Mercedes-Benz AMG in cooperation with prestigious hi-fi specialist Bang & Olufsen have developed a custom-designed sound system for the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. With a total output of 1000 watts, eleven loudspeakers and sound distribution which can be configured to suit your personal preference, this system offers a very special listening experience.
The Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end sound system, which is available on request with the SLS AMG, gives the gullwing model’s occupants a very special hi-fi experience. This is thanks to the perfect tone, the high-quality technical specification, the exclusive design, the excellent quality of materials and workmanship, as well as the simple, intuitive operation.
The combination of eleven loudspeakers as well as the two amplifiers giving total output of 1000 watts make for thrilling sound reproduction. The algorithm used for the digital sound processor allows a choice to be made between the high-end “Reference” studio sound system and voluminous surround sound; in addition, the sound fields can be directed precisely to the driver’s seating position, the passenger’s seating position or to a central point. The system is operated via the specially-created Bang & Olufsen menu in the 17.8 cm COMAND APS colour display. The distinctive – and also illuminated – lens-shaped tweeters in the instrument panel and the two subwoofers on the parcel shelf with their striking “Silver Shadow” aluminium trim give a first visual indication of the exceptional performance that is to come.
A unique listening experience which is both natural and dynamic
Whether the vehicle is stationary or in motion, the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end sound system delivers consummate listening pleasure. The precision sound reproduction guarantees that original recordings can be heard as clearly as if they were being heard live. In other words: in acoustic terms, nothing is added, amplified or taken away. The virtual sound stage in the SLS AMG as perceived by the listeners is permanently in front of the passengers and thus equates to the natural and normal way people listen to and enjoy music. Every instrument, whether it be a guitar, a string instrument, a wind instrument, piano or synthesiser, is convincingly natural, fresh and dynamic. The same applies to the different types of voices: male and female singing voices sound as authentic as normal voice reproduction in news programmes, for example.
The personal taste in music of the people sitting in the SLS AMG is of secondary importance here, as is the source of that music: the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end sound system reproduces every type of music perfectly, from classical to blues, jazz, pop, rock, electro through to hip-hop, regardless of whether it is from a CD, DVD, TV/video, MP3 or radio – and surpasses expectations, even those of listeners accustomed to the highest quality. “Audiophile gourmets” appreciate the precision of the sound reproduction, which has a powerful bass output modified to do justice to the high-end concept, as well as a broad and clear tonal range covering the middle and top notes, even for complex musical arrangements such as would be heard, for example, at live concerts in which many instruments are being played.
The software in the surround sound menu, which can be selected as an alternative to the “Reference” menu option by the driver, analyses the degree of reverberation in any musical piece continuously and in real time. The effect of this is to reproduce a convincing concert hall atmosphere without distorting voices and instrument sounds. The “sound mode” offers a further possibility of tailoring the sound setting to one’s own personal preferences: with this, the so-called sweet spot – described by hi-fi experts as being that point at which sound is optimally received – can be shifted, from on the left, when the driver of the SLS AMG is sitting on his/her own in the vehicle, to the centre when there are two occupants, to on the right if the sound setting is to be directed at the passenger, or for those countries in which the SLS AMG is delivered as a right-hand drive vehicle. The optimised sound delivery, above the instrument panel, gives a listening experience such as can normally only be attained with high-end home systems through adjusting the seating position down to the millimetre.
The optimum achieved in component selection and in matching the system to its surrounds
The musical experience offered in the SLS AMG is the result of a sophisticated composition of high-quality loudspeaker systems, high-performance amplifier technology and optimal tuning. When designing and developing the sound system, the AMG and Bang & Olufsen experts focused on the specific characteristics of the gull-wing model. In contrast to a luxury saloon or an SUV, which have spacious interiors and luggage compartments, the challenge here was to develop and match the components in such a way that, despite the comparatively limited space available, the passengers would still be able to enjoy a superlative sound experience.
Both the limited space available for loudspeakers and amplifiers, as well as weight considerations – after all, the new super sports car from AMG and Mercedes-Benz, with its kerb weight of 1620 kilograms, has been systematically and intelligently designed to be a lightweight construction – had to be borne in mind. The squaring of this proverbial circle was made possible by the expertise of the Danish high-end specialists from Bang & Olufsen, who came up with some unusual solutions.
Eye-catching illuminated and lens-shaped tweeters
Neodymium loudspeakers, which distinguish themselves through their light weight coupled with excellent output, are solely deployed in the SLS AMG as a matter of principle. Through their exciting design the two 50-watt lens-shaped tweeters, which are located in the instrument panel, serve as a real eye-catcher. As soon as the sound system is switched on, a white band of light lights up – a well-known feature of Bang & Olufsen’s loudspeakers for the home. This discreet band of light is linked to the instrument lighting and its intensity is regulated automatically, for example at dusk or when entering a tunnel. This unobtrusive show effect is complemented by the unusual shape and form of the tweeters, which operate using Bang & Olufsen’s patented Acoustic Lens Technology.
Their special shape, with the lens fitted under a special disk, makes broad horizontal and minimal vertical sound distribution possible – this provides the typical virtual stage sound for the passengers. Both 19-millimetre tweeters work at a frequency response of 5000 to 20000 hertz. Both the Acoustic Lens Technology and the futuristic design were taken from the BeoLab 5 home loudspeakers, which have absolute reference status in specialist circles.
Five mid-range speakers in optimal positions
A mid-range speaker with a diameter of 90 millimetres is located in the centre of the wing-shaped instrument panel. Two further mid-range speakers with the high-quality “Silver Shadow” aluminium trim are positioned in the doors in exposed positions to enable optimal sound radiation. Two surround loudspeakers, located in the B-pillars behind the seats, complete the sound chamber for the passengers.
Two woofers with a diameter of 165 millimetres are ideally located in the footwells: the loudspeakers are located directly in the extremely stiff aluminium cast node of the aluminium space frame. In contrast to sheet steel, the advantage is that the cast node does not give, even at high volume, and it therefore helps the sound system to produce a true and powerful bass sound. In this way the aluminium cast node also takes on the function of loudspeaker housing.
Subwoofers with special metal covers
Apart from the acoustic lens tweeters with their typical Bang & Olufsen design, the two subwoofers which are fitted in the parcel shelf are also distinctive features appreciated by those in the know. The high-quality “Silver Shadow” aluminium trim with its large surface area has laser-engraved Bang & Olufsen lettering; and its special, undulating perforated pattern is also ideal for distributing the low-frequency sounds in the car. The subwoofers, each with a diameter of 165 millimetres, have a frequency range of 30 to 65 hertz and guarantee the desired volume.
The smaller and lighter-weight Bang & Olufsen ICEPower® 750-watt amplifier
The perfect complement to the eleven Neodymium loudspeakers is the 750-watt ultra-compact Bang & Olufsen ICEPower® amplifier. ICE stands for Intelligent, Compact and Efficient – which a glance at the extremely light and space-saving amplifier makes clear. The Bang & Olufsen amplifier converts 93 percent of the energy fed in into output; conventional car hi-fi amplifiers manage around 30 percent. This results in significant benefits not only in terms of effectiveness and energy management but also in terms of reduced heat dissipation. With dimensions of 63 x 261 x 194 millimetres (depth x width x height) and weighing only 2930 grams, the Bang & Olufsen ICEPower® amplifier is significantly smaller and lighter than normal – and, as such, is almost predestined to be installed in a super sports car with an optimised lightweight construction. The components in the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end sound system weigh less than 10 kilograms in total.
The 750-watt ICEPower® amplifier is closely interlinked with the DSP amplifier, the DSP standing for digital sound processor. This 250-watt amplifier converts the stereo sound and the Dolby Digital 5.1 signal into surround sound and is really the “brain” of the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end sound system. The DSP amplifier contains a microphone input for dynamic driving noise compensation, five outputs for the ICEPower® amplifier and ten outputs for the loudspeakers. It is additionally fitted with a MOST (Media Oriented Systems Transport) interface, which is needed for the communication with the COMAND system.
Meticulous sound tuning with the aid of the digital sound processor
The decision on where to locate all eleven loudspeakers, and their characteristics, are as specifically geared to the layout of the SLS AMG interior as is the meticulous configuration of the digital sound processor – that is to say, the sound tuning. As the driver and passenger in a car are almost never seated in the one hundred percent ideal position between the loudspeakers, the so-called sweet spot, each loudspeaker necessarily needs a different amount of time for its output to reach the ear of the passenger. Thus, for example, the sound waves from the right-hand tweeter take longer to reach the right ear of the driver than the left ear. The DSP compensates for this physical time lag – for each of the eleven loudspeakers.
A further limitation, which is typical for cars, is the comparatively small passenger compartment which has natural resonances which can lead to an overshoot in the lower frequencies. In addition there is the usual driving noise, from the tyres, wind, the engine, transmission and possibly also rain, all of which can impair the perception of the music quality. All of these factors have been taken into account by the experts from AMG and Bang & Olufsen when designing and then developing the sound system in a series of complex tests – and a perfect solution found with the help of the digital sound processor.
Dynamic road noise compensation
Listening pleasure is also possible on long journeys in the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, without having a tiring effect. A significant part of the reason for this lies with the dynamic road noise compensation: a microphone built into the roof lining between the gull wings is constantly delivering data on the current level of interior noise. The digital sound processor analyses all the wavebands and increases the volume as required depending on the vehicle speed – and not just generally, but individually for each speaker and for the different frequencies. The reason for this is it makes a difference to the human ear whether background noise is diffuse, as it is when it comes from airflow or from the tyres; or direct, as it is, for example, from the sports exhaust system when the AMG is accelerating.
In addition, those aspects of noise which are specific to a sports car are also always taken into consideration. That is to say, the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end sound system is in no way intended to overlay the typical sound made by an eight-cylinder AMG. After all, the driver of an SLS AMG wants to experience the power of his/her super sports car acoustically as well, even when listening to music.
Integration with the design philosophy behind the SLS AMG
The design is every bit as important as the sound and the technology deployed – in two respects. On the one hand, it is important that the sound system perfectly matches in optical terms the design philosophy behind the SLS AMG interior. On the other, it should be made clear to all hi-fi connoisseurs in particular that the SLS AMG is fitted out with high-quality Bang & Olufsen components. These requirements are met by the sound system with the “Silver Shadow” loudspeaker trim, which harmonises perfectly with the galvanised air outlets with adjustable cross-shaped nozzles, the round dials and all the controls. An important aspect of the Danish firm’s design philosophy is the clear design idiom – it stands for genuineness, which also characterises the sound of Bang & Olufsen products. The design language is also to be found in mechanical elements such as the materials used, the surface finish, the sound system’s appearance and its shape.
Apart from their power to convince in aesthetic terms, Bang & Olufsen products also impress with their supreme functionality, quality and user-friendliness. High expectations with regard to perfect quality and longevity, such as also apply to products from Mercedes-Benz and AMG, are therefore fulfilled.
Intuitive operation and optimal ergonomics
The Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end sound system is operated through the COMAND APS multimedia system, which is fitted as standard. With the aid of the COMAND controller, the Bang & Olufsen menu giving the different sound settings can be called up. The turn/push control can be moved in seven different directions: by turning the controller, the desired function can be selected on the display and then confirmed by pushing. The keys next to the controller labelled “R” and “C” make it possible to exit menus quickly or to cancel entries. Really simple and intuitive operation is combined with the best possible ergonomics as well as the suitability for everyday use that is so typical for Mercedes.
When switched on, the 17.8-centimetre colour display in the dashboard shows the unmistakable AMG logo for ten seconds – and thereafter, depending on the function, a high-resolution map, radio station or music track information, or the telephone keypad is displayed. The Europe-wide navigation system has a 30‑gigabyte hard disc on which the navigation data are stored, which means that route calculation is extremely rapid. The car radio, which has an integrated CD/DVD player, has an FM/MW/SW/LW twin tuner with automatic station search and an RDS function. In addition to this, the COMAND APS has a music server with storage capacity of 6 gigabytes.
A DVD player for video and audio is also on board, and an integrated 6-disc DVD changer is available on request. Below the DVD aperture the unit has an adapter that enables various PC memory cards for the reproduction of music files to be used. External audio devices such as an “iPod” can be connected to COMAND APS via the optional Media Interface. As a standard feature, Mercedes-Benz combines COMAND APS with the LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system and the Bluetooth interface, which provides a wireless connection between the mobile phone and the hands-free system.
A tough testing programme to ensure perfect quality and safety
The development and testing of the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end sound system for the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG proceeded in parallel on two levels: apart from the pure sound tuning necessary, the in-car testing – in which every component of the sound system was tested to breaking point – had to be completed. The development of the sound system took around 1 1/2 years. The AMG and Bang & Olufsen sound experts spent roughly 300 hours in various SLS AMG test vehicles listening to, analysing and optimising the system. Of course, all the different styles of music were taken into account; and all the different sources for the music were used.
In the exhaustive testing programme, in which the SLS AMG test vehicles had to prove themselves in all the climatic regions of the earth and in various different test stations, the sound system was also the focus of attention. Whether in heat, cold, dust, high and low humidity, crash tests or corrosion tests, an important objective was to establish whether all the components could guarantee trouble-free functioning as well as perfect quality and safety, even under the toughest conditions. The electromagnetic capability of the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end sound system was also examined and verified, in order to ensure it could meet all standards in force around the world.