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You’ve seen them walking around: head-nodding commuters with slick-looking Beats headphones wrapped around their ears. You may even be familiar with the addition of Beats audio into a few select HP laptop models. Now, Fiat wants to join Dre’s party with Beats audio incorporated into their brand new Fiat 500L city car. Take one of these for a spin and your cred shoots through the roof.
So before I get into the snazzy Beats audio, I wanted to touch on the car itself. The exterior comes in a nice grey/charcoal scheme, available in either glossy or matte finish. And of course the futuristic, bubble-looking roof and red accents make this guy look really slick.
The interior is an all-black void with chromed-out fixtures that would make Dre himself kick back. Truth be told, the only thing cutting in on the deep, sophisticated class of greyscale is that sharp red stitching. A few add-ons include extra kick-plates and even velvet mats for the interior—as if you even need to further reinforce that rapstar look. Of course, if you couldn’t tell by the incessant red accents, the look of the car aims to build you up for that red-accented Beats audio you’re used to seeing affixed to your ears.
Whether you’re a music purist or a cool-guy enthusiast, you’ve probably put Beats audio onto your shortlist of headphones at some point while shopping. And for good reason: the sound developers have taken a lot of effort to craft great-sounding cans and a sleek look. But what does that mean for a car?
Well, in this case, the sound is pretty impressive. We all know that a car’s sound system is almost as important as its look—after all, spending hours upon hours in the car during a road trip would be simply unbearable without the appropriate tuneage.
Enter: the Beats/Fiat experience. The concept operates much like those HP laptops I mentioned earlier, in that the speakers, amps and drivers are all designed to Beats’ specifications. And that is to say, that they’re designed for “lows” that permeate a space with little in the way of tinny shimmer. Some people like that sound, and it is admittedly great for R&B and Hip-Hop. But bear in mind that Beats is just a name, and for true audiophiles, you might be looking to replace the system anyway. But if you want some of that work done for you “right out of the box,” then consider test-driving one of these little whips.
What’s probably most interesting about this is the concept of “branded audio.” We’re all familiar with it of course, considering Bose has been in the business of selling that “engineered sound” for years. But the Beat phenomenon has brought musical product endorsements to kind of a whole new level.
That aside, what’s even more interesting than that is to see the black-and-red name appearing on products that aren’t exclusively musical, but rather attempting to use the Beats name to lend musical credibility to their sound quality. So not only does the industry seem to respect the Beats name for speakers, but it respects it enough to imply it’s synonymous with “good sound.” So marking your car, your laptop (and God forbid anything else) with the Beats name trumps any need for further sound spec description.
As a sound designer I take issue with this, of course, because there are a whole slew of considerations when picking out your speakers, headphones, etc. So personally, it’s just a means to further commercialize brand-name vs. implied quality. That said, it’s nice to see Beats used for their aesthetic purposes with the Fiat. They want to brand the look and feel of the car as “Beats” almost as much as they want it to sound like Beats. So whether you drink the brand-name Kool-Aid or not, it’s cool to see a car deck itself out nonetheless.