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  1. #1
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003

    More Hi-End in Car Audio (again)

    Last month, I posted information on the $40,000 Burmester system in the $1.2M Bugatti Veyron.

    Well, back on the planet Earth, Audi and B&O have teamed up to produce what I think is the first truly revolutionary audio system in the cozy confines of a car. For a mere $6,800, you can now equip your flagship $80k S8 to have 14 B&O Acoustic Lens speakers that...get this...rise out of the dash and are powered by indiviual ICEpower switching amps.

    Unlike other boutique brands such as Linn, Dynaudio, Mark Levinson, or even Burmester, the B&O system is the first to address the challenging acoustics of a car through innovative design versus DSP equalization. Also, I must admit that I've always wondered if the ML systems in Lexus' weren't merely JBL car audio speakers with a fancy label slapped on the kick panel and headunit.

    I thought it was interesting that the source article recognizes Bose as "mass market." The question now becomes that as we consider the demographics for the buyers of luxury autos such as the S8, how willing are they going to be shelling out significant dollars for hi-end systems such as this? The Mark Levinson system Lexus provides is one of their most popular options. However, it doesn't cost $7K either! Being rich doesn't necessarily make you an audiophile...

    or does it?

    Here's the car

    Here's a pic of the speaker raised out of the dash

    Larger detail of Acoustic Lens system from Beo5 home loudspeaker

  2. #2

    Audi memories

    I used to own a '98 Audi A4 2.8 with all the bells and whistles. It had 18" rims, tinted windows, the works. I do remember, though, that the stock sound system was pretty crappy. I sold the car to the guy who had been servicing it (Audi tech) and he put in this amazing 5.1 DVD-A XM-radio sound system. Don't remember the brand, but he said it was available as an option on new A4's and A6's and he got one that an owner wanted swapped out. I'm sure it's nothing like the B&O system, but it sure brings back memories.

    Audi's car designs are a bit weird, but the performance is always impressive. Now if they would only take that license plate off the front grille....

  3. #3
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    SF Bay Area
    I've read a few articles about the home versions about those B&O acoustic lens speakers. Conceptually, they don't seem all that different from other omnidirectional speakers, but cost a lot more. The reviews have been positive, so who knows what the real scoop is. Call me a skeptic, but B&O has always buttered its bread with innovative industrial design that is priced to match its high-design aspirations rather than the actual sound quality. Tweeters that pop out of the dash and behind the passenger seems kinda gimmicky to me. It might look cool the first few times, but I can see the novelty wearing thin quickly (kinda like that decorator spoiler on the Turbo Beetle; ooohs and aaahs the first few times, and potentially unnoticed thereafter if not for that noisy motor that reminds you that the spoiler's extending).

    My understanding with these factory-installed systems is that a lot of them are already tweaked to the acoustics of a specific car interior, mostly with how the drivers are angled and leveled, how the crossover networks are designed, and through equalization. It seems that the B&O system is trying to fill in the soundfield by using an omnidirectional approach. Would be interesting to actually hear one of these things in action. It would also be interesting to see how Mirage would create a car audio system.

    The DSP approach though also seems to work fine, considering how noisy and acoustically problematic car interiors are. Just a couple of weeks ago, I wound up with an Infiniti M35 as a rental car (the compact car I requested was unavailable, so they gave me the Infiniti at no extra charge). It included a rather ordinary (and VERY confusing to operate) six-speaker audio system. But, that audio system also included a DSP feature that was supposed to better focus and project the audio. Lo and behold, the audio quality improved markedly with that DSP engaged. The soundfield seemed much more seamlessly filled in, while the overall audio quality seemed smoother yet livelier and better balanced. It did have a somewhat processed sound that was more noticeable when the car was at a standstill, but on the road with the requisite interior noise, it seemed like a reasonable tradeoff.

    Doesn't seem that long ago when people were practically choking from the sticker shock of those $1,500(?)-option Nakamichi audio systems that were offered with the first Lexus LS models. I remember that they sounded very good, and on par with a decent home audio system. But, I wondered if the sound system itself was really that good, or if it just seemed that way because Lexus was so fanatical about reducing the interior noise on the LS.
    Wooch's Home Theater 2.0 (Pics)
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