High Performance Win-Win From R35 Audio

Awesome sounds from an audiophile's dream car

High-performance win-win from R35 Audio


Andy Sanders has been around high quality audio for most of his life. His father used to design and build valve amplifiers and speakers in the family home where he grew up. In fact, he encouraged Andy to join in and his first bedroom system included a valve amp of his and his father's design.


Andy's first install was in his best friends Mini when he was just 16. Andy’s first car was a Ford Escort and it seemed completely natural for him to put a sound system in it. His surgical attachment to high quality sound was never going to allow for anything else even at the tender age of 17. His next car was an Astra before he finally graduated to a Sierra Cosworth and then he moved to a Mitsubishi Evo, so we now see that cars are muscling in on his audio interests. Once again, Andy was told by the voice in his head to upgrade the audio and so it went on until eventually, as we all do, he grew up, got himself a house and a wife and a career in IT and settled down to ordinary life. Never quite giving up on his passion for audio however, he instead focussed his listening on an impressive Dolby 7.1 home cinema system incorporating Monitor Audio and Bowers and Wilkins speakers driven by a giant Onkyo amplifier. He is an avid consumer of films with good soundtracks and insists on the highest quality Blu-ray renderings and has never been one for beating studio releases by watching illegal camcorder captured versions of dubious quality.


In 2012, Andy had an epiphany. He purchased a Nissan GTR and his life changed dramatically. Since then, he has dedicated his time to sourcing, building and designing accessories for his car and making them available to an extremely enthusiastic worldwide audience via the internet. Products he sells include carbon fibre trim parts, bonnet cancellers and electronic rear lights which look like four after burners on a space craft and do nothing but enhance the look of the rear of this magnificent vehicle. He also rekindled his passion for car audio and has developed plug and play systems that he can simply box up and ship to lucky purchasers. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of a car audio installation will realise just how impressive this is and Andy has dedicated a lot of development time to these projects. Far from a bunch of equipment and some instructions, every loom and cable and piece of mounting hardware is included and to say the instructions are comprehensive would be like saying Stephen Hawking knows a little about science. Andy’s approach has been meticulous and it is testament to his hard work that he doesn't have to spend all of his time on the phone, talking customers through the installation.


The success he has achieved to date has enabled him to indulge his personal passion for car stereo even further by upgrading his own car with a most impressive system. This one is not available as a plug and play option but is designed purely to indulge his own need for High Definition audio in his car. He has chosen to go with an Audison Voce AV 5.1K five-channel amplifier.  This runs a 3-way Hertz Mille Legend system up front in an active passive configuration. The woofers and mids are mounted in the factory positions while the tweeters are mounted in Alcantara covered A-pillar builds, that Andy made himself (is there no end to this man's talent?).


The output of the standard head unit is processed via an Audison bit 10D but as well as using the standard system as a source, Andy has also integrated an Audison bit Play HD high definition audio server into the system. This he has managed to get to run via the standard screen fitted to the vehicle utilising a spare rear view camera input. As far as he is aware, he is the first person to ever manage this (unless you know differently?). As the speaker positions exist anyway, Andy has also incorporated Hertz High Energy mids and tweeters in the back shelf and another mid (ML700.3) is positioned in the centre channel position. These are run from a Hertz HDP4 amplifier. Andy noticed my raised eyebrows as he told me this and was keen to clarify that these were running at extremely low level but added important ambience and sonic texture as well as affording passengers a less compromised stereo image. I was not at all troubled by these during my listening test. They had no obvious negative effect on image or depth of soundstage as they often can do if not balanced expertly with the rest of the system. I guess Andy’s experiences with Dolby 7.1 in his home have helped him to use the back-fill and centre channel most wisely.


Andy almost apologetically told me of his preference for Drum and Bass and Dubstep music. This does not worry me at all. I am if nothing else, music genre tolerant and have been known to listen to such tunes myself. I have to say I have never heard Drum and Bass as impactful as in this car whilst driving from our photo location shoot back to the offices of FOUR UK Ltd. One of the tracks Andy played was “Gravity” by Netsky. The track begins with some hectic snare and hi hat action and a three-note theme evolves. At 45 seconds there is a breakdown and some synths are introduced and then at 1:06 all hell is let loose as the three note theme returns underpinned by a ferocious bass line.


I don't have much hair left but the bass was so powerful that a physical memory of follicles long rendered inactive by age was stimulated to such an effect that it felt as if I was standing in a wind tunnel - Iron Maiden style! I have listened to the track a number of times since on various systems but none has managed to move me as much as that first time on this system. I have since discovered that the rendition Andy played me was a 24bit/96kHz rendition lifted from the original vinyl, which could explain some of the astonishing definition. Not a tune you will hear your milkman whistling but in the context of a performance car installed with great audio, it was an experience that will live long in my memory.


The main cause of the follicle tickling was the pair of perfectly enclosed Hertz High Energy HX 300's on either side of the boot space. I used to have one of these beasts in a car of mine but two of them driven in parallel from the 1000Watt output of an Audison Voce amplifier was just about the most exciting, powerful and yet musical bass experience I have ever had!


Once back at base, I played some very contrasting HD tunes on the system. I had earlier that day downloaded Grace by Jeff Buckley, an all time fave of mine. To contrast what I had just heard, I put on Hallelujah. The stripped-down production, on what is ostensibly a live track, really captures the humanity of the performance. The vocal is so lusciously close mic’d you can actually hear tonsils and the guitar smothered in gorgeous reverb with a long decay. In this car I can hear every last millisecond of it.


Reassured that the system was no ‘one trick pony’, I played an old Lou Reed tune – “Walk on the wild side” from his Bowie/Ronson (Mick not Mark!) produced Transformer album (24bit/96kHz). This has become a bit of a reference for me as for such a seemingly simple song the recording contains many intricate elements that many systems sadly overlook. The double bass line intro features the sound of the lower string vibrating against the fret board while the gentle acoustic guitar low down in the mix on the left reassures me that the left and right channels are wired the right way round! On this re mastered version, the female backing vocals build from a distant spacious place to the very front of the mix becoming drier as they approach until the final “doo dadoo dadoo’s” arrive completely bereft of reverb. For some reason this once again, makes my redundant hair follicles tingle! I could have spent all day listening to this car but Andy is quite rightly, a very busy man. I am certain that I will get other opportunities to enjoy his system again and I will go equipped with many other tracks that it has since occurred to me would sound fabulous in this car.


It was a pleasure to spend time with Andy and his car and my sincere thanks go out to him for bringing it along for me to listen to.

The system he has produced is completely in keeping with the sophistication and intelligence of the man himself – Absolutely spectacular!

Car Audio Upgrades Made Easy

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