Same as in our highway fuel economy test of the GLS 63, the first generation Mercedes-Benz GL-Class was introduced to the American market in 2006 as a competitor to the Range Rover, Escalade, and Navigator with the GLS-Class nomenclature rising to become its successor ten years later in 2016. Though this rig is a people mover, the Mercedes-Benz GLS Burmester system could substitute for a movie theater—one that can tow up to 7,700 pounds.
Not to mention, it’s an expensive theater! You can pick up a GLS 580 with the 26-speaker Burmester High-end 3D Surround Sound system for as little as $103,400—what a bargain! Unfortunately, and surprisingly, the $4,550 option is not available on the more affordable GLS 450. Available inputs on this rolling theater are Bluetooth with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, USB-C ports with a USB-A adapter provided, and AM/FM/SiriusXM/Tunein internet radio channels. Unfortunately, there isn’t a 3.5 mm auxiliary jack or CD drive. Sound settings provided by Burmester start by offering a VIP Seat option where, if chosen, the system will focus the balance and fade to that seat’s location. Burmester also offers Sound Profiles which processes whatever you’re listening to and optimizes where it thinks the different sounds should come from. Speed sensitive volume adjustment is also optional, if desired. So how does this expensive German monster stack up against other sound systems?
Charlie found the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS Burmester 26-speaker system to actually sound remarkably good! He gave it a 9/10 for sound quality compared to other systems. However, the controls are confusing and difficult to operate if unfamiliar with Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system, which brings our overall rating down to an 8.5/10. See the video at the bottom of the page to hear the Burmester system in action!
How We Test
Here at Daily Motor, we take audio systems seriously. That’s why we take every car, from a luxury SUV like this to supercars like the McLaren 570S, and put them through our rigorous sound-system testing. We use the same lossless, uncompressed audio files on a USB drive plugged into the infotainment so that every system we test starts from the same baseline. To provide a realistic impression for the sound experience, we record with high-quality binaural microphones. We demonstrate every stereo with their sound settings set to their factory defaults, because that’s how the radio’s engineers designed it to sound, but we test all the settings on many different genres of music before shooting the reviews. After demonstrating the sound settings, adjustments, inputs, speaker locations, and Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay functionality, we head out on the road to listen to our sample tracks at highway speeds. Most cars can sound great while stopped, but road, wind, and engine noise can deteriorate music fidelity. At the end of the sound test, we give an objective rating based on sound quality and overall system usage as well as a subjective rating factoring in vehicle attributes and price.