A Porsche, Thesis Speakers and All That Jas!
Jas Dahele is a co-founder of UK high-end car audio distributor FOUR. Along with business partner Brian Parton, he has helped engineer their company into a mighty force that delivers audio excellence for music lovers on the move. His car waves the flag for these basic principles.
Jas’ role at FOUR is that of technical director. It is a highly-skilled post, as new technologies are being introduced to overcome the obstacles built-in to modern cars. Unlike many distribution companies, FOUR is different because it stocks and supplies and acts as a mentor to those installing the new breed of highly complex products.
These include highly sophisticated DSP products but also encompass new speaker technology. With a general clamour from specialist installers for compact products that can be concealed, it is Jas’ job to explore the limits of the equipment they sell, so he can adequately advise installers and help them if things go awry.
Having walked this unique path for nearly 20 years now, FOUR has become successful and can afford the odd treat. In Jas’ case, his prize is a Porsche 911 997. However, although this is strictly speaking, his own driver, he nonetheless uses it to explore the limits of hi-fi in a car.
To this end, Jas wanted to install a reference system that would at least remove the appalling restriction of all factory standard audio equipment. Jas selected an Audison Thesis 2-way component set, Audison Thesis TH Violino Tweeters and TH Sax 6.5” woofers. These are run actively from an Audison Voce 5.1K, 5-channel amplifier. The tweeters have been placed on the axis thanks to tidy A-Pillar builds created by Fareham-based installer Studio Incar. Carl Shakespeare, the proprietor of Studio Incar, is a highly experienced high-end installer who understands both cars and audio.
We have featured the competent Audison Voce AV 5.1K amplifier plenty of times in Driving Sounds. It is still a top-rated product for audiophile installs. Jas explains, "The presence of two Class A channels for tweeters means that the high-frequency drivers receive the pure signal they deserve. A pair of Class AB channels drive the woofers leaving a mighty 1000 watts RMS (into 2ohms) available from the monoblock Class D amplifier. In this build, I had plenty of space to accommodate the amplifier and have had it installed to be shown and readily accessed for ongoing experimentation.”
Jas continues, "The cable runs are very short in this install, so I opted to connect using RCA connections for audio. I included an Audison bit B-Con for hi-res Bluetooth streaming, although this is only hi-res when used with a mobile phone that contains LDAC. iPhones don't currently have this, so the signal is standard 16-bit. Having said this, even with the phone's shortcomings, I am still experiencing far better Bluetooth audio than when connected directly through the head unit."
"Whether we like it or not, many people like big bass in their cars. I wanted to be able to push the low frequencies to the maximum, so I selected two Audison Prima APS 10 D 10” subwoofers. These slim, high-excursion subs are ideal for building into small enclosures. They produce incredible amounts of bass. Ordinarily, one sub would be plenty in this car, but I wanted a symmetrical build and preferred the balance of having one on each side behind the front seats. Either way, the rear seats would be of limited use."
"The car is important to me. It reflects, in part, the success we have had as a company. I have always liked the look of the 997 and didn't want anything too outlandish to spoil its original aesthetic. Obviously, my requirements meant that some compromise would always be necessary. The sub-install has the biggest visual impact. However, I was keen that the rest of the installation was minimal and superbly finished. Carl has achieved this with the work he has done. I am particularly pleased with how it looks under the bonnet. Clean lines with a smart, high-quality finish."
I agree with Jas’ summation; it is a smart install. The subs are not intrusive as the car is really a sports car rather than a family saloon, so what happens behind the front seats is of little visual consequence.
Jas admits to having a wide and varied taste in music. “I guess I am guilty of sometimes listening to the system rather than engaging fully with the music. I am not the only one, as I have spent many years analysing sound and probably not as long analysing musical instrumentation and song construction. There are still many artists that I really like but it would be really difficult for anyone to pin down my tastes to a handful of artists.” (Top Five please Jas – Ed.)
I was able to spend quite a long time listening to this car. As Jas uses it to try out the various settings possible on the bit ONE Virtuoso, there was some strange stuff going on. A DRC remote controller is neatly installed in the roof lining between the two seats. It allows access to top-line settings and up to four presets for storing various setups. In the end, I plumped for the B setting.
First, I went for Redemption Day from Sheryl Crow's "Threads" album. This album is full of collaborations, and a different version of this track appeared on her first album named "Sheryl Crow". This revisit features Johnny Cash. It is slowed somewhat and played chiefly on piano. The low notes of the piano are very deep and resonant. Her voice is empty and sad. I am not sure how soon before Johnny Cash's passing this was made, but the emotion in his vocals reflects many years of a sometimes challenging but always exciting life. With the sub pushed up, there was a quite disturbing low-end rumble. This probably came from an acoustic piano. Many analogue recordings of acoustic instruments exhibit this. Fortunately, with the DRC close to hand, I could tune this out and remain transfixed by the stirring vocal performance. The strings accompanying the track played across the whole sound stage, centred around the middle of the dashboard. It is not my favourite setup; that strategy requires the listening position to be pulled back from my usual, short-legged driving position. I prefer the centre stage to be right between my ears and to sit on top of the steering wheel.
By way of balance, I put on "Lush" by the English electronic artist Four Tet. This track features a motif played on a hang drum. It is very repetitive. However, plenty is going on around it to keep the track engaging from start to finish. Although not bags of bass, in Jas’ car, it sounded solid and steady even when turned up, maintaining an excellent balance across all the frequency ranges.
One of my "go-to" tracks of the moment is Gabriels “Bloodline”. The track is one ball of emotion. The track played beautifully in this car from the early, almost big band instrumental arrangement to the bleeding-heart vocal. On a sad day, it may have left a tear in my eye; however, today, it simply put a huge smile on my face. This is one of the biggest compliments I can give the system in this car. It is an absolute joy to listen to.
Huge congratulations to everyone involved in creating, installing, and configuring this system. Jas is one lucky guy!
Studio Incar: 01489 578951
Jas’ Top Five
Sigrid - Everybody Knows - Justice League Soundtrack
Adele - Love Song
Kool & the Gang - Ladies Night (Live)
War – Low Rider
Nina Simone - Sinnerman
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