Audi, Mercedes, Jaguar, BMW Audio Systems Reviewed: Driving in Style

Compare top luxury car audio systems: Burmester, Bang & Olufsen, Harman Kardon, and Meridian. Explore SPL, bass, clarity, and more in Audi, Mercedes, Jaguar, and BMW models.

The Ultimate Soundstage: Luxury Car Audio Systems Compared
High-end in-car audio systems have reached new heights of sophistication, providing a much-needed escape from traffic snarls and enhancing the overall driving experience. In this comparison, we take a closer look at four of the best in-car audio systems available today: Burmester, Bang & Olufsen, Harman Kardon, and Meridian. We tested these systems in the Audi Q8 e-tron, Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV, Jaguar I-Pace, and BMW iX, focusing on sound quality and sonic characteristics.

The Contenders: High-End Audio Systems in Luxury EVs

Our test vehicles—Audi Q8 e-tron, Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV, Jaguar I-Pace, and BMW iX—each feature a different premium branded audio system. By using a professional SPL meter, we objectively measured the loudness and clarity of each system, assessing key parameters such as Soundstage, Clarity and Precision, Tonality, Bass Definition, Maximum SPL, and Structural Rigidity.

Soundstage

A car’s soundstage is crucial, as it impacts how immersive and realistic the audio experience feels. All our test vehicles had a front center speaker, but their ability to create a live performance-like sound varied.

  • BMW iX: Featuring speakers in the rear headrests, the iX provides a spacious and immersive sound.
  • Mercedes EQE SUV: Excels with its Dolby Atmos capability and precise imaging, creating an expansive 360-degree soundstage.
  • Audi Q8 e-tron: While competent, the sound remains within the cabin boundaries.
  • Jaguar I-Pace: Uses deep A-pillar tweeters to create a sense of depth despite lacking surround sound controls.

Bass Definition

Accurate bass reproduction is challenging due to various factors, including woofer size and body panel vibrations. Here’s how each system performed:

  • Mercedes EQE SUV: Stands out with its Front Bass concept, delivering taut and well-defined bass.
  • Audi Q8 e-tron: Offers strong bass presence with adjustable levels.
  • BMW iX & Jaguar I-Pace: Both showed some door panel resonance but still performed well with flat EQ settings.

Clarity

Clarity and microdynamics are vital for high-fidelity audio. We assessed how well each system resolved detail without distortion at high volumes.

  • BMW iX & Mercedes EQE SUV: Lead with superior speaker counts and precise timing, maintaining high clarity.
  • Audi Q8 e-tron & Jaguar I-Pace: Both provide clear and intelligible sound, suitable for various audio content.

Tonal Balance

Achieving a balanced tone across multiple speakers is essential for an immersive audio experience.

  • Mercedes EQE SUV: Offers extensive personalisation options for optimal tonal balance.
  • Audi Q8 e-tron, BMW iX, Jaguar I-Pace: Each maintains a well-balanced sound without emphasising any frequency band.

Structural Rigidity

Structural rigidity prevents unwanted vibrations and resonances, which can affect sound quality.

  • BMW iX, Mercedes EQE SUV, Audi Q8 e-tron: Demonstrate excellent build quality with minimal panel vibrations.
  • Jaguar I-Pace: Also performs well, albeit slightly behind the others.

Maximum SPL

We measured the maximum sound pressure level (SPL) each system could achieve without distortion.

  • Mercedes EQE SUV: Tops the list with 105.4dB, driven by a 710-watt amplifier.
  • Audi Q8 e-tron: Follows closely at 105dB with a 705-watt amplifier.
  • BMW iX: Reaches 101dB with 655 watts of power.
  • Jaguar I-Pace: Achieves 100dB despite having a lower power rating of 400 watts.

Verdict

Every car in this test impressed with its audio performance, making for a close contest. However, the Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV emerged as the winner, offering a comprehensive suite of controls, superior soundstage, and excellent overall sound quality. Its extensive personalisation options and advanced features make it a top choice for audiophiles and casual listeners alike.

Whether stuck in traffic or cruising down an open road, these luxury audio systems transform any journey into a memorable audio experience.

Table Data:

CriteriaMercedes EQE SUVAudi Q8 e-tronBMW iXJaguar I-Pace
SoundstageExpansive Dolby Atmos capability creates a 360-degree soundstageSound remains within cabin boundariesRear headrest speakers provide spacious soundDeep A-pillar tweeters offer a sense of depth
Bass DefinitionTaut, well-defined bass with Front Bass conceptStrong bass presence with adjustable levelsShowed some door panel resonance but performed well overallExhibited some door panel resonance
ClarityHigh clarity with precise timingClear and intelligible soundSuperior speaker count maintains clarityProvides clear and intelligible sound
Tonal BalanceExtensive personalization optionsBalanced sound without emphasis on specific frequency bandsMaintains balanced sound without alterationsBalanced sound without emphasis on specific frequency bands
Structural RigidityMinimal panel vibrations demonstrate excellent build qualityExcellent build quality with minimal panel vibrationsMinimal panel vibrations indicate excellent build qualityPerforms well with minimal panel vibrations
Maximum SPLTops the list with 105.4dBAchieves 105dB with a 705-watt amplifierReaches 101dB with 655 watts of powerAchieves 100dB with a 400-watt amplifier

Audio Elegance: Luxury Car Sound Systems Go Head-to-Head

Every car in this test impressed with its audio performance, making for a close contest. However, the Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV emerged as the winner, offering a comprehensive suite of controls, superior soundstage, and excellent overall sound quality. Its extensive personalisation options and advanced features make it a top choice for audiophiles and casual listeners alike.

Whether stuck in traffic or cruising down an open road, these luxury audio systems transform any journey into a memorable audio experience.

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