For the best in-car sound system around, go British

Timothy Barber
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IT would be easy to assume that having a spectacular in-car sound system would mean having a spectacularly loud sound system – the kind of pimped-up, bass-heavy bulldozer of a system that occupies the entire boot and can shake a whole neighbourhood. But that would be wrong. Instead of volume and bass thump, consider a sound system with beautiful clarity and crispness at any volume, one that recognises when the ambient noise in the car is getting louder and adjusts its volume up accordingly, but recognises not to do that over human voices. And one, by the way, that’s entirely made in England.

It’s only in British cars that you’ll find such a system too. The Range Rover Evoque, the newest iteration of the legendary 4x4 which is arriving this autumn, is kitted out with an in-car media and audio system by Meridian, the Cambridgeshire company which has been quietly – if ever so clearly – breaking all kinds of technological barriers over the past few decades. And if that wasn’t enough, Meridian has also applied its technology to the McLaren MP4-12C, the seriously groovy new supercar from the company behind the McLaren F1 stable.

These sound systems are very different beasts from the kind of thing you’d normally find in a car. Here’s where it gets a bit technical. Conventional audio systems use power amplifiers to supply a full-range audio signal to the loudspeakers, where a passive crossover divides the signal into frequency bands to be supplied to the woofer and tweeter. Got that?

What Meridian is famous for is its digital active loudspeakers – using digital signal processing to create crossovers that would be otherwise impossible. It’s the tech that makes Meridian’s household speakers world-beating, and it’s now in a car too. Not only will it play your music – via an iPod dock, USB drive, or ripped to its own hard-drive – but it’ll be deployed for hands free phone conversations too. No need for that grim, in-ear Bluetooth set, therefore.

Sounds good? Oh, it really really does.