I love cars and I love audio. So what better than to write about automotive high-end audio for TAS whenever the opportunity arises. It’s afforded me a terrific insider’s look at just how companies like Levinson, Harman, B&O, approach this highly challenging niche. A couple weeks ago I took delivery of the Aston Martin DBS, (yep, the James Bond car), equipped with the Bang & Olufsen surround audio system. It was the best and the worst two days of my life.
The best because the car ($272,000!!!) was beyond awesome. A six-litre V12 churning out 510 horsepower, a six-speed paddle shifting trans, carbon-ceramic brakes the size of XL pizzas, carbon fiber and aerospace aluminum everywhere.
And, it was the worst two days because I had to give it up after a lousy 48 hours and a two hundred mile driving allotment. And the Aston media reps weren’t kidding–the trip odometer was zeroed when the car was delivered. But hallelujah, the tank was full. (below-in front of our humble home)
Rest assured that the B&O system that had to compete with this supercar was no afterthought. It’s a 13 speaker (in 10 interior positions) 13-channel DSP controlled with 1000 Class D ICE power watts and a feature called Dynamic Tuning which (via rearview mirror–mounted microphone) continually tracks interior noise levels and equalizes accordingly. Included are B&O’s Acoustic Lens tweeters at the right and left front postions. The B&O system was up to the task, mostly–but gun the DBS and the exhaust rips a hole in the universe. The bark of high-rev upshifts silences the immediate world around the driver–speed gathers in predatory surges, the road quickly narrowing to a pencil’s width. By then, so lost was I in concentration that I’d already forgotten the Green Day soundtrack blasting from the system. Fact is, the environment of the high performance GT car is the most challenging one for audio. Far beyond that of larger, quieter and more composed luxury sedans. I’ll post further impressions in TAS and at a later blog. (note Acoustic Lens tweeter upper right corner)