Bang & Olufsen is one of the leading manufacturers of loudspeakers in the world. With the launch of the first Bang & Olufsen sound system for a car, the Audi A8 in 2005, Bang & Olufsen has been a buzzword for ultimate car audio performance. We were privileged to get a word with B&O’s Product Category Manager, Theis Mørk, on his view on entertainment on the go.
What’s your favourite music genre, and why?
I am mostly a rock music person. I like the energy in rock music but I listen to all kinds of music ranging from Foo Fighters to Coldplay and John Mayer!
What inspired you to become an audiophile?
Actually, I wouldn’t define myself as a hardcore audiophile, but I absolutely love music and appreciate good quality of course.
What would be the challenges faced when designing an audio system for a car, and which would be the greatest challenge?
The greatest challenge is the very harsh conditions under which a car audio system in a car needs to function: extreme temperatures up to 110 degrees Celsius and down to -40 degree Celsius, along with strong UV light and vibrations, salt and humidity. It’s not easy to make audio sound good and work reliably. It takes a lot of effort, knowledge and validation to be absolutely sure that it also works after 10 to 15 years.
The sound is coming from 12 to 24 loudspeaker drivers placed throughout the car and it requires a lot of simulations, measurements and a trained pair of ears to adjust the sound from all these speakers, in order to produce the ultimate listening experience for the people in the car.
On average, how much would it cost to produce a bespoke sound system for a car, including R&D?
It varies a lot from system to system, but €10M (SGD$14.8 million) including tooling is not unusual.
How does B&O define the process of “humanisation”?
Since 1925, Bang & Olufsen has been on a quest to bring beautiful sound into people’s homes. We have always catered for the needs of the family and the home. This was the founder’s vision, and this is what still guides us.
Therefore, we continuously strive to understand how people live – with sound, music and design. Once we understand how they live with sound, design and technology, our ambition is to ‘domesticate’ or ‘tame’ the technology, so that it fits into people’s lives, and not the other way around. This is what we mean by “humanisation”.
Given a choice, would you prefer controls with traditional buttons, voice or touch screens, and why?
I prefer a mix between a touch screen and a physical, tactile button for basic usage. Voice control has potential, but it is still at an immature phase in my opinion.
How would you see the car audio system evolving in the near future?
The car audio system will have a larger influence as the cars get connected to the internet, and once live streaming is made possible. There will be a lot more content to navigate and select without disturbing the driving experience. Subsequently, the user interface will be improved with other ways of operating, such as voice, gesture, touch and behaviour-learning.
The audio system will be further integrated, and they will also help to generate or reduce noises inside the car. Examples include reducing road noise and improving the engine note for a sportier soundtrack. It can even be utilised during electrical driving. It will also be able to direct specific sound in areas inside the car where you will not be disturbed by the music played by other passengers. You can even listen to your own source, without the use of headphones. Bang & Olufsen is already capable of this.
With the inclusion of more driving assistance, enjoying your music on the go now becomes a more crucial factor in your overall driving experience.
Photos: Bang & Olufsen