Audi has had pretty kick-ass surround sound systems in its cars for awhile. Its brand partners of choice have either been Bose, on the lower end, and Bang & Olufsen at the higher end. However, for the new Audi Q4 e-tron, the four-ringed brand is going in a new direction, a more modern direction — Sonos.
Sonos made its name in Wi-Fi-connected speakers with excellent sound quality and modern aesthetics. The Wi-Fi bit is the important bit, as Audi is looking to borrow some of Sonos’ wireless technology for the speakers in the Q4 e-tron. For starters, Wi-Fi connectivity between the driver’s mobile device and the car improves sound quality dramatically, versus Bluetooth. While Bluetooth is easy to connect, its bandwidth is relatively small, thus it crushes sound quality. Wi-Fi doesn’t really.
However, Audi also wants to create a more personalized audio environment inside the Q4 e-tron. “At the start of our collaboration, we are presenting a few exciting new features: for the first time, people can use familiar sound settings to make tonal changes in the timbre that will create more emotionality in the interior.” said Dr. Tobias Gründl, head of Audi’s Sound and Acoustics Development department.
“The back seat can have more bass and be filled with louder sound while the driver and front seat passenger can listen at half the volume and a more neutral balance so they can concentrate more on traffic – or spare their nerves.”
Audi also wants to change how speakers actually put out sound. Rather than having fixed sounds coming from fixed speakers, Audi wants the entire audio system to be smart enough to learn which speakers to use for which sounds, at certain times. Essentially, Audi wants the music to fill the cabin in a more appropriate manner, rather than fixating on one specific sweet spot and tuning the speakers that way.
We’re interested and excited to see the fruits of this partnership. Audi’s sound systems have always been quite good, so to have them improved upon by one of the world leaders in home sound systems should be interesting.