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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm sure none of you will be surprised that the 19 speaker B&O system in my Audi was terrible. The bass was dull and muddy. Mid bass was non existent, mids were harsh, and highs were very dull. They also had a 3D effect that made the system super bright and caused warbling on music with natural reverb (like someone singing in a large room). The system uses a lot of odd drivers so I decided the best approach was to pull every driver out, measure it, and then shop for replacements on places like Parts Express. Lots of folks in the Audi community helped out with feedback on their own upgrade projects. Eventually it grew into a guide which I published to the community to help out anyone looking to upgrade their B&O. The guide has been viewed over 150,000 times, so I'm going to say I'm not alone in feeling the sound system needs improvement. The goal of the guide is to educate about how the system works and suggest some possible upgrade paths. There are many paths one can take depending on part availability, budget, and what kind of sound you want in the end.

So here it is. I hope you find it useful in your audi upgrade journey
B9 B&O speaker upgrade guide

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Good lawwwd that's a lot of speakers. These "premium stereo upgrades" are usually such hogwash. I've never heard a really good sounding one, although I havent experienced a ton. That's cool you made that guide to help others though man 馃
I compared it to a car with the standard sound system and found that while they were upgraded drivers, it was upgrading a $1 speaker to a $2 speaker. But honestly I think if the car eliminated all the surround sound/center fill/3D height speakers, it would have been much better off. I disabled the 3D speakers entirely in mine. The previous generation B8 had far fewer drivers and was a significantly better system
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Unfortunately the entire industry thrives on consumer ignorance. You are correct though. The high driver count causes all kinds of problems. I wish I had access to the DSP in the B&O amp to change it's programming. Some people have added their own DSP but after reading Andy W's treatise on time alignment in car audio, I realized that the more drivers you have the smaller the acceptable listening area can be. With 19 speakers, I could theoretically make it work for a person but if a taller or shorter person sat in the seat then it would be wrong. To say nothing of other passengers. Also you'd better not every turn your head while driving. Thankfully I live in the Bay Area where it's fashionable to change lanes without looking. :)

I don't think the B&O system amp is "bad" per se. It seems clean enough for car audio and it has plenty of power for my needs. I disagree with some of their programming choices though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yeah I've always been skeptical of these OEM systems with a jillion speakers. I guess in their defense they're trying to make a listening experience for all passengers instead of just the driver. For example Andy's car has 3 drivers in each listening position plus the subs - but I agree the primary problem with these systems is over -processing but even more than that just plain crappy drivers.
Don't get me wrong, I love a 3 way system over a 2 way system and having a dedicated midrange in the door combined with the ability to do software crossover (except the tweeters) can make it pretty sweet. But mainly I don't think they are trying to accomplish anything other than the marketing message of more speakers=better. I got really lucky with that peerless dome midrange that was 1 of only 2 drivers that fit in the space. As my skills progressed and I got more into simulations I found a great way to mesh the Dayton GF180 mid woofer with the ND25 tweeters that played out extremely satisfyingly for me in the rear doors.

The other problem I noticed is that a lot of car audio speakers flat out lie in their specs especially with regard to the low end of the frequency response. Pioneer famously quotes 6" door woofers playing in the 20's and that's just not going to happen.

Wow what a spreadsheet! I'd have rather seen a build log in traditional thread form but awesome info, so thorough!
It sorta did go that way over in the Audi forums. It took me almost 2 years to get through the entire system so the build log came out rather piece meal over there interspersed with lots of discussion and second guessing. If you want, I could try to do a build log style write up on this thread. It would take a while to write it all up. I'm glad this forum lets new users post pictures instead of making 10-100 posts first. In my case, I really wanted to understand how the system worked before I made changes to things. Partly due to my own paranoia of making things worse, and because I naively thought I could fix the system with a few minor changes only to discover the weaknesses of the remaining drivers only became more apparent as I progressed. So the spreadsheet is mainly geared to teach the future DIY builder how the system works so they can arrive at their own conclusions. Later I added the "My car" tab because people kept asking for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Wow what a spreadsheet! I'd have rather seen a build log in traditional thread form but awesome info, so thorough!
Here you go
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

In the newest (MIB-3) MMI system, there is even more changes to the speaker outputs:
Most of the speakers are driven by the amp in the trunk... but a few are driven from the actual 'brain unit' which is located behind the glove box. I didn't record which speakers, or the wire colors (as I didn't use them), but just wanted to point this out.
I was surprised they didn't do that from the start. I knew they had a couple outputs from the glove box unit used in the standard sound system. My wife's subaru appear to drive the dash speakers by the "head unit" and the door speakers with an amp under the driver's seat.

100% agree with your assessment. Audi (like many new cars manufacturers) are tripping over themselves to add a pile of unnecessary small speakers. They program-in silly effects like 3D and Concert Hall... and I'm sure to 99% of their target audience; these effects seem cool. But for the 1% that actually know what decent system can (and should) sound like; these effects are garbage.

Thanks again for your detaiIed post. As mentioned; it definitely helped me in my build.
I saw your post on your car. You really took it to the limit. I was excited you discovered a 3rd midrange that fits in the door until I saw how much they cost. :eek: Your post is actually how I found out about this web site in the first place. I'm glad so many people found the guide helpful. When I first did it I thought "well a couple people might find this interesting" but then it just blew up. Looks like a lot more people hate the system than I thought. Audi should take that as a learning experience, but if I know marketing people, they probably find it insulting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Like I said; 99% of people out there don't have a clue about true sound quality. And car manufacturers know this. They cater to the masses.

If you look at the base model OEM speakers, and then look at the B&O speakers... they're EXACTLY the same!
Just that B&O adds an amp with a bit of built-in DSP effects, and a handful more of those crappy 2 dollar speakers.
i found a B9 A4 with the standard sound system and compared the drivers. The woofers and subwoofer did have smaller magnets and less extension, but it's clear the "B&O" drivers were just one line down in the ASK catalog.

Actually even the amp is made by ASK too. I found it in their catalog. I'm not really sure what B&O actually contributed beyond the fact name plates. I work in the consumer products industry and this practice is extremely common in almost all product lines. When it comes to a thing whose sole purpose is to make sound the more money you spend on making it pretty is the less money you spend on making it sound good.

Ease of use really plays a big factor too. Just look at all the terrible voice activated products from the Amazon Alexa or the Google Home the plan of those terrible little speakers. Most people care so little about sound quality that they would like to take the ease of use over sounding good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Harman is becoming the borg of audio. I know they made the "head unit" in my car, as well as everything my wife's Subaru Ascent. It wouldn't surprise me if they bought out ASK soon.
 
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