Why integrate speakers in headrests?


Audio systems within the automotive industry have come a long way in recent years. Many brands now offer their own systems in the latest generation of vehicles, including Bowers & Wilkins, Focal, KEF, Harman Kardon, Bang & Olufsen, McIntosh, and many others. To offer a more personal and immersive sound to passengers, some specialized manufacturers have chosen to develop the integration of speakers in headrests, as close as possible to your ears.

Vehicle audio systems are constantly evolving. With the integration of speakers in headrests, they offer a more immersive sound experience!

Car audio: the advantage of speakers in headrests

Currently, the majority of car speakers are too large to fit easily into headrests. This makes it difficult for audio manufacturers to imagine other locations for their speakers other than the door trim, dashboard or trunk.

Guide: How to change the speakers in your car

To address this issue, some brands are partnering with automakers to design the interior while keeping the audio system in mind. This is the case, for example, of the Bowers & Wilkins Dolby Atmos audio system for the Volvo EX90 SUV. The latter features 25 speakers, four of which are installed in the front headrests to create individualized surround sound.

Bowers & Wilkins Dolby Atmos audio for the Volvo EX90 SUV
Thanks to the headrest speakers, all passengers benefit from immersive sound to fully enjoy their playlists.

The BMW iX and the new BMW i7 also feature a B&W audio system with speakers in the headrests of each passenger. For the BMW i7, which is a real cinema on wheels, this configuration allows passengers seated in the back of the car to be immersed in the action of the film with 3D surround sound. As for the people in the front, they can enjoy a real sound bubble with a personalized sound that does not disturb others.

Bose Personal speakers: for optimal surround sound

However, headrest speakers require special signal processing. American brand Bose has made a name for itself with the introduction of the Bose Personal speakers system. This technology offers the sensation of having a sound that comes from far away and doesn’t sound like it’s right behind your head.

This installation can also be found in the heart of convertible cars. This allows you to enjoy the music even when driving with the roof down. On the Mazda MX-5 ND, Bose includes two different calibrations depending on the position of the roof. The sound adjusts itself according to the ambient noise to offer an optimal listening comfort.

Different headrest speaker systems

Harman Kardon has developed modular headrests with integrated speaker “wings”. These mechanized drivers deploy on either side of the occupant’s ears and can be folded back on demand. This configuration guarantees the creation of specific sound zones and 3D spatial sound. This is a larger solution, but it is designed not to obstruct the driver’s vision. The speakers are slightly tilted to allow a good view of blind spots.

Harman Kardon modular headrests with integrated speaker wings
For a better sound immersion in the car, Harman Kardon has developed headrests equipped with mechanized wings integrating drivers.

All of these facilities allow users to enjoy a high-quality, enveloping and individual sound. It’s also an ideal solution for passengers who hate having their music interrupted by GPS directions. This allows driving information to be played only through the driver’s speakers, keeping them focused throughout the journey. A great idea!

Aware of the efforts that this configuration requires from car audio specialists, some brands offer accessories to hang on the headrest. Equipped with speakers and a Bluetooth module, the car cushions allow you to hear GPS directions, make calls or simply listen to music. Of course, the sound quality of these speakers is not always optimal, but it remains an alternative for drivers who want to enjoy an individual listening experience.

Cushion for car
Some manufacturers offer car cushions with speakers so that each user can listen to their own content. You can play a lullaby or a podcast to children, music or GPS directions to other travelers.

A good alternative to headphones?

The integration of speakers in headrests is also extended to aircraft. The partnership between Devialet and Safran Euphony ensures high-fidelity sound for airline passengers with two Devialet speakers placed on either side of a standard-sized headrest.

Devialet brand guide

Called Euphony, the audio solution integrated into Safran Seats allows real-time adaptation to the content being broadcast as well as to ambient noise. The acoustic technologies used are patented by the French manufacturer. This unique innovation, for the time being reserved for Business and First Class passengers, is presented as an ideal alternative to noise-cancelling headphones.

Euphony system: Devialet speakers integrated in the headrest
Euphony technology provides air travelers with high quality sound that adapts in real time to the audio content and background noise.

Headest speakers have also become a must for gaming. Gaming equipment brand Razer recently unveiled the Carol project, which could well overshadow gaming headsets. This headrest, complete with speakers and haptic feedback, is introduced as the ultimate gaming chair accessory. It is also designed to fit any gaming chair. Combined with PC multimedia speakers, it makes immersion with rear surround sound more accessible.

Carol project on gaming chair
Project Carol allows gamers to enjoy surround sound with a headrest that fits any chair.

Do headrest speakers have a future?

One of the common features of these different systems is that they allow for both intimate and immersive listening, without the need for headphones or earbuds. To meet this need, audio manufacturers continue to innovate to refine their speakers and integrate them more easily, especially in vehicle interiors. Recently unveiled, LG Display’s Thin Actuator Sound Solution technology enables display panels and various materials to vibrate and become acoustic membranes. This promises to be a real revolution in the world of car audio!

Will LG revolutionize car audio?
LG Thin Actuator Sound Solution technology should make it easier to integrate speakers into headrests in the coming years.

Will this technology be a stepping stone for automakers looking for discreet speakers that can be hidden in headrests, dashboards, headliners, pillars, etc.? Only time will tell…


  1. Wow! This could be one of the most useful blogs we have ever come across on thesubject. Actually excellent info! I’m also an expert in this topic so I can understand your effort. Good

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