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      01-02-2015, 03:18 PM   #1
mattu
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HK Bavsound Upgrade

I recently installed the Bavsound upgrade for the Harmon Kardon (HK) system and have had a couple days to listen to it. I haven't really seen any other F34 owners provide input regarding the upgrade, so I figured I'd share my initial thoughts. I will update as the speakers break in, I fiddle with EQ settings, and play from higher quality sources.

HK System Impressions:
The main dislike I have had with the HK system is the tweeters. For me, the high-end is tinny, harsh, and very fatiguing at high volumes. The rest of the range is somewhat muddy/distorted at high volumes, but overall pretty good given the quality of music source I normally listen to (BT streaming through Google Play Music at its highest available quality). Basically, if I didn't find the HK system harsh at the top-end I probably would not have purchased the Bavsound upgrade.

Bavsound Review
Install:
Watch any of the Bavsound install videos and you'll see the stock mids up against the Bavsound mids. The stock mid looks puny in the vids, but the difference didn't sink in for me until I had the speakers in hand side-by-side. Given the paper cone and light-weight of the BMW speakers, it made me somewhat impressed at the sound the HK system was putting out.

Install was pretty straight-forward. I basically just followed along with the Bavsound install video for the F34. One thing to note--I didn't find it necessary to completely remove the door trim panels. I used a foam block to rest the bottoms on and carefully propped them up against the the door; making sure not to place too much stress on any connections. The rear panels had less slack than the front, so I did unplug the mood lighting connector to gain (be careful unplugging this connector!) space.

Sound:
Immediately upon hearing the system I noticed the harsh high end was thankfully gone. Frankly that's all I cared to alleviate, but there are additional benefits from the Bavsound system. The mid-bass is much more prominent, and the overall sound seems effortless/more efficient compared to the stock setup. Distortion and muddiness at high volumes is improved. The low-end cross-over seems smoother and there is more low-end thump now than the stock speakers. The low-end response discrepancy was large enough that I moved the EQ settings on 100Hz and 200Hz down 1-2 ticks...Everything else is zeroed out.

This could probably go without saying, but one potential negative of the Bavsound speakers is that they are more revealing of source material than the HK system. It would be the same situation with a custom-built system too. I realize it's not really an indictment on the Bavsound system itself, but I believe the HK system may have been designed with this in mind so it's something to consider if you normally play from highly compressed sources.

Conclusion:
For Harmon Kardon owners, I'd say the upgrade is worth it if you find the top-end harsh. The Bavsound kit removes harshness from the top-end, adds mid-bass punch, and noticeably clears up everything at high volumes. I'm not sure it's worth $1000+ that it used to retail for (I imagine a higher quality custom system with upgraded power could be professionally installed in the $2K range), but $700-$750 with plug and play install represents pretty good value IMO.
However, if you don't find the HK top-end overly harsh AND usually play from highly compressed sources, then I'd skip Bavsound. The improvements beyond removing the top-end harshness are noticeable, but offset enough revealing low quality source material that I'd have a hard time justifying the cost. If you don't have HK, the Bavsound upgrade seems like a no-brainer at current prices given you are not willing to hack up the wiring (likely voiding your entire infotainment system warranty) doing a custom install.
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      01-03-2015, 09:51 AM   #2
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Great information....thanks....I just bought a Bavsound stage 1 which I will install when I receive it and report back,. I have the base HIFI system in a 328 GT M sport which is adaquate but leaves me wanting to improve it. I have the Harmon Kardon in My 2012 335ix coupe and it is so much better so I figured I would take a chance. Looking around the web the bavsound seems like the best choice for a non audiovile who wants a upgrade without customizing everything.
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      01-04-2015, 02:16 AM   #3
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Here's my current EQ settings.. Logic surround OFF




I listen to pretty much anything but country, however most frequent genres are indie pop/rock (empire of the sun, st lucia, panama, two door cinema club, etc) and EDM (gesaffelstein, digitalism, cut copy, m83 to name a few). Bass/Mid-bass is more pronounced after the bavsound upgrade, and overwhelming/boomy for me without cutting it a bit. I fiddled around with Logic surround, and it seemed like it was adding some reverb and a slight bump to the mid to upper-mid range. Boosting 1k and 2k Hz a bit seemed to replicate some of the sparkle I like with Logic turned on, without the reverb effect I'm not a big fan of. Although the silk domed tweeters removed the top-end harshness of the HK system, they made it too subdued for me. Boosting 5k and 10k a couple ticks each opened up the soundstage nicely without reintroducing the harshness that I couldn't ever EQ out of the HK system.
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      01-04-2015, 03:54 PM   #4
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Hello
Is it also possible to unlock the the Equalizer with the "HIFI" option?
it is this option: S676A HiFi speaker system

would love this ability :-)

Thx in advance

Kind Regards
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      01-05-2015, 01:07 AM   #5
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Interesting! Good review, for $700, that seems to be a pretty good deal.

Their website didn't list anything for my F33, but I shot them an email to see if that's a glitch, or if it actually isn't compatible with the F33.
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      01-05-2015, 02:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinproost View Post
Hello
Is it also possible to unlock the the Equalizer with the "HIFI" option?
it is this option: S676A HiFi speaker system

would love this ability :-)

Thx in advance

Kind Regards
I'm doubtful just unlocking the equalizer (assuming it can be coded to show up in the first place) is going to produce results you're looking for. I imagine the HK components (particularly the amp) would need to be retrofitted for EQ settings to be fully realized, and I'm not sure if HK retrofit is possible.
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