A1 Sounds

Comfortable on the road, easy on the ears

A1 Sounds


Kieran Collick is typical of 19 year-old lads everywhere in that he is car crazy. He has owned his Audi A1 for two and a half years and took it along to Plush Automotive to have air suspension fitted but this was just the start of a much longer journey.


Rugby fan Kieran, like many of Luke Massy’s customers, took his car to Plush to have air ride suspension fitted. This allows cars to be dynamically lifted and lowered to cope with the dual purposes of showing or displaying a car, where you want the car to sit low, and driving the car, where it is necessary to put some distance between bumps in the road and the underneath of the car! However, when he got there and saw in person what the guys at Plush are capable of, he started adding-on extra work. This included a whole interior fit-out. All of the upholstery was covered in hand-stitched tan-coloured leather and much of the dashboard and steering wheel were trimmed to match. Kieran’s eyes were also drawn by other cars in progress and he was tempted by some fancy wheels, this meant the wheel arches had to be flared to accommodate them to Plush’s exacting standards of satisfaction. Brakes were also upgraded, and finally, Kieran was treated to a demonstration of an audio system. Kieran later told me in an email; “Audio was not on my original shopping list, but then neither were many other things I ended up going for. I have always loved music. I grew up with a music-loving older brother in the house and that very much influenced me. Luke demonstrated a simple speaker and amplifier upgrade and it made my standard system sound silly! It was clear that in order to appreciate the driving experience fully, it would have to be upgraded.”


I asked Kieran if he had researched audio upgrades before settling on his final system; “Not at all” he replied, “I left it all up to the guys at Plush. It was very obvious that I was in the presence of people who knew much more than I could learn in a short amount of time and I totally trusted them to come up with something that would fit in with the other work they were doing for me.”


Plush decided on an install built around Hertz equipment. Luke Massy designed the system himself and wanted to use the brand new Hertz Mille Legends. These he ran from a bridged Audison Prima 4.9 bit four-channel amplifier. Bass was clearly going to be important to a young lad and so a Hertz High Energy HX 250 subwoofer in a custom enclosure was fitted in the spare wheel well and driven by an Audison Prima AP 1 D. Luke told me; “This was the first time I had used Audison Prima amplifiers. I had some experience of the sub and had used the previous model of Mille speakers before. The amplifiers seemed physically very small which is always very handy from an installation point of view but I was a little concerned that they may lack power. I needn’t have worried as they deliver bags of power and no distortion that I could hear. The Prima AP 4.9 bit had the added benefit of being able to unscramble the audio from the standard head unit and offers loads of sound shaping opportunities which I haven't fully explored just yet.”


This last comment I took as a bit of a typically self-effacing apology for the lack of time that had gone into the set up at that stage.


Having not had a chance to listen to Mille Legend, I jumped in with my trusty demonstration CD and plumped for “The Wheel” by SOHN as my first track. This unusual track requires a system to reach low without swamping the gorgeous naked vocal at the front of the track and must also leave plenty of room for the high-end percussive sound, which sounds like someone playing the bones! The term “lost in space” was coined for these speakers. Although I felt the sub was over-playing a little, I was stationary at the time and know that at speed, up to half of the level would be eaten up by tyre on tarmac noise cancelling. However, the Milles didn't mind at all and delivered every tiny sound and effect with linear precision that took my breath away. This was due in part to the tweeter build, which has been seamlessly incorporated into the vehicle’s A-pillars and positioned to deliver nearly full on-axis performance to the driver.


My second selection was Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel”. This explodes in to life with percussion that shoots right across the full width of the vehicle almost forcing me to turn my head from left to right. The track continues in this vane with sounds flying out from all over the dashboard. The soundstage managed height, depth and width in abundance and got me extremely intrigued as to how it would sound if Luke had spent time working his set-up magic on the system. If this is straight out of the box performance, then it is truly astonishing! Every little detail is articulated with incredible accuracy and although the over-worked subwoofer was a little on the heavy side, it did not detract at all from the incredible collection of sounds and high production values employed by Quincy Jones and MJ himself all the way back in 1987. The descending brass run at 1:25 is more prominent than I have ever heard it and there is a heavily filtered electric guitar just after it that sounds for all the world like a ‘Jaws Harp’. This continues sporadically throughout the rest of the song. Once again, the space around each instrument and especially the vocal allows the listener to unpick each element and even analyse the reverb effect used on it - most impressive.


Finally, without too much expectation I put on an old recording of Jose Carreras singing Puccini’s “Nessum Dorma”. I chose this version as it is recorded in the classical style with the orchestra and singers mixed by physical position rather than by electronics. I like the way that on a good system you can hear Carreras’ voice crack during the climax of the song and this system reproduced the full emotion and drama of this moment. The orchestra is well balanced and the choral section toward the end fair made my knees wobble.


I asked Kieran what he thought about the system long after I had listened to it and he told me; “The system sounds great. The bass is powerful and strong but it balances perfectly with the vocals and instrumental elements of the songs that I listen to. I am really pleased that I trusted Luke to do it. He knows what's best for an amazing sounding audio system and it is perfect for the music I love including; hip-hop, house, EDM and dance.”


Once again, I find myself congratulating a car owner on his commitment to the cause and to being stirred into action once he discovered just how lame his original equipment sounded against what was possible. Thanks to Luke at Plush for an inspiring installation and of course to Hertz and Audison for making car audio products that sound better with each evolution.


Top Five Driving Sounds


Household Goods - Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs

Your Love - Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs

Run Away - Galantis

Where Are You Now - Skrillex

She Knows - J Cole


Kieran’s Equipment

Hertz Mille Legend MLK 165.3  

Hertz High Energy HX 250 

Audison Prima 4.9 bit 

Audison Prima 1D

Connection cable and accessories

Skinz sound deadening and wave diffuser  

Car Audio Upgrades Made Easy

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