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Fender, Volkswagen, Panasonic Pair up on New Audio System

In what might best be described as the ultimate automotive aural ménage a trois, Fender, Volkswagen, and Panasonic automotive have come together to create a new nine-speaker audio system for the Jetta GLI.

In remarks before the International Motor Press Association in New York City, Jonathan Browning, CEO of VW America, said the three companies are joining forces to bring the “raw emotion of live music” to daily driving. “Our two iconic companies — one with a passion for driving, one with a passion for music — are joining forces to bring the raw emotion of live music to the driving experience.”

Well, actually there are three companies because Fender, long known for its iconic rock and roll guitars and amplifiers and its 64 years of experience in sound and sound amplification, turned to Panasonic Automotive, which has 68 years experience in automotive audio, to develop the new audio system that features proprietary Panasonic speaker technology.

The system covers the cabin with directional sound from front door speakers that generate imaging beyond the capabilities of traditional speaker designs. It cuts through the noise and other distractions with front dual voice coil speakers, with extended range for all musical genres.

Browning emphasized that it is not just a branding exercise. The project was three years in development. Mark Van Vleet, Senior Vice President, Business Affairs for Fender. added that its engineers and R&D teams were involved in the design along with Panasonic's automotive division. Van Vleet praised its clarity at both low and high volumes as well as its outstanding bass levels.

For those of you who understand such things, “the design features lower inter-modulation distortion and smooth mid-range response to eliminate harshness. It is harmonically complex, with extended range tweeters and properly voiced 16cm speakers revealing original instrumentation timbre and harmonic richness,” according to a VW press release.

The new system will debut on the Jetta GLI. It will be available in North America first and may roll out to other markets. It will also be in the 2012 Beetle when it debuts.