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Bang & Olufsen's World

Bang & Olufsen's World

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Published by Rory Coen
Rory Coen visited Bang & Olufsen's HQ in Denmark to understand how they are providing the world's best entertainment systems for your living room and for your automobile.
Rory Coen visited Bang & Olufsen's HQ in Denmark to understand how they are providing the world's best entertainment systems for your living room and for your automobile.

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Published by: Rory Coen on Aug 02, 2012
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09/07/2012

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MARKET WATCH

InterIor of AudI A6 wIth BAng & olufsen sound system.

Bang & Olufsen’s
BAng & olufsEn HAvE opEnEd THEMsElvEs up To THE AuToMoTivE indusTRy in RECEnT yEARs – WHERE THEy ARE offERing HigH-End CAR MAnufACTuRERs THEiR unCoMpRoMising And inTEgRATEd sound sysTEMs. RoRy CoEn WAs AT THEiR HEAdQuARTERs in dEnMARK RECEnTly To sEE iT All fiRsT-HAnd.

WOrld

82 QATAR TodAy

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august 2012

see a little silhouette of a man. Scaramouche! Scaramouche! Will you do the Fandango? Thunderbolt of lightning, very, very frightening Me! Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Figaro – magnifico!” Who can remember the scene from the 1992 movie Wayne’s World when Wayne and Garth drive nonchalantly through the

streets of Aurora, Illinois in their baby blue 1976 AMC Pacer – nicknamed “the Mirth Mobile” – singing aloud to “Bohemian Rhapsody”, a 1975 track by Queen? The scene starts out with Wayne, Garth and their two cohorts squeezing into the tiny automobile before pulling away. Wayne plucks out a white cassette tape from his pocket and declares: “I think we’ll go with a little ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, fellas.” He in-

MARKET WATCH

B&O at LagOOna MaLL
BAng & olufsen recently opened up At lAgoonA mAll In west BAy. the ImpressIve plAyground showcAses the compAny’s phIlosophy of delIverIng A unIque home entertAInment experIence for Its customers, where they Are trAnsported from A humdrum lIvIng room envIronment Into A dArk cInemAtIc colIseum By the press of A Button, And they cAn relAx to wItness the lAtest BlockBuster In glorIous surround sound And hIgh defInItIon. the store offers All of the cpmpAny’s products, from the BeovIsIon-4 pIcture engIne – 85 or 103 Inch hd 3d plAsmA screens – to BeolAB 5 speAkers, whose AttrIButes BrIng the vIewIng experIence to Another level. It Also hIghlIghts the IdeA of A smArt home, where the entertAInment And domestIc feAtures wIthIn your home Are IntegrAted Into one remote control, the Beo6. B&o plAy offers the customer A lIttle more leverAge. the BeolIt 12 Is A hAndy portABle speAker whIch cAn plAy tunes strAIght from An Iphone or IpAd, whIle the BeoplAy A3 opens up new wAys to use your IpAd, IncludIng some remArkABle plAcement optIons. the BeoplAy A8 cAn Be deployed As A sound huB for your Iphone/IpAd or Ipod thAt offers wIreless streAmIng of your dIgItAl musIc vIA Apple AIrplAy. these products And more Are AvAIlABle At the new BAng & olufsen store.

serts it into an embedded tape deck on the dashboard and the quartet roar out the lyrics as they blaze a trail through the town. If any movie scene promotes the relationship music has with the automobile, then this is the one. It was enough to propel the song to #2 on Billboard’s Top 100 almost 20 years after it debuted at #9. The pair go together, as Vice President, Bang & Olufsen Automotive Division, Jens Peter Zinck says, like peanut butter and jelly. That was 20 years ago. A mounted tapedeck on the dashboard, with plastic speakers in the doors. Whilst methods of playing music in an automobile enhanced through the 90s and into the new millennium, there wasn’t the same advancement in sound quality. In 2003 Bang & Olufsen, which had been mastering sound systems for homes for decades, realised that people were spending more time in their cars and this was a segment which should be explored. “When Bang & Olufsen entered the automotive sector, the goal was not only to create the best car sound system in the world, but to raise the bar even higher by combining superb sound in-car integration and outstanding visual design,” says Zinck. As with most business ventures, Bang & Olufsen were knocked back by the most exclusive car manufacturers initially. The general response was that there was no market in the car industry for expensive and exclusive sound systems. It wasn’t until they rolled up to the Audi headquarters in an Audi A8 with an installed prototype system that things changed.

Immediately after listening to the system, CEO Dr Martin Winterkorn said: “Das machen wir!” (That’s what we’re gonna do!) Since then, Bang & Olufsen have gone from strength to strength in the automotive segment and have signed up with Aston Martin, BMW and Mercedes to bring the same high level of sound to these luxury automobiles. They are very fussy about which car manufacturers they work with – Zinck isn’t slow to highlight that they have turned down offers of partnerships because the brands weren’t upmarket enough, and he teases about which car manufacturer is next in line. Getting it right One of the major challenges – as Wayne and Garth could attest – is that the more people you have in the car, the more you have to compromise on the experience. The designers solved this by making it possible to preset or change the sound image, optimising it according to how many people are in the car and where they are sitting: driver-focused, front or rear seat-focused or focusing on all seats. Their sound systems use a microphone integrated between the two front seats to measure changing noise conditions, which automatically adapt the volume accordingly. At the same time, the intelligent loudness system ensures that the perceived balance of bass, mid-range and treble information remains constant at all volume levels. Combined, these two technologies work to let you experience pure, authentic sound

at any volume and at any speed. The automotive sound systems have 1219 loudspeakers – powered by up to 1,000 watts – distributed throughtout the interior of the car. The system uses all loudspeakers in the car to provide the proper soundstage and is specifically tuned for each car model. In the top systems, all loudspeakers are active loudspeakers with integrated ICEpower amplifiers that are characterised by a unique combination of audiophile sound quality, high output power and ultracompact design that breaks down previous performance barriers in car audio. As each loudspeaker is powered by its own integrated amplifier, the tonal characteristics of each loudspeaker can be accurately tuned for ultimate acoustic performance. Half way through the Bohemian Rhapsody rumble, Wayne pulls over – much to the angst of the other occupants – and approaches a shop-window that is displaying an expensive luxury guitar, which Wayne has been fawning over every Friday night for a few months. “Stop torturing yourself, man,” shouts Garth in his direction. “You’ll never afford it – live in the now.” However Wayne, who is hugging the shop window, turns around to his friends and announces with hope bursting from his arteries: “It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.” I imagine Wayne would be saying the exact same thing about a Bang & Olufsen sound system for his automobile today. If any automobile deserves one, it’s the Mirth mobile

august 2012

QATAR TodAy 83

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