Why Sound Is So Important To Gearheads

Why Sound Is So Important To Gearheads

The roar of an engine is an intoxicating sound - here's why we need it!
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To us who love and practically worship automobiles, one of the most vital aspects of any car are the noises it makes. To many, these noises are nothing more than an annoyance, and people can't really fathom why we would pay money to make our cars louder. But to us, most of these noises send a chill up our spines, and often give the sensation of speed more than anything else, which makes these noises not only enjoyable but also a useful metric for vehicle control. All of these noises happen for specific reasons as well, and knowing how they are created and what's occurring when you hear them is something I find to be the one of the most interesting aspects of cars as whole. Know that I could write an entire article for each sound I describe, so if you'd really like to hear it, head over to YouTube and search some of the terms used below. All of these sounds represent something specific to car enthusiasts, and this connection we have in our mind is what makes them so important.

First and foremost, one of the most prominent sounds a car makes is the engine operation itself. At the most basic level, engines are powered by tiny explosions, which unmuffled are incredibly loud. Thanks to modern advancements in muffler technology, cars that would otherwise be raucously loud are virtually silent. Some manufacturers, namely BMW, are creating artificial exhaust noise that is emitted from the radio instead of the exhaust itself. Even worse is that this is more typical in their performance models, the cars one would expect to have a more aggressive exhaust note! It pains me to not know what many of today's subdued engines would sound like uncorked. Gone are the days of noise limits, when you could legally have a big block V8 with open headers and nasty cam rattling the windows of your house when you fire it up in the driveway. Now even the fastest cars on the road can barely be heard. I personally drive a straight-piped V8 BMW that is deafeningly loud on startup, and doing a second gear pull through a Boston tunnel nearly made my ears bleed. It can drone horribly on the highway, meaning I have to turn up both my radar detector and stereo even louder to hear them, turning my car into a noise-chamber on wheels. But do I mind? Not at all, simply because the only thing I need to wake up in the morning is that rumble.

Some of the greatest sounds come from cars with forced induction. Turbochargers make an unmistakable "whoosh" sound in the cabin as they spool up, and make a sort of whistle as they spool down, which is much more audible with an open exhaust system. Furthermore, non-recirculating boost systems vent excess boost pressure to atmosphere via a blow-off valve when the throttle plate is closed, which makes the unmistakable chirping noise, almost like a bird. Single turbo Toyota Supras are notorious for this. Then, turbocharged engines without blowoff valves experience something known as turbo flutter/bark, when excess boost instead goes back through the turbo, with the spinning vanes "chopping" the air as it goes through. There are different schools of thought as to whether this is a good thing or not, as many claim is wears out bearings in turbo, but it's still an intoxicating noise nonetheless. Supercharged cars make that notorious whining sound from both the air being squeezed between the drive belt's teeth and the air being squeezed between the meshed internal screws of the supercharger. It's an awesome noise that makes hair stand on end when you hear it for real. The sounds of forced induction indicate power; with a supercharger, instantaneous raw torque, and with a turbocharger, gradual buildup to insane power levels.

Another great noise is that from a dogbox transmission with straight-cut gears. This sound is a very loud, high-pitched whine that is similar to what a supercharger makes, only much more speed dependent. The sound is caused by the full contact during the meshing of the straight-cut gears as opposed to partial meshing of helical cut gears. The noise can become obscenely loud, but is nevertheless cool as all hell because of what it represents; racecar engineering doing its job perfectly.

I realize that this article was more of an explanation of certain types of cool noises made by cars, but you'll appreciate it when you hear one of these sounds in a YouTube video, learn what causes it, and then hear it on the street and tell your buddy exactly what it is, wowing them with your auditory knowledge!

Cover Image Credit: Lexus

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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