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The stereo system in this new SUV allows you to make phone calls without hearing the rest of the passengers.  How it works?

The stereo system in this new SUV allows you to make phone calls without hearing the rest of the passengers. How it works?

(CNN) — Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to make a phone call while driving and your family is with you in the car. If you're listening to music, it will turn off and everyone will stop to listen to what someone has to tell you on the phone.

Infiniti, Nissan's luxury division, has just unveiled a feature in its new full-size SUV that allows everyone else in the car to continue listening to what they want while the driver takes a phone call, without the need for headphones. Only the driver can hear the conversation and the person on the other end of the call cannot hear the music playing in the SUV.

It's the latest trick in the increasingly competitive world of luxury car audio systems. Today, there is hardly any luxury car company that is not upgrading its high-end audio system with brands like Burmeister on Mercedes-Benz, McIntosh on the Jeep Grand Wagoneer luxury SUV, Bang & Olufson on Bentley and Genesis, and others. For Klipsch, known for its high-end, handcrafted speakers, this is only the second appearance in a car. The $87,000 Ram Tungsten luxury pickup truck has a Klipsch stereo as standard equipment, but it doesn't even have Infiniti's high-tech sound deadening system.

Developed by Infiniti in collaboration with Panasonic Automotive and Klipsch, the QX80 system works through a combination of intelligent speaker placement and sound-cancelling technology. Both the driver and front passenger seats have headrest-mounted speakers. This isn't a new idea, but headrest speakers are commonly found in convertibles where music, phone calls, and navigation instructions must drown out wind noise. Not typically found in large, quiet luxury cars like the Infiniti QX80.

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Sound cancellation technology, in simpler forms, isn't new either. It generally works by using speakers to create balanced sound waves to muffle unwanted sounds. If you imagine sound waves as one line going up and down, and then imagine covering them with a second line going up and down in completely opposite directions, you'll end up with, essentially, a flat band. In other words, there is no sound.

Inside the 2025 Infiniti QX80 during the 2024 New York International Auto Show. (Gabe Jones/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Sound cancellation is typically used in headphones and car stereos to eliminate persistent, droning background sounds, such as engine noise. It's more difficult with sounds like music, which change a lot from moment to moment.

Instead of simply relying on microphones to pick up sounds from the air, the 2025 QX80's optional Klipsch stereo reads the digital music track being played (as it does when you play it, anyway), and can use it to create sound waves that are offset from. Speakers around the driver's seat. This creates a silent bubble around the driver, so that only the driver can hear an upcoming phone call or navigation directions through the headrest speakers, while others in the car can listen to loud music. Meanwhile, the person on the other end of the phone call will not hear the music at all. For them, it would be like talking to someone in a quiet room.

The redesigned QX80 won't go on sale until next year, so I tested the system on a QX80 parked inside a building in Manhattan. A party with a live singer nearby created a buzzing atmosphere outside the truck.

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I sat in the passenger seat of the new SUV while Panasonic CEO Tom Dunn took a phone call from the driver's seat. Pop music was playing on the stereo. He could hear Dan's voice speaking, but the voice on the other end initially sounded like a quiet, intermittent hum. Then Dan lowered the call volume a little and the other voice disappeared completely, covered by country music.

I then got out of the truck and drove over to where an Infiniti spokesperson was speaking on the phone about 20 feet away. I took his phone and spoke to Dunn. I could hear Dan talking to me but I couldn't hear the music that was still playing in the car.

Headrest-mounted speakers are an important component of the INFINITI QX80's privacy-protecting stereo system. (Infiniti)

At the beginning of the demo, I had already received a call from the driver's seat while the music was playing, but I thought that was the relatively easy part. I had to rely on Dan, who was then in the passenger seat, to tell me that he couldn't hear the person calling me. It was very strange to be in the passenger seat later and not be able to hear the call. It was really annoying to be on the phone outside and not hear the music I knew was playing inside the car.

Call masking only works if music is playing on the stereo. If there's no music playing, other people in the SUV will have to hear your call, but it will be quieter than most other cars.

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And everyone will have to listen to the driver talking anyway. But, if your call involves something embarrassing, you can always be sure to answer “yes” and “no” to everything. Your secrets will be safe.