What do you get when you cross one of Britain’s most storied luxury car marques with a pair of premium audio brands which have been pooling their 88 years of combined expertise since 2011? The answer is, some gear that makes common-or-garden audio visual equipment, both sonically and aesthetically, seem a bit of a joke. The Naim Mu-so for Bentley Special Edition wireless speaker system and the Focal for Bentley Radiance headphones are two pieces of technology whose aesthetic beauty is matched only by their sound dynamics and clarity.
The first of these is a collaboration between a duo whose engineers have been pushing in-car audio experiences to loftier heights in Bentley models since 2008. Here, they’ve come up with a fresh take on Naim’s multi-Award-winning Mu-so 2nd Generation: a wireless speaker system (£1799, available from Focal, Naim and Bentley web stores) whose exceptional usability (think single-prod app controlled multi-room system) and build quality superseded only by its tonal richness and the kind of clarity which will hike guests’ eyebrows ceiling-ward.
That is, when they’ve finished poring over the unit’s design credentials. Crafted from expertly stained and repeatedly lacquered Ayous – a sustainable African hardwood – it features nods to Bentley’s design cues such as a smoked plinth, copper-threaded speaker grille and the signature Bentley lattice design surrounding the tactile volume dial (this illuminates to your touch, natch).
“The copper seen within the Naim Mu-so for Bentley Special Edition was inspired by the exterior metal brightwork of the EXP 100 GT, and represents Bentley’s move towards more sustainable materials for the future,” explains Stefan Sielaff, Director of Design at Bentley. “This theme was mirrored through the weave of the front mesh as a highlight and can be seen in the anodised, machined veins at the back. The etching on the ‘dial plate’ takes the form of a progressive diamond which elegantly grows out from the centre, and is a nod to Bentley’s diamond-in-diamond interior quilting from the new Continental GT.”
Meanwhile, the Radiance headphones (£1199, also available from Focal, Naim and Bentley web stores), the collaboration with Focal – a brand so obsessed with acoustic purity, its R&D department whiles away months poring over minutiae such as the effects of pistonic motion on sonic reflections – feature earcups finished in soft gloving leather from Pittards, which has been crafting leather in Somerset since 1826, and its own Bentley styling cues including copper accents and the same woven material featured on the speaker grille of the Naim Mu-so for Bentley Special Edition.
Two tips, for those who plump for either product: firstly, lossless formats only – compressed files with gear like this is a cardinal sin; secondly, check out an intimate live recording such as Tom Waits’ Nighthawks at the Diner or any “Unplugged” classic, close your eyes, and be transported in time and space, briefly, to where and when the gig took place.