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.

Rolls-Royce has crafted numerous vehicles over the last few years that push the envelope.

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Nearly every aesthetic aspect of a Rolls-Royce can be customized. From traditional leather choices to intricate inlays, vapor blasted titanium, and million-stitch embroidery, the options for owners from the Bespoke side of the brand are nearly endless.

"I am proud to say that the craftsmen and women of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars have surpassed themselves once again in creating an array of extraordinary motor cars, tailored to the requirements of some of the most influential and discerning individuals in the world," said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. "These motor cars become unique works of art and it is an extraordinary feat when you consider that each and every single one of these unique commissions has been created on one production line at the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, West Sussex – the skills of these individuals knows no bounds."

Here, AutomotiveMap takes a closer look at some of the most intricate designs that the luxury automaker crafted in 2019.

The Arabian Gulf Phantom

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Canvas: Phantom │Medium: Embroidery, Paint, Mother of Pearl, Sculpted Silk Appliqué
The Arabian Gulf Phantom features the rich colors of the Middle East. The Phantom's Turchese paint job is evocative of vibrant water, while the Andalusian White upper two-tone recalls the purity of natural pearls. The car's Arctic White coachline features a hand-painted Nautilus shell motif.

A sculpted silk appliqué Gallery by British Artist Helen Amy Murray takes centre stage across the motor car's fascia. Reminiscent of swelling oceans, the Turchese Gallery is punctuated by a Mother of Pearl clock.

A take on the Nautilus shell that is on the exterior is embroidered on Phantom's rear doors, The motif is executed in Mother of Pearl marquetry on the picnic tables' fascia. Once deployed, the picnic tables present a complex piece of marquetry, incorporating Mother of Pearl to the picnic table-top.

Wraith Eagle VIII Collection

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Canvas: Wraith │Medium: Gold Vacuum Metalized Wood with Silver and Copper Inlays
Rolls-Royce created 50 unique Wraith Eagle VII Collection models to commemorate the anniversary of the first non-stop transatlantic flight by Alcock and Brown in June 1919. To complete the flight, the pilots were propelled by Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines.

The new models feature a unique starlight headliner with 1,183 fiber-optic lights were designed to be reminiscent of the nighttime sky at the time of the historic flight. The flight path and constellations are embroidered with the brass thread. The exact moment the duo left the clouds is marked by a red light.

The brass speaker covers are engraved with Winston Churchill's quote commending the pair's achievement on the driver's door.

It also features smoked eucalyptus fascia, vacuum metalized in gold and inlaid with silver and copper, depicting a birds-eye view of the Earth at night, showing a light map of roads and homes glittering below.

​The Million Stitch Rolls-Royce

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Canvas: Phantom │Medium: Embroidery
The Million Stitch Rolls-Royce Phantom features flowered embroidery that is made with a million stitches. The starting point of the stitching is a rose bred exclusively for Rolls-Royce by Harkness Roses. The Rolls-Royce headquarters in Goodwood, England, is the only place in the work where the rose is grown. Read more about the model here.

Ghost Zenith Collection

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars


Canvas: Ghost │Medium: Engraving, Commemoriate Ignot, Perforated Leather, Embroidery
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars marked the close of a decade of the current generation of Ghost by creating the limited edition Zenith Collection. Just 50 Ghosts were part of the collection, which featured the highest level of bespoke available in a Ghost Collection.

The Ghost Zenith references the 200EX, an experimental car that introduced the contemporary expression of the Ghost nameplate in 2009. This design was immortalized in a blueprint-inspired artwork, divided into 50 distinct parts, and engraved on the centre console of Ghost Zenith.

A commemorative ingot, made from the original Spirit of Ecstasy of 200EX, was set into the centre console of each of the cars. Each Ghost Zenith Collection model's Spirit of Ecstasy and clock are engraved with the Zenith name.

Inside, ambient lighting shines through perforated leather and the rear seats feature embroidery inspired by the seat details of the 1907 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. Standard wheelbase models feature a starlight headliner with a unique Shooting Star configuration. Light trails fire at random across the cabin roof, which consists of over 1,340 individual, hand-finished fibre-optic lights.

Bayside Dawn Aero Cowling

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Canvas: Dawn │Medium: Aero Cowling
Following the arrival of the Dawn Aero Cowling in 2018, a customer in Yokohama, Japan wanted to pay tribute to the sea with the Bayside Dawn Aero Cowling as part of their maritime-themed Bespoke motor car.

This one-off model drew inspiration from yachts and speedboats, and featured a combination of technical and natural materials including open-pore teak Canadel panelling that is reminiscent of a yacht's deck and technical fiber. The leather interior evokes the imagery of blue seas and white sails, two of the hallmarks of Yokohama Bay.

Digital Soul Phantom

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Canvas: Phantom │Medium: Additive Manufacturing, Gold Plating, Gold Inlays
Rolls-Royce describes the Digital Soul Phantom as, "a study in contemporary artisanship; a fusion of human endeavour and computer-generated design." The sedan features a Carrara White with Smokey Quartz two-tone paint job. The model goes beyond common customization.

The buyer's characteristics have been interpreted by an algorithm which translates the data into a swath of 3D-printed stainless steel. This has been hand-polished and plated in 24-carat gold. Additional gold detailing embellishes the interior of the motor car, with gold inlays set by hand in smoked eucalyptus wood and gold-plated speaker grilles.

Horology Phantom

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Canvas: Phantom │Medium: Stainless Steel and Gold Inlay, Coachline
This unique Phantom was inspired by a meeting between a Rolls-Royce designer and master horologists from La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. They had met to explore the complexities and exotic movements of luxury timepieces.

The model has a two-tone gunmetal and black paint job, and features a gold and silver hand-painted twin coachline with a design that was inspired by a watch. The Spirit of Ecstasy is cloaked in 24-carat gold. Its fascia features the largest stainless steel and gold inlay ever made for Phantom.

Positioned below a multiple layered stainless-steel Gallery, the inlay depicts an abstract schematic of a watch movement. The Rolls-Royce clock, housed in the Gallery, is set in a solid silver, guilloché case.

Pebble Beach Pastel Collection

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Canvas: Ghost, Dawn, Wraith │Medium: Paint, Technical Fiber
The Pastel Collection was showcased at Pebble Beach and featured colors drawn from the wildflower super-bloom in California. They're three Black Badge commissions feature new colors for the Rolls-Royce palette.

The Ghost Black Badge in this collection features a Light Green Solid finish, black leather interior with a Serenity Green splash that highlights the technical fibre of the fascia.

The Dawn Black Badge, in Coral Solid, carries seven coats of paint and took more than nine hours of hand-polishing in the Surface Finish Centre at the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood to get to the finish line. The Coral colour carries over to the Aero Cowling, while the interior is finished in Artic White and Sunset.

The new Wraith Black Badge is featured in Semaphore Yellow, a bright and sunny finish with a complementary Selby Grey and Lemon interior.

Falcon Wraith

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Canvas: Wraith │Medium: Embroidery, Paint
The Falcon Wraith takes inspiration form the world's fastest bird, the Peregrine Falcon. Its interior features nearly 250,000 stitches. Read more about the Falcon Wraith here.

Tranquility Collection

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Canvas: Phantom │Medium: Meteorite, Space Grade Aluminum, Gold Plate
This vehicle truly pushes the envelope on Earthly delights. According to the automaker, "Tranquillity's Gallery is inspired by the X-Ray coded aperture masks used on the British Skylark space rocket. The Gallery is made from stainless steel, 24-carat gold plating and space grade aluminum."

This vehicle marks the first time in Rolls-Royce history that a meteorite has been incorporated into a car interior. Shavings of the Muonionalusta meteorite, which fell to earth in Kiruna, Sweden in 1906, adorn the Volume Controller, with a detailed engraving of the location and date of its discovery.

Inspired by the light and dark sides of the Moon, The interior's Arctic White or Selby Grey leather is inspired by the light and dark sides of the moon and combines with the veneer combinations of gloss and satin. Bespoke Audio speaker frets are finished in yellow gold, complementing the additional gold elements throughout the car.

A Bespoke 'Technical' yellow gold, vapor blasted and engraved titanium clock and engineered titanium Spirit of Ecstasy complete the aesthetic.

Cullinan in Fux Orange

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Canvas: Cullinan │Medium: Paint
At Pebble Beach last year, alongside the Pastel Collection, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars debuted the colourful 'Cullinan in Fux Orange'. Mr. Fux, a prolific car collector, commissioned the model and worked with the Bespoke Collective at the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, West Sussex to create the custom model.

According to a release, "Fux, challenged designers to match the exterior colour to vibrant orange shawl that had caught his eye in South Florida. The shawl was delivered to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars where a colour-matching process began. Working together for nearly a year, the teams created a seven-layer surface, polished by hand for many hours in the Surface Finish Centre."

Rolls-Royce equipped the interior of the model with hand-crafted Arctic White leather with contrast Orange stitching and Orange Rolls-Royce 'RR' headrest monograms. Arctic White is carried over to the box-grain leather fascia, steering-wheel control stems, and carpets. There's also 'Fux Orange' fascia veneer, rear-view mirror and lambswool floor mats.

Lexus surveyed over 3,000 Americans to find out what they expect luxury to be like in the next 10 years.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Lexus wants to know what you expect from the future. What does luxury look like in a decade? Is it sustainable? Filled with refined materials and high-tech solutions? Does it solve life's problems before they pop up? The luxury arm of Toyota has commissioned a survey to ask Americans what they expect.

"From the very beginning, our greatest curiosity hasn't been machines, it's been people," said Lisa Materazzo, vice president of Lexus marketing. "What moves them? What makes them tick? It's the inspiration for everything we do. From the products we craft to the dealership experience, it's what makes us uniquely Lexus."

For the study, Lexus surveyed 3,200 Americans from Gen Z to Baby Boomers. Some information detailed as part of the results below, was gathered from an additional field study commissioned by the automaker on November 4, 2019 among 1,003 Americans aged 18-years old and older.

Most Americans (56%), feel that luxury is better described as a lifestyle of experiences than a collection of belongings.

woman boat island travel luxury

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According to Lexus, "luxury has always been about exceptional quality and, more recently, experiences over possessions. They are the single most inherent features of luxury and are the top "must-haves" for luxury brands, according to the study findings. This trend is projected to continue, as the majority of Americans (73%) believe that identifying luxury with experiences over belongings will be just as, if not more, important in the next decade."

Lexus quote 1

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A full 86 percent of Americans expect luxury brands to provide exceptional experiences.

Hotel receptionist assisting guest for checking in

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Those surveyed expect luxury brands to be highly responsive to customers' needs, providing expert support and focusing on the details as well as giving a personal touch to service. This personal touch includes knowing the customer's name and preferences and even attention to sensory elements, such as scent, lighting and mood.

Lexus Quote 2

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Nearly three times as many people a will associate luxury with the opportunity for the occasional "digital detox", according to the survey.

High angle view of family using various technologies in living room at home

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Americans love their digital devices continue to feel pressured to be "plugged in" at all times. As the number and sophistication of devices rises, the pressure mounts.

Lexus Quote 3

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In the future, 93% of respondents expect to see just as much, if not more, features from luxury brands allowing them to make special requests.

Fashion designers working together in their studio

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"I want it my way." Americans are able to customize their lifestyle more now than at any other time in history. They don't want that trend to reverse. More than half of the survey respondents (51%) are hoping to see additional tools and innovation supporting ways to customize their online luxury orders.

Lexus Quote 4

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Environmentally friendly manufacturing and messaging are important trends that Americans hope will continue in the next decade. 

Close-up of businessman holding recycable takeaway coffee cup

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According to Lexus, "Most Americans expect luxury brands to have environmentally friendly manufacturing processes (81%). More than seven in 10 also believe luxury brands should act like leaders on issues surrounding sustainability (71%). And, they are open to innovative materials to help satisfy their demand for more sustainable manufacturing practices. In fact, nearly half (48%) look to see more original materials like faux leather and lab-grown diamonds in the future."

Ford also studies trends and each year releases their Ford Trend Report. One of the key findings of that global survey is that over one-third of respondents have no interest in owning an electric vehicle.