High-Fidelity Allstars: Harman Buys Bang & Olufsen Automotive Business


Premium audio company Harman has added another arrow to its quiver of boutique marques with the acquisition of Bang & Olufsen's automotive business.

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The legendary Danish company—arguably as famous for its stunning designs as it is sound fidelity—will join industry luminaries like Bowers & Wilkins, Infinity, and Mark Levinson in Harman's portfolio, making it part of an unparalleled all-star roster of automotive audiophile companies.

Given the laundry list of Harman's assets, the announcement isn't particularly surprising—unlike, for example, the recent sale of Pirelli to the Chinese government—and it solidifies the group's dominance in the high-end car audio market. The company's hardware already features prominently in product from Audi, Aston Martin, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz, so it should appear business as usual from the consumer perspective.

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Perhaps more interesting than this acquisition is the idea of how Harman's distinct brands will work with Apple's emerging CarPlay system. Given that Cupertino has long weathered criticism from audiophiles regarding the sound quality and the lack of support for lossless formats on its devices, improved collaboration with Harman could mean a big step forward in both perception and performance of Apple's audio profile. 

We'll be watching—or rather listening—carefully. 

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