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A Magazine for Sheffield

"Sheffield is the most sound system-oriented city in the UK": RAZE Sound System on building their dream rig

Making a name for themselves as one of the city’s most reputable outfits, RAZE founder James tells us more about their passion for custom speakers – and "always looking for that next 5%".


The RAZE crew in the courtyard at Hope Works.

Dan Shore

Rarely too quiet and often too loud, the sound system lies at the heart of every night out. But all too often people just take any PA system, plug in a tangled wire or two, whack it up to full volume and leave it well alone, resulting in a crowd full of people who wince every time a hi hat comes in.

Luckily for Sheffield, RAZE Sound System exists. Having only started in 2019, they’ve made a name for themselves as one of the city’s most reputable outfits, providing only the highest sonic quality. I want one of their rigs in my house. My neighbours wouldn’t dare complain about mids as crispy as these.

I got to chat with RAZE founder James.

To kick things off: what made you want to start RAZE?

Me and Lucas [who started RAZE alongside Wes, who had previously run Liquid Steel Sessions] started off building [speaker] cabs in my basement in about 2011 and very quickly caught the bug. You start off building one speaker and before you know it you’ve got a lockup full of them.

It was only in 2019, after doing loads of pro audio work, that we thought that there’s still room for us to build our own sound system. We took a lot of knowledge that we’d gained over our combined 22 years of work and went, ‘Right, let’s build a new one’. It was nice to come at it with a fresh and experienced approach and take our sweet time building it. No compromises – just building what we consider to be the ultimate drum and bass PA.

RAZE Sound System

I scrolled all the way to the bottom of RAZE’s Instagram earlier. I loved seeing the early wooden structures of them being built.

It’s quite nice, I think people have got a bit more interest in sound systems now and they’re up for seeing what might be considered by us to be a bit boring, but is actually quite interesting.

Don’t get me wrong, we love it all, but no one wants to see us painting a load of boxes in a warehouse. Although as it turns out, there are people that do.

Some people might not consider the drum and bass crowd to be that discerning, but the reality is that a lot of us are.

Yeah, I agree. One of the beautiful things about Sheffield is that it’s probably the most sound system-oriented city in the UK. The bar is set high, so if you want to thrive you’ve got to have your shit together and sound good.

The beautiful thing about custom speakers is that they’re built to sound a certain way. We know the end result we’re chasing and will anally chase that throughout the night, always looking for that next 5%.

When it comes to EQing [adjusting specific frequencies] and stuff, we don’t do presets – everything is done by ear.


Part of the sound system set up at Dryad Works.

RAZE Sound System

Technically, to achieve your uniquely crispy and rounded sound, is there anything in particular that you do?

We’ve all spent 15 years each listening to different sound systems. Constantly comparing and being stood at the back of a rave and, for lack of a better word, beard-stroking and working out what direction we wanted to go in.

We use the scoop design for our rigs, which is what a lot of people would consider to be an outdated model. There’s a lot of harmonic distortion that’s just a byproduct of the box, which quickly deemed it obsolete from the late 80s onwards, certainly in pro audio. Since then, [speaker] drivers have come a long way. We use 3200 watts, which can take an absolute hammering.

While building the weightiest rig and getting people to pull ridiculous faces is definitely important, we’re maybe a little bit more focused on clarity. It’s nice to be in a dance floor and not necessarily need ear plugs.

What have you guys got coming up?

We’re doing the D&BBQ at FORGE on 6 May, and this year will mark the fourth anniversary of the first time we got the RAZE rigs out – 12 hours of drum and bass and jungle with food and a hench lineup. Buzzing for that one!

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