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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, my question is centered around the oem car manufacturers putting more extravagent systems in cars year by year. It made sense 30 years ago with the spartin oem offerings, but not so much these days with oem solutions from Bowers & Wilkins, Dynaudio, Revel, and accuton.



What is your guys or gals take on this?
 

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Hello, my question is centered around the oem car manufacturers putting more extravagent systems in cars year by year. It made sense 30 years ago with the spartin oem offerings, but not so much these days with oem solutions from Bowers & Wilkins, Dynaudio, Revel, and accuton.



What is your guys or gals take on this?
They still don't measure up to our standards.
 

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The number of cars with those fancy audio systems available as an option is a very small percentage of the overall car market. Those optional systems are quite expensive. And as ckirocz28 stated, they still aren’t as good as the best DIY car audio systems.

Part of that is probably the marketing of those fancy OEM systems. Consumers don’t really respond to hey, trust us, we‘re using better speakers and it sounds better. So to market properly they have to add more speakers because a 13 speaker system has to be better than 9 speakers.

The problem of course is that with the integration of today’s cars, it is getting harder and harder to add an aftermarket system. But I think the move to more digital systems will help aftermarket systems at some point. As cars become more computer/smartphone like, they’ll start to become more similar and start to use more similar components. And at some point there will likely be more standards sort of like the OBD port, which we’re already starting to see. So I think we’ll actually get to whether it will be easier in the future to integrate aftermarket audio. I say that but then think of how it might be made more difficult by electric vehicles with all sorts of battery power but at an incompatible voltage to what we normally use.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I don't think integrating with oem systems will get easier with the demand for smart phones on wheels IMO The push for more speakers is to surround the listeners and create a simulated surround sound experience.

I for one thought that a world class 2 way system was the end game, until I finally heard the same setup in true 5.1 and never looked back for stereo system in my home. That is why I have a flagship 2 way system in my commuter & am looking for a weekend car for surround capability.

Too bad cars with these amazing systems no sane person would purchase & regulated to a lease only bases.
 

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To reply directly to OP, yes it is still needed, as MANY cars still have poor audio, or only offer good audio at an expensive price.
With enthusiasts like “us”, with our own requirements and preferences, most would likely prefer to spend that cash to upgrade “our way” rather than the upgraded setup, even if it means potentially costing more.

Personally I don’t find myself in the group that spends a lot, but I do have my preferences, and try to accommodate where I can (since they aren’t accommodated from factory).


Unrelated, but what’s really sad is how bad the entry level sound system is in premium cars. IIRC, BMW base system doesn’t even come with an oem amp, or tweeters!
 

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I just traded in all three of my Chevys on two new Subarus, an Outback and Forester. Both have the 600 watt Harman Kardon systems. They sound very good. Not quite audiophile SQ like what I'm used to. Good stage height, imaging and somwhat flat frequency. The 8 in sub provides adequate bottom end. These are much better than any stock system I've heard. So far I am content, Lets see how long this lasts.
 

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Well, the German company Continental is working on an audio system that is using actuators to create sound through all the surfaces in a car together with Sennheiser (another well known audio company). Once car manufacturers start to incorporate these systems into their cars there will be no more spaces for loudspeakers and stuff. None, nada, nothing. You then cannot change the crappy stock speakers for better aftermarket parts as there will be no space to put any speakers in without massive manufacturing. If this system gets used on a widespread base I guess you can say that the classic days of car audio are over.

 

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I've owned a number of 'relatively high-end' vehicles over the years. All of them with upgraded OEM stereo systems.
I kinda get what K-Pop is asking...

Some of the new OEM systems sound pretty good. I remember the first time I heard an OEM Dynaudio system in a Volkswagen... I was totally blown away by it.

For probably 98% of folks out there; an upgraded Harman-Kardon, Bang & Olufsen, or even a Bose system would sound really good, and more than satisfy their listening taste.
These are the same people that have thousands of songs downloaded from Napster and YouTube, at various sound quality levels.
These are also the same folks that have no idea about DIYMA... nor do they care.

Then, there's losers like us...
  • We take brand new vehicles and completely strip them down. Factory systems get gutted within the first week of ownership.
  • We spend hours researching equipment, in a never-ending quest for Audio Xanadu.
  • We're integrating vehicle fibre optic systems into aftermarket analog audio.
  • We build a system, and then talk about new (more expensive) ways to improve it.
  • We love our new toys... but then hate them as soon as something better comes out.
  • We tune, and re-tune... and then re-tune again... and then go back to our original tune. Looking for that perfect sound.
As mentioned; I've had a number of decent vehicles. All of them came with a pretty nice sounding OEM audio system.
But not one of these OEM systems has come anywhere near close to the quality of my own aftermarket builds.

I love music. I can spend hours just listening to music.
But I really love music, when it's well recorded, and exceptionally reproduced.

Aftermarket car audio is not only a hobby (and passion) for me... it is a necessity.
 

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I feel like I'm going on a total rant here... but I will make one more comment regarding 'upgraded OEM systems':

In my observations with owning Volkswagen's, Audi's and BMW's (as well as working on a couple Mercedes'), I can absolutely confirm that if you get a basic Bose system, and then pay the thousands of dollars to upgrade to the B&O or Harman-Kardon, or whatever system... you get EXACTLY THE SAME SPEAKERS (with the exception of the VW / Dynaudio system).

The actual hardware doesn't change at all.

What you typically get is: an amplifier that usually has a few more (surround sound) channels. And you get a system that has been tuned by the respective audio company (Harman, B&O, etc). The money spent is in the tuning...
 

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If I was in the market for a luxury vehicle, I would want the stereo to sound good enough right off the lot. For a $20k Honda, yeah aftermarket is needed just as much in 2020 as it was in 1990.
 

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I say that but then think of how it might be made more difficult by electric vehicles with all sorts of battery power but at an incompatible voltage to what we normally use.
That's a simple, although potential extra cost, solution of using a step down converter, if needed. Currently electric cars do this already because they'll run electrical components at 12v. So you only need to get one if you need more amperage than the stock step down supports.
 

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to the first part of the question, yes an OEM stereo can be improved on. I have heard several what where called top tier offerings and yes they are very good, but certainly could be better. The second part of the question really is, are people in general willing to spend the money to upgrade a newer car for that increase in sound? As OEM intergration gets more and more, the cost and complexity of going aftermarket is getting tougher. I know several guys that were former car audio guys that have moved from the hobby with their newer cars. They will also tell you the new car sounds good enough to not mess with. This is especially the case if you have someone that opted for a high trim package or stereo in a luxury car. I have a buddy that wholesales auction cars, basically buys and flips them. He usually drives high end cars and some he picked up have the factory upgraded sound systems. I have sat in few before he sold them and will tell you on some, I would never touch the stereo if I owned the car. Sure, you could make the car sound like a 9 or 10, but thinking about the cost to get to the 9 wouldnt be worth it on something that sounds pretty close to an 8 already.

In the spirit of how this forum started, guys were also working on their own cars. This has changed greatly and I see less and less doing their actual own installs. This now means which I have heard, a shop telling a person they have to spend "X" amount to tap into the factory stuff to only get it to be "X" percentage better. This was already an expensive hobby, but will only continue to get more and more expensive as cars become harder/ more complex to work on with more and more integration. The days of swapping a deck and just adding speakers are long gone. Some people now flat out cant justify the cost
 

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That's a simple, although potential extra cost, solution of using a step down converter, if needed. Currently electric cars do this already because they'll run electrical components at 12v. So you only need to get one if you need more amperage than the stock step down supports.
True. My concern is with the manufacturers and how tightly they control the main batteries that we won’t be able to easily add a step down device. Essentially, what other problems will be introduced when a computer notices abnormal power usage. And then there’s the warranty side of it.
 

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Is aftermarket car audio needed in 2020?
Yes, car manufacturers need to be required to adhere to DIN standards and information/communication protocols that allows for a health and robust after market supply.

I am forced to use my stock head unit in my 2018 Honda Fit and I don't like it very much (poor mp3 and flac handling, no eq, limited control, no digital FM, no DVD/CD slot). If I could buy an after market system that would integrate with my cars features, I'd be much happier.
 

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I've yet to find an OEM system that I can't make significantly better, whether it is for a one seat or multi-seat setup.

In my 2018 Audi Q5 the Bang & Olufsen upgrade was absolutely pitiful. There was no stage, the bass was bloated and nasty and the 3D effect only made things worse. The upgrade was a necessity for me to drive the car, of course it was also planned, but that makes the answer very easy. My system sounds better than theirs ever would, and looks way better as well.

As long as people love music, there will be a need for aftermarket car audio.
 

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Aftermarket brands will begin to catch up to the change in the new cars. Years ago pioneer had a single din head unit that was less than an inch thick but the brains were hidden elsewhere in the car. It also controlled a 10 disk changer. Point it. I recently saw them bring that back. What’s going to happen is that audio enthusiasts will keep the head unit intact but essentially add an audio sub system that is completely separated from the integrated systems being put in cars. I have also started seeing this happen as well. When I replace the system in my Jeep grand I am going to leave the original head unit alone and simply add a source unit th at will become the main audio source.
it doesn’t matter how sophisticated the cars get you can always add and upgrade.

But Some of the cars are getting better sounding. But I do not thing the after market will ever go away as the better systems are only found in the cars that are roughly 40000 and up.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Should be interesting this weekend. I'm gonna head over to Carmax and test the Bowers & wilkins in Volvo & Revel Ultima in the Lincoln. I'll bring along my umik-1 mic & room eq wizard to run a frequency sweep. For audio recording ill bring along my bin-aural ears along for audio. See how it compares to the Esotar 2's.
 
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