Audi’s US$6,300 Concert-Level B&O Sound System
By Mike Hanlon
February 5, 2006
February 6, 2006 What’s the one automotive accessory that is used close to 100% of the time a car is occupied? The answer is of course, the sound system. So when Audi set out to build its flagship A8 and S8 sports limousines, it decided to offer an optional, state-of-the-art flagship audio product to match. In order to create the system, Audi teamed with Danish audio specialist Bang & Olufsen and the design pays heed to the actual acoustic characteristics of the car interior, such as internal space, shape and materials used, driving speed, the corresponding wind effect and the friction between asphalt and tyres are also taken into account. The system uses fourteen active high-end loudspeakers, B&O; Acoustic Lens Technology and two sets of amplifiers (a high performance amplifier and a Digital Signal Processor) to supply a combined output of more than 1,000 watts. When the system is activated, two lens speakers automatically emerge from the dashboard, giving perfect sound to every seat in the car with precisely aligned horizontal emissions.
The loudspeaker cabinets are made from carefully processed anodised aluminium, the very same material used in the construction of the sporty luxury saloon bodies. Here, the fascination of visual technology is combined with the acoustic brilliance of the new Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System.
Active speakers, each with its own individual amplifier, are housed within the cabinets. This means that the sound properties can be adjusted accurately in accordance with the precise function of the speakers within the overall concept.
All loudspeakers are housed in closed cabinets, allowing each speaker to be controlled irrespective of where it is mounted. This elaborate technology eliminates particularly disturbing resonances.
The sound system is also music to your eyes: its design dovetails beautifully with the sporty and luxurious ambience, providing it with a highly artistic feel. When the system is activated, two lens speakers automatically emerge from the dashboard, giving perfect sound to every seat in the car with precisely aligned horizontal emissions. Here, the fascination of visual technology is combined with the acoustic brilliance of the new Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System.
The system incorporates 14 active speakers, each energised by its own output stage. Two sets of amplifiers are used (a high performance amplifier and a Digital Signal Processor) to supply a combined output of more than 1,000 watts if required. The general rule is that the higher the output, the better the freedom from distortion in poor acoustic conditions.
The dynamics of the frequency response are calculated so that the music has the perfect tone. When programming the digital sound processor and selecting and positioning the speakers, consideration was given to factors including materials used inside the car, spatial dimensions, driving speed, the corresponding wind effect and friction between asphalt and tyres.
The speakers are housed in enclosed capsules so that their vibration behaviour can be precisely controlled. Their anodised aluminium grilles underscore Audi’s expertise with this material. The front tweeters use what is known as Acoustic Lens Technology and with their coated silk diaphragm domes, they act as perfect point sound sources. When the system is switched on, they extend out of the dashboard automatically.
Acoustic lenses Acoustic Lens Technology is licensed exclusively to Bang & Olufsen. It provides a wide horizontal sound dispersion of high frequencies in the car’s interior. The acoustic lenses automatically rise out of the dashboard when the sound system is engaged, ensuring an extremely detailed acoustic stage from any seat in the car. The Advanced Sound System employs Bang & Olufsen’s patented digital amplifier technology, ICEpower, which supplies the 14 active speaker units with an unprecedented 1,000 + watts of power.
The Audi S8 with its ultra high performance 5.2-litre FSI V10 engine will be launched in November 2006. Although pricing and specification have yet to be finalised, the S8 is expected to be priced around US$100,000.
The optional B&O; Advanced Sound System will be priced around US$6,300.