Sound in Focus
Fast-food restaurant-owning brothers; Abby Ajaib and Abdul Hafeez share a dream that goes beyond their business relationship. This stunning Ford Focus RS is the result of three years of dreaming, planning and finally realising that dream.
Waiting in a multi-storey car park at Meadow Hall in Sheffield, my chest is vibrated by the throaty notes from an upgraded exhaust system. As that noise comes closer, my trousers are wobbled by rich musical bass tones emanating from the same source. The origin is an unusual blue-coloured Ford Focus RS. It stops and out jump Abby and Abdul. We know we only have a short amount of time before security become curious and then move us swiftly on and we have pictures to take and a system to review.
While our “photographer du jour” sets up lights, I ask Abby and Abdul a few questions and discover that far from a spontaneous purchase, the Focus before me is the result of a three-year search for the vehicle of their dreams. I mention the unusual colour and discover that it is Lamborghini Candy Apple Blue and it looks amazing even in the semi-darkness. But it is opening the hatch that gets me excited. Inside the luggage compartment I am presented with a view of two Audison Voce amplifiers mounted under Perspex on a stunning fabricated fibreglass feature panel colour-matched to the outside of the vehicle. The build is illuminated by a string of blue LEDs that run around the edge of the build. The style of the build screams “Source Sounds!” at me.
Regular readers will recognise the name as we tend to get to cover a few of their cars and for no other reason than they do lots of excellent audio builds and show cars. I am now very excited at the prospect of sitting in and having a listen. But first, I want to discover how the system came about. Abby explained; “A good sound system was a major part of the dream. It was budgeted from the very beginning and we knew that we would be going to Source Sounds to have it installed. They have a very good reputation locally and we had come across them following the closure of another dealer in Sheffield that we had previously used. Both Abdul and I like high-energy music and Bhangra is a particular favourite as is high-energy 80s stuff but we have a wide range of musical tastes which are affected by time of day and mood of course. We wanted to display the car at shows so the car would need to project at high levels and also produce impactful bass although not too over the top. We also want to enjoy it while driving around for both business and pleasure.”
Abby is not new to the idea of upgraded audio in his cars. His interest dates back to one of his first cars a Datsun Cherry turbo into which he installed some home hi-fi speakers purchased from a car boot sale, which he had modified for bass. This led him to upgrade the audio in his next few cars including a Cavalier, Orion Ghia and of course, the company van! On further investigation into his relationship with Source Sounds, Abby tells me that he and proprietor Paul Ellis have developed an honest and respectful rapport over a long time with Abby making many visits to Paul’s store over a period of years. This is not the first time I have heard this said of Paul and his team. It seems that treating customers as human beings is an important element of Source Sounds’ trading ethos.
So, did Abby have firm ideas on what he wanted installing and how it would look? Abby explains; “On arriving at Source Sounds we had agreed that we would give them as open a brief as possible so that they were able to create something special. From our first meeting, we found Paul and his team very friendly, patient and helpful and at no time felt any sales pressure, which is refreshing. To us the Audison brand was relatively unknown but I now know that you would be foolish to ignore a recommendation from Paul.
Paul initially asked a lot of questions about our musical taste as well as our driving habits before suggesting the system that he eventually fitted. We could have opted to keep the factory head unit and the rear speakers could be disconnected leaving us with a classic three channel hi-fi system consisting left and right channels and a subwoofer. However, we want everyone riding in the car to experience the full effect of the system and so we decided on duplicating the front-end for the rear-seated passengers. We were doubtful that a single sub would satisfy our hunger for bass and so we asked for two 10” subs to be incorporated just to make sure. These are fitted into custom enclosures integrated with the luggage compartment walls”
With pictures taken, I sat in and fired up the system. Leaving the controls as they were, I flicked through a CD that was already in the Alpine head unit. High-energy was my first impression. The CD contained tracks from Asian artists featuring lots of percussion all of which were clearly identifiable with no sense that any element of the sound was being swamped by any other one. I next inserted the Driving Sounds disc we created for last year’s demonstrations in our two BMW’s. Although not necessarily a sound purist, I am bordering on “conservative” these days and found the bass too prominent for the eclectic mix of soft female vocals and acoustic instruments I presented to the system, although the guitar on What A Wonderful World by Stacey Kent sounded warmer and richer for the bass content. I reset the on-board equalisation on the head unit to flat and played Joan as Police Woman, Cristobel. The scratchy violin on the intro sounded so real, I actually thought I was playing it! The track exploded into life and every breath of Joan Wassers’ vocal was clearly apparent. I like the drum sound on a track called The Sound of Muzak by Porcupine Tree. I often use this to assess mid-bass attack and overall balance and as expected the Voce set-up provided incredible definition and punch. I could almost hear the drummer’s knuckles crack as he pounded out the mid-point drum break. However, I sensed overall that the system was probably due a tweak. This is essential with high-end speakers. They do take time to run in and when I checked with Abby, he confirmed that his next stop was Source Sounds to have this done.
All in all, the system is one of the finest I have listened to. The separation between full-range and sub frequencies improves clarity over systems without a dedicated sub amplifier and easily justifies the space and investment to do this. If it were me, I may have considered doing without the rear full range speakers and running the fronts in active mode instead but, there is no doubt that in this case the customer has got exactly what he wanted and all delivered with the usual impeccable attention to detail which comes as standard with a Source Sounds install. I congratulate Abby, Abdul and Source for achieving a superb result.
Alpine INE-W925R Head unit
2 x Voce AV10 subwoofers
1 x Voce Quattro
2 pairs Voce AV-K6
Chord Leyline speaker cable
Audison Connection power cable and accessories
Top 5 Driving Sounds
Billy Ocean – Caribbean Queen
Tina Turner – Private Dancer
Michael Jackson – Off the Wall
Nadeem Sharawan – Ishq Karoge To Dard Milega
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Sanson Ki Mala
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