“What’s a Panaray?” your passenger is liable to ask when you fire up the Cadillac CT6 and the center speaker enclosure pivots up from the middle of the dashboard, displaying its provocative name in a stylish font. It’s a theatrical event, designed to impress your eyes rather than your ears—foreshadowing what’s to come once the music starts playing.
At the most basic level, Panaray is the Bose-supplied top-tier audio system in Cadillac’s current top-dog sedan. The standard offering in the CT6 is a 10-speaker unit that’s also from Bose. Panaray is included in Platinum trimmed cars and available as a $3700 stand-alone option in Luxury and Premium Luxury trims. The name is a portmanteau word combining “panoramic” and “array,” a reflection of the overriding sound-design goal as well as the speaker technology used. Panaray in the CT6 uses four Class D amplifiers to drive 34 speakers positioned in 19 locations throughout the car, and it’s controlled by the same CUE infotainment interface that operates the audio system in any other Cadillac.
Joe McCabe, technical lead for the Panaray system, told us that Bose wanted to create a wider soundstage, making the music seem to be coming from outside the confines of the vehicle, a common goal for high-end automotive surround-sound systems. Panaray’s difference is that it uses clusters of small speakers, nearly all of them less than four inches in diameter, rather than individual larger speakers. This explains why the CT6 has such a high speaker count. McCabe says it also helps Bose get the coverage it needs so every occupant can hear the full range of frequencies the sound system is capable of producing.
The Cadillac system also will play music from a USB drive, but only in certain formats. I did feed it some high-resolution audio files (24 bit/96 kHz), which played in AIFF format. But Bose’s McCabe explained that high-res audio, whether from a USB drive, a DVD, or a Blu-Ray disc, is down-sampled by the system. One interesting feature included in the rear-seat entertainment package is a wired headphone plug, which allows for use of high-quality headphones rather than the tinny-sounding wireless ones that come with the car, which are geared more for movie watching.