Record Collector Magazine investigates JL Audio
Most collectors have a decent hi-fi on which to play their precious collection, but turning it up to 11 can upset the neighbours. However, if like Gary Numan, you have a car, you can have an altogether different type of track day, as Tim Jones found out. While it’d be great to whack up your hi-fi and listen to room clearing levels, that’s not practical for most of us, unless you live in a detached property in the middle of nowhere, with no neighbours. Headphones are, therefore, the next best option, though, of course, there’s the possibility for motorists of creating hi-fi on wheels in your car.
As the Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs recently told RC, “all The Bangles Demos were listened to in the car, It’s the ultimate test” And she’s right, as your vehicle can offer the ideal intimate, private space in which to become immersed in your music, without many of the distractions and interferences found within the home listening environment. Provided, that is, you have a decent in-car hi-fi, rather than a standard factory fitted CD/ digital player and tinny paper-cone speakers. If, like Mel Smith in Not The 9 O’clock news’ feted Hi-fi sketch (“we’ve got no gramophones here, grandad), you want to upgrade your four wheeler, where do you start?
RC asked JL Audio for a test ride in one of their demonstration cars (an Audi), to gauge one of their systems performance compared to some of the numerous studio playback set-ups and hi-fi demos that RC has experienced in recent times. JL Audio’s Mark Baker and Chris Bennett offered the driver’s seat to RC for an audio demo, noting this is where the listener/collector is most likely to be sat when wanting to play their music on the move, though JL’s range of in-car systems (priced £800 - £3000) can be enjoyed from any position in the car.
Listening to Sarah McLachlan’s Angel, then Dire Straits’ You and Your Friend, it was possible to distinguish the vocal and instruments’ positions up front, as if being sat in an auditorium listening to the artist on stage. Michael Roth’s Wishing Well was used to crank up the bass, and it was punchy, dynamic and booming, yet devoid of background noise or hiss. Verdi’s Rigoletto offered bright classical contrast, with sweeping treble strings, sharp and crisp, while a remix of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn with the bass through the roof provided a final rib-cage-rumbling coup de grace. The most visible element in the JL set-up is the subwoofer, housed in the boot, its size dependant on the spec of the system, each with immaculately neat finish and trim, as well as quick release tags for easy removal from the car.
JL Audio has 16 Signature Dealers around the UK that can fit a package in as little as two hours on a rental car, though booking a fortnight in advance is advisable, and work is usually completed within 48 hours. All the dealers have their own audio demo cars that are used to show prospective clients what’s on offer.