I was told more than often enough of times that sound system in a car isn’t important but I digress. When buying a car, we are too often caught up with things like how fast does it go or what can be fitted in the trunk but let’s be honest when’s the last a trunk is filled up completely and drive like no tomorrow. Truth is, we spend most of our time in traffic which means good speakers are more important than we think.
Everyone should take their time on deciding especially when B&O costs 18 thousand in an A6, splash 30 odd on a C250 for Burmester and 35 for F sport trim to get yourself Mark Levinson. True they are somewhat a bargain since none of these figures can barely get you something for the living room.
Bang & Olufsen
This has got to be the most interesting thing in the long list of Audi’s optional extras. It is no question their speakers deliver rich details but ultimately lacking in warmth while bass reproduction is constrained. After an hour or so, the B and O is ear piercing for being overly detailed where it is possible to have them turned off from time to time during long journeys.
Things are now more favourable and much improved with its latest iteration in the A3 and TT with stronger control over bass and finally warmth! Gone is the shiny metal bits (which is a shame) replaced with plastic covers with LED running through them but the way they sound is up there with the best. It had no problem chattering away challenging tracks from Pink Floyd’s Hey You to Stranger by Goldfrapp.
The Mark Levinson garnish does make the Lexus interior look more upscale. However, the performance that comes from these speakers are at best on the side of average. They doesn’t particularly shine either in the lows, mids or highs department. If they were thrown in for free, why not but at a commanding premium, Lexus can save it for themselves.
HK makes the weakest premium in-car speakers I’ve ever experienced. Be it in a R56 Mini or BMW 528i, they are no better than the standard system if not worse by being flat throughout no matter how you mess about with the DSP and equaliser. Fortunately, there is more thumping bass and a wide dynamic range in the latest Mini Cooper.
There are two versions of Meridian offered in the Evoque and unfortunately only the lousier of the two is offered here. The level of detail and bass is sufficiently supplied but it kept me wishing for the full-on Meridian. To make matters worse, Evoques in the country are no longer equipped with the system.
The company that arguably popularised premium audio does deliver. At its price point, it is not at all bad piping out sounds that are warm unlike pre-2014 B and O. My complaint would be the excess of bass where anyone could take a dive into the menus, turn it down a notch and you’re good to go. That aside, it isn’t all that posh to have an audio maker’s name stuck in your Porsche to also appear in a Nissan.
Sounds are kept very conservatively balanced where some fine tuning is required to suit one’s preference. Once it’s set and done, a wide range of detail accompanied with crisp vocals could be heard but loses out when volume is cranked up high. The Burmester feature is a convincing reason for me to make a jump from a C200 to a C250.
Truth be told, Audis and Mercedes are more generous in the audio department for not having to pay extra. On a contrary, BMW has the reputation in providing the worst audio system in the world let alone in its class of cars. As for premium audio, I am one of those suckers who’d agree to months of slavery for good sounds.