buying: High-end branded car audio systems: Are they worth the money?

Triple sale of Jaguar continuation cars sheds light on this elite market

  Triple sale of Jaguar continuation cars sheds light on this elite market Cameron NeveuThey’re not exactly real, but they’re not fake, either. They’re way cheaper than the originals, but they’re still very expensive. Most of them aren’t street legal, but many serious vintage racing events would turn them away. Such is the dilemma of these so-called “continuation” cars, which come about when carmakers dig into their back catalogues […] The post Triple sale of Jaguar continuation cars sheds light on this elite market appeared first on Hagerty Media.

As luxury vehicle manufacturers learn more and more on novel tech and features to move their vehicles, we've seen a surge in branded high-end audio systems. You're probably familiar with a few of them at least: Mark Levinson and Lexus , Meridian and Land Rover , Naim and Bentley , Burmester with Mercedes and Porsche , and now, with the announcement of the very handsome 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee last week, we're seeing McIntosh launch an automotive partnership once again.

a close up of a car: American audio firm McIntosh is partnering with Jeep for the branded audio system in the new Grand Cherokee L. Jeep © Provided by Roadshow American audio firm McIntosh is partnering with Jeep for the branded audio system in the new Grand Cherokee L. Jeep

Before its partnership with Jeep , McIntosh worked directly with Harley-Davidson, Subaru and Ford on branded audio systems; the latter is exclusive to the 2005-2006 Ford GT. It also offered very high-end aftermarket car audio systems for a while, and has been around as a company since 1949.

Tested: 2007 Compact Car Comparison

  Tested: 2007 Compact Car Comparison Somewhere south of 20 grand, there's a sweet spot of cheap miles and wide smiles. We compare seven of the contenders—Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, VW Rabbit, Nissan Sentra. From the December 2006 issue of Car and Driver.What's not to like about combining frugality with fun? Nissan's all-new-for-2007 Sentra comes standard with a six-speed manual. Let's round up the whole class of compact four-doors, equip them with all-natural U-shift-'em gearboxes, and enjoy driving while we compare choices at the low-budget end of the market.There's action once again in the small-car biz.

The system in the Jeep Grand Cherokee is called the MX950, owing to its 950 watts of output from 17 channels. It uses 19 McIntosh-designed speakers in 12 locations throughout in the cabin. Considering McIntosh amps powered Woodstock and the Grateful Dead's Wall of Sound, the company definitely knows how to provide an immersive experience.

a close up of a window: McIntosh leverages several of its patented technologies in its Jeep system, including LD/HP speaker designs. Jeep © Provided by Roadshow McIntosh leverages several of its patented technologies in its Jeep system, including LD/HP speaker designs. Jeep

When a company designs audio components meant for in-home use, things like size, weight and cost are generally less of a concern than outright performance, accuracy and aesthetics. In a high-end home audio setup, you can have amps that weigh 100 pounds per channel and speakers that weigh three times that amount. In a vehicle, where weight affects everything from overall performance to fuel economy, that won't fly, so the audio companies have to get creative.

Complete Guide: How to Buy a Used Car

  Complete Guide: How to Buy a Used Car ​The single easiest way to save money when buying a car is to purchase a used model instead of a new vehicle. When you buy a new car, the second you leave the dealer's lot, it starts to rapidly depreciate, losing a significant amount of its value in the first few years of ownership. When you buy a used car, the original owner absorbs the pain of its steep depreciation during its early years. You pay far less than you would have if you had purchased the car new. There may be more maintenance required on a used car that's out of warranty, and its financing may be a bit more expensive.

For McIntosh, this involves leveraging a few patents that it has for room equalization in home theatre equipment, which digitally compensates for the design of a room (or a vehicle cabin) and its LD/HP (low distortion, high power) speakers. These technologies are paired with the company's Class A/B amplifier designs to create a system that looks and sounds like the iconic blue-glowing, glass-faced gear that made McIntosh famous.

Other brands, like UK firm Naim, have taken a similar approach to their design processes, but with some changes. The Naim systems for Bentley cars undergo a multistage design process. First, Naim takes the measurements of the cabin from Bentley and runs them through a proprietary algorithm to get a starting point for speaker placement and system design. Then it works with its sister company, French speaker manufacturer Focal, to spec the ideal drivers for each application -- a convertible will have different needs than an SUV, for example.

Bentley Reveals First New 4.5-Litre Blower In 90 Years

  Bentley Reveals First New 4.5-Litre Blower In 90 Years It's the first of a 'continuation' range built to original drawings. Bentley has revealed the first new 4.5-litre "Blower" to be built since 1930 as it begins production of a new "continuation" range. The Blower Continuation Series comprises 12 cars, all of which are already sold, but this is "Car Zero," and it will be used as a testing prototype for the other dozen vehicles. Huge amounts of work have gone into the prototype, which was built using original drawings and a 3D laser scan of Bentley’s own Team Car, which wears the registration UU 5872.

Naim then adjusts things in its amplifiers -- Class D in its vehicle systems and in its Mu-So wireless speaker, which we reviewed previously -- to measure as accurately as possible for distortion characteristics. From there, Naim engineers work back from those designs until they arrive at something that not only sounds pleasing to the ear, but shows off the hallmarks of a Naim system -- sacrificing some of the headline figures like total harmonic distortion (THD) for something enjoyable.

Naim's audio system for Bentley uses speakers from its sister brand Focal to offer users a truly immersive listening experience. Kyle Hyatt/Roadshow © Provided by Roadshow Naim's audio system for Bentley uses speakers from its sister brand Focal to offer users a truly immersive listening experience. Kyle Hyatt/Roadshow

The story is similar with Burmester, a German firm that got its start in automotive systems by designing the stereo in the Bugatti Veyron in 2005. It partnered with Porsche in 2009 and Mercedes-Benz in 2013. Its engineers work with Porsche and Mercedes from the very early stages of a vehicle's design -- years before its public debut -- to optimize things like speaker placement and integration with its electrical system. This was the case with the new S-Class , where Burmester worked to integrate exciters into the vehicle's front seats. These units provide physical feedback to the listener, adding another layer to the experience -- something Mercedes-Benz calls a 4D setup.

How to Get the Best Deal on a Car

  How to Get the Best Deal on a Car How to Get the Best Deal on a CarBuying a new car can be challenging. From deciding which car is best for you to knowing whether or not you're getting a good deal, the entire process can leave even the most prepared car shopper exhausted.

a close up of a motorcycle: American audio firm McIntosh is partnering with Jeep for the branded audio system in the new Grand Cherokee L. © Jeep

American audio firm McIntosh is partnering with Jeep for the branded audio system in the new Grand Cherokee L.

Experience is the keyword here, too. To get someone to pay as much as $10,000 on top of an already-expensive vehicle's asking price, an audio company must deliver something more than pleasant sound. The Fender audio system in a Volkswagen sounds good, but it doesn't offer you a unique experience. These high-end branded audio systems are trying to immerse you in your music, and speaking from experience -- as a bit of an in-home hi-fi nerd -- they largely succeed.

"We understand that customers don't just want great sound," Charlie Randall, president of McIntosh Laboratory, said in a statement. "They want to get a full sensory experience. And that's why it was so important that we left no stone unturned to deliver a true McIntosh entertainment system for the Jeep Grand Cherokee L. We're thrilled to bring our brand to a whole new group of people who may never have experienced McIntosh before."

a close up of a car: The delicately perforated metal speaker grilles are a hallmark of Burmester's work with Mercedes-Benz. Burmester © Provided by Roadshow The delicately perforated metal speaker grilles are a hallmark of Burmester's work with Mercedes-Benz. Burmester

That last part about bringing customers into the fold is an interesting aspect of the branded audio trend, too. Getting someone who might not have previously been into home audio into a dealer to sit and listen to systems and spend all kinds of money is, understandably, a big lift. But getting someone interested in your brand's home audio offerings if they've already experienced it in their cars makes more sense. It's a conversion rate the companies can't really quantify, but they all seem to think it's a real thing.

Carroll Shelby's Original, Owned-Since-New 427 Cobra Up For Auction

  Carroll Shelby's Original, Owned-Since-New 427 Cobra Up For Auction A restoration returned it to the original specification. The Shelby 427 Cobra is an American automotive icon, and Mecum is putting a unique example up for sale at its auction in Kissimmee, Florida, from January 7 through 16. The roadster with serial number CSX3178 belonged to company founder Carroll Shelby from new in March 1966. Shelby still owned the car when he died in 2012, and his estate sold it in 2016. Over the course of Shelby's ownership, he had this Cobra repainted Guardsman Blue with a gold nose and installed an automatic transmission. In 2002, the car got a red paint job.

Much like the audio industry in general, the world of branded automotive audio can be surprisingly complex and subtle. At times, it is hard to justify where price is concerned. $300,000 is a lot for a nicely optioned Bentley Continental GT , but Naim's flagship amplifier for home use -- the Statement -- costs $100,000, and that doesn't include speakers, sources, cables and so on.

Some people will likely get into the new Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit, fire up the McIntosh MX950 and never really think about it as anything more than a means to listen to the radio. Others will find excuses to go on long drives to nowhere and crank up their favorite music to ear-bleeding levels, simply to revel in the richness. Which are you?

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L: Bigger, bolder, better

This was originally published on Roadshow.

Gordon Murray T.50s Niki Lauda Looks Crazy Fast and Perfectly Balanced

  Gordon Murray T.50s Niki Lauda Looks Crazy Fast and Perfectly Balanced The track-only supercar has extraordinarily powerful aero, a V12, and Niki Lauda’s name on it. Somebody slap me!OMG.


Gallery: Groundbreakers: the cars that did it first (Autocar)

a close up of a car: Since Autocar has been around since 1895, we’ve covered nearly all of them in detail across our history. But in nearly every case, a particular innovation that moved the automotive world on a step arrived in one particular production car for the first time.In this latest edition of our long-running series, we’ll tell you about the first car to have a V8, to have reversing lights, air conditioning, and even that tiny but oh-so-useful arrow which reminds you which side your fuel filler flap is on. For this update we’ve dug up a whole bunch of new and interesting innovations to savour and dropped a few of the less notable.As usual, we’ve rated all of them with a groundbreaker score out of 10 – this rates the long-term impact of the technology: the higher the number, the greater the impact. It’s not a rating of the car itself, or how successful it was; indeed, some of these cars proved too ahead of their time. But they all started something, and usually something that made driving better. We salute them all. It’s quite a journey, so climb aboard:

Mercedes CLS gains starry grille and tech-loaded steering wheel for 2021 .
Mercedes-Benz A year after Mercedes-Benz gave the third-gen CLS-Class a generous mid-cycle refresh, it’s sprinkling on a few extra goodies. As of last summer, the suave, swoopy Benz sedan received an updated MBUX infotainment system and a raft of driver-assist tech that we recently sampled on the model’s more sedate-looking brother, the E-Class. As of early […] The post Mercedes CLS gains starry grille and tech-loaded steering wheel for 2021 appeared first on Hagerty Media.

See also