If we were to compose a list, a few names would repeat themselves when looking at premium and luxury carmakers that employ top-quality sound systems.
We are referring to brands like Harman-Kardon, Bang&Olufsen, Meridian, Burmester, and JBL. These are only a few suppliers chosen by automakers to provide their customers with the best possible audio experiences in their products. Evidently, these systems are worth the money for those that can afford them, but end up costing a significant price.
Volume brands often offer systems from some of the names listed above, but vendors like Dynaudio, Sony, JBL, Pioneer, Rockford Fosgate, Panasonic and Bose are in their optional equipment programs.
We decided to make a list of the most well crafted audio systems offered by car makers in their top models. Here it goes.Burmester
The S-Class is the most expensive Mercedes-Benz offered with a Burmester setup. The most affordable car from the three-pointed star is the C-Class, which can be had with an optional system from Burmester. There is even a van from Mercedes-Benz that comes with products of this manufacturer, which is the V-Class.
The price of the system depends on the model, but the Burmester Surround-Sound-system promises an “outstanding musical experience.” In the V-Class, it comes with 16 loudspeakers and a 10-channel amplifier. The total power output of the setup is 640 watts. Customers will enjoy a sophisticated noise compensation system that covers driving sounds for maximum musical enjoyment.
The C-Class gets 13 loudspeakers and a 9-channel DSP amplifier with 590 watts of power. Compared to the V-Class, you get excellent power in the C-Class.
Meanwhile, the top level of Burmester sound systems comes on the S-Class, and it is a High-End 3D-Surround system that has 24 high-performance speakers and 24 separate amplifier channels. That is massive, and the total output is 1,540 watts.
There is also a lower level for the S-Class, which has 13 high-performance speakers and a nine-channel DSP amplifier that provides 590 watts.Meridian
The company offers three setups, but some models only get a single option: the Meridian Sound System, the Meridian Surround Sound System, and the Meridian Signature Reference System. The latter only comes on the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models.
The surround sound and the regular Meridian Sound System are often found in Jaguar, Land Rover, and even Range Rover models. Few McLaren models are available with Meridian sound systems: the P1, 675 LT, and 650 S. Those looking for more exclusivity can call Naim, the brand that is found in Bentley models since 2008.“Bespoke Audio System”
The company developed it in two years, and it was made in harmony with all the elements of the vehicle’s interior. First launched on the Wraith, other models can be ordered with the optional system.
In the case of the Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired by Music, its setup had a 1,300-watt system that featured 18 individual channels that supplied two bass speakers, seven tweeters, and seven mid-range speakers. The headliner of the car had two “exciter” speakers fitted by hand to mimic a live concert feeling in a car.Bang&Olufsen
In the case of Aston, the most expensive products in the B&O range are offered, which is why almost all the recent models of the independent automaker were available with setups from this brand.
For a more down-to-Earth configuration, Bang&Olufsen offered systems in cars like the Audi A5, BMW 7 Series, and even in some Mercedes-Benz cars before they switched to Burmester. Not all BMW models were offered with B&O sound systems, and this applies to Audi and Mercedes-Benz cars.Bowers&Wilkins
The ongoing BMW 7 Series has notably switched from a Bang&Olufsen sound system to a Bowers&Wilkins setup. Other BMW models might follow, but the 7 Series is the only one that can be ordered with a configuration from Bowers&Wilkins, a company that describes itself as being “passionate about engineering.”
Volvo is another brand that is served by Bowers&Wilkins with its audio products, and the solution is the most expensive offered in the range of XC90 and S90 cars from this automaker.
The third automotive associate of Bowers&Wilkins in the present day is Maserati. The Italian Trident offers Bowers&Wilkins systems in three of its models. The first ever SUV from Maserati, the Levante, is available with a Bowers&Wilkins Surround Sound System. The Ghibli and the Quattroporte can also get one. Sonus Faber
In a way, they did what Lotus imagines of doing with its sound systems — make them as light as humanly imaginable, without compromising quality.
The result is a 1,200-watt system that comes with three times the power of the regular audio system in the Huayra. As you have probably concluded out by now, it is an optional equipment, just like the rest of the systems presented above.
Sonus Faber means “handmade sound” in a direct translation, and the setup on the Huayra comes with two tweeters, two “mid-woofers,” two coaxial drivers, two amplifiers, and a single subwoofer.
Suddenly, your aftermarket audio setup does not sound cool anymore, right? When a comparison is made to one of the best sound systems available in a new car as an option, no aftermarket option is sufficient. Insane audiophiles do have options, but they will be costly.Honorable mentions
Mark Levinson is a brand that works exclusively with Lexus these days, and they say there is a reason for that. The optional systems offered by Mark Levinson in Lexus models focus on clarity, and they claim that the Japanese premium brand is the only automaker that has cars silent enough to make the experience adequate to their setup.
It is important to note that Bang&Olufsen sold its automotive department to Harman Kardon so that we will hear more (pun intended) from these two brands in the future, but from the same roof.
JBL is an audio supplier that needs no introduction to most of our readers, because it has a strong presence in the aftermarket world. What many do not know is that Toyota uses JBL audio systems for its premium sound system option, and this has been going on since 1996. Meanwhile, Ferrari is also a JBL customers for a premium sound system option, which has become available since 2008.