Andy Hall's Club Z3

Andy Hall lived through the Halcyon days of the northern club scene. As an ex-professional DJ, Andy has an intrinsic love of music and a keen ear for high production values.

Andy Hall’s Club Z3


Andy Hall lived through the Halcyon days of the northern club scene. As an ex-professional DJ, Andy has an intrinsic love of music and a keen ear for high production values.


Andy Hall and his Club Classic Z3


Andy is a fascinating guy with a lot of exciting stories to tell. We got in touch following a call from Tim Campling of FOUR MASTER Car and Home Stereo in Macclesfield. Tim thought we could be interested in a practically vintage BMW Z3 with an Audison and Hertz system installed.


Having experienced Tim’s work before, we willingly agreed to have a look and listen and organised a meet-up with Andy at Pavillion Gardens, Buxton. As we were delayed a little en route, my erstwhile assistant and driver for the day, Lauren, texted Andy, and we were surprised that he was already waiting for us and was parked right by the bandstand! This takes some doing as it is not normally accessible for cars. It was obvious that Andy had some connections. As it turns out, he knows the manager of the arts centre that is on-site. He told us he is an enthusiastic amateur magician amongst his many other skills and has performed at the arts centre on several occasions.


Back to the plot, we pulled up to where a shiny Blue Z3 was parked, gleaming in a rare sunny spell. The park officials immediately notified us of the need to move. However, we were good for a few minutes to get some great pictures.


Andy, meanwhile, told me that he had used Tim at Car and Home since the ’80s for all manner of installs to his cars. He is a confirmed petrolhead and has gone through several vehicles in his lifetime. He owns an Aston Martin and Cosworth Sierra alongside this excellent example of an early Z3.


Andy admits that while he visited the Hacienda in Manchester several times, his own DJ career was at the, in his words, “cheesy end of the market”. He DJed weddings and, later, many corporate events; however, he did have a highly successful run of club nights in Macclesfield with an extensive lighting rig that was always sold out. His work took him throughout the UK and Europe with a 7.5-ton truck and a crew for rigging the PA and lights.


His love of music started in the family home, where he was exposed to the Rolling Stones. Even then, he had developed a penchant for the slightly obscure hits of the day, such as Kites by Simon Dupree and Big Sound. He moved on to early Marc Bolan and became fascinated with Glam Rock. Andy was 14 when punk broke, which was a revelation for him. Although too young to attend gigs, he followed the exploits of his heroes before moving on to the New Wave movement. Here, he was captivated by electronica and is still a massive fan of the Human League and Gary Numan, whom he has seen over 30 times! He also embraced the music of Spandau Ballet and local lads, New Order and could not wait to play everything he heard to a live audience.


These days, he makes his money running a clothing company. Not a high street franchise, of course, but buying, selling, and renting classic clothing from the early 1920s to the ’70s. His primary market for this is film, TV and stage. He has provided clothing for many period TV series, including The Crown, The Marvellous Miss Maisel, and Mallory Towers, as well as live productions of Matilda and Lord of the Flies.


His passion for nostalgia now dominates his musical taste. He has tried but has yet to get the same passion for modern music as he did for those days that shaped his taste.


Z3 Kickwell-mounted 5" woofer


The Z3 is a tricky car to add a top-class audio system to. The 5” woofer locations are way down in the footwells at the front of the vehicle. These fire directly onto the driver and passenger’s ankles, which is far from ideal. The tweeters are up high in the doors but some distance from the woofers, which can sometimes introduce serious phase discrepancies. The tweeters also fire directly across the car toward each other.


Z3 Tweeter Position


Although only sometimes a big fan of rear-fill in a car, the saving grace of this car is the rear speakers. Although mounted behind the rear seats, they project forward close to ear height. These rear locations accommodate a 4” speaker.


Z3 4" Rear speaker position


Andy left Tim to choose the equipment as he always does. Tim has never let him down with this brief and has never taken liberties with the budget. This is always a good strategy and will buy any customer massive favour from the installer as they get to choose the best equipment for the job. Knowing Andy so well, Tim was also very familiar with the kind of music the system would be presented with!


Z3 Head Unit


Andy wanted to stick with the original head unit in the car. A stock look is usually a prerequisite for classic car owners. A rare beast now, this particular head unit features a cassette player!!! Behind the head unit, however, is a significant void in which Tim managed to mount an Audison Forza AP C 8.14 bit, an eight-channel amplifier with DSP built in. The highly sophisticated amplifier picks up audio from the head unit speaker outputs, and the DSP allowed Tim to de-equalise and shape the sound to make it worthy of amplifying and sending on to the significantly better-quality speakers.


Due to the large spaces between the tweeter and woofer at the front of the vehicle, Tim chose to use a pair of Hertz Mille Pro MPK 130s. The tweeter is a solid performer blessed with a wide dispersion characteristic. This would make establishing a decent stereo image easier from the less-than-perfect firing positions. Meanwhile, the woofer reaches surprisingly low for a 5” and provides impressive mid-range punch, significant for Andy’s taste in music. Having eight channels of amplification available meant Tim was able to wire these in active mode. So, each speaker and tweeter is driven by its own channel. This is particularly desirable as the amplifier has separate equalisation and time alignment that can be applied to each channel during tuning. The front woofers are run from bridged channels of the amplifier to add extra power. This helps to provide better control, particularly at bass frequencies.


The rear speakers sit at shoulder height. Tim has installed a pair of Audison Prima APX 4 coaxial speakers in these positions. These add massively to the overall experience in this car. I fear that without them, there would be a perceptible hole in the response of the front speakers.


Z3 Audison Subwoofer


As an ex-DJ, I fully expect Andy to be keen on some bass. To this end, Tim has installed an Audison Prima APBX 8 AS active subwoofer in the boot. This compact box contains an 8” subwoofer driven by a remarkable amplifier module built into the same box. An Audison Forza DRC remote control is mounted under the dashboard and allows for sub-level adjustment as well as selecting a roof up and roof down setting. The system's response changes massively with the top down, and road noise eats sub-bass, so this setting is essential.


Time for a listen. First up was a 1983 12” remix of New Order’s “Blue Monday”. This is a track that should be familiar to all. I have heard it countless times and always enjoyed it to an extent. In Andy's car, however, it blew my socks off! The cabin of the Z3 feels very narrow. However, the image played wide and high. Closing my eyes, I could almost have been in a club. The punch of the opening drum beats was chest-thumpingly punchy, and the low bass was subtle but rumbled low like thunder. That’s not to say it was blurry, perhaps just understated. The vocal was necessarily ethereal and enigmatic, but the detail in the mid-range, including the clavichord sequence, that fades in at around 2:15, was otherworldly. I have not heard that significant entry before or at least not noticed it. The keyboard “vocal chorus” was particularly haunting underneath the almost spaghetti western-style electric guitar.


The sound stage was dead centre, right on top of the steering wheel. Just the way I like it! All in all, this system revealed loads of detail that is missed on other systems.


This was the same for the next banger Andy had selected for me. This was Hard Times by The Human League. The high synth figure felt a little harsh for me. I think it is supposed to, as I have subsequently listened on a few systems (home and car), and it is very up-front and harsh. Phil Oakey’s low vocal is impressive, and the hypnotic synth bass drags the listener through the track. At 2:50, a very familiar synth sound rises. It is the opening to “Love Action”, which was the A side of the single both tracks appeared on.


Finally, Andy gave me Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Again, a track familiar to all. I played this to death when the album first came out. I am a big Quincy Jones fan, and his production on the whole album is second to hardly any! The drums are so crisp and punchy that I had to catch my breath again!  Hi-Hat and hand claps were standouts on the track on this system, as was the sub-bass, which sounded like it was mounted in the front of the car rather than in the boot. Although I could hear that the rear speakers were working hard, I didn’t get the usual discomfort of feeling someone was following me; such was the job done to integrate them with the front speakers.


Tim has done a truly magnificent job with the installation, and Andy and I were left smiling and thinking about those dimming and darkening club days gone by. They are not gone forever, but as this car proves, we like to celebrate that music differently now. For Andy, he is rediscovering old favourites with the help of his open-minded and enthusiastic nine-year-old son Thomas. Hold on to those attributes, Thomas and enjoy your musical journey.


Thank you, Andy, for spending the time with us and giving us so much information and also to Tim, who furnished me with deeper technical information and, of course, used his knowledge and experience to create this fabulous system.


Andy’s Top Five


Blue Monday - New Order (12” remix)
Hard Times - Human League
Thriller - Michael Jackson
New Gold Dream - Simple Minds
And That’s No Lie - Heaven 17 (10 in album version)

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