Some might reckon that in-car entertainment involves equipping the vehicle with the best in the business, and success is guaranteed once tuning is dealt with perfection. Yes, this analogy is true, but it only covers the top-tier segment of the market. We are keen to understand the back-to-basics approach, to learn more about cultures and comprehend the meaning behind mobile media. Thailand serves as an ideal case study, given the size of their population and vehicle market.
Given that the Thai like to soak in the atmosphere of flea markets and pop-up stalls, it will come as no surprise that most of the activities are derived on the ground (literally!). You could sense the intensity the moment you walk on the streets, with mainstream cars packing oversized subwoofers pulsating through the tight and twisty Bangkok lanes (or “Sois” in Thai). They might be equipped with the best ICE in the business, but they are more than effective to bring out the full character of their playlists.
Vans are also commonly seen lugging plus-sized audio systems, with the driver singing along to his favourite tunes with the windows down. It’s the laid back local way of life that makes Thailand so exciting, and their emphasis to deliver good visuals and sound on a daily basis that makes their culture extremely enthralling. Traffic jams ain’t always a bad thing in Bangkok after all!
Do not write off the tuk-tuks too. You can observe during a casual stroll down near BTS Siam that some of the tuk tuks have packed countless speakers attached to the rear seats. Amplifiers, tweeters, subwoofers and headunits – check. Coupled with an aftermarket exhaust system to accompany their sound system, these iconic modes of transport sound as good as they look.
Judging by the way Thais love their music loud and fast, the more enthusiastic ICE scene should be top notch at the very least. Audiophiles would have heard of Rocket Sound, one of the more fashionable ICE installers in Thailand located along Ratchadapisek Road. They are capable of whipping up exemplary ICE setups, and those who were present at the Bangkok International Motor Show would have seen their massive booth housing the latest products and show cars. It’s an eye opener, taking into account the sheer volume of cars that are on premium decked-out ICE setups – an experience that Singaporeans can only admire.
Even if you head out of Bangkok, you will also be exposed to cars and trucks thundering through the streets with the occasional blasting of music, which wouldn’t be possible for OEM setups. We reckon that these setups aren’t entirely legal given that they are also heavily customised vehicles. But logistically speaking, it is nearly impossible to clamp down on them given the size of Thailand.
If we look at the broader scheme of things, this fosters a healthy, creative ICE culture to thrive, where restrictions are replaced with innovative and expressive mobile media haulers, driven and tuned by audiophiles. Try to observe this ever-present trend the next time you’re in Thailand, and you might get hooked on this experience not before long!