We check out VIBE Audio‘s VW T5 – an audio packed van that’s officially the loudest vehicle in Europe!
It may sound like something of a ridiculous statement, but the VIBE T5 was built, first and foremost, to be practical. Now obviously at this point you’re asking exactly how a VW van packed with 24 of the most hardcore woofers to ever hit the streets, not to mention six of VIBE’s legendary Reaper amplifiers capable of producing 14,500Watts a piece, can be remotely practical?
Well, unlike many an expert class competition car, it drives – and with the help of Forge Motorsport and Revo it drives pretty bloody well at that. You see, British firm VIBE Audio is possibly as well known for its bonkers demo cars as they are for producing some of the craziest sonic weaponry known to man. Over the years they certainly haven’t held back in creating the odd show stopper and here at FC we’ve featured them all. There’s a couple right at the top of the crazy list that spring to mind too – the BlackDeath Hearse and the Judge Dredd truck.
The trouble is, getting the DVLA to declare a four-tonne Daimler or something taken straight from the set of Judge Dredd as completely road legal isn’t the easiest task, actually piloting the things around the UK and European roads isn’t the most appealing job either. And that’s where the T5 comes in nicely.
Whereas previous builds have been specifically designed to show off their huge range of products in new and interesting ways, something in which they always excel, the VW van is a wholly more serious concept. This one was designed and constructed with one thing in mind – to hit Salzburg in Austria and show the whole of Europe how the Brits do it in competition.
Now, due to the kind of serious wattage speakers, subs and amplifiers VIBE produce, their demo vehicles have always been ridiculously loud. But competition at this level, especially as a manufacturer where you’re automatically entered into the top class, is a whole different ball game. What’s more, the Euro Finals invite the champion and runner up from each country to compete, and the SPL Class is always one of the most hotly contested.
Luckily though, the boys at VIBE knew exactly what to expect. Having been a massive supporter and sponsor of the EMMA (European Mobile Media Association) events over the past few years they were hardly going into their very first competition blind – although with just a month for the whole build, time was tight to say the least.
Obviously, when it comes to earth- shattering equipment, choosing the right gear to fill their demo was never going to be a problem – their expert-level BlackDeath range offers some of the most powerful contraptions that have ever been on the worldwide audio market. The issue for VIBE was far more grounded in practicality – finding a vehicle that would be able to stand up to the sheer bass force their gear can serve up.
From the start it was obvious they needed a van that was built tough. Try this sort of malarkey in a Renault Kangoo and you’ll likely be picking up bits of it around a three-mile blast radius. The rugged build quality of the T5 Transporter fitted the bill just perfectly.
That’s not to say there wasn’t teething problems, even the favourite van of the fatherland can only do so much, and in testing the boys managed to blow out the windscreen sending shattered glass all over the workshop – and that wasn’t even running at full whack. So, if you were wondering what that ‘stripper pole’ in the cab is for, now you know. It’s the only thing stopping the bass literally raising the roof.
Spearmint Rhino-style enhancements aside, the business end is the 30mm thick, fibreglass-reinforced plywood enclosure. Braced on the inside with 14mm steel bars, it houses the 12 ‘Bubonic’ 15-inchers that produce the majority of that awesome sound pressure. Designed as a giant fourth-order band-pass enclosure, the guys even had to fly in a team from Italy, including Danny Boy from Team Bull Sound, to help with its construction.
VIBE stands for Vented Innovative Bass Enclosures and, with this as an example of their work, it’s easy to see why they picked that name all those years ago. The engineering to get the right volume of air, the correct frequencies to pass and the perfect balance of hardware and materials is immense.
Key to the van’s acoustic performance, too, is the smooth flow of air in and out of the cabin. This meant the original bench seat had to be totally re-designed so it didn’t cover the gigantic bass port. The new structure, incorporating a pair of super-posh Cobra Misanos, is not only functional for this very reason but also adds undeniable touch of leather-lavished class.
Come to think of it, the whole installation is cosmetically flawless from the custom doorcards to the rear amp-rack, an unusual quality in any vehicle with such hardcore intentions. Still, as the spec confirms, it’s certainly got the minerals to back it up too. And in competition that’s what matters most.
So, the build was a tad ‘involved’ and I’d imagine the 19-hour drive across the continent wasn’t the biggest highlight for the boys either. But the most important question is, did it do the job? Well, yes. Yes it did. In fact, it showed grunt of almost biblical proportions on the day. So much that, during the ‘doors shut’ part of the round, they managed to rip the inner roof skin off and break the spot welds running towards the B-pillar – and that’s with nothing but the force of shifting air.
Now you would think the boss would be pissed at the harsh treatment of his new van. But he couldn’t be – not when they announced the result. Recording a massive 160.1dB, the VIBE T5 was officially crowned the loudest vehicle in Europe. Now, that’s what I call a competition debut!
How loud is 160.1 decibels?
160.1 decibels is beyond loud. Considering your eardrums will rupture at around 150db (the volume of a jet taking off next to your head for example), it’s a dangerous level of sound and a figure that’s not easy to achieve.
Think of it like this. Your mum’s Hoover will kick out around 70db and, generally speaking, for every 10db recorded above that the volume we perceive is doubled. 80db is twice as loud as that Hoover, 100db is eight times as loud and a 120db thunderclap is 32 times louder. With that in mind the VIBE T5 is around 512 times louder than a vacuum cleaner, or twice as loud as it takes to blow your ear drums out. The average human pain threshold is around 110db, so, suffice to say, you don’t want to be sitting in this bastard when they crank it up!
￼TECH SPEC: VIBE AUDIO VW T5 VAN
Custom doorcards housing 6x BlackDeath Pro 8 midwoofers and
3x BlackDeath Pro 4 Tweeters per door; side housing 2x BlackDeath Stereo 2 Amplifiers, 1x BlackAir Stereo 4; rear build, 6x BlackDeath Bass 2 Reaper amplifiers, 12x BlackDeath Carbon SPL 15-inch Bubonic subs in custom bandpass enclosure; 2x BlackDeath Pro 8 Midwoofers; 2x BlackDeath Pro 4 Tweeters; 28x kinetic batteries.
20in staggered 3SDM 0.01 wheels with 225/35×20 and 255/35×20 tyres; V-Maxx coilovers.
Cobra Misano leather and Alcantara front seats with custom embroidery; centre seat delete; ‘stripper pole’ roof brace; MDF lined headlining; Anti-VIBE sound deadening.
Forge Motorsport front mounted intercooler; Revo remap.
Revo Technik; Meguiar’s UK; Forge Motorsport; Cobra Seats; VIBE Audio.
Words Midge Photos Dan Pullen