Award-Winning Engine Meets Award-Winning Amplifier
Sometimes we hear about car audio upgrades but cannot meet with the car’s owners. This presents a significant obstacle to our usual Driving Sounds Magazine article process, but this car had to be featured regardless!
The car in question is a Ferrari 488 Pista Spider. It features the most powerful V8 turbo engine ever produced in Maranello, producing 720 HP/cv. It won the “International Engine of the Year award” four years in succession (the last was 2019). The car’s aggressive styling is dictated by aerodynamic principles used in the racing world, and its performance is not to be questioned or underestimated. This is a serious supercar!
The car spends most of its life in Ibiza, where its owner conducts a successful business. Perhaps his Ibiza base explains why he decided to ship this car to England to have the audio upgraded in the first place.
Unfortunately, the initial installers he used did not do the best job. They kept the vehicle for a long time, and when FOUR MASTER Premier Vehicle Systems (PVS) in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, got hold of it, it was in far from perfect condition.
PVS was established by Dan Patterson, who has over 20 years of experience in the automotive audio and security industry. Initially, the overwhelming portion of its work was for the automotive trade. Three years ago, Dan was joined by Nigel Clark. Nigel has 33 years of experience in the sales and installation of car audio products. Together the focus of the business has changed somewhat. Car audio is now at the heart of their business, although security and tracking still play a big part.
We spoke with Nigel about this installation as we wanted to know how tricky it was to install a complete system into a car built for on-road/track performance. He told us that the one thing that the previous installer had done well was to have a custom subwoofer box fabricated and trimmed. It matches the existing trim of the rear panels beautifully. However, a sub-standard speaker had been installed and needed replacing. The car was very noisy from interference from almost every onboard system, so the decision was made to rip out all the previous work, including wiring, and start again.
The car is compact, and there is little space even to run the wiring required as the sills are very small in profile. However, with a bit of work and some gymnastics, they managed to get the vehicle rewired. PVS was given free rein to choose the equipment it felt would perform well and, more importantly, fit into the standard speaker positions. These are challenging as the tweeter mounts are very shallow, and mid-range speakers are firing upwards from under the dashboard.
PVS finally decided on a fairly hybrid system comprising Hertz and Audison equipment. These include Hertz Cento C 26 OE tweeters, Audison Voce AP 3 mid range and Hertz Mille Legend ML 1650.3 woofers. The bass reinforcement comes from an Audison Prima APS 8 R in a custom box.
The speakers are all driven by an Audison Forza AF M12.14 bit, 12-channel amplifier. This amplifier is also an international award winner and is filled with electronic magic that helps the installer to compensate for the less-than-perfect environment of any vehicle but is especially useful in such a small car. It is equipped with de-equalisation that removes any odd sound curves the original equipment manufacturer has set to make terrible speakers sound better and protect them from overloading at high levels.
The amplifier is surprisingly compact, considering the power it delivers and the features it contains. Nigel was able to sandwich it between the trim panel next to the sub-box and a bulkhead separating the passenger compartment from the engine bay.
Along the way, PVS had to replace several trim clips and worked hard to fix rattles and creaks, including one from the centre of the dashboard, which caused him to pull it apart to amend, as although it was not obvious, he knew it was there, and that wasn't good enough for him.
On completion, Nigel recruited the help of product distributor Four Car Audio’s Lee Preston to assist with the set-up. The Audison Forza amplifiers are fresh to the UK, and one of Four Car Audio’s strengths is its help with hands-on product training.
Nigel was delighted with the result. The image centre sits in the middle of the dashboard, and the speakers perform beautifully together to deliver a warm yet precise sound. Lee even set a separate sound profile for driving with the roof down. This is selected via a natty little remote control, Audison Forza DRC AC, mounted in the rather pointless cup holder. With this preset selected, the sound is more aggressive to compensate for increased road and wind noise. The DRC also gives users immediate access to balance, volume and bass boost controls.
Lee told us, “The original installation was quite poor. The kit choice suggested the original retailer had chosen a hotchpotch of products that were gathering dust in their stock room. The result sounded hollow and dull, not to mention riddled with interference created by a poor install.
After PVS had installed the Audison AFM12.14bit and made the effort to upgrade the dash speakers (a 10-hour job in itself), restoring the system to 3-way fully active over the previous 2-way passive setup, the audio came alive.
Rich detail with a near-perfect soundstage, vocals now sounding like they are coming from dead centre of the dash with clean, precise Mid-bass from the Mille Legend door woofers and lovely smooth lows from the custom bass enclosure containing Audison APS8R. We had to reduce the level of bass with the roof up, allowing for more headroom with the top down to account for wind noise.
The bass actually sounds like it is in front of you and not in an enclosure between the seats. It blends really well with the woofers and is subtle but very effective, with the ability to play hard with a simple turn of the DRC control.
This car owner’s bravery to have his pride and joy shipped to the UK for an audio install looked ill-advised until PVS got hold of it and saved the day!
Lee’s Top Five Tunes
Because You Move - Tinlicker & Helsloot
I’m Comin' Out - Dianna Ross
The Hunter - Jennifer Warnes
Rhiannon - Fleetwood Mac
Back in Black - AC/DC
PVS Top Five Tunes
Purple Rain - Prince
Roxy Music - Avalon
The Man Who Stole the Blues - Mighty Mo Rogers
Every Thorn Has Its Rose - Poison
Enola Gay - OMD (Theo Kottis remix)
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