If you were a true music lover, the first thing you did with a new car was to go to your friendly neighborhood car audio store and have the radio and speakers replaced with something more dynamic. These days, cars come from the factory with extremely high quality sound systems already installed. We’re talking some of the notable names in audio, brands like Mark Levinson and Rockford Fosgate. If they’ve earned a rep for solid sound, odds are they’ve tried their hand at a car system. This all started back in 1982, when Bose collaborated with General Motors to tailor sound systems to the acoustic environment of the car. Bose owned the market for a while. Today, the competition is intense among companies offering cars with sound systems musicians will love.
2016 Cars With Sound Systems Musicians Will Love
Audi S5 – Bang & Olufsen
While Bang & Olufsen is known for bringing visual excitement to home audio systems with their eclectic designs, they only recently ventured into car audio systems. You expect something interesting from them and they deliver. With tweeters rising from the dash to reveal themselves at startup, the Bang & Olufsen audio system fitted to the handsome Audi S5 certainly offers drama. It also offers brilliant audio with 14 speakers and a 505-watt amplifier. The system supports satellite radio, Bluetooth audio streaming, HD radio, iPod integration, and SD cards.
Acura RDX – Panasonic ELS Studio
Grammy Award-winning recording engineer and producer Elliot Scheiner helped design the ELS Studio premium 14-speaker sound system to reproduce music the way it sounds in the recording studio, and it can be found in the Acura RDX. Optimized for both DTS and DVD-Audio discs, with six independent, discrete channels of audio source material, the system delivers separate dedicated channels of music from the center, left front, right front, left rear, right rear and subwoofer for incredibly detailed sound staging. Widely considered one of the leading authorities in studio sound recording and mixing, Elliot’s pioneering efforts in surround sound are credited with establishing the foundation for the genre.
Photo Credit: Bentley Media
Bentley Mulsanne - Naim
While the name may be unfamiliar to many, when it comes to car sound systems musicians will love for 2016, the Naim audio system fitted to the Bentley Mulsanne is quite possibly the best car audio system ever. Comprised of 20 speakers strategically placed around the cabin of Bentley’s flagship Mulsanne model, the system produces a total of 2,200 watts, with a separate amplifier channel for each speaker. Further, it has multiple output modes to maximize sound quality at different seating positions, as well as according to music type.
BMW Individual 6 Series Gran Coupe Bang & Olufsen Edition
For the Bang & Olufsen Edition of the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, the iconic company had a say in the design of specific elements of the BMW’s interior treatment in addition to the audio system. It starts with a 16-speaker 1,200 watt Bang & Olufsen surround audio system, with the motorized tweeter rising from the dash. Designed specifically to produce an exceptional sound stage, instruments and vocals assume their exact position and create musical enjoyment fit for a concert hall just as in an orchestra. Each BMW Individual 6 Series Gran Coupe Bang & Olufsen Edition car also comes with a black BeoPlay H6 high-end, over-ear headphone. The BeoPlay H6 is finished in the same brushed aluminum finish as the car’s B&O-designed loudspeaker grilles.
Photo Credit: Ford
Ford Focus Titanium - Sony
With 10 channels and 355 watts in a car the size of the Focus, outstanding sound is pretty much a given. One of the things we really appreciate about the sound system in the Focus is that it's a sound system musicians will love in a car with a price point the typical musician can afford. The system’s nine speakers and rear-mounted subwoofer do an admirable job of aural reproduction, while also offering voice activation. With an iPod connected you can say, “Play Miles Davis' Kind of Blue,” and “Freddie Freeloader” starts playing right away, assuming, of course, it’s loaded on your device.
Jaguar XJ Ultimate – Meridian Tri-field Surround
Yes, it’s true; to get one of the top cars with sound systems musicians will love, you do pretty much have to be getting paid like a rock star, but what you get in return is positively sublime. The beauty of the Jaguar XJ notwithstanding, its 825-watt, 20-speaker Meridian Tri-field Surround audio system reproduces the sound of live music in the Jaguar’s plush cabin. Critics especially appreciate the detail and control of the Meridian system and the way it reproduces some of the most natural sound you’ll ever hear in a car.
Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe – Burmester High-End 3-D Surround-Soundsystem
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe marks the first time a Burmester audio system has been fitted to a Mercedes-Benz. The Berlin-based company is the brainchild of musician Dieter Burmester. The Burmester High-End 3D Surround–Soundsystem uses 24 high-performance speakers fed by 24 separate amplifier channels with a total output of 1,540 watts. Some of the speakers are even integrated into the roof of the car. It combines both digital and analogue amplification to produce a 3-D sound algorithm developed specifically for the interior of the S-Class Coupe.
Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger – Harman Kardon Green Edge
The Harman Kardon sound system for the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger boasts 19 speakers fed by a 12-channel amplifier with 900 watts of power. The system is comprised of seven 3.5-inch midrange units, each with seven integrated 90mm midrange speakers with 19mm tweeters, and five subwoofers. The speakers are placed in 12 strategic locations around the interiors of the cars for optimal sound staging. Driving the speakers is a high-voltage tracking power supply 12-channel Class-D amplifier. Audio critics say the system delivers outstanding acoustic transparency and dynamic response.
Photo Credit: Lexus
Lexus LS 600h L – Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound
The 19-speaker Mark Levinson Surround Sound audio system fitted to the top of the line Lexus LS 600h L is considered one of the best out there. The 19 speakers, sprinkled liberally about the ultra plush cabin of the hybrid luxury sedan, are powered by a 15-channel processor/amplifier combination with 450 watts. The channels are bridged and also support a 10-inch subwoofer. The system is compatible with DTS and DVD-Audio discs. A 30-gig hard drive is included for storing source material; it also supports iPods and satellite radio.
Mazda Mazda3 Grand Touring – Bose Center Point
As we mentioned in the intro, Bose was the first premium audio manufacturer to get into the automotive game. For the Mazda3, the company proves you can get cars with sound systems musicians will love at an affordable price point. In a clever bit of packaging, Bose actually fits the subwoofer for this system in the well with the spacesaver spare tire. A 265-watt amplifier drives the 10-speaker system. The Center Point nomenclature comes from the dash-mounted center speaker, which locates lead vocals right in the center of the dash for enhanced sound staging.
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport – Rockford Fosgate
Rock musicians are thoroughly familiar with the Rockford Fosgate brand, as the company builds a singularly superior line of sound reinforcing equipment for concerts and live performances. For the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, the company came up with a 710-watt surround system driving nine speakers. The digital signal processing amplifier features eight individually tuned audio channels and is capable of sound field control to optimize audio for different seating positions in the Outlander Sport. A 10-inch long throw dual-voice coil subwoofer supports the low end. The system is configured to produce DTS Neural Surround and incorporates Rockford Fosgate’s PUNCH control.
Scion tC – Pioneer BeSpoke
As Toyota’s youth-oriented brand, you’d expect the Scion tC to come with a bumping audio system and the company follows through nicely. Every Scion tC comes fitted with an eight-speaker Pioneer audio system with outstanding dynamic range and a broad array of tech features. Opt for the BeSpoke system and you’ll also get a voice activation system, a touchscreen interface, navigation, and a broad array of smartphone-based applications for entertainment and information.
Toyota Avalon – JBL Entune Premium
Toyota’s flagship full-size sedan delivers luxury features on par with Lexus, so of course it comes with an audio system musicians will love. The Avalon’s Entune Premium JBL Audio with Navigation system uses a 12-channel external JBL Synthesis amplifier and 11 speakers, including two subwoofers. The system also incorporates JBL’s GreenEdge technology to reduce its power draw on the car’s electrical system. The JBL Entune also incorporates navigation and Toyota’s telematics suite for a broad array of infotainment features.
Photo Credit: Volkswagen of America
Volkswagen CC – Dynaudio
Dynaudio is a Danish sound system company renowned for the quality of its home stereo systems. For CC, the company prescribed a 600-watt configuration with ten speakers and a ten-channel digital amplifier featuring Digital Sound Processor technology. Speakers include two fabric tweeters in the front doors, two fabric tweeters in the rear doors, two fabric center channel speakers, and four woofers, also mounted in the CC’s doors.