Sound systems explained by JBL


Many years ago, in my previous life, I owned a Porsche 911 Targa.  Undoubtedly the best car I have ever owned, and I wish I had it still.

However, it had one huge deficiency – the sound system was quite inadequate.  Even with the targa top in place, as you accelerated, the music from the speakers was drowned out.  Jokingly I used to say that it needed a string from the accelerator pedal looped around the volume control, so that as you depressed the pedal, the volume would increase.  That was 30 years ago, but this month I found out that the clever JBL people had worked out just how to do the accelerator string thing – by electronics!  JBL Professional® Premium Sound System have produced a tailor-made system developed and tuned specifically for open versions of sports cars, and in this case, the Ferrari 458 Italia Spider.

Ferrari 458 Italia Ferrari 458 Italia

Conceived for the Spider, the powerful 11 speaker system uses stiff, lightweight materials such as carbon fiber, Kevlar® and aluminum to deliver stunning audio performance, whilst achieving rigorous weight targets.

Accounting for the specific acoustic challenges of an open-topped car, JBL’s engineers have developed an alternative architecture to the Berlinetta derivative.  By using small and lightweight technologies such the 100 mm Kevlar speakers, JBL has ensured that both the driver and passenger are immersed in authentic sound.

Powering the array of carefully positioned speakers is a Class D 640 Watt DSP amplifier.  Utilizing 8 channels, JBL has extracted the highest levels of performance ensuring a premium listening experience for both occupants.  Three 80 mm ALumaprene speakers are used in the doors and centre to deliver balanced frequency response.  Extremely stiff, they are also highly responsive and provide excellent sound across the front of the car.  The stringent demands for lightweight construction led JBL engineers to use carbon fiber for the door woofers.  Highly stable across temperature ranges experienced in open topped cars and coupled with light Neodymium magnet systems which deliver virtually distortion-free bass performance in the 20 to 200 Hz range, these custom speakers offer dynamic sound reproduction often difficult to achieve in the challenging car environment.  Complimenting the Kevlar speakers in the rear are a further pair of 25 mm metal matrix tweeters that deliver brilliant treble tones.

458 Italia interior 458 Italia interior

Now here is the amazing bit, the JBL engineers created bespoke equalization (or EQ) which compensates for changes in the acoustics whether the roof is open or closed.  When the roof is opened, the levels across the frequency range seamlessly and automatically change to maintain the acoustic performance and compensate for the additional external noise entering the cabin.

This latest sound system continues the successful cooperation between Harman and the Italian sports car manufacturer that was formed in 1997.  The Ferrari 458 Italia Spider system extends the JBL Professional offering that is already available in the 458 Italia, California and most recently, the FF.

And just in case you get lost while immersed in the sound of Beethoven’s 8th Symphony, the Harman people also equip the Ferrari 458 Italia Spider with the latest infotainment and navigation technology.  All Ferrari models feature a Harman hard-disk-based GPS navigation system with map and arrow display.  The hard disk offers access times which are much quicker than conventional alternatives using data on a DVD.  Bird’s-eye perspectives and an automatic intersection zoom feature are included, as are dynamic route and destination calculation and extensive points of interest (POI), with verbal route guidance available in a choice of five languages (including Italian).