• Feb 20, 2008
Click above for a high-res photo gallery of the Naim Audio System

Dropping us yet another hint that ultra-luxury automobile buyers really do listen to Kanye West when their windows are rolled up, Bentley Motors has announced an exclusive partnership with British high-end audio manufacturer Naim to fit the world's most powerful in-car production amplifier to their full model lineup.

The bragging rights center around an 1100-watt amplifier driving up to 15 speakers (depending on the model). Cutting-edge technology on each system includes Digital Signal Processing (DSP) and Dynamic Equalization to offer passengers an 'as-live' in-car audio experience. To adapt the system to each particular Bentley model, Naim analyzed each car and then designed a unique speaker drive unit for it. According to Bentley, the painstaking measures taken to match the acoustics to the particular vehicle are so effective that even with rapper Kanye West belting out tunes at full system power, only a low level of sound can be heard from outside the car. Too bad the same thing can't be said for the Honda Civic that my teenage neighbor drives...


[Source: Bentley Motors]

PRESS RELEASE

Bentley forms exclusive partnership with British audio manufacturer Naim to deliver the world's best in-car sound system

  • 'Naim for Bentley' set to achieve world's best in-car audio experience
  • Forging of two British luxury brands provides Bentley customers with unparalleled sound quality matching Naim's pinnacle home hi-fi systems
  • World's most powerful in-car production amplifier combined with state-of-the-art speaker system
  • First commercial use of next-generation Digital Signal Processing offering unrivalled 'as-live' in-car audio experience
  • First partnership of its kind for Bentley and Naim

  • February 20, 2008 - Bentley Motors has entered into partnership with Naim Audio, one of the world's most respected creators of hi-fi systems, to produce an unparalleled in-car sound system for all its future models. After 18 months of research and development, the result is an 'as-live' in-car audio experience which remains true to both Bentley and Naim's philosophy of no compromise in the search for quality.

    From design concept to production, Bentley and Naim's engineers worked closely together to create the sound system, which is carefully tuned for each model using the most advanced acoustic analysis. Each system features an 1100 Watt amplifier – the world's most powerful production unit fitted in a car – and, depending on model, up to 15 speakers with drive units specifically designed for Bentley by Naim. Bentley is also the first car manufacturer to use a next-generation Digital Signal Processor (DSP) in its audio system, enhancing the listening experience still further.

    The pairing of Naim Audio – based in Salisbury, England – with Bentley Motors is an ideal brand partnership, for each manufacturer has built a proud British heritage and a reputation for offering their customers the very best products in their respective industries. Branded 'Naim for Bentley', this system will soon become synonymous with the ultimate in-car audio experience.

    "Our customers expect the ultimate in every experience when they commission a Bentley," said Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, Chairman and Chief Executive, Bentley Motors. "The 'Naim for Bentley' sound system delivers the world's ultimate in-car audio experience – allowing for 'as-live' audio entertainment that is as pure as the Bentley driving experience itself." It is this experience and philosophy which led to a simple brief: to deliver the equal of the world's finest home hi-fi within a car and hence create the world's best in-car sound system. "We are absolutely delighted with the new 'Naim for Bentley' range," said Paul Stephenson, Managing Director, Naim Audio. "The parallels between our two marques are so striking – we are both proud British manufacturers with a desire to produce the finest, hand-built products of their kind – that it is the perfect partnership."

    Founded in 1969, Naim has formed a reputation for producing the finest hand-built amplifiers on the market. Naim has attracted a loyal following of audiophiles who appreciate their systems' ability to reproduce music exactly as the artist had intended it to be heard and who recognise their superb reliability and build quality.

    Customer-driven demand

    In recent years the market for premium audio within the ultra-luxury automobile sector has evolved markedly, with many manufacturers offering systems that have been commissioned from a partner brand in the audio industry. For Bentley it was imperative that any such partner be able to uphold the marque's own values of quality craftsmanship and best-in-class design.

    Naim Audio's highly specialised workforce and its passion and commitment to music were key factors in the company's appointment. Bentley recognised that their owners would cherish the pride and attention to detail that goes into producing a Naim product. Benefits from such a close partnership will reflect the personalised service offered by both brands and 'Naim for Bentley' will be a truly bespoke product.

    Industry-leading Power Output

    An 18-month development programme was undertaken at Bentley's Crewe, Cheshire home and Naim's research facilities in Salisbury, Wiltshire. A clear specification for the sound system was soon fixed, with industry-leading power output from a unique 1100 Watt amplifier and a state-of-the-art speaker system to deliver a pure sound experience.

    To achieve these ambitious targets, Naim began by undertaking the most advanced acoustic analysis of the cabin areas of every Bentley model – in both hard-top and convertible guise – in all road conditions. Resonance levels were measured throughout the cabin and bodywork to allow the engineers to design unique speaker drive units for each car. The effectiveness of this approach is underlined by the fact that even with the system delivering breathtaking performance at full power, only a low level of sound can be heard from outside the car.

    The Naim Audio system was designed on the premise that whatever Bentley model it was installed in, it would be capable of producing an audio experience equal to any class-leading, home hi-fi system. The central factor for this was the 1100 Watt amplifier which was designed to operate within a remarkably compact space.

    Naim Audio amplifier designer Steve Sells explains the significance of these limitations:

    "Within this tiny area we need to incorporate some of the most densely-packed, high-tech components imaginable and still ensure the amplifier meets our strict performance targets. The level of engineering that goes into the amp's internals is unique. Every circuit board is optically checked by a computer-operated camera to ensure each component is perfectly oriented. It even checks the quality of each solder joint.
    "The amplifier is then hand-assembled to ensure a perfect line-up of all the circuit boards and cable dressing and every single input and output is computer-tested to ensure it matches our uncompromising standards."

    Only by using a highly complex, double-sided, six-layer circuit board could this incredible amplifier be made to fit within the same footprint. Even more remarkably, despite the high power output, it has a unique fanless design, a specification insisted upon by Naim to ensure no interference from moving parts. Despite this, the amplifier still meets full Bentley requirements for thermal management and has been tested in ambient temperatures ranging from -40 degrees Celsius up to 70 degrees Celsius.

    Unparalleled Digital Signal Processing (DSP)

    Every electrical component used within the system is specified by Naim to meet the highest engineering tolerances. The Digital Signal Processor (DSP) offers users eight modes to enhance their listening experience. These range from Naim's main 'audiophile' mode – the absolute reference setting for sound playback – through to other settings including driver-optimised, balanced, rear-optimised, Digital Media playback (via mp3, iPodTM players and digital radio), Spoken Word, Classic and Enhanced.

    The DSP performs Dynamic Equalisation which adjusts EQ (sound levels) for every DSP setting dependent on car speed. Other audio systems use a microphone to read background noise and adjust EQ levels accordingly. However, this method has an inherent time lag that was deemed unsuitable by Naim. As a consequence, the Naim system has variable Dynamic EQ settings, supplying a new level for every 1km/h of speed change in the car. This means that every DSP setting has over 300 unique EQ levels. These also vary if the car is a convertible, detecting whether the roof is up or down.

    Class-leading Speaker Specification

    The state-of-the-art amplifier powers a series of class-leading speakers, again designed exclusively for Bentley by Naim, with arguably the most advanced specification of any in-car audio system. Fiftenn speakers in the Continental range (14 for the Continental GTC) and 11 speakers in Bentley's flagship range of Arnage limousine, Azure convertible and Brooklands coupe will provide phenomenal sound quality, thanks to highly optimised magnet and voice coil systems, which are rarely found in automotive audio.

    Located throughout the car, 25mm tweeter units designed using the latest catenary-profiled domes for the optimum balance of rigidity and weight channel high-frequency sounds, while unique 80mm midrange loudspeakers operate in frequencies down to 450Hz and contain an impressive 32mm voice coil. Larger 130mm bass midrange loudspeakers and powerful twin 200mm subwoofers control the lower frequencies.

    The individual loudspeakers are driven by individual amplifier channels, all of which are controlled by the DSP for optimised performance and are digitally controlled to reduce sound leakage to the outside of the car.

    The Arnage, Azure and Brooklands models also utilise the same amplifier and DSP settings, with their eleven-speaker layout tuned specifically to the larger cabin area of these models.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Audiophile rubbish. More speakers do not equal 'better sound quality', most of the time it just increases the volume and muddies up the acoustics due to more reflecting waves of sound. They'd get better SQ with fewer speakers and better mounting locations. This is just marketing garbage.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Sweet. You should be working for Naim and/or Bentley. I hear that they are firing their audio engineers and hiring internet experts.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If you don't have1100hp, give 'em 1100 watts...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why is it that so many people who posts here think that they know more than anyone else?

      @Vintage - Show me where you got your quote. I don't see it in either the Autoblog post or the Bentley press release. I see "will provide phenomenal sound quality", which has a completely different meaning than your mystery "better sound quality".
      Do you not think it is possible that a company like Naim would have thought about what happens to the sound in the cabin of a car? Oh, look, apparently they did - "To achieve these ambitious targets, Naim began by undertaking the most advanced acoustic analysis of the cabin areas of every Bentley model – in both hard-top and convertible guise – in all road conditions." Now maybe you know something we don't, like they lied and didn't do all this work, if so please let us know.

      There are some really knowledgeable people that post here, can we not let those people post so that they actually contribute something of value to this site and leave the ego posts and trolls to other sites?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wow, Vintage, who pissed in your Wheaties this morning?
      • 6 Years Ago
      What's happened to the format here? Oh, and if the music sounds great, who cares?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Audi already use Bang & Olufsen as an option in their top end cars.

      http://www.sybarites.org/2006/10/03/audi-r8-to-feature-bang-olufsen-sound-system/
        • 6 Years Ago
        BK: If B&O's ICE amplifiers aren't audiophile quality, I don't know what is.
        • 6 Years Ago
        And BMW uses Harman...
        And Lexus uses Mark Levinson...
        And Nissan/Infiniti uses Bose...
        And Lotus uses Blaupunkt...

        And he list goes on. What's your point?

        PS - B&O makes some wonderful looking stuff, but they aren't exactly audiophile.
      • 6 Years Ago
      huh 1.1kw?

      isnt bently supposed to be like.. reserved?
      • 6 Years Ago
      This audio system branding thing has had mixed results over the years, which is why for those who can afford a Bentley to begin with, AFTERMARKET high end audio eventually finds its way into their cars anyway. Some of these systems sound very good, others are terrible. The Mark Levinson (just a marketing arm of Harmon International by the way) in the LS430 I used to have was an example of an extremely hyped system that in person was completely sub-par. In contrast however, the Nakamichi system in my 1998 LS400 was absolutely brilliant, and probably had less power, and less speakers.

      To this day the simple plain-old BOSE 4.0 system in my Cadillac Sevilles is among the best I've ever owned. Apparently, high end audio manufacturers who resisted the urge to get in bed with car companies for the longest time had a sudden change of heart and I'm not sure why. Even Bowers and Wilkins has folded and is now providing systems for Jaguar. The problem with this is you run the extreme risk of tarnishing an entire brand with even one poorly executed application of your technology in a car... a car that keeps on reflecting that poor execution for many... many years to come, with thousands of copies.