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My OEM Car System has ruined HiFi for me. Thoughts?

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BullBuchanan

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It's true - I've never had my home system replicate the joy of turning on the radio to hear the opening riff of Sweet Home Alabama in the same instant the turbos spooled and the freeway onramp magically cleared.

To the question at hand - Is there any evidence that the fancy car system doesn't have built-in psychoacoustic sweeteners? It would be easy for the OEM to include a DSP doing volume-dependent loudness, 'spatialization', a few ms delay or reverb in the rear channels, etc. Heck, Dirac probably does more revenue from the automotive world than from us fringe lunatics. All the customer knows or cares is it "sounds great" on the showroom floor.
If they are doing that, I want it in my house. I've used Dirac at home and it doesn't do that. The biggest thing I notice is during solos of acoustic instruments like a guitar, accordian or bagpipes, there's more volume in the attack. It's like there's a buddy sitting next to me saying "this is the good part" and just turning up that instrument a couple dB for a second as it comes in from it's position 25 degrees to the left and then promptly recedes when it should. I can turn up the volume in my car to the maximum but it never sounds like it's shouting at me, it just sounds bigger. To a certain extent my headphones do that but they have less of that "bang your first on the roof" energy behind them, even when they have more and cleaner bass.
 

Timcognito

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Perhaps. Already have the AVR. Recommendations on what to look for in DSP?
It probably has DSP already. Its been a standard for over decade. Also there are surround post decoding formats, so play with those. Example Denon has:
Post Decoding Formats:
  • Dolby Surround: expands 2-channel or 5.1 audio to play over systems with more speakers e.g. 7.1 or 5.1.2
  • DTS Neural:X: expands 2-channel or 5.1 audio to play over systems with more speakers e.g. 7.1 or 5.1.2
  • DTS Neo:6 Music: uses the DTS Neo:6 or DTS-ES Matrix decoder to expand 2-channel music to the surround/surround back speakers
  • DTS Neo:6 Cinema: uses the DTS Neo:6 or DTS-ES Matrix decoder to expand 2-channel movie audio to the surround/surround back speakers
Stereo Sound Programs:
  • 2ch Stereo: for mixing down multichannel sources to stereo.
  • 9ch Stereo: for sending sound to all speakers. Ideal for background music.
Movie Sound Programs:
  • Standard: emphasizes the surround sound without disturbing the original positioning
  • Spectacle: delivers a wide dynamic range and expansive soundscape
  • Sci-Fi: for Sci-Fi and SFX movies. Clear separation between voice, effects and music.
  • Adventure: for action and adventure movies. Less reverberation and an expanded sound field left and right.
  • Drama: for drama, musicals and comedies. Provides a gentle echo for a wide stereophonic sound.
  • Mono Movie: creates a surround sound experience for old mono movies.
  • Enhanced: creates a sound field that emphasizes 3D object-audio.
Entertainment Sound Programs:
  • Sports: for sports and light entertainment TV. Centers the voice and highlights the atmosphere.
  • Action Game: for action gaming audio. Emphasizes effects to make the player feel right at the center of the action.
  • Roleplaying Game: for roleplaying and adventure games. Adds depth to the sound field to emphasize background music and special effects.
  • Music Video: for pop, rock and jazz concerts. Reproduces the feel of a hall and emphasizes the rhythm.
  • Recital/Opera: reproduces the feel of a concert hall with emphasis on the depth and clarity of the human voice.
Music Sound Programs:
  • Hall in Munich: reproduces a Munich concert hall with 2,500 seats and a wooden interior.
  • Hall in Vienna: creates a Vienna concert hall with 1,700 seats and a shoebox shape.
  • Hall in Amsterdam: simulates a large Amsterdam concert hall with 2,200 seats and a shoe box shape.
  • Church in Freiburg: reproduces a stone church with a long and narrow shape.
  • Church in Royaumont: simulates the dining hall of a Gothic monastery.
  • Chamber: reproduces a wide space with a high ceiling.
  • Village Vanguard: simulates a small jazz club in New York.
  • Warehouse Loft: simulates a concrete warehouse.
  • Cellar Club: reproduces an intimate concert venue with a low ceiling.
  • The Roxy Theater: creates a 460-seat rock music venue.
  • The Bottom Line: simulates a 300-seat jazz venue in New York.
 

fpitas

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And there you go.
 

DJNX

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Absorption + Upmixing with Dolby/DTS.
If you get it right, it's even better than a car.

Just remember to enable the option that avoids sending everything to the center channel. Don't remember the name right now. Or even better, configure the speaker setup for 4.1, instead of 5.1.

Edit:
Wait, I forgot another key part: Near-field listening. Because that's basically what you are doing in your car.
 
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BullBuchanan

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It probably has DSP already. Its been a standard for over decade. Also there are surround post decoding formats, so play with those. Example Denon has:
Post Decoding Formats:
  • Dolby Surround: expands 2-channel or 5.1 audio to play over systems with more speakers e.g. 7.1 or 5.1.2
  • DTS Neural:X: expands 2-channel or 5.1 audio to play over systems with more speakers e.g. 7.1 or 5.1.2
  • DTS Neo:6 Music: uses the DTS Neo:6 or DTS-ES Matrix decoder to expand 2-channel music to the surround/surround back speakers
  • DTS Neo:6 Cinema: uses the DTS Neo:6 or DTS-ES Matrix decoder to expand 2-channel movie audio to the surround/surround back speakers
Stereo Sound Programs:
  • 2ch Stereo: for mixing down multichannel sources to stereo.
  • 9ch Stereo: for sending sound to all speakers. Ideal for background music.
Movie Sound Programs:
  • Standard: emphasizes the surround sound without disturbing the original positioning
  • Spectacle: delivers a wide dynamic range and expansive soundscape
  • Sci-Fi: for Sci-Fi and SFX movies. Clear separation between voice, effects and music.
  • Adventure: for action and adventure movies. Less reverberation and an expanded sound field left and right.
  • Drama: for drama, musicals and comedies. Provides a gentle echo for a wide stereophonic sound.
  • Mono Movie: creates a surround sound experience for old mono movies.
  • Enhanced: creates a sound field that emphasizes 3D object-audio.
Entertainment Sound Programs:
  • Sports: for sports and light entertainment TV. Centers the voice and highlights the atmosphere.
  • Action Game: for action gaming audio. Emphasizes effects to make the player feel right at the center of the action.
  • Roleplaying Game: for roleplaying and adventure games. Adds depth to the sound field to emphasize background music and special effects.
  • Music Video: for pop, rock and jazz concerts. Reproduces the feel of a hall and emphasizes the rhythm.
  • Recital/Opera: reproduces the feel of a concert hall with emphasis on the depth and clarity of the human voice.
Music Sound Programs:
  • Hall in Munich: reproduces a Munich concert hall with 2,500 seats and a wooden interior.
  • Hall in Vienna: creates a Vienna concert hall with 1,700 seats and a shoebox shape.
  • Hall in Amsterdam: simulates a large Amsterdam concert hall with 2,200 seats and a shoe box shape.
  • Church in Freiburg: reproduces a stone church with a long and narrow shape.
  • Church in Royaumont: simulates the dining hall of a Gothic monastery.
  • Chamber: reproduces a wide space with a high ceiling.
  • Village Vanguard: simulates a small jazz club in New York.
  • Warehouse Loft: simulates a concrete warehouse.
  • Cellar Club: reproduces an intimate concert venue with a low ceiling.
  • The Roxy Theater: creates a 460-seat rock music venue.
  • The Bottom Line: simulates a 300-seat jazz venue in New York.
I'm familiar with most of those except for the music sound programs, but many if not all of the others are very old and have never sounded very good to me. Modern soulutions liek what's being done with Impulcier seem more interesting: https://github.com/jaakkopasanen/Impulcifer
 

middlemarch

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Gotta say I'm jealous. I have an Audi A7 with the mid-level Bose system and it's, at best, pedestrian. As in, it makes sound, that's about it. No life, no spatiality, just sits there like a lump of clay. They have an upgrade to a "B&O" system for another $6k, which I've never heard.

Sure would be nice if someone would do a car sound system rating. One review site on Youtube, Savage Geese, does occasionally add sound system measurements to their reviews but it's pretty fleeting. I hear the up level Volvo's are pretty good. Always thought Acura took their systems seriously. Believe it or not, my wife's Golf has a Fender branded system and it is quite a bit better sounding than my Bose.

Has anyone ever heard a great Bose system in a car?
 

Anton D

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Gotta say I'm jealous. I have an Audi A7 with the mid-level Bose system and it's, at best, pedestrian. As in, it makes sound, that's about it. No life, no spatiality, just sits there like a lump of clay. They have an upgrade to a "B&O" system for another $6k, which I've never heard.

Sure would be nice if someone would do a car sound system rating. One review site on Youtube, Savage Geese, does occasionally add sound system measurements to their reviews but it's pretty fleeting. I hear the up level Volvo's are pretty good. Always thought Acura took their systems seriously. Believe it or not, my wife's Golf has a Fender branded system and it is quite a bit better sounding than my Bose.

Has anyone ever heard a great Bose system in a car?
There is a company called Audison that might offer the elixir that you seek.


You can thank me later, after I help spend your money!

I have the Golf Fender set up and enjoy it enough to sing along!

I'm thinking of the Audison upgarde, though...I mean, when is enough ever enough?

Cheers.

Edited to try to make trouble: APR has nice chip upgrades for your car's road monster desires, too.


I've done it to my Golf and my wife has done it for her S4....we love APR.
 

kemmler3D

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That is a bit bizarre to me. A car is a not great listening environment, no matter how luxurious. The noise levels are high, and I would not want anyone driving a car to "immerse themselves in music".
Working in the car's favor is the listener is in a fixed location, so you can rely on on-axis and nearfield responses for your tuning, and do a lot with EQ. I think you could actually get a truly dialed-in frequency response in a car if you wanted to, since you are allowed to "tune to a spot".
 

Kvalsvoll

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Has anyone ever heard a great Bose system in a car?
No, but I have heard a bad one, in my car, luckily the engine 20cm behind my head drowns it all out with marvelous mechanical sound.

If the sound in a car is better than home, there is huge potential for improvement of this home system. To the extent that it is hard to tell where to start. But often, compromised room acoustics, in combination with less than optimal placement of speakers and listener, destroys any possibility for great sound.
 

alex-z

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The frequency response seems pretty decent for an untreated room, but I'm not sure it's just a change in FR that would make the biggest difference.


x5l3w6X.png

I would definitely apply some DSP correction, either manual or Dirac Live. A lot of music has energy focused in the 40-50Hz region where you have a big hole. Also, 100-250Hz looks a bit elevated, while 300-550 looks a bit drooped. Just fixing those regions should make a significant difference.

Unrelated, but I wouldn't expect precise stereo imaging from those Tekton speakers. The concept of running a tweeter array with a passive crossover means a lot of comb filtering, and time arrival mismatch within your room reflections. Bang & Olufsen are an example of how do multiple tweeters properly, using DSP for beam-steering.
 

Kvalsvoll

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I could definitely see treatment helping smooth out the bass some, but I don't see it doing a better job of creating a 3d soundstage that curves around my listening position and provides depth. Unfortunately I rent, so most solutions have to be temporary like furniture. I've already measured my room and I've done room correction as well. The frequency response seems pretty decent for an untreated room, but I'm not sure it's just a change in FR that would make the biggest difference.


x5l3w6X.png
Just to provide a more decent comment, which your question deserves.

In your opening post, you describe those usual compromises that results from installing a sound system in a home where you also can live in. Unfortunately, this also compromises sound.

In the car, everything is predictable, and the sound system is a complete package tuned for this predictable situation. The "room" is quite damped acoustically, and if the bass response is uneven, that is fixed in dsp. Since your location is also known, not sitting in center between the speakers can be corrected for, in dsp, using delay.

Other speakers can sound different, but you can only get so far. You will need to place yourself in a position where the sound from the 2 speakers are able to create a 3d sound field, the speakers need to be placed where they sound best, and the room need enough acoustic damping to bring reflected energy down to reasonable levels.

In a properly treated room, with correct placement of speakers and listener, you will achieve a very good 3d immersive sound field, with many speakers. Some speakers are much better, but most decent speakers will work quite well. Sort of.
 
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BullBuchanan

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I would definitely apply some DSP correction, either manual or Dirac Live. A lot of music has energy focused in the 40-50Hz region where you have a big hole. Also, 100-250Hz looks a bit elevated, while 300-550 looks a bit drooped. Just fixing those regions should make a significant difference.

Unrelated, but I wouldn't expect precise stereo imaging from those Tekton speakers. The concept of running a tweeter array with a passive crossover means a lot of comb filtering, and time arrival mismatch within your room reflections. Bang & Olufsen are an example of how do multiple tweeters properly, using DSP for beam-steering.
Audyssey xt32 is already applied in the orange line. Maybe there's more that can be done there but I've asked around and no one seems to have a method to do so outside of room treatments which mostly aren't possible in my current space.

As for the comb filtering concern with the Tektons, I'm pretty sure that whole line of thinking is a dispelled myth based on an assumption made on some forums by someone that never heard or measured the speakers. I remember seeing that post before I bought the speakers, so I looked into it. It's not even really a tweeter array as only the middle driver is the tweeter. Sterophile did a breakdown and measurement of its smaller sibling the Tekton Impact here: https://www.stereophile.com/content/tekton-design-impact-monitor-loudspeaker.

That said, I think getting bogged down in debates about loudspeakers is a bit outside the discussion, as the issue that I'm talking about would affect any number of speakers including two previous sets (JBL, Jamo) that I had. I think the solution, if there is one, is likely more about setup and configuration than boxes and drivers.
 
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BullBuchanan

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Just to provide a more decent comment, which your question deserves.

In your opening post, you describe those usual compromises that results from installing a sound system in a home where you also can live in. Unfortunately, this also compromises sound.

In the car, everything is predictable, and the sound system is a complete package tuned for this predictable situation. The "room" is quite damped acoustically, and if the bass response is uneven, that is fixed in dsp. Since your location is also known, not sitting in center between the speakers can be corrected for, in dsp, using delay.

Other speakers can sound different, but you can only get so far. You will need to place yourself in a position where the sound from the 2 speakers are able to create a 3d sound field, the speakers need to be placed where they sound best, and the room need enough acoustic damping to bring reflected energy down to reasonable levels.

In a properly treated room, with correct placement of speakers and listener, you will achieve a very good 3d immersive sound field, with many speakers. Some speakers are much better, but most decent speakers will work quite well. Sort of.
To the bolded point, certainly the relatively fixed nature of the seat matters, but you're still dealing with differing height and depth as the driver adjust their seat.

In home audio we have DSP capabilities that can provide delay too with Room Correction tools like Audyssey and Dirac, neither of which provide that kind of effect. As far as being a dampened environment, While that's true, so is a carpeted living room with lots of uphostered furniture and that room has the benefit of not being inside a metal box like a car is.

Speaker and listening position seems like it's the biggest difference here. unforntunately testing such a thing without incorpating a huge amount of placebo would be really hard. If it did solve it, at least I'd have a better reason to move to a new house :)
 

Kvalsvoll

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To the bolded point, certainly the relatively fixed nature of the seat matters, but you're still dealing with differing height and depth as the driver adjust their seat.

In home audio we have DSP capabilities that can provide delay too with Room Correction tools like Audyssey and Dirac, neither of which provide that kind of effect. As far as being a dampened environment, While that's true, so is a carpeted living room with lots of uphostered furniture and that room has the benefit of not being inside a metal box like a car is.

Speaker and listening position seems like it's the biggest difference here. unforntunately testing such a thing without incorpating a huge amount of placebo would be really hard. If it did solve it, at least I'd have a better reason to move to a new house :)
Still, making changes to your current room and sound system can make it get more of the properties you desire in the car. First step is to identify what those properties are, then you can find out what needs to be done to achieve that. It can be done. Then there is a effort/cost vs benefit decision to make, to consider whether it is worth to do it.
 

Chrispy

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It probably has DSP already. Its been a standard for over decade. Also there are surround post decoding formats, so play with those. Example Denon has:
Post Decoding Formats:
  • Dolby Surround: expands 2-channel or 5.1 audio to play over systems with more speakers e.g. 7.1 or 5.1.2
  • DTS Neural:X: expands 2-channel or 5.1 audio to play over systems with more speakers e.g. 7.1 or 5.1.2
  • DTS Neo:6 Music: uses the DTS Neo:6 or DTS-ES Matrix decoder to expand 2-channel music to the surround/surround back speakers
  • DTS Neo:6 Cinema: uses the DTS Neo:6 or DTS-ES Matrix decoder to expand 2-channel movie audio to the surround/surround back speakers
Stereo Sound Programs:
  • 2ch Stereo: for mixing down multichannel sources to stereo.
  • 9ch Stereo: for sending sound to all speakers. Ideal for background music.
Movie Sound Programs:
  • Standard: emphasizes the surround sound without disturbing the original positioning
  • Spectacle: delivers a wide dynamic range and expansive soundscape
  • Sci-Fi: for Sci-Fi and SFX movies. Clear separation between voice, effects and music.
  • Adventure: for action and adventure movies. Less reverberation and an expanded sound field left and right.
  • Drama: for drama, musicals and comedies. Provides a gentle echo for a wide stereophonic sound.
  • Mono Movie: creates a surround sound experience for old mono movies.
  • Enhanced: creates a sound field that emphasizes 3D object-audio.
Entertainment Sound Programs:
  • Sports: for sports and light entertainment TV. Centers the voice and highlights the atmosphere.
  • Action Game: for action gaming audio. Emphasizes effects to make the player feel right at the center of the action.
  • Roleplaying Game: for roleplaying and adventure games. Adds depth to the sound field to emphasize background music and special effects.
  • Music Video: for pop, rock and jazz concerts. Reproduces the feel of a hall and emphasizes the rhythm.
  • Recital/Opera: reproduces the feel of a concert hall with emphasis on the depth and clarity of the human voice.
Music Sound Programs:
  • Hall in Munich: reproduces a Munich concert hall with 2,500 seats and a wooden interior.
  • Hall in Vienna: creates a Vienna concert hall with 1,700 seats and a shoebox shape.
  • Hall in Amsterdam: simulates a large Amsterdam concert hall with 2,200 seats and a shoe box shape.
  • Church in Freiburg: reproduces a stone church with a long and narrow shape.
  • Church in Royaumont: simulates the dining hall of a Gothic monastery.
  • Chamber: reproduces a wide space with a high ceiling.
  • Village Vanguard: simulates a small jazz club in New York.
  • Warehouse Loft: simulates a concrete warehouse.
  • Cellar Club: reproduces an intimate concert venue with a low ceiling.
  • The Roxy Theater: creates a 460-seat rock music venue.
  • The Bottom Line: simulates a 300-seat jazz venue in New York.
Denon has all those "entertainment sound programs" and "music sound programs"? None of mine do....sounds more like Yamaha or Sony offerings....
 

b7676

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98.82dB 2.83V@1m sensitivity is a decent reason to audition sota shenzhen hifi; LA90d, near flagship CS or AKM dac, and resistor ladder preamp.
 

RayDunzl

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I've come to a realization that my Mark Levinson OEM audio system in my 2015 Lexus RC-350 sounds drastically more enjoyable than any of my home audio HiFi setups

How does the sound in the driver's seat compare to the sound in the other seats?
 
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BullBuchanan

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How does the sound in the driver's seat compare to the sound in the other seats?
Honestly not sure. I've never sat in another seat. It would probably take a decent amount of time doing so for an honest comparison.
 
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I've come to a realization that my Mark Levinson OEM audio system in my 2015 Lexus RC-350 sounds drastically more enjoyable than any of my home audio HiFi setups.

It's true that my home systems do sound more detailed, but they don't sound anywhere near as engaging and they all have a worse soundstage. When I'm in the driver's seat, I feel like I'm sitting right in front of a curved collection of musicians. I get this wonderful effect where when instruments crescendo they come from a place I feel like I can reach out and touch and they do so with an authority in clarity, volume and separation from the other instruments that it provokes a physical response in a way that no other system I have does. It also gets me toe-tapping and immersed in the music far more. While I don't have a $100k setup or anything, I wouldn't think my gear would be bottlenecking me under the performance of an integrated car audio setup. I figure it must be some DSP that's giving my car the edge. Has anyone experienced this phenomenon before and if so, did you ever have any success in recreating it at home?

My headphones tend to sound like the musician is in front of me, but above me, like I'm sitting right up against the stage and craning my neck up to listen and it doesn't curve around me the same way my car does. In my living room , it sounds very detailed, but the sound is very 2 dimensional. My speaker placement is not quite ideal there ( too close to front wall) and neither is my primary listening position (against rear wall), as it is a living space and not a dedicated room.

Maybe I just need a listening room with speakers and listening position in the middle of a room and and perhaps my headphone expereince is a byproduct of Head-related transfer function?

Listening Room:

All systems powered 99% of the time with Spotify (I can't reliably differentiate 320kbps streaming from FLAC via ABX)

Tekton Double Impact
X3700h - with Audessy xt32 Room Correction

Headphones
JDS Labs EL Dac
THX AAA 789
Focal Clear + HiFiman Arya v2

I know what you mean.

What you seek is possible with Dirac Live. It can make that soundstage you want. You obviously need a system able to reproduce the bass you feel in your car and that is a huge part. In a car you feel a lot more of the music. You need quite a powerful system in you living room to do that but it's entirely possible with large speakers, lot of power, correction and DSP.
 
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