B&O Advanced Sound System

The 8-inch, rear deck, subwoofer - taken at the New York Auto Show

With the debut of the Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System in the Audi A8 and S8, the Danish audio-design icon and German luxury carmaker have raised the performance bar - and price - of premium OEM sound systems. B&O's new benchmark system was unveiled in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in the sleek '07 Audi S8 - as a mere $6,700 option on the $100K super luxury-performance sedan. (The system will be available in the '07 Audi A8 this summer and in the S7 in the fall.)

This costly add-on gets you 14 speakers powered by over 1,000 watts. True to B&O's heritage, the system looks stunning, with stylish aluminum speaker grilles integrated into the car's doors and rear deck. But the real eye (and ear) candy is a pair of Acoustic Lens tweeters that rise out of the corners of the dash when the system is turned on (and retract when it's switched off).

The motorized tweeters are complemented by a 70-mm center channel in the dash, a 90-mm midrange and 133-mm midbass driver in each front door, a 25-mm tweeter and 140-mm midbass in each rear door, and two 90-mm full-range drivers and a 200-mm subwoofer in the rear deck. B&O's ICEpower five-channel amplifier drives the sub with 250 watts and the four door-mounted midbass speakers with 125 watts each; a MOST DSP amp powers the rest of the speakers with 28 watts each.

Of course, the $6,700 question is: How does it sound? In a word: awesome. During a demo at the Detroit Auto Show, I listened to a CD of Danish female jazz vocalist Jette Torp. Tonal detail was excellent, the soundstage extended beyond the boundaries of the interior, and imaging was pinpoint accurate. The bass response at the driver's seat was deep, tight, and powerful, with no smearing to the rear, despite the sub being in the back deck.

The system rocks, too. I cranked up AC/DC's pulverizing "Thunderstruck" as much as my ears could stand, and the system continued to play cleanly, smoothly, and very loudly.

Bottom Line: The Audi B&O stock system ranks with some of the best aftermarket systems I've ever heard.

NOTE: All prices supplied by the manufacturers. Dealer prices and labor costs may vary.

Photo Gallery of the B&O System in the Audi S8 Sedan

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