S90 base speaker system is awful?
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    1. #1

      S90 base speaker system is awful?

      I bought a S90 Momentum Plus last week. Mostly I love it. I did not want the B&W system. Not for almost $3K. And I've got kids, those beautiful grates wouldn't survive anyways; I saw a number of them pinged in XC90s on the lot.

      Anyway, love the car. My only real gripe is the sound system. It's laughably bad. It sounds like the only speakers present are in the front doors. If you drag the balance to center-rear, you get almost nothing. Your average econobox comes with a far better system. This is our 7th Volvo. About half had Dynaudio, but the other half were base systems. This one is easily the worst by a huge margin.

      So I'm wondering, without having to go back to the dealer and test drive other S90s, is this just how the base system is, or is there something wrong with mine? The front door speakers are plenty loud/nice. If the center channel and rear deck speakers didn't completely drop the ball it'd be a perfectly nice system.

      Thoughts?

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    3. #2
      Global Moderator GrecianVolvo's Avatar
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      First, I would have this checked by your retailer; rear speakers do not produce a "next to nothing" sound. Second, have you set it up (re: equalizer) correctly? The performance of the base system is way above average for a "base" system.
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    4. #3
      Welcome to the world of PREMIUM luxury. Just as a point of reference the audio upgrade on a Benz is $4500. I for the life of me can't figure out how an audio upgrade can cost 3 or 4 K.

      I suppose a cynic would say the weaker the base system, the more upgrades one will sell. The base system in the Benz is nothing to write home about and I contemplated the upgrade until I saw the price. For one thing on the wagon the sub-woofer is beneath the doubled over third seat. The Volvo 803 system sounds better in every way.
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    6. #4
      Quote Originally Posted by GrecianVolvo View Post
      Second, have you set it up (re: equalizer) correctly? The performance of the base system is way above average for a "base" system.
      This is a balance/power issue. Not an equalizer one.

      I'm not even positive the rear deck has any speakers. You can't see them from the trunk anyways. Guess I need to climb on up into the back seat to confirm.

      You could buy any random pair of 6x9 speakers from a reputable brand for under $100 (JBL, Yamaha, etc), and they should put out more than enough volume to damage your hearing. Something is goofy about this setup. It's definitely not putting out anything like the 330w (RMS?) I've seen quoted.

      I'd go to the dealership. That's a fair suggestion. But they're a good deal out of the way so I was hoping another S90 owner could duplicate the experiment. Play some music at a reasonable volume. Drag the balance dot in the UI to full center-rear. Does something like 80%+ of your volume drop off? Or is it just my car?

    7. #5
      Maybe the dealer put in regular fuel.

    8. #6
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      Have you made sure that the fader is set to central? It sounds like the faders were set incorrectly. If its anything like the xc90, he base system is excellent. And this is coming from an audiophile.

    9. #7
      Quote Originally Posted by BoneDoc View Post
      Have you made sure that the fader is set to central? It sounds like the faders were set incorrectly. If its anything like the xc90, he base system is excellent. And this is coming from an audiophile.
      I'm not sure what you're referring to. The fader/balance is represented as a graphic of the vehicle interior with a dot for focus. When I say "drag the dot to the bottom center" I'm saying I set the fader to full rear.

      Unless I'm missing something buried in some other menu? (That wouldn't come as a huge surprise so I'm not trying to sound dismissive.)

    10. #8
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      Quote Originally Posted by ssmoot View Post
      I bought a S90 Momentum Plus last week. Mostly I love it. I did not want the B&W system. Not for almost $3K. And I've got kids, those beautiful grates wouldn't survive anyways; I saw a number of them pinged in XC90s on the lot.

      Anyway, love the car. My only real gripe is the sound system. It's laughably bad. It sounds like the only speakers present are in the front doors. If you drag the balance to center-rear, you get almost nothing. Your average econobox comes with a far better system. This is our 7th Volvo. About half had Dynaudio, but the other half were base systems. This one is easily the worst by a huge margin.

      So I'm wondering, without having to go back to the dealer and test drive other S90s, is this just how the base system is, or is there something wrong with mine? The front door speakers are plenty loud/nice. If the center channel and rear deck speakers didn't completely drop the ball it'd be a perfectly nice system.

      Thoughts?
      I sat in a V90 in our local showroom and tried the "base" stereo.
      I had the same experience regarding the rear speakers.
      I went into the EQ and reset everything.
      Sound in the front is bearable, but moving the fader to the rear is not encouraging.
      Maybe it is not a fader as such but a sound optimization algorithm that when you drag it rear makes it sound good in the rear, and not in the front. Anyway sound quality was not something I could have lived with coming from a Dynaudio XC60.
      So I don't think it is something wrong with your particular car.

    11. #9
      I think Freddell's explanation makes sense. Where you position the ball/crosshairs you will have optimal sound. The best the system will produce. If you position the ball at the front seat position, you will get the optimal sound and the back seat less than optimal and vis-a-versa. Now whether the optimal sound is satisfactory to you is another question.

    12. #10
      Member volvocu's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Sausca View Post
      Maybe the dealer put in regular fuel.
      LOL!!!

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      Quote Originally Posted by Sausca View Post
      Maybe the dealer put in regular fuel.
      :-)

      I'm new around here -- I take it there has been a history in these forums of blaming Volvo flaws on regular fuel?

    14. #12
      Global Moderator GrecianVolvo's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by echo1877 View Post
      :-)

      I'm new around here -- I take it there has been a history in these forums of blaming Volvo flaws on regular fuel?
      When Sausca posts, absolutely. It's part of the thinking "I am funny, so please laugh"!
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    15. #13
      Member Bmo Pete's Avatar
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      Does the new system have a surround sound setting? If so, crank it to full. Sounds like the issue i had with the HK in our 15.5 XC60.
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    16. #14
      Quote Originally Posted by echo1877 View Post
      :-)

      I'm new around here -- I take it there has been a history in these forums of blaming Volvo flaws on regular fuel?
      Welcome to the club. You will soon figure out where everyone is coming from.

    17. #15
      Junior Member v60t520t's Avatar
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      Carrie Underwoods, 'How Great Thou Art' must be played through the speakers for their christening before they will perform at their peak range.

    18. #16
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      Your car came with the base 10 speakers and 330 watts. This is identical to many of the past Dynaudio setups. I'd be surprised if the hardware wasn't identical.

    19. #17
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      The base system isn't terrible. It NEEDS a center channel. My 16 V60 had better sound stage with the HK system. I liked how you could increase the "surround" and center channel effects. I'm pretty sure you can't even do that with the B&W system?
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    20. #18
      Junior Member kyngofpop's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by USER12JAN17 View Post
      Welcome to the world of PREMIUM luxury. Just as a point of reference the audio upgrade on a Benz is $4500. I for the life of me can't figure out how an audio upgrade can cost 3 or 4 K.

      I suppose a cynic would say the weaker the base system, the more upgrades one will sell. The base system in the Benz is nothing to write home about and I contemplated the upgrade until I saw the price. For one thing on the wagon the sub-woofer is beneath the doubled over third seat. The Volvo 803 system sounds better in every way.
      This is a discouraging post whereas Volvo is KNOWN for their safety and dedication to perfect automotive sound systems. I have the HU-801 in my S80 with the PA-300 and it's the sound system that EVERY other sound system is judged. It makes the car an absolute PLEASURE to own. Hope this posting is just a fluke for this owner...hoping


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    21. #19
      Junior Member kyngofpop's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by LowlyOilBurner View Post
      The base system isn't terrible. It NEEDS a center channel. My 16 V60 had better sound stage with the HK system. I liked how you could increase the "surround" and center channel effects. I'm pretty sure you can't even do that with the B&W system?
      This is what EXACTLY keeps some of us from moving on to other brands and even converting to newer models. The adjustability of the "surround" and "center channel" effects cinched me as a Volvo faithful. Please say they didn't eliminate these features....


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    22. #20
      Member Bmo Pete's Avatar
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      Just keep in mind that upon receipt, these stereo settings are not optimized. You need to adjust them properly. First of all, if it has a setting for surround sound, crank it to full. If it's anything like our '15.5 HK system, you have to do this to unleash the sound to all speakers. From there you need to adjust the bass and treble to taste. If it has an adjustable equalizer, you should form a shallow "U" pattern for good all-around sound:


      Sorry I don't have specific experience with the SPA systems, only assuming the above will apply.
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    23. #21
      Global Moderator GrecianVolvo's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Bmo Pete View Post
      Sorry I don't have specific experience with the SPA systems, only assuming the above will apply.
      Absolutely. Same suggestions apply.

      And a "soft" U shape on the equalizer settings is best for most types of music.
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    24. #22
      Member matt1122's Avatar
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      U shape creates a more dynamic sound that audiophiles will often scoff out, but I have always enjoyed my car systems more with it this way.

      It's especially good to make a weak system sound more powerful.
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      S90 rear speakers - I have the same problem

      Hi ssmoot,

      Did you resolve your rear speaker issue? I am in the UK and have a S90 with the same problem. The rear speakers sound muffled, there does seem to be a power problem and the sound quality for the rear passengers is awful. So far I am not having any luck with the dealer or with Volvo UK. I am thinking of contacting What Car to get their opinion but first am keen to hear what happened in your case or if anyone else has had the same problem.

      Best regards
      Rob

    26. #24
      Junior Member Jimrod's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Rob123 View Post
      Hi ssmoot,

      Did you resolve your rear speaker issue? I am in the UK and have a S90 with the same problem. The rear speakers sound muffled, there does seem to be a power problem and the sound quality for the rear passengers is awful. So far I am not having any luck with the dealer or with Volvo UK. I am thinking of contacting What Car to get their opinion but first am keen to hear what happened in your case or if anyone else has had the same problem.

      Best regards
      Rob
      My UK S90 (R-Design) is the same, I had a loan V40 before I collected it in early January and the standard stereo sounded far better than the S90 one which was thin and a little harsh sounding, as you say with little from the rears. I managed to sort the EQ to something semi-decent (I design Hi-Fi speakers for a living), I'll post some pics of my settings later and see if you like them any better!

    27. #25
      Junior Member Jimrod's Avatar
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      Ok, here you go, I found this made the sound far more solid, balanced and less harsh than standard (on the S90 at least). Bear in mind my music taste is broad but mainly 70's-80's so if you're into heavier material the bass may need adjusting down. It's on the warm side to counter road noise and add some impact. Note that I moved the balance two notches back to take a slight edge off the upper mid/lower treble and just get away from that "all forward" sound a bit, the rears do seemingly little as stated before though.

      Just worth a try if you're still not happy with it!



      Last edited by Jimrod; 02-09-2018 at 03:57 AM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Rob123 View Post
      Hi ssmoot,

      Did you resolve your rear speaker issue? I am in the UK and have a S90 with the same problem. The rear speakers sound muffled, there does seem to be a power problem and the sound quality for the rear passengers is awful. So far I am not having any luck with the dealer or with Volvo UK. I am thinking of contacting What Car to get their opinion but first am keen to hear what happened in your case or if anyone else has had the same problem.

      Best regards
      Rob

      Hi Rob, in UK also, S90 with base audio. I had an Audi before with a 530W Bose System and I find the Volvo much better, although I do agree if you slide to rear the speakers are muffled, but then the rears have no tweeters, they're just midrange. I had a loaner car with B&W before I got mine and tbh its not worth £3k!!

    29. #27
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      Quote Originally Posted by Jimrod View Post
      Ok, here you go, I found this made the sound far more solid, balanced and less harsh than standard (on the S90 at least). Bear in mind my music taste is broad but mainly 70's-80's so if you're into heavier material the bass may need adjusting down. It's on the warm side to counter road noise and add some impact. Note that I moved the balance two notches back to take a slight edge off the upper mid/lower treble and just get away from that "all forward" sound a bit, the rears do seemingly little as stated before though.

      Just worth a try if you're still not happy with it!



      Did you remove the pictures? The links seem to be down for me.

    30. #28
      Junior Member Jimrod's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by ant1sec View Post
      Did you remove the pictures? The links seem to be down for me.
      Still working from this end, I'll try to upload again. It's just my best shot at fixing the issues, won't be everyone's taste I'm sure. It's not perfect sound due to the limitations of the drive units - you have to notch the harshness out a bit so you lose some projection and detail, but overall I find it a far more acceptable sound!

      Here's a direct link:

      https://imgur.com/a/uJdPZ
      Last edited by Jimrod; 02-08-2018 at 12:19 PM.

    31. #29
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      wheres your subwoofer?

    32. #30
      Junior Member Jimrod's Avatar
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      Standard S90 (non B&W) doesn't have one.

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      I do, LOL

    34. #32
      Junior Member Jimrod's Avatar
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      When it’s set up properly it doesn’t need one.

    35. #33
      Member matt1122's Avatar
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      Subwoofer was an add-on accessory for the base system. Not sure it's available in US.
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    36. #34
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      Just wondering, does either the S90 base or B&W system audibly play 30hz? Here are the test tones I'm using: https://open.spotify.com/album/2biaL...Tk6YAv6q7y268Q

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      i just got a v90 r-design and my impressions on the standard sound system are similar.

      it does produce a nice, full-bodied sound at the front, but when i set the balance towards the rear, it sounds like the speakers were made out of cardboard.

      i ended up setting the fader by two steps to the rear and overall, from a drivers seat it sounds great but still, rear passengers get a bad experience, and when sat at the back even the front speakers sound bad.

      i dont think its a fault with your particular car, i guess thats how it was designed. such a shame though, because in a premium vehicle throwing a pair of low tone speakers in the rear doors shouldnt be a problem, these cost probably most £50 each.

      also what is the total number of speakers? i read its 10, but i can only count 8. four in the front doors, two in the rear ones and two in the false ceiling behind rear seats.

      on a separate note, i think that while the sound at the front is overall very good, i think because the car is so wide, both the driver and the passenger dont hear much from the speakers on the opposite sides. it really needs a centre speaker or alternatively you can set the fader a bit towards the driver, but personally this would drive me crazy, as id fear speakers on one side would wear out quicker.

      im curious if anyone else has the same impressions as us, because you are certainly not alone in your observations.


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