Why Are They So Loud?
Because drivers WANT them to be loud. No other reason. And make no mistake and do not listen to the excuses, this is being loud for the sake of being loud; to have a louder stereo system in your car than the next driver, the other car. It's a contest of egos for bragging rights. And that you, a resident of Hawai'i, are the victim doesn't matter to them.
See the following YouTube Video for an example of an auto stereo so loud that the extreme Sound Pressure Levels (SPL) blows a girls hair around while she tries to shield her ears against the noise. You can search youtube for other examples of loud stereos that result in automobiles vibrating, windows breaking, and even the need to isolate the automobile in a sound-proof room because the dangerously high volume would immediately puncture eardrums. Incidentally, by current Hawai'i law, this is illegal on our streets. But despite them being common on our highways, HPD does nothing to curb this bad behavior and violation of ordinances and statutes.
Illegally Used "Boom Car" Stereos
Automobiles that have extremely powerful and loud stereos have been nicknamed "Boom Cars." The numbers of Boom Cars on the streets of O'ahu is larger than many would expect, and the numbers and power of the systems they have installed is increasing rapidly.
The pounding bass noise can be heard and felt over a long distance, can rattle windows and travel through walls. Nationwide, millions of people are adversely affected by this noise.
The natural question is, "How Loud Are They." - - Simply put - Off the Charts! Current record in "dB Drag Racing" (contests to see who has the loudest stereo) is 180.5dB. You may recall from our *dB chart under "How Is Noise Measured" that at 160dB your eardrum effectively explodes.
Update: Since that world record was set it has been beat several times. Record in 2016 was approximately 182.6dB.
http://gizmodo.com/298304/car-subwoofer-world-record-set-at-1805db (Click on link to open separate page to this web site)
Car Subwoofer World Record Set at 180.5dbWhen you're trying to picture how loud this 180.5db subwoofer that set the world record for the loudest sound for a single sub is, you can't picture jet planes or chainsaws or firecrackers. No, you need to go a bit higher—into the realm of atomic bombs and nuclear disasters. So yes, this Digital Designs 9918Z 18-inch subwoofer that's powered from four Stetsom KD amps at 26,000 watts is a rolling nuclear explosion when it crunks down your street. That'll show the kids (and the old man with the heart condition) who's boss.
Yes, that truly unbelievable commentary is the actual quote. Read for yourself at the link provided - "That'll show the kids (and the old man with the heart condition) who's boss." - Just think about that mindset.
The Boom Car Culture
This web site won't attempt to analyze the cultural dynamics that compel people to spend thousands of dollars to
acquire a system which is known to be illegal when used to these levels. In fact, on O'ahu, it is illegal for anyone to play a stereo at a level to be heard beyond 30 feet from the source. These "Boom Cars" can, quite literally, be heard one-quarter mile away - and further, depending on the power of the amplifiers and capacity of the speakers.
Terms such as "Peer Pressure," "Keeping Up With …," "Passive Agression," and such may or may not play a part in these dynamics, but there is mounting concern for the nature of the advertisements for these systems, which clearly show a passive aggressive message. A photo of 2 "Boom Car" speaker installations, and several examples of these
advertisements, are shown below.
Click HERE for more on Boom Cars. This page also shows the largest speaker on the market today, the 369 pound "Jackhammer" subwoofer. It is 22 inches in diameter and has a rated output of 12,000 watts.
While at this site take the time to view the video "DISTURB" video toward the bottom of the page from Pioneer Electronics. It's a very revealing and somewhat unsettling look at the marketing techniques used to sell these systems, and views of the young adult culture who purchases these systems.
August 2020: Just an additional comment so that the motorcycle community isn't left out. Motorcycles have of late begun installing high-powered stereos equal to or louder than those installed in cars. Check-out the video below for short clip of a motorcycle equipped with a 2000-plus watt stereo.
“XXX's concrete filled Volvo was louder than dynamite, jet engines, gunfire, NASA rockets and pretty much any sound you can imagine for that matter aside from nuclear bombs and natural disasters. Measurements were recorded from a soundproof room and the area around the car was evacuated. At this level of noise a person would experience instantaneous and irreversible explosion of the eardrum, and possibly lung collapse.
Click HERE for an more extensive list of these advertisements.
These are NOT benign advertisements! Whatever the motive "Boom Cars" are a problem. Apart from being illegal,
and the significant impact they have on the quality of life for us all, they pose a serious and real health hazard to all
This is another question to be answered under our Ordinances and Statutes and When Enforcers Fail To Enforce pages.