Like waiting for a bus, I have been waiting for ages to hear a car equipped with Audison Thesis equipment. Suddenly, four appear together, and I am spoilt for choice.
Each of the four vehicles is featured separately elsewhere in this issue based on installs to a Land Rover Defender, a Mercedes SL 55 AMG, and two Porsches.
It is always dangerous to directly compare several different car audio systems. For a start, the four Thesis cars we listened to were not altogether in one place. We auditioned them on separate days in different locations, and they had a dissimilar equipment mix.
For these tests, I turned the subwoofers off completely. Thesis woofers can produce frequencies down to 40Hz, which should be low enough to add as much bass excitement as I needed.
Having such a broad range of installations with Thesis equipment fitted as part of their installs was still an absolute joy. The sonic attributes of the full-range speakers are beyond doubt in my mind.
During these reviews, I have discovered new things in tracks I have heard a thousand times on all kinds of car and home hi-fi systems. I could hear an additional guitar track on a Jeff Buckley track I used in the Mercedes and Defender—both of these feature Thesis amplifiers. Thesis amplifiers can be switched between class A and high-quality class AB amplification. As a guess, I would say that the Mercedes was running class A. I assume this because all three amplifiers have their own Lithium battery, and class A is extremely power greedy. The definition and separation in the Mercedes were the best of the bunch for me.
In both Porsches, I felt the mid-range was a little smoother. Both Porsches use Audison Voce 5.1K amplifiers rather than Thesis amplification. These run class A for the tweeters and class AB for the mid-range. The additional guitar track on the Jeff Buckley tune was less evident in both vehicles.
I used Hi-Res source material streamed from my Samsung S20 phone in all tests. The benefits are better separation due to the far greater dynamic range available. Some audiophiles are critical of what they perceive as an overly clinical sound. There is undoubtedly a noticeable “crispness” when compared with an analogue-to-digital approach, and the dynamic range is much improved.
Another reason direct comparison is not necessarily valid is that the Mercedes and Defender run 3-way speaker systems with the mid-range speakers mounted very close to the tweeters. Both Porsches run 2-way systems. The Mercedes runs two sets of woofers in the doors, which meant the mid-bass was much more prominent.
Signal processing could also significantly affect the results of my listening tests. All four cars incorporate highly-sophisticated audio processors. The primary role of these is to de-equalise the feed from OEM head units where used. Time alignment is essential to establish a precise sound stage, and all cars were set up to either place the centre image for the driver or the middle of the dash. Crossover points and filters used can also make a significant difference to the final sound. So, you can see that it is almost an impossible task to state which is the best. Additionally, installers often tweak the EQ curves to iron out cabin discrepancies and suit their musical taste.
I found that Audison Thesis speakers deliver a very open and natural sound across the entire frequency spectrum above 40 Hz. Imaging and sound stage are genuinely excellent in all of these examples. Adding Thesis amplifiers helps with definition and the ability to pick out sounds placed low down in a mix. Thesis amplifiers also deliver a lot of clean power, which exerts precise control over the speakers.
Overall, if you are looking for an audiophile system in your car, Audison Thesis speakers and amplifiers are peerless. My favourite listening experience was in Karl’s Defender. The system seemed to be a bit more versatile than the others and provided a more comforting audio hug besides the separation and detail. Having said this, all of the systems sounded fantastic. I am grateful for having the opportunity to listen to each of them, and I salute the effort that has gone into their creation.
Find out what our partner, The FOUR MASTER Network, can do to bring Hi-Fi quality to your car. Simply put some brief details into the form below.
Not ready for that yet? You can use the same form to book a demonstration at your home, place of work or with your local FOUR MASTER