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Volvo ties up with Bowers & Wilkins for new XC90

Snapshot: Volvo has tied up with renowed audio specialists Bowers & Wilkins for the new XC90

The all-new Volvo XC90, which will be revealed later this year, will offer drivers one of the top audio systems available in the automotive world after engineers at the Swedish car company joined forces with their counterparts at the renowned British audio equipment company Bowers & Wilkins.

The Bowers & Wilkins system for the XC90 uses bespoke acoustic technology developed over its five decades of pioneering research into loudspeaker design. The XC90 system is derived directly from acoustic technology developed for reference speakers used in some of the world’s most demanding acoustic environments, including London’s legendary Abbey Road Studios.
The result of the collaboration uses a combination of high-performance, low-distortion speaker designs, including extended range aluminium tweeters and Kevlar® midrange units, reflecting components found in Bowers & Wilkins award-winning premium loudspeakers. It also features a centre speaker with Bowers & Wilkins tweeter-on-top technology for the first time in a car, providing a more open, spacious sound.

“The XC90 uses our tweeter-on-top technology, which has a number of advantages in the automotive environment. Fundamentally it increases the ratio of direct to reflected sound, as more of the signal reaches the listener directly from the tweeter, rather than reflecting off the windscreen first. All of this means that the Bowers & Wilkins audio system in the XC90 sounds incredibly tangible and lifelike,” said Stuart Nevill, Head of Engineering, Bowers & Wilkins.

The system is comprised of a 12-channel HARMAN 1400 watts Class D amplifier serving a total of 19 Bowers & Wilkins speakers – 7 Nautilus tweeters (25 mm) with the latest treble technology, 7 midrange speakers (5x100 mm and 2x80 mm) with the characteristic yellow Bowers & Wilkins Kevlar cone clearly visible behind the cover, 4 cone woofers (200/165 mm) and the new, ground-breaking air-ventilated subwoofer (250 mm).

“In my book the Premium Sound in the all-new XC90 is one of the top three audio systems in the automotive world,” says Michael Adenauer, former music producer and audio expert at Volvo Cars. The audio innovations in the new XC90 include one of the first automotive applications of an air-ventilated subwoofer integrated into the body of the car rather than being a freestanding box that is simply bolted to it.

“The subwoofer design is integrated into our new Scalable Product Architecture and is possibly a world first in the automotive industry,” said Adenauer. “This increases the subwoofer’s capacity to pulse more air, which enables extremely low bass tones all the way down to 20 Hz. In principle, it turns the whole interior space in the car into a giant subwoofer.” The XC90’s new audio system also uses the latest and most advanced sound processing software from the specialist Swedish audio company Dirac Research, which manages the timing of the sound and co-operation between the speakers to optimise the sound for a specific or all seating positions and can also create individual acoustics from certain music venues or concert halls.

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