Bentley Bentayga audio review: Naim Audio system upgrade?

The Bentley Bentayga is a luxurious SUV that sets itself apart from rival offerings with a stylish cabin and a comfortable driving experience. However, given its £155,500 asking price, the Hybrid model failed to impress us with its lacklustre performance and the scarce number of standardised features.

When it comes to audio, the British automaker includes its ‘Bentley Signature Audio’ system that sports a 12-speaker 580-watt configuration. Upgrade to the Naim Audio system and you’ll get 20 speakers with a whopping 1,720 Watts of power. On review is the latter system.

Click here to read the full Bentley Bentayga Hybrid review

Bentley Bentayga audio setup

To tinker with the vehicle’s audio settings, one has to navigate to the ‘Sound’ tab on the 10.9″ infotainment system. Here, you’ll find a three-band equaliser, below are our optimal settings:

  • Active bass: -1
  • Subwoofer: +0
  • Bass: -2
  • Treble: +1*
  • Focus: Naim all**
  • Balance & Fader: Centre
  • Noise compensation: +0

*In the Naim Audio system there is no dedicated mid- and high-frequency band adjustments, whereas, in the stock ‘Bentley Signature Audio’ system, there’s a three-band equaliser that separates the two frequency bands, here you’ll find Bass, Mid and Treble EQs. One might hope that the automaker could address this omission via a future firmware update.

**Our preferred sound focus in the Naim audio system is ‘Naim all’, however, there are other options available: Naim front, Naim driver, Naim rear, Classic, Digital media, Spoken word, and Enhanced. In the stock system, you’re limited to three Digital Sound Processor (DSP) modes, only.

To connect up to the vehicle’s audio system using your smartphone, you can opt for a Bluetooth connection where the AAC and SBC codecs are supported. It’s a shame that the higher-quality codecs, such as aptX, aptX HD, LDAC or HWA are all omitted. On the plus side, both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported in a wired and wireless format, the former being the better out of the two connection modes, as it provides heightened audio fidelity.

As for media controls, there are physical buttons at the centre of the dashboard and on the steering wheel, and virtual touchscreen buttons that are accessible via the 10.9″ infotainment system.

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Bentley Bentayga audio performance

For a demo of the Bentayga’s audio system head on over to our YouTube channel.

The stock and Naim audio configurations share many similarities when it comes to speaker positioning, of course, the latter adds an extra eight drivers in the cabin. Within the ‘Bentley Signature Audio’ system, there are full-range speakers within each of the four doors, 25mm “Super” tweeters in the B-pillars facing towards the rear occupants, three 80mm “Premium” Balanced Mode Radiators (BMR) within the front cowl (area between the dashboard and windscreen) and a further two on the rear parcel shelf, and a subwoofer in the boot that sits alongside an eight-channel amplifier.

The Naim system, adds additional smaller mid-range drivers within each of the four doors, a 25mm “Super” tweeter on either extremity of the dashboard, a “Bass Shaker” within the front seats and sees upgrades to the subwoofer, BMR radiators and the amplifier, which moves up to a 17-channel configuration with the aforementioned eight Digital Sound Processor (DSP) modes.

The inclusion of a subwoofer shouldn’t come as a surprise in a premium vehicle, but the quantity and quality of bass the boot-located speaker delivers is seriously impressive; arguably the best we’ve come across in all the audio systems we’ve tested to date. The precise and eloquent sub-bass extension in the Naim Audio system is faultless and to our ears, didn’t require any tweaking either.

We did, however, have to tone down the bass shakers via the ‘Active Bass’ EQ and further take two notches off the ‘Bass’ via the infotainment system. In its default configuration, the system’s mid-bass impact is pretty hearty whereby it takes centre stage in the vehicle’s sonic reproduction. Nevertheless, with it tailored to our liking, the speakers do a stupendous job at reproducing a tight and controlled low-end response in Charlie Puth’s 2022 single, ‘Light Switch’.

Similarly, the highs extend marvellously at the other end of the frequency range, with the top-end providing plenty of sparkle without sounding harsh or sibilant. That is, of course, if you don’t add more than a few notches to the ‘Treble’ EQ. Indeed, the 25mm “Super” tweeters within the Naim Audio system provide plenty of energy to both front and rear occupants.

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As for the soundstage, the 19 audio drivers within the cabin provide excellent cohesion – the twentieth speaker is the subwoofer in the boot. Here, one can easily distinguish each of the instruments in ‘Peru’ by Fireboy DML & Ed Sheeran. Likewise, there’s perfect speed, decay and tonality. The audio presentation is bettered when the system is set to the ‘Naim all’ DSP mode, which seemingly bolsters the overall width and depth information. This provides a more engaging sound reproduction throughout the cabin.

While the system is near-perfect, it’s let down by its mid-range reproduction – it’s slightly recessed and pushed back, albeit accurate across the frequency range. The inability to alter the mids independently from the highs, leaves much to be desired. It’s baffling that Naim Audio doesn’t provide a multi-band equaliser or at the very least, separate controls for the mids. As a result, one has to accept that the system has a slightly V-Shaped sound signature, and while its warm profile won’t deter many consumers, audiophiles might be left a tad disappointed.

Finally, onto cabin noise, the Bentley Bentayga has a quiet albeit not faultless interior insulation. Road noise creeps in from the tyres, while wind can be heard deflecting off the A-pillars when driving at speed. Using a sound meter we recorded, 36 dBA at a standstill; 54-56 dBA, while driving at 20-30mph; 57-59 dBA, while driving at 40mph; and 71-73 dBA when at 70mph. As for when the windows are brought down, the level increases by roughly 12 dBA.

Bentley Bentayga Hybrid audio award

Read next: Tesla Model 3 audio review: Better than the Polestar 2?

TotallyEV’s verdict on the Bentley Bentayga’s audio system

On the whole, the 20-speaker 1,720-Watt Naim Audio system comprised within the Bentley Bentayga is the best we’ve reviewed to date. While it does suffer from slightly recessed mids, the perfect lows, highs and soundstage reproduction will leave many, including budding audiophiles, with a smile on their face. As a result, the upgraded system receives TotallyEV’s Audio Excellence award.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the audio system in the comments section below or via social media; we’re on: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Sub-bass
10
Mid-bass
10
Mids
9
Highs
10
Soundstage
10
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Christopher is an avid car enthusiast and techie. In his spare time, he reviews the latest consumer electronic products on his YouTube channel, TotallydubbedHD. Elsewhere, he practices Taekwondo, in which he has held a black belt for several years and coaches at a national level. He also speaks fluent English, French, Armenian, and loves to practice freestyle street dance.
The Naim Audio system that can be found within the Bentley Bentayga is arguably one of the best around. It excels across most of the frequency range, dipping a little in the mid-range tones. As a result, the 20-speaker 1,720-Watt system receives TotallyEV's Audio Excellence award. bentley-bentayga-audio-review-naim-audio-system-upgrade

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