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did a back-to-back listening comparison '17 LT stock vs. '17 Bose vs. '13 Bose

5844 Views 43 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  onevoice
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 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.
Ok, so on a 3 hour drive to Chicagoland and back where I was all by myself, I decided to compare the sound between using the Aux cable and using Bluetooth. Audio through Bluetooth sounds good, but now I get what you are saying. Through copper wiring, the bass was a bit deeper, the overall sound was richer, the separation was more noticeable. Damn you, now you've made me into an audio snob where I now have to plug in two cables (power and aux) instead of just one.

Ignorance was bliss. Please Mr. smith, put me back into the matrix before I even knew about a blue or a red pill...
Mostly recovered audiophile here. Trust me, it is a slippery slope...

True old school audiophiles often diss Bose. It dates back to the early 1970s, when some audio mag gave the the 901s a bad review. Dr Amar Bose took the magazine to court over it. Ever since then they have been on the audiophile s--- list. Their systems have generally required a lot of equalization and various enclosure tricks to get reasonable sound. Car audio no exception. That said, their systems do sound pleasant to many ears.
For 3 decades now, I have avoided the audiophile slope buying run-of-the-mill like a Sony receiver and cheap bookshelf speakers. Then two christmas's ago, my family bought me a 7.1 surround system with Bose 161 speakers and Polk Audio subwoofer and center channel. Going to resistdoing anything with my volt since it sounds nice enough, but I might mess with some new cheap speaker replacements for my CTS and Suburban since those speakers are really old and don't sound very good.
My '96 Suburban pretty much still has its stock system. I retrofitted the factory CD player to it early on. One door speaker had a rattle that you could only hear with certain bass lines. I used a test CD (frequency sweeps, etc) to demo it to the service tech, and he found a mis-routed wire behind the door panel. Then, some years ago, I replaced the 4x10s in the back-back ceiling. They get really hot up there, and one of the speakers warped enough that it caused the voice coil to start rubbing. Used some jobber level 4x10s which have been fine.

Any speaker driver that is more than 10-20 years old and has a foam surround should be checked, as the foam surrounds can deteriorate with age. Once the foam deteriorates, they sound like angry moths flapping around. For decent home speakers, one can buy kits to replace the surrounds. In theory one could do it with car speakers too (4x10s excepted.) But the drivers that most car manufacturers use are not that great. So most folks just replace them with aftermarket.
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