We don’t at all times assessment automotive audio methods, however we’ve made a dependancy of doing so with our top-award-winning automobiles, which we acquire and take a look at for a yr to peer how they are living as much as their unique promise. A few of the ones methods had been beautiful just right and one was exceptional, however none has concerned a thriller just like the top class Bang & Olufsen audio gadget in our Best of 2021 award-winning Ford F-150 Restricted. The thriller used to be the place the deep, well-controlled bass may well be coming from in a pickup truck with what gave the look to be a wide-open cab.
Comparable: Owning the 2021 Ford F-150
Because the group of workers fossil and a veteran of the overdue Automotive Stereo Evaluate mag, amongst others, I’ve been explaining in those reviews how sound methods in SUVs and hatchbacks combat to provide prolonged (deep) bass. The reason being that deep bass frequencies normally require a mixture of a giant woofer (or woofers) and a large enclosure to take action, and automakers don’t wish to surrender a lot inner house to perform this. As a substitute, they thieve no matter house they may be able to with custom-molded subwoofer modules that typically nest in spare tires or the aspect partitions of shipment spaces, and those provisions do from little or no to a shockingly just right task — for what they’re.
The issue is they seldom supply sufficient quantity (i.e., inner enclosure quantity, no longer audio “quantity”) to ship deep sub-bass. They’re additionally normally manufactured from injection-molded plastic, which is mild and formable (thumbs up from weight-conscious automakers), however no longer very inflexible (the very last thing a decent speaker clothier would make a selection). What used to be at all times irritating about that is that, against this, sedan and coupe producers (or homeowners) may just exploit one of the vital few examples of “loose bass” by way of mounting a modest woofer or two within the automotive’s rear deck — a configuration that turns the entire trunk into an enormous speaker enclosure and offers bass extension that places the common SUV to disgrace.
At this level, you’ll be fuming at me that the F-150 isn’t a hatchback or SUV, however it’s shut in audio phrases as it lacks the all-important trunk. Pickup vans like our Restricted SuperCrew are roomier than ever, however they’re seeking to care for their capability to paintings, so the similar production restrictions practice right here as in hatchbacks: The fewer added bulk, the easier. The former-generation F-150 presented a B&O Play gadget with a plastic subwoofer enclosure well hidden in the back of the rear seats that did a tight task, however it wasn’t — couldn’t be — sufficiently big to ship the products.
So after I heard, and felt, the bass in a 2021 F-150 with the B&O Unleashed gadget for the primary time, then seemed in the back of me to peer an empty cab, I admit I used to be confused. I investigated and did no longer to find subwoofers sunk into the ground pan like our Absolute best of 2019 Genesis G70 or the kick panel just like the FrontBass gadget that debuted within the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL-Magnificence roadster — either one of which have been inventions of Harman Kardon, a sister logo of Bang & Olufsen Automobile below Harman Global, a mother or father corporate lately obtained by way of Samsung.
The Enclosureless Subwoofer
As a substitute, I used to be experiencing one thing referred to as ECS: Externally Coupled Subwoofer, a patented function shared by way of both of 2 B&O methods within the F-150 (additionally added to the Ford Mustang Mach-E). Our Restricted has the extra elaborate of the B&O rigs to be had. The lesser eight-speaker selection, referred to as the B&O Sound Gadget, is obtainable as an choice or in programs in upper SuperCab and SuperCrew frame kinds. The B&O Unleashed gadget, with 18 audio system and nearly two times the amplifier energy, is to be had best within the SuperCrew and is same old within the Restricted trim. I haven’t had the chance to audition the extra modest gadget, however apparently to incorporate the similar ECS, which is probably the most groundbreaking side of our Restricted’s Unleashed gadget.
It seems that the Externally Coupled Subwoofer is largely a limiteless baffle configuration, wherein the woofer, which measures 13.2 inches by way of 7.5 inches, has no cupboard in any respect; it merely vents again thru a port within the rear wall of the cab and out into the arena. The nearest comparability is the instance above of a speaker in a automotive’s rear deck, however if so (additionally recurrently known as endless baffle), the woofer’s again wave is contained and theoretically tuned by way of the trunk. With the ECS, it merely escapes, in all probability frustrating your neighbors.
So How Does It Sound?
As predominant because the innovation is what B&O and Ford have achieved with it, which is to make use of their powers for just right. The ECS supplies great, deep bass that’s nicely managed relatively than boomy and fatiguing. I listened to all number of acoustic and electrical bass song, drum tracks and hip-hop, and best a few times did the replica sound a little bit fats the place the supply subject matter didn’t name for it.
What’s extra, the bass can also be felt greater than in maximum automobiles these days, which is a tight signal of ways low it is going. As I typically say, you must do higher with a tradition aftermarket task, however there’s no manner you must do this with out sacrificing a hell of a large number of inner house, and given the efficiency you get from ECS, I don’t know why you’d trouble.
Ahead of I read about the problem of leakage with the ECS, let’s no longer fail to remember how spectacular the remainder of the gadget is, particularly for the motive force. Be aware that my analysis used to be of the Unleashed gadget; the lesser B&O Sound Gadget has the ECS, a three.1-inch midrange speaker in the course of the dashboard, 1-inch tweeters in each and every A-pillar, a 6x-by-9-inch midwoofer in each and every entrance door and a 6.3-inch full-range speaker in each and every rear door.
The Unleashed gadget provides every other 3.1-inch midrange on all sides of the highest of the dashboard, upgrades the 6.3-inch rear door audio system to coaxial sorts and provides six 1.6-inch accessory audio system: one within the ceiling over each and every entrance occupant and two in each and every in their head restraints.
I do know this sounds gimmicky, however it proves to not be. To be transparent, in relation to audio system, extra doesn’t at all times imply higher. For something, their output can intrude with each and every different if the gadget isn’t correctly designed, so while you see prime numbers, it’s easiest to think advertising is in the back of it and continue with warning. The B&O Unleashed gadget exhibited no such transgressions. The impact from the overhead and head restraint audio system is outstandingly delicate; it provides some dimensionality while you transfer the sound mode from Stereo to Encompass, however it doesn’t mess with the entrance soundstage an excessive amount of. This whole audio gadget is an workout in restraint I seldom to find in automobiles.
I will be able to’t imagine I’m pronouncing this, however B&O can have integrated extra controls to let other folks dial the impact up additional. On the other hand, it kind of feels just like the engineers insisted on no longer letting other folks do anything else silly with their thoughtfully designed gadget. The controls are restricted to the sound modes discussed at the side of conventional treble, midrange, bass, steadiness and fader sliders. That’s it, excluding the speed-compensated quantity variety.
One keep watch over I to find myself short of when it’s no longer provide is unbiased keep watch over of the center-speaker degree. That’s the case right here, simply for the reason that acoustic middle symbol is below the rearview replicate or rather to the proper of that, and I like it biased extra in entrance of me. For what it’s price, I attempted the steadiness keep watch over to transport issues leftward, which is typically the place the tonal high quality and/or imaging fall aside in manufacturing facility automotive stereo methods, and the B&O Unleashed held up relatively nicely. As soon as once more, I used to be inspired. In all probability having the 3 matching 3.1-inch audio system around the dashboard, which the B&O Sound model does no longer, permits this straightforward adjustment to do what it’s meant to.
General, I’d fee the gadget’s soundstaging as beautiful just right. For the general public, this isn’t as predominant because the frequency reaction, which is superb. So is the element of the replica and the gadget’s skill to carry itself in combination at prime output. As at all times, I predominantly performed lossless audio recordsdata (missing a CD participant) to take away from the equation any possible downsides of perceptually coded codecs or streaming. All analysis used to be with the ignition on to verify ok amplifier voltage and entire output.
My total enjoy used to be that of any remarkable gadget — at all times lingering within the driveway to listen to extra of what’s taking part in, discovering various things to play and short of to dig deeper to peer if there are any faults. (Susceptible methods don’t require as a lot consideration.) So I determined to take a look at the opposite seats, the place efficiency steadily degrades, particularly relating to dimensionality.
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As I feared, the spatial rendition isn’t as just right within the entrance passenger seat as it’s within the motive force’s. Even though the sound is coming from in entrance of you, it’s unfold wider right here, and my consideration used to be interested in the middle and right-side audio system the place within the motive force’s seat it used to be extra of a right kind soundstage arrayed at eye degree. Switching between Stereo and Encompass made little distinction on this regard. Thankfully, the tonal reaction continues to be superb right here and within the rear seats, which make no actual effort to offer right kind staging (as is the norm). The rear door audio system do a just right task filling in and that’s about it. However that is the second one time I preferred the restraint in B&O’s manner with the encompass audio system within the ceiling and head restraints. If that they had long gone overboard with that, it might have muddied the sound in the remainder of the cabin.
It used to be throughout this experiment that I spotted the F-150 with B&O may mark the primary time passengers may name dibs to sit down within the middle rear seat, to not steer clear of it. The ECS is fixed at once under and in the back of the middle place, and regardless that it doesn’t make its presence identified visibly, suffice it to mention any person who sits on this seat goes to be very conscious about it — particularly in the event you’re taking part in bass-heavy song loudly. Yowsa!
About Venting Bass Frequencies Out of doors …
My speedy fear concerning the Externally Coupled Subwoofer’s design used to be that it ported as a lot low-frequency power out of doors the car because it does inside of. I let the gadget play bass-heavy content material loudly and crawled all over the place the out of doors of the truck, together with the mattress correct in the back of the cab, and I used to be shocked to seek out not anything remarkable. It simply appeared like a car with a stereo taking part in loudly inside of. Truthfully, I heard extra coming from the doorways than the subwoofer, which may have one thing to do with the aluminum sheet steel’s relatively low mass (which is why Ford selected it).
General, I’m very inspired with the F-150’s B&O Unleashed gadget on many ranges, however more than likely with the ECS maximum as a result of apparently to mitigate one of the vital largest demanding situations in cell audio. Unfortunately, I used to be too rushed in my time with the Mustang Mach-E to pay any consideration to the audio, however sooner or later I am hoping to audition ECS in that style — and to peer (and listen to) much more of it someday.
Comparable Video: 2021 Ford F-150: Evaluate
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