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Car Tech Spotlight: Top-flight sound in the Range Rover Evoque

You could get better sound than with the 16-speaker, 825-watt Meridian Surround Sound System, but not by much.

By Douglas Newcomb Jul 3, 2013 5:46AM

Range Rover Evoque Meridian Sound system.With cloud-connected smartphone integration and in-dash applications getting a lot of attention, car stereos have become almost an afterthought. But we are living in what I consider the golden age of factory car stereos.

Never before could you get such great sound quality – not to mention a half-dozen or more media choices, in some cases – at a decent price from so many automakers. Factory audio systems have gotten so good, in fact, that re-creating the same experience with aftermarket gear actually could cost you more money, which was never the case in the past.

A good example of this is the Meridian system in the 2013 Range Rover Evoque Prestige that I recently tested. This trim level –and all others – comes with an 11-speaker, 380-watt Meridian sound system, while the $6,400 Premium Package option adds the 16-speaker, 825-watt Meridian Surround Sound System as well as a hard-disk navigation system, a Surround Camera System, Automatic High Beam Assist and other accoutrements.

In my testing, I found that the higher-powered system is just as sonically satisfying as the 29-speaker, 1,700-watt Meridian system that is available exclusively in the flagship 2013 Range Rover Autobiography model. That SUV has a sticker that's more than twice that of my loaded Evoque Prestige.

This was the second time I’ve had a chance to drive an Evoque with the upgraded Meridian system, and the second time I came away impressed with the system’s sound quality. Specific attributes include a smooth response throughout the frequency spectrum, accurate tonal quality so that instruments are lifelike, superb sound staging and imaging that project a palpable sonic picture of the performers strung across the dashboard, very little discernible distortion and solid bass from the system’s 8-inch subwoofer.

I was also impressed with the same setup in a 2013 Range Rover I tested in February. The 29-speaker Meridian Surround Sound System in this particular Range Rover Autobiography model was impressive, but it wasn’t $50,000 more impressive.

That’s the difference in cost between the Range Rover with the 19-speaker system, an $1,850 option on that model, and the Autobiography trim, which costs $135,995.  And while the comparison between the systems in the Evoque and the Range Rover may not be apples-to-apples, the comparison between the two top Range Rover trim levels is.

The Autobiography's 29-speaker system is indeed better, and includes speakers in the headliner and the seat backs and Meridian’s Trifield 3-D processing.  But it's not that much better to my ears, which have been testing car audio systems for 25 years.

But let your own ears be the judge before spending extra money on this or any audio option.

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