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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I love my new Ascent. The HK sound system...not so much. Granted I'm a musician/audiophile so picky about sound, but I find this system to be harsh in the high end. Messing with the EQ only helps a little. Has anyone done upgrades to this sound system? New speakers? I would love some input on this topic before I head over to the local car stereo place...
 

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I love my new Ascent. The HK sound system...not so much. Granted I'm a musician/audiophile so picky about sound, but I find this system to be harsh in the high end. Messing with the EQ only helps a little. Has anyone done upgrades to this sound system? New speakers? I would love some input on this topic before I head over to the local car stereo place...
Agreed, the sound is too harsh in the high end. The problem could probably be mitigated with a proper equalizer which Subaru has inexplicably not provided in their premium sound package. Even low-cost aftermarket car audio systems usually include an equalizer. The lack of one seriously and unnecessarily degrades the Harman Kardon system in the Ascent. Equalizers these days are software based. With an upgrade, Subaru can add one.
 

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Well, I don't have anything to add but I'm glad my wife is not too picky about sound quality :lol:

To be honest, we never listened to the radio in any car we test drove. That said, since I'm more into audio fidelity than my wife I'd be interested to hear if anybody has anything meaningful to add to this thread. :nerd:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I asked about the Rockford Fosgate upgrade sound system when I bought the car. The dealer said I could not get this option since I had a Limited model with the HK premium system. I am questioning that a little bit....


I guess I'll head to the local aftermarket car stereo place and see what I can do. Disappointing after spending that kind of $ on a new car with a supposed premium sound system.
 

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The available Rockford Fosgate upgrade is for the base audio system and would be a serious downgrade from the HK system.
 

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Yes, the H-K sound is poor, and that's being generous. There are a few types of music that it does OK with, but overall it does not sound like even a mid level system. It does at least process satellite radio better than some cars (ie no discernible difference in sound quality between satellite vs other inputs), and the actual stereo separation is better than some.
 

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I think there is a huge difference between Bluetooth and being connected by CarPlay. CarPlay has a noticeable improvement in sound quality.

I find that XM/Sirius is terrible in most vehicles, so I don’t even bother with it anymore.

Over CarPlay, I find the sound to be very good in our HK system. I am not an audiophile, but do appreciate a good sound system.
 

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Disappointed

My wife's biggest concern about trading her 2011 Lincoln MKZ was the sound system. The MKZ had a THX setup that was gorgeous - the most beautiful sound I have heard in any car.

She (like me) is disappointed with the H-K in our Touring. Tinny on the treble and not enough bass. CarPlay doesn't help it come even close to the THX.:thumbsdown::thumbsdown:
 

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My wife's biggest concern about trading her 2011 Lincoln MKZ was the sound system. The MKZ had a THX setup that was gorgeous - the most beautiful sound I have heard in any car.

She (like me) is disappointed with the H-K in our Touring. Tinny on the treble and not enough bass. CarPlay doesn't help it come even close to the THX.:thumbsdown::thumbsdown:

It's funny you mention this, I was going to post about the incredible THX certified system in my '14 MKZ (the car and audio system were redesigned from your '11 model) in my comment above, but deleted it just before posting my comment as I didn't want to appear to be bashing the Ascent's H-K system too badly.... The MKZ's top end audio system is the best system I have ever heard in a car (although the satellite radio processing is subpar), superior to the Levinson system in the Lexus LS series, and better than most home systems. It will literally make your heart skip a beat when you play it loud, it's that good!. It's so loud and clear my teenage son thinks it's actually too loud!!
 

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  • Yes the HK is really the only disappointment for me. I opted to install this nifty subwoofer box by JL Audio. It fits perfectly in the tray and sounds great. No rattle. This one is a 10” self amplified model. Tons of output and heavy clean bass. Got it at Crutchfield for $500. Easy DIY project that can be easily removed anytime. Still not perfect, but tons better. I turn the midrange way down, but bring the highs up a little. JL audio makes great products. Make sure that you buy the volume control sold separately. A must have for full control. This is my hack for now and pretty happy, but there’s still moments where that midrange creeps back in. I’m tempted to swap out speakers now, but time and motivation are a factor. This is a good easy fix for most people.
    Vehicle Trunk Car Vehicle audio Mid-size car
 

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By the way, Metra has a piano black dash kit out now and Maestro is about to release full support.
this means new double-din head units will not be a problem. Factory amp integration etc.
The future is bright - been looking into all of this.
 

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We bought a 2019 Forester Touring in last spring for our kid and an 2020 Ascent Limited for us last week. I replaced the speakers on both. About the only difference I saw between the stock and HK was the stock speakers were paper cones with foam surrounds and the HKs cones are polypropylene cones with polyurethane surrounds plus the 'subwoofer'. I didn't notice any appreciable difference in magnet size.

Spending $150 with Crutchfield to replace the door speakers is going to give you better sound than anything from Subaru.
 

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As said many times, biggest problem with any of the 3 different head units is the lack of EQ. Subaru/HK took a big step back on this where they used to include 7-band EQs in their head-units.
To truly fix the horrid sound the head-unit must be swapped. The non-Nav + RF upgrade is the least offensive solution until we can swap head-units.
 

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By the way, Metra has a piano black dash kit out now and Maestro is about to release full support.
this means new double-din head units will not be a problem. Factory amp integration etc.
The future is bright - been looking into all of this.
Perhaps I'm missing something, but how would the Metra dash kit work? While it may allow someone to install an aftermarket head unit, it doesn't address the showstopper problem of how to retain all the necessary functions only accessible via the OE unit.

2304


A solution from Maestro or something similar seems to be the only hope.
 

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As said many times, biggest problem with any of the 3 different head units is the lack of EQ. Subaru/HK took a big step back on this where they used to include 7-band EQs in their head-units.
To truly fix the horrid sound the head-unit must be swapped. The non-Nav + RF upgrade is the least offensive solution until we can swap head-units.
Subaru or HK can probably fix this problem with a software release that restores a multi-band equalizer. The OE head unit is simply a computer and like most computer-based audio apps, features such as an equalizer can usually be added via software. Even very low-cost computer-based audio systems usually include an equalizer.

It's mind-boggling to me that Subaru would be so clueless as to release what they market as a premium audio system without an equalizer. This is especially true when the sound system itself really requires one. Didn't anyone at Subaru even bother to actually listen to the HK system in the Ascent before they approved it?
 

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Subaru or HK can probably fix this problem with a software release that restores a multi-band equalizer. The OE head unit is simply a computer and like most computer-based audio apps, features such as an equalizer can usually be added via software.
But they won’t.
 

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Perhaps I'm missing something, but how would the Metra dash kit work? While it may allow someone to install an aftermarket head unit, it doesn't address the showstopper problem of how to retain all the necessary functions only accessible via the OE unit.

View attachment 2304

A solution from Maestro or something similar seems to be the only hope.
Starlink and MySubaru apps?
I can do without both of those.
 

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But they won’t.
@Robert.Mauro recently said that Subaru was aware of the problem. Perhaps there's some hope.

Starlink and MySubaru apps?
I can do without both of those.
It's much more than just the apps. Many of the Ascent's vehicle settings are available only on the OE unit. Also, when I'm trailering and I put the car into reverse, the RAB sounds an alarm and will apply the brakes unless I press two soft buttons on the OE screen to shut it off.
 

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A huge amount of vehicle function setting lives inside the OEM "head" unit...it's not just an entertainment system. While Maestro and similar have been very effective with some vehicles in previous generations to retain use of things like steering wheel controls, backup cameras and the like, providing the UI interface for multiple vehicle computer systems is a lot tougher row to hoe...including getting actual access to those systems because of security measures that are pretty prevalent now that OTA updates are reality. There's a thread in the technical section where an owner has been experimenting with the implications of not having the OEM head unit physically present. My impression is that the poster there has had to do more of a hybrid approach because of these interfaces in the OEM head unit.
 
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