Published on September 27th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez1
Volvo XC90 Equipped With One Of The Top Audio Systems
The XC90 features one of the top audio systems available in the automotive world after Volvo Cars audio experts joined forces with their counterparts at the renowned British audio equipment company Bowers & Wilkins.
The Bowers & Wilkins system for the XC90 uses bespoke acoustic technology developed over its five decades of pioneering research into loudspeaker design. The XC90 system is derived directly from acoustic technology developed for reference speakers used in some of the world’s most demanding acoustic environments, including London’s legendary Abbey Road Studios.
The result of the collaboration uses a combination of high-performance, low-distortion speaker designs, including extended range aluminium tweeters, Kevlar® midrange units and Rohacell™ woofers, reflecting components found in Bowers & Wilkins award-winning premium loudspeakers. It also features a centre speaker with Bowers & Wilkins tweeter-on-top technology for the first time in a car, providing a more open, spacious sound.
The system is comprised of a 12-channel HARMAN 1,400 watts Class D amplifier serving a total of 19 Bowers & Wilkins speakers – 7 Nautilus tweeters (25 mm) with the latest treble technology, 7 midrange speakers (5×100 mm and 2×80 mm) with the characteristic yellow Bowers & Wilkins Kevlar cone clearly visible behind the cover, 4 cone woofers (200/165 mm) and the new, ground-breaking air-ventilated subwoofer (250 mm).
The engineers at Volvo Cars’ audio department and Bowers & Wilkins share a commitment to the highest standards of audio quality, and they were driven to make the sound system in the new XC90 stand shoulder to shoulder with the best currently available in the automotive market. This is also clear from a design integration perspective with a uniquely sculpted tweeter placed prominently on the dashboard.
“In my book the Premium Sound in the all-new XC90 is one of the top three audio systems in the automotive world,” says Michael Adenauer, former music producer and audio expert at Volvo Cars.
Volvo Cars decided that Bowers & Wilkins was its ideal partner. The UK firm was established in 1966 by two friends who shared an obsession to build the perfect loud speaker. This heritage has created a globally-respected high-end audio company, renowned for its technological innovations, many of which have been incorporated into the new XC90.
The audio innovations in the new XC90 include one of the first automotive applications of an air-ventilated subwoofer integrated into the body of the car rather than being a freestanding box that is simply bolted to it.
“The subwoofer design is integrated into our new Scalable Product Architecture and is possibly a world first in the automotive industry,” says Mr Adenauer. “This increases the subwoofer’s capacity to pulse more air, which enables extremely low bass tones all the way down to 20 Hz. In principle, it turns the whole interior space in the car into a giant subwoofer.”
New software enhances listening experience
The XC90’s new audio system also uses the latest and most advanced sound processing software from the specialist Swedish audio company Dirac Research, which manages the timing of the sound and co-operation between the speakers to optimise the sound for a specific or all seating positions and can also create individual acoustics from certain music venues or concert halls.
In the new XC90, the software has been used to re-create the exact acoustic qualities of Gothenburg Concert Hall, located in Volvo’s home town and home to the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Sweden. A simple change in the centre touch screen that controls all the car’s features and the system will immediately alter its settings to mirror this concert hall, a recording studio or a stage environment.
The top-of-the-line Premium Sound is one of three system levels available for the all-new XC90. The audio range also includes the High Performance system with a 224W amplifier, 12 speakers and the possibility to add the fresh air subwoofer. At base level, the XC90 has the Performance system, which features a 52W amplifier and 6 speakers.