February 21, 2018

We all have our weaknesses, don’t we? (or how a otherwise sane man can be persuaded to spend his hard-earned on car audio.)

Philip Shoulder

Wouldn’t life be dull without music? I for one  couldn’t bear the thought of a tune-free existence and I am sure I am speaking for the majority here. Let’s face it, we all love music and  today there are a bewildering number of ways in which we can enjoy our sounds. The advent of digital audio, starting with  CD and more recently Mp3, has meant we no longer have to be confined to our living rooms to enjoy Beethoven, The Beetles, or Bloc Party.

Hidden from view: Focal 165 KR speakers deliver the goods

Heard but not seen: Focal 165 KR speakers discreetly located in existing door mounts

Many people listen to their music on the move,  whether it’s via personal mp3 players such as the ipod, or at the wheel with in-car audio. I fall into the latter camp, enjoying nothing more than listening to my favourite music during a long drive.  It just feels so right – with no worries about wasting time or being interrupted – just you and your favourite artist.  A good car stereo also has the magical ability of easing the tensions of the most gruelling and tedious journey.

This leads me onto the small matter of in-car-entertainment – well not such a small matter actually….

Souped-up-stereos are synonymous with boy-racers, booming bass, silly exhausts and general all-round antisocial behaviour. Thankfully, there is another element to in-car-audio that is simply interested in pursuing quality music reproduction; yet it is by no means a smooth and easy course – the road to audio nirvana being potted with setbacks.

For a long time I have been a die-hard audiophile, making no compunction to spend thousands of pounds in order to achieve my own state of audio nirvana – not that I ever get there. What initially sounds like a monumental improvement in quality, over time, becomes ordinary, and the quest for continued sonic gratification continues.

Sounds good - cool tunes courtesy of Alpine

Sounds good – cool tunes courtesy of Alpine

Take for example my first upgrade – an uprated  head unit (CD/radio). I was convinced that this would be the solution – after all – it’s from quality manufacturer Alpine and instead of 20 watts per channel, I now had 50, along with hundreds of different setup options, graphic equalisers, advanced filtering… Yes, well… sort of. You see the replacement radio meant that the remote control steering wheel controls were no longer functional. For this to work again would require an additional adapter at the cost of £40 – not what you want to hear when you have already spent £300. But this was just the beginning. The improved power of the new CD/radio meant the speakers had to be replaced. But given that it was only logical to upgrade to speakers good enough to offer appreciable sonic improvement – meant that an additional amplifier (at the cost of £600) was required for them to work properly. OK, time to stop? No chance! I then discovered that for the amplifier to have enough power to function properly, I would require ‘four gauge power cables’, the size of hosepipes trailing the length of my car to the battery. But why stop there? when seeing as I now had all this power on tap, it would be simply ridiculous not to add a subwoofer. (The speaker box in the boot that handles big bass – shaking out your fillings in the process) Finished? Not quite. A buzzing distortion could then be heard coming out of the speakers and it got worse when the brake pedal was depressed. (Something to do with wiring earth loops I am told) Back to the shop – more ripping out wires, replacing wires, removing panels, replacing panels, and, at last…. an in-car-audio system to die for.

Was it worth it – well of course it was – but then I would said that wouldn’t I!

Sub sound: Bass frequencies are taken care of by Sony X-Plod 10" Subwoofer

Sub sound: Bass frequencies taken care of by Sony X-Plod 10″ Subwoofer

My thanks go out to Manni and Nelio of audio design in Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey. It was down to their skill, workmanship and limitless patience that my dream stereo system came true.
I cannot recommend these guys highly enough.


Southsea Road 22
Surrey KT1 2HG
Tel 020 8974 5276


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