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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been kicking some gen 2 tires and wanted to see whether the Bose is a must have.

The dealership had an LT and a Premier right next to each other. I took my iphone (with connecting USB) and a well-known song that had some dynamic range, some bass heavy sections, some singing, some higher treble notes.

The salesperson was busy, so he gave me the keys and told me to have fun comparing the sound systems. Even better! No pressure.

Let me share my impressions:

The stock (non-bose) was "better than expected" -- mainly because it had more low end than I thought it would without a subwoofer. Let me be clear that this does not mean "good"--it got muddy and distorted quickly.

The Bose, however, was "worse than expected"--I had read that many issues with the Gen 1 Bose were fixed in the Gen 2, but I think the Bose in my '13 is overall better, with some caveats.

The Gen 2 subwoofers are better placed and offer more "punch" than the '13 (and much more than the stock LT). The Bose would vibrate my seat--and offer "louder" sound at lower "volume" than required in the LT. In fact, the Bose system was absolutely "louder" overall.

My disappointment was the muddy sound. It was just not clear and wide, despite the lower end. I didn't have time to start investigating the system in depth to figure out why, I just used some fading and adjusting with the EQ to get a sense of its range. The '13 seems clearer to me.

Both the Bose and the stock suffered from "narrowing" of the sound--neither offered a wide, crisp sound--although the Bose was marginally better.

Bottom line -- the Bose did not reach "must have" territory for me and I would settle with a stock system and look at upgrades later if worth it. I just didn't think it was "good enough" to warrant the extra cost over the stock system--I would rather pay more aftermarket for a system I would really enjoy than "more" for a "less bad" system.

Funny thing is, getting back into my '13, I played the same song for comparison and found that it was crisper and clearer overall, but it didn't have as much low end punch (but I also have a heavy Volt mat in the back).

I know this is an issue that many people question and I just wanted to share my $0.02--it's obviously an issue of personal taste for everyone.
 

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I don't know if I've gotten used to it, or it's "broken in", but after being initially disappointed in the Bose system I really like it now. I'm not an audiophile, so take this for what it's worth.
 

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It's nice to know I have one more reason to keep my gen1 volt. If only you could also cmpare the gen1 volt to an ELR and CT6 plugin....:).
 

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There could be some variation car to car or between production runs. My 2014 bose was unbearably horrible (both "muddy" and vibration of panels from poor driver mounting techniques) until both the tweeters and front door speakers were changed, however the 2017 premier was night and day better oem (June '16 build).

Also, there may have been issues with the source, or that particular entertainment box.

Not trying to influence anyone, go try it yourself is always best. However, my experience was completely the opposite.

Cannot speak to the LT, when I can afford it (plus, I like all gadgets), I go by the old adage, "The best is plenty bad enough".
 

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Until such time as "audiophiles" including their blogs, forums, magazines etc., start providing proper scientifically-based, double-blind studies using a number of listeners I just ignore them.
Wow, that comment was so insightful and helpful LOL! It wasn't like we were discussing the merits of Monster cable. And, neither one of us used the word Audiophile.

Actually, although we had opposite experiences, Gen 1 to Gen 2 audio impressions, I think the OP and I would probably both agree, it is ultimately up to what the individual prefers, no matter what their previous experience with sound systems. Therefore, a proper scientifically-based, double-blind study would be kind of irrelevant to a particular person's taste and impressions.

Do you have a VOLT (Gen 1 or Gen 2?) or BOLT? What do you think of the sound quality?
 

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I am an audiophile (sound engineer as a hobby) and am impressed by the Bose in the gen2. It lacks the sustained low end that people seem to favor these days, but it's punch is clean and crisp. The highs are sharp and the soundstage (left/right and front/back) is impressive. Midrange can get muddy, but if you are listening to a speaker system in your car looking for clarity in the midrange, you are going to be disappointed. So much is naturally in the midrange (road noise, engine noise, the low end of wind noise, etc) that any stereo in a car will struggle here.

Bottom line: would I absolutely have to check the box for the Bose sound system in the Gen2 Volt? Nope. It doesn't blow me away, but then again I have quite a favor for high end sound systems and know that a car isn't designed to be that stage. As such my expectations for a car audio system are probably below the average car buyer.

Good luck with your choice, and kudos to the OP for comparing the systems!

TJ


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Until such time as "audiophiles" including their blogs, forums, magazines etc., start providing proper scientifically-based, double-blind studies using a number of listeners I just ignore them.
My ears tell me that my Volt sound system is better than the sound system in my CTS (speakers are probably worn) and my Suburban (22 years old). Maybe it's as simple as getting new speakers all around on the older cars. Alas, I agree the Volt speakers don't wow me. But I certainly am no audiophile. While others are sporting Bose or Beats headphones, I quite like the Apple wired earbuds that came with my phone. BTW any audiophiles out there with a drawer full of the Apple newer earbuds with that interesting shape, I'd be happy to help you clear your junk drawer.
 

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While I also don't consider myself an audiophile, I am an 'audio guy' and I own (and have owned/heard) MANY home audio components and systems in my time.

Though I can't comment on the Volt Bose system since I didn't opt for one and haven't personally heard one, I have had experience with Bose in a Murano I owned, as well as several experiences with their home speakers.

As most self-identified audiophiles - and plain old enthusiasts like me - will tell you, Bose has a pretty well-deserved reputation for abysmal sound quality, among all their products. But their advantage is that most people aren't 'critical listeners' who care much about sound quality. And since they're an established brand with high visibility, people automatically associate the name with quality - mistaken though that impression may be.

Bose's claim to fame in recent times has been their 'sound from everywhere' shtick, with small easily-hidden speakers arrayed in various ways and subwoofers providing the rest of the sound (or small bookshelf systems using similar principles). Maybe it makes sense then, that they branched out to car audio; but for those who take audio seriously, Bose has always been a non-starter when it comes to sound quality.

My Murano had probably the single worst car audio system I've heard in my life, even with the clever spare-wheel-mounted subwoofer. Boomy, and lacking any sort of tightness in the bass, and non-existant high frequencies (even with dedicated tweeters placed near the ideal head level) - and yes, they were working properly. But I wasn't surprised, since I expected as much from Bose.

It sounds like they've upped their game somewhat in recent years; I've even heard people rave about their Bose systems. But for most audio fans I've spoken with, the Bose name is more of a disincentive, than a selling point in a vehicle.
 

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Maybe it is a good thing that GM did not set the bar too high by choosing Bose audio. I drove a loaner 2016 Volt LT with the standard audio system for almost a week. I own a 2017 Premier with the Bose audio with the subwoofer. The base audio system on the LT sounded pretty decent to me, similar to the Bose speakers, just not as full in the lower frequencies. So if you have an LT know you are not missing much as far as the Volt's audio is concerned. I would grade the base audio system sound for (mid bass and higher frequencies / bass frequencies) as C+/C. I would rate the the Premier Bose audio system as a B/B.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I don't know if I've gotten used to it, or it's "broken in", but after being initially disappointed in the Bose system I really like it now. I'm not an audiophile, so take this for what it's worth.
That's a good point. The Premier had maybe a dozen miles on it, so I doubt the system had much use. Do these systems require a "break-in" to reach their full potential? Would that mean that the stock system could get "better" sounding also?

Either way, it was great to be able to test both systems back-to-back, with the same song and source, so I was glad to do it.
 

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I was initially unimpressed with the Bose system in my '13. But after playing with the tone controls I was able to get acceptable sound out of it. I too am not a Bose fan. My old McIntosh system is still pretty darn impressive, and it's circa 1975. I should note that you have to adjust the tone controls for EACH source in the '13. Else you will probably be getting "flat" sound from any source you haven't adjusted. Very important. As a comparison, the stock stereo in my Leaf was awful. Muddy, indistinct, no sound stage. The Volt actually presents a sound stage that isn't too bad, considering it's a car. I like the subwoofer too. We had some friends that had a Lexus 450 (sedan) for awhile with a 12-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. Now that was impressive. ML has always made very high-end audio, with accompanying price tag.
 

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I was initially unimpressed with the Bose system in my '13. But after playing with the tone controls I was able to get acceptable sound out of it. I too am not a Bose fan. My old McIntosh system is still pretty darn impressive, and it's circa 1975. I should note that you have to adjust the tone controls for EACH source in the '13. Else you will probably be getting "flat" sound from any source you haven't adjusted. Very important. As a comparison, the stock stereo in my Leaf was awful. Muddy, indistinct, no sound stage. The Volt actually presents a sound stage that isn't too bad, considering it's a car. I like the subwoofer too. We had some friends that had a Lexus 450 (sedan) for awhile with a 12-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. Now that was impressive. ML has always made very high-end audio, with accompanying price tag.
I learned long ago, setting everything to flat is the only way to avoid blowing your speakers. Any additional bass or treble and a little high volume adds distortion which is killer on speakers. I set all of my systems to completely flat equalization and the only possible change I make is to fade to the front so people in the back seats can sleep on long road trips. I great sound system should sound awesome flat.
 

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i had a 2011 volt #569 with bose and thought it was the best car stereo ive ever had. i traded it on a 2016 lt with std. radio and think its the worst i ever had- the fm sounds like am-no separation. i bought a 2017 niro fe base radio and it sounds alot better than the 16 volt.
 

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I found the bass a bit "boomy", so actually have it dialed down a notch or two. The imaging and all really depends a lot on the source. Feed lousy compressed, low bit rate audio (e.g., Pandora) and it won't sound that great. Some of the XM channels are pretty poor too, though others are not bad. I especially like the jazz channel. Sadly most of the rock channels suck.

Years ago I tried doing some equalization in one of my cars, using a sound meter as a reference. It was really a challenge with all the closely spaced reflective surfaces, suboptimal locations, etc. Then move the mic a foot or two and everything is different. I finally gave up and just tweaked things "by ear" until I liked the way it sounded.
 

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As the current owner of a Lexus LS sedan with a Mark Levinson radio and a Volt Premier with a Bose radio, I can say the Lexus system is the without any doubt the clear winner. The Levinson makes the Bose sound like mud. The clarity is instantly recognizable. It's almost like putting on headphones versus listening to speakers... you hear things you didn't know were in the song. It would be hard to find a better sounding radio in a car than an LS with a Levinson. It takes more than volume and base in my world. I love driving my Volt, but lust for a much better sound system, especially since the car was born quiet. I'd put quieter tires on it if it had an outstanding radio. The two cars I'm comparing here are apples and oranges price wise so this should not be shocking to anyone. The Lexus doesn't have Apple Car Play... shame on them.
 

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After reading this thread, I hopped into the gen1 volt with bose, queued up Linkin Park and Fort Minor via pandora via Bluetooth, turned up the volume a little, completely flat equalization, and listened carefully. I think the bose sound system is awesome.
 

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When I bought my 2017, I wanted the least options I could get, but I did opt for the Bose system. I was satisfied with it for over a year as it was nearly as good as the premium Harman-Kardon system in my German car. However, a couple of weeks ago I bought a car with a 770 watt, 12 speaker and two subs Meridian system, and now I hate the other two.
 

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When I bought my 2017, I wanted the least options I could get, but I did opt for the Bose system. I was satisfied with it for over a year as it was nearly as good as the premium Harman-Kardon system in my German car. However, a couple of weeks ago I bought a car with a 770 watt, 12 speaker and two subs Meridian system, and now I hate the other two.
Now you are doomed to a life of expensive car stereo systems. Had you not bought this car with the Meridians, you would have never known what you were missing. It would be cheaper to buy a used VW bug with a crappy AM radio. Ride in that for an hour, and you'll love the bose system in comparison.
 
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