Harman Kardon - worthwhile upgrade?

10EDD

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I'm curious as to others opinions regarding the Harman Kardon stereo upgrade and if people feel it represents a significant improvement in sound quality.

Having recently taken delivery of the first Mercedes I've thought I'd tick this option box on I am left distictly underwhelmed and struggle to hear the difference in quality to the standard systems I’ve had fitted before. I’ve played with the settings and turned the 3D Logic on (and off) and genuinely struggle to hear the difference to the standard system. I’ve had upgraded systems supplied on other German manufacturers in the past and have always been able to tell the difference but I’m struggling here and fear I may be due an appointment at the hearing clinic?!
Ed
 

smillion

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The HK on my CLS is one of my absolute favourite options - it is stunning - truly brilliant and better than anything i have ever had in a car including the BOSE that was in the Maserati; previous Mercs; the upgraded audio in my Range Rover Sport - it is more than 100% better than any of these - and was recently complemented by a HiFi nut neighbour who speends an obscene amount on his domestic sound system.....

The dealership played the HK demo disc in the showroom the morning of collection and it drew quite a crowd.....

Hope this helps

Marc
 

developer

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Hifi sound is very subjective.

I've got HK in mine and I've previously reported on here that while it's good I don't think it's an option I'd have ticked if I'd demo'd it first (my car was a used buy).

On the drive it's great, but engine noise and tyre noise all vie for the same ear input when out on the road.
 

WOODYTHEWISE

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Hi, I had the HK in a Lexus I owned, the system was designed for the vehicle and was by far the best system I have had in a car. I have the standard Bose (I think it is standard) in the CL600 and am pleased with it,but not a patch on the HK.
 

Peterr_ibg

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Ed,

Don't forget, cr@p in gives you cr@p out

The source will make a big difference to the sound - are you listening to CDs, DVDs, mp3s?
 

fuzzer

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I had the HK audio in my W204 and i really liked it. Its not a patch on my aftermarket system that ive got fitted into my w202 now , but for a factory install its really good.

Woody , the system you would have had in the lexus would have been a Mark Levinson system which is similar to the HK as its part of the Harman group as is harman kardon and JBL etc.
 

JohnDeere8530

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how does the signal from an Ipod through the proper multipinned connector compare from a quality point of view. I assume its not as good as cd ? but better than radio ?
 

terrymcg

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how does the signal from an Ipod through the proper multipinned connector compare from a quality point of view. I assume its not as good as cd ? but better than radio ?
Using the dock connector is by far the best way to take a feed from the ipod. The final quality will really depend on what bit rate the music has been ripped at. I am not sure what bitrate tunes bought from itunes come at, I suspect 192kbps.
 

Simon_M

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I have the HK system in my S204 and like it, whether it is really value at £650 is questionable. The standard stereo in the CLK is one of the worst I have ever had, whereas the standard one in the CLS was good.

Come on, tell me you notice the difference when you switch Logic 7 on/off? If not you do seriously need to get your ears syringed!

S
 

WOODYTHEWISE

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I had the HK audio in my W204 and i really liked it. Its not a patch on my aftermarket system that ive got fitted into my w202 now , but for a factory install its really good.

Woody , the system you would have had in the lexus would have been a Mark Levinson system which is similar to the HK as its part of the Harman group as is harman kardon and JBL etc.
You are of course quite right, the Mrs is striking me over the head with a stout stick as I type.:eek::D
 

John

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You are of course quite right, the Mrs is striking me over the head with a stout stick as I type.:eek::D
I was going to say - I seem to remember a fair few IS250s had the ML system which I would have definitely wanted if I did buy one.

Good to hear it was so good!
 

GP801

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We have the HK system in the SLK and I have to agree its disappointing. Its probably the only option we have that I would not bother with in future. The comand (old fashioned CD based) in the CLK with standard speakers is vastly better. To my ears it sounds better with the Logic 7 turned off. Suspect it would be better in a saloon or coupe though.
 

tylerdurden

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v happy with HK on W212 saloon.

Way, way better than stock.

Sound is subjective, I'm sure an audiophile would think its rubbish but then an audiophile would have to spend a lot more than £600ish it costs as an option.
 

Fuji

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I spend a lot of time listening to sound through reference monitors and am a little bit of an audiophile. I have always specified upgraded audio in my cars and so duly ticked the HK option when ordering my C-Coupe.

I normally avoid DSP modes like the plague, but with DSP off, the system is adequate, but nothing special. Audio seems to be unfocused quite a lot of the time, with poor seperation on compressed material.

As there is no EQ (just treble+bass+fader) in the COMAND system, you have to rely on the sound engineers to have got it right. Which is why I think that they only really bothered to engineer the sound with the DSP switched on.

The difference is huge, to the point where I would say that it is one of the best OEM audio upgrades that I have heard. However, it is not without fault.

In my opinion, the default setting has too much bass, but turning down the bass reveals quite a "bright" sound, which could get tiring on a long journey.

Older material that has not been digitally mastered suffers more than low-bit rate stuff, so if you are thinking of putting your vinyl collection onto a USB stick ([FONT=&quot]sacrilege![/FONT]) for studio-quality enjoyment on the road then be prepared for some disappointment.

On the flip-side, a digital source will really shine. DAB has surprised me as well, despite lower bit rates : with the DSP on, the difference between DAB and FM on is like the difference between FM and LW.

Would I spec it again? Definitely.
 

flowrider

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I have Comand in my ML and I think it sounds pretty good. I have had Boston Acoustics in a Jeep Grand Cherokee and Bang & Olufson in an Audi but the Comand is just as good (to my ears). I had a play with an HK equiped ML in the dealers but whilst the sound was slightly crisper than in mine I wouldn't pay for it as an option.

David
 
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10EDD

10EDD

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Thanks for the points of view, interesting to note. I'm going to spend more time on trying to get this right as I’m clearly missing something. Regarding some of the points above;

I’ll ask the dealer if I can borrow the HK disk as that may be helpful.

I had command in my ML which the C63 has replaced and I also thought that system was great as a standard fit which did make for part of the decision to upgrade on this car though I realise it is a different model and the variances this may introduce.

I have used mostly cd’s and an iPod via the docking lead, I’ll have a look at the compression rate the iPod has been loaded with which is a good shout, thank you.

Thankfully I think I can dodge the ear syringe for now ;-) as I can hear the difference between the Logic on and off but it sounds like a filter to me and not necessarily an enhancement to the sound.

I guess overall I was hoping the system would dazzle and be a bit of a treat but the reason for this post is it just doesn’t seem to be as other systems (B & O Audi) Bose (Porsche) have been to the point that currently I have the base turned up significantly and still can’t really hear it (granted this may not be apt for Radio 2 but certainly for Planet Rock on the excellent DAB system).

Ed
 
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10EDD

10EDD

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P.S. What would be the suggested bit rate to drop music onto the iPod then?
Ed
 
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gr4z

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I didn't have the HK option as I went with a stock lease from Mercedes direct but the factory fit standard stereo is very good but does have something lacking - the wow factor. It doesn't give you precision you expect if you are an audiophile, like me. However, would I pay for the upgrade - probably not.
 
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fuzzer

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P.S. What would be the suggested bit rate to drop music onto the iPod then?
Ed
Try lossless and work youre way back from there.

The thing youve got to remember is that it was only £650. The B&O systems in the audi cars are circa 4k as are the high end burmester systems in the porsches.

I did a back to back listening test with my HK system in the W204 and the Aston martin Rapide with the B&O system ( with someone really high up in b%O no less) and while the system in the rapide sounded slightly better? The extra cash in my pocket made up for it.

What im getting at is , in OEM cost terms , you are getting a fair bang for youre buck.
 

John

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P.S. What would be the suggested bit rate to drop music onto the iPod then?
Ed
I always use 320Kbps.

I can't detect any difference between lossless and 320 lossy so it doesn't matter to me.
 

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