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Dear Readers,

What recommendations do you have in setting the equalizer levels on the BMW premium audio?

How does the BMW’s premium stereo compare to the Lexus Mark Levinson system?


Sound settings are highly personal, hence the ability to change the settings.

For me I tend to cut most of the mids.
I’m a bass guitar player and love to hear and feel the bottom end.
I also have tinitis from my years of playing loud live music so I need the high end boosted just to hear “normal”.

but that’s just me.

My e.q. will end up looking like a smooth wave, high on both ends dipping smoothly down through the middle and back up again.

( don’t know the comparison though )

What settings sound good to you? That’s my recommendation for where to set the levels.

As for comparing luxo audio to luxo audio, it’s fairly pointless these days. They all sound fantastic. Any actual audio quality difference will be so minute that only the most finely-honed (and anal-retentive) audiophile’s ear will be able to tell them apart.

20 years ago Mark Levinson was considered the best of the best in audio equipment. Their amps where unsurpassed by anything on the market.

Then they got bought out my Harmon. Harmon owns a conglomerate of audio companies (JBL, Crown, Infinity) along with Mark Levinson.

Many times when this happens the parent company will start consolidating engineering and manufacturing to cut costs. And in doing so the quality of the original company suffers. JBL, Crown and Mark Levinson are NOTHING like they were 20 years ago. Still decent, but not the sound quality or build quality they use to be. Too bad because those 3 companies were some of the very best audio companies in the world and all made 100% exclusively here in the US.

As for equalizing your current system…Radio Shack sells a sound level meter you can use to help tune the system. I’ve used in setting up my home system…It should work just fine in a car…But keep in mind…it’s still a car…Won’t get any where close to a decent home system.

Where in the car would you place the meter?

At driver’s head level.

If you have to ask other people where to set the equalizer, it really shouldn’t matter what marginal differences another vehicle’s system has in comparison to yours.
what is your goal here?

I tend to like to turn the low and high end up and reduce the middle, around 1KHz. I have no idea what the Mark Levinson system sounds like, though the stock Alpine/Boston Acoustics system in my current car is by far the best sounding system I’ve ever had in a vehicle.

I set mine until the Mills Brothers sound just the way I like 'em.

Seriously, audio settings are highly subjective. Set them to where you like them. Just be aware of others and don;t set the base way up until you rattle your neighbor’s dishes.

I suggest not overthinking the “correct” settings of your stereo. Even live music, without amplification, can sound quite different in a carpet floor filled with stuffed furnature and drapes room than it does in a wood floor hard wall empty church, and different still when performed outdoors.
Audiophiles make a big ado about omnidirectional speakers when there is no such thing as an omnidirectional violin, guitar, or wind instrument.

I am a musician and audiophilia was my bachelorhood vice. I tend to go for a natural sound, so I set EQs and tone controls to neutral (flat) and make slight tweaks from there. It is a common habit to set EQs in the shape of a “U”, and I think it invariably results in poor sound, but some people like to hear all bass and treble. I suspect that, in a lot of cases, the habit of setting the bass and treble high and the mids low might have to do with compensating for the sound of overstressed amplifiers and/or speakers that aren’t producing clear-sounding mids. A very well known audio reviewer once said “If the mid-range isn’t right, nothing else matters”.

I’m with doubleclutch. Sure, it’s personal, but flat’s the best place to start. And cars can vary widely in how ‘flat’ their ‘flat’ setting is. My biggest disappointment with the THX system in my car is the need to turn the bass full down and treble full up to get close to flat. I’m amazed they put it out like that.

A lot of it depends on what music you listen to. You won’t use the same settings for Rock, Jazz, and Classical.

Most of my selections are R&B vocal, smooth jazz, and classical.

I can also watch DVDs in this car…amazing!

I also like a natural realistic sound and I especially dislike dominating exagerated bass. That’s mostly because I have never heard a bass fiddle, tuba, bassoon, that shakes the room with its sound. Maybe a pipe organ or a drum will.
My rule of thumb for small nightclubs: If the band is miking the drums, I probably need to look for earplugs.

This doesn’t mean you always have to have the eq flat, you might want to un-do the eq curve recorded in the music because the recording engineer liked exagerated bass and treble.

Natural sound in theory is sound that played through a sound system sounds exactly the way it would sound live. As I said…in theory…It’s almost impossible to achieve.

As for what sounds good to you and what sounds good to me may be completely different. When you get over 40 (i’m well past that)…and you live in an industrialized society your hearing drops off…usually the higher frequencies. Plus NOT everyone (even people with no hearing loss) hear things the same. Most however do fall within a certain range though.

Discussing high end sound even in the best automobile acoustic environment is an exercise in futility. The environment is responsibly for 50% at least of the sound quality. Add to that the variability of the car’s environment with addition of passengers, rolling windows up or down and the like then an Eq becomes a welcome edition.

There is no such thing as natural sound produced by electronics through an acoustic transducer. Natural sound only occurs in it’s original state and never through reproduction. So, unless “the Cars” ever actually played in your car, everything is noise and our only goal is to make the experience as pleasant as possible. I agree with “Mike” that it is impossible to achieve in any car. The small size, shape and reflective surface material of the car make some frequencies impossible to reproduce in a car with accuracy as close as home environments which are much more controllable and approach the environment of recording studios and concert/musician playing venues.

Even if “The Cars” actually performed live in your car, they would sound different than they do in a concert hall or a small club.
Besides, there isn’t a stereo good enough to make “The Cars” not suck.

I think GM was the first to actually team with an Audio company (Bose…Although many stereophiles don’t consider Bose an audio company). What Bose did was on certain models they designed the sound system based on the specific car the system was going into. They took did very precise microphone analysis to fine tune the system to the car…When done the sound was EXCELLENT (especially for Bose).

HOWEVER…The system was designed to a car that was sitting in a sound proof room. When you start driving your car at 70mph in rush hour traffic…the sound quality diminishes greatly. So IMHO…I wouldn’t spend a LOT of money on any Car audio system. I have a long daily commute and I do like listening to the radio. I want a decent system to listen to…but it’ll NEVER come close to something I could buy for my house for the same price.

Getting decent sound in a car, with all the interior quirks and variables, really is difficult. Also, at least as far as home systems go, I listen to a variety of stuff on my stereo system. A lot of pipe organ, classical ranging from small chamber groups to full symphony orchestra with chorus, jazz, classic rock, and even an occasional radio talk show, and if you get your system right, EVERYTHING will sound good on it without need to change any settings!