S60 Speakers/Audio question
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    1. #1
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      Question S60 Speakers/Audio question

      Hi everyone, I am planning to buy my first Volvo soon. I'm looking for a 2016-2018 S60 Inscription and really want the Harman Kardon Audio system because I've heard not so good things about the standard system and I love to listen to music in my car. I almost bought a car yesterday but I am afraid I will regret not getting the HK system.

      I have a few questions in case anyone knows the answers, I've pretty much searched as much as possible and am not having luck.

      - When searching Auto trader I usually just look for the Platinum trim because I know this has the HK system, is there another way to visually tell in case this was added as part of a package to non-Platinum trim levels?
      - I've seen some cars with the Inscription trim that have the center dash speaker but don't have the HK logo, is there actually a speaker there? Why do some cars have it and some don't?
      - Related to the last question, is there only two options for audio: base or HK? The fact that they call the base system a Premium audio system is confusing
      -I've searched as much as I could and it seems pretty complicated to upgrade the standard system, is it really that difficult? And would it void the warranty?


      Thanks in advance for your help!

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    3. #2
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      Welcome!

      I consider myself to be somewhat of an audiophile. I am a new owner of an S60 CC that has the HK stereo in it, which I've had for almost a month. I came from an S40 RD with a Dynaudio system, and IMHO the HK doesn't hold a candle to the Dynaudio. I can't speak of the other trim level stereos, but I am less than impressed with the HK.
      Hope this helps!
      2016 S60 Cross Country
      2010 s40 AWD R-design (sold)
      2005 s40 T5 (sold)

    4. #3
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      Quote Originally Posted by j0912 View Post
      Hi everyone, I am planning to buy my first Volvo soon. I'm looking for a 2016-2018 S60 Inscription and really want the Harman Kardon Audio system because I've heard not so good things about the standard system and I love to listen to music in my car.
      Thats interesting, it seems to be the opposite to what ive read on here at least.

      I have the standard system and i think its pretty damn good. As a bit of an audio nut, its got really good separation and detail. Soundstage is always hard in a car with an off centre seating position. Bass is full and extends deeply.

      Id suggest sitting in the car and listening to your choice of music before writing it off completely.
      2015 V60 T5e - Various suspension and P* bits

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    6. #4
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      I have the HK audio as part of the platinum package, I'm no audiophile but I wouldn't say the audio blows me away. Its certainly a decent sound quality and has good sound stage with excellent bass (which is helped out by the solid construction of the car itself), but my wife has a 2015 Subaru Outback Limited with their 'Premium' upgraded sound system and I'd have to say its almost as good as the one in the Volvo... based on my experience with previous cars I've owned and dozens of rental cars I'd say that's more about the Volvo being just above average than the Subaru being exceptionally good.
      As suggested above, if the audio system is a deal breaker as much as it sounds you've got to listen to them first hand.
      2016 V60 T6 AWD R-Design POLESTAR

    7. #5
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      I wouldn't consider myself an audiophile, but I do like high quality speakers. I would say the standard sound system in the S60 Momentum is better than average, and at least on par with the Sony system I had in my Focus ST. I don't know if the Inscription is any different in regards to the audio but unless you need a ton of base or are very picky about your music, I wouldn't worry too much.

    8. #6
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      I have the HK Audio system and it is pretty good in my opinion. I do like to think of myself as a bit of an audiophile. I used to have a car with full component MB Quart Speakers, and around 1500 RMS watts of Alpine amplifiers.

      It took me several weeks of tweaking the equalizer, surround and center settings to get it to my liking. However the previous owner had it setup was pretty awful and I was less than impressed in the beginning. The Soundstage setting does allow you to select "driver" which (as far as I can tell) adjusts the delay of each speaker based on it's distance from the driver's ears. I think it might also adjust the relative volumes as well to make it sound more balanced. It makes a noticeable difference.

      Where the HK audio excels is,
      -very clear audio
      -crisp highs, and mids.
      -well balanced (no particular frequency range seems to overpower or lag behind)
      -perfectly tuned for just about anything but other than hip-hop.

      Where it is lacking is,
      -Weak low frequency bass. There are no large or separate powered woofers. Don't get me wrong, the bass is very good for what it is. The frequencies that are in range for the speakers sound very good, with no distortion at high volume. Sounds excellent when running a frequency sweep (no weak spots). It just doesn't have that super low frequency bass. So if you're used to a premium audio system with a separate powered 10" woofer or something, you may be disappointed with the bass. Really depends on what type of music you listen to.
      -Door panel rattles. This drives me nuts. Certain lower frequencies can cause rattles, almost as if he audio system was not a design consideration when designing the door panels, except to put in some speaker grills.
      Last edited by budleach; 12-04-2019 at 10:58 AM.

    9. #7
      Junior Member meade18's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by j0912 View Post
      Hi everyone, I am planning to buy my first Volvo soon. I'm looking for a 2016-2018 S60 Inscription and really want the Harman Kardon Audio system because I've heard not so good things about the standard system and I love to listen to music in my car. I almost bought a car yesterday but I am afraid I will regret not getting the HK system.

      I have a few questions in case anyone knows the answers, I've pretty much searched as much as possible and am not having luck.

      - When searching Auto trader I usually just look for the Platinum trim because I know this has the HK system, is there another way to visually tell in case this was added as part of a package to non-Platinum trim levels?
      - I've seen some cars with the Inscription trim that have the center dash speaker but don't have the HK logo, is there actually a speaker there? Why do some cars have it and some don't?
      - Related to the last question, is there only two options for audio: base or HK? The fact that they call the base system a Premium audio system is confusing
      -I've searched as much as I could and it seems pretty complicated to upgrade the standard system, is it really that difficult? And would it void the warranty?


      Thanks in advance for your help!
      I think if it has the center speaker, it is the upgraded stereo. I think there were only two levels of stereo for the 2016-2018 model years. The lower level had no center speaker and the upper level had the center speaker. I have a 2015, so I am not 100% sure on that for the 2016-2018s. Might want to wait for someone who is sure about that to chime in though.
      2015.5 Volvo V60 Premier T5 FWD (with a new engine)

    10. #8
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      Thanks everyone for your feedback! This weekend I was planning on driving 2 hours to look at a car that had the HK system but I may go back to my local dealership and listen to the sound first. I test drove it last weekend but I was just overwhelmed that I didn't think to test it.

      I know nothing about audio systems but I am coming from a 2008 Honda Civic EX which apparently has the premium audio system that's 350w I think. I read that the base system of the Volvo is 160w so I thought it would be a huge difference (though I have no idea what the number of watts really means). I don't usually listen to music with a lot of bass so that probably wouldn't be an issue.

      The weird thing about the car that I test drove is it has a center dash speaker but no logo. All of the Inscription Platinums that I've found do have the Harman Kardon logo on it. And in my research I saw that sometimes the "speakers" are empty and maybe just placeholders? But I really have no idea if that's the case here until I listen to it and see if there is any sounds coming from it.

    11. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by j0912 View Post
      I know nothing about audio systems but I am coming from a 2008 Honda Civic EX which apparently has the premium audio system that's 350w I think. I read that the base system of the Volvo is 160w so I thought it would be a huge difference (though I have no idea what the number of watts really means). I don't usually listen to music with a lot of bass so that probably wouldn't be an issue.

      The weird thing about the car that I test drove is it has a center dash speaker but no logo. All of the Inscription Platinums that I've found do have the Harman Kardon logo on it. And in my research I saw that sometimes the "speakers" are empty and maybe just placeholders? But I really have no idea if that's the case here until I listen to it and see if there is any sounds coming from it.
      The specified Watts could mean two things, either the power of the amplifier that is driving the speakers, or the maximum power handling capabilities of the speakers. The first one is useful, the second is not. Id assume that with stock cars, manufacturers would specify the output of the amplifier. I've had everything from 150watt power amps, to 5 watt SET tube amps, currently im using a 20 watt class A amp. Each of these had enough grunt to fill the room so I don't take too much notice of watts

      Mine has no logo, so i assume its a placeholder grille. In saying that, the base model in Aus seems to come with features that match the premium level in the US, so who knows.
      2015 V60 T5e - Various suspension and P* bits

    12. #10
      Junior Member Major Error's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by budleach View Post
      Where the HK audio excels is,
      -very clear audio
      -crisp highs, and mids.
      -well balanced (no particular frequency range seems to overpower or lag behind)
      -perfectly tuned for just about anything but other than hip-hop.

      Where it is lacking is,
      -Weak low frequency bass. There are no large or separate powered woofers. Don't get me wrong, the bass is very good for what it is. The frequencies that are in range for the speakers sound very good, with no distortion at high volume. Sounds excellent when running a frequency sweep (no weak spots). It just doesn't have that super low frequency bass. So if you're used to a premium audio system with a separate powered 10" woofer or something, you may be disappointed with the bass. Really depends on what type of music you listen to.
      -Door panel rattles. This drives me nuts. Certain lower frequencies can cause rattles, almost as if he audio system was not a design consideration when designing the door panels, except to put in some speaker grills.
      I have a '19 V60CC T5 Inscription rental while my car is in the shop...
      Haven't heard any of the audio-induced door rattles, but the above general description is pretty close to my short experience as well. I might also add that the system doesn't seem to get as loud as in my S60...
      Truedelta - Fuelly - last.fm
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      2014 Rebel Blue Volvo S60 T6 R-Design AWD - Platinum, Climate & Tech packages, 3M Ventureshield + 20/35/50 tint

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