(File under: "Forget quality, rip my face off")
Seriously, these guys ARE quality. But back in the day, they were also the loudest damn drum corps in DCI. I was in Atlanta in the mid-80's, working part-time for my mom's company (Georgia-Pacific) and, in my free time, hanging out with some guys from the Georgia Tech band. We were helping out at the stadium during morning rehearsals for the DCI South Regional. When Spirit took the field and began to play, a guy next to me asked, "are these guys a Senior [over age 22] corps?"
"No," I answered, "they're a regular DCI [age 21 and under] corps. Why?"
"Because that's got to be the loudest damned corps ever."
That was Spirit. Whatever else they were good at -- and they were good -- they had a hornline so loud it could part hair, shatter windows, and crack the cement. The Senior drum corps, weekend units mostly back east for folks who'd aged out of Junior drum corps but couldn't stop playing, were traditionally known for being really loud. But Spirit could play louder -- and they were amazingly clean. One time, the rumor goes, they played in a parking lot, pointed their horns at a rival's tour bus, and made one of the tires explode. It's just a rumor, but now you know why a whole generation of drum corps alumni are walking around with hearing aids today.
The volume of Spirit's hornline in the 1980's is sort of like cyclocross is now -- it's exciting, utterly ridiculous, and therefore a little dangerous, the kind of dangerous that makes you grin crazily even as you take chances with your health and safety. Listening to Spirit Of Atlanta in those days was, like racing cyclocross now, probably an OSHA violation.
So crank it up, and enjoy having your face ripped off.