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This episode is all about the magic of sounds, the exciting tones and sound effects that will influence the driving of the future – with Andy Kerr, Director of Product Marketing & Communications at the premium audio brand Bowers & Wilkins.
Andy Kerr understands the importance of sound and how the interplay of technology and vision can take your ears on a fascinating journey. We discover new horizons in this episode, and explore with Kerr how sounds are shaping a whole new experience and feel-good luxury in the mobility of the future.
Loudspeaker engineering is as innovative today as it’s ever been.
Andy Kerr has been in the audio industry for 27 years. He worked in print and digital media before joining the Bowers & Wilkins research and development team. In the course of his ten years at Bowers & Wilkins, he has been involved in the planning, development, release and launch phases of all major home, automotive and mobile products currently manufactured by the company.
Musicians have to practice for months and months before they are able to play a song perfectly. Likewise, Bowers & Wilkins audio engineers, working with BMW, invest hundreds of hours in testing and fine-tuning to create a faithful sound in a car. What unites both sides is their passion for constantly pushing technical and visual boundaries. The same principles apply in a home audio system as they do in car speakers with studio-level technologies, like tweeters made from synthetic diamond as found in the BMW X7, 8 Series and the new BMW i7 (➜ Read also: BMW i7 – The new light on the road). Bowers & Wilkins speakers and in-car audio systems (➜ Read also: The engineers at Bowers & Wilkins test speakers with these pieces of music) combine innovative design with precision manufacturing and have to undergo extensive testing.
This creates a balanced sound that turns the BMW interior into a mobile feel-good zone – or a mobile cinema thanks to the Theater Screen combined with the audio system in the new BMW i7.
The work for a car audio System starts early in the vehicle’s life cycle. Very, very early. Bowers & Wilkins engineers likely see a new car long before it even begins to look like a finished product. That’s a good thing, too, because the speakers are first developed acoustically before the industrial design comes into play later on in the development process. Space in the car is tight, so Bowers & Wilkins engineers work together closely with BMW designers (➜ Read also: Style guide – this is how BMW design is created) to optimize the positioning of the individual speakers for the benefit of all of the occupants.
The common goal is to develop a system that leaves the listener forgetting that they are in the vehicle and feeling instead that they are live in the studio with the artist they are listening to. This feeling is deeply rooted in the history of Bowers & Wilkins. Many of the most listened-to albums and movie scores you will know and love were made at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios in London – and most were first heard there on Bowers & Wilkins loudspeakers.
That feeling, distilled down to the simple term “True Sound”, still guides the design and engineering of Bowers & Wilkins loudspeakers to this day.
In the long term, car interior design will evolve to create new, different spaces, and this opens up considerably more opportunities for what we can do inside those spaces. From a listening perspective, any journey in a car will become a kind of a luxurious experience.
Author: Markus Löblein; Art: Lucas Lemuth; Photos: Bowers & Wilkins; Collage: Caroline Wabra; Sound: Julia Niedermeier, David Georgos