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F10 / F11 (2011 - Current)
The new chapter in the highly successful story of the BMW 5 Series Sedan (F10) and wagon (F11)

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  #1  
Old 07-05-2012, 08:03 PM
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Stealth.Pilot Stealth.Pilot is offline
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F10 Bang and Olufsen

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.

Conclusion:
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.
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  #2  
Old 07-05-2012, 08:35 PM
tdance tdance is offline
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Great review, I love the premium audio and am glad to hear it not obsolete. I am going to avoid making the same test drive so I can continue to fully enjoy my HK L-7, blissfully ignorant to anything better.

Off-Topic - I have been following your posts since I joined the fest but not until I saw your track list did I get a picture of the man behind the moniker. If I had run the same test I would have listened to a similar set list but posted that I listened to AC/DC and the Rolling Stones.
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  #3  
Old 07-06-2012, 12:32 PM
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Stealth.Pilot Stealth.Pilot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdance View Post
Great review, I love the premium audio and am glad to hear it not obsolete. I am going to avoid making the same test drive so I can continue to fully enjoy my HK L-7, blissfully ignorant to anything better.

Off-Topic - I have been following your posts since I joined the fest but not until I saw your track list did I get a picture of the man behind the moniker. If I had run the same test I would have listened to a similar set list but posted that I listened to AC/DC and the Rolling Stones.
Thanks buddy. I don't have ACDC or Rolling Stones in my library. I meant to test Guns and Roses on the B&O but I forgot. I also forgot to test Bruno Mars. To be honest the music selection I used was almost random. I also wanted to test Adele on the system but I knew she would sound good because BMW uses Adele to showcase B&O to journalists.
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  #4  
Old 07-06-2012, 03:24 AM
sdg1871 sdg1871 is offline
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Great review. No doubt I would have gotten the B & O sound system for my 550 had it been available. But the HK premium sound system in the F10 is a dramatic improvement over the premium sound system in the E60.
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  #5  
Old 07-06-2012, 04:32 AM
FastMarkA FastMarkA is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdg1871 View Post
But the HK premium sound system in the F10 is a dramatic improvement over the premium sound system in the E60.
Agreed x1000. The L7 in the E60 sucked, quite honestly. The F10 system is good.

A friend has the BO in his A5, and it's impressive (and it's not the $6K-$8K system). Where it really excels over my F10 Premium Sound is the clarity -- it's like the singer of the song is in the car with you.
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  #6  
Old 07-06-2012, 04:10 AM
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Needsdecaf Needsdecaf is offline
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Thanks Stealth, nice write up.

I agree, high, high end sound systems are something of a waste in the car, unless you plan on sitting in the back seat with Jeeves in the front. Then I suggest a 750LI or an A8L.

I do have to say, though, that some "premium" systems suck. The BMW's is very good. The uprated ELS system in my Acura apparently sounds for "Extremely Lousy Sound" as the difference, especially in talk radio, is night and day.

Bottom line, I'm glad that BMW offers a middle option between the base stereo and the B&O. I would pay for the HK system (and did) but not for the B&O.
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  #7  
Old 07-06-2012, 04:40 AM
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i mean, come on. your music choices... i know i know you said no making fun.

but come on
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  #8  
Old 07-06-2012, 05:17 AM
ksoze ksoze is offline
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Nice write up, thanks.
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  #9  
Old 07-06-2012, 05:52 AM
pburleson pburleson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth.Pilot View Post
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.

Conclusion:
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.
Can you share your settings as I would like to compare to my current settings?
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  #10  
Old 07-06-2012, 06:20 AM
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My settings are the same as those recommended on the famous thread we all use or our settings except that I have pumped up 500 and 200 in the equalizer.
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  #11  
Old 07-06-2012, 06:27 AM
lindros2 lindros2 is offline
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The funny thing about this is that for my music (a lot of satellite radio and compressed MP3 on iPod), much of what B&O brings to the table would be lost.

Yes, there is the wow-factor and the cool metal surrounds.

But quite frankly every car I've had has improved on the prior (back to the days of a 1994 VW Passat which was rubbish in every regard).
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  #12  
Old 07-06-2012, 07:50 AM
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Stealth.Pilot Stealth.Pilot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lindros2 View Post
The funny thing about this is that for my music (a lot of satellite radio and compressed MP3 on iPod), much of what B&O brings to the table would be lost.

Yes, there is the wow-factor and the cool metal surrounds.

But quite frankly every car I've had has improved on the prior (back to the days of a 1994 VW Passat which was rubbish in every regard).
It depends on what rate it is encoded. But I listened to both FM radio and lossless VBR MP3s and on both there was a huge advantage of the B&O system. I didn't bother to test CDS because I would never use a CD player.
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  #13  
Old 07-06-2012, 08:39 AM
lindros2 lindros2 is offline
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I appreciate the "it's not worth $3700" comment above.

If it truly was a couple hundred bucks, I'd buy it. Otherwise, I'd rather invest my dollars/euro/pounds/yen in other things.
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  #14  
Old 07-09-2012, 12:53 PM
Alpine300ZHP Alpine300ZHP is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lindros2 View Post
I appreciate the "it's not worth $3700" comment above.

If it truly was a couple hundred bucks, I'd buy it. Otherwise, I'd rather invest my dollars/euro/pounds/yen in other things.
This is exactly why I declined HK on my current crop of cars having had it on the older cars. I would decline the B+O as well even though I love the B+O in my friend's S5 coupe. At 3k plus I just do not see the value in it although I am sure it sounds wonderful. When BMW makes the HK standard (as it should) and the B+O 1500 bucks then I will buy the B+O.
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  #15  
Old 07-06-2012, 08:47 AM
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I can't wait for B&O to come into the rest of BMW's lineup soon, but they really need to lower the price because it is ridiculous. I think the major thing that BMW needs to work on for their Prem. Systems is bass because I've driven so many BMWs and none of them have good bass at all. Even if you turn up the bass, it tends to be harsh.

Audi has a lower-end B&O system in the A4/A5/Q5 and even that (it costs like $750) sounds fantastic. I've heard the one in the A8 and it is tremendous, but for $6k!? Hell no.
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:00 AM
swajames swajames is offline
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Tested an Audi Q7 TDI for my wife the other week and the car had the Premium B&O system. It truly is fantastic, but at 6k it's a questionable value. Undeniably cool, the tweeters rising up adds a great touch of theater, but at some point you just know that the mechanicals that drive it are going to give up the ghost.

The best "value" high end audio for me is the Burmester in the Panamera and Cayenne. It's astonishingly good, but still expensive...
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  #17  
Old 07-06-2012, 10:33 AM
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Ralph1201 Ralph1201 is offline
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nice, detailed write up.. thanks..
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  #18  
Old 07-06-2012, 10:36 AM
sdg1871 sdg1871 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AutoUnion View Post
I can't wait for B&O to come into the rest of BMW's lineup soon, but they really need to lower the price because it is ridiculous. I think the major thing that BMW needs to work on for their Prem. Systems is bass because I've driven so many BMWs and none of them have good bass at all. Even if you turn up the bass, it tends to be harsh.

Audi has a lower-end B&O system in the A4/A5/Q5 and even that (it costs like $750) sounds fantastic. I've heard the one in the A8 and it is tremendous, but for $6k!? Hell no.
The bass in the premium sound in the F10 is very strong. Not so in the E60 and E39.
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  #19  
Old 07-07-2012, 09:19 AM
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I think BMW shouldn't have gone for the $3700 B&O option. Instead they should have done something like a $1000 Mark Levinson Reference system with about 1000 Watts. That would have been much better value for the customers and also delivered a wow experience. Mark Levinson is owned by Harman so it they may have been able to negotiate around the Lexus exclusivity.
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  #20  
Old 07-09-2012, 11:58 AM
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agreed
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  #21  
Old 07-09-2012, 12:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth.Pilot View Post
I think BMW shouldn't have gone for the $3700 B&O option. Instead they should have done something like a $1000 Mark Levinson Reference system with about 1000 Watts. That would have been much better value for the customers and also delivered a wow experience. Mark Levinson is owned by Harman so it they may have been able to negotiate around the Lexus exclusivity.
I agree just traded in my Mark Levinson
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  #22  
Old 07-27-2012, 12:09 AM
Giants84 Giants84 is offline
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How does it compare to the enhanced premium dirac live?
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  #23  
Old 07-07-2012, 09:40 AM
The X Men The X Men is offline
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Dollar for dollar, the BMW premium sound option is the best buy, its much better than the $750 Audi B&O system in the Q5 and A4. According to the OP, the BMW premium sound is not as good as the BMW new B&0 system, but is the BMW B&O system 5 times better than the BMW premium sound? Or is the A8's B&O 8 times better than the BMW premium sound? is the LS460's Mark Levison reference system 3 times as good as the BMW premium sound? The answer is no to all those in my opinion. I know sound quality is not proportional to price, but its hard for me to justify a $3700 option that is going to only improve the sound quality slightly.
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  #24  
Old 07-07-2012, 01:37 PM
SwamiV SwamiV is offline
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Very articulate, thanks for sharing.
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Old 07-07-2012, 06:53 PM
bakmigm bakmigm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdg1871 View Post
The bass in the premium sound in the F10 is very strong. Not so in the E60 and E39.
Hmmm. I have premium sound in both my old e60 and now f10. I think e60 has more solid if not equal bass than f10. F10 probably has deeper bass, but less thump. But its probably not a fair comparison anyways because all cars have different acoustics. Regardless, both sound much better than stock for sure.
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