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Hamilton Spectator Article - "Sonic Boom"

Old 07-24-2007, 07:41 AM
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Hamilton Spectator Article - "Sonic Boom" - Local - Sonic Boom!

Sonic Boom!

Raveena Aulakh

The Hamilton Spectator
(Jul 24, 2007)

You can feel it coming. Not hear, feel. The windows rattle, your chest starts to pound in time. And you're helpless to stop it. It isn't a natural disaster. It's a thumper car, a tricked-out vehicle with a stereo so loud it rivals the noise of a jet taking off. Young men love them. Almost everybody else hates them. And Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead wants to know if there's anything the city can do about them.

It's as deafening as standing next to a 747 jet on takeoff.

Loud enough to shatter windows, rattle doors and shake the ground.

And enough to give Faye Tiburcio of Supreme Discount at Dundurn Plaza a huge headache.

"It's like banging against the chest," said Tiburcio of the music blaring from thumper cars.

"They are just passing by, but the noise is deafening."

Thumper cars, also known as ground-pounders, are fitted with amplifiers and sub-woofers that can produce sound levels of up to 170-plus decibels -- more than the sound produced by that 747.

The equipment's so big it has to be fitted into the trunk of the car.

An average thumper car is fitted to produce 135-plus decibels.

That's loud enough to rattle windows -- not to mention some Hamilton residents, who have complained to Mountain Councillor Terry Whitehead.

He's now asking City Hall staff to look at what other cities have done about what amounts to mobile sonic booms.

"I don't know what the solution is but we need to find ways to control noise from thumper cars," said Whitehead, who had a recent first-hand experience while waiting for the lights at Upper James and Hester streets.

A car, music booming loud enough to be heard a kilometre away, rolled next to him.

Boom, boom.

Boom, boom.

Whitehead was shaken to his bones.

And he finally understood the extent of the nuisance his constituents had been complaining about.

But Burlington's Harminder Atwal, whose stereo speakers and amps can touch 150 decibels, doesn't think his Chevy is a nuisance.

"I don't play it loud on the streets," he said, adding he lets the volume crawl up only on highways.

How loud does he play in the city? You can hear him before his car rolls into view.

Atwal, 18, began working on his dad's car system about five years ago. The car is his now. He won't say how much money he spent.

The stereo and the speakers are in the car but the amplifiers are in the trunk.

Atwal, who likes different types of music, said it's a "show thing" to have this kind of a stereo system.

Anthony Mari, marketing manager for East Hamilton Radio, said: "We fit in maybe two dozen cars for sub-woofers or amplifiers every week."

On average, EHR puts together 25 to 30 bass systems a week -- and these can consist of multiple or single subs in a box powered by an amplifier.

"It's a big thing," he added.

Keith Grafham of Keith's Stereo in Burlington says woofers are very popular. He agreed they "can be irritating to people outside the car."

It's more than irritating, though.

They can make life miserable.

Ask Nellie Roberts, who lives near New Street in downtown Hamilton.

She's tired of blaring music. "It's scary sometimes," said Roberts, who is convinced that the windows of her house will crack one day.

"The sound is just too loud," agreed Melissa Brown, a grad student at McMaster who lives near Dundurn and King Street West.

Apparently, there's no legislation stopping people from supersizing their car stereos.

"They are annoying," agreed a Hamilton police officer, "but there is no bylaw against it."

[email protected]


Cranking up the cash

* Sub-woofers are loudspeakers that reproduce bass frequencies. A bass package can cost as much $25,000.

* Amplifiers start at $150 and can go up to $3,000. At East Hamilton Radio, a high-end amplifier is $13,000.

* At EHR, systems that can hit the 140 to 153 decibel mark are put together. The highest they've produced cranks out 168 decibels.

* Speakers, amplifiers and sub-woofers are fit into trunks of cars or SUVs.

Sounds of summer

Experts say continued exposure to noise above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss over time.

Exposure to sound levels above 90 dB can cause permanent hearing loss with relatively short exposure.

Noise levels above 140 dB can cause damage to hearing after one exposure.

Sound Decibel

Normal breathing 10 dB

Rustling leaves 20 dB

Normal conversation 60 dB

Busy traffic 75 dB

Noisy restaurant 80 dB

Screaming child 90 dB

Power mower 105 dB

Inboard motorboat 110 DB

Jet Ski 100 DB

Jet engine 140 dB

Gun shot 140 dB

Rocket launching 180 dB

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Old 07-24-2007, 09:36 AM
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that was a good article!!! some of the facts I think are a little far fetched but for the most part not bad!
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Old 07-24-2007, 01:29 PM
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This is war they can't win. Why? Because over my dead body is somebody taking my stereo. It's their loss if they don't like music loud. What are they complaining about, the music genre, or the volume? Also, home windows being broken from a drive-by stereo? PLEASE! Nobody drives around listening to 140dBs. I'd say comfortable driving volume is 120-125 dB. My sub probably can't do over 136dB anyways. Anybody who doesn't like my stereo can suck my dick, it ain't goin' anywhere! Also, I'm not an , I don't turn it up after dark, around houses, businesses, etc.. I live in a rural area anyways, I never have to worry about turning it down. We are all just trying to enjoy our senses, if you have a problem with that, ear plugs are pretty cheap!
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Old 07-24-2007, 04:14 PM
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Yea because i know alot of people who run around playing their $25,000 170DB!!!!! sounds systems around town. Please, most people know when to turn it down, and I only hear maybe 1 or to people a week who blast it at night. ZOMG TOO BIG THAT IT HAS TO BE MOUNTED IN THE TRUNK!!!!!!!
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Old 07-24-2007, 05:12 PM
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Some of the wording just cracks me up. Damn amazing things, the subs in the car and amps in the trunk.

but what do you expect. i see this type of dumb behaviour everyday, where i hear people from half the block. if people keep raising the issue, they'll do something about it.
look at what they are doing to people with modded cars.

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Old 07-24-2007, 05:30 PM
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all i can do is laugh at how people complain about something like this.
Especially when there's thousands of other things worthy of a legitimate complaint.
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Old 07-24-2007, 05:51 PM
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Hahahaha, great article! I could care less what other think but i always keep it down once within my neighbourhood just in respect.
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Old 07-24-2007, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by kutchdawg
all i can do is laugh at how people complain about something like this.
Especially when there's thousands of other things worthy of a legitimate complaint.
I agree on that too. For example there's this biker guy on my street is damn annoying every morning. At least one good thing is that his annoyance is 5 seconds long.

you wouldn't laugh at those complaints if you had this annoyance every other night. when im sitting at home trying to watch a ****ing movie with my wife, and there's some on our street who cranks it up for half an hour. that's a little too much? hope his car burns some day.

Last edited by df.dima; 07-24-2007 at 06:47 PM.
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