Sounding Off: Sound Quality Competition is Alive and Well!
- Friday 26th March, 2010
Back around ten years ago, car audio competitions or ‘sound-offs’ could be found in your local town from one side of the nation to the other. Unfortunately today, they have become more difficult to come by and most often attract only the die-hard audiophile or db enthusiast.
Over the years, tucked away in car audio store car parks and found in the occasional car show, MEA have been conducting sound quality competitions under the name of "MEASQ". MEASQ has gained more and more interest in recent years and now holds events in NSW, VIC, QLD, WA and ACT, and has recently been adopted in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Attracting in excess of 30 competitors to an average event this back to basics, subjective judging format allows like-minded enthusiasts the opportunity to gather, and receive feedback on their audio systems ability to reproduce high quality sound, but also recognition for those that really push the envelope.
In March 2009, MEASQ were invited to attend the annual Early Holden Car Club Wangaratta’s show ‘n shine and hold a round of the Victorian series. Traditionally these types of car enthusiasts have focused on the sound of the engine and exhaust rather than the output of their loudspeakers. However, ‘sound quality’ is beginning to appeal to those enthusiasts who have all but finished restoring their pride and joy to its former glory, or those that just can’t stop modifying their ride further.
Step in MEASQ, and for a rainy miserable day at least twenty-five competitors made the journey inland to Wangaratta from as far as Canberra and even Western Victoria. Sponsored by Polk Audio, Clarion and local retailer Car Audio Connections, fantastic trophies and prizes were up for grabs by the eager competitors. One noticeable trait of MEASQ is that the only pre-requisite for getting involved is a passion for quality audio reproduction. This is obvious by looking around at the competitors cars. From your everyday late or early model mode of transport, to show stopping street machines and Japanese imports, all are welcome and have a suitable competition class.
Round 3 saw some local first time competitors filling the ranks in the Novice class and each received invaluable time and feedback from a trained judge to guide them in the right direction for sound quality competition. The no-pressure attraction of this class is a great introduction and usually results in competitors returning to enter the fiercely contested Intermediate class at their next event. Full fields were found in the Intermediate and prestigious Expert classes with the final results only separated by less than a handful of points. It’s interesting to walk around talking to competitors who are always more than willing to tell you about their system, its strengths and weaknesses and share their knowledge on how to achieve ultimate sound quality. Of course, there’s always a heated debate amongst the crew about just whose vehicles sounds best, but above all, the competition base are mates who share a common interest and go out of their way to help one another.
Active, passive, two-way, three-way, ambience tweeters, to use time alignment or not … there are just so many ways to reproduce audio in a car, and to do so accurately. MEASQ is a learning environment while showcasing some of the finest products available to the market. Highlighted at Round 3 was the number one rule in car audio, 80% installation technique, and 20% product. Many competitors choose to install their own systems, while others call upon some of the professional skills from specialist retailers.
After a long day of judges moving from vehicle to vehicle, assessing each and every aspect from tonality, imaging and staging and of course safety components, score sheets are tallied up and presentation takes place centre stage under the MEASQ marquee. Competitors are unaware of their final scores until this point which always builds anticipation and quite often big surprises. Competitors receive their awards and mill around discussing the results before packing up and making the trek back home, only to re-tune and do it all again the following month.
MEASQ is certainly a very niche competition far from the budgets and glory of other popular sports, but to a small group of enthusiasts around the country, because of the efforts of the Mobile Electronics Australia organization, supporting industry sponsors, and volunteer judges and marshals, car audio competition is alive and well. Check out the MEASQ section of this website to find an event near to you and become involved.