Bang & Olufsen delivers high-end sound to the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

The world of in-car audio is serious business and after a look at the brand new Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG system inside the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, it's clear the Danish high-end audio and design experts are going to do things properly.

While the car boasts some serious wow factor, the sound system might just steal the show, with eleven speakers, 1000 watts of power and some ingenious in-car audio engineering. If you've got the money for such a car, then upgrading to the BeoSound AMG system must be a complete no-brainer.

After a whistle-stop visit to Bang & Olufsen's HQ in Struer, we're still digesting the technology inside Mercedes' latest head-turner. After a tour of the B&O factory, some workshops with the audio engineers and even a quick spin in the car, it's impossible not to be impressed by what we've seen.

Corner-cutting clearly isn't a term with which David Lewis, the hugely influential Bang & Olufsen designer, or any of the company's staff, are too familiar. Racing around the factory looking at machines designed and built solely to manufacture intricate components for specific B&O kit, and seeing examples of the countless parts that come together to make the company's products rolling off the production line, there's much to admire and absorb.

The importance of quality materials, attention to detail and absolute quality control are clearly paramount, with aluminium – and, whisper it, steel – parts being machined and milled to exacting standards. It's no surprise that the company has been asked to make the odd unbranded part for other companies on the quiet over the years. Much of what is made here simply could not be made anywhere else.

But we're not allowed to get too distracted by the speaker and TV components with which we're most familiar, we're here to learn about the BeoSound AMG sound system for the Mercedez-Benz SLS AMG.

The system boasts 11 speakers including two subwoofers, and two hefty amplifiers. We're told that while 'one amp is the brains of the operation, the other provides the horse-power'.

And some horse-power there is. The ICEPower amplifier (pictured below) – 'Intelligent, Compact, Efficient' – delivers 750 watts of power over five channels. Converting 93% of the energy fed to it into output power compared to a conventional car amp that would manage around 30%, it's far more efficient, producing far less heat as a result.

The ICEPower delivers four channels of 125 watts and one channel of 250 watts, while the DSP (digital sound processor) amplifier offers up five 50 watt channels of power. This digital amplifier does the all-important 'maths' with the signal, converting a stereo sound or a Dolby Digital 5.1 sound to something the 11 speakers can deliver.

The location and characteristics of the speakers work together with the meticulously tuned DSP to ensure the music reaches the ears of those in the car sounding just as it should, with each speaker set to different delays to compensate for the position in the car.

You needn't worry about that SLS AMG engine drowing out your sound either: the DSP analyses all outside sounds and adjusts the volume accordingly to ensure you can still hear your music while you enjoy the sound of the engine purring in to life. And these adjustments don't just affect the system as a whole: speakers are adjusted individually, as are distinct sound frequencies.

Style and design are every bit as important, with materials and finishes to match the car's interior alongside individual signature touches – such as white LEDs on the tiny 'acoustic lens' tweeters – adding to the high-end appeal of the BeoSound AMG system.

Smitten? We wouldn't blame you but you better start saving: the BeoSound AMG system will set you back around 7000 euros, but you'll of course need a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG to house it. And that's the wrong side of £150,000. You get what you pay for, eh?

Joe Cox
Content Director

Joe is the Content Director for What Hi-Fi? and Future’s Product Testing, having previously been the Global Editor-in-Chief of What Hi-Fi?. He has worked on What Hi-Fi? across the print magazine and website for almost 20 years, writing news, reviews and features on everything from turntables to TVs, headphones to hi-fi separates. He has covered product launch events across the world, from Apple to Technics, Sony and Samsung; reported from CES, the Bristol Show, and Munich High End for many years; and written for sites such as the BBC, Stuff, and the Guardian. In his spare time, he enjoys expanding his vinyl collection and cycling (not at the same time).