Audi A8 Pipes Up, With Prima

Anthony Yeates was born and brought up in Portsmouth. Son of a Naval Officer, Anthony still enjoys a number of careers which have elevated him to a life of some comfort. A lifelong music lover, Anthony has now found an unexpected listening environment, his car!

One of Anthony’s careers was as a tuner of pipe organs. I have never met one before, although the instrument itself has always been a source of wonder to me. The art of organ tuning requires a great deal of patience, knowledge and a precise ear and it is clear from the two or so hours I spent with Anthony that he has all of these attributes in quantities to spare.

Anthony recently purchased a magnificent new Audi A8, however, he quickly became disappointed with the on-board entertainment and felt that it very much let the vehicle down. This irritated him to the point that he considered buying a different car; perhaps one that had an upgraded system such as those supposedly delivered by B&W, Harman Kardon, Bose or any other number of recognisable home hi-fi brands. This is a drastic measure to take but such is Anthony’s passion for pure reproduction of the music he loves, it almost came to that!

I am very relieved to tell you that instead of this drastic and probably disappointing action, he did a search of the internet instead and discovered FOUR MASTER, Accutek in Winchester. Co-founder Stuart Crombie is amongst the finest audio upgrade designers and installers in the country and following in-depth discussions, Anthony entrusted him with improving the Audi.

Stuart chose to work with Audison Prima equipment. Anthony’s preferred genres require incredible amounts of dynamic range. There is also a need for surprising amounts of bass and sub bass.

Stuart chose the tiny yet mighty Audison Prima AP-F 8.9 bit amplifier. He required enough power to reproduce low bass and enough channels to run a total of four speakers (including subwoofer). Up front Stuart installed the highly capable Prima AP 1 tweeters. These provide a wide dispersion characteristic with surprising accuracy for this level of tweeter. This helps open up the high frequencies and allowed Stuart to set a very wide and deep sound stage. These are paired with a pair of 8” woofers, Prima AP 8’s. Although there is a position for mounting a 3” mid-range in this car, Stuart chose not to.

The tweeters are driven from channels 1 and 2 of the amplifier while the mighty 8” woofers are afforded extra power by bridging channels 3 and 4 on one side and 5 and 6 on the other. The extra power allows the woofers to reach quite low enabling a smooth transition from bass to sub bass. 

Anthony specified rear speakers and Stuart again chose to match the fronts with a pair of Prima APK 165’s in the rear doors run passively and driven from channel 7 and 8 of the amplifier. 

As important as any other speaker in this car is the subwoofer. Stuart has once again reached for the Audison Prima catalogue, choosing the extremely compact yet powerful APBX 10 AS. This 10” driver and integral 400 watt amplifier is mounted in a surprisingly compact enclosure which works hard to get the best out of both.

Despite an already very quiet car, Stuart added Skinz sound deadening to both front and rear doors. This offers further sound isolation but as importantly, stiffens up the door panels establishing a more solid basis for sound projection.

It did not seem appropriate for me to throw a hip-hop track or some old rock and roll at this system. It would have felt a little disrespectful. However, I did throw a couple of familiar tracks in, streamed using Tidal on my iPhone and utilising the built-in USB connection in the car. The first was Ravel’s “Boléro”. I used this track simply because of the way each instrument of the orchestra is used to carry the main theme in turn. The whole track grows from its extremely quiet snare and flute beginning to the timpani-heavy, wildly enthusiastic brass and strings verse toward the end. This track demands a very wide dynamic range and the system played it with aplomb. The other track I played was “Gaia” from the James Taylor album, “Hour Glass”. This has a drum break at 4:09 which I often use to find out how sub bass integrates with bass as well as checking for any “swamping” that can happen with this kind of explosive passage. The system passed with flying colours of course and the drums marched like a giant’s steps across the dashboard!

I salute Anthony for his bravery, for his dedicated research and for allowing us to speak with him and sit in his car and listen. He was extremely fortunate to find a FOUR MASTER and in particular Stuart, who shares a keen ear and eclectic taste in music with the vast majority of his customers.

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