Speccing up a 'virtual' Jaguar XJ (ie online, and with no hope of actually getting one) a while back I noticed the most expensive option available, depending on what spec model you opt for, was the Bowers & Wilkins sound system for £1350-2000. Could a sound system really be worth that much?
To find out, I asked Stuart Nevill, principal research engineer at Bowers & Wilkins, who supply sound systems for the Jag XK, XF and XJ, about the challenges of developing the XJ’s 20-speaker, 15-channel, 1200W system. It turned out to be quite an eye-opening conversation.
“If you want the perfect sound system, then you can’t have compromises, and that's not easy in a car where there are so many other must-do requirements” he pointed out. “From our point of view that means putting the speakers in optimal, prominent locations to provide ideal sound staging, complete with large grilles that don’t obstruct the sound.”
Just how hard that is is illustrated by the fact B&W and Jaguar engineers spent four years developing the system for the XJ, and that B&W was allowed to dictate some of the XJ’s interior’s design in order to get its speakers in the correct positions.