The new Audi A8 takes rear passenger audio quality to the next level with the introduction of 3D sound, developed with long-time audio equipment partner and hi-fi specialist Bang & Olufsen.

The Ingolstadt manufacturer’s flagship sedan packs the Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced Sound System comprising an array of 23 loudspeakers, which feature ultra-light and low-distortion neodymium magnets for “an airy, high-resolution sound pattern,” according to the automaker.

The German carmaker first introduced 3D sound in the Q7 SUV, and here in the A8 the system extends to include the rear passenger compartment. A pair of full-range loudspeakers are mounted in the A-pillars, while two more in the headlining above the rear seats provide the aural sensation of height and contribute to the surround sound configuration.

A 1,920-watt Bang & Olufsen amplifier generates 3D sound with its digital signal processor, and for the generation of the 3D sound, the system draws upon an algorithm Audi developed in partnership with the Fraunhofer Institute in Erlangen.

Stereo or 5.1 surround sound recordings are used for the calculating of the third dimension, and is then processed for the four 3D loudspeakers via a dynamic algorithm, which adapts to each audio recording in order to avoid sound distortion.

The A8’s onboard MMI (multimedia interface) system, along with a separate operating unit for the rear passengers, allows optimisation of the sound system for all seats, or for specific focus on a selected seat, front or rear. Along with conventional equalisation controls for treble and bass frequencies, occupants can also independently control the subwoofer’s volume.

Additionally, there is a special function for movie soundtracks, dubbed Movie Set, which locates each on-screen voice and adjusts the aural balance accordingly. For example, when a character appears on the right-hand side of the picture, his or her voice is played from the right-hand side.

Beyond the software, the basics of audio were attended to very early in the D5-generation A8’s development process. “Integrating the loudspeakers at the right points in the car is the key to 80% of the audio quality,” explains Wolfram Jähn, sound/acoustics developer for the A8. The speakers needed to be mounted as rigidly as possible, therefore the subwoofer was mounted in the rear panel, which is constructed from carbon fiber-reinforced polymer.