The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Multimedia features - Communication centre and concert hall

A completely new multimedia generation with intuitive operation and particularly tangible functions thanks to visualisation and animations celebrates its debut in the new S-Class. Other innovations include the multi-user system, which allows independent access to the media sources of the entertainment system from any seat. The new S-Class is also the first saloon car to be equipped with the unique Frontbass system as standard. With this system, the interior space in the bodyshell's cross-members and side members is used as a resonance chamber for the woofers. A 3D surround sound system is available on request.

Several hundred developers worldwide contributed to the new Mercedes-Benz multimedia generation, compiling more than 30 million lines of programming. The centrepiece of the new COMAND Online system is the Intel Atom, a processor whose performance fully equals that of components in the latest laptops.

As a completely new feature, the developers have made the individual functions of the communication systems more tangible with on-screen visualisation and animations (see "Control and display concept" section). The user is also able to adapt what is shown in the central display to their own requirements. With the exception of the navigation map (which always fills the complete display area), the central display is divided into a main area (2/3 on the right of the screen) and an additional area (1/3 on the left side of the screen). In standard configuration the additional area shows supplementary information about the selected main application, e.g. if the radio function is active, the artist and song title are shown, or the current channel in the case of TV.

It is also possible to permanently show preferred contents in the additional area (except when the full navigation map is active). One can select a small navigation map, fuel consumption display, data connection display or entertainment information, for example.

In addition to this improvement in operating convenience, numerous new functions extend the multimedia options available, and transform the S-Class into a communication centre or a concert hall as required.

The interactive presentation of content is a prominent new feature of the navigation function. The new navitainment functions include an animated compass, the "Driveshow" for passenger information as in an aircraft, and the display of Google Maps on the head unit and in the rear. Information on the traffic situation is shown with hatched lines (rather than with vehicle silhouettes as before). Thanks to real-time traffic information, the navigation system is also better informed about the situation on the roads. Traffic data are now provided by the "Live Traffic Information" service. Unlike the previous data sources TMC and TMCpro, whose data are received by radio, "Live Traffic Information" uses a fast internet connection and is therefore particularly up-to-date.

As another new feature, a key word search can be used to enter destinations: only a few letters need to be entered, and the system will automatically display a choice of appropriate town/street combinations and possible points of interest. The letter combinations or key words can even contain spelling mistakes.

Example: if the driver enters STUT and BAD, the system will suggest 'Stuttgarter Strasse' in Bad Friedrichshall, 'Badstrasse' in Stuttgart and the 'Freibad Möhringen' swimming pool in Stuttgart. The entered key words are visually highlighted in the display of search results.

In the radio function the favourite stations can now be saved to an individually organised preset list for all wavebands (DAB, FM, AM) rather than to a general autostore function. Individual stations can then be called up using the favourites function. The "Song tagging" function is likewise useful: songs just played in the vehicle can be flagged and then downloaded to a mobile device via iTunes and the internet connection.

The player is now able to recognise mixed tracks, i.e. video and audio files. Videos are shown as a preview in a small, animated area, and can be enlarged to full-screen format. The function "Play similar titles" suggests songs similar to the one currently playing, accessing the CD, Music Register or a connected source. Also new are the Coverflow display, the album cover search and the Picture Viewer as a slideshow.

"Telephone module with Bluetooth®" is standard equipment with the COMAND Online system. This supports the connection of the mobile phone to the vehicle via a standardised Bluetooth® interface. In addition "Convenience telephony" can be ordered as an optional extra by way of a pre-installation using a universal phone interface, whereby the mobile phone can be connected via a cradle in the centre console. Suitable cradles for various mobile phones are obtainable from Mercedes-Benz Accessories.

"Business telephony in the rear" with a hands-free function is optionally available for passengers in the rear. Connection of the mobile phone to the rear unit is likewise via Bluetooth®. Pre-installation with a universal phone interface is also possible for the rear. The telephony via the COMAND Online system is networked with the "Business telephony in the rear". Calls can therefore be conveniently transferred between the driver and the rear, and functions such as call waiting or conference are also available. Business telephony is operated via a Bluetooth® handset integrated into the rear and featuring a convenient touch display. This allows functions such as seat adjustment to be operated intuitively.

The most important new functions at a glance

Equal rights for every occupant: the entertainment features

The new S-Class is the first vehicle worldwide to offer a genuine multi-user system with Individual Entertainment System in the rear. This means that there is independent access to the media sources of the entertainment system from any of the four seats – i.e. radio, TV, internet, navigation, DVD player and USB-connected devices.

The driver control function for all the seats is another new feature. The driver is able to route any audio or video source to the display and headset of any passenger. At the touch of a button the driver is also able to have one of the audio sources in use played via the onboard loudspeakers.

The multi-user system was technically realised by connecting the COMAND Online system with Individual Entertainment System in the rear via a fibre-optic cable, a so-called MOST bus system (Media Oriented Systems Transport). Access to the sources from any seat is possible via the MOST ring, which works with a transfer rate of up to 150 Mbit per second. For the COMAND remote control function, digital radio technology is used for the first time instead of infrared technology. This makes operation throughout the vehicle possible from any position.

The well-proven SPLITVIEW system for the driver and front passenger has been retained. The COMAND Online system forms a mixed image from two separate display images (e.g. TV and navigation). This is then separated in the high-resolution central display by means of prisms, enabling different screen content to be shown for the driver and front passenger depending on the viewing angle. The driver and front passenger therefore see different images – the passenger can watch television, for example, while the driver is following the navigation instructions.

Together with the DVD changer, headset and Comand Online remote control, SPLITVIEW is part of the "Individual Entertainment" system. The "Individual Entertainment System in the rear" meanwhile comprises a second DVD player (in the centre console for the five-seater, in the parcel shelf for the four-seater), two high-resolution 10.2-inch displays, radio remote control and two wireless headsets.

With Frontbass and up to 24 loudspeakers: the sound systems

The innovative Frontbass system developed by Mercedes-Benz‑and used for the first time in a saloon car is a feature common to all the audio systems: the woofers are housed in the firewall, and use the almost 40-litre space in the cross-member and side member as a resonance chamber. Since woofers no longer have to be fitted in the doors, the acoustically disturbing vibrations typical of this configuration are eliminated. The mid-range speakers in the doors are relocated upwards. This improves the soundscape and allows additional stowage space in the doors.

As alternatives to the standard sound system with ten loudspeakers, two very high-quality audio systems are available which were developed together with the high-end audio specialist Burmester: Burmester® Surround Sound system and Burmester® High-End 3D‑Surround Sound system.

The features of the three sound systems at a glance

The systematic use of analogue diplexers in the medium and high frequency ranges ensures an extraordinarily expressive and natural sound. Bass, mid-range, treble, volume, balance and fader can be individually adjusted. The listening experience can be enhanced even further with the Surround function or sound optimisation for the front and rear seats.

Three-dimensional in-car sound: Burmester® High-End 3D Surround Sound system

The optional Burmester® High-End 3D Surround Sound system offers a unique visual and acoustic experience. The tweeters in the mirror triangles of the front doors are a particular visual highlight. They rotate through 360° when the head unit is turned on, moving ten millimetres towards the passengers in a spiral motion. This movement aligns the tweeters to give the optimum sound impression. This system is also visually distinguishable from the Burmester® Surround Sound system by three overhead speakers and special door speaker covers.

The Burmester® High-End 3D Surround Sound system makes for an outstanding listening experience, with the best possible sound settings for every seat and, for the first time, three-dimensional sound as standard in a luxury saloon car. This 3D surround sound is created with the help of special Burmester algorithms and three speakers integrated into the headlining. This combination of analogue and digital technologies produces an extraordinarily expressive and natural sound – the Burmester "feel-good sound".

If the ambience lighting is switched on, the two tweeters are illuminated in one of the seven available colours. The same applies to the overhead console, which is also elegantly emphasised by the ambience lighting and accommodates two of the three overhead speakers.

The Burmester® High-End 3D Surround Sound system provides its unrivalled listening experience by virtue of 24 high-performance speakers and 24 separate amplifier channels with a total output of 1540 watts. At the same time an intelligent combination of analogue and digital amplifier technologies leads to a particularly fine and natural sound together with high performance reserves. While sophisticated analogue filter settings allow the best possible fine reproduction in the mid-range and treble frequencies, the digital amplifier - despite its compact dimensions - masters the highest dynamic peaks. The result is outstanding sound resolution and fine acoustic detail, combined with impressive impulse reproduction. This provides a rounded, warm and substantial sound experience founded on an impressive bass range.

The new, three-dimensional listening experience provided by the 3D Surround Sound system and created by the Burmester speakers integrated into the vehicle roof is unique. In addition to the two speakers in the overhead console, another speaker is accommodated in the overhead control panel. A 3D algorithm was developed specifically for the new S-Class‑to create the unique listening experience made possible by these overhead speakers. The aim of the developers was to add a subtle spatial effect to the outstanding listening experience.

Apart from 3D Surround, four other preset sound modes can be selected to suit every taste and audio source:

- Pure: audiophile sound reproduction with no additional effects, for unadulterated musical enjoyment

- Live: appealing, dynamic sound background akin to live music

- Easy Listening: milder sound background for relaxed listening over longer periods

- Surround: virtual surround sound

3D-Surround: three-dimensional listening experience provided by the overhead loudspeakers

Using the so-called VIP setting, the sound quality can be optimised for any of the four seating positions. This function has been carefully configured for each of the sound modes shown above.

The sophisticated sound compensation (VNC) has also been developed further. This ensures that the best possible sound impression is maintained despite changes in driving noise. VNC guarantees maximum listening pleasure at all times – whether on the motorway or in town.

Credits: Daimler AG

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