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Home Audio Brands Make Noise In OEM Autosound

NEW YORK – The New York International Auto Show brought OEM autosound developments to the forefront with multiple announcements involving factory systems that feature the names of leading home audio brands.

Bose, for example, announced that Cadillac’s first CT6 full-size luxury sedan will feature the first OEM Bose sound system incorporating 34 drivers, articulated-array tweeters, and line-array speakers. Meantime, Harman announced that its first Revelbrand OEM sound system will go on sale in the fall in the 2016 MKX that other Lincolns, including the revived Continental model, will get Revel systems.

Harman also announced its planned purchase of Bang & Olufsen’s OEM automotive division and a license to use the Bang & Olufsen and B&O Play names in factory sound systems.

Here’s what the companies announced:
Bang & Olufsen: The financially ailing company joined with Harman to announce that Harman will buy Bang & Olufsen’s OEM automotive audio business and get the exclusive right to use the Bang & Olufsen and B&O Play brand names in factory sound systems. The purchase price, including brand licenses, is 145 million euros ($157 million).

Bang & Olufsen sound systems are available in Audi, Aston Martin, BMW and Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the U.S. and other countries. The company launched its automotive division 10 years ago.

Harman chairman, president and CEO Dinesh Paliwal said Bang & Olufsen-branded audio will continue to appear “at the top of the high-end luxury segment,” but Harman “will rapidly grow B&O Play-branded solutions in the larger mass luxury market.”

Harman already markets sound systems to automakers under the Bowers & Wilkins, Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon, Mark Levinson and Revel homeaudio brands.

Bose: The optional Bose Panaray audio system, exclusive to the 2016 CT6, will be Bose’s highest performance sound system to date, and it will mark the global debut of Bose’s new line of Advanced Technology Series sound systems, Bose said.

The CT6 was on display at the New York International Auto Show and will go on sale sometime later this year. Because Cadillac displayed a pre-production CT6, the sound system wasn’t functional.

In the Panaray system, dual tweeters in an articulated array appear in the A pillars and rear doors, with tweeters firing in alternate directions to create “a broader and more consistent sound stage,” the company said. Line-array clusters of small drivers are pointed in the same direction in the center of the instrument panel and in the back of the center console to focus sound directly at listeners. The instrumentpanel array consists of three 2-inch speakers in a motorized center-fill enclosure that rises out of the dash when the sound system is activated.

The sound system also incorporates other new Bose technologies, including a new amplifier/DSP platform with almost twice the processing power of previous Bose offerings. The platform also includes upgraded Centerpoint 3 technology, which delivers 12 channels of stereo-to-surround processing compared to a previous six channels to deliver greater music detail, the company said.

Harman: Lincoln went to the show with a concept version of a full-size Continental sedan that will feature a Harman Revel sound system when a production version becomes available in 2016, Lincoln announced.

The first Lincoln with Revel sound system will be the all-new 2016 MKX, available later this fall and also on display, the company added. It also appeared at the show.

For its part, Harman said addition Lincoln vehicles not yet announced will get Revel systems before the launch of the Continental.

Late last year, Harman announced a 10-year agreement with Lincoln to offer Revel-brand OEM audio systems on an exclusive basis. Revel systems will be designed for each Lincoln vehicle’s interior, with speaker placement, tuning, calibration and the number of speakers unique to each Lincoln model.

Consumers will use the MyLincoln Touch screen to select three listening modes: traditional stereo; audience; and On Stage. Audience places instruments in front and to the sides of passengers. On Stage puts the listener in the middle of the stage and places individual instruments all around the passengers. Clari-Fi technology restores information lost in compressed music.

In carrying over design elements from Revel home speakers, the factory systems will place the tweeter and midrange speakers close together in what’s called “point-source architecture” to improve the accuracy of midrange and high-frequency reproduction, the companies said. The systems will also use Revel’s proprietary hybrid amplifier design, which combines Class A/B for tweeters and efficient Class D amplification for midrange and woofer drivers.