BMW 2 Series Harmon Kardon

We bring you the official word on the Harmon Kardon issue on the 2 series. As members have reported the HK system comes with less then what they were expecting. The issue stems from incorrect marketing materials put out by BMW that lead buyers to think they were getting a 16 speaker, 600 watt system with a graphical equalizer. This information was incorrect, the official Harmon Kardon package for the 2 series includes -
Quote:
Harman Kardon® Surround Sound Audio System with 360-watts. This 12-speaker sound system includes 5 tweeters (2 tweeters with "Harman Kardon" designation in the mirror triangles), 5 midrange speakers and 2 central bass speakers located under the front seats
It does not appear that BMW will be adjusting the HK pricing as the 12 speaker offering was intended the entire time. It was simply an error on the marketing side that lead some buyers to think they were getting more. If you ordered a 2 series based on the incorrect previous information you should contact BMW Customer Relations at 800-831-1117 for a case-by-case consultation.

Who ordered their 2 Series expecting the 16 speaker, 600 watt system with graphic equalizer? If you haven't ordered a 2 series yet will this make you change your mind about the Harmon Kardon upgrade?



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46 responses to 2 Series Harmon Kardon - Only 12 speakers, no EQ

hyperzulu commented:
March 27, 2014, 12:23 pm

I will not be purchasing the H/K option, though I was going to without question prior to this. I will save the $875 and spend it on a set of speakers that do not need the EQ to sound good. Good speakers can play flat and sound good.
ineedae46m3 commented:
March 27, 2014, 6:02 pm

Does anyone know if this will change for MY2015 or will price/lack of speakers/ge remain the same?
tim330i commented:
March 27, 2014, 6:04 pm

I can't imagine they're going to change it. This wasn't a mistake on the production side, it was what they intended to produce. The error was on the marketing side. Maybe at LCI they might change it but after a short production run for the first year I don't see them making any changes.

Tim
cukoodukoo commented:
March 29, 2014, 6:02 pm

How many did the HK option in 1 series have ....16 or 12 speakers?
Kowalski2011 commented:
March 29, 2014, 9:27 pm

If I was, then yes definitely lots of sports cars out there, doesn't have to be a bmw...hope they think this out. Just go for a primo used model.
Delnari commented:
April 9, 2014, 1:18 pm

I received a $350 credit from BMWNA paid via my dealer. Using the extra for some upgrades.
Delnari commented:
April 9, 2014, 2:45 pm

Wrong thread
Grayhair commented:
April 10, 2014, 10:11 am

How many speakers with the base radio?
tccox commented:
April 10, 2014, 12:36 pm

My 2012 128 with HK has 10 speakers, a 300 watt amp and was a $875 option when I bought it. My 2014 228I will have 12 speakers, a 360 watt amp and also cost $875. I'm OK with this

Speakers for the BMW 1 Series Coupé
10 high-performance loudspeakers with optimum position in the car.

4 x 26 mm metal-matrix dome tweeters, front & rear
2 x 217 mm woofers (central bass), below the front seats
4 x 100 mm metal-matrix midrange speakers, front & rear


Amplifier
Harman Kardon® Logic 7® DSP amplifier with a total output of 300 watts
hyperzulu commented:
April 10, 2014, 8:28 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grayhair View Post
How many speakers with the base radio?
From what I can gather, the base radio has 7 speakers. Another forum post of the stereo upgrade indicated that the base radio did not have 2-way speakers, neither component or coax. So, that wold be one in each door, one under each front seat, center dash, rear deck left, rear deck right.
gbabichev1 commented:
April 11, 2014, 12:54 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperzulu View Post
From what I can gather, the base radio has 7 speakers. Another forum post of the stereo upgrade indicated that the base radio did not have 2-way speakers, neither component or coax. So, that wold be one in each door, one under each front seat, center dash, rear deck left, rear deck right.
I took a test drive yesterday with a 228i with the base system. It wasn't bad at all! They didn't have any with H/K but still.
hyperzulu commented:
April 11, 2014, 1:06 pm

I think I'll still end up taking the $875 and putting it into a modest upgrade.
gbabichev1 commented:
April 11, 2014, 1:10 pm

I am thinking the same.

Depending on how much lower my lease payment will be, I'll see.
hyperzulu commented:
April 11, 2014, 1:38 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbabichev1 View Post
I am thinking the same.

Depending on how much lower my lease payment will be, I'll see.
It won't go down very much. You are paying for 60% of $875 over typically 36 months, which is around $15 plus tax a month. It's more about value for me, and that I know what the higher spec'd H/K system sounds like, since I have it in my current e92. And while that system is nice, it isn't spectacular. I wouldn't mind spending double for a good system. I would prefer to roll it into the lease, but BMW doesn't seem to think this audience would want a better system.
gbabichev1 commented:
April 11, 2014, 1:41 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperzulu View Post
It won't go down very much. You are paying for 60% of $875 over typically 36 months, which is around $15 plus tax a month. It's more about value for me, and that I know what the higher spec'd H/K system sounds like, since I have it in my current e92. And while that system is nice, it isn't spectacular. I wouldn't mind spending double for a good system. I would prefer to roll it into the lease, but BMW doesn't seem to think this audience would want a better system.
Hey any amount lower is good!

But yeah from what I have read that the system is half as powerful as the one in the 3 & 4 series.

Not sure if it's worth it.
caycep commented:
June 16, 2014, 5:09 pm

How much of a hassle is it to upgrade it w/ 3rd party aftermarket stuff? Is it a giant pain in the butt or are there "drop in" replacements?
verybadman commented:
June 16, 2014, 9:34 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by caycep View Post
How much of a hassle is it to upgrade it w/ 3rd party aftermarket stuff? Is it a giant pain in the butt or are there "drop in" replacements?

Depends on how far you are willing to go but drop-in is definitely an option as I have dropped JL-Audio C2-400x speakers in to the front and rear. Anything else remains the same and keeps the OEM look.


Sent from BimmerApp mobile app
tccox commented:
June 17, 2014, 9:07 am

3 and 4 series, 600 watt, 16 speakers , 2 series, 360 watt 12 speakers so not twice the system certainly. My 2012 128 had a 10 speaker, 300 watt HK system and also cost $875. Had my 228 for 6 weeks now and I'm happy with the HK system.


Sent from BimmerApp mobile app
Angelbones commented:
June 17, 2014, 12:42 pm

I just saw a BMW commercial praising the HK system. Of course it was in the three series. IMO, if they are going to use that system in the 2 series, then the price should be lower. I would have gladly ordered it, but just heard too many negatives about it. Main negative was that it wasn't worth the price, not that it was necessarily bad. So list it for $500 instead of $875. They'll probably make more money just due to more volume being sold.
hyperzulu commented:
June 17, 2014, 12:51 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Angelbones View Post
I just saw a BMW commercial praising the HK system. Of course it was in the three series. IMO, if they are going to use that system in the 2 series, then the price should be lower. I would have gladly ordered it, but just heard too many negatives about it. Main negative was that it wasn't worth the price, not that it was necessarily bad. So list it for $500 instead of $875. They'll probably make more money just due to more volume being sold.
Doubt it. Most buyers are not conscious to the value proposition or believe it is still a great value.
Jamze132 commented:
June 18, 2014, 8:30 am

I've got a 14' 228i with HK and my wife has a 12' 328i with base system. The HK sounds MUCH better, especially when cranked.
MrDanne commented:
June 18, 2014, 12:59 pm

I've ordered a new 218d (you guys in the US probably don't have these kind of engines, we poor European have to pay a lot more for the fuel... hehe) with HK sound.
Really hope I will be happy with it! Haven't heard the 3-series HK sound, so I hope I won't be disappointed

Also, I want my BMW to be as original as possible without any modifications. That only lowers the value of the car!

100% BMW for me !
mifn21 commented:
July 7, 2014, 6:51 am

New to the forum, having just picked up my 8sp M235i a few weeks ago.

My advice to anyone considering the HK system upgrade is DO IT!!!!. Having had plenty of cars with expensive aftermarket systems, I would say it would cost you a lot more than the HK to get similar quality audio.

As a musician, producer and DJ my opinion is it is easily the best balanced system I've heard in a stock car, you can turn it right up with no harsh treble, and the bass drops low and deep, not "hoodrat window shaking levels", but its balanced with the rest of the audio spectrum - it doesn't drown out the actual music

I can confirm it doesn't need EQ unless your source material is crap, apart from upping the bass by +1 which makes a big difference
jim90046 commented:
June 21, 2015, 5:00 pm

I know this post is old but I just got my 2 series with Harmon Kardon and returned my 135i . For the person who was asking about the 1 Harmon Kardon system I can tell you it has 12 speakers and it had a graphic equalizer and a Logic 7 off or on and a sub woofer volume control . It also sounded great ! Am I a little disappointed , Yes a little . I remember asking the dealer who was showing me around the car about were is the graphic equalizer and other controls ? He said oh they did away with it . I said oh nice of them to tell me after I spend nearly a grand and your pamphlet described a whole different system ! Does it sound good ? Yes it sounds good but does it sound as good as my 135I system that I paid the same price for ! I will give it a 7 1/2 vs a 9 1/2 for the 1 series . I will be calling BMW of North America in the morning and let you guys know what they have to say about this as I clearly believe this is a misrepresentation of the option in question be it BMWs fault or not they still put it in their automobile and I was still lead to believe I was getting a product that in fact I was not !
jim90046 commented:
June 21, 2015, 5:30 pm

Correction ! 10 speakers on the 135i
Mark K commented:
June 22, 2015, 4:51 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim90046 View Post
Correction ! 10 speakers on the 135i
Correction! 12 speakers on 135i ... you forgot the best ones, those on the left side of your rear bumper

Between upgraded stereo and upgraded exhaust with a 6 cylinder BMW engine, I'm choosing the second one every day and ten times on Sunday when, in this season, you can drive on early mornings with windows down and without other cars around. What a sound!
Leslierc commented:
June 22, 2015, 5:17 pm

Not bad, but not great. Weaknesses really appear when I switch to Satellite Radio; otherwise, better than most.
merc for hire commented:
June 22, 2015, 5:53 pm

Satellite Radio sound quality is poor in the first place. Good speakers can't change crappy sound source.
Leslierc commented:
June 22, 2015, 6:49 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by merc for hire View Post
Satellite Radio sound quality is poor in the first place. Good speakers can't change crappy sound source.
Not so in my 991 C4. Much better sound...base, not the Burmeister.
Selmeralto commented:
December 5, 2015, 12:14 pm

Two questions:

1. Does the HK system in the M235i have "surround sound"?

2. I don't like this feature on cars - I like the sound as flat as possible - so my second question is: if the HK system has "surround sound" can it be defeated through the software options or by any other means?

Thanks.
3.0L commented:
December 6, 2015, 1:16 pm

I'm pretty happy with the Karman Hardon system in my car. It is far and away the biggest sound system I've ever had in a car. There's so many speakers, I can't even tell where the sound is coming from. It seems to be everywhere.

Having said that, I only use the Karman Hardon system about 20% of the time. I enjoy the engine sounds much more.
MoldCAD commented:
December 6, 2015, 1:27 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by tccox View Post
Amplifier
Harman Kardon® Logic 7® DSP amplifier with a total output of 300 watts
Again incorrect - the system lacks Logic 7.

But at the flip-side: how much (in the US configurator) is the full-blown HK with 600W, equalizer and Logic 7? Isn't it more expensive?

Because here in Poland it is (in both 3 and 4 series).
MoldCAD commented:
December 6, 2015, 1:41 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by mifn21 View Post
New to the forum, having just picked up my 8sp M235i a few weeks ago.

My advice to anyone considering the HK system upgrade is DO IT!!!!. Having had plenty of cars with expensive aftermarket systems, I would say it would cost you a lot more than the HK to get similar quality audio.

As a musician, producer and DJ my opinion is it is easily the best balanced system I've heard in a stock car, you can turn it right up with no harsh treble, and the bass drops low and deep, not "hoodrat window shaking levels", but its balanced with the rest of the audio spectrum - it doesn't drown out the actual music

I can confirm it doesn't need EQ unless your source material is crap, apart from upping the bass by +1 which makes a big difference
+1. I consider myself a "reasonable" audiophile (meaning I adapt my expectations and needs to the listening environment). And believe me: since I drive long distances alone, I have no problems cranking the system up quite high; provided the source material is good quality (an mine of course is), I have nothing to complain about: springy bass not obscuring the mids, crisp highs, and above all: not a single resonance (yet - my car has jsut 12,000 km on the clock so everything is still tight).

If I was to compare my M235i HK stereo, it's very similar to the higher of the two systems available in the F10 in 2013 when I had my 528xi, available without paying for the marque.
AlpsRider commented:
December 7, 2015, 9:05 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by MoldCAD View Post
+1. I consider myself a "reasonable" audiophile (meaning I adapt my expectations and needs to the listening environment). And believe me: since I drive long distances alone, I have no problems cranking the system up quite high; provided the source material is good quality.
I agree, you have to have good source material. The radio and Satellite radio sound awful compared to high quality recordings. It's too bad they didn't make the radio tuner sound better.
MrScuba commented:
December 8, 2015, 2:31 pm

I knew from my test drive that the sound quality was not going to be good. My two most recent vehicles were an Acura TL Type S with a Bose system and a Honda Ridgeline in the upgraded trim line. Both make my HK BMW system sound awful. Hopefully, the BAV subwoofers will help. If not, I may go for the system upgrade.

My ears and expectations adapt to the BMW over time, but when I go back to the Ridgeline I remember how good a factory system can sound. What a shame.
Viffermike commented:
December 8, 2015, 4:08 pm

As many of you on this and "that other" forum know, I am actually a multi-discipline audiophile.

I'm not going to pass judgment on the 2-series HK, other than to point out what I've seen regarding hardware and system specs.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the system is tuned for the car, for the HU (which is identical in either Hi-Fi and HK form) and to a price point. That means it is balanced to handle programming that the rest of the system produces. So what does the rest of the system produce?:
- A CD transport and output with a flat-out poor DAC and, in my car's case, suspected jitter issues
- Bluetooth streaming of no better than 360Mbps
- On the Tech Package: Music-transfer software that downsamples anything loaded to it to 256Mbps
- On the Tech Package: BMW Apps interfaces that limit streaming rates (at least in Spotify's case)
- No more than 30 WPC (300 Watts / 12) for the HK amp, with no idea if that reading is RMS or peak -- and with the stock subs being 2ohms each, they likely get more than that amount fed to them (probably @ 40 WPC)
- THE worst radio tuner -- HD, terrestrial, or otherwise -- I have personally ever heard in a car

What does all that say? That the system is tuned to maximize the perceived efficacy of mid-quality digital source material, which the majority of buyers would now be used to hearing in this digital age. What does that mean? That means it is tuned to hide deficiencies -- and lemme tell ya, judging from the appearance of the HK speakers, even those are deficient and likely part of the tuning.

That said, contrary to conventional knowledge, it doesn't take much power to make a car system sound good. What it takes it clean power, balanced appropriately -- and good drivers to produce the sounds such power can provide. While the HK amp and drivers are definite upgrades over Hi-Fi, they come nowhere close to providing a cost-effective and value-added improvement because of the baked-in DSP and the subpar sources -- again, part of the tuning.

IMHO, the design goal of the 2-series sound systems was to effect acceptable quality to the majority of ears, but -- and this is the really important point -- without adjustments that would easily reveal the system to be inherently poor: equalization, integrated and nondefeatable ASD, etc.
Selmeralto commented:
December 8, 2015, 4:29 pm

Thanks to Mike for an extremely helpful, if disheartening, post describing the technical limitations of the HK system.

I'd be interested in hearing what steps HK owners have taken to remedy the situation.

It'd be especially helpful if people could say something about their listening preferences along with their particular upgrades.

Some people prefer thumping bass, others flat sound, etc. Some people listen primarily to pop or jazz or symphonic music. And what source do upgraders use most often: CD? Tuner? Satellite? Particular kinds of files?

For example, my system at home is oriented toward flat, clear sound with an open soundstage. I listen to a lot of jazz, instrumental and vocal, on CDs. So I'd be interested in upgrades that would favor those preferences. Other readers might be after a different kind of setup.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Viffermike View Post
As many of you on this and "that other" forum know, I am actually a multi-discipline audiophile.

I'm not going to pass judgment on the 2-series HK, other than to point out what I've seen regarding hardware and system specs.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the system is tuned for the car, for the HU (which is identical in either Hi-Fi and HK form) and to a price point. That means it is balanced to handle programming that the rest of the system produces. So what does the rest of the system produce?:
- A CD transport and output with a flat-out poor DAC and, in my car's case, suspected jitter issues
- Bluetooth streaming of no better than 360Mbps
- On the Tech Package: Music-transfer software that downsamples anything loaded to it to 256Mbps
- On the Tech Package: BMW Apps interfaces that limit streaming rates (at least in Spotify's case)
- No more than 30 WPC (300 Watts / 12) for the HK amp, with no idea if that reading is RMS or peak -- and with the stock subs being 2ohms each, they likely get more than that amount fed to them (probably @ 40 WPC)
- THE worst radio tuner -- HD, terrestrial, or otherwise -- I have personally ever heard in a car

What does all that say? That the system is tuned to maximize the perceived efficacy of mid-quality digital source material, which the majority of buyers would now be used to hearing in this digital age. What does that mean? That means it is tuned to hide deficiencies -- and lemme tell ya, judging from the appearance of the HK speakers, even those are deficient and likely part of the tuning.

That said, contrary to conventional knowledge, it doesn't take much power to make a car system sound good. What it takes it clean power, balanced appropriately -- and good drivers to produce the sounds such power can provide. While the HK amp and drivers are definite upgrades over Hi-Fi, they come nowhere close to providing a cost-effective and value-added improvement because of the baked-in DSP and the subpar sources -- again, part of the tuning.

IMHO, the design goal of the 2-series sound systems was to effect acceptable quality to the majority of ears, but -- and this is the really important point -- without adjustments that would easily reveal the system to be inherently poor: equalization, integrated and nondefeatable ASD, etc.
AlpsRider commented:
December 8, 2015, 8:34 pm

I've found that using the USB to stream music to the system yields much better quality sound than Bluetooth. I've tried Pandora, Tunein Pro and some others. Amazon Prime has come out the winner in streaming quality.
Viffermike commented:
December 9, 2015, 10:38 am

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpsRider View Post
I've found that using the USB to stream music to the system yields much better quality sound than Bluetooth. I've tried Pandora, Tunein Pro and some others. Amazon Prime has come out the winner in streaming quality.
That's the one permutation I haven't fiddled with much: streaming direct from USB. Once I get a few other things sorted out elsewhere in life (), I plan on experimenting with it -- based on this and other feedback, it seems that maybe the DAC treats USB-fed digital programming a little better ... (I have a 128GB SanDisk Extreme PRO -- generally regarded as the fastest USB stick on the market right now -- and I've used a 32GB SanDisk Extreme 3.0 as a BMW-specific drive for uploading to the on-board 20GB HDD).

I just committed to a year of Amazon Prime, too. That'll be on the experimentation docket, too.

(For the record: I primarily listen to metal and rock, but do cycle in jazz, classical, vintage rock and pop, and other genres. I'm a flat-response and headroom adherent, and prefer a medium soundstage and no more than four channels, with a preference for two)
Selmeralto commented:
December 9, 2015, 11:38 am

Thanks, Alps and Mike.

OK, so the first way to improve the HK sound, purely from the standpoint of sound, is to go for the best sound already available in the system and that appears to be running files from a good drive directly connected via USB. Yes?

And would this be a better option than using the CD player?
AlpsRider commented:
December 9, 2015, 12:19 pm

I have gotten so lazy about ripping recordings that in the car I have been streaming most of the time. I use my Nexus 5 android phone connected to the USB port in the car which activates BMW Connected Drive. Connected Drive is already installed on my phone so when I plug into the USB port it loads automatically, then the extra menus become visible/available in the car Menu "Multimedia". Select "Audioplayer" in the menu, then start the Prime Player on your phone. It is so cool to have such a variety of music available, it sounds way better than the radio or Sirius.

Edit: I still use the Bluetooth on my phone syncing to my car for phone calls, Connected Drive and Bluetooth can work at the same time. You just need to go to the Bluetooth settings for your phone in the car menu and disable the music side of the Bluetooth connection otherwise Bluetooth tries to take over the music connection.

Google maps voice commands will also be played through the car's audio system, although most of the time I find a destination with my phone and just send the coordinates directly to the Car Nav using the BMW Remote app.
Selmeralto commented:
December 9, 2015, 12:23 pm

Thanks, Alps. And, apart from laziness , does the USB sound as good as a CD?

I should say I'll take delivery in a few weeks but I am interested in what other people's experiences are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpsRider View Post
I have gotten so lazy about ripping recordings that in the car I have been streaming most of the time. I use my Nexus 5 android phone connected to the USB port in the car which activates BMW Connected Drive. Connected Drive is already installed on my phone so when I plug into the USB port it loads automatically, then the extra menus become visible/available in the car Menu "Multimedia". Select "Audioplayer" in the menu, then start your Prime Player on the phone. It is so cool to have such a variety of music available. It sounds way better than the radio or Sirius.
Viffermike commented:
December 9, 2015, 12:30 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpsRider View Post
I have gotten so lazy about ripping recordings that in the car I have been streaming most of the time. I use my Nexus 5 android phone connected to the USB port in the car which activates BMW Connected Drive. Connected Drive is already installed on my phone so when I plug into the USB port it loads automatically, then the extra menus become visible/available in the car Menu "Multimedia". Select "Audioplayer" in the menu, then start your Prime Player on the phone. It is so cool to have such a variety of music available. It sounds way better than the radio or Sirius.
This does make me curious since this isn't connected (pun partially intended) to BMW Apps like Spotify is. Spotify streams at 320Kbps at its highest setting, which isn't horrible -- but it will only do that when activated outside of its BMW Apps interface, which just isn't practical while operating the car. I suspect BMW Apps downsamples Spotify content to either 256Kbps (seems to be the HU's default; this is more likely) or Spotify's "High" setting, which is a horrific 160Kbps. From prior experience, the difference between 256Kbps and 320Kbps is massive for lower and higher frequencies -- far more than the jump from 160 to 256.

(I use Spotify for streaming primarily because it natively has the highest streaming bitrate of any of the major services.)
AlpsRider commented:
December 9, 2015, 1:09 pm

Amazon Prime has automatic and manual settings for streaming quality. I have just switched it to "Best" quailty and I'll see if it is dependable. I'll have to admit I have no idea what the bit rate is, I chose Prime solely with my ears.

Edit: I just checked, Prime is supposedly using 256 kbps. I think I'll see if Spotify sounds any better, thanks for the tip. I guess I need to be a Premium subscriber to get over 160 kbps...yet another service to pay!
Selmeralto commented:
December 9, 2015, 2:51 pm

I was just told by Amazon that choosing "Auto" goes to Best and then steps down to the next lower setting only if the current connection doesn't support Best.
Viffermike commented:
December 9, 2015, 4:02 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpsRider View Post
I think I'll see if Spotify sounds any better, thanks for the tip. I guess I need to be a Premium subscriber to get over 160 kbps...yet another service to pay!
If you do streaming with any regularity, Spotify Premium is worth the charge because of the bitrate -- particularly through headphones. No, strike that -- especially through headphones!

My typical path:
- Discover new stuff on Spotify
- Download stuff I dig for play offline, play it through 'phones and in car
- (if I really dig it) Buy CD on Amazon
- Burn CD lossless to home music server and/or play CD on an actual transport (both scenarios via an outboard DAC)
- Burn CD to car (meh, but hey; it's there if I don't wanna plug in the phone)