Cambridge Car Audio – A Formula for Success
FOUR MASTER Cambridge Car Audio has been doing some great stuff recently. Originally known to us as CBS Automotive, their work is quickly gaining recognition and a positive reputation for excellence and customer satisfaction. The launch of a new demonstration vehicle has prompted us to take a closer look.
CBS Automotive has been running since 1970. Established by Naeem Khokhar Senior in central Cambridge, it became the “go to” place for all sorts of vehicle-related products. Going through many successful diversifications it is still the one-stop-shop for all fleet security, tracking, racking, tow bars and anything else you can think of including car audio.
Seven years ago, an opportunity arose for CBS to specialise in car audio. The market unexpectedly opened up and began to grow. This was not a return to the “phat bass” cheap-as-chips rubbish that led to the industry’s decline, but a new approach, appealing to a new music-loving customer who, through a general uplift in quality, promoted audio from way down their list of “must have” modifications to one of the most sought after car accessories!
This is where Naeem’s son, Adil Khokhar began to find his current niche. Cambridge Car Audio is now a significant addition to CBS automotive and is now run almost solely by Adil.
Adil was born and raised in Cambridge. He is still very young to carry the responsibility that he does. An overriding passion for cars and music coupled with an obvious intelligence and vision gives him an air of confidence far beyond his years. He also has years of experience of working on vehicles and is on his 14th personal car already! All of his cars have received audio upgrades. Adil has always begun his own audio upgrades with the front end. Many others of his age tend to begin with bass and Adil’s mature approach is a general indication of the quality ethos he is currently driving into Cambridge Car Audio.
Adil went on to university after school and gained a degree in International Business Management. This has no doubt influenced his determined yet intelligent approach to the development of Cambridge Car Audio. Apart from a brief work experience period at Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Adil has spent all of his working life at CBS/Cambridge Car Audio.
CBS and Cambridge Car Audio relocated to new premises in Horningsea just outside Cambridge two years ago. A great deal of work has gone into setting up their new home and as with everything, it is presented in a high-quality manner. Even lighting and flooring are considered purchases, made to make the working environment the best it can be for the eight employees working there. Just as importantly, such features set the right impression to customers who visit. I have to admit to being quite taken aback at the quality of fit-out of the showroom area and workshop. The entire place is pretty much clutter free although Adil is still not entirely satisfied and has plans to expand even more to house materials and be able to work on even more vehicles.
The separated showroom/office/waiting room area is plush and comfortable. Product is displayed in glass cabinets and accentuated with mood lighting. There are four large screens which show ads and video and images of different projects as well as general information. It is by no means a traditional “shop”, more of a consulting area where customers are seated and made to feel comfortable. This is an important part of the customer experience. Adil explains; “All customers are shown around. We have a policy of being transparent. A client meeting usually begins with a tour of the workshop and explanation of what each vehicle we are working on is having done. This helps us to lay out our capabilities from the off! Similarly, pretty much every customer through our doors gets an audio demonstration. Although we are very busy with audio, we still see many customers who have never considered an audio upgrade as a possibility.”
While I had Adil’s attention, I asked him about his business aspirations; “We want Cambridge Car Audio to be the best in the business. We believe we have all of the tools and capabilities to make this a reality. Our customer base is a discerning high-end car owner. We help them to realise their desire to make their car personal to them and the best it can be. We undertake any work that they want and we are often called upon to suggest things they may not have thought of. Quality is in our DNA and this is accompanied by a deep-seated desire to delight our customers so that they come back again and recommend our work to others.”
In terms of attracting new customers, Adil is an avid Instagram and YouTube poster. The quality of images and video clips is top notch and he has even dedicated an area in the workshop for this purpose. However, there are other activities such as a “Cars and Coffee” event held in his car park once a month. Adil explains; “These events have been great for us. They attract people who are proud of their cars and the work they have done or had done. We attract all sorts of cars and owners and not just previous customers. Exposing these new visitors to our work can only be a good thing. The lockdown has curtailed this activity somewhat but we will be up and running again very soon. I have to admit, that on a personal level, I am also excited by these events as I get to see some great cars which give me ideas for overall improvement in the services we offer.”
Adil is magnanimous in his praise for the assistance he has received from UK distributor of the major brands he works with, Four Car Audio; “Four has taken the car audio distribution business to new levels. Like us, they deliver quality in all things and not just the equipment they supply. Our account manager, Ed Fulbrook-Harmer, has been great in helping us to understand how to set up some of the more complex systems we have installed. Some of the Audison equipment we prefer to use is very sophisticated. This is especially true of Audison bit products (DSP’s and DMI digital interface). They work tirelessly to help us to come to grips with these technologies as quickly as possible. Like us, they do not employ a heavy sales pitch and there is never pressure to take in large amounts of stock unlike with other distributors. They have a pretty bomb-proof next day delivery service for orders which keeps our stock levels very low. This has a hugely beneficial impact on cashflow but also warehousing space. The FOUR MASTER programme is a definite aid in attracting new custom. We are relatively new to it but carry our FOUR MASTER identity with pride”
Cambridge Car Audio has recently taken delivery of a new demonstration vehicle. They have chosen a Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT. It is quite some car and sports an orange livery which takes it beyond ordinary in my opinion. Adil would never be the sort to leave it in stock condition and has already added a plethora of features and aftermarket products in order to show the company’s capabilities. Hidden behind the front grille for instance and completely invisible to the naked eye, is a forward-facing HD camera. There is also a Target Blue Eye which warns the driver when emergency vehicles are in close proximity as well as pretty standard equipment to alert on vehicle speed with respect to speed limit. Paintwork has been protected and the whole car simply gleams!
However, it is the audio that we are predominantly interested in. Adil gives me a quick tour of the products that can be seen as well as a description of those that are hidden away; “Most of our customers want audio hidden away these days. This makes life interesting in some cases, however, we have yet to fail to manage this feat. Our demonstrator is of course different and we wanted to be able to show what amps and processor we were using.”
The audio has been selected with great care and represents the higher end of the Audison range. Three amps are built into what was previously a spare wheel well. These include an Audison Thesis TH quattro, Audison Voce quattro and Audison Voce AV uno. They are tastefully stacked to show off the ergonomics of the products as well as to cope with heat dissipation when the system is doing its thing. The integration is extremely tastefully done and completely in keeping with the general craftsmanship in the rest of the vehicle. A window in the boot wall reveals the Audison logo of the bit ONE HD Virtuoso mounted behind the panel. The left and right boot sidewalls also house a pair of Hertz Mille Pro MP 250 D4.3 10” subwoofers.
In the car itself, apart from a tastefully mounted DRC controller there are some exquisite A-pillar builds housing the phenomenal Audison Thesis tweeters. They look so good I think Ford should be offering these as standard (absolutely not going to happen!). All other speakers are hidden away, which is a bit of a shame as these are Audison Thesis woofers with Thesis mids. In the rear is mounted a pair of Mille Pro MPX 165.
All of this equipment was still being run-in during our visit so we opted not to do a critical listening test. Having said this, everything sounded really good in this car with the minimal set up that had been done. The sporty interior seemed to expand in volume due to the width, height and depth of the soundstage and the subs were extremely “polite” (thankfully).
Adil has gone for an innovative set up for demonstration purposes which works incredibly well. He has utilised all eight of the sound presets available in the DRC to switch on individual elements of the system. This allows him to “build” the system up showing the work each pair of speakers adds to the system overall. This is a very dynamic way to illustrate exactly which sounds are coming from where. Even the rear fill is included in this strategy and I have to say, convinced me to rethink my own opinion of rear fill. They had a most dramatic effect on space and cocoon the listener in an almost surround sound experience.
If you are ever in the area and interested in improving the audio in your car or just finding out more about car audio upgrades, I would strongly recommend a visit to Cambridge Car Audio. This vehicle is exemplary in every way and so is this FOUR MASTER!
Cambridge Car Audio – 01223 563030 - https://www.cambridgecar.audio
Adil’s Top Five Driving Sounds
“X” - Chris Brown
“16” - Craig David
“Law of Attraction” – Cascio ft. Roddy Ricch
“Na Na” - Trey Songz
“Toosie Slide” - Drake
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