The Audi Q7 (and its high-horsepower variant, the SQ7, tested here) represent the pinnacle of what Audi has to offer in the crossover marketplace. Though its styling is a bit conservative compared to SUVs from some of the competition (looking at you, facelifted X7), the Audi Q7 is handsome outside and expertly crafted inside. And what top-tier SUV would be complete without an impressive upgraded sound-system option? Audi provides three choices: a base 10-speaker system, a mid-tier Bang & Olufsen 3D Premium system, and then this top-shelf B&O 3D Advanced 23-speaker sound system. At the time of this writing, it appears this system is only offered on the SQ7 as a standalone $5000 option.
With 1920 watts of total power output, the Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced sound system in the SQ7 packs a punch. While they might not rotate up out of the dash like in a Mercedes, the perched tweeters really do it for us. What we don’t love is Audi’s newer infotainment systems. Gone is the useful knob control in the center console, and in its place is a dual-touchscreen setup with haptic feedback. These mini vibrations, while useful in theory, slow down actions and make the screen feel less snappy and responsive. The screen does look sharp, however, and menus mostly make sense (as long as you’re not locked out of them while the car is moving).
In the audio settings screen, users are greeted with only three EQ adjustments, a big misstep for a car that costs over $100,000. Top-level BMW systems provide nine-band equalizers, and newer Mercedes Burmester systems will walk you through a personalized EQ setup. Having only adjustments for treble, bass, and subwoofer in a flagship car is unacceptable. Balance and fader is standard fare, and you can choose to focus sound on the front seats, rear seats, or in a “Movie” setting. We don’t really understand how Movie compares to All, Front, or Rear. Then you start to get into the party tricks of the 3D Advanced system. The strength of the surround effect, which makes music sound like its coming from around you, can be adjusted with a slider. The 3D effect, which makes music sound like its taller (if you can imagine that) has four settings: Off, Low, Medium, and High. Lastly, users have a slider for speed-dependent volume control, which will lift audio volume as speed increases to compensate for ambient noise.
The Audi Q7 has our preferred methods of controlling volume: knobs and rollers. There’s a volume knob in the center console and a quick acting volume roller control on the right side of the steering wheel. Track adjustments are just as intuitive: You can move the center volume knob right or left to select a new song or click seek buttons flanking the volume control on the wheel. For audio inputs, the Q7 provides AM, FM, SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and USB-C. Some users would like to see audio streaming services built in as well as conventional USB ports, a 3.5mm aux input, or a CD player, but wireless CarPlay and Android Auto should satisfy most listeners.
Speakers are hidden all over the inside of the Audi Q7 crossover. The front doors get woofers and midrange speakers, there are two fancy tweeters and two center speakers in the dash, a tweeter and a mid-range in each A pillar for the 3D effects, woofers and midranges in the rear doors, a tweeter in each b pillar, two tweeters and two midranges in the ceiling of the cargo area, and a big ol’ subwoofer in the floor. A grand total of 23 speakers in the Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced sound system in the Audi Q7.
So how does it all sound? Pretty darn good! We highly recommend watching the video below for the best demonstration, but we can tell you that we gave it our second highest rating, an A tier. During the start of our week with the car, we were leaning toward S tier, but as we spent a week listening to all sorts of our favorite music, we noticed certain elements of songs weren’t coming through as well balanced as we would have liked. Higher midrange sounds were too strong, and with minimal EQ adjustability, we couldn’t tone them down with tuning. We also wanted more low bass from the base EQ settings, but fortunately bringing the subwoofer adjustment up a few clicks helped. And despite overall strong sound, the haptic feedback of the touchscreen made using the system frustrating.
We’d still happily take this B&O system in our car, but we’d hesitate for shelling out big bucks when its not the best on the market. Take a listen for yourself and let us know what you think!