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ROLL CALL: Who has surround sound in their car(s)?

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HomerJAU

Moderator: MCH Media Players
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Melbourne, Australia
I've been an on-and-off lurker here for nearly ten years, and since it appears the Lexus Mark Levinson system hasn't gotten much play here
Hey Sobi!

I started writing a post here earlier today on the Lexus Mark Levinson, and decided I wouldn't post it.

I'm back to thinking I need to replace my 2009 Audi A5 and my only 'must have' in anew vehicle is surround music from FLAC. I was hoping the Lexus 2020 ML could do it but it looks like a NO. It can do DVDV and DTS CDs and DVDs by the look. I looked at a Jag last year but wasn't all that impressed (MCH sound and the car).

I'll check one out in next week or so, although for me, if it can't do MCH FLAC I wont be buying. (many disc is my car, no way! So even DVDV 5.1 playback is still a deal killer). FLAC everywhere else at home now.
 

marpow

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San Mateo CA
I have been doing a lot of experimenting with my USB in and I think I can now comment on what I have and what I perceive to listen to.
The Facts:
2017 Ford Escape Titanium Edition with 10 speaker Sony system. Here is an article where others go more in depth, Web Article.
Has a USB front console port that accepts all versions of FLAC, no DSF (DSD) files. It will play Blu Ray, DTS, DVD-A, etc as long as the file is FLAC.
It will play my ripped stereo and surround FLAC's.
I am using this Samsung portable drive as my storage, USB connected to car. Samsung Drive. I have two, one for stereo and one for surround.
The audio settings are basic, fade, balance, bass, midrange, treble. There is a stereo setting and a surround setting.
I tend to boost the bass, midrange, and treble to my liking. I fade more towards the rear, probably at about behind my seat as center, I tend to balance center, maybe a little towards me on the left.
The Stereo mode sounds fantastic always when playing a stereo FLAC of any bit rate, even sounds good when playing a surround file.

Now, here is the part I am not sure of, the surround mode when playing designated surround files. I have no experience with surround sound in cars, so I am comparing what I hear at home to the car and it does not compare. I do believe my ear/brain just needs to figure it out.
I can tell that an element of surround is playing, I can tell there are discrete moments that are not stereo, but it all seems mashed up rather than separated.
I played the recent release of Abbey Road, which did not sound good as the vocals where super recessed and some parts barely audible. I do believe on this mix it has encoded Atmos and that might be the reason. I have to try my R.E.M and my INXS.
I would guess the surround mode in the Escape is more like a faux surround setting? This does not let the actual surround files come to there full potential?

I will say this, that the greatness of being able to play all this FLAC music files outweighs any little surround issues, or maybe it's just lousy surround, I'll keep trying.
 

sjcorne

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Southern NY
Now, here is the part I am not sure of, the surround mode when playing designated surround files. I have no experience with surround sound in cars, so I am comparing what I hear at home to the car and it does not compare. I do believe my ear/brain just needs to figure it out.
I can tell that an element of surround is playing, I can tell there are discrete moments that are not stereo, but it all seems mashed up rather than separated.
I played the recent release of Abbey Road, which did not sound good as the vocals where super recessed and some parts barely audible. I do believe on this mix it has encoded Atmos and that might be the reason. I have to try my R.E.M and my INXS.
I would guess the surround mode in the Escape is more like a faux surround setting? This does not let the actual surround files come to there full potential?
I think what's really happening is that the car is only passing the front left & right channels of your 5.1 FLACs and then upmixing them with whatever faux surround decoder is built into the infotainment system (probably something like CenterPoint, Dolby PLII, DTS Neural, etc). So you're just hearing the front left & right spread over all the speakers. This would explain why some parts seem recessed or missing - because they're in the center or rear channels which aren't actually being played. I know for sure that the vocals on Abbey Road are almost completely isolated in the center with minimal bleed to the other speakers.
 

marpow

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I think what's really happening is that the car is only passing the front left & right channels of your 5.1 FLACs and then upmixing them with whatever faux surround decoder is built into the infotainment system (probably something like CenterPoint, Dolby PLII, DTS Neural, etc). So you're just hearing the front left & right spread over all the speakers. This would explain why some parts seem recessed or missing - because they're in the center or rear channels which aren't actually being played. I know for sure that the vocals on Abbey Road are almost completely isolated in the center with minimal bleed to the other speakers.
Thanks Jonathan, that is actually what I came up with sort of after driving around all day today. The two Blu Ray 5.1's Abbey Road and Closer To The Edge did not sound good at all. The vocals where so ressesed on both I could only think that I was not hearing the true center channel vocal, only the ambiance of that. So between what you said and what I heard I guess I will ditch the surround, however the DTS of Don Henley End Of Innocence actually sounded way better than the two Blu Rays. I am going to try the Chicago Quadio tomorrow as at least that has no center and maybe it will be OK. Bottom line though this surround mode on the Ford Escape is just Faux Surround and nothing will ever be true surround like what I am used to listening at home.
All that said the stereo FLAC's sound fantastic.
 

J. PUPSTER

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I have surround in my Acura. I use flac files I have converted from sacd, DVD and Blu-ray albums. Also a few dts CD I converted to play as flac. For those that are interested I use dvd-a extractor. Foosbar2000, hdsolo and makemkv for my conversions.
Welcome aboard bamabigfoot!
Couple questions:
What model/year do you have?
Do you convert to flac compression 5 or 0 or other?
I’m trying to talk Mrs. Pupster into a new or slightly used car with Surround in it- ain’t I awful :dance
 

J. PUPSTER

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I too have a 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec with the ELS sound system. This is my 3rd Acura with surround, and this one sounds the best!
Welcome aboard also NSXFTW!
One more quick question, do all these Acuras only take Premium gas? I think 🤔 that may have been a sour note for Mrs. Pupster. As little as we drive anymore, it sure doesn’t bother me; I’m just wanting to hear Seven Bridges Road in a sweet ride- LOL 😝
 

NSXFTW

New member
Joined
Aug 7, 2018
Messages
3
Location
New Mexico
Thanks Pupster! Acura says premium fuel only--I'm not sure it makes a difference for me as the additional octane at the altitude where I live (5,000 feet) probably doesn't make a difference. I do think that today's modern turbocharged engines (like in the RDX) are tuned to perform better with premium fuel.
 

HomerJAU

Moderator: MCH Media Players
Staff member
Joined
Jun 13, 2013
Messages
2,959
Location
Melbourne, Australia
I found a post on one of the Audi forums that confirms their B&O Premium Surround System in 2017+ models plays 5.1 FLAC. So I’m off to a local dealer this week to check it out.

My wife has finally decided it’s time to sell her 2010 TT so we can downsize to a single vehicle. My 2009 A5 will go to. Just need to check out the new Q3 Sportback (compact SUV) or maybe wait until the new Q4 is released later this year.

My wife’s car which gets parked on the street was hit 3 times in about six weeks. First time a new neighbour backed his trailer into her front right wheel panel. He owned up and paid for the damage. About a week later same panel was scratched by a drive by. While waiting get quotes to fix that panel, the right rear panel was hit by another car, quite bad. It was obviously another neighbour as the blue paint (my wife’s car is white) was removed a couple days later (overnight). Who else would want to return to the scene to to that? I’m pretty sure it’s one of two cars but nothing I can do about it...
 

DuncanS

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I found a post on one of the Audi forums that confirms their B&O Premium Surround System in 2017+ models plays 5.1 FLAC. So I’m off to a local dealer this week to check it out.

My wife has finally decided it’s time to sell her 2010 TT so we can downsize to a single vehicle. My 2009 A5 will go to. Just need to check out the new Q3 Sportback (compact SUV) or maybe wait until the new Q4 is released later this year.

My wife’s car which gets parked on the street was hit 3 times in about six weeks. First time a new neighbour backed his trailer into her front right wheel panel. He owned up and paid for the damage. About a week later same panel was scratched by a drive by. While waiting get quotes to fix that panel, the right rear panel was hit by another car, quite bad. It was obviously another neighbour as the blue paint (my wife’s car is white) was removed a couple days later (overnight). Who else would want to return to the scene to to that? I’m pretty sure it’s one of two cars but nothing I can do about it...
I believe that is correct as well, the Audi garage couldn't answer my question when I asked and they had no cars with the B&O in stock to try the files I'd taken with me when I ordered mine in June. I have a 2019 A5 (I got it in July) but I got it without the B&O audio as I wasn't prepared to wait the 4-6 months I was quoted if I wanted it!
 

HomerJAU

Moderator: MCH Media Players
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Surround via FLAC is my number 1 mandatory feature. In AU it’s a 6 month wait for a custom built Audi. I know because I bought a custom Q5 when they were first released. Because there was such a demand I sold it after about 6 months at same price I bought it for! (Sold because by wife couldn’t see past the driver’s mirror, it was huge and she’s a short-arse).

I’ve been wanting to get into a new surround vehicle for a while now so 6 months to get exactly what I want is not a deal breaker.

Like you Duncan, I’m guessing there’s no Q3 Sportback’s in Melbourne with the B&O onboard. It’s only just released here this month and stock will be limited. But there’s hope as we have quite a few dealers here. I’ll wander down to our local today or tomorrow and see. Then it will be a phone around.

The thing is I need to hear this. I found a Jag E Pace last year with FLAC surround but the audio quality was quite unimpressive! It was a $3000 add-on and the E Pace was quite pricey already. I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy the experience. Actually I made a stupid low ball offer but as expected the sales guy didn’t bite, glad he didn’t.
 

DuncanS

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Surround via FLAC is my number 1 mandatory feature. In AU it’s a 6 month wait for a custom built Audi. I know because I bought a custom Q5 when they were first released. Because there was such a demand I sold it after about 6 months at same price I bought it for! (Sold because by wife couldn’t see past the driver’s mirror, it was huge and she’s a short-arse).

I’ve been wanting to get into a new surround vehicle for a while now so 6 months to get exactly what I want is not a deal breaker.

Like you Duncan, I’m guessing there’s no Q3 Sportback’s in Melbourne with the B&O onboard. It’s only just released here this month and stock will be limited. But there’s hope as we have quite a few dealers here. I’ll wander down to our local today or tomorrow and see. Then it will be a phone around.

The thing is I need to hear this. I found a Jag E Pace last year with FLAC surround but the audio quality was quite unimpressive! It was a $3000 add-on and the E Pace was quite pricey already. I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy the experience. Actually I made a stupid low ball offer but as expected the sales guy didn’t bite, glad he didn’t.
I'd definitely try and hear the B&O audio, I feel that the standard audio (sadly just stereo :( ) system in the A5 isn't as good as the one I had in my A4. I would have expected to hear the difference between mp3 & FLAC, I can on my home hi-fi, the car sounds more like the Roberts Radio/Streamer I have in the bathroom, good but not enough to readily tell the two apart.
 

MrSmithers

800 Club - QQ All-Star
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UK 🇬🇧
I can confirm the Audi B&O system works with 5.1 FLAC. I took in a USB stick to a dealer a couple of weeks ago and they had a Q3 with the B&O in the showroom. It sounded ace - really good. Unfortunately I’m not in a position to buy right now but I wanted to check it out. And it did sound really good. If I could I'd like to get the new A3 that's just been announced... One day hopefully... 🤞:cool:
 

HomerJAU

Moderator: MCH Media Players
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Messages
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Melbourne, Australia
I just got back from testing an Audi B&O 3D Sounds System in a 2020 Q3 Sportback. This has 15 speakers plus sub with a 16 channel amp.

I loaded a 16GB USB 3.0 stick with an assortment of test tracks in FLAC format, all same files I now have on my home system, tagged with high res album art etc. I didn’t mod them in any way, so the FLACs will be using FLAC compression level 5 or 6.
  • Channel Tests (Quad, Quad with silent Centre, Quad with silent C and LFE, 5.0, 5.1 and 7.1)
All with sample/bit rates: 44.1/16, 48/24, 88.2/24, 96/24 (and one with 192/24 5.1)​
This was to check how it would handle all the channel mixes and formats I have.​
EVERY file played correctly! With correct channel assignments. Not one glitch, even quad 4.0 played correctly. Pass.​
  • Various Artists Test Tracks (A full range of channel, sample/bit rates - quad to 7.1
This was a proper listening test. I played a bit of each song that I know intimately from my system at home. All played and sounded like they should. All sounded very discrete (I chose discrete tracks) with clarity, great dynamics and good LFE. Better than the Jag E Pace I tested last year by a mile. Pass.​
  • Surround Albums (7 albums from 3 Artists) - various channel, sample/bitrates
This was to check how artists and albums would appear in the user interface.​
These all showed as I wanted, album covers at the Artist level. I could view Artists and it showed both number of albums and number of songs for each artist. Pass.​
When I inserted the USB there was a very, very slight pause and I thought it obviously had not scanned the tags, but it had! The UI knew which artists I had and their albums as I could sort and filter on this metadata.​

I have to say I came away very impressed with its ability to play everything a threw at it and the sound quality was truly excellent. The UI was fast and responsive.

My next new car will be an Audi with the B&O 3D Sound System! My wife and I are doing a test drive on Friday.

BTW: For MCH FLAC on the B&O you also need the MMI Plus Navigation System option.
 
Last edited:

DuncanS

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I just got back from testing an Audi B&O 3D Sounds System in a Q3 Sportback. This has 15 speakers plus sub with a 16 channel amp.

I loaded a 16GB USB 3.0 stick with an assortment of test tracks in FLAC format, all same files I now have on my home system, tagged with high res album art etc. I didn’t mod them in any way, so the FLACs will be using FLAC compression level 5 or 6.
  • Channel Tests (Quad, Quad with silent Centre, Quad with silent C and LFE, 5.0, 5.1 and 7.1)
All with sample/bit rates: 44.1/16, 48/24, 88.2/24, 96/24 (and one with 192/24 5.1)​
This was to check how it would handle all the channel mixes and formats I have.​
EVERY file played correctly! With correct channel assignments. Not one glitch, even quad 4.0 played correctly. Pass.​
  • Various Artists Test Tracks (A full range of channel, sample/bit rates - quad to 7.1
This was a proper listening test. I played a bit of each song that I know intimately from my system at home. All played and sounded like they should. All sounded very discrete (I chose discrete tracks) with clarity, great dynamics and good LFE. Better than the Jag E Pace I tested last year by a mile. Pass.​
  • Surround Albums (7 albums from 3 Artists) - various channel, sample/bitrates
This was to check how artists and albums would appear in the user interface.​
These all showed as I wanted, album covers at the Artist level. I could view Artists and it showed both number of albums and songs for each artist. Pass.​
When I inserted the USB there was a very, very slight pause and I thought it obviously had not scanned the tags, but it had! The UI knew which artist I had and their albums as I could sort and filter on this metadata.​

I have to say I came away very impressed with its ability to play everything a threw at it and the sound quality was truely excellent. The UI was fast and responsive.

My next new car will be an Audi with the B&O 3D Sound System! My wife and I are doing a test drive on Friday.

BTW: For MCH FLAC on the B&O you also need the MMI option.
:51QQ Brilliant. I know what I'll wait for next time (I'm changing the car in 2021)
PS: You should also get the nice virtual cockpit display!
 

HomerJAU

Moderator: MCH Media Players
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PS: You should also get the nice virtual cockpit display!
If we like the Q3 after a test drive we’ll get the Virtual Cockpit. In AU Audi only bring in certain preconfigured models across the entire Audi range. This usually means basic models aren’t available here. For the Q3 every model here gets Virtual Cockpit, MMI Plus navigation and 19” wheels as ‘standard’. These are options in most other countries. Probably to do with having a smaller inventory with more cars ‘the same’ or very similar. Otherwise it would be a 6 month wait for special builds from Audi plant in EU. (Those options we pay for, built into the AU base price)
 
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