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      03-06-2014, 12:26 AM   #1
glennQNYC
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Disclaimer: I am a trained audio engineer, and have been selling, designing, and installing audio systems professionally since the late 80s.

I picked up my new M Sport 335i today and I thought I'd share my initial thoughts and impressions of the Harman Kardon audio system. Please keep in mind this post is purely my first impressions. Just like meeting a new mate; I need time to fully discover the system's personality traits.

First and foremost, the non-linearity of the bass response is the big issue. Most of the time I was thinking 'there is just too much bass,' but other times I'm thinking 'what happened to the bass?' Sadly the system seemed to be literally horrible in this respect. Let's see if I grow to think otherwise as I get to know the system better.

Midrange frequencies are definitely not "forward" or prominent. Are they tuning to please those whom like their treble and bass controls cranked up, or are they 'hiding' crappy midrange performance? We will see!

I didn't seem to find any EQ band that was at a frequency that helped any. Again, I'll need to experiment and learn; but so far a flat EQ seemed like the least of all evil.

Speed volume compensation seemed to be about as seamless as as could be expected. Good job here.
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      03-06-2014, 12:18 PM   #2
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Sounds like you are basically not to happy with the HK system. Inconsistent bass response, lacking strong mids…
Please keep us posted if you figure out any better tweaks that improve the soundstage.
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      03-06-2014, 08:02 PM   #3
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I've always added a sub to my vehicles, and set the crossover to cover lower midrange down to sub-bass. Then I allow the factory setup to handle mids & highs, as that's what they seem to do better.

The guys at BavSound seemed to think that their offering calms the piercing highs, and brought out the midrange. Reviews have been mixed.

I'll add my sub to my mineral/coral 335i when it arrives and see if I can get a decent compromise. Has to be better than the Bose system in my current vehicle.
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      03-13-2014, 01:46 PM   #4
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I'd be very interested in how you set up your EQ settings once you get the feel for the system to get the best out of it.
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      03-13-2014, 02:10 PM   #5
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Well I got my car last night and played with the HK a bit and I have to agree- it does seem inconstant in the mids. Also right away I noticed a lack of low frequencies compared to my after market system in my E46 which has a large sub. Certain songs I am familiar with were missing a large section of bass tones. However, at higher volumes at least the mids seemed to finally shine through and I got used to it. It sounds pretty good to me except at low volumes, it seems like there is a "loudness" setting that is permanently switched on and it doesn't need it.
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      03-13-2014, 03:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMWbill
Well I got my car last night and played with the HK a bit and I have to agree- it does seem inconstant in the mids. Also right away I noticed a lack of low frequencies compared to my after market system in my E46 which has a large sub. Certain songs I am familiar with were missing a large section of bass tones. However, at higher volumes at least the mids seemed to finally shine through and I got used to it. It sounds pretty good to me except at low volumes, it seems like there is a "loudness" setting that is permanently switched on and it doesn't need it.
Funny you mention the apparent loudness curve being applied... I was thinking the exact same thing yesterday.

I like the power of the HK, but the lack of linearity, detail and definition in the bass region is pretty horrendous.
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      03-13-2014, 03:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glennQNYC View Post
Funny you mention the apparent loudness curve being applied... I was thinking the exact same thing yesterday.

I like the power of the HK, but the lack of linearity, detail and definition in the bass region is pretty horrendous.
x2, it was literally the first thing I noticed. I'm not really an audiophile though so it's ok.
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      03-13-2014, 07:40 PM   #8
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If you weren't planning on doing so already, would you also kindly tell us what music you used for your settings when you get around to posting up what your ears tell you are "ideal".

Looking forward to your thoughts!
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      03-13-2014, 08:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dabaitu
If you weren't planning on doing so already, would you also kindly tell us what music you used for your settings when you get around to posting up what your ears tell you are "ideal".

Looking forward to your thoughts!
A clear sign of properly performing system is when it sounds good (or at least the same) across all different types of material. The system actually shouldn't even bring attention to itself... A sign of a great system is when you forget about it and just get lost in the performance. This aspect of the HK system is shockingly poor... I'm hoping I can improve this through tuning, but I expected better.

That being said, I have been scribbling down notes as I listen so I can share specifics with the group. I will be over at my buddy's shop tomorrow (Lux Motorwerks, Keyport NJ) to get my Pilot Super Sports and spacers put on. If the noise floor of the shop is quiet enough, maybe I'll throw an RTA in the car and take some measurements.
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      03-13-2014, 08:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glennQNYC View Post
The system actually shouldn't even bring attention to itself... A sign of a great system is when you forget about it and just get lost in the performance.
Exactly. When the speakers just disappear.
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      03-13-2014, 10:46 PM   #11
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I just spent a good part of an hour taking some quick measurements with a tone generator and SPL meter. Here a few bits for HK owners to chew on while I continue to get to know the system.

The two major issues in the bass region are the following...

1. There is a deep hole in the response centered at 130Hz. I suspect this hole is from the midrange drivers in the doors not being able play this low of a frequency with any authority.

2. Arguably just as significant of a problem is a big rise in the response just above 200Hz. I can't help but think this is a byproduct from an attempt by the designers to deal with the first issue mentioned.

As an overarching theme, I'd suggest experimenting with seeing how much "boost" you can apply to your 100Hz slider, and how much "cut" you can apply to 200Hz slider before it's too much for your taste and listening material.


Notes on the EQ and tone controls:

EQ has approximately 10dB of boost/cut per band.

As expected, the EQ bands are fairly "low Q." This means they are broad; less-than pinpoint adjustments. For example, the 500Hz slider still boosts/cuts a 1kHz tone about 7dB.

I believe the Bass level adjustment is a very broad "shelf" type, effecting all bass frequencies. This is how you adjust frequencies below the 100Hz band in the EQ.

My measurements and listening were done at a standstill, but this is how I have my car set to start tomorrow's day in the office (my car).
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      03-13-2014, 10:47 PM   #12
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Main tone screen:
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      03-14-2014, 01:41 PM   #13
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Do you mind telling us how many "clicks" left and right it is on each of your screenshots.
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      03-14-2014, 02:45 PM   #14
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Great thread. I like music, but definitely don't have the ear to tell all that detail you do. Would love to see what settings you recommend.
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      03-15-2014, 12:49 AM   #15
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Do you know if these will be the same settings for the 435 coupe?
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      03-15-2014, 03:04 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trusaleen1
Do you know if these will be the same settings for the 435 coupe?
Without getting in one, I wouldn't know if the 4 Series HK has the exact same problems in the bass region, but I'd guess it's pretty similar. I think the issue is more related to the components and their location than the acoustics of the cabin... But I must repeat this is just an educated guess. The different, smaller interior volume will change things a little bit, but the bigger hope for 4 Series owners would be that the boys at Harman found a way to give their car a better tuning.
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      03-16-2014, 01:41 AM   #17
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I tried out the 100/200 hz adjustments today, and was surprised at the improvement... most notably the 200hz shift. I'm still going to add a sub in the back, but these EQ changes improve the sound a lot more than I thought they would.
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      03-16-2014, 02:09 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcli
I tried out the 100/200 hz adjustments today, and was surprised at the improvement... most notably the 200hz shift. I'm still going to add a sub in the back, but these EQ changes improve the sound a lot more than I thought they would.
Nice!
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      03-16-2014, 06:18 AM   #19
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Thanks for sharing this! I tried it out and I was pretty happy with it. Bass seemed "bigger" than I was used to, but it certainly didn't sound to be at the expense of the mid- and high-range.
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      03-16-2014, 10:14 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidjbak View Post
Do you mind telling us how many "clicks" left and right it is on each of your screenshots.
I was wondering the same thing, would be very useful .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dabaitu View Post
Thanks for sharing this! I tried it out and I was pretty happy with it. Bass seemed "bigger" than I was used to, but it certainly didn't sound to be at the expense of the mid- and high-range.
This. The system sounds FAR better now - with bass when I expect it, and not just with music that's especially bass-heavy.
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      03-16-2014, 12:30 PM   #21
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I'm not completely married to these settings but this is how my HK is set for now.

Treble flat
Bass +1
L7 on

100Hz +5
200Hz -7
500Hz +1
1kHz +1
2kHz flat
5kHz -1
10kHz -1

As I mentioned... Use this as a starting point and tweak from here. You may want a little more of this, a little less of that. Let your ears decide. Just knowing wtf is going on helps a ton though!

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      03-16-2014, 02:23 PM   #22
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Thank you for the settings!
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