At CES, Fast Cars with Monster Stereos

Jim Motavalli

Jim Motavalli | Jan 07, 2016

LAS VEGAS—Car audio is, understandably, huge at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and the bigger the better. Of course, you need a cool ride to showcase your mega-woofers and tweeters.

Checking out the MTX stereo in a Polaris at Margaritaville. Ah, tropical living at its best. (Jim Motavalli photo)

MTX set up in a tropical booth via Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. They supply stereos for the Polaris company’s off-roaders, and the 1000 model at the show featured big thumpin’ amplifiers under each seat, four 7.7-inch Marine speakers (they're water-resistant), two 10-inch subwoofers, eight roof-mounted MOD amplifiers and another 15-inch subwoofer. I’m probably forgetting a speaker or two.

The Polaris/MTX has more speakers than Hyde Park. (Jim Motavalli photo)

The bottom line is you can tackle vertical mountain terrain while scaring the coyotes with drums and bass music at volumes that will loosen ear wax and cause permanent hearing damage.

Memphis Audio speakers: How to stuff a wild Ferrari. (Jim Motavalli photo)

Memphis Audio stuffed its speakers into the limited space offered by a Ferrari convertible. Big open-cone speakers were mounted right behind the driver’s seat for a maximum impression on your undefended ear drums. Frankly, this rig was Vegas all the way—just the ticket for cruising Dean Martin Drive.

Kenwood's McLaren drew big crowds. (Jim Motavalli photo)

And don’t forget Kenwood, which loaded its audio gear into a McLaren 675LT. Here we have the ultimate sensory experience—205 mph, with a symphony made up of rushing road noise, pursuing police sirens, and the thump of massive subwoofers delivering the latest Sweden-produced hits. (For more on the Scandinavian music takeover, read John Seabrook’s eye-opening book, The Song Machine.)

Qualcomm's Maserati had a really intuitive infotainment system. (Jim Motavalli photo)

Monster had a Bentley. Qualcomm featured a Maserati that, among many other things, vibrated the seats during lane departures. "They'll sell a lot of these to lonely housewives," said a woman in the front seat during the demo. Image Dynamics crammed four huge speakers under the hatch of a Corvette. There was no luggage space left, but what Corvette owner in the history of the marquee has cared about that?

Pioneer's Scion had vulnerable door speakers. (Jim Motavalli photo)

Pioneer jammed its gear into a relatively plebian Scion—but then the company has built the brand’s radios since the launch. Tyrese sounded smooth, but the speakers in the doors didn’t have any covers—if it was me, I’m sure I’d kick holes in them on the first week. Pioneer services the aftermarket, too; I learned from spokesman Ted Cardenas that I could get a radio/CD unit for my new Miata—with USB and an auxiliary in—for just $70. It’s amazing how the costs have come down on this kind of equipment. I’m heading for the stereo store.

"You need a cool ride to showcase your mega-woofers and tweeters."


Get the Car Talk Newsletter