Immaculate Audio

Audi TT, The Beatles and Voce heaven

Immaculate Audio


When Dave Jones took delivery of his slightly used Audi TT fitted with what is described as a Bose “Audio Upgrade”, there was only one destination in mind for his first trip out, FOUR MASTER Ultimate Audio in Bromsgrove.


33 year-old Dave works as a contracts manager for a height safety company. Confused? I was! Basically, he supplies the kit and processes required to keep workmen safe when they are carrying out tasks on high buildings etc. a very responsible vocation requiring acute attention to detail and a process-driven approach.


Dave is quite recently married but with no children yet, he can afford to enjoy the fruits of his labour in what the average family man (or his wife!) would consider a frivolous sports car. The TT doesn’t need to be too practical but it does need to be comfortable and Dave is already accustomed to having good audio in his car.


Dave’s family home was an old farmhouse where he lived with his parents and two much older brothers. His brothers played bass guitar and drums and often had other musicians over to the house to rehearse. Dave was struck by the sound that came from live instruments and the massive contrast between this and the average pap music coming out of the family kitchen radio. He also enjoyed the music his brothers listened to and has inherited a musical taste which harps back to the well recorded rock and pop of the eighties rather than the recycled and mashed together sounds from his own youth.


Dave discovered the thrill of having a great sounding car a couple of years ago. He owned a VW Golf and stumbled across Ultimate Audio quite by chance when visiting a supplier close by. He called in to see if they could sort out a problem with the rear speakers, which he thought were dragging the system in the car down. Talented installer Karl Ward at Ultimate Audio explained that although the rear speakers in his car weren’t great, that he would get better results and value for money by upgrading the front speakers and adding a subwoofer and amplifier. After a number of visits to Ultimate Audio and demonstrations of different grades of equipment, Dave decided on a set of Audison Voce 3-way components running from an Audison SR 4 amplifier. After a few short miles of no high’s and no low’s (it has to be Bose), Dave knew he needed to transfer the kit from his Golf over to the new car and made his way straight to Ultimate Audio who began to get full value out of the equipment he had purchased two years previously.


As is the modern way, Dave was keen on a hidden install with all equipment needing to fit in the existing speaker positions. You will also have noticed that we have not yet mentioned subwoofers. This is because, Dave didn't want to give up space to one but Ultimate Audio did have a neat trick up their sleeves to deal with this request. Dave wanted to be able to see behind when reversing so an Alpine double DIN multi-media unit was chosen. This sits really nicely in the dashboard and looks like it was meant to be there – Take note Audi! – It is also known to produce a pure distortion-free signal from its line outputs and has on board filtering, which was an extra bonus in the context of this particular system. The unit also accepts an external video input and so a camera sits neatly above the rear number plate and automatically feeds it’s signal to the screen when reverse gear is selected. iPod compatibility completed Dave’s functional requirement to be able to select and play music from a portable huge library of music.


As always, the first task was to properly treat the door panels with Skinz sound deadening material. This is essential to reduce road noise but also to improve the performance of the speakers mounted in the doors and minimise the effect of floppy panels absorbing the energy from the speakers. This sounds like a simple process but access is sometimes an issue with installers often losing the skin from the back of their hands when trying to fit the self-adhesive bituminous material into place. Wave diffuser was also installed. This ensures that any sound reflected back from behind the speaker is prevented from upsetting the cone movement causing reduced output and distortion.


The car has a three-way system installed as standard, which meant that there were already positions available for the Voce 3-way system. These are wired in an “Active/Passive” configuration with the mid-range and tweeters running from one pair of outputs from the Audison SR4 amplifier with the hi-pass filter set to 85Hz feeding the Audison crossover. The bass drivers are driven directly from the other pair of amplifier channels with the on-board lo-pass filter set to 90Hz In order to deliver the powerful bass required to compensate for a lack of subwoofer.


There are some handy speaker positions behind the seats in the car. Ultimate Audio fitted a pair of Hertz EV 165 woofers and used them to add mid and low frequency rear-fill directly from the internal amplifier of the Alpine unit.


I have to admit to feeling a little disappointed about the lack of subwoofer. I was worried that the system may sound a little unbalanced. Sitting in the car, I was also concerned that the relatively confined space would mean the system would lack both depth and width.


I chose a spacious track to begin with, “I Want You (She’s s Heavy)” from the Beatles “Abbey Road” album and wow! I was presented with an astonishing feeling of space. The track was playing out to the middle of the wing mirrors with depth that reached to the windscreen and beyond. I was not prepared for the sheer presence and accuracy throughout the spectrum and especially bass and the result quite took my breath away. I closed my eyes and listened to the entire track emitting occasional oohs and aahs when coming across background sounds, usually suppressed by average set-ups. When Lennon switches from bridge to neck pickup for the guitar solo for instance, you can here the switch mechanism as clear as if it was happening right in front of you (2mins 21 seconds). This piece of detail alone is more human and meaningful than any extended biography of the great man’s life as is the way his voice cracks on the final scream of the vocal (4mins 29 seconds). Other standout features of the system are the bell-clear cymbals and the lustrous Hammond organ burbling away while the sheer force of the multi-tracked guitars playing the dominant riff toward the end just blew me away.


For contrast, I listened to “Devil’s Spoke” from Laura Marling’s brilliant “I Speak Because I Can” album, coincidentally, produced by Ethan Johns, son of sometime Beatles producer Glyn. The track begins with some muted noises, which are practically indiscernible however, on Dave’s system you can clearly hear some children’s voices and laughter and what sounds like feet pumping the bellows of a pump organ as the opening chord begins. The clarity and accuracy of the speakers continues to lay bare Johns’ production throughout the track and the heaviness of the double bass has never sounded so distinct to me before. I just had to forward on to track 8, “What He Wrote” to enjoy the beautiful vocal and fabulously recorded guitar.


Finally, I threw a selection of more rocky material at the system and stumbled upon “Money for Nothing” from the almost perfectly recorded Dire Straits album “Brothers in Arms”. Every element was presented in a pleasingly separated but not disjointed manner enabling the listener to easily dissect the production or simply delight in the music.


Dave admits to still being at the beginning of his musical journey and the system has helped him to explore musical genres that he would previously have rejected or simply overlooked. After some coaxing however, I was able to extract a current top five tracks, which he admits could be completely different if I asked him on another day.


Dave’s Top Five Driving Sounds:


Hotel California – The Eagles

Money for Nothing – Dire Straits

Balinese – ZZ Top

Mustang Sally – The Commitments

The Riders of Rohan – Lord of the Rings Soundtrack

Car Audio Upgrades Made Easy

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