Ni Ka N'Tawapamaw (Heaven is the Prize)
Driving Sounds Club members and avid magazine readers alike will know that we spent a good deal of last summer demonstrating two BMW 1 series to the general public in order to highlight the difference between a standard factory fit system and one designed and installed by a professional installer. Olly Samways took the challenge and won an Audio Heaven system for his own car.
You may have noticed that we tend to get quite evangelical about after market car audio. We take our mission very seriously and this is what led us to offer up two levels of audio system to two entrants in a prize draw. Olly caught up with us at CarFest North, sat in both cars and knew straight away which one had been upgraded. Olly told us; “I sat in the BMW's at CarFest North, and immediately heard the difference. The clarity of the different pitches from bass to high notes was amazing. You could hear every sound as if wearing noise cancelling headphones.”
Olly’s name was picked out of a rather large hat and we were pleased to be able to introduce him to Tim at FOUR MASTER Norwich In Car Entertainment (NICE). It was clear that they hit it off straight away and Tim was able to use his vast knowledge and experience to specify just the right equipment that would send Olly to Audio Heaven. 21 year-old Olly is an apprentice Highway Electrical Engineer in Dereham, Norfolk and lives in Norwich. It is quite clear even at first glance that his car is his pride and joy. The sparkling BMW E46 320D is immaculately clean and tidy and Olly has worked hard to save up for it. Olly had thought about upgrading the in-car entertainment but other pressures on his wallet and a desire not to change the look of the dashboard had held such thoughts at bay.
Olly confirmed that he had always had an interest in music and had dabbled with upgrading the audio in a previous car. “I had some 6x9 speakers in my first car to improve bass response. The marketing of these speakers was very brash but in fact the speakers simply boomed in an uncontrolled way exposing all of the rattles in the car and swamping all of the music content except for a narrow range, with bass. My interest in good music reproduction comes from many live performances I have experienced from a wide range of bands from Paramore to Professor Green. The sound from standing at the front of a performance next to the speakers is something you only dream of being able to hear in a vehicle; and I now have this in my own car!” says Olly.
Following telephone discussions and a face-to-face meeting with Tim, a system using Rainbow custom fit speakers was recommended. These are vehicle specific and are therefore, relatively straight forward to fit with all the hardware required supplied in the box. Of course, the doors first required a liberal cladding of Skinz sound deadening material to get the best out of the speakers by adding rigidity to the door panels and reducing the negative effects of back waves resulting from reflections out of the rear of the speakers. The amplifier of choice was the incredibly versatile Hertz HCP 4. Its compact size perfectly matched the requirement to maintain some boot space while its flexible configuration options made it the perfect single amp solution for this install. A Hertz Energy 10inch subwoofer mounted in a standard slot-ported box provides sub-bass while signals from the head unit are fed via a much-needed Audison Bit 10 processor to allow for precise tuning but also to iron out any unpleasant equalisation curves added to the head unit by BMW to mask the inadequacies of the standard speakers.
I threw a couple of tracks at the system from a disc that was already in the head unit and felt that things were a little wild in the bass whilst the high frequencies were not as clear as I expected. I have a pair of Rainbow speakers in my own vehicle and know that mid-bass performance and high frequency response are two of the major attributes of these German designed speakers. I checked that things were flat on the head unit and of course they weren’t! Olly had nudged the bass up to 11, which not only fed loads of narrow bandwidth bass into the Bit 10 but also reduced the treble due to some Ultimate Driving Machine specific high/low frequency trade off in the head unit. Once the bass control was set to its flat position, the system began to sing and continued long after the cows had come home, had their supper, put on their PJ’s and gone to sleep for the night! I think Olly would benefit from the optional Bit 10 remote controller. This allows for two completely different audio settings but more importantly would allow him to add bass without invoking the on-board Ultimate Distortion Machine.
I chose to play an old XTC track, Nearly Africa from their excellent English Settlement album. This works incredibly well with my own Rainbows and features a ton of heavyweight mid-bass coming from the drums. These were handled just as brilliantly with this system and although I had reduced the bass a lot, there was still plenty there to make me concentrate on my breathing! Time for something slightly softer so I reached for the Driving Sounds disc we created for demonstration purposes last year. Everything was handled with typical Rainbow accuracy but with the added warmth that only European manufacturers seem to be able to dial into their hi-fi. Female vocals were close and lush, guitars pin sharp and electronica, precise and without any harsh edges. Meanwhile the left right balance and depth of sound stage is as pleasing as in any car I have listened to.
I asked Olly what he felt were the standout features of the sound for him; “The most striking quality is the bass and how it complements the music and does not completely drown out the song entirely. You can hear every note with amazing clarity. I am already looking at having an Audison controller fitted to my BIT 10 so I can control the subwoofer independently, and also gain an AUX in function. Then I can listen to songs from my iPod (make sure they are lossless Olly!), and also increase the bass when I have my bass head on.”
Olly concluded; “Thank you so much for this prize, I couldn't have hoped for anything better. I was considering selling the car to help fund a 3-month work/pleasure trip to Australia and New Zealand but now, because of the audio system, I simply could not bring myself to part with it. I can't stay away from the car now, it is brilliant, and I really am over the moon. Tim and Norwich In Car Entertainment were brilliant too, I will definitely keep in touch and recommend them to all of my contacts for any car audio related purchases”
Audio Heaven System
IL-C6.2 - 2 - Way Speaker System for BMW E46 Front
Hertz Energy ES 250 – 10inch subwoofer
Standard slot-ported subwoofer enclosure
Hertz HCP 4 – 4 – Channel amplifier
Audison Bit 10 – Signal processor
Skinz Sound deadening
Top 5 Driving Sounds
Deaf Havana - Mildred
Pitbull ft. Kesha - Timber
Afrojack - The Spark
Sub Focus - Tidal Wave
Avicii - Hey Brother
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?