I have a dark secret. Long before I was a law abiding, tax paying citizen, I was one of those punk kids with a trunk full of speakers. It’s true. It was the mid 90’s, I had a green Chevy Blazer packed with subwoofers, and I could rattle my schools chalk from the parking lot. Lame, right? Wrong! I was awesome.
I remember cruising the local hangout spots, and driving all around the New York Tri-State area to enter sound-off competitions… and yes, I even enjoyed it. To this day, I blame my hearing on these years, and rightfully so. When I wasn’t cruising in “Thumper”, I was a wallflower at my local shop trying to learn more. Making a medium story short, I moved on – into the world of high performance. Of course, my beloved sound systems had to go, making way for… nothing. You see, excessive audio and performance are at odds. Speakers, dynamat and wiring add weight… and bulk is the enemy when you are trying to defy physics.
Though my taste in cars did a 180, my musical taste never changed. I am still almost exclusively stuck with rock of the 90’s, however, these days I can hear something other than the bass line. Aside from how fantastic the Burmester system is in the new Panamera, I have little knowledge of any happenings in the world of car audio – I haven’t thought about it in roughly 16 years. I just don’t have reason to care anymore. That was, until I heard about Doug Bernards.
It was iPad 2 release day, and Doug’s shop, SoundMan Car Audio, was about to steal the show. Their Piddy Pad Deuce install into the dash of an F-150 (yes, you read that right) was not only innovative (and insane), but OEM perfect in execution. The game had been moved on, my interest was renewed and I had to learn more. Turns out, there was a lot to help me. The Soundman team is featured in a web-released reality show appropriately titled “Amplified”. Unlike so many network broadcasts, “Amplified” is centered around actual reality (go figure), and is incredibly entertaining. The SoundMan team; Doug, Allyn, Spoon, and company are endlessly amusing, and have created a 30 minute escape from your day that is equal parts Jackass, OC Chopper, & instructional video. It just works… tens of thousands of Amplified fans can’t be wrong.
So, with my love for the art, and interest in all things Doug – I asked the man himself the following burning questions…
Q: With factory systems better than ever (and integration into the cars being such a challenge), what is the future of car audio?
A: The future of car audio is “High End”. installing cheap systems in older cars will get less common as time goes on because even old cars will have navs / premium sound standard in 10 years time. I predict that a lot of the old school shops will be whittled away. The shops that stay around will be the ones who innovate and develop fabrication skills.
Q. SEMA seems to show the same builds year after year… how can the car audio community move the game forward?
A. SEMA showcases similar builds every year because they have the same people doing the cars. An extreme stereo system lacks the WOW factor it once had. It is now common place for a show car to have a nicely installed stereo system. It’s going to take more creativity to grab peoples attention in this day and age. thats why ipad integrations are getting so much attention. It’s the first “new” thing to happen to custom car audio in decades.
Q. You killed it with your in-dash iPad solution… what’s next?
A. I have a lot of crazy ideas floating around in my head. some of them will never get done, but some will. I have been contemplating flush mounting a 27” iMac into my dash 🙂
Q. Tell me about Amplified… why do you do it? Why does it work?
A. Amplified is very personal to me. I make it because i love what i do and i want to show my work to the world. I’ve always had a love for making videos. as a kid i would spend hours making my own animations. I think Amplified works because its real, and its funny. The SoundMan team is like a family. I think our family dynamic does well on the show. Car Audio is a culture, and i think our shows bring the people together.
Q. With more than 1.3 million hits on your iPad install… have you had a moment of public recognition?
A. I’ve gotten a good amount of public recognition with my iPad installs. I was interviewed by CNN and KTLA5, My first iPad install was featured in iCreate magazine and Mac life magazine, as well as many popular web sites like Engadget, Gizmodo, 9to5 Mac and countless others.
Q. What have you not accomplished that you hope to?
A. What i’m really hoping to accomplish is to get our shows into the main stream and monetize them. I think our shows will educate people about the intricacies of what we do as well as entertain them. Generating a new source of income will really help me to improve the production quality of the shows, and enable me to tell my story better.
Q. What is the elusive build?
A. I’ve always wanted to get my hands on a Maybach. This car has pretty much every luxury you can think of, but i would love to convert the car into the ultimate spy vehicle complete with a full arsenal of weaponry.
Q. Favorite car of the moment? Of all time?
A. My favorite car of the moment is the BMW M3. the car is a beast. i’m glad to see BMW maintain their place as the ultimate driving machine. My favorite car of all time has to be the Mclaren F1. Sitting in the center of that vehicle mashing down the freeway has to be one of the best feelings in the world.
Q. What car needs to go away and never come back?
A. The car i dislike working on most is the early 90’s Corvette. I know a lot of people love the car, and it’s one we do plenty of. We know the car inside and out, but…. there’s just no room behind the dash and the panels just fall apart as you remove them. And the speaker placement is the worst.
Q. What is the most innovative product on the market right now? What can we look forward to in years to come?
A. The most innovative product thus far would be the pioneer App radio. it allows you to use you smart phone apps from the stereo’s UI. It obvious to me that we will see much more innovation in the “Smart stereo” area of car audio. Which i think is going to take many years before we get anything cooler than an iPad in the dash.
and perhaps most importantly…
Q. How do you make the perfect whip (confused? Watch “Amplified” and all will become clear)
A. hahaha. well first you must thoroughly wet the rag and ring it out. Then you have too give it a few practice whips the get the tip of the rag nice and loose. when you whip it you’re going to want to let the rag out slow and snap it back quick.. it’s all in the wrist.
There you have it. To learn more about Soundman & keep tabs on the gang, check out the gallery below and make sure to watch Season 1 of “Amplified”