Welcome To Ferrari California
Danny Gough is a successful property developer. Born and bred in Hull, he admits to changing cars at least every year. He currently owns three vehicles but we focus our efforts on his Audison-installed Ferrari California.
Danny is a very busy man. You don't achieve success like his without putting in the hard hours and to Danny time is very much money! It is with huge guilt that we turn up after him at a location on a golf course near Beverley, a few miles from Hull. Such is the drive of the man however, he has already chosen a location for the photo shoot and informs us on arrival how much of his time we can have. This is less than we would usually take to collect pictures and details for a story so snapper de jour, Laurence, gets shooting straight away. The car is freshly valeted and looks stunning even against the grey sky on a surprisingly chilly day sat as it is, slightly off the fairway of the 8th hole of the golf course. This adds drama to the shoot as there are golfers firing balls towards the green from quite close by. Fortunately, they are all much better than me and no one or thing is hurt during the process!
I get straight to the interrogation and discover that Danny is a family man in his late 30’s. He buys and develops buildings turning them into high-quality residences for rent to a vast selection of people from students to working professionals under the auspices of “My Pad” (inspired!). As well as the California, he also owns an Audi RS4 cabriolet and an RS6 Avant. Danny tells me that the Ferrari was chosen as a family vehicle rather than a performance drive and asserts that the RS6 would leave it for dead in a straight shoot out. Performance vehicles are Danny’s passion and he feeds his need for speed by frequent visits to various racetracks during the spring and summer months although he has never been tempted to race competitively. On the road he is a sensible driver and always drives within the law.
It is very clear from first sight that Danny is image conscious and likes everything to be just so. I asked him why he decided to have an audio upgrade installed into this vehicle; “The original equipment in this car sounds very poor and there is no dealer upgrade option. I have been a customer of Kingston Car Sounds in Hull for 20 years and knew they would be able to install something really good. I gave them a free hand in system design although I wanted as much of the equipment hidden away as possible. When they suggested Audison I was somewhat puzzled, but only as I had never heard of the brand before. Previously, they have installed Focal, a brand known for quality. They assured me that my ears were in good hands as it were and I decided to go with it. They offered me three options and I went for the top one as I wanted the system to match the quality of the car”
Danny admits that he has no particular historical connection to music. He prefers mainstream rock/pop from the 60’s to present day and has never had a fanatical interest in any bands and not played a musical instrument; “My brother is the hi-fi buff. He has always invested huge amounts in his home systems and even when living at home he would not listen to sub-standard equipment. That must have rubbed off as I can easily tell if what I am listening to is of high quality or not.” To this end, Danny has a Bowers and Wilkins surround sound system married to the multimedia system in his own house.
Having owned 20 cars in 20 years, Danny has experienced all kinds of Dealer upgrades and is somewhat scathing when comparing these to systems he has had installed by FOUR MASTER, Kingston Car Sounds. He states; “It is very easy to end up spending twice as much as you would for an aftermarket system just to get some arbitrary “heritage” brand installed. To be honest even to my ears, I know these are not delivering value for money so most of my cars end up at Kingston Car Sounds sometimes straight from the dealer.”
Brevity being the better part of valour on this occasion, I jump into the car to have a listen. To my absolute joy, I was informed that the system comprised a pair of Audison Voce AV K6, 2-way components that are driven by a four channel Audison Prima AP 4D amplifier running bridged. Regular readers will know that I absolutely adore Voce speakers. However, I have not previously heard them matched up with a Prima amplifier. I was as eager to flood my ears with sounds, as Danny was to get to his next meeting. I had a well-worn compilation of tunes on a CD with me and threw it into the Ferrari-branded head unit. First up was James Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes” from the 1971 album Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon. This album has been with me for many, many years and I have purchased four different versions of it to date. This was one of the first CD’s I purchased. I was a little late to CD as I hung on for grim death to vinyl until advances in technology convinced me to change.
The song is a close vocal harmony dream sat atop a naked acoustic guitar. I happen to know, as James sends me regular emails, that he makes his own false nails for his picking hand from fibreglass tape. This gives his guitar playing an extremely recognisable attack. This was clearly audible to me. The hollow reverb on his sumptuous vocal was also very distinct. The break between first chorus and second verse sees the introduction of a second guitar and then a second and third voice (I am certain these harmonies are also delivered by James) panned hard left and hard right that harmonise perfectly with the lead vocal. Under the right circumstances, the passing of a loved one or an unforeseen break up, this would easily be enough to make the eyes water. However, I was in the company of northerners and not wishing to let my fellow southerners down, I resisted the urge to get overly emotional.
Initial impressions were that Prima and Voce are a perfect fit. The speakers are mounted in the factory positions in each door. The imaging is spectacular considering there is no processing. I guess the compact nature of the cockpit helps with this. It was time to work the low end a bit harder and so I went for another old tune “Babylon Sister” from Steely Dan’s 1980 classic Gaucho. The rhythm track and particularly the drums are so “tight” they squeak (as they used to say in muso land). This means they are played with pinpoint accuracy with no audible lapses. Founders of the mighty “Dan”, Donald Fagan and Walter Becker are known for being fastidious in this regard as having a very tight rhythm section meant that soloists could be a little more “free-style” without dragging the backing musicians out of time. The introduction features an electric piano (Hohner Clavinet according to Wikipedia!) with the right hand taking the top line and the left hand in perfect unison with guitar and bass that reaches very low. Although the track is medium to slow-paced, the low end definitely gets a decent work out here. At 19 seconds is a tiny drum break which is ridiculously crisp and clear and punctuated with a triangle or similar which sits in the air, taking its own sweet time to decay to nothing. The Voce’s deliver this with acres of space around each sonic detail. 33 seconds sees the introduction of a brass crescendo leading into some stabs before the track breaks out into the main section with the introduction of precise guitar chops panned right and the main vocal. There is a more relaxed strum from the guitar on the left at this stage. It is incredible to me that so much detail can be achieved from a comparatively simple system. From the vocal intro the track skips along with sickening alacrity that would make many a faint-hearted musician decide there and then to immediately retrain as an accountant.
By this time, I am thinking that the system must show some flaws somewhere. So I select a difficult-to-render-in-a-car track. “Back in Black” by AC/DC. Even this is reproduced brilliantly. The depth of the reverb that can be easily discerned is amazing and again demonstrates the great job both amplifier and speakers are doing to separate sounds out rather than mashing the mid-range all together as so often happens with rock recordings. Bass and guitar parts are easy to disassemble and I am certain I can hear Angus Young’s dribble landing on the lapel of his ill-fitting school blazer! Too much? OK, but you get the point. The whole track is presented in fantastic detail with tight rhythms, deep snare drum and searing lead guitar parts with relatively understated bass guitar and more reverb than I had previously discerned despite having listened to this track hundreds of times.
The one caveat I must add to this review is that the car was stationary at the time. As Danny sped off to his next appointment the engine tone made me wonder if some bass reinforcement might be necessary when the car is in motion. A conversation later with FOUR MASTER, Kingston Car Sounds suggests that this is already in hand. For stationary listening however, this is an extremely competent system that I could easily listen to for hours without fatigue! Good job everyone involved, especially Danny and thanks for the experience.
Danny’s Top Five Driving Sounds:
Don’t stop me now - Queen
Money for nothing - Dire Straights
Park life - Blur
S.O.B - Nathaniel Rafeliff
Clarity - Zedd
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