The key to a good sound in the car…

Ever since I bought my Toyota Corolla, I have generally enjoyed the sound of the car stereo… until I play a CD or hook up my iPod. Yes, the radio sounded great and I enjoyed the ride into Toronto listening to the radio. However, since I “discovered” music on demand, I couldn’t get enough out of hooking up my iPod into the car and playing it.

However, the loudness wars really took its toll and everything was coming through as nothing short of WWIII. There are a lot of music casualties, as you may have read in my previous blog. Even worse was finding some of my favourite Christian Artists fell victim to the loudness wars. I’m not going to boycott their music because, other than the fact that I like it, they deserve to be heard. The thing is that they’re probably not going to get re-mastered… they may be stuck with what they have. Thus, they will sound like bombs dropping in my nice little Corolla.

My previous solution was to use the Bass Reducer EQ setting on my iPod. However, I didn’t want to keep doing this as I moved from car to headphone to whatever. It was nice, but it wasn’t the answer…

That is, until I discovered a little setting in the car that changed it all. There’s a feature in the car radio called ASL, or Automatic Sound Leveller. It’s function is to supposedly adjust the loudness as the car goes faster or slower, to compensate for the road and wind noise (if you have the moon roof open). The thing is, it’s not the volume that it’s adjusting… it’s the bass frequencies. No treble is getting adjusted, thus it is not truly adjusting the volume. It is no different than the old loudness control that was on my ol’ Technics stereo. It made things seem louder, but all it did was bump up the bass frequencies, which by nature are not very loud despite the amount of energy they carry.

Once I turned the ASL off, I got a controllable sound that actually sounded like music and didn’t wreak any further havoc on the victims of the loudness wars. It also opened my eyes up to how my own music was sounding in the car because I was fooling myself with all of that bass as I was driving. I know that it is going to force me to re-evaluate my last 6 or so mixes because I can now hear everything clearly and my mind is no longer clouded by the ASL in the car. ASL may be nice for the radio, as the frequency spectrum is actually limited. However, it is not good for CD’s and iPod’s where the frequency spectrum is not limited. If you want better sound with your music on demand, turn the ASL off! You may be glad you did.

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