June 30, 2012

A Living Legacy

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One Man’s Endless Passion

Photography by: Tony Nguyen & Klifton Keplinger

The Latin translation of the word Legacy is Legatia. This very word is well known and respected in the world of mobile electronics speakers and auto sound competition, due to one man’s endless passion and 25-year pursuit of excellence in his lifestyle. The man is Scott Buwalda from Cumming, Georgia. One man, eight International Auto Sound Challenge Association (IASCA) World Championships and more than a dozen printed vehicle features and front covers have passed, but who is this man that has accomplished so much (at the relatively young age of 41 years)?

The year was 1986. Scott Buwalda was a junior in High School and known for being a talented musician.  Having played the drums since fifth grade, music, and the love and appreciation of all things music, emanated from every fiber of Buwalda’s being. Buwalda was also a self-described car nut – having spent many hours helping his older brother restore muscle cars, particularly the Oldsmobile 442 and W30 platform.  What does a teenage musician and car freak gravitate to?  You guessed it: car audio and electronics.

In March of 1987, after having spent the months previous designing and installing his first car audio system with the help of high school buddies, Scott drove to Jupiter Florida and entered his 1984 Nissan Sentra into the Car Audio Nationals Prelims II event. A fourth place finish (albeit with no accompanying trophy) was enough to hook him into what would become a lifetime journey into sound and music reproduction, which even at one point early in life included a recording contract in Los Angeles California. Being a young talent, he was faced with the decision of moving to LA for possible fortune and fame, or head off to college to earn a well respected education.

Choosing college over possible fame and a Rock-n-Roll lifestyle, Scott decided on Calvin College in Grand Rapids Michigan, leaving the balmy South Florida climate in search of higher education.  The year was 1988.  It was here that he was introduced to the art department on campus. Fully equipped with every saw and material needed, he used these resources to continue his passion of car audio and sound quality at loud volumes. Feeling the emotion from different genres of music and realizing that it was a motivating driving force within, Scott set out to hone his skills in both listening and craftsmanship in car audio.  Buwalda was also able to woo his future wife Patti while at Calvin, and convinced her to move back down to South Florida in the spring of 1991.

Buwalda continued on in his car audio passion and began working on his new vehicle, a 1990 Ford Mustang Steeda GT.  Having secured a sponsorship from the MTX Corporation through his home shop Sound Advice in Boca Raton Florida, work began on a competitive pro-level installation.  No longer in the amateur ranks, Buwalda knew he’d need to step up his game, and brought to the Daytona Spring Break Nationals in 1993 a trend-setting installation with the first completely see-through (transparent) sixth-order bandpass subwoofer enclosure made entirely of acrylic.  The vehicle was a success at this event, winning the show in his Pro 1-150 watt class; Buwalda’s first outing as a Pro. With this accomplishment under his belt, Buwalda sought out sponsorship to continue his development in audio and to progress to the next level in his journey as a competitor. Over the next few years, through collaborations with companies such as MTX, Precision Power and Rockford Fosgate, experience was being developed with many World Finals top-5 accomplishments in his class. In 1998, he traveled to Dallas Texas to enter his newly built Nissan 240SX SE into the Expert Class at the IASCA Championships. Much to the amazement of his competition, Buwalda debuted the industry’s first motorized speaker system, a set of infinitely-adjustable kick panels where the listener was able to choose from a set of preprogrammed angles, as to achieve the best performance for imaging and sound quality results. The hard work paid off, and Buwalda won the Expert Division that year.  As he recalls, “like a shark, once you have the taste of blood in your mouth, you want more and more!” The next few years went by with decent results from that vehicle, but no championships, so the vehicle was retired from competition in 2002 with its lone championship in 1998.

Moving on to a new vehicle, a Nissan Altima was chosen to showcase an installation that would set itself apart from the competition. With most every high caliber car flaunting stereo systems full of painted fiberglass and Plexiglas, the Altima was a completely different animal. Opting for a more reserved install with a purpose, Buwalda mounted amplifiers to a welded in amp rack with the wiring exposed but ran neatly for viewing. His front stage was a rarely seen 3-way setup, not very common for that era of car audio. Purpose produced results, and the Altima won the IASCA Expert Division in both 2003 and 2004. All the whole campaigning the Altima, Buwalda had a “little secret” project that he had begun working on in February 2003; Buwalda’s fourth planned competition car in an already storied car audio history.  Playing possum, Scott purposely lead his opposition to believe he was retiring from competition. Teaming up with friend Dwayne Blackwood, Scott opted for co-pilot in Dwayne’s Mustang project that earned a Championship at IASCA Finals in 2006. During this same time, Scott debuted his new secret project, but at a decidedly non-electronics venue; his Nissan Silvia show car, the product of three and a half years of continuous labor up to this point, was debuted at the Atlanta International Auto Show. Represented as a show car and demo vehicle, the Silvia was a huge success with enthusiasts and the media, earning numerous articles about the vehicle and the attention to detail and labor put into the project. With the Silvia being used for beta testing and development of Scott’s ongoing development of his soon to launch speaker brand, Hybrid Audio Technologies,  it was just a matter of time before Scott would reveal what the true goal was in all of his efforts.

Taking the Nissan Silvia project back into the shop after twelve months of successful mass-media campaign, including ten full-length articles, several enhancements were undertaken to ensure the car would deliver a knock-out punch at any show or event it was competed at.  A year and a half later, in early 2009, the rumor mill was churning with what Buwalda was building.  Since the Daytona Spring Break Nationals is Buwalda’s favorite show, and for many years was a “local event”, the newly enhanced Nissan Silvia was released, this time in a decidedly black exterior color theme.  The car quickly became known as “Black Betty”, the scourge of its competition from coast to coast.  Buwalda’s greatest achievement emerged with new paint, monster engine build, McIntosh amplifiers and Alcantara suede and leather interior were contributing factors in earning the highest ever points earned at an IASCA finals at 921.5 points; Scott’s efforts had paid off by winning the Expert division, again (that makes five times). The Silvia continued to dominate the world of sound quality competition with Championships following in 2010 as well, this time with yet another high-score of 996 points.  In a letter dated April 15, 2011, IASCA confirmed that the score of 996 points was the highest ever recorded by any competitor, in any organization, and in any part of the world.  Black Betty was and is the finest car audio system ever built, and was recognized by most and feared by all in her path (for those keeping score, that’s six IASCA World Championships).  You’d think that would have been enough, right?  Think again.  Having earned the nickname “Dr. Buwalda” many years prior by fellow Team Hybrids members, Buwalda began work yet again, and on yet another new vehicle.  Buwalda wanted to prove a point to the many people who were used to seeing a $300,000 vehicle win the Championship; primarily to show that a good design and product can stand on its own.  To this end, Buwalda designed and built what he calls “a functionally creative” car audio system in his daily-driven Infiniti G35.  The first and only show for this new installation was the 2011 IASCA Championships, held on the weekend of March 24-25, 2012.  When the dust settled, Buwalda once again stood alone atop the leaderboard, winning the 2011 IASCA Expert Solo Sound and Expert Install divisions with the highest points in each category and highest points of the entire event (all this with a daily driver!) When system design details and components used began to leak out on the car audio forums, many could not believe that the vehicle had won having no tweeters and uses D-class amplification, both of which are commonly referred to as complete exceptions to the rule of sound quality. With this win, Scott Buwalda earned his seventh and eighth lifetime IASCA World Championships in the Expert Division, and capping more than one hundred lifetime wins, head and shoulders above all who share in his arena.

Legatia. Remember that word from the beginning of this article? In 2005, as Scott was preparing to start his own speaker company, he was faced with the news that his Mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. Already having named his company Hybrid Audio Technologies, he was searching for the name of the first speaker he would introduce to the world. In a bedside visit with his mother in April 2006, Scott told her that he was going to carry on life as her Le


gacy, her Legatia, and that the speaker he would build first would be named Legatia in honor of her and her life. Two months later, his mother went to Heaven, but a Legacy was born. The Legatia brand has since become recognized around the world as some of the finest car audio speakers available, at any price.  Likewise, Buwalda’s company, Hybrid Audio Technologies has grown tremendously since 2006, with record growth and sales in 2012. Hybrid Audio Technologies products are now sold in 40 different countries around the world, including right here in the USA.  The idea that was sparked in 2005 has turned into a world-wide phenomenon.  Many view the resurgence and appreciation of sound quality over the past five or six years to a renaissance inspired in whole by Buwalda and Hybrid Audio Technologies.  Buwalda, in his typical modest demeanor just smiles and says “I am truly blessed.”

Now enjoying business success and offering a worldwide product are a reflection of good choices made over the past twenty five years, but Scott knows that a family legacy is what truly drives his lifestyle today.

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About the Author

Johnathan Demuth
Johnathan is a founder of Driven Lifestyle Magazine, as well as an enthusiast of all genres in the automotive and marine lifestyle. With over twenty three years in the automotive industry, he has been involved as a consumer, installer, fabricator, competitor, salesman, inventor, designer, global sourcing agent, local and worldwide business owner and most importantly a marketing specialist. He is truly driven by the automotive lifestyle that he lives daily. Starting in 1991 until 2003, he was a successful car audio installer and competitor, holding 8 World Championships and over 100 World Records in his day. In 2004 Johnathan switched his focus from enthusiast to manufacturer affiliate, still currently operating as a designer, consultant and sourcing agent for numerous car audio speaker brands; assisting them from concept stage to point of sale stage. At Driven Lifestyle Magazine, Johnathan will tackle marketing, advertising sales, photography, as well as some writing and creative design.

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One Comment

  1. avatar
    Scott Buwalda

    Thanks Jonathan and the crew at Driven Lifestyle! This article is my most prized. :-)

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