Bang & Olufsen in BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi (photos)
Although only 10 years old, Bang & Olufsen's automotive division has done well, now seeing installations in the three major German luxury car brands. Bang & Olufsen is quickly becoming the audio brand of choice for Europe.
BMW 6-series and Bang & Olufsen
BMW showed off a concept version of the next 6-series at the Paris Motor Show, and this vehicle also served to show off BMW's new partnership with Bang & Olufsen. Expect Bang & Olufsen audio systems to be offered as a premium option in not only the 6-series, but future BMW models.
For the 6-series concept, Bang & Olufsen used two woofers, seven mids, and seven tweeters, making up a total of 16 speakers, each with its own amp. Bang & Olufsen calls it the High End Surround Sound System, although the company specializes in staging music output in front of the listener.
Bang & Olufsen always likes to include a little drama with its audio systems. In the 6-series concept, theatrics take the form of this center channel, which rises from a hatch in the dashboard. Similarly, rear deck and door speakers have a thin light effect around the grilles.
Although we first saw a Bang & Olufsen audio system in the Mercedes-Benz SLS, the company has also been working on implementing a system in the more accessible S-class. We got our first look at this installation at the Paris Motor Show in an S400 Hybrid.
The Bang & Olufsen audio system found in the S-class is called the S-Class BeoSound AMG, and is composed of 15 speakers, a 750-watt high-power amp, and a 450-watt digital signal processor amp. This system produces 7.1-channel sound.
Acoustic lenses are hallmarks of Bang & Olufsen audio systems. Instead of a conventional tweeter, these acoustic lenses spread high-frequency audio in a lateral semicircular field, which is vertically limited so as not to interfere with mid and bass frequencies. The S-class gets acoustic lenses mounted on the A and B pillars.
Audi has been working with Bang & Olufsen longer than Mercedes-Benz or BMW, implementing audio systems of various levels for different models. The new A8 gets the highest performance Bang & Olufsen system available.
In the A8, the audio system is merely called the Advanced Sound System. Each of its 19 speakers gets its own channel from amps delivering 1,460 watts. Typical for Bang & Olufsen audio systems, the sound is very clean, focusing on an accurate reproduction of the source material.
The A8 was the first recipient of Bang & Olufsen's automotive acoustic lens technology. In its dramatic fashion, two acoustic lenses pop up from the ends of the dashboard when the audio system is powered up.