DAYTONA BEACH, FL – For the past 27 years, the car audio selling season has kicked off with the annual Spring Break Nationals event. Part car show, part car audio soundoff competition and part trade show for the mobile electronics industry, SBN has traditionally been the event soundoff competitors focus on winning and car audio manufacturers attend to show off their wares to thousands of young spring breakers.
While the event has changed somewhat over the years, aside from the huge Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, SBN is still the event to attend to get your car audio overdose from manufacturer’s booths as well to observe the best installations in the country in the various soundoff competition formats.
It had been several years since I’d made the trek to Daytona Beach for the Spring Break Nationals. Kinda strange feeling being the father of a college student on spring break, yet I was the one in a hotel room overlooking the Atlantic. As luck would have it, cold weather kept outdoor excursions to a minimum so my focus was on taking in the mobile electronics show.
After a ten-year break, it was very obvious to me that some things are still the same. Sound quality competitors and their installations are very intense, but sound quality judging lanes rank just above paint drying for excitement. Only the extreme hobbyist understand and appreciate SQ competition. Ironically, the SQ lanes have long been where car audio technology development has been pushed to the limit.
On the polar opposite is SPL competition where vehicles are built without regards to sound quality or cosmetics. The name of the game is to simple be the loudest. This is where big woofers and boom vehicles rule. But since judging is done with SPL meters and a microphone inside closed up vehicles, spectators are limited to just watching video monitors with live scoring.
The main show floor is where the main excitement could be found for spectators. A wide range of customized show cars filled about a third of the exhibit hall while manufacturer’s booths filled the rest showing off their products, many with customized demo vehicles blaring out music loudly—VERY loudly.
For the readers of In-Car TechTell, I will be bringing you in the coming weeks some new companies and products I found on the show floor. While the competitions and show floor are always exciting for an industry veteran like me, for the average spring breaker, SBN was an eye—and ear—opening experience.