10/12/04 — Couple wins stereo competition loud and clear

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Couple wins stereo competition loud and clear

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on October 12, 2004 1:58 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Elva and Devon Garner bring home trophies every time they compete in "the world's loudest sport," and it's not car racing.

It's competitive car-stereo playing, and for 30 events in a row, Garner has not been beat.

On Saturday, the couple took their Honda Del Sol to Lumberton and won two more first-place trophies. The Lumberton event was sponsored by the National Sound Pressure League, which calls its competition the "loudest sporting event in the world."

You pull into the judging lane, and you have 30 seconds to achieve your highest "sound pressure level."

But it really means the loudest bass. Garner needs only three seconds.

"Most of the serious competitors know what they have to do," he said. "My car hits over 150 decibels."

The loudest is about 174 decibels, or 171 with the doors closed and the windows rolled up. That's called "legal."

"Outlaw" or "hard-core" competitions are with all the doors and windows open.

The Garners said there are competitors in their 50s and 60s, but most are younger. The majority are in their mid-20s. The Garners are in their mid-30s.

The judges use decibel meters to determine the winners. The loudest stereo wins.

"It used to be measured by microphones, but today, it's done with a 'turn pro meter,' which measures the decibels on the car stereo," said Mrs. Garner. "There are different classes in the competition. It's very technical. Which category you enter under depends on the type car and whether you're an amateur or a professional, like a dealer or in the electronics business."

The event contains a level for every competitor, from the first-timer to the seasoned veteran. There are 10 levels, and each competitor is classed with same-powered peers.

One of the Garners' trophies Saturday was for Beginner Car 501 Watts and Up with a score of 150.7 decibels, and the other was for Beginner Hard-Core with a score of 154.3 decibels.

The Garners entered their first competition for car-stereo systems in August 2003 in Charlotte, and they came back with two world championships, both in the beginner category.

"I am well pleased with my first year," said Garner. "We've attended many shows in one year, probably 30. We didn't miss many."

Garner got interested in the events through former next-door neighbor Edward Davidson, who owns Installation Station in Mount Olive.

"I saw him start coming home with trophies, and I asked him how he got them," said Garner. "He got me started in it, and now, I can't quit. I got hooked."

Others who go to the competitions with the Mount Olive group are Jesse Hoskins, who is engaged to Davidson's daughter, and Troy Thompson. All four have won trophies, and Garner said several other people from Mount Olive go from time to time.

Mrs. Garner goes to every competition with her husband. They like traveling to new places and meeting people.

"You see each other on a regular basis, and they become like family," said Garner.