Baldwin has pursued his passion for mobile sound quality since he attended Kodiak High School in the 1980s. Now as the technical wiz behind J-Sound, he installs custom systems for people who want something more than factory-installed speakers.
“I started this 21years ago,” Baldwin said.
He operated the business mainly from his residence over the years, but had to take time out for deployments with his Alaska National Guard unit.
“I just didn’t have the space to put out the product,” he said.
But as of the March 15 grand opening, J-Sound, now owned by Baldwin’s wife Natalia, has a permanent home at 1419 Mill Bay Road. The storefront includes displays and a sound room, as well as indoor space to work on cars.
“Now we have a lot more to offer,” he said.
Baldwin’s road to this venture included learning about electronics through self-study and correspondence courses, inspired by the lack of choices for custom car systems in Kodiak.
“There was nobody doing it in town,” he said.
He also benefited from touring with Alana Gates in 2000-01. A retired school teacher, Gates became a legend of the sound-off circuit, winning years of competitions with other professional car audio customizers.
J-Sound turns around most jobs in one day, while more complicated customizations can take three or four days.
Baldwin talks with each customer and designs a system for their musical preferences. Some people are concerned about sound quality, while others care more about booming bass.
“It really depends on the person because everybody hears a little different,” he said.
In addition to car systems, J-Sound provides services for home and boat entertainment systems.
“I’ve done some crazy things in boats,” Baldwin said.
He recalled a customer who installed so many speakers on the fly bridge of his boat that their magnets caused the autopilot to drive in circles. When the boat sank, the owner made sure to take his prized 15-inch Kicker sub box into the liferaft.
Lately Baldwin has installed a lot of the intense Rigid LED lights.
“The wires are very small so they don’t draw a lot of current,” he said.
Baldwin finds the result of his work more than financially rewarding when he gets the “imaging” of sound just right for a particular car and the sound waves roll in on the listener like waves of water.
He also likes helping to educate young drivers about the dangers of loud sound, which can cause permanent hearing damage, and about the etiquette of using powerful systems around residential neighborhoods.