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Bowers & Wilkins brings a Jaguar to the show

CNET Car Tech takes a listen to the Bowers & Wilkins audio system in the new Jaguar XJ, at 2010 CES.

2010 Jaguar XJ
Jaguar's 2010 XJ posed at the Bowers & Wilkins booth, showing off its audio system. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Anchoring a corner of British high-end audio company Bower & Wilkin's booth at CES sat a 2010 Jaguar XJ, a probably unexpected adornment for a company traditionally focused on home audio. The new XJ showed off Bower & Wilkin's latest effort in the area of luxury automotive audio.

XJ speaker
Twenty Bowers & Wilkins speakers inhabit the cabin of the XJ. Jaguar

This 1,200-watt system is comprised of 20 speakers getting audio through 15 channels--an impressive array. It uses just about every digital-signal-processing trick in the book, including Audyssey MultEQ XT, designed to equalize the audio experience for all seating positions, Dolby's Pro Logic IIx, and DTS Neo:6, delivering 7.1-channel sound in the car.

During our demo, we sat in the right rear seat, and from our listening experience it didn't seem like the optimal position, despite the digital-signal-processing technologies. We first heard some jazz vocals played in stereo. The staging was decent, but too much of the audio seemed to come from the side of the car.

When we switched to surround sound, the listening experienced improved. It reproduced a symphonic track recorded at London's Albert Hall faithfully, down to the faint echoes from the venue.

We convinced the Jaguar representative conducting the demonstration to give it some bass, with tracks from Prodigy. The system really excelled, producing intense bass that remained listenable at high volumes. Attesting to the build quality of the XJ, no interior panels rattled as these low bass frequencies pounded out.

While certainly a solid and refined high-end car audio system, we've heard better, although our listening experience might have been better in the front seat.