Your correspondent recently found himself in London’s Canary Wharf, where billions are made and lost every day and where a host of British motorcar companies recently showed off their wares. They wouldn’t let me drive them, but these British cats sure know how to set up a car stereo. Here are my favorites:
Naim: Bentley’s Continental GT is a favorite of the rapper set, and not just because it comes factory equipped with major bling. British audio icon Naim was commissioned to create an entertainment system worthy of a Bentley, and it delivered! The GT’s stereo uses an 1100W, 13.2-channel amplifier and a DSP processor featuring eight modes and a dynamic EQ that alters tone controls to compensate for ambient noise. The cabin has 13 drivers and two subwoofers situated throughout. And the sound? I don’t know if car audio gets any better. The good news is that the audio system is free . . . with the purchase of any $182,500 GT (USD).
Bang & Olufsen: Aston Martin’s new Rapide is a design masterpiece, so it seems fitting that Bang & Olufsen, a company known for industrial design, set up the car’s hi-fi. Featuring 1000W of ICEpower amplification, 15 speakers, and high-def seat-back video screens, the Rapide has an entertainment system that puts most home theaters to shame. Cool features include what I hoped were Q-inspired laser cannons, though they turned out to be two B&O Acoustic Lens tweeters that rise from the dash. There’s also a DSP system that senses how many people are in the car and where they’re seated. Perhaps the most gee-whiz feature is that the system lets the driver focus the sound in the front, in the rear, or just around the driver. The latter effect is the most amazing DSP I’ve ever heard, and it makes the passenger-side speakers feel a heck of a lot closer. Yours to enjoy for a paltry $215,000.
Bowers & Wilkins: British speaker maker Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) plays a big part in separating the new Jaguar from its competition. The XJ sport sedan can be fitted with a 1200W multichannel amp, 20 B&W speakers, two 8" backseat video monitors with touchscreen remote (natch), an Audyssey MuItEQ system, and a (surprisingly small) 30GB hard drive to store tunes. Though not quite on the same level as in the higher-end cars, the B&W system was massively ahead of, say, the audio that comes with a BMW 5 Series. A relative bargain at $2200, plus $72,500 for the car.
. . . Colin Smith