Once a car stereo hits about 160 decibels, you stop worrying about your eardrums, and start focusing on your chest. Because at that point, the bass makes it nearly impossible to breathe.
If that sounds like fun to you, you’d have a pretty good time at the annual Car Audio Championships, where hundreds of competitors from all over the country meet to show off their sound systems. It’s not just about loud bass, though. Aside from the Sound Pressure competition, there’s also the Sound Quality competition, where judges sit in a car, and judge the system’s clarity according to a strict rubric.
VICE News went to Louisville, Kentucky to see just how bone-rattling these sound systems can get.
This segment originally aired Oct. 19, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
Watch the bonus outtake from the segment, with some literal windshield-shattering bass – and some possible glass inhalation: