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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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.

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Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.


I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.


I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.


As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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