wanted to witter on about is noise.

It is in fact purely coincidental that my upstairs neighbours woke me with dance music at a quarter to four this morning (and they’re BANGING furniture together or something up there as I type this); that’s the first time in ages that it’s happened, and I was already going to pontificate on this subject anyway.

Curious thing noise, especially in relation to cars. I can never understand the connection that some people make – whether it be the tinny sound of their over-extended stereo or the wholly inappropriate rumblings from their exhaust; more specifically it’s the connection between this and some understanding that it’s “good” that alludes me.

I’ve had a couple of funny experiences this week that illustrate my so far fairly vague point. What I’m trying to suggest is that I have no problem with loud cars – stereo, tail pipe, induction or otherwise – so long as the quality matches with the quantity, a subtly different proposition for the music and the mechanicals alluded to above. With a stereo, if you must turn it up, turn it up to a volume where the distortion isn’t the single most defining feature of the casual, unsuspecting audience member’s experience; surely, if it sounds that bad out here, it must be bloody awful in there. And if you do insist on threatening passers-by with your low-end modulation, could you at least take the trouble to stick your trim down properly so we don’t have to put up with that irritating buzzy rattle. Do these two things on the music front, and you’re otherwise good to go – I don’t care whether it’s Dolly Parton or Photek, just make it sound something like the entertainment it’s supposed to be.

Car stereos are only a minor gripe, to be honest; give it a second and the offending vehicle will be gone, and its atrocious audio assault will have gone with it. More problematic is the over-exaggerated exhaust note of your average aftermarket accessorisor. Now, ordinarily I have no problem with a rorty sounding engine note and accompanying exit harmonics – and this is where my funny experiences kick in.

First of all, on the way to class on Wednesday I was pleasantly bouyed by The Most Fantastic Sounding automobile I have heard in A Long Time. It was coming towards me, and when I looked up, imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a previous generation Toyota Corolla – you know, the one that looks a bit like a librarian wearing an egg-grate grill. Aside from being a little bit lower, it appeared pretty much stock – even down to the alloys; but the sound it was making was just incredible. Obviously, the guy was pushing on a bit – probably not massively sensible in a built-up urban area – and running some kind of bazooka-grade exit pipe, maybe even system, but the thing of it was that the quality and the quantity of noise seemed entirely appropriate for the speed of travel.

This is so often so not the case. And this is my beef. I do have, as previously fessed-up to, a bit of a soft spot for the blaster scene. But what really really makes me itch is when you hear some car – usually a hatchback, often a Nova. Or a Metro – about three streets before it gets to you, and you think, Wow! What’s that?! And it comes into sight – making a hell of an impressive racket – and it’s still in sight, still in sight, still coming, and still, and…and the damn thing is only doing about 30mph when it sounds like it ought to be doing 120. That is just stupid. And it’s asking for trouble, too – because if I can hear it, so can the police, and any interfering, sorry, well-meaning member of the public who might wish to make a complaint on the grounds of noise pollution. And the car is obviously too slow to make any kind of a getaway – it’s like some kind of self-defeating prophecy. Grief, it’s annoying.

You know what they say about the UK’s street racers? I mean the proper ones, not the pretend machines hanging out at the cruise. They say that usually the cars don’t look all that much, that they don’t shout too hard about their potential – because that not only draws attention, it’s like a promise they cannot keep. Birmingham’s big on street racing apparently; if anyone has any more information about this, I’d love to write an article – but I digress…

The second weird experience, you’re probably wondering. This morning – the world’s loudest Porsche 911. Didn’t help that it was in that ‘orrible sickly-rich yellow – like sunburst or something; idling at the traffic lights fifty yards away it sounded like it was right next to me. There’s no accounting for taste.


Links:

#6: This is raw: Music [internal]

#5: A few words on...(Part 2) [internal]


Picture is a Polkaudio demo car. I was attracted to a caption for another of the pictures that said: 'There are a total of 22 LED's [sic] in the car.' The gallery is here. This post is in no-way meant to be a disparaging comparison to this particular vehicle or the company/ies and/or people involved with it!

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