James Haughey knows a bit about audio. He has his own studio where he produces high quality mix music. He has learnt that factory audio systems in cars are not at all what he wants, which is why his brand new Audi RS6 was delivered directly to his local FOUR MASTER rather than to his own house!
James is the owner of a large animal pharmaceutical company and has, through erstwhile endeavour and hard work been rather successful in life. As with many people who work hard, James likes to play hard too and cars have always been a bit of a passion and a release from the rigours of running a successful multi-national company.
On this occasion, it has proved impossible to arrange a face-to-face meeting and so the article is based on an emailed interview we conducted earlier in the year and information supplied by Phil Neill of FOUR MASTER, Audio Advice in Northern Ireland.
DS - Why did you choose the Audi in the first place?
James - I prefer 4-wheel drive cars. I have a passion for personal protection dogs, so needed space. I also love the 750 bhp MTM tuned engine in this particular car so it offered the best of both worlds. Following discussions with Phil, we thought that the shape of the cabin would help with bass reproduction too.
DS - How did it sound straight from the showroom?
James - I bought the car and sent it straight to Phil before I even listened to it. I have done this with all of my cars since I was 18 and now I am 33! Phil is simply the best and we have become close friends as a result of our similar interests and pursuit for audio excellence.
DS - What led you to upgrade the first car?
James – When I was 18 a friend had an upgraded system albeit basic and it got me thinking about the potential for car audio, considering how much time I spend in the car for work it seemed logical. Music is an integral part of my life and it never ceases to amaze me how it can positively affect my mood.
DS - Phil tells me that you are a bit of a DJ hobbyist. Where did that hobby come from?
James - I taught myself music production when I was at university studying medicine as it always interested me, particularly mastering music. I don’t really know where it came from, probably as I am a bit of a nerd in general and dangerously curious with techie things. I formed a studio and do pro bono work for friends and artists - www.soundcloud.com/scientifix if you fancy a listen.
DS - Are there any other strong musical influences in your background?
James - I have diverse tastes ranging from Van Morrison to underground house on sound cloud. My Mother’s interest in rock and my personal experience in musical trends, growing up listening to hip-hop and dancehall reggae, drum and bass and house all had an affect on my current tastes.
DS - I know you are an established customer of Phil and Audio Advice. What drew you to them in the first place and what do you particularly like about dealing with them now?
James - Audio advice are on an international level for audio installs. I have seen and heard what is across the water particularly LA, where I have friends that do the same thing. Phil ace’s it every time and always comes together with that special touch. See the pillar installs and the DSP controller in the sunglasses holder.
I need to have a car that was discreet for customers but when I need to relax I have the full whack. Thus I asked Phil to do something elegant and I think he is one of few who can take things to an intellectual and unsurpassed level commensurate with the quality of the equipment: he does the project justice without sticking the knife in.
DS - Did you have an idea of what you were looking for from Audio Advice for your Audi?
James - A wide dynamic range was important to me as I compare the products to the studio where sometimes it’s necessary to see what a track feels like in a club. The car needed to be a viable representation of what it feels like to be out on a Saturday night and be in on a Sunday morning chilling by the fire.
DS - Did you know about Audison before this time?
James - Phil was my guide to all things car audio. Frankly, I trust him so much over the years I have taken his advice during our voyage through the uncharted territory of car audio with respect to quality and reliability.
DS - What were your first impressions of the sound when you picked up the car after your system had been installed?
James – Mostly, I laughed out-loud every time I heard it. It opened the whole audioscape and had me hearing new dimensions of a master mix on records and fuelled my pursuit of audio self-education. I didn’t think this experience was possible in studios let alone cars. The install in the rear even looks beautiful and no one can see it under normal conditions.
DS - Did the sound change over time and have you returned for a tune up?
James - We made some minor changes to the setup to my tastes, particularly the balance between tweeters and Bass - easily done in seconds. Tweaking is part of the car audio pleasure, not traditionally done on studio monitors so I called Phil and he came to my home. It’s not unknown for him to get on a plane to check up on my Sister’s car install - you should see that one too! (maybe next issue? - Ed)
DS - What attributes of the sound are you particularly enjoying or struck by?
James - Clarity at all dynamic ranges, there is nothing that it can’t handle. I wish I had more high quality content!
DS - What kind of music do you play in your car and have your listening habits been influenced by the system at all?
James - For sure, when driving it’s either house / hip-hop / super chill after a long day - bass with some extra bass please!
DS - How far do you drive each year?
James - At least 8K a year. Though I find myself doing extra now, just for the sake of it!
DS - What is the overriding style of your interaction with Audio Advice?
James - Telephone call with Phil personally every time, sometimes for a catch up, sometimes for nerd chat. Phil doesn't need to sell anything to me, I trust him implicitly when it comes to car audio.
DS - What equipment do you listen to at home?
James - Mainly KRK Systems VXT 8 powered studio monitors. These allow me to hear what the sound will be like through all sorts of monitor outputs. I also monitor my own mixes on Beyerdynamic DT 770–PRO headphones. These are the industry standard for closed-ear listening and offer a truly profound listening experience at the price.
DS - Have you experienced much live music?
James – Yes, plenty! Mainly producer type performances and recording artists in the studio but, there is no one like ‘Van the man’ live (Van Morrison) even if he is a bit grumpy (I have first hand experience of this! – Ed).
James has clearly put a lot of faith in Audio Advice. It certainly seems from his enthusiasm and positivity for his car system that this is well placed. Having experienced Audison Voce in numerous installs, I would dearly love to listen to this one particularly as it is as digital as can be with the output from the head unit remaining in the digital domain until the final amplifying stage. Perhaps one day I will.
Top Five Driving Sounds
Beres Hammond - Lovely Day
Jamie Woon - Spirits
Van Morrison - Ancient Highway
Tourist (feat. Will Heard) - I Can’t Keep up
Route 94 (feat. Jess Glynn) - My Love
Audio Expert System
Audison Bit One Processor with DRC controller
2 X Audison Voce 4-channel Amplifiers
1 X Audison Voce monoblock amplifiers
1 X Audison Voce AV 12 – 12inch subwoofer
1 X Audison Voce – 3-way component speakers running fully active
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