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Music And Driving

There is something about playing music in the car and driving on the road. It really doesn’t matter what type of road one is driving on. Playing music in your car and moving, creates a unique sensation using our sense of hearing and some other sixth sense I can not figure out.

Audio System

One must start with an audio system that is in working order. I have a Bose system at my disposal inside of a SUV. Most have tweeters on the window side bars. These are placed closer to ear level for imaging purposes. The second set of speakers is usually found in the front and side door “map pockets”. Rear passenger seats directly behind the drivers seat also have drivers in the bottom third of the door. Rear speakers are found in the back trunk like area as in a SUV.


One can electronically control bass, treble, mid range, balance, and a fader which moves the signal from the front two sets of speakers to the two sets in the rear. Windows are everywhere and there are many reflections to deal with. Each front seat driver speaker positions allow them to fire right into the area where we place our legs. This is in essence a small room with small room resonant issues. They must be dealt with. The same scenario occurs directly behind the driver and shotgun position. The rear area is perfect for low frequency absorbers. Rear windows not needed for driving should have acoustic foam on them. Don’t forget about foam on the dash.

Time Of Day

Time of day is critical for our music and motion. We have outside traffic noise to deal with. And to deal with this we must turn up the gain so that its level is at a certain level higher than the traffic noise. We don’t want to compete with traffic noise and we do not need excessive sound pressure in our car “room”. We also have road noise from the wheels continue, hopefully, contact with the road. Road temperature and outside temperature are factors with cabin noise levels. In the desert, the best time is 4:30 am on a Saturday morning. Air and roads are cool with no cars. Lets get ready to roll.


Most cd players have the ability to hold at least six cds. I am always hesitant when the screen says to insert the cd and I see this clamp like thing come out to grab the disc and pull it into playing position. Load the player with two vocals arrangements that you know very well, two guitar, and two drum songs. Make sure they are all good recordings. Put some classical in there. I have a special project for that genre.

Smooth Road

Start on a smooth road that you know where it goes to. Take the chance of getting lost out of your thoughts for this music and motion journey.
Start out with the vocals. Singing along with the vocals does two things. It is an unobtrusive measure of happiness. If one is singing in the car along with a vocal track, the car can be really a vocal booth. One can hear how well one hits the same note, forget about pitch for this trip. One can sing at stop lights or not. I hope you sing everywhere.

Two Better Than One

A well treated car interior can give one a sense of spaciousness and also can produce incredible detail. Most of the electronics that come in cars today, work well in properly treated cars. One can always upgrade, but that is a whole other project. It is OK to work with what you have. If the reflections and resonances are controlled one can sing a harmony part to the vocal and the person riding shot gun can hear it. Yes, bring a friend. It is way more fun.

Car Guitar

Guitars are always fun. Listening to a great electric guitar break will moving in a car can be a life experience. When the lead starts, you hear and see motion of music and motion of objects. Together the dual movement, somehow synchronizes and blends together into an emotional experience. It can move you to push harder on the gas pedal for more motion. A great guitar break and an long, curving, downhill, on ramp to the freeway, will do just fine, thank you.

Car Drums

Drum solos are wonderful in a car. You are in such a small space and with today’s stock playback systems, one can achieve a steady, driving, beat with enough energy to actually replace the gas in the car with musical “gas”. When the time signature of the drum solo you are listening to matches the speed you are going and the music in the car “moves” with the passing objects outside, nothing can be better. Where is that on ramp when I need it.


Remember that classical piece of music we brought? Load it in. Find an on ramp that starts low in elevation and goes higher. Make sure it has a gradual turn from bottom to top. Take a practice run with your car at the speed that will be a gradual acceleration through the upward turn and on to the freeway at the top. Start the music of choice, so that when the classical piece reaches crescendo, you are entering the freeway at cruising speed or maybe a little faster. A little faster is always better.

Car Music

Music in your car when it is treated acoustically can be a moving time machine. You can play music you listened to 20 years ago and be transported back into the car you had and the girl you were with. Music and motion in your car is necessary, especially in today’s world. It is worth the time and effort it takes. The tuning process is the journey. There is no real destination. The journey is the destination.

I am thankful I have a vehicle with over 300 pounds of low frequency absorption and enough middle and high frequency absorbing foam to tame those nasty reflections off of the glass surfaces. Well, maybe tame is not the right word; lets use manage. Make your car sound good. It will then be more than a car. It will be a moving, musical, time machine. What if everyone at the stoplight was singing?


I am a structural engineer as well as a master furniture maker. I design cabinets for low frequency, activated carbon absorbers. Connect with me on Google+

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