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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Making Sound Waves With BMW

When designing high-end speaker systems for BMW vehicles, Jason Seaver starts by listening. Working with local car dealers when new models of BMWs are released, Seaver and a team of contract engineers will analyze factory-installed audio systems to see how they can be one-upped. Their goal: to put even the best Bose, Harmon Kardon or Bang & Olufsen system to shame. “If you are buying a BMW you perceive it to be better,” Seaver said. “You have the same expectations for the sound system.” Seaver, 36, is head of engineering and co-founder of BavSound, a Glendale speaker systems manufacturer with a very niche specialty. The company makes aftermarket speakers for individual BMW models that piggyback on the carmaker’s installed audio system. That means it only changes out the speakers, not the tuner and amplifier. Still, just those new speakers alone can set back an audiophile as much as $1,200 depending on the model and level of upgrade. (The speakers are usually installed by dealers, though the tech savvy can buy them online and try it themselves.) The company creates different speakers for each model, tweaking them for shape and size depending on the car’s interior. For some models it will replace factory-installed paper speaker cones with a fiberglass weave.“We decide want to manufacture given all the information we have,” Seavers said. However, to keep costs under the stratospheric level, all the speakers are plug-and-play using a plastic connector that snaps into place within the existing speaker site. The company was founded in 2004 in Atlanta by Seaver and brothers Jacob Cranman, 35, head of operations, and Micha Cranman, 31, president, who operated a parts distributorship for the German carmaker in the Atlanta area. BavSound maintains an Atlanta office and warehouses in Nevada and New York to ship out speakers to individual customers and more than 160 U.S. BMW dealers. It has just six employees and contracts out engineering, with manufacturing done in China and Taiwan and final speaker assembly completed in the United States, also by contract workers. The company does about 6,000 upgrades a year, and is now looking to expand to other makes. Two engineers working for electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors Inc., in Palo Alto, who had BavSound speakers in their BMWs, contacted the company about possibly providing original equipment speakers for the Tesla. “They ended up going with a larger manufacturer,” said a disappointed Seaver. “I was excited about the prospects of working with Tesla.” – Mark R. Madler

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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