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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If Taylor Swift Songs Were Types Of Alcohol

Because what's better than a drink and some T-Swift?
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With Taylor Swift's quick return to the music scene... and in a big way, might I add, I decided to associate some of the best Taylor Swift songs with alcohol.

I mean, who wouldn't want to drink to Taylor Swift's catchy melodies and perfect choruses to get over an ex or tell someone exactly how you feel about them?

Taylor Swift has been around for a decade at this point, and let's face it, pretty much all of her songs could go along with at least one type of alcohol.

1. "Welcome To New York" - Moscow Mule

It only makes sense. Visit the Big Apple and you have to indulge in the state's signature cocktail. Moscow mules are a New York classic, and if it's your first night in the city and you haven't bought yourself one, are you even in New York?

2. "Blank Space" - Everclear

Think about it... A night of drinking Everclear will leave you with a giant blank space the next day. You might also look like Taylor did in the music video.

3. "Tim McGraw" - Beer

Tim McGraw is a throwback to Taylor's high school love. What better way to reminisce than with a couple friends and a keg of your favorite cheap beer?

4. "Style" - Cristal Champagne

What's more stylish than with a glass of the most expensive bubbly you can find? Just like Taylor Swift, Cristal will never go out of style.

5. "Shake It Off" - Martini

Get it? Cause you shake a martini? I might be the only one who thinks that's funny but you might end up dancing a little bit with a martini in hand when "Shake It Off" come on the radio.

6. "Red" - Merlot


Red has to go along with a red wine. What else could go along with yet *another* T-Swift breakup song?

7. "22" - Margaritas

Let's face it, when you're 22, you really only drink margaritas. They're fun- and all the hipsters are probably drinking them too.

8. "Teardrops On My Guitar" - Southern Comfort

When your heart is broken, who are you going to turn to besides the only alcohol that gives you comfort...Southern Comfort that is.

9. "I Knew You Were Trouble" - Fireball

I can't say I've ever met anyone who spent a night with Fireball and didn't regret it the next morning.

10. "Look What You Mad Me Do" - Tequila

T-Swift's latest single is an angry one. What better to make you angry than tequila? Taylor basically just called out everyone who had ever talked about her behind her back and she did it in true Taylor fashion-by writing a song. She was probably drunk on tequila when she wrote it too.

11. ...Ready For It? - Bottomless Mimosas

Because it's just that good.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Board Games Are More Important Than You Think They Are

They've become a defining part of my family.

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Remember when you were a kid and you'd have a family game night? Or your friends would come over and you'd open the game cabinet and play at least three different games together?

Maybe it's just me, but those are some of my best memories from my childhood. My family loves games, board games, and electronic games.

Of course, as I got older, gaming consoles like PlayStation and Wii became more and more popular. That meant that the game cabinet was opened less and less, collecting dust.

Thankfully, I live in New Jersey near the shore and Hurricane Sandy left my family with no power for five days. Sure, it was scary not having power and walking around my neighborhood seeing fallen trees or roof shingles, but we were inland enough to not have had any flood water damage.

No power also meant no PlayStation or Wii games. The gaming cabinet was opened again, this time with vigor. Now, four years later, and I still think about sitting in the dark with a flashlight playing Scrabble with my family.

That was also the week I learned how to play Yahtzee and dominated my dad in every game. My sister constantly was looking for someone to play her to Battleship. We exhausted Rummikub.

The game was already a family favorite, and that's including extended family. Family barbeques had been ending with late night games of Rummikub for at least a year by the time Sandy hit.

We were ready to strategize and crunch numbers, but after day three, we never wanted to a number ever again.

This semester, there's been a surge of board game love again in my family. My sister bought Jenga, which we are currently trying to exhaust ourselves with. My favorite board game also had a comeback: Life.

I loved this game so much that I had the SpongeBob version as a kid. I would play it with my best friend, just the two of us, playing game after game of Bikini Bottom themed Life. Now, I have a car full of "kids" that I've started to make pets in my head. I can handle having five pretend dogs, but not five pretend kids.

I don't know what it is about board games, but my family has always had an affinity for them. We've gone through our cycles of playing video games and card games, but we always come back to the classics. Maybe it's more a defining part of my family than I originally thought.

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