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Response to Tip of the Day: Subwoofer Positioning

Subwoofer Positioning

Matthew Allen Clark administrator of Real Car Audio Help on FacebookMatthew Allen Clark shared a Tip of the Day regarding subwoofer positioning in his wonderful group,

Real Car Audio Help

Since my perspective on bass is coming from sound quality, both my own experiences and what research has shown, I want to add an important note:
Bass is said to make 30% of the total product of what anyone will consider to be good sound quality for music reproduction. Thirty percent. This is not a small factor.
In a car one of the biggest enemies to sound quality, once we get the basics of good quality audio parts and the installation handled, the biggest enemy is going to be vibrations, rattles and resonances.
We’re adding energy and pressure to a closet-sized space built of sheet metal and thin molded plastics layered on top of each other. It wants to “talk” back. If you learn to appreciate great sounding bass, which anyone with normal hearing can do(and maybe even the hearing impaired) you will need to discover where the offensive noise sources are in your own vehicle. Some of this only happens by testing. Sometimes you can learn from the experiences of others who own the same vehicle.
Positioning the subwoofer, if you have the freedom of several choices, must also take into consideration how the vehicle will talk back as the music is played loudly.
I found that placing the subwoofer enclosure to face the rear of my sedan would cause no end to the rattles. I documented much of my acoustic treatment experiments in the series of articles starting with this one: 

How to Improve Your Vehicle’s Bass – Sound Damping Part 1

What I have yet to show in detail is what I did that made the biggest improvement to “clean up” the bass, BY FAR.
Sorry to leave you with that teaser. Watch for more tips soon.
Barry Schanz
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Music Quality: Recognizing Good Production

Music Quality - Recognizing Good Production
golden ear
“Golden Ear”

Have you heard the term “Golden Ear”? No, not the ears of a Golden Retriever, I mean someone who claims to have exceptionally acute hearing. Someone who identifies as a Golden Ear wants to stand out as a person who hears subtle details of sound, of music quality and to recognize good production. Sometimes this distinction results in influence and persuasion. People looking to find great sounding music, the best speakers, the best amplifiers, even the best cables, sometimes will trust the word of a Golden Ear reviewer.

But I don’t have Golden Ears. Is there anything I can do?

I want you to take a test and get your score, then I’ll suggest some realistic, deliberate actions you can take to be a better music listener, and share something profound for you about recognizing good sounding music.

How Well Can You Hear Music Quality? TAKE THE TEST!

Illustration by Claire O’Neill/NPR

How To Appreciate Good Music Production

  1. Decide “I want to learn how to tell what music sounds good.” Nothing is going to work for you if you don’t decide this matters to you. You could join the ranks of people just like yourself who have reached out to ask “Where can I find high quality music?“. “Who has the best sounding albums?
  2. Build your personal reference of music. You might have already done this for years! In my life I’ve spent years up close and personal with musical instruments, acoustic(not amplified) and amplified singers, and comparing different quality recordings of the same music.
  3. Build upon this with practice. A fast way to compare music of different production quality is to turn on the radio to a Top 40 Hits station. Pick one common thing to listen to, such as the bass, that most good music will have. Listen on the same sound system, or the same head phones or ear buds. Then find some recognized music with good production, or superior fidelity, and again focus on the bass. Try this list: 

47 essential albums for audiophiles

Audiophile albums by Stuff
Audiophile albums by Stuff

You Don’t Need “Golden Ears” to Recognize Good Production

…although tastes in music are demonstrably highly personal…we discover that recognizing the most common deficiencies in reproduced sounds is a surprisingly universal skill when listeners are given a chance to reveal their unbiased opinions. More good news is that most people can do it, even those who think they have “tin ears”. Inexperience listeners take more time, make more mistakes along the way, but in the end, their opinions generally agree with those of the experts. -Floyd Toole, Introduction to the Third Edition of ‘Sound Reproduction’

Barry Schanz

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Music is Art

Music is Art

Music is art, following a creative process. The concept I want to share with you is that a process of creation can result in something far more beneficial to you or society at large than a mere collection of ideas and inspirational spurts from which the music resulted. 

There is nothing to ideas and inspiration if we do not act on them in a constructive manner.

Definition of music

1a the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity

b vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody, or harmony 

  • choral music
  • piano music
  • recorded music



AUDIO reproduces MUSIC


AUDIO brings ART to YOU

“Audio is entertainment, but doing it well may require some homework.”

– Floyd E. Toole, retired research scientist for Harman International, author of ‘Sound Reproduction: Third Edition, The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms’

design process drawing on paper with pen

There’s a saying that you could fill a room with apes banging on keyboards and eventually you’ll get a work of brilliance, such as a Shakespearean sonnet. They also say the value of art is up to the eye of the beholder. If I’m going to say that music and sound reproduction, in my realm of specialty that is CAR AUDIO, I believe we should NOT bang away at this until we randomly arrive at an excellent sound system.

Said another way, there is a process of design to create an excellent car audio system capable of revealing the true beauty of music. 

What I intend to do is refine and share my creative design process for taking your car audio system, starting at any level of quality or status or stage of construction, all the way to “Press ‘Play, Enjoy”. Finished. 

The Art of Music Will Not Be Shrouded By a Bad Sound System Any Longer!

Barry Schanz

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Audio is Entertainment

Audio is Entertainment

Do you find yourself forgetting about fun, about novelty or passion or excitement? Maybe that’s a silly question for you. I want you to reflect right now about how audio is a source of entertainment. How does it affect you? Where might we get different sources of audio?

If you’re a reader who shares the interest of audio systems in vehicles, aka Car Audio, these last two questions might have instantly reminded you of listening to music the last time you drove or rode in a car. 

nodding heads to song in car

Definition of audio

1of or relating to acoustic, mechanical, or electrical frequencies corresponding to normally audible sound waves which are of frequencies approximately from 15 to 20,000 hertz
2a of or relating to sound or its reproduction and especially high-fidelity reproduction
b relating to or used in the transmission or reception of sound — compare video
c of, relating to, or utilizing recorded sound

Singing in the shower. The bathroom can be an excellent place to fill with the sound of your own voice.

The kids’ concerts for choir and band at school. Year after year they grow in ability and the program material gets more elaborate and melodic.

The birds calling and chirping in the trees outside. You know about the outdoors, right? Take a break and get outside today.

A waterfall rushing over rocks and cascading into a pool. Even the largest boulder will eventually lose the battle against the stream.

Audio is Entertainment

If we refer back to the definition 2a of ‘Audio’ we are looking now at this with the focus on reproducing sound. Man has invented and refined ways of recording sounds and the mechanisms and machines to allow us to hit Play and listen to a performance again and again. 

Getting this part of audio right takes knowledge and proper application of that knowledge, as well as many skills. What you can expect to see on this blog in the near future is a deep exploration of audio as we perceive it, some of the best practices, myths and truths, and more. I invite you to comment with your criticisms and feedback, subscribe and follow Rubyserv on social media, and join this community!

Barry Schanz


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Spotlight: Jovan Azizy and Balancing His Sound System

Jovan has a deep love and passion for music and stereo systems. Professionally, he has devoted over 14 years to serving locals with home A/V entertainment systems! Rubyserv helped him select some of his speakers in his truck. He has a concern about balancing it all to get the sound right.

He has to get his vehicle sounding amazing. This system is different than what most of our clients have done in one big way: the bass! Devoting most of the bed of his Ford F-150 to a cabinet for a pair of 15″ subwoofers, along with a potential for 6,000W RMS of power, means there is a substantial amount of loudness and pressure in the cabin.

How do we make this sound great with the volume cranked up without adding more speakers? Can it be done without asking Jovan to turn down the bass?

Jovan Azizy Ford F150 Front Speaker System Diagram
Jovan Azizy Ford F150 Front Speaker System Diagram
Jovan Azizy F150 Rear Speakers and Bass System Diagram
Jovan Azizy F150 Rear Speakers and Bass System Diagram

Let’s watch Jovan unbox his CDT Audio speakers.

[metaslider id=”5576″]

Thinking of Balancing This System

Jovan put in enormous effort and sacrificed a lot to be able to get bass that is heard and felt very powerfully. While traveling at speed with the windows down, as Jovan does at times, this becomes a big challenge for any vehicle sound system to stay clear, balanced, and separated and distinct among the voices and instruments.

Driving on freeway at speed in traffic

Even without the added distraction of road and traffic noise there is a need to make changes to the sound system in response to a variety of factors. Some of the variables are in our control and others are acceptable compromises. 

Harman Target Response Curve
Generally, the bass should be louder than the rest of the spectrum.

What Do I Need to DO??

Based on my experiences and understanding, let’s take this example scenario and walk through a process of analysis and changes. 

I’m riding in Jovan’s F150 with one of his favorite songs playing, along the ocean coast on Highway 101, with the windows all down. I noticed when the windows were up and we were stopped that the vocals were a lot easier to understand. As Jovan accelerated and then rolled down the windows things in the music started to change. 

It wasn’t the music itself that changed. It was my perceptions that shifted. [1]Further reading on this, with the warning that it is an academic write-up which I do not fully understand.

While Driving Do This

  1. Check the volume level. I know, this is common sense. Turning up the volume to try to overpower the background noise might fix the problem. What if it doesn’t? How would you know it’s not the right fix? You might hear unpleasant noises from the speakers if you turn the volume up even higher. TURN IT DOWN. You might begin to smell something unpleasant. TURN IT DOWN. Again, this might seem like basic common sense, but common sense isn’t always common practice.
  2. If the windows are rolled down, roll them up. 
  3. If the fan is on for the air conditioner or the heater, turn down the speed. Items 2 and 3 are going to be a balance of compromises in your personal comfort and that of your passengers. Sometimes we can have it all, but often something has to give.
  4. Check the Fader setting on the radio(if that’s your audio source). You might find that shifting the sound forward or backward a bit might do the trick at that moment. The reason this might sound better after adjusting this on the radio is you can distribute or move the focus if the Fader is moved away from Center and toward the front. If Jovan likes the music to be strong up front the compromise here might be to fade the sound to Center. 
Kenwood DDX350BT Fade and Balance
Five Star Car Stereo shows the Kenwood DDX350BT user interface
Ford F150 Passenger Side View with speakers and arrows. Fading the sound on the radio pushes the focus along the path shown by the orange arrow. Front to back balance.
Fading the sound on the radio pushes the focus along the path shown by the orange arrow. Front to back balance.

What should be available with any good bass setup is a separate adjustment for either Subwoofer Level or Bass Boost. 

Subwoofer Level – The way to think of this is a volume reduction. I would set up the system to deliver too much bass at times, and then the subwoofer level would be used only to turn it down.

Bass Boost – This is a weapon. On a subwoofer amplifier this is usually designed to adjust one frequency the most, with a fixed range or width of frequencies around it that also get increased. In the picture below there is a maximum of 12 dB of bass boost available. I cannot advise ANYONE to turn it up that high. Bass boost is useful yet it can result in equipment failure, plus bad sounding music.

Read more here: Adjusting bass level quickly as we change songs, sources, mood strikes us, alone vs with passengers, tired vs rested

Amplifier Gain adjustments – Please subscribe to this blog for updates, as there will be a future tutorial on amplifier gain setting. Until then, please follow our partner’s guide: 

CDT Audio Amp Gain Settings

A Word of Caution

Damage can occur with unsafe equalizer, amplifier gain, and bass boost settings. A consultation and system check-up by a qualified and reputable installation technician might serve you best. 

Rubyserv invites inquiries. Call or text 701-620-1124 or send an e-mail with the subject ‘Help’ to

See if you find some new favorite songs with Jovan’s playlist.


  1. Musical Experience Limits the Degradative Effects of Background Noise on the Neural Processing of Sound
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4 Questions to Answer for Choosing Your Car Audio Battery

Four Questions
monkybx 2017 Scion xB Reikken
monkybx on IG, 2017 Scion xB
Before we get into the topic today I would like to direct your attention to one of the best online car audio discussion groups. This article is for you, and you might be the next new member of the group. Do not miss the Tip of the Day, presented to help you with a topic you might be dealing with right now!

Real Car Audio Help

About This Group

This is a page for real car audio help and advise. There will be no insults, no brand/company bashing, and no criticism only help and suggestions. We would prefer to keep the language fairly clean.

Real Car Audio Help admin team
Real Car Audio Help admin team
Disclaimer: This is not a paid promotion. I reached out to Reikken Power Cells because I had met representatives of this company by way of a trade show several years ago. I appreciated the apparent depth of experience and knowledge.
Reikken and Energie logos
12 Volt News presents Wayne Harris of dB DragRacing, MESA members Ryan Gunter and Drew Geisheimer, Steve Wenger and Tony Huynh of Mobileeye, and Pat Szeman and Rich Scott of Reikken energy cells
12 Volt News presents Wayne Harris of dB DragRacing, MESA members Ryan Gunter and Drew Geisheimer, Steve Wenger and Tony Huynh of Mobileeye, and Pat Szeman and Rich Scott of Reikken energy cells

For the Four Questions please continue reading. This is a conversation between Rich Scott and I which was slightly edited for clarity and typos. This is intended to point you in a direction for your sound system design, not to be an all-encompassing lesson or guide. Reach me, Barry Schanz, at 701-620-1124.

I visited your website. I’m unsure of how exactly I should choose a battery to supplement a vehicle’s charging system for car audio use.
Would you please guide me? Don’t be shy to get technical. Thank you.
Thanks for your interest in Reikken Power Cells.
Our model numbers are a rough wattage guide for regular street use. Application and usage can be huge variables so the more you know about usage the better.
Reikken model numbers are based on amplifiers rated at RMS values. Energie model numbers are based on max watts (double) since those are typically the amplifiers used with these cells.
Reikken JB1817 = roughly 1800 watts
Energie ER4800 = roughly 2400 watts (4800 watts max)
Thanks, Rich Scott


Thank you. Would you have examples of stories of how someone used their system power and expected use to choose their battery?

You’re aware that the industry isn’t all aligned fully on power ratings. Even if they use the CEA-2006 standard it only applies to a 4 ohm load. Go below 4 ohms(does that happen often?) and things change from one manufacturer to another.

Barry Schanz
You are correct. There is no universal standard. The only real way to know actual load is to measure current draw while using the system with a clamp ammeter and volt meter or better yet, a meter that can record a cumulative wattage over time or Ah usage.
We have many years of experience helping customers and car builders set up power for complicated systems with very good results. If the customer knows the actual current draw of the total system, that is a huge step in the right direction.
Real world, most people use the rough wattage as a starting point and we can usually get very close by asking a few simple questions:
    1. Do you play system with engine off (no charging) such as in parking lots or at shows. If so, an outboard power source is usually needed in order to not have to buy a bank of batteries.

    2. Do you play music or use power on lighting, screens etc at high volumes or for extended periods.

    3. What type of music do you listen to? Rap, pop, country etc… Heavy bass takes more power

    4. What is the real wattage (if you don’t know current draw) of the amplifiers being used.

    Thanks, Rich Scott

    What to Do With Your Secondary Battery – article by Perry Babin

    When do you need to consider a second battery to support your car audio system? Read ‘How To: Size Your Audio System To Your Electrical System‘.

  1. How much amplifier power do you really need? Read ‘Power Ratings: What Do They Mean?

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3 Areas for Vibration Damping in Your Doors

Door Vibration Damping 3 areas Title

What To Do With Your Deadener Mat

Study this guide and get your materials and tools together before tearing into the vehicle and peeling the backing paper off the mat. Scroll down for Q&A.

Prioritizing where to place the mat for best results:

Directly around the speaker
1. Directly around the speaker
2. On the back side of door panel around the speaker grille or speaker cutout if it's flush mounted
2. On the back side of door panel around the speaker grille or speaker cutout if it’s flush mounted
3. Directly behind the speaker on the inside of the outer door skin
3. Directly behind the speaker on the inside of the outer door skin

Once these areas are covered the coverage expands as follows:

Flat surfaces around the speaker attachment area. Cover large holes.
Flat surfaces around the speaker attachment area. Cover large holes.
Cover the flat surfaces of the inner door panel.
Cover the flat surfaces of the inner door panel.
Clean off dirt and grease, always, before laying the mat. The inside of the door cavity is a large area to resonate annoyingly.
Clean off dirt and grease, always, before laying the mat. The inside of the door cavity is a large area to resonate annoyingly.

Further information and detailed inner door panel vibration damping photo gallery: 

How to Easily Quiet Your Buzzing Door Panels – Sound Damping Part 2

Vibration damping is an integral part of our Speaker Upgrade Packages.

Are you ready to get started on Step 1 of the 3 Steps of Acoustic Treatments

Questions and Answers:

Q: I noticed in your article that the area behind the speakers were done on the outer door skin. Is it overkill to do the entire outer door skin?

A: No. If you’re going to cut up your arm reaching the whole area then do the best you can.

Posted on 3 Comments

Never Use Bass Boost! Misguided Advice and What to Do

Angry woman

I believe we all need a good way to tune out distractions. Distractions keep us from focusing on things that really matter. I think it really matters to enjoy music and not be distracted by such questions as:

  • Am I going to blow my speakers by using the bass knob?
  • Is it shameful for me to like it loud?
  • Did I buy good enough equipment to gain approval of my peers?
Bass knob
Bass knob

This little knob gets a fair amount of hate, and I believe it’s unjustified in many cases.

Consider this. We listen to music, the news, podcasts and such in a variety of places with a wide range of distracting ambient noises at different levels of intensity. If you consider yourself a person who values high fidelity, or accurate playback, you probably value a very balanced, “true”, sound whether you have ever thought about it or not.

It is both satisfying and reassuring to know that both trained and untrained listeners recognize and prefer accurate loudspeakers…

Audio Musings by Sean Olive – 

Part 3 – Relationship between Loudspeaker Measurements and Listener Preferences

If you’re really savvy, you might know what this graph represents. If not, click or touch the image to read the linked article by Steve Feinstein at InMusic Inc.

Example of a frequency response graph

This image is one possible way to represent a bass limited speaker with excellent frequency response. It’s a very limited amount of information, but that’s a topic for future articles. 

This is derived with instruments such as a computer, a software package, and a microphone. This is unlike how our two ears and a brain hear and perceive sounds.

Target frequency response curve for the car
Target frequency response curve for the car

Next we have a different frequency response graph that is more closely illustrating what is widely accepted as an enjoyable balance of sound in a moving car. Remember that a moving car has distracting background sounds. Much of the background sound is at low frequencies(10-160 Hz), and the masking effects mean we need more bass than midrange and treble. Interestingly, there are applications of sound masking that can be beneficial. 

What in the world am I supposed to do with THAT data?

In a moving vehicle you need to get the bass right. Full, rich, deep – this is the lingo of good bass. 

Why Would You Not Want The Bass Turned UP?

A: It takes away from the way the artist intended the music to sound.

Truth: At best we are hearing some variation of an IMITATION of a single performance of the music. Your music collection could indeed have a more truthful, accurate sound and we also need to have the structure of aural memories plus “How to Listen” in mind to make that judgement. 

I turn up the bass but I hear distortion, rattles, vibrations(any 1 or a combination of the insults).

Other than damaged or defective speakers, which is very common, a very irritating insult to our enjoyment of music in the vehicle is often caused by rattles and vibrations happening in response to acoustic energy.

In other words, it’s time to get busy with sound damping.

Follow along with a journey of learning and exploring various sound damping(aka deadening) techniques which were done in the name of improving comfort and to better enjoy the MUSIC.


How To Improve Your Vehicle’s Bass – Sound Damping Part 1

I added a subwoofer and I’m NOT going to risk blowing it.

Oh yeah, I’m with you on that one. Almost everyone knows at least one person who has had a speaker, or an amplifier, let the magic smoke out.

The amount of bass in your program material is a constantly changing target.

Look at how many videos come up on YouTube for the search string “how to get the bass right in your mix”. The point is this is just one step in the process of getting the artist’s creative content from an idea to your ears, and there is someone’s skill and decision making at play, not to mention the equipment in use.

Do Not Be Shy About Adjusting the Bass Controls

If you don’t trust that your sound system is up to the task of getting the bass to your satisfaction it’s a fine time to ask yourself, “Why am I hesitating to correct this?”.

Take some time to dig in to the articles and videos linked throughout this article. If you’ve gotten a lot of value from this please subscribe to the e-mail list. Please share this article.

Barry Schanz

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Daniel R Jaguar X-Type Fully Enveloping Sound System

Front Speaker System Mock-Up
Front Speaker System Mock-Up Doors: 6.5″ Coaxials Kick Panels: 2″ Mid-Tweeter Pods Upper Corners of Winshield: 1″ Silk UpStage Tweeters Center Fill: CenterStage 2″ Mid-Tweeter Pods
Jaguar X-Type Sedan Speaker System Mock-Up
Jaguar X-Type Sedan Speaker System Mock-Up

Rear Crossover Possibilities

  1. M200 for Coaxials and Imaging Tweeters + XD600/6 High Pass Filter and BSC-1 for the 2″ Pods
  2. MX-1000SX for Coaxials, 2″ Pods, and Imaging Tweeters. BSC-1 on the MID-TWEETER channels. All powered by XD600/6 channels 3 and 4.

Regarding the Saturn Doors with 2″ Pods and Additional Tweeters


“The Silver Bullet”

The lower crossover frequency of 2.5 kHz avoids dispersion and response anomalies in the mid-woofer to tweeter transition seen when crossing over at higher frequencies. This lower crossover frequency provides superior blending in a range of installations and with various drivers. Below the 2.5 kHz crossover frequency the tweeter is attenuated 24dB at 1.25kHz. This is at just ½ the crossover frequency.

This rapid roll off is very effective especially at this lower crossover frequency in providing protection for the tweeter in high power systems. A two position woofer response “crossover trim” corrects response differences seen between a range of mid-woofers from 4” to 6.5”. Combine this with the 5 tweeter level settings to get a smooth natural sound. 

Adding an Active Subwoofer Discreetly

Breaking Down the Crossover Needs

UpStage Imaging Tweeters

8000 hz 12 db
8000 hz 12 dB/octave

2″ Mid-Tweeters

CDT Audio CS-020X CenterStage
CDT Audio CS-020X
CDT Audio 2" Mid-Tweeter Kick Panel Pods
CDT Audio 2″ Mid-Tweeter Kick Panel Pods
500 hz 12 dB/octave HPF
500 hz 12 dB/octave HPF

CL-6EX 6.5″ Coaxial Speakers

CDT Audio CL-6EX
CDT Audio CL-6EX
80 hz 12 dB/octave HPF
80 hz 12 dB/octave HPF

HD-M6Sub 6.7″ Subwoofers

CDT Audio HD-M6Sub
CDT Audio HD-M6Sub
80 hz 12 dB/octave LPF
80 hz 12 dB/octave LPF
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Audio as Entertainment Takes Real Homework

People Studying

Floyd Toole, retired acoustical and psychoacoustical research scientist, author and public speaker, wrote:

Audio is entertainment, but doing it well may require some homework. Understanding how it works may make the result even more pleasurable.

Likely you have spent much time reading, searching for reviews, inquiring for opinions and recommendations, about audio system upgrades before you found your way to this article. We’re extremely blessed to exist in a time of human history in which we have more information available in seconds at our fingertips than ever. Have you put together an audio system? Was it good? Were you able to reach for greatness?

I believe we all need a good way to tune out distractions. I believe we all share common connections with audio, with music in particular, as entertainment. Most people who value Audio as Entertainment settle for mediocrity. We watch shows and movies with TV speakers. We play music through tiny speakers inside our phones. We settle for what’s given to us by default. That’s not what you deserve.

Distractions keep us from paying full attention to things that really matter. Pressing a button and almost magically getting a song to snap into our world, to uplift our spirits, to inspire us to sing and dance, that’s great stuff. It’s enough to calm down stress for a while and help us re-focus and ramp up the energy. 

When I founded Rubyserv in January, 2016, I wrote out the mission statement as follows:

Rubyserv helps you plan and acquire your vehicle sound system, convenience and safety upgrades. We know you spend a lot of time on the road, and we want to make it a more enjoyable experience. Through a logical approach built on a foundation of experience and training, Rubyserv will guide you through your projects. Big or small, we will make it happen together.

I reflect on this now with a renewed focus on education, on studying, and of teaching. Your time on the road doesn’t have to be so tiring and aggravating. You can have the understanding to work on the audio system, or to find a true professional to work on it for you, and have a smile light up your face every time you drive. 

Let’s crank up the volume and get to that homework!

Barry Schanz