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  #1  
Old 04-11-2004, 12:46 AM
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bing330i bing330i is offline
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Question 330i Harman Kardon audio system

I am no audio expert, but I have always felt that my 02 330i stock Harman Kardon audio system is not even as good as some of those on rental cars. Now that the car is close to expiration of its warranty, I'd like to have it checked / fixed. I searched the site but could not find anything really useful. I was wondering if someone can share with me his experience / knowledge on problems / fixes with the stock HK system.

TIA.
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  #2  
Old 04-11-2004, 06:00 AM
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Moderato Moderato is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bing330i
I am no audio expert, but I have always felt that my 02 330i stock Harman Kardon audio system is not even as good as some of those on rental cars. Now that the car is close to expiration of its warranty, I'd like to have it checked / fixed. I searched the site but could not find anything really useful. I was wondering if someone can share with me his experience / knowledge on problems / fixes with the stock HK system.

TIA.

I don't know, I think the HK system in my 04 sounds really good. No one's going to hear you coming from down the street, but inside the cabin it's nice and loud with good seperation after adjusting the bass/treble for each source.
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  #3  
Old 04-11-2004, 06:11 AM
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BahnBaum BahnBaum is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bing330i
I am no audio expert, but I have always felt that my 02 330i stock Harman Kardon audio system is not even as good as some of those on rental cars. Now that the car is close to expiration of its warranty, I'd like to have it checked / fixed. I searched the site but could not find anything really useful. I was wondering if someone can share with me his experience / knowledge on problems / fixes with the stock HK system.

TIA.
What problems are you experiencing?

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  #4  
Old 04-11-2004, 08:54 AM
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xspeedy xspeedy is offline
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When I was shopping for a BMW a year or so ago, I remember hearing the HK system and thinking that it sounded terrible, with very muddy bass. My 2004 330i has the HK system and it sounds great in comparison.

If I were you, I would compare the sound of your system to the sound of a fresh 2004 model to see if you can spot an obvious difference.

I remember hearing something about crossed wires, resulting in poor sound.
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  #5  
Old 04-11-2004, 09:10 AM
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Terry Kennedy Terry Kennedy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xspeedy
When I was shopping for a BMW a year or so ago, I remember hearing the HK system and thinking that it sounded terrible, with very muddy bass. My 2004 330i has the HK system and it sounds great in comparison.
Also (while this doesn't relate to the original poster's question) if you're shopping for a new BMW and are considering the HK option, be sure to listen to it in the same body style (coupe / convertible, sedan, or wagon) that you're buying - the audio system is implemented differently in each, and listening to one body style won't give you an accurate feel for what it sounds like in a different body style.
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  #6  
Old 04-11-2004, 01:13 PM
THE RING THE RING is offline
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The newier systems sound better than older. I have 2001 coupe and sounds ok, i had a 2004 loaner, and the bass sounded much cleaner.
Location too makes a diffrence.
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  #7  
Old 04-11-2004, 02:02 PM
lsedels lsedels is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bing330i
I am no audio expert, but I have always felt that my 02 330i stock Harman Kardon audio system is not even as good as some of those on rental cars. Now that the car is close to expiration of its warranty, I'd like to have it checked / fixed. I searched the site but could not find anything really useful. I was wondering if someone can share with me his experience / knowledge on problems / fixes with the stock HK system.

TIA.
The "stock" head unit is not an HK. I believe it's an Alpine. Could that be the problem?

And by the way, when I shopped for my '04 325XI, I listened to both the stock head-unit and the HK ... one right after the other. I have also listened to the HK in a loaner car. While there is a difference, I absolutely believe I did the right thing by NOT ordering the HK. It is not anywhere near enough of a difference to justify the additional $600.
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  #8  
Old 04-11-2004, 03:43 PM
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Fifty_Cent Fifty_Cent is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsedels
The "stock" head unit is not an HK. I believe it's an Alpine. Could that be the problem?

And by the way, when I shopped for my '04 325XI, I listened to both the stock head-unit and the HK ... one right after the other. I have also listened to the HK in a loaner car. While there is a difference, I absolutely believe I did the right thing by NOT ordering the HK. It is not anywhere near enough of a difference to justify the additional $600.
The HK system is considered to be overpriced. Having said that, you get an original BMW sound system upgrade, and that is a good way to go, if you dont want anyone dismantling your vehicle to put an aftermarket sound system.

I dont really like too much bass, it sounds so cheap on a BMW.

But, if you still want to go that route, there are lots of aftermarket tuners that can help you upgrade your hifi, without paying to much....just make sure that is what you want.
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  #9  
Old 04-11-2004, 04:09 PM
cmcg cmcg is offline
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I just returned from an ED trip picking up my 2004 330xi and noticed that the HK system does sound muffled compared to my 2002 Camry. I'm not the biggest audiophile but did notice the difference a lot. It's less muffled with people's voices but with musical instrument, you can definitely tell the difference. My Camry has the premium JBL system and it sounds great. I don't even know of "muffled" is the right word to describe it; it just sounds less clear, no matter how much I play with the treble/bass levels.
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  #10  
Old 04-11-2004, 05:37 PM
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Terry Kennedy Terry Kennedy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsedels
The "stock" head unit is not an HK. I believe it's an Alpine. Could that be the problem?
Everybody has their fingers in this pie. The NAV head unit is by Alpine, the radio tuner (in the trunk) is by Becker, the NAV computer is by VDO, and the amp and speakers are by HK.
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  #11  
Old 04-11-2004, 05:40 PM
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MMME30W MMME30W is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bing330i
I am no audio expert, but I have always felt that my 02 330i stock Harman Kardon audio system is not even as good as some of those on rental cars. Now that the car is close to expiration of its warranty, I'd like to have it checked / fixed. I searched the site but could not find anything really useful. I was wondering if someone can share with me his experience / knowledge on problems / fixes with the stock HK system.

TIA.
Wow, these cars have a radio??? Who Knew?

No, seriously, I thought the stock unit on the 325i sounded great, I have a 330i but honestly they both sound "fine" to me YMMV of course...
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  #12  
Old 04-11-2004, 09:18 PM
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FenPhen FenPhen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmcg
I'm not the biggest audiophile but did notice the difference a lot. It's less muffled with people's voices but with musical instrument, you can definitely tell the difference. My Camry has the premium JBL system and it sounds great. I don't even know of "muffled" is the right word to describe it; it just sounds less clear, no matter how much I play with the treble/bass levels.
I found the same thing, then turned off the sound field enhancement (the speaker button next to the DSC button), and found it to be much better. I tried doing listening tests with multiple CDs and sources with and without the sound field enhancement, and I find most of the time, I prefer it off.
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  #13  
Old 04-12-2004, 01:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FenPhen
I found the same thing, then turned off the sound field enhancement (the speaker button next to the DSC button), and found it to be much better. I tried doing listening tests with multiple CDs and sources with and without the sound field enhancement, and I find most of the time, I prefer it off.
I like the sound field enhancement a lot because it creates an effect that the sound or image is NOT coming directly from the speakers. With it being off, it sounds like music is coming from the bottom of the two front doors. And I don't hear much difference on the clarity of the sound between the two settings.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bing330i
I am no audio expert, but I have always felt that my 02 330i stock Harman Kardon audio system is not even as good as some of those on rental cars.
As for the overall quality, I think it's decent. Much better than a lot of cars in terms of fidelity. Try listen to a concert with some unamplified music and you'll know what I mean. Also, a true audio expert (aka audiophile) does not like excessive bass and treble.
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  #14  
Old 04-12-2004, 05:44 AM
jarelj jarelj is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmcg
I just returned from an ED trip picking up my 2004 330xi and noticed that the HK system does sound muffled compared to my 2002 Camry. I'm not the biggest audiophile but did notice the difference a lot. It's less muffled with people's voices but with musical instrument, you can definitely tell the difference. My Camry has the premium JBL system and it sounds great. I don't even know of "muffled" is the right word to describe it; it just sounds less clear, no matter how much I play with the treble/bass levels.
Same with my '04 330xi, I can't think of any way to describe it other than "muffled" either. I wonder if our differences in opinion with others is the type of music we're listening to?? I listen to mostly modern rock/classic rock/vocal pop....... I'm not listening to "thumper" music, it's all instrumental/vocal stuff and I'm not listening to it loud, just a "normal" volume. And the exact same CD's sound absolutely incredible on the Bose system in my ML500 compared to the HK.
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  #15  
Old 04-12-2004, 06:27 AM
Mike48162 Mike48162 is offline
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Try this...

2004 Coupe. HK system is a decent, bottom end audiophile system. It does justice to most any music.

I went back and forth for awhile with the 'presence' speaker button, but find that the following works on most CD's especially newer CDs and well mixed radio stations:
1. Turn Speaker button on
2. Adjust the Fader so soundstage is just behind front seats
3. Now adjust Bass/Treble to suit.

I find with well recorded music the bass response is fine. As with good audiophile systems, the HK won't make up or 'color' what is not there to start with. (At home I listen to Vandersteen 2's and Grado 225s)
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  #16  
Old 04-12-2004, 07:15 AM
cmcg cmcg is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jarelj
Same with my '04 330xi, I can't think of any way to describe it other than "muffled" either. I wonder if our differences in opinion with others is the type of music we're listening to?? I listen to mostly modern rock/classic rock/vocal pop....... I'm not listening to "thumper" music, it's all instrumental/vocal stuff and I'm not listening to it loud, just a "normal" volume. And the exact same CD's sound absolutely incredible on the Bose system in my ML500 compared to the HK.
You might be right about the type of music...I too don't listen to the "thumper" music and just listen to it at a "normal" volume. The ColdPlay CDs are the ones with the biggest difference I've noticed between the HK and the JBL Premium in my Camry.
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  #17  
Old 04-12-2004, 07:17 AM
cmcg cmcg is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jarelj
Same with my '04 330xi, I can't think of any way to describe it other than "muffled" either. I wonder if our differences in opinion with others is the type of music we're listening to?? I listen to mostly modern rock/classic rock/vocal pop....... I'm not listening to "thumper" music, it's all instrumental/vocal stuff and I'm not listening to it loud, just a "normal" volume. And the exact same CD's sound absolutely incredible on the Bose system in my ML500 compared to the HK.
How's Omaha? My in-laws are mostly in Omaha...
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  #18  
Old 04-12-2004, 07:24 AM
jarelj jarelj is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmcg
How's Omaha? My in-laws are mostly in Omaha...
Well, it's a pretty nice place, very laid back yet modern. The weather sucks most of the time, cold in winter, hot in the summer. Most people live here despite the weather, never because of it. My favorite saying is "Omaha is a nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit there!".
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  #19  
Old 04-12-2004, 07:38 AM
cmcg cmcg is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jarelj
Well, it's a pretty nice place, very laid back yet modern. The weather sucks most of the time, cold in winter, hot in the summer. Most people live here despite the weather, never because of it. My favorite saying is "Omaha is a nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit there!".
Well...I've visited there on numerous occasions and if there wasn't family there, I wouldn't know what to do with all the time I'm there... And it seems like we go there only for holidays, which means freezing cold weather!
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  #20  
Old 04-12-2004, 07:40 AM
cmcg cmcg is offline
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I also want to add Charlotte isn't that exciting either!
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  #21  
Old 04-12-2004, 08:15 AM
My_Tranny_Slips My_Tranny_Slips is offline
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Lightbulb also a bit off topic but pertinent

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Kennedy
Everybody has their fingers in this pie. The NAV head unit is by Alpine, the radio tuner (in the trunk) is by Becker, the NAV computer is by VDO, and the amp and speakers are by HK.
You are again correct my good man!

Realized this weekend after having split seats down from carrying re-elect Bush/Cheney signs all over gods creation the bass was booming.

Suggestion:
Try leaving the split fold down rear seats unlatched and open several inches. The seat build is snug enough to prevent seats from flopping down while braking.

Last edited by My_Tranny_Slips; 04-12-2004 at 08:17 AM.
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  #22  
Old 06-01-2004, 04:54 AM
DrMooCow DrMooCow is offline
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If you think the harman kardon is a rip off just try bose. My last car has bose and it was the world's biggest rip off. In the maxima, bose was a $1000 option. Way overpriced.
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  #23  
Old 06-01-2004, 09:35 AM
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System Sucks worst thing I payed extra for!

If you want really nice tunes, don't spend your money on this system. Get a nice Amp and nice speakers and either hook it up to your stock stereo or get a better one. You would be amazed at the difference. BMW does not make nice systems. System by Bose in my Brothers Z is much better then the Harmon system that came in my car. If you are an old lady or old man, this system will do fine for you but if you have a passion for music like some have for driving then the stock system does not fit. BMW make excellent cars but they could use some help on their sound systems!
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  #24  
Old 06-01-2004, 09:43 AM
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Jim H Jim H is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jarelj
Same with my '04 330xi, I can't think of any way to describe it other than "muffled" either. I wonder if our differences in opinion with others is the type of music we're listening to?? I listen to mostly modern rock/classic rock/vocal pop....... I'm not listening to "thumper" music, it's all instrumental/vocal stuff and I'm not listening to it loud, just a "normal" volume. And the exact same CD's sound absolutely incredible on the Bose system in my ML500 compared to the HK.
I have sound enginnering experience, and I believe that the "muffled" feeling that you get comes from a lack of crisp, clear high frequencies. The tweeters in the BMW system leave something to be desired. In addition, I noticed that mids seems to have some strange "bumps" at certain frequencies, maybe in the mid-low range, but not sure. All that said, I've noticed that the HK does not sound consistent from car-to-car. I've been test-driving 2004s, and they each sound different (even the same body style). Some sounded much better than others, with the same exact settings.
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  #25  
Old 06-01-2004, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bing330i
Now that the car is close to expiration of its warranty, I'd like to have it checked / fixed. TIA.

I went through a bout of trying to get the system on my previous 330 fixed by the dealer. They replaced the head unit, and made no difference. They were unwilling to pursue the issue further because it's just my opinion that it sounds bad. They thought it sounded fine.

The first thing I would check is that all the speaker wires in the system are hooked to the proper terminals. This is going to require a wiring diagram, so you can match up the wires and the plugs.

The muddy-lack-of-bass sound that we get on these systems is very characteristic of a system that has the wires reversed on one speaker (reversed polarity). Basically, the signal from one speaker partially cancels out the signal from another one, leaving you with a muffled, unlively sound.

I'm not interested in ripping apart the interior of my car in order to inspect the polarity of every terminal. For all we know, it could very well a misplaced wire in one of the crossovers. Or the improper crossover points for these speakers. Who knows.
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