Audio Technology

Metallica, Radiohead help Rolls-Royce take bespoke to new decibel levels

Rolls-Royce customizes the Phantom's audio system using components from premium sound equipment brands, but prefers not to name them.

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Rolls-Royce cars are the epitome of bespoke luxury automobiles. They can be completely custom crated or, for the more pedestrian buyer, they can simply be customized.

Before buyers place hands on the their new Rolls-Royce Phantom, the company has already tailored its audio system to create an encompassing audio experience for driver and passengers.

Unlike premium automakers who tout available systems from JBL, Bose, Harman Kardon, and B&O, Rolls-Royce prefers not to name its sound system suppliers, letting the system's engineering speak for itself.

It all starts with the car's frame. The Architecture of Luxury is made of aluminum, which was selected, in part, because it has a higher acoustic impedance than steel. This reduces the amount of noise that is passed on to the cabin. Engineers also gave the model a double-skinned bulkhead and floor sections to help keep road and tire noise permeation at bay.

Rolls-Royce Phantom body in white The Phantom is crafted at the company's Goodwood manufacturing facility in England. Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Designers took note of the car's bass speaker size and let it define a resonance chamber in the car's sill section resulting in the car's materials working to turn the entire Phantom into, basically, a subwoofer.

The windows of the Phantom feature 6mm of double-pane acoustically dampened glass. It also has 130 kg of sound insulation throughout the car with a special focus on the headliner, designed to minimize reverberation.

Engineers even went so far as to work with their tire partner to invent "Silent-Seal" tires, which feature a layer of foam inside the rubber that reduces tire noise by 9 decibels compared to a standard tire.

Rolls-Royce audio experts drove thousands of miles in the Phantom before releasing it for public consumption. To determine the parameters in which to tune the system. Here's what they listened to:

  • Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here [1975]
  • From Here to Eternity – Giorgio Moroder, From Here to Eternity [1977]
  • Across the Lines – Tracy Chapman, self-titled [1988]
  • Sad But True – Metallica, self-titled [1991]
  • Bembe / Abakwa – Terry Bozzio, Solo Drum Music II [1992]
  • Klangfarben Melodie – Terry Bozzio, Solo Drum Music II [1992]
  • Know Your Enemy – Rage Against the Machine, self-titled [1992]
  • Fistful of Steel – Rage Against the Machine, self-titled [1992]
  • Passion - Gat Décor (Naked Edit) [1992]
  • Where Did You Sleep Last Night? – Nirvana, MTV Unplugged in New York (Live) [1993]
  • Stimela (The Coal Train) – Hugh Masekela, Hope (Live) [1994]
  • Hotel California – The Eagles, Hell Freezes Over (Live) [1994]
  • Paranoid Android – Radiohead, OK Computer [1997]
  • Lyric Lickin – Del The Funky Homosapien, Future Development [1997]
  • Insomnia – Faithless, Insomnia [1995]
  • Raining in Baltimore – Counting Crows, Across a Wire: Live in New York City (Live) [1998]
  • Safe in New York City – AC/DC, Stiff Upper Lip [Deluxe Edition] [2000]
  • Scrappy – Wookie, Wookie (Deluxe Edition) [2000]
  • Marionette – Matthew Jonson [2004]
  • Intro – Nemesea, Pure: Live @ P3 (Remixed & Remastered) [2012]
  • Bass Solo – Nemesea, Pure: Live @ P3 (Remixed & Remastered) [2012]
  • Drum Solo – Nemesea, Pure: Live @ P3 (Remixed & Remastered) [2012]

The Rolls-Royce Phantom is handcrafted upon order in England and on sale now.

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The engine bay is decorated with images of the American flag.

Photo courtesy of Karl Kustoms

A new customized 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 pays tribute to members of the U.S. military. Karl Kustoms, a Chevrolet Performance retailer and custom shop, recently completed the build in partnership with Bad Boy Vettes. Nearly every panel of the Corvette has been modified to honor a military branch. Even the underside of the hood and engine bay have been artistically sprayed.

"It is a privilege to take on a custom project like this and use our skills to honor our nation's military," Clint Quesinberry, Digital Marketing Specialist. "This Memorial Day, we are proud to recognize those who served."

Karl Kustons US military 2016 Chevrolet Corvette The model started its life as a 2016 Chevy Corvette.Photo courtesy of Karl Kustoms

Unique features include detailed lettering of the words "Honor, Duty, Country", three words given an important place in military history after they were uttered by General Douglas MacArthur in 1962 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as part of his farewell address. There's also imagery of a U.S. Army helicopter firing at a Russian helicopter, a serviceman with a German Shepard, the U.S.S. Iowa battleship, and Arlington Cemetery stones with Medal of Honor recipients from each major conflict.

Karl Kustons US military 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Military imagery features throughout the body work.Photo courtesy of Karl Kustoms

The car was created as a full-time show car and is currently on display at the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It will remain there through the end of 2021 before traveling throughout the country at a variety of car events throughout 2022.

The customized Corvette is also a contender for the 2021 International Show Car Association (ISCA) Car of the Year.

Karl Kustons US military 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Imagery is featured on the body and under the hood.Photo courtesy of Karl Kustoms

"We did what we could to take this thing over the top," said Ed Birmingham, Karl Kustoms Painter. "I sat there for hours doing the detail work. I spent more time than I would normally spend on a hood, but it all paid off."

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The 2022 Bentley Bentayga S combines dark exterior accents with new dynamic capability.

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

Following a mid-generation facelift, Bentley is upping the ante once again on its popular Bentayga SUV. This time, the change comes in the form of a new model - Bentayga S - that is designed to be the sportiest offering in the crossover's lineup. This is the first time an "S" version of the Bentayga has been offered.

Its sport-tuned abilities come courtesy of standard Bentley Dynamic Ride, an anti-roll technology that plays with the model's 15 percent increase in damping in Sport mode to deliver a more engaging drive mode. The automaker has retuned the brakes for the car. It now lightly brakes the inside rear wheel at corner entry to sharpen the front axle turn-in.

The model continues to have four drive modes (Snow and Wet Grass, Dirt and Gravel, Mud and Trail, and Sand) and continues to be able to ford up to 500 mm of water.

2022 Bentley Bentayga S

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

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The Bentayga S rides on standard 22-inch wheels in the buyer's choice of one of three finishes while a larger-than-traditional spoiler takes up room out back. Black exterior accents give the Bentley a unique look while a newly designed, free-flowing sports exhaust provides a robust sound out the rear of the car. Gloss black side sills and front and rear lower bumpers work with dark tinted head and taillight lenses, black door mirrors, and black split-oval tailpipes complete the look.

Powering the auto is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that gets 542 brake horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. The power plant moves the car from zero to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds with the accelerator at the floor and it has a top speed of 180 mph.

Bentyaga S's cabin has new seats, unique stitching, a fresh color split, and Alcantara upholstery. "S" badging can be found on the passenger fascia, instrument panel graphics, and illuminated treadplates.

Buyers can get the car in a four-, five- or seven-seat configuration. The seats are fluted with stitching contrasting and complementing the hide color.

In front of the driver is a fully digital instrument cluster that was designed to be reminiscent of high-end chronographs. Drivers can customize the look of the display.

Pricing for the model has yet to be released, but is expected to be a premium on the current Bentayga starting MSRP of around $166,000.

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