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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Starting a new thread on the Harmon-Kardon sound system to share settings and thoughts.

I think the system is very good to amazing, depending on settings. My previous car had a Fender-licensed system, which I also liked. This seems better. And it’s certainly better than my wife’s previous VW or current Volvo (stock system). FWIW I listen to a super wide variety of music, from minimal classical to jazz to ambient to rock to doom. I’ve really tested everything. It all sounds good.

So…my general settings are:
Driver
Surround Off
You can see my tone and equalizer settings below.

I tend to jump back and forth between Driver/All/Rear in sound optimization. Generally whenever I switch, I say “oh, that sounds better!” No matter what I’m switching from or to—weird.

I’ve found that there’s a very slight muffling to the sound that I can’t dial out. Though I think the system is great and look forward to jumping into the car to listen to it, it could use a bit more clarity and “sparkle.” Not sure how to achieve that without some sort of preamp driver or buffer maybe?

Also, I’d love a fader that would allow the user to reach halfway points between Driver, All, and Rear.

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Starting a new sound system thread because why not.

I think the Harman-Kardon system is very good to amazing, depending on settings. My previous car had a Fender-licensed system, which I also liked. This seems better. And it’s certainly better than my wife’s previous VW or current Volvo (stock system). FWIW I listen to a super wide variety of music, from minimal classical to jazz to ambient to rock to death metal. So I’ve really tested everything. As I type this, I’m listening to new releases from Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Deafheaven. It all sounds good on the system. Also, fwiw, I’m a musician though not really a home audio obsessive.

So…my general settings are:
Driver
Surround Off
You can see my tone and equalizer settings below.

I tend to jump back and forth between Driver/All/Rear in sound optimization. Generally whenever I switch, I say “oh, that sounds better!” No matter what I’m switching from or to—weird.

I’ve found that there’s a very slight muffling to the sound that I can’t dial out. Though I think the system is great and look forward to jumping into the car to listen to it, it could use a bit more clarity and “sparkle.” Not sure how to achieve that without some sort of preamp driver or buffer maybe?

Also, I’d love a fader that would allow the user to reach halfway points between Driver, All, and Rear.

View attachment 10426
Agreed that a fader will help. Sometimes I feel like the rears need more punch. But overall I like the sound system, it pretty good ( until I jump into my wife’s xc60 with a B&W….)


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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Agreed that a fader will help. Sometimes I feel like the rears need more punch. But overall I like the sound system, it pretty good ( until I jump into my wife’s xc60 with a B&W….)
What’s the difference? Can you be more specific?
 

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Agreed that a fader will help. Sometimes I feel like the rears need more punch. But overall I like the sound system, it pretty good ( until I jump into my wife’s xc60 with a B&W….)


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More punch? I think rear sucks. The system sucks big time. If any of you have heard the following :
1. Burmester
2. Mark Levinson
3. Meridien
It's not a ranking but these are miles ahead of Harmon Ksrdon which is trash compared to above three. Polestar made an extremely poor decision with audio system just like they did with central console and retaining transmission tunnel. They could have gone with bang and olufsen. Heck for that even Bose (which i really don't like) would have been far better than these laptop Harmon Kardon speakers. My bang and Olufsen on laptop sound better than these trash Harmon Kardon just not as loud. Am I just plain having wrong expectations or you guys have actually not heard these other good audio systems? It's not a personal attack please don't get me wrong.
 

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I have my lows dropped a bit more and the sub cranked about double what you have, and I also don't have the mids bump up, and usually leave it on "all". Of course surround off. There's a thread where @stevelup posted his setup a while ago, and then an update after an OTA that changed things a bit. I start from his setup and then tweak it a bit for my old age hearing loss (mostly highs and more in one ear :cry:). I may try the mids bump a bit from my setup and see how it goes. Oh, and I also don't mess with the standard treble and bass sliders. I wonder if they even work when the advanced EQ is enabled? I'll have to try it and see.
 
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I have my lows dropped a bit more and the sub cranked about double what you have, and I also don't have the mids bump up, and usually leave it on "all". Of course surround off. There's a thread where @stevelup posted his setup a while ago, and then an update after an OTA that changed things a bit. I start from his setup and then tweak it a bit for my old age hearing loss (mostly highs and more in one ear :cry:). I may try the mids bump a bit from my setup and see how it goes. Oh, and I also don't mess with the standard treble and bass sliders. I wonder if they even work when the advanced EQ is enabled? I'll have to try it and see.
The standard treble and bass sliders do work when the advanced EQ is enabled, and they do make a big difference to my ears.
 

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Thanks, I'll have to play with them a bit then. I might be able to flatten out my Advanced EQ settings and just use them to fine-tune the frequencies where my hearing has degraded. Might not sound as good for any passengers though, but my wife thinks the sound from the Google Mini in her "she-shed" and the speakers in her TV are just fine so probably no worries there. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
More punch? I think rear sucks. The system sucks big time. If any of you have heard the following :
1. Burmester
2. Mark Levinson
3. Meridien
It's not a ranking but these are miles ahead of Harmon Ksrdon which is trash compared to above three. Polestar made an extremely poor decision with audio system just like they did with central console and retaining transmission tunnel. They could have gone with bang and olufsen. Heck for that even Bose (which i really don't like) would have been far better than these laptop Harmon Kardon speakers. My bang and Olufsen on laptop sound better than these trash Harmon Kardon just not as loud. Am I just plain having wrong expectations or you guys have actually not heard these other good audio systems? It's not a personal attack please don't get me wrong.
Come on. I’m listening to it now and it’s miles beyond “laptop speakers.” I just did a playtest with my wife’s XC60 and the Polestar HC is punchier and clearer. Maybe it doesn’t have the audio system of a $100,000 car but the systems you mention are generally options in more expensive cars.

It’s all relative. The system is significantly better than our last three cars, which were admittedly less expensive. I do hope they continue to improve the audio software though.
 

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Come on. I’m listening to it now and it’s miles beyond “laptop speakers.” I just did a playtest with my wife’s XC60 and the Polestar HC is punchier and clearer. Maybe it doesn’t have the audio system of a $100,000 car but the systems you mention are generally options in more expensive cars.

It’s all relative. The system is significantly better than our last three cars, which were admittedly less expensive. I do hope they continue to improve the audio software though.
Yeah that was a bit of exaggeration lol.. But hey those systems are available In 60 - 70K cars may be even in cheaper ones. I would have picked them if they weren't.
 

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You're right, it is a very good system, it's not perfect because a car is a very difficult listening space in which to create perfect sound. I am definately what you would call a HiFi enthusiast (my current system cost more than my PS2) and my last car was a W213 E-Class with Premium Plus Pack which included the Burmester sound system. Whilst if I'm being critical, the Merc system did have the slight edge on the Polestar (especially in the low frequencies which were a little more defined and tuneful) , overall the difference is not massive and I have no trouble living with and enjoying the PS2's system. What I have found is that the best way to screw it up is to keep obsessively trying to tweek it! I think it actually sounds as good as it's going to get straight out of the box and the best thing to do is just accept it for what it is and enjoy it!:) I do know whatyou mean about a certain lack of top end "sparkle" sometimes but I tend to think that it is usually down to bit rates getting squeezed a bit when the LTE signal is not perfect. I haven't actually tried it with AudioWagon and a USB stick yet so that would be an interesting experiment but I don't think it's anywhere near as bad as some people accuse of being.
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What’s the difference? Can you be more specific?
Well, the B&W is at another level. Subwoofer deliver more punch. In general music is much richer and clear, you can hear instruments that probably won’t identify on other sound system on the same song
I’m not an audiophile but I really appreciate every time I listen music on that system. It’s very well justified the extra almost 4K you pay for that on a volvo ( or included in the Polestar 1 price)
But that doesn’t make the HK a bad one


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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Yes. Almost everything is shit. Sometimes I wonder if this guy has Polestar at all and he’s just a troll.
There's an obnoxious guy like that in the Polestar Facebook forums who pisses on anything anyone says about the car—whether they're praising it or just asking a question. It's weird and depressing. Turns out his employer owns the car (and he just has bad taste).
 

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Playing with upgrading car audio for so many years there are consistently the following observations. P*2 is ordered so haven’t lived with it yet.
  • oem tuning and soundstage have improved greatly.
  • the imaging is different for car and home 2 channel. Car sounds better with a bit of rear speaker output. It is really hard to throw the soundstage in front of you over the hood.
  • EV is awesome for car stereo because the car is so much more quiet.
  • the DAC is such a weak point for most car systems. I have tested in multiple cars (BMW, VW and Porsche) and using my ownDAC through the auxiliary input yielded a really good improvement. My favourite is the Audioquest Beetle. Simple for its BT connection and cheap upgrade. Using the Chord Mojo and Chord Hugo were even better but I didn’t like having $1-2k DACS in a car that could easily be taken.
  • when I did change speakers and amps the main gains were much more clarity in the mid range and ability to get louder without distortions.
  • didn’t upgrade my last car (eGolf) Except for the DAC. The DAC gave me the sparkle and mid range clarity already. The quietness is so good for sound systems.

I am just going to live with what I get in the P*2. Not having an analogue input option takes a critical option away. My brief time in the test drive sounded okay. I just need to take away any obvious “loudness” or BOSE bump and I was able to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Playing with upgrading car audio for so many years there are consistently the following observations. P*2 is ordered so haven’t lived with it yet.
  • oem tuning and soundstage have improved greatly.
  • the imaging is different for car and home 2 channel. Car sounds better with a bit of rear speaker output. It is really hard to throw the soundstage in front of you over the hood.
  • EV is awesome for car stereo because the car is so much more quiet.
  • the DAC is such a weak point for most car systems. I have tested in multiple cars (BMW, VW and Porsche) and using my ownDAC through the auxiliary input yielded a really good improvement. My favourite is the Audioquest Beetle. Simple for its BT connection and cheap upgrade. Using the Chord Mojo and Chord Hugo were even better but I didn’t like having $1-2k DACS in a car that could easily be taken.
  • when I did change speakers and amps the main gains were much more clarity in the mid range and ability to get louder without distortions.
  • didn’t upgrade my last car (eGolf) Except for the DAC. The DAC gave me the sparkle and mid range clarity already. The quietness is so good for sound systems.

I am just going to live with what I get in the P*2. Not having an analogue input option takes a critical option away. My brief time in the test drive sounded okay. I just need to take away any obvious “loudness” or BOSE bump and I was able to.
Great info! My sense is that most complaints with the audio system don't like how "forward" it is—and it's true that the soundstage seems to be on the dash and windshield. It's tricky to get enough sound coming from the rear. That's mainly because the car doesn't have enough fader options.

How would a DAC replacement work if running Spotify natively from the car itself (rather than using a phone or other device and putting the DAC in between that and the car)?
 

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FLAC through Audiowagon really does sound great IMO.
 

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You're right, it is a very good system, it's not perfect because a car is a very difficult listening space in which to create perfect sound. I am definately what you would call a HiFi enthusiast (my current system cost more than my PS2) and my last car was a W213 E-Class with Premium Plus Pack which included the Burmester sound system. Whilst if I'm being critical, the Merc system did have the slight edge on the Polestar (especially in the low frequencies which were a little more defined and tuneful) , overall the difference is not massive and I have no trouble living with and enjoying the PS2's system. What I have found is that the best way to screw it up is to keep obsessively trying to tweek it! I think it actually sounds as good as it's going to get straight out of the box and the best thing to do is just accept it for what it is and enjoy it!:) I do know whatyou mean about a certain lack of top end "sparkle" sometimes but I tend to think that it is usually down to bit rates getting squeezed a bit when the LTE signal is not perfect. I haven't actually tried it with AudioWagon and a USB stick yet so that would be an interesting experiment but I don't think it's anywhere near as bad as some people accuse of being. View attachment 10429 View attachment 10430
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