"Naim For Bentley" Shoots For World's Best In-Car Audio

Bentley Motors, the 89-year-old, Volkswagen-owned manufacturer of bespoke luxury automobiles has decided that a high-end audio system would complete its definition of automotive excellence, choosing Salisbury-based audio manufacturer Naim to develop a "Naim For Bentley" system.

Putting the money quote up front, Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, Bentley Motors' Chairman and CEO said, "Our customers expect the ultimate in every experience when they commission a Bentley. The 'Naim For Bentley' sound system delivers the world's ultimate in-car audio experience—allowing for 'as live' audio entertainment that is as pure as the Bentley driving experience itself."

Naim's managing director, Paul Stephenson observed, "We're an engineering-based business and so is Bentley, so, from our first meeting between their engineers and ours, the similarity in our approaches was exciting. Performance is, of course, the aim, but it must be backed by science and solid engineering principles.

"I wouldn't be so cocky as to say it was easy, but after 18 months of development, we have learned a tremendous amount and have added some amazing people to our engineering team, making us even stronger now than we were two years ago."

The resulting system employs "next-generation:" DSP, combined with what it billed as "the world's most powerful in-car production amplifier and a state-of-the-art speaker system."

We haven't been given additional system details, but we have been invited to see the system and its container at an automobile show next month, so we fill in the blanks then.

Luxury car companies seem to believe that prestigious in-car audio alliances grant them additional cachet—probably on the assumption that Bose and Delco nameplates no longer grant bragging rights. Linn manufactured the systems for Aston Martin for a year or so; Volvo has forged an alliance with Dynaudio; Lexus chose Mark Levinson; B&O supplies Audi; BMW tapped Lexicon; and Bugatti packs $50,000 of Burmester gear into each Veyron.

That logic may not be unassailable, however. When rumors circulated that B&0 was about to announce another partnership last December, its stock rose appreciably in the days before the announcement. When the Danish manufacturer announced that its agreement was with Aston Martin, share prices dropped—undoubtedly out of disappointment that it wasn't with a larger fleet of cars.

The Naim/Bentley partnership does seem tailor-made, however, melding as it does two British icons with such strongly shared values.