Meet the Self-proclaimed Musicologists of the Dominican Republic —

Latin beats and oversize speakers included.

In the Dominican Republic, a community of beat lovers is morphing cars into thumping, Transformers-like music machines with names like “La Bestia” and “La Perla Negra.” What started as an underground movement is now a full-on subculture, with teams of rig builders and devoted fans who follow them to gatherings and music competitions throughout the country. Meet the self-proclaimed musicologists who fight for their right to pump up the volume (sometimes as high as 150 dB).

July 30, 2019
A colourful speaker set-up adorns a Toyota under the palm trees of Boca Chica
A colourful speaker set-up adorns a Toyota under the palm trees of Boca Chica, a popular destination for musicologist gatherings east of Santo Domingo. Musicologists will spend anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars on their sound systems.
A musicologist sets up his vehicle for an all-ages crowd with an old ambulance outfitted with about 175 speakers, tweeters and subwoofers behind him
A musicologist sets up his vehicle for an all-ages crowd in the northern inland city of Moca. Behind, the massive “La Super JR,” an old ambulance outfitted with about 175 speakers, tweeters and subwoofers from Team JR, creates a wall of sound.
An employee at Chencho Auto Sonido works on a trunk installation of a pink and white car
An employee at Chencho Auto Sonido works on a trunk installation for a local musicologist in Moca. In business since the early 1990s, this stereo shop was one of the first in the country to experiment with speaker rigs and offer services for tricking out vehicles.
Team Pandora prepare their vehicle at an event
An employee at Chencho Auto Sonido works on a trunk installation for a local musicologist in Moca. In business since the early 1990s, this stereo shop was one of the first in the country to experiment with speaker rigs and offer services for tricking out vehicles.
Sound minds: Team Pandora prepare their vehicle at an event in Moca. Once harassed by police for noise complaints, the musicologists have a rallying cry: “We are not delinquents – we only want a place to play our music.”
Spectator Gabriel Reyes wears blue sunglasses on the beach in Boca Chica
Spectator Gabriel Reyes feels the beat at a musicologist gathering on the beach in Boca Chica.

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