Latest news from this week’s Sound and Vision show currently taking place in Bristol (from today through to Sunday) is that audiophiles' favourite handmade stereo equipment manufacturer, Naim, has formed an exclusive partnership with Bentley to deliver what it claims to be the world’s best in-car sound system.
Bentley Motors chairman and chief executive Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen said: “Our customers expect the ultimate in every experience when they commission a Bentley. The ‘Naim for Bentley’ sound system delivers the world’s ultimate in-car audio experience – allowing for an ‘as-live’ audio entertainment that is as pure as the Bentley driving experience itself.”
TechRadar will reserve judgement on that until we can persuade Dr Paefgen to send over a Bentley kitted out with the new audio kit right over to the TechRadar office ‘for review purposes’.
Top down and the system up
Naim's 500 Series system has been in development for 18 months, with the official launch of the ‘Naim for Bentley’ taking place at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, opening on 4 March 2008. If you happen to be one of Bentley’s VIP guests you'll get to check out the full system in the special Naim Experience Room on the Bentley stand.
Naim ran acoustic tests of each Bentley model, producing unique speaker configurations for each, so the Arnage, Azure, and Brooklands models get 11 speakers each while the Bentley Continental gets 15 speakers.
In each case the system is powered by a massive 1,100-watt Naim “amplifier and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) unit” which pumps out “a class-leading 1100W across a maximum of 15 channels, with full DSP control of crossover frequency and level, all in a compact size.”
From audiophile to iPod modes
Naim amp designer Steve Sells explains the significance of the design: “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. Only by using a highly complex, double-sided, six-layer circuit board could we hit the size target.
"The amplifier meets full Bentley requirements for thermal management and has been tested in ambient temperatures ranging from -40 degrees Celsius up to 70 degrees Celsius. This is the first commercial use of this next generation DSP”.
Every electrical component used within the system is specified by Naim to meet the highest engineering tolerances. The aforementioned Digital Signal Processor offers a number of modes including Naim’s ‘audiophile’ mode – “the absolute reference setting for sound playback”. That's as well as driver-optimised, balanced, rear-optimised, digital media playback (via mp3, iPodTMplayers and digital radio), spoken word, classic and enhanced modes.