Bang & Olufsen makes sweet, sweet music with Aston Martin

CNET Car Tech checks out the Bang & Olusfen audio system in the Aston Martin DBS.

Aston Martin DBS
The new Aston Martin DBS gets a Bang & Olufsen audio system. CBS Interactive

The Aston Martin DBS is a beautiful car, and sitting in one is a very special experience. Sitting in a DBS and listening to a Bang & Olufsen audio system takes that special experience and adds a choir of angels. The high-end Danish audio-components maker lends its expertise to Aston Martin with its Beosound DBS system, now coming as standard in the new DBS. At the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show we sat in the DBS as a Bang & Olufsen representative played a variety of music through the system.

The car spun around on its turntable as a drum-and-bass track played at full volume. The staging was perfect, giving the aural illusion that a drum kit was five feet in front. Each beat on the kit gave us the distinct sound of bass, snare, and cymbal. The bass guitar joined in, and we could hear the flex of the strings. Another track with a female jazz singer placed her right over the hood of the car, then an orchestral track made banks of strings and woodwinds clear enough that we could almost tell which instrument was first chair.

Acoustic lens
Acoustic lenses pop up from the dashboard. CBS Interactive

Bang & Olufsen's priorities are staging and imaging, making the sound come from a distinct place, as if you had the best seat in the house, right in front of the stage. To accomplish this effect in the Aston Martin DBS, the company found places for 13 speakers, including two pop-up acoustic lenses at opposite ends of the dashboard, just like in the Audi A8. And where most companies are happy to put a tweeter at the base of the A pillar, Bang & Olufsen got to put mid-range speakers up there, mounted in the front top edge of the doors. Woofers are also mounted in a unique position, on either side of the console, in the front footwells. More speakers are mounted in the rear, along with a subwoofer, while a tweeter and mid-range acted as a centerfill in the middle of the dashboard. Mounting is of very high quality--we heard no rattle as heavy bass made the whole car feel as if it was moving.

Mid range speakers
Mids sit near the A pillars, in the door sills. CBS Interactive

A thousand watts of amplification power this system. Thirteen channels, one for each speaker, with Bang & Olufsen digital processing ensure that the audio comes out clean and well-placed. Ostensibly the DBS has two rear seats, but Bang & Olufsen ignored that charade and focused the sound on the driver and passenger seats. The audio can be set to focus the sweet spot on the driver, but when the passenger seatbelt is buckled that sweet spot is enhanced to include the passenger. Even wilder, the system is tuned for dual imaging, meaning that there are two sweet spots, letting driver and passenger enjoy equally good quality.

The Beosound DBS system uses advanced audio adjustment to overcome changing environment sound, monitoring engine speed, and noise in the cabin. The system changes levels quickly to compensate for noise in a manner that is supposed to be seamless to the car's occupants.

See all coverage of the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show.

About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.

 

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