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Bubonic Sonics

Regular readers will know I was spirited off to Las Vegas at the beginning of January to attend my eighth or ninth Winter Consumer Electronics Show. Quite a statement to even be there in these tough times for a website as specialised as us.

Over the last fifteen years or so I have managed to get along to quite a few though. In the early days there was simply enough cash floating around for some distributors to think it was a Good Thing for me to get there and the guys at ProPlus Sound and Matthew Robins of then Icetronic both helped out. Also, Pioneer took me along to see the birth of OEL, now called OLED and Kenwood have taken me too.

In the latter years, Blaupunkt ran a posh trip taking Snapper Spike and two Fast Car competition prize winners and we got so much work out of it (due to professional quality pictures) that we then started asking different outfits to help us both get there after that. In return for features in Fast Car, they would chip in and the lion would lie down with the lamb. Companies seriously head to head as competitors joined forces. Clarion and Kenwood in the same year one time. One occasion I took FC snapper Daniel Pullen with - he was a 'Vegas virgin at the time. I spoiled his girlish laughter for ever.

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This year it was Midbass Distribution who really wanted Talk Audio to be out there to report and so along with Clarion again (their demo car was awesome - full feature to come soon as well) and the guys at TDR (who distribute the US Amps and RE Audio equipment) who also chipped in, we were sorted.

The Vibe guys had some new kit and three fabulously cute Minis in red white and blue to signify the UK onslaught to the USA Car Audio market. Now with US distribution with the Metra people they have cracked the USA like the ruddy Beatles and the Stones and Leona Lewis all rolled into one!

So big is the launch that they had more than three demo cars. Not just the three minis but also the wagon you see here.

A full on pimp-grade Cadillac Escalade SUV but in the time honoured tradition, its huge people shifting abilities have been binned in favour of turning it into a two seater ride plus the most wonderfully imagineered install for their new Black Death series.

The Americans were so impressed by the product they felt moved to create this extra mad install all about the Bubonic Plague, called as it was, The Black Death.

What they had no idea of was the origins and realities of the disease. I filled them in on Rattus Rattus - the black ship's rat that infected the nation from parts foreign and then described in gory detail the origins of the nursery rhyme "Ring a ring of roses, a pocket full of posies, Atishoo, Atishoo, we all fall down!"

It was about the rich carrying a sweet smelling posy of flowers in the belief it would save them from the disease if they could not smell a noxious stench. As you got the disease, your armpits would swell up with large black pustules of evil smelling nastiness called Buboes that would burst when you sneezed.

Then you died horribly.

The whole yucky theme was superbly imagineered as by a perverted Disney employee (at least as creative) into an ancient crypt of bass-powered vileness with the subwoofers made to look like they were installed in a sewer culvert and with a pipe oozing slime into the Thames across a skeleton of a victim of the disease.

The whole build was just fabulous with excellent attention to detail - like the Sisal wraps around the speaker cable at the base of one of the fifteen incher Black Death woofers in the install. There are four, two with regular fitment and two arse out as they say, with their lead out wires wrapped in hempen fibre.

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The spray art finishing touches by renowned artist Devil's Candy are lovely with a bonnet working and areas on the sills also painted. There are detailed wood panels in the doors inside and Vibe's Space 3D system installed into the front doors. These are a four way as below the Space 3D mid/HF assembly and midband, there is also a Space 8. The one with the grille built in as it is so thin-coned and easy to hurt that it needs full protection. A bit impractical, this driver was a particular baby of the speaker designer, made to a standard and not truly 'commercial'. Still lovely to know that art transcends economics at Vibe. And that there is no 'corporate rule of committee' that prevents such talent shining through. It's generally accepted that talent gets diluted by committees.

The back doors of this Caddy have so much cubic and the skill level of the Installer Institute who did this is so high, that they actually house a set of the monstrous Vibe QB69 oblong six by nine coax systems, right in the depth of the door. These speakers are such beasts that they use the same size motor as a regular full on twelve inch subwoofer. It makes for a coax system able to really crank and they need to as they are back up for the four fifteen inch Black Death subwoofers, all hooked into a bed of Vibe BlackBox amps and all Weapons-Grade.

Two ruddy great rivers of muscle, flowing alongside the poor unfortunate deadster's skeleton. Eight Vibe Bass Five amps are strapped into four lumps of Black Death infection to feed the four fifteens and two Vibe Stereo Four amps take care of the door speakers.

Lying on his back with Toxic bass flowing over his mortal remains, I was waiting for the bones to disarticulate.

The Metra guys did insist on playing chunks of Pink Floyd's The Wall though the system throughout. Possibly because it's essentially Prog Rock and the American audience 'get' rock but most definitely also because of the amounts of 'Sprechensang' or speak-singing in the album - all with terribly Cambridge Uni accents and so 'British as hell.'

The outside paint was entirely new as well. Following the 2009 trend for a classy and seamless yet matt finished paintwork, with only Devil's Candy details in the glossy finish.

I adore the attention to detail as said, especially the front badge. A lovely combination of Olde Worlde Britishness and American brash. An armoured gauntlet 'flips the bird' in the vehicle's badge location.

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The whole lot is bossed by a seriously desirable piece of kit. The Pioneer double DIN tour de force called AVN-P4000DVD. It looked just perfect in the huge dash of the big SUV. A single-din would have been a bit lost. All EQ and DSP as needed is performed inside the unit.

Behind the passengers there's a Black Death fifteen with two voice coils pointing cone-out from a brick-look box on each side. Go around the back and you see the backs of two more of the woofers to make up the four. Their finest aspect in my opinion (I do so love a good bit of speaker's rear end). Just check out the detail in the finish of the themed install and compare with the UK. We may have some real star installers these days but none who get asked to do this sort of work.

I know one with the creativity to make this sort of thing but even he would have to take a course of sprouts to learn about the finish and ornamenting techniques used at the level of this thing.

Clearly a 'real' skeleton model and a bit of big clear pipe helped but the melding of it all into the lunacy you see here is just tinged with mad genius.

I reckon it'll take the USA show scene by storm all year. The only thing I really wanted to check out but couldn't, was just how badass four BD15DVC on EIGHT Bass Fives would feel. The thing was indoors and the organisers were ready to kill them already when I got there!

It's car audio as art, given a wonderful chance to express a theme gifted to them by a creative speaker brand name.

S'cuse me...  "AtishishOO!, Wurrggh" "BOOOM" flump......

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