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NYIAS 2015: Mercedes with Burmester

KEF R Series

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As a BMW owner, I’m not sure I’m allowed to like, much less fawn over, a Mercedes-Benz, but the new GT-S is going to have to be an exception.

Holy-cow, that thing is awesome looking. Of course, I may just be a sucker for that long-hood thing, but whatever. Shown here in testosterone yellow, the upcoming car is was easily one of the best-looking things at the show.

For those of us interested in high-end audio, however, the far more pedestrian C-Class and S-Class autos feature a shiny $6,400 system from Burmester. From the S-Class,

The Burmester® High-End 3D Surround–Soundsystem provides its unrivalled listening experience by virtue of 24 high-performance speakers and 24 separate amplifier channels with a total output of 1,540 watts. At the same time an intelligent combination of analogue and digital amplifier technologies leads to a particularly fine and natural sound together with high performance reserves. While sophisticated analogue filter settings allow the best possible fine reproduction in the mid-range and treble frequencies, the digital amplifier – despite its compact dimensions – masters the highest dynamic peaks. The result is outstanding sound resolution and fine acoustic detail, combined with impressive impulse reproduction. This provides a rounded, warm and substantial sound experience founded on an impressive bass range.

The new, three-dimensional listening experience provided by the 3D-Sound and created by the Burmester speakers integrated into the vehicle roof is unique. In addition to the two speakers in the overhead console, another speaker is accommodated in the overhead control panel. A 3D–Sound algorithm was developed specifically for the Mercedes–Benz S–Class to create the unique listening experience made possible by these overhead speakers. The aim of the developers was to add a subtle spatial effect to the outstanding listening experience.

Added to that, I found the following tidbit on the bass system:

A leap forward in audio quality, FrontBass takes advantage of the S-Class bodyshell by utilizing the rigid front frame members as resonance chambers for twin under-dash subwoofers. In addition to providing rich, precise bass throughout the interior, the design saves weight and frees up space in the cabin and doors.

Alex and I spent some time playing with the controls on the Burmester system, and while the touch/feel of the system was intuitive, I did wonder at the aesthetic for the screen — looks decidedly aftermarket. Think: Garmin. I didn’t “get it”. Quite frankly, I didn’t “get” the sound, either — it was bright, thin and pretty much horrible. Alex, cringing all the while, quickly flipped through the screens to get to the EQ and sure enough, some jackass had jacked up the treble and bass into a horrible rictus of a classic “V” shape. What the hell? How did no one notice?

With sanity restored, we managed to pair a phone and fiddle, but I couldn’t shake the tinny aftertaste.

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About Scot Hull (991 Articles)
Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.