In the world of high end, there are often many synergies, many luxuries that are juxtaposed seamlessly; a 30 year old Glenfarclas single malt whisky pairs beautifully with a King of Denmark cigar, for example. When it comes to high-end audio, there are common connections too because many audiophiles sport high-end watches, top-notch cameras, and well-engineered German automobiles. Audiophiles, it seems, recognise the beauty of superb craftsmanship and engineering, as well as fine music quality.
This enthusiasm is not bi-directional, however. There are many people who might wear a Patek watch, take photos on a Leica, and drive around in a top-end Mercedes-Benz, but listen to music on something cheap and nasty by comparison. That said, few audio brands have the financial clout to sponsor golf tournaments, take out expensive advertising campaigns in airports, or have their name in lights across a city skyline.
To help counter that primary lack of visibility that high-end audio suffers, some companies have attached their products to other high-grade engineering projects. If you buy a top-end automobile today, the in-car entertainment system may well sport a ‘name’ from the audio industry. A handful of audio manufacturers have delved into the world of automotive audio, realising that there is a huge potential for an augmented audience in this sector.
The beauty of hi-fi grade automotive audio is two-fold; from an engineering standpoint, the interior of a car is the ultimate in controlled listening spaces, and to the end user, the cost involved is a very low percentage of the overall purchase price of the car: if someone is prepared to spend £40,000 on a car, spending an additional 10% to upgrade the entertainment system seems a trivial sum, although the same person might never consider spending £4,000 on a home audio system.
Audio brands haven’t collectively spent millions developing in-car audio to satisfy the requirements a small number of audiophiles. Their hope is that by associating improved performance with that name, they might attract more rank-and-file car buyers to associate good sound with that brand when it comes to buying audio in the home.
One of the most successful companies working in this new direction for audio is Burmester, as it provides the premium in-car systems for a number of top German car marques, including Mercedes-Benz. So, if you opt for the top-specification package on a new Mercedes-Benz S-Class or E-Class saloon (or Mercedes-Maybach S-600 Pullman), you will see the name ‘Burmester’ inside the car more often than you will see the Mercedes emblem.
In most cases, this would be considered the end of the story. A few more ‘switched on’ audio companies work at local level, and try to get audio stores and car showrooms to cross-promote the brands. However, for the most part, this relies on similarly ‘switched on’ audio dealers not only able and willing to work with the car showrooms, but to raise their respective games in terms of store layout and customer service.
Perhaps the reason Burmester makes such a success of its automotive connections is that it doesn’t consider simply including the in-car system as the end of the story. The company works in step with the car company, to fully embrace that focus on lifestyle luxury. Burmester paired up with Mercedes-Benz to bring the Burmester brand into Mercedes-Benz’ own luxury serviced apartments. The Fraser Hospitality Group, a global brand that provides suites and apartments all over the world, manages these apartments.
The three businesses – Burmester, Fraser, and Mercedes-Benz – worked together to create themed apartments in some of the more salubrious parts of the planet. These bring the top designers from the car brand into their properties to model the apartments around the Mercedes-Benz stylistic goals of ‘Cutting edge design, and innovative technologies’. The furniture follows the curves of the S-Class, the Swarovski chandelier hangs gracefully above a polished black glass table; upon looking at the reflection in the table the chandelier is a replica of the S from the S-Class.
Every item in the apartment, from the curtains to the candleholders, has been chosen and agreed upon by the Mercedes-Benz design team. They have brought their decades of luxury car experience, applied it to an apartment and created a luxury living space, aiming to ‘give a sense of Mercedes-Benz exclusivity’ in a home environment. The result is tremendous!
I visited the Fraser Apartments in one of the more leafy parts of South Kensington, London, UK. The Fraser Hospitality Group has lovingly restored a row of Georgian townhouses, to create 69 luxury apartments surrounding a beautiful municipal green space, to which all residents have access. Six of these designer apartments carry the prestigious Mercedes-Benz name. Even before you get to the apartment, you are met with high-quality decorative cornicing, paneled skylights, and multi floor staircases, while inside each two-bedroom Mercedes-Benz apartment is a well-appointed kitchen, a combined living room/dining area, a guest bathroom, and an additional en suite bathroom in the master bedroom.
Even luxury has its own grading, and there are Premier and Executive apartments in the Mercedes-Benz ‘fleet’. Regardless, the living area is airy and spacious; huge sash windows fill the room with light, and the floor is festooned with deep rugs into which your feet melt. Nestling at the rear of the main living area, you will find a Burmester 150 network player, a 101 Integrated Amplifier, and a pair of B10 speakers. They are encased within a side table designed by Burmester and Mercedes-Benz together. Alongside this you will find an iPad mini and a set of brief operating instructions. Alongside any music you might wish to play from your own personal stock, the system is connected to TIDAL’s high-quality online music service.
We’ve discussed the performance of these individual components in the pages of Hi-Fi+ many times, but working together, in so elegant a setting, really ties the system together and perhaps perfectly explains where the three companies are coming from. This is a system of refinement, elegance, and sophistication. It’s not for party animals – although it can readily be played in that manner – it’s a system designed to soothe away the stresses of the modern executive, and does that perfectly. This is not to say the sound is too relaxing or laid back. It’s not – it simply makes for an effortless way to spend an evening winding down simply listening to some music.
Burmester is a leading marque in so many ways, but perhaps it is here in a luxury Mercedes-Benz themed suite in a chic part of London that you can best appreciate the fact that the company has not sat back and let its success carry the brand. It’s constantly on its toes, always thinking of new and innovative ideas, and different ways to ensure the brand and name is in the right places.
We are preaching to the converted here, but Burmester is working hard to augment the congregation. Granted, that potential new customer base is well-heeled enough to spend more than £40,000 on a car or £400 a night for a month in an apartment in London, but that fits perfectly with the prospective customers for Burmester’s own products.
These apartments make you feel as though you are living in a super-sized Mercedes-Benz, and within that is an entertainment system that is more than a match for the Burmester system in the cabins of those Mercedes-Benz cars. The concept is ideal for the discerning traveller, whether they are travelling for business or for leisure. The styling and concept worked in London, and that has now been rolled out to Singapore, with other properties in the pipeline for the Mercedes-Benz upgrade. All business amenities are provided as are those you would expect from a high-class hotel, but with the flexibility of a short-term apartment rental. The teams behind this idea have got it right! Hats off to Burmester, Fraser Hospitality Group, and Mercedes-Benz.
Burmester Audiosysteme: www.burmester.de
The Fraser Group: www.londonservicedapartments.co.uk/apartments/mercedes-benz-living
Read Next From BlogSee all
The Absolute Sound and hi-fi+ Offer Multi-Regional Coverage for Marketing Efficiency
For several years, Nextscreen Networks has been building the circulation […]
- Tom Martin
- Sep 2022