Friday, March 24, 2023

The Facts and Fiction of Modern Car Audio

Main The Facts and Fiction of Modern Car Audio

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 48 total)
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  • #48057

    We do an educational video on the fine print of audio systems in modern cars. We discuss how things are designed, the challenges of cost, quality and of course …


    Wow cuz this is excellent work! Congrats and keep it up.


    1.25 speed

    Peter Tran

    Premium content achieved.


    In 1983 as a high school senior, I put a Sanyo cassette deck with a built-in amp and graphic equalizer in the dash and a Jensen 6”x9” in each door of my ‘78 El Camino and it was insanely good. Whole thing was maybe $300.


    My 2004 Mini has the Harman/Kardon setup in it. The magnets of the drivers all have the H/K stickers and say "Made in UK." It does sound better than the non-H/K setup. It would seem, back then, they actually took the time to get it right and it's not just a badge. They also made sound profiles for the amp, but the best are "spatial" and the H/K tune. My 2007 Suburban supposedly has a Bose system in it, although it doesn't sound like it.



    savagegeese 2019



    Unless your car has super awesome sound dampening i doubt it even matters about the complexity of the sound system in a car.


    This is very cool. And something I care about


    How long do you clean the windshield to get a shot like that?


    too much aWdEoFiLe words in this video, but its true, I still have not heard car speakers as good as earphones in the 500 dollar range. good car audio is really hard to do


    Is this video sped up?


    Why not just do a >140db white noise burp and measure how much your hair moves? Oh never mind….

    Stephen E

    Many buyers don't care about sound quality, and won't want to pay $$ for manufacturers to design an ideal system with quality components.

    "Studio quality audio" – if it did exist, would be a massive driving distraction. Imagine listening to car audio and it feels like you're sitting on stage with the jazz band. You close your eyes and – oh wait, you're driving! And there's a fire truck behind you with the sirens going you didn't even notice.

    I think creating an amazing immersive audio experience in a car is irresponsible.

    Now understand that people also drive with the windows down at times, and all that audio design (literally) goes out the window!

    I'm a mild home audiophile, but my cars have all had crap stereos. I like driving too much to remove the audio of the engine/exhaust and other driving sounds.

    James Smith

    All total wank…… Just drive the bloody car and listen to the wireless.

    Jack Banh

    Fantastic video, I really appreciate how you talked about the limits of audio engineering in cars and also the limits of your testing. Looking forward to seeing which audio upgrades are “worth it” and which ones are poor value. I wouldn’t be surprised if some upgrades turn out to actually be downgrades.

    Yoseppi Joe

    Absolutely love your videos, thanks for covering a topic that has needed to be covered like this.

    Live your sense of humor. "Mom Shits Her Pants"

    Lol, you're great.


    I test drove the 2019 Lexus ES350 but I was surprised that its audio system sounded tinny, unlike my 2017 Corvette Stingray's rich base Bose system (and mine doesn't even have a subwoofer as that comes with the upgraded Bose system).

    Healy Chen

    Bang an Olsen
    Karmen Hard On


    Fantastic Nissan Z commercial.

    Tyler Beeson

    For some odd reason I have some deep interest in OEM Audio. I have a lot of experience in different cars with “premium” audio systems and a few standouts that really impressed me were.

    1. My 2007 Mercedes S550 H/K setup. It’s honestly one of my favorite setups I’ve heard stock and is extremely clear, loud, powerful, and deep. It has a great all round listening signature for all kinds of genres with little distortion. (14 speaker setup with 4 1” tweets, 5 4” mids, 2 8” DVC subwoofers, 2 6.5” woofers, 1 8×12” DVC subwoofer. 610 watts RMS.)

    2. My family’s C300 Burmester. It sounds absolutely incredible despite it’s shitty paper drivers. Really clear and punchy, but looses some quality in the low frequencies (60Hz and below). The distortion is almost none existent (to my ear) besides the really low frequencies. Amazing deal for the $850 ask though and sounds better than most much more expensive setups. (13 speaker setup with 4 1” tweets, 7 4” mids, 2 8” subwoofers built into the chassis of the vehicle in a large enclosure.)

    3. B8 S4 B&O was very good. Limited listening time but had an awesome first impression. (I think 12 speakers and around 500 watts RMS)

    4. W220 Bose setup, Mercedes S Class (2000-2006.) I have a lot of listening time with this and it’s by far the “smoothest” sound system out of the bunch. Really good for Jazz, R&B, and soft rock. The bass is relaxed but really powerful and deep. Not sloppy at all but not punchy either. It really impressed me as I normally don’t really like Bose setups too much. Honestly a great setup for that car as I feel it suits the character or the vehicle very well. (13 speaker setup with 4 6.5” woofers, 5 1” tweeters, 1 center, 1 12” sub, 2 3” mids. Unrated power (Bose.))

    5. 2017 Lexus GS350 Pioneer setup. The base setup in the GS is made by pioneer and is actually really decent. It’s vocals and mids are really great and the bass is nice and punchy. But the stock “sub” is horrible and puts out literally no bass. Honestly though it wasn’t plugged in from the factory but it was. It played DVD-A discs and had a nice, clean signature. It was probably the loudest of all the setups on this list and is the only one that really could hurt my ears with no problem. (I listen to my music loud in the car and I couldn’t turn it past 48/63 without my ears actually hurting. Distortion started at about 50/63.) (12 speaker setup with 1 center channel, 2 1” tweets, 4 6.5” woofers, 2 3” highs, 1 9” sub and 2 3” surround. 300 watts rms)

    6. My favorite for non bass heavy music by far is the Harman Kardon setup that was in my mom’s 1998 Jaguar XK8 Convertible. It had the best imaging I’ve ever heard in a car and would really give you chills listening to the likes of Metallica and Pearl Jam. Bass response wasn’t great due to the lack of a sub (vert) but mid bass was good due to the 6.5” midbass woofers in the sealed enclosure in the back. (8 speaker setup. 2 3” mids, 2 1” tweeters, 2 5.25” woofers, 2 6.5” midbass woofers.)

    Vikram Verma

    Looking forward to your audio system reviews. I personally, after selling my 2015 C200, was looking for a car with a good audio system.
    I tried 2016 Cadillac CTS, 2019 Mazda 6, 2019 Kia Optima and Cadenza… and even Kia Picanto.
    And ofcourse the Bose in Cadillac sounded the best, surprisingly it was not as good in the Mazda.
    Cadenza and Optima does a good job of cutting our road and tyre noise, so that elevates the music quality.
    Kia Stinger 2.0 also has a decent one, but then some car makers send engine noise through speakers into the cabin. How does that make a difference in in-car audio?

    Vinay B

    I have a JBL Charge 3 in the backseat.



    Guys, you just have to tune the body panel rattle to the zip-tied speakers in the doors, a little spray foam should do it, right?

    Murat Harman

    Good sound will always depend on the source… no point having a high-end audio system if you're just playing mp3's through it.

    David Jenkins

    Lmao that ending was classic!

    Ace of Spades

    Focal Utopia, CDT HD, Morel Supremos, Scanspeak, Seas, Vifa all make far superior woofers than the usual suspects (blose, B&O, B&W, HK, Lev, etc…). You want a set of 6.5 active components with proper aftermarket install and noise isolation. Kick Panels are great as well!

    For subs I'm partial to RE XXX or JLW7

    Benny Smith

    Mark Levinson is the best that I've ever heard in a car

    David Taylor

    Mr Goose is the Brad Hamilton of our times.

    Davis Byer

    I bought a 19 Mazda 3 with the Bose audio system. You mentioned in your review that you thought it was flat and I agree – even with the bass almost at the max I barely get any, especially with rock/country. Can you comment and/or provide any suggestions?


    You piss me off. Why didn't you actually review the Audi B&O Advanced system?!

    Anthony Rios

    mercedes makes a burmeister sound which is just a very basic equalizer for treble mid and bass, also makes HK sound which is just badging on the same speakers yet charges 1K go upgrade to these… terrible- hopefully you call them out

    Ozark Tez

    I don’t even have a radio on my NA Miata, and I watched the whole video .

    Ian Gonzalez

    Excelent Mark, first time someone will review a very important system of the car. Thanks alot


    8:15 🤣🤣🤣😂😂
    these hidden nuggets are pure joy!!


    All I’ve got to say is that the Mark Levinson premium audio system in almost every Lexus sounds phenomenal

    Evan Pierce

    8:27 tell that to the Mark Levinson system in Lexus, my dad's 2008 LS430 sounds better and is way ahead of even most other luxury brands these days.

    For real though, coming from an audiophile/amateur audio engineer, this is was definitely an awesome segment, keep up the good work!!

    Tom Crisp

    I believe I asked you about this before, and I'm still curious: the only audio reviewers ever seem to mention is the premium offering from each company, but I'm also curious about the rankings of standard audio. Volvo also has a "middle" choice, a Harmon Kardon system that is an $800 option with base models, but standard in Inscription (and R Design, I think). The Bowers and Wilkins that every reviewer says is a 'must' is $3200 beyond. But is their HK as good as HL can do or as bad as they can get away with? And what about that base model setup?! I hope you can interest your audio consultant in setting about testing audio on all the cars you test.

    Luis Gonzalez

    Best car reviewer period!!!

    Anthony Rios

    Thank you for doing this! You are the brilliant antithesis to car and driver and you’re leading the way!

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