Volvo and B&W put 'tweeters on top' for uber clear in-car audio

Volvo BW
Volvo is going big on in-car audio

Swedish car maker Volvo and Brit sound specialist Bowers & Wilkins have teamed up to give the new Volvo XC90 SUV what's claimed to be, "the most innovative, sonically refined in-car audio system in the world".

How do they deliver on this bold claim? By putting tweeters on top, of course. If you're wondering what that actually means, you're not alone.

Volvo says that physically separating a tweeter from the confines of a speaker cabinet delivers clearer, purer treble, particularly vital for vocals. In the Volvo XC90, the dashboard-mounted centre tweeter "ensures absolute voice clarity".

The tweeters use technology derived from Bowers & Wilkins' NautilusTM speakers, and spiralling diffusion channels on the rear of the speakers soak up reflected sound, reducing resonance.

"With tweeter-on-top technology, more of the signal reaches the listener directly from the tweeter. So the XC90 system sounds incredibly tangible and lifelike," reckons Stuart Nevill, Bowers & Wilkins Head of Engineering.

volvo bowers wilkins

Is in-car audio the next car tech battleground?

So now you know. Of course, good sound is about much more than tingly treble.

The XC90's sound system also gets Bowers & Wilkins' signature yellow Kevlar 100mm midrange drivers, visible but protected by a grille designed for optimum acoustic openness as part of a total package of 19 speakers driven by a highly efficient Class D amplifier for a total of 1,400 Watts power. Crumbs.

Just how good this system will sound remains to be seen. It's standard of late for premium car manufacturers to team up with premium audio outfits to create custom sound systems for the latest models.

We've experienced most of them and, to date, we'd give the top-spec Meridian system offered by Range Rover with its clever Trifield tech the nod for overall sonic prowess.

If Volvo can match the Range Rover-Meridian rig, they'll be doing well. If they can beat it, we'll probably have to start eating hats. Well, after we've gone out and bought some hats, first. You know what we mean.


Technology and cars. Increasingly the twain shall meet. Which is handy, because Jeremy (Twitter) is addicted to both. Long-time tech journalist, former editor of iCar magazine and incumbent car guru for T3 magazine, Jeremy reckons in-car technology is about to go thermonuclear. No, not exploding cars. That would be silly. And dangerous. But rather an explosive period of unprecedented innovation. Enjoy the ride.