The Best Car Audio Systems 2021: Top Cars With Best Speakers and Sound – Rolling Stone
You spend a lot of money on your car, and a lot of time driving it, but while people pay for fancy spoilers, bigger wheels, and upgraded interiors, your car audio system is often an afterthought.
However, given the amount of time we spend in our cars (nearly 11 hours a week, according to a study commissioned before the lockdown), it may be time to rethink your car’s audio system. Whether we’re listening to music while stuck in traffic or cranking up a playlist for a road trip, the best car audio systems can deliver a concert-like experience in the safety and comfort of the driver’s cab. your car. Like a pair of luxury audiophile headphones, today’s best car audio systems can create a cocoon of immersive sound, whether you’re behind the wheel or sitting in the backseat.
Reading: Bose car audio system reviews
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they also call the sound system the “emotional engine” of a car, and for good reason: a good car audio system shouldn’t just play music, it should also enhance the songs you’re listening to, bringing out everything the little details and arrangements that add to the feel of a track.
Today, several of the major automakers are putting the same thought into their audio systems as they are into overall car design, partnering with major audio brands to create surprisingly powerful sound experiences inside a vehicle, whether it’s a six figure car sports car or family SUV. Here are some of the best car sound systems we reviewed this year.
mclaren automatic x bowers & wilkins
Mclaren, the British high-octane sports car brand, is no stranger to excitement on the roads and racetracks, but the company has also increased the power of its sound systems, with a new partnership with Bowers & wilkins. The venerable audio brand has long been known for its deluxe set of headphones and speakers, the latest of which you can now find in the new McLaren GT.
car features a sophisticated 12 speaker system, bows & Wilkins premium audio system with available carbon fiber subwoofers and Kevlar midrange speaker units. gazebos & Wilkins speakers have been used in some of the world’s leading recording studios, including London’s iconic Abbey Road, and along with McLaren’s performance-driven heritage, the McLaren GT’s audio system roars and rumbles with a sound as impressive and dynamic as the superior handling of a sports car.
mclaren & bowers & Wilkins worked closely to create an audio system that seamlessly integrates with the car’s interior, mirroring the elegant lines and curves of the cabin’s architecture. speaker placement is carefully considered, with “tweeter-on-top” technology the company says helps minimize “acoustic reflection” from the windshield, while reducing tinting, a term used in the industry of the audio to describe the muffled or distorted sound.
The acoustic enclosure also creates a surprisingly quiet and immersive listening experience, especially considering that the engine is in the rear of the car (yes, it’s a trunk in the front and an engine in the rear). McLaren says that’s intentional, with the 12 speakers positioned to ensure “clear passage of sound.” What you get: An enhanced listening experience that feels like you’re in a listening booth, getting a constant stream of pure, crisp, highly detailed sound.
Of course, this is a bold and powerful sound system, so you might as well turn up the beat if you really want to feel the music. What we like: The speakers are loud, but not so loud that you can’t hear the purr of the engine. This is a McLaren after all, and that’s what you really want to hear when you accelerate off the line.
chevrolet corvette stingray x bose
When Chevrolet wanted a new car audio system to go along with its redesigned Corvette, the company turned to one of the best audio brands in the business: Bose. The result is an impressive 14-speaker Bose performance system in the Corvette Stingray, delivering one of the most impressive listening experiences we’ve ever had in any car.
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First introduced on the eighth-generation Corvette, the new system continues a tradition of collaboration between Bose and Chevrolet that dates back to the 1984 fourth-generation Corvette. For the latest model, engineers from both brands worked more than just to expand the soundscape within the car’s cabin, but also had to modify the entire sound system design, as the Corvette transitioned to a more conventional front-end mid-engine layout. layout of the engine.
The result is a perfectly placed acoustic enclosure, with a combination of neodymium speakers in the dash, along the top of the doors, and at the rear of the cabin. Two 10-inch Bose woofers add the bass, with one built into each door. With 14 precisely placed speakers in all, the most Bose has ever put in a two-seater, driver and passenger alike enjoy spacious, well-balanced sound.
You might think that a sound system in a sports car like the corvette would be playing bass (and not much else), but you’d be wrong. The custom Bose audio system delivers true studio-quality sound, letting you hear a track the way the artists intended. all the highs and mids are blended incredibly well, while the bass purrs rather than rumbles, adding to the soundscape without being overbearing. The speaker placement also reproduces 360 degrees of sound, so sound seems to “float” around you, rather than coming straight at you from the front or back.
A bonus: Bose designed the sound system to automatically adjust your tunes when you pop the top off the car. even when your hair blows in the wind, your songs still sound full, smooth and crystal clear.
jaguar type f x meridian
Let’s face it: You really are behind the wheel of the Jaguar F-Type to take it around twists and hairpin turns and truly experience the thrill of a lean and powerful sports car. And indeed, the car’s superb handling and aerodynamic bodywork handled the sweeping curves of Mulholland Drive and the plains of Malibu’s canyons beautifully. but we were also impressed with how good our driving soundtrack sounded.
That’s thanks to Jaguar’s partnership with Meridian, which offers three different car audio configurations for the new Type F. We tested a car with 14 speakers, delivering a total of 380 watts of big, bright sound, with dual subwoofers in the rear to boost the bass. But Meridian’s Jaguar car audio systems can go up to 26(!) speakers on select F-Type models, with a massive 1300 watts of power. That’s all to say, this is a car that sounds as exciting as it performs.
The music in our car was fine-tuned for clarity and contrast, and careful speaker placement meant the sound really resonated throughout the cabin. The soundscape was wide and expansive, and it felt bigger than the car itself, like we were listening to music in a concert hall or, at least when we had some def leppard blaring, like we were at a big show in a stadium.
While the songs were loud and boisterous, the cabin was surprisingly quiet, thanks to Meridian’s “cabin correction technology,” which works to eliminate any unwanted noise interference whether the roof is up or down. lowered.
We also like the thought put into the design of the sound system, which is designed to blend seamlessly with the car’s luxurious interior. Meridian says its car audio systems also use a unique algorithm to “tune” songs to self-correct, or compensate for different surfaces and textures in a car’s interior. What that means: Music always sounds alive and clear, bouncing off the walls instead of sounding like it’s muffled or absorbed by the seats and padding.
acura tlx x panasonic
acura has partnered with panasonic on its car audio systems since 2004, and the fruits of the partnership are on full display in acura’s new els studio 3d sound system. We tested the Els Studio 3D system on the 2021 Acura TLX and couldn’t believe a system of this quality and caliber comes standard on most new TLX models (plus many new Acura vehicles).
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The 16-channel, 17-speaker system is a game changer for luxury sedans, creating an incredibly immersive 3D soundscape, with the ability to play tunes in true 5.1 surround sound. the addition of four roof-mounted speakers is what helps produce the three-dimensional audio image and really fills the cabin with sound whether you’re sitting in the front or back.
Acura says that Elliot Scheiner, a Grammy-winning producer and engineer who has worked with everyone from Foo Fighters and Nine Inch Nails to Fleetwood Mac and Queen, tweaked his car’s audio system. Coincidentally, we had “Someone To Love” blasting through the speakers on our test drive, and you can really hear a producer’s hand in car audio system tuning. everything was rich and vibrant, and the speakers picked up every little detail, from the soft whisper of drum brushes to the lush tones of a guitar or keyboard. Most importantly, the vocals were kept front and center, allowing the songs to really resonate throughout the cabin.
land rover x meridian
land rover is synonymous with luxury, and that extends to the sound system inside their vehicles. the luxury sport utility vehicle brand has partnered with meridian on a state-of-the-art sound system focused on music clarity and authenticity. What that means: Songs sound more real, and closer to how they were recorded in the studio, while playing through the car’s powerful speakers.
meridian has been manufacturing high-end audio systems since 1977 and the British brand excels at personalizing the in-cabin listening experience. The 2021 Land Rover Sport we tested had 13 speakers that together delivered up to 380 watts of pure, detailed sound. a two-channel subwoofer added weight on the low end of things. (Noteworthy: the meridian “signature sound system” package gets you up to 29 speakers and 1700 watts.)
meanwhile, meridian’s “trifield 3d” technology is billed as the world’s “first in-car 3d surround sound system”, which uses the addition of dedicated height channels to create the illusion of a soundscape of most complete and expansive cabin.
land rover has been a champion of music not only in its vehicles but also in live music. The company held its first 4xfar music and adventure festival in 2020, featuring performances by anderson .paak and the free nationals, mark ronson, q-tip, sofi tukker and others, to coincide with the launch of its 2020 land rover defender.
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lincoln corsair x revel
lincoln is no stranger to great music, having been a sponsor of the grammy awards, as well as numerous music festivals and concerts. The venerable auto company has also brought the concert experience to its new fleet of vehicles, with a 14-speaker revel premium audio system, delivering warm, spacious sound in the two-row luxury sport utility vehicle.
Inspired by the Latin word “cursus,” which means journey, the Corsair is a great road trip car (we drove it through the city streets and country lanes of Nashville) with well-placed speakers that are tuned to ensure the highest quality audio for the size of the booth and the acoustic enclosure. Both the interior design and speaker design look beautiful and high-end, like a window seat on a private jet or your favorite chair in your library or living room.
Lincoln also pays tribute to his Detroit roots, working with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on custom “symphonic chimes” that double as car alerts. instrumental tones alert you to things like your door is left ajar or your keys are still in the vehicle, and are a subtle nod to the motor city’s musical heritage.