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Harlem’s reopened National Jazz Museum can see for Mies and Miles – Good sounds for your car

Ray Smith

New York museum has new premises, a new chairman of the board and a renewed commitment to performance that will ensure the bands play on

One of Tim Porters first projects as chairman of the board at the newly reopened National Jazz Museum in Harlem, in New York City, will be a series of talks and performances under the title Mies and Miles. The great modernist Mies van der Rohe; the great trumpeter Miles Davis. Porters programme will explore the links between architecture and music.

Daniel Libeskind, the architect of the new World Trade Center tower, said without music we could not have architecture, and without architecture we could not have music, said Porter, himself a jazz mandolinist of wide repute. Goethe said architecture was frozen music.

In the museums new space a permanent exhibit, Vibrations, furthers Porters point. It includes an enlargement of part of the score for Harlem Air Shaft by Duke Ellington, a piece which, Porter said, expresses in music sounds heard in or through a building in the museums own neighbourhood.

Its architecture into music, Porter said, in the same way that Bud Powell put the sounds of the Champs dlyses into A Parisian Thoroughfare.

He added: This music which we call jazz owes so much to Harlem, and in Harlem it set off vibrations that went off throughout the world.

The National Jazz Museum was founded in 1997 by Leonard Garment, who was both counsel to President Nixon and a professional jazz musician. It first operated from a fourth-floor space in East Harlem. After a long and sometimes difficult search for a new home, supervised by the saxophonist, pianist and jazz historian Loren Schoenberg, it has crossed to the other side of the island.

The new premises are on West 129th street, just off Malcolm X Boulevard and a couple of blocks from Sylvias Restaurant, the hallowed soul food joint where presidents and would-be presidents pay court. The museum has become, in Porters words, a lot more visible, ready to play an active part in a thriving Harlem arts scene.

A formal reopening was held this week. Attendees, Porter said, formed a whos who of the jazz world, including George Wein, founder of the Newport Jazz Festival, Mercedes Ellington, granddaughter of Duke, and the daughter of [jazz critic] Albert Murray.

Harlem Air Shaft, by Duke Ellington.

The museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, and can thus borrow from Smithsonian collections to document the history of jazz. But it has always seen performance, lectures and discussions as central to its role in keeping one of the 20th centurys dominant musical forms alive and thriving.

This new exhibition space weve got is not huge, Porter said, but its sort of the Goldilocks principle its just the right size for us and were able easily to separate exhibit space from performance space.

The performance piece of the museum extends throughout the age range. We have programmes for kids to get them interested in jazz and we have a programme that we do for seniors, who might otherwise be left out of the arts scene. We are involved with every age range in between.

The board of trustees now chaired by Porter includes the trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the pianist and Late Show bandleader Jon Batiste and the documentary film-maker Ken Burns.

Among the exhibits in the new space are excerpts from the Savory collection, a horde of 70-year-old discs with a remarkable provenance and value that includes performances by Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Count Basie and more.

The Savory collection is one of the prize jewels of the museum, Porter said. Its a collection of recordings that [sound engineer] William Savory recorded off the radio in the 1930s and 1940s performances that were not necessarily recorded anywhere else.

CBS News reports on the discovery of the Savory collection.

Savorys 12in and 16in discs could hold more music than standard commercial releases of the day: many contain unique takes on widely loved jazz standards. For example, there is a six-minute version of Body and Soul, by Coleman Hawkins.

Savory died in 2004. In 2010, the museum acquired his discs from his son. Some of the recordings were in good condition, some were not, some were one play away from disintegration. The savable has been saved; efforts to track down permissions to propagate it go on.

This is really a unique collection and we have been looking to ensure that this music gets out to the public, Porter said. We have been looking at ways of doing it online.

We have managed to get the permissions we need for certain pieces but when youve got a big band recording, theres a whole lot of people and theyve got a whole bunch of heirs. Yes, thats the tricky part

But now you can come into the museum and hear everything that is within the Savory collection. Its a major draw for us and it really distinguishes the museum.

  • The National Jazz Museum in Harlem is located at 58 West 129th Street, New York City. More details here.

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Focus RS Audison upgrade

Ray Smith

The Customer brief for this Ford Focus RS audio upgrade was to focus on sound quality over style or fancy installation trim etc

. Watch our Ford Focus RS Audison YouTube Video

The equipment we chose was:

We started by stripping the seats, trim and floor coverings to reveal the base interior which was completely covered in sound deadening material. The main wiring harness runs were loomed up with our signal and power cables before re-building the cars interior. Darren is meticulous and spent extra time killing vibrations from small trim parts like the interior door handle mechanism which all added to the time but this cars body is now well and truly DEAD.

Since the boot floor of this car is flat unlike standard Ford focus which has a spare wheel well, we made a false floor to accommodate the sub box and amp as well as the Bit ten signal processor. Once this was all installed and tested we de-equalized the output signal from the Ford factory radio and then EQ ‘d the whole system.

Audison VOCE AV 5.1 K HD
Audison bit Ten D.
Audison VOCE AV K6.
Audison VOCE AV X6.5.
Skinz Expert Bulk pack.
CONNECTION BEST PF 2BK – 5 Meters (4.5 Bat+/ 0.5 Bat- ).
CONNECTION BEST BFH 11 – Fused with SFA150.
CONNECTION SONUS SRT 1/0 – 2Pck (1 Bat+/ 1 Bat-).
Skinz Wave Diffuser – Front Speakers.

We started by stripping the seats, trim and floor coverings to reveal the base interior which was completely covered in sound deadening material. Darren is meticulous and spent extra time killing vibrations from small trim parts like the interior door handle mechanism which all added to the time but this cars body is now well and truly DEAD.

Sounds quite impressive:–RRB- The car is now going off to be custom trimmed and resprayed as well as some body wrapping so we will get it back for final sound tuning when this work is done. (More images to follow).

Mercedes C250 Sound upgrade with new Audison DRC

Ray Smith

Sound Upgrade on Mercedes C250

It always puzzled me why Merc did not think to include a simple Aux input to this car. There are USB slots into which you can interface MP3 memory sticks which can be played through the media system but that force you to use MP3 which is a lossy compressed Lo-Fi format; all I wanted was a simple jack socket to accommodate my portable FLAC player.

Since Mercedes offer no Aux upgrade path and the closed media system is impossible to convert (it’s MP3 or nowt). We needed to get creative, that’s when the surprises started!

The plan was to add an Audison Prima 8.9 amplifier with the DRC controller to allow the aux input for the HD FLAC player. I figured I would see what it sounded like with the factory Mids, Highs (tweeters) and inbuilt sub in the passenger’s floor panel.

The first surprise came when we looked at the floor subwoofer, what a joke for a speaker this was but when we looked at the tweeter enclosures at the top of the doors near the A pillars, guess what? There were no tweeters fitted, just empty enclosures, LOL.

So a flimsy five inch paper cone sub and no tweeters, just some four inch door mounted cones with a three inch center channel in the middle of the dash. No wonder this £40K+ car sounded worse than my wives Ford Focus.

First Remove some trim…

Mercedes C250 Car Audio Sound Upgrade trim stripped out.

Next find a home for the amplifier (Audison AP 8.9 bit)

Mercedes C250 Car Audio Sound Upgrade trim stripped out. amplifier position

Then dig out the old sub-woofer

Mercedes C250 Car Audio Sound Upgrade trim stripped out. Oldsub

Replace it with something better (Audison of course)

Mercedes C250 Car Audio Sound Upgrade trim stripped out. NEWSUB

Fit the DRC controller (the sexy new one from Audison) in the hidden cup holder compartment.

Audison DRC hidden controller.

Mercedes C250 Car Audio Sound Upgrade trim stripped out. dash out

DRC-on Mercedes C250 Car Audio Sound Upgrade trim stripped out.

Fit some front speakers to replace the ridiculously lightweight standard junk

new speakers Audison APX4

Mercedes C250 Car Audio Sound Upgrade trim stripped out. oldspeaker

Mercedes C250 Car Audio Sound Upgrade trim stripped out. Door speakers

All that’s left to do is set up the amplifier with the computer and drive home with a smile on my face 🙂

Audison sound tuning computer

Car Amplifier fitted to Merc C250

Audison Prima explained

Ray Smith

Audison Prima make very sophisticated car audio components specifically to upgrade car manufacturer’s original equipment to real hi-fi levels.

So what? There are many powerful car amplifier and speaker suppliers, what makes Prima different?

Audison Prima explained

Prima is unique in that no other car amplifier is so configurable. Nothing else has so many variations of input and an output configuration, no other amp offers signal processing and de-equalisation.

Audison Prima explained

Setup Software for the Audison Prima range


Let’s use the 8.9bit as an example:

Audison Prima – 8 Channel Amplifier with Bit Technology – AP8.9bit


This incredible little device is packed with technology and it could be argued that the type of customer (Audiophiles) for this product already knows and understands what it does however I would like to try to simplify and demystify some of the features for the layman.

A brief look at the AP8.9bit User Manual will show multiple pages of technical terms and procedures for setting up this amplifier.

Setting aside the myriad of input and output variations which should be self-explanatory the main feature of this amp is de-equalization. What is de-equalization?

To understand this you need to know what is meant by equalization.

The earliest car radios had a volume control and that was all. You could make the sound level go up or down only. Later units had a tone control where you could add or remove some bass  this was followed by graphic equalizers with anything from three to twelve or more channels. So what was the point of these fancy tone controls?

A car is a very hostile environment for good acoustics with lots of metal, glass and sound absorbing trim materials also the ideal position for speakers would be up near your ears is impossible therefore every car is a compromise.

So with speakers down low in foot well or door card positions facing your feet or the seat trim side the point of the graphic was to equalise out some of the shortcomings by increasing or decreasing certain frequency’s to try and flatten out and obtain the ideal curve.

These early systems had lots of potential to make a dreadful noise but then the real car hi-fi sounds evolved with the competition and sound –off scene where professionals  like myself used to build trophy winning cars with proper multi amplifiers and bespoke speaker installs, we all had lots of fun until…

Until the car manufacturers spoiled our fun by building the radio as an integral part of the dash and incorporating features like parking sensors and other display options that made it difficult if not impossible to replace with an aftermarket unit.

Now if you are a car manufacturer and can design every feature from scratch once you have placed the speakers wherever your design allows (not the best acoustically) you can then design the output curve (equalization) to compensate for your speaker design.

So when you jump into your new car and turn on the radio, the warm fuzzy bass sounds are quite pleasing to the ear, until you crank it up or try to listen so some piece of music you are familiar with and you wonder where all the definition has gone or why it is all so muddy.

Any attempt to improve upon this by replacing the speakers or amplifier with better ones is futile because the basic output from the factory head unit has this artificial bump that needs to be flattened or de-equalized.

This is where Audison Bit Technology comes in.

There are many very good car amplifiers on the market and they all do basically the same thing, they take a small input signal and make it louder, the fidelity and power coming from the quality of the components used so generally the more expensive the better the results but whether it be mono or multiple channels they all just take the input and multiply it so rubbish in means rubbish out.

Audison Bit Technology can take rubbish in (most OEM head units) and clean it up, flatten it out, separate and time-align it and the most wonderful high fidelity sounds come out.

Time align it?

I have described de-equalisation, what it is and why we need it so now that we have created a perfect signal from the head unit, amplified and separated it out to each speaker that is just the start of the magic.

When you go to a show or a concert even with your eyes closed you can sense where all the instruments are, this is called the sound stage and is difficult to reproduce in a vehicle however if what you were able to adjust the speaker timings so that the nearest speaker to you seemed to be another two feet away (outside the car) and the sound from the rears reached you sooner so that the perceived sound stage was just right?

The Bit circuitry takes care of all of that too, magic eh?

Sound moves through the air at a speed of 343 m/sec (1.125 ft/sec.) at a temperature of 20° C (68° F). If you know the distance from the sound emission point, you can then calculate the time the sound takes to get to the listener’s ear.

If you set the distances of the different speakers, AP8.9 bit will automatically change them into time (ms – milliseconds). It does not assign a delay (0.0 ms) to the farthest speaker (usually the Subwoofer) and progressively growing delays as much as the other speakers get closer to the listening point, in order for all the emission points to reach the listening point at the same time.


The joy of listening really good music in a mobile environment like a car is denied to drivers of most modern vehicles. With an Audison Prima set up, any standard factory sound system can be brought to life.

Of course going back to “Rubbish In – Rubbish Out” once you have Prima’ised your car if you then pair it up to your phone and squeeze some MP3 compressed tracks though it, well I think you will have wasted your money. If you do not have a CD player in the car and you like to download your music you should have a look at loss-less files like .flac and .wav you can play these though a device that can resolve that type of file or look at the Audison bit play. The results will blow you away.








Audison Prima new website

Ray Smith


We have created a brand new website dedicated to the Audison Prima range of products. This site showcases the full range of speakers amplifiers and accessories available from Italy’s premier car audio Hi-Fi manufacturer. PrimPacks are new bundled products created specially for your car. Vehicle specific plug and play solutions for Vauxhall and VW with more to follow.

audison prima

With the Prima range, Audison wants to meet the interest of the enthusiasts who like to appreciate all the nuances of the musical message with components that are perfectly integrated in the OEM system of the car.

The Audison Prima car audio range can be perfectly integrated to the OEM system of any car. Make your standard factory car audio come alive with Prima from Audison. Ray Smith CarAudioStuff Ltd is Scotland’s premier Four Master dealer bringing you Audison Prima products. Prima amplifiers with inbuilt DSP 9 channel adjustment coupled with the Prima Replacement Speaker range for every car makes for true Hi-Fi sound.

Free 2 Year Warranty from Audison

When you purchase from us we will fill out the product serial number information and register your purchase and as an added bonus we will subscribe you to the Driving Sounds Club.

Not only will you get the peace of mind from having an extra 12 months of warranty cover but you will also receive a monthly bulletin brimming with news and views offers and competition prizes as well as a monthly top five tunes the team at Driving Sounds Magazine think you should be listening to in your car!  With next working day FREE UK mainland delivery and Ray Smith Four Master service plus our 10% discount code you will not find better value anywhere.

Four Master Meeting

Ray Smith

FOUR MASTERS Day 2015 was held February 17th at the Westmead Hotel near Birmingham. After a long (6 hour) drive from Dunbar we arrived to join about thirty other Four Master dealers. The 2015 strategy was announced and fully supported. We were shown a demonstration of High Definition sound on a demo stand which had the new Audison Bit Play HD and some Prima speakers with a small upgrade Prima amp. The FLAC music source was from a laptop but in the normal car configuration it would be from a Phone or any other device. The sound was amazing, I can’t wait to get one of these into my demonstrator.

The evening was spent socialising with other dealers from all over the country and it is interesting how similar our business experiences are but then maybe not surprising since we all specialise in providing and servicing the same high quality products.

Anyway, thanks to Brian, Jaz and their team, the founders of the Four master network.

Four Master training 2015


Ray Smith 1 Comment

Audison Full D/A technology, the in car world has waited with baited breath for a pure audio source that really does the technology justice. The concept of presenting digital signals from source unit to amplifier thus avoiding any possibility of distortion or noise in the signal path has remained a high priority for Audison since the introduction of the first Bit product. As a result of a significant development programme, Audison can now boast true 24-bit audio at 96Kb/s sampling delivered directly to an Audison amplifier with digital input using Flac or similarly encoded music.

So, what can you expect to hear? Much, much more! More dynamic range offering source material extended sound stage which places each instrument with surgical precision yet with all the timbre and acoustic resonance intended by recording artist and sound engineer alike. bit Play HD is a wifi source streaming audio from HD storage via a pair of USB ports. Control of the unit including file management and handling is achieved by a bespoke App which runs on any Android or iOS device. Your portable device becomes the master controller and as well as artist and title will also display cover art.

In order to further build the audience for bit Play HD, the device comes loaded with a plethora of output possibilities including: HDMI, composite video, TOSLINK optical output and Analogue pre outs. bit Play HD retails for £529