Why Yell? Jaguar Meridian Reference Audio System Balances Voice, Music

Sections: Car Audio

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Jaguar XJL Badging Detail Shot

(Photo courtesy Jaguar)

This one snuck by me until recently: Jaguar’s Reference Audio system has a cool feature that will pick up the voices of those in the cabin and amplify them through the 26-speaker array to make conversation “more comfortable.”

A Jaguar press release giving an overview of the 2014 models listed this feature as a highlight of the 2014 XJ in long-wheelbase form:

LWB models except XJR offer new Meridian™ 1,300-watt, 26-speaker Reference Audio system that includes three rearward-facing speakers in each front seatback; system integrates new Conversation Assist, which uses microphones to channel passengers’ voices through the audio system speakers, mixing music and speech volume accordingly, for more comfortable conversation.

Conversation Assist sounds like a great technology for old rockers like me who are forever sneaking the volume up a notch at a time when our wives aren’t looking, only to have said wives finally notice and turn the music down. I can see it going down something like this:

Wife: “Did you turn the volume up or something?”

Husband: “Uh, no. Listen, you can still hear my voice like normal, right?”

Wife: “Well, yeah.”

Husband: “See?”

Also, let’s not underestimate just how monumentally awesome a 26-speaker, 1,300-watt factory-tuned audio experience should be. I’m pretty sure I’d be setting off car alarms and getting noise complaints from the local constabulary if I had that kind of wattage at my disposal everyday. I also like those three speakers in the seatback of the front seats, as I’m sure they add to the supreme immersion of sound available to rear seat occupants. Your kid wants to go to a rock concert, but you’re not sure they can handle the immense volume that comes with full-on arena-sized concert speaker systems? Just throw ’em in the back of a long-wheelbase Jag XJ and crank up the volume. They’ll get the idea.

But I’m someone who typically likes to listen to music at a volume juuust over the line where you can still have conversation without raising your voice — much to the annoyance of my wife and other passengers, I’m sure. For that reason, the Conversation Assist feature sounds like a really good idea. I hope we get to try it out in-person sometime.

The only caveat: The full Meridian Reference Audio package isn’t available on the XJR long-wheelbase model, which tops the range of XJs in both price and performance. For that particular XJ, I suppose the 550-horsepower supercharged V8 engine soundtrack would make up for lack of a 1,300-watt, 26-speaker sound system. And heck, we’d like to try one of those out, too.

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