A to B

Sometimes the route you take can be very different

AB Beemers


Last year, we appeared at various events with two almost identical BMW 1-Series. I say almost as one had an upgraded audio system installed to it. We invited members of the public to listen to both cars and tell us which one they preferred.


83% of those who came and listened correctly identified car B as the one with the upgraded system. This had a pair of Hertz Energy ESK 163’s expertly installed into the factory positions by FOUR MASTER, Car Radio Skipton. The 163’s are driven by a Hertz HCP 4 amplifier running from one pair of channels while the other two channels were bridged to run a Hertz Energy ES 250 subwoofer in a custom enclosure.


Most people auditioning a system will focus on bass reproduction and the boys at BMW know this and as a result have biased the factory set-up to provide plenty when the vehicle is at rest. However, when listening for more than three minutes and at levels required when actually driving, the bass falls down dramatically and the lack of control and regulation of the low frequencies gives the brain far too much to do. I was therefore, quite satisfied when those listening to the two systems commented on the clarity at the top end and how ‘punchy’ drums and guitars sounded in car B. The other common comment was that vocals were distinct and clear which suggests that separation was also a clearly defined feature.


A track on our demo disc, which really spelled out the difference, was “The Sound of Muzak” by Porcupine Tree. The track is well recorded and contains extremely punchy mid-bass. Listening to the drum kit and especially the intensity of the snare and tom toms in the fills and breaks was a joy in car B. In car A, these same elements sounded flat and unremarkable. Female vocals were also markedly better in car B. Our opening track “What A Wonderful World” by Stacey Kent was rendered lifeless and boring by car A as all of the fabulous breathy openness and expression of the recording went missing leaving a flat rendition bereft of character.


Feist with ‘How Come You Never Go There’ is quite bass heavy. Initially, it made car A sound much better than it is as it handles some low peaks. However, once you listen to the same track in car B you hear the extent to which the over-zealous BMW filtering had removed some frequencies altogether whilst falsely boosting others to the detriment of mid frequencies! The danger here is that the ear/brain combo attempts to smooth the peaks and troughs, which is actually very fatiguing. In car B, no effort has to be made as everything is presented in a far better state of fidelity so all you have to do is listen rather than process.


In the end, I was extremely satisfied with the result and hope it inspired some of our listeners to at least consider an aftermarket audio upgrade rather than simply living with a fatiguing factory option which has people tuning to Medium Wave radio in their droves.


As a final comment, I would like to warn you against ticking the upgrade audio box when ordering a new car. This is the biggest con trick in the automotive industry. You can end up with the same hardware and a new sound curve for your extra £1000. That could buy you Audio Joy from a FOUR MASTER.


Car Audio Upgrades Made Easy

In association with our partners The FOUR MASTER Network, we are able to provide you with a no obligation custom quote on a system for your car.

Not ready for that yet? Why not book a demonstration at your home, place of work or with your local FOUR MASTER?