I thought this might be helpful to those buying 2013 models.
I did a back to back comparison of the Bang and Olufsen system in the 650i to the Harman Kardon Logic 7 system (BMW Premium/Professional Sound) in my 550i M-Sport.
I drove the 550i up to the dealership. I have a well calibrated setup where I have adjusted every setting to bring out the best sound of the HK Logic 7 system. I used the following tracks for my back to back comparison (please no fun of my musical choices):
- All I ask of you, Phantom of the Opera
- Come What May, Moulin Rouge Soundtrack
- Beautiful, Christina Aguilera
- Your Love is King, Sade
- Dancing in the Dark, Bruce Springsteen
- Lolita, Alizee
- To the Moon and Back, Savage Garden
- Tears at the Discotheque, Alcazar
- Crossfire, Brandon Flowers
- Supernatural, Santana
- White Flag, Dido
On the way up, one thing which struck me was how good my Logic 7 system sounds. It's not mediocre at all - its actually very good. The weakness is the base response and the clarity of the vocals is good but not as clear as audiophile grade systems. The sound is fantastic at higher volumes, but at lower volumes are underemphasized. So I have a choice between excellent sound, and being able to hear my radar detector.
Here are my findings on the B&O.
1) Wow sound experience like being in a sound studio.
The sound system is vastly superior on the more contemporary music. It is superb with jazz and dance-pop music. On stuff like Phantom of the Opera and Moulin Rouge it is better but not strikingly better (which tells me that on higher range vocals the logic 7 is quite good).
2) The bass response is fantastic at all volumes.
This is the first thing that strikes you. You find bass in some songs you didn't even know about. Quite impressive. It is perfect.
3) The vocals are very crisp and clear.
Christina Aguilera and Dido sound absolutely amazing. Also Ewan McGregor's vocals from Moulin Rouge were just ridiculous. It was like he was in the car with me.
4) Guitar is superb.
On Roy Orbison's You Got It the detail was just incredible - you can hear his fingers running down the guitar strings. Absolutely amazing. Springsteen and Santana also played impressively.
5) Brass and percussion are also excellent
. If you like jazz, you will LOVE this system. It was made for jazz.
6) You can tell the difference between songs encoded lossless and songs encoded at 160kbps.
It is a striking difference which tells me that you need good quality music to get the most out of this. I played Dancing in the Dark in both 160kbps and Lossless since I had both files on my iPhone on different albums. At 160kbps the B&O didn't sound that impressive. In fact I think low quality music may sound worse on this system.
7) The above observations were while parked. I then took the car for a drive, and the sound seemed less striking.
These cars let in a decent amount of road noise from the tires
and you don't hear the crispness and clarity when you are driving. While driving the audio seemed very good, but not $3700 better, maybe $1000 better. When parked it sounds $3700 better.
I was clearly very impressed with the system.
Then I went back to the 550i and drove back home. I pumped up the HK Logic 7 and played the same tracks again. The Logic 7 didn't have the wow factor but it still sounded very good. But I noted one important thing - I almost got a speeding ticket because I didn't hear my radar detector going off. And this reminded me - listening to music is a good activity for a commuter, but not a good activity for a recreational driver like myself
. My sound system should be off, so I can enjoy my 500hp and have maximum situational awareness.