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-   -   How much of a difference is Harman Kardon compared with a normal sound system? (http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=667628)

V1NC3 01-02-2013 08:21 PM

How much of a difference is Harman Kardon compared with a normal sound system?
 
My BMW dealership has a 335i sport line coming in in a few days and it has everything I want except Harman Kardon surround sound. How much of a sound difference is there really between Harman Kardon and the default one? I'm thinking if I should purchase this one or build my own (but I have to wait 2 months). I've been used to a regular 6 speaker mid-size sedan.

I also saw something saying that surround sound is worst for your hearing. Can I get some clarification on that?

Dave 330i 01-04-2013 09:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by V1NC3 (Post 7285946)
My BMW dealership has a 335i sport line coming in in a few days and it has everything I want except Harman Kardon surround sound. How much of a sound difference is there really between Harman Kardon and the default one? I'm thinking if I should purchase this one or build my own (but I have to wait 2 months). I've been used to a regular 6 speaker mid-size sedan.

I also saw something saying that surround sound is worst for your hearing. Can I get some clarification on that?

I have the HK option on my 2001 330i. There is an off/on button to activate the surround sound. Even for me, not a audiofile fanatic, there is a noticeable difference. I prefer HK with the surround sound on. Sorry I threw a wrench in the gearbox.

taibanl 01-07-2013 08:36 PM

Four 875 the HK is a good option from a value standpoint, however you can do better with aftermarket options

Zaheed 01-12-2013 11:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by V1NC3 (Post 7285946)
My BMW dealership has a 335i sport line coming in in a few days and it has everything I want except Harman Kardon surround sound. How much of a sound difference is there really between Harman Kardon and the default one? I'm thinking if I should purchase this one or build my own (but I have to wait 2 months). I've been used to a regular 6 speaker mid-size sedan.

I also saw something saying that surround sound is worst for your hearing. Can I get some clarification on that?

If you buying a 335i the standard sound system is not the same as the lower models. It's actually has the HiFi Loudspeaker system which is an optional item on models 328 and 320 with a more powerful amp with 9 speakers. HK will be better but this is definitely a step up on the standards sound.

ixsomerset 01-17-2013 02:05 PM

I used to work for Dolby - and know a bit about audio - and I'm in exactly the same dilemma as you. I'm buying a 328i convertible - so not quite identical, but close. Today I just went in and compared the stock and HK stereos.

- the stock stereo is very decent indeed (compared to stock Honda)
- the HK goes louder and is slightly crisper/clearer
- however I have to say the bass was still not as impressive as the 240W system with subwoofer that came stock in my current Honda Civic Si. I don't think you're getting anything beyond midrange units and tweeters based on the HK spec.

My own verdict is that I am going to go with the stock stereo.

SURROUND

I can also speak to "surround sound" with authority on the topic - worked on that (as a marketer) at Dolby Laboratores. Almost 99.999% of music you buy / download / stream from services like Spotify is in stereo, period. There are some very few exceptions of genuine multichannel (multichannel=5.1 or more channels) and to play this back you need a special head unit seen only rarely in I believe Acuras that plays 5.1 channel audio DVDs (rarer than vinyl). So what you will get is "matrix surround" - the chip simulates putting things to the back and front based on guesswork - but don't be deluded that this is "how the musician intended", simply a computer simulation.

Based on consumer research and listening tests, the biggest improvement in perceived sound quality from technology comes not from surround (which can score the same or worse than stereo for many consumers as it is unfamiliar) but *dynamic equalization*. Switch this on and everything sounds much crisper and clearer (it goes to 11). This is where we saw scores really jump big time.

Dynamic equalization is like graphic equalization, only intelligent. It "smooths" audio to an optimal equalization curve. If at any moment there's enough bass at say 300 Hz to match the optimum it lays off (while a dumb graphic equalizer will still boost), same for other frequencies. If there's too little at say 10KHz it subtly boosts this until matches the optimum equalization curve.

The bad news is that dynamic equalization is not yet offered by Dolby for car stereos. There are a number of equivalents offered by Dolby's peers (Beats), but IMHO (and others) Dolby's is superior - or at least was 6 months ago.

The good news this Dolby dynamic equalization technology (Dolby Home Theater v4 and Dolby Advanced Audio) is starting to appear in devices such as smartphones and tablets, so you can pipe it in via your AUX IN. These Dolby "post processing" technologies also matrix upmix - but remember there's only a stereo in jack in most cars, and even with the USB you're not going to get 5.1 from your Android device to your car stereo, so any upmixing beyond stereo can only done by the car stereo itself.

One might also mention that iPhones already have some basic tuning and optimization - but we're not talking dynamic equalization.

ixsomerset 01-17-2013 02:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by V1NC3 (Post 7285946)
I also saw something saying that surround sound is worst for your hearing. Can I get some clarification on that?

I have never heard this. The perception of surround occurs by the distortion caused by the shape of your ear - the brain can identify sounds coming from behind by the "distortion" created by the sound flowing around the back of your ear.

ixsomerset 01-17-2013 05:38 PM

I stand corrected that there are "woofers"... but no "subwoofer". Bass was OK, but not great (even with the HK you'd want an aftermarket subwoofer if this is something you care about):

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/arc.../t-600337.html

Nygel 01-23-2013 12:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ixsomerset (Post 7320686)
I used to work for Dolby - and know a bit about audio - and I'm in exactly the same dilemma as you. I'm buying a 328i convertible - so not quite identical, but close. Today I just went in and compared the stock and HK stereos.

- the stock stereo is very decent indeed (compared to stock Honda)
- the HK goes louder and is slightly crisper/clearer
- however I have to say the bass was still not as impressive as the 240W system with subwoofer that came stock in my current Honda Civic Si. I don't think you're getting anything beyond midrange units and tweeters based on the HK spec.

My own verdict is that I am going to go with the stock stereo.

SURROUND

I can also speak to "surround sound" with authority on the topic - worked on that (as a marketer) at Dolby Laboratores. Almost 99.999% of music you buy / download / stream from services like Spotify is in stereo, period. There are some very few exceptions of genuine multichannel (multichannel=5.1 or more channels) and to play this back you need a special head unit seen only rarely in I believe Acuras that plays 5.1 channel audio DVDs (rarer than vinyl). So what you will get is "matrix surround" - the chip simulates putting things to the back and front based on guesswork - but don't be deluded that this is "how the musician intended", simply a computer simulation.

Based on consumer research and listening tests, the biggest improvement in perceived sound quality from technology comes not from surround (which can score the same or worse than stereo for many consumers as it is unfamiliar) but *dynamic equalization*. Switch this on and everything sounds much crisper and clearer (it goes to 11). This is where we saw scores really jump big time.

Dynamic equalization is like graphic equalization, only intelligent. It "smooths" audio to an optimal equalization curve. If at any moment there's enough bass at say 300 Hz to match the optimum it lays off (while a dumb graphic equalizer will still boost), same for other frequencies. If there's too little at say 10KHz it subtly boosts this until matches the optimum equalization curve.

The bad news is that dynamic equalization is not yet offered by Dolby for car stereos. There are a number of equivalents offered by Dolby's peers (Beats), but IMHO (and others) Dolby's is superior - or at least was 6 months ago.

The good news this Dolby dynamic equalization technology (Dolby Home Theater v4 and Dolby Advanced Audio) is starting to appear in devices such as smartphones and tablets, so you can pipe it in via your AUX IN. These Dolby "post processing" technologies also matrix upmix - but remember there's only a stereo in jack in most cars, and even with the USB you're not going to get 5.1 from your Android device to your car stereo, so any upmixing beyond stereo can only done by the car stereo itself.

One might also mention that iPhones already have some basic tuning and optimization - but we're not talking dynamic equalization.

recorded audio, is recorded in mono, for stero sound you get two tracks laid down that are idential except for a 1db increase on the Left. Thats how you get stero on cd's or even the FM transmission. If it were true stereo then if you only have one speaker on one channel then the only audio you will get is the audio thats "pan" to that side. Digital audio are being laid on top of analog cd's now due to the fact that some customers have digiatal playback devices which can take advantage of this but if you don't have the correct speaker placement then you are back to a regular analog playback.
Hope this helps
Nygel

ixsomerset 01-24-2013 10:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nygel (Post 7332728)
recorded audio, is recorded in mono, for stereo sound you get two tracks laid down that are identical except for a 1db increase on the Left. That's how you get stero on cd's or even the FM transmission. If it were true stereo then if you only have one speaker on one channel then the only audio you will get is the audio thats "pan" to that side. Digital audio are being laid on top of analog cd's now due to the fact that some customers have digiatal playback devices which can take advantage of this but if you don't have the correct speaker placement then you are back to a regular analog playback.
Hope this helps
Nygel

Interesting, but that's not my understanding for digital music (perhaps it's true for radio). The stereo on a CD is multiplexed into a common data channel that's separated out int left and right stereo channels at playback, Source:

http://www.dilettantesdictionary.org...ial%20monaural

Streaming music services like Pandora and MOG use HE AAC v1 and v2 (= High Efficiency Advanced Audio Codec) so they can work at much lower bitrates than uncompressed CDs. iTunes downloads use AAC. (There's not much point using HE AAC unless you need to get under 128 kbps). In AAC and HE AAC v1 left and right channels use separate data streams. HE AAC v1 gives you good stereo quality down to about 48kbps.

The more recent HE AAC v2 achieves further compression by turning the left and right spacial information into metadata, so you have one single data channel (mono, if you will) and then metadata that tells the decoder how to spatially separate the data into left and right channels. This is called "parametric stereo". HE AAC v2 is only starting to get adopted. You can get very very good stereo audio quality down to about 32kbps with v2. If you play a track in HE AAC v2 through a phone or with only a HE AAC v1 compatible player you'll just get mono. Apple, Samsung and other handset makers have now adopted HE AAC v2 compatible decoders.

Source:
http://mp3.about.com/od/glossary/g/H...Aac-Format.htm

mofunk 02-09-2013 04:43 PM

I test drove a couple 3 series. and I noticed the best sound was with HK in a vert. Basically you get more music and less outside noise.


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