Manufacturer-audio collaborations that turned it up to 11
Car radios have been around for almost as long as the automobile itself, but it wasn’t until the eighties that manufacturers began taking the car stereo to dizzying new heights by collaborating with reputable Hi-Fi equipment brands.
Of course, they did exist before then, but from the thirties to the sixties options were not only limited to those on the radiowaves but the hardware was also basic in design and restricted to single-speaker, monophonic systems.
The advent of in-car multiple speaker systems, dovetailed with mass adoption of tapes in the seventies made for the perfect storm. An opportunity for manufacturers to ‘go big’ with technologically advanced audio systems in the following decade.
That concept has become no less evident with the passing of time, as cars themselves have become more extravagant, so have the speaker systems of the present day.
As we did with our look at car and watch partnerships, we decided to dive into the most memorable automotive/audio partnerships, both retro and contemporary, from the past four decades that will have nostalgia coursing through your veins.
Lamborghini and Alpine
Kicking things off with a healthy dose of sentimentality are Lamborghini and Alpine. The Italian marque was known for doing anything by halves, and their collaboration with Alpine Car Audio was no exception. The UK-based company’s products were used for much of the iconic Countach’s lifetime. In 1999, a limited run of 12 Alpine Edition Diablos was produced to celebrate the partnership. An extensive speaker system (including a subwoofer), a CD changer, a DVD player and a CVA-1005 multimedia unit including integrated navigation were all installed with two remotes required to control the technology.
Bugatti and Burmester
A modern affiliation that really packs a punch. As you’d expect from the undisputed masters of automotive exclusivity and luxury, Bugatti enlisted Burmester to create a meticulously engineered audio system for the Veyron in 2005. The final product proved potent enough to influence both Mercedes and Porsche to follow suit. More recently, the German audio specialists have fitted the Chiron with a curio that has thrust their ingenuity into the limelight – diamond-encrusted speakers.
Porsche and Becker
Possibly the longest-standing of these automotive manufacturer and audio equipment relationships, Becker was supplying Porsche with hi-fi technology when Dwight D. Eisenhower was President of the United States. Stretching as far back as the 356 A in the cities, through to the 964s and 993s of the nineties, this tie-in certainly meets the brief of standing the test of time. Most recently, Porsche themselves have recreated a period-accurate, Becker-esque radio unit featuring Bluetooth capabilities and modern satellite navigation that can be fitted to any pre-996 model, further highlighting its nostalgia power.
Ferrari and JBL Professional
JBL has provided the cars from Maranello with its premium audio solutions since 2008. Their systems have featured in the 458, the F12berlinetta, the FF, the California and the 488GTB among others. To fully harness the combined marketing power of both industries, the pair launched the Journey of Sounds experience, a series of events in Liverpool and Hamburg that celebrated music of different genres and eras, with locations pertinent to the career of The Beatles and a heavy influence from Pink Floyd drummer and self-confessed Ferrari enthusiast Nick Mason.
Bentley and Naim
Similar to the Ferrari/JBL combination, Naim and Bentley have been committed to one another since 2008. In that time, Naim has done its utmost to uphold the highest standards, always pursuing the purest sound possible. The headline technology for Naim is Digital Signal Processor Modes which enables a wide range of adjustments depending on listening preferences and seating position as well as adapting to road noise and weather conditions. The British hi-fi manufacturer also creates bespoke solutions for each new Bentley model to ensure optimal performance across the board.
Audi and Bang & Olufsen
Bang & Olufsen made a name for themselves by creating quirky, yet premium audio equipment in the early 2000s and that led Audi to recruit their expertise and insight for the high-end Audi A8 in 2005. A total of 1000 watts powered the 14 speakers that littered the cabin and it showed, the superior sound quality for the time was enough to convince the likes of Aston Martin, BMW, Mercedes and even Ford to join the B&O club.