How to Improve Any Car Stereo for Free – Bavsound or Factory
Simple Changes – Big Improvements:
We know upgrading the audio components (speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers) is the single biggest improvement we can make as we set out to improving the listening experience in our cars – but what about those times when our wallet isn’t quite ready for the process?
Let’s see how we can quickly improve our listening environment without spending any money…
Irrespective of your car we must first start with the basic bass/treble/balance/fader adjustments found on your radio in the tone controls (we’ll revisit these settings after we discuss the music source settings and controls):
- Bass – Flat or in the middle
- Treble – Flat or in the middle
- Fader (front/rear )- In the middle
- Balance (left/right) – In the middle
- Speed Volume (where applicable) turned to the lowest setting (this artificially restricts lower frequencies as the engine RPM increases to “minimize distortion”)
If your vehicle is equipped with an equalizer in the iDrive system and you see “Logic 7” in your tone control menu (and/or you have badging indicating Harman Kardon) here are our recommended settings:
- Turn the Logic 7 or any processing OFF
- Adjust the EQ so that it’s completely flat (again, we’ll revisit this later)
The goal with the above is to have a completely flat, unmolested pre-amp signal path as we start our journey. Adjustments may be made after we consider the following content.
Consider your source.
Are you using your phone as the primary music source? Are you an Android or iPhone user? Are you connected via Bluetooth, USB, or Aux input? The key to everything else we’re going to cover is to keep an ear out for DISTORTION – when the music begins to sound mud
- Android user? Well, our ability to get clean sound into the system is somewhat limited unless your car has Android-based systems (which BMW does not for the time being). Your only options for optimal sonic performance would be to download your music onto an old iPod/iPhone and use the USB input to your audio system. However, see #3 for recommended settings…
- iPhone user? Sweet! Your BMW is optimized to perform with the Lightning output to USB input. Simply head to your settings, scroll down to music, and make the following adjustments: EQ off. Volume Limit – 50%. Sound Check – On.
From there, just plug your phone in and rock out.
- Using an Aux input on your factory stereo (3.5mm to 3.5mm cable) plugged into the headphone output of your Android phone/device? Set the output volume on the phone to roughly 5/8th output volume. Your radio or source unit should also have “aux volume” adjustment. Set this to roughly ⅝. Now we’ve got a signal-matched source with minimal distortion being introduced to the system, which is the ideal situation considering the AUX source. Further, turn any and all internal equalization OFF.
- Using a Bluetooth wireless connection to stream music? Stop it! This is the lowest quality of audio transmission and should be considered only as a means to listen to podcasts and audiobooks. High fidelity does not transmit well via Bluetooth in today’s cars. This could be completely false in very short order, but for the time being let’s not listen to music via Bluetooth transmission.
- Using the CD Player? Good for you! We do too… There’s no better way to achieve optimal sound quality in your car than using a good old-fashioned CD. Happy listening!
Now, with the above sorted, let’s revisit the EQ for those of you with the Harman Kardon/Logic 7 settings in your tone controls within the iDrive system. Once we’ve dialed our source settings, flattened out our tone controls, and picked our favorite song – let’s hop in the driver’s seat and start tuning…
Pick a song you know well and queue it up to a moderate volume, or the volume at which you’d listen to music for extended periods of time. Now, with the EQ settings opened, begin making minor adjustments as the song progresses. Note where distortion or artificial coloration begins entering the music at each frequency band and adjust one notch back down until the music is balanced and to your liking.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics of adjusting your factory stereo, it’s time to visit www.bavsound.com and start learning about all of the brilliant vehicle and audio system specific audio upgrades we have for your BMW!