Let's say you want to test your car's audio system. On the surface, this shouldn’t be difficult at all, right? After all, you just need to play some music through the system and that's it. Or is it? As with everything, there are levels to it, so we propose a fun and engaging way of testing your audio system instead of getting all “pseudo-sciency” with big words that don’t mean much to the average music fan.
One thing is for sure: you’ll need to use a high-quality source signal, not just some MP3/AAC files downloaded or streamed from the internet. If you still have CD’s of your favorite artists – that will work great. Same with high-quality digital files like WAV files – they should work just fine when plugged into the iDrive system via a USB drive. Lastly, you could use your phone combined with a streaming service that supports lossless audio quality, like Tidal Hifi, Spotify Hifi or Amazon Music HD – to mention a few of the most popular high quality streaming services. Their subscription fees are more expensive than standard quality streaming, but if you don’t mind the data fees combined with subscription fees – they’re worth every penny.
When streaming, connect your phone either via USB or CarPlay/Android Auto if your BMW or MINI supports those. Try to avoid streaming through Bluetooth Audio – oftentimes bluetooth audio streams just don’t sound as good, depending on your iDrive generation and phone. Learn more about the best ways to stream audio in your car .
Before we get to what to listen to – let’s discuss when and where to conduct the car stereo test. Yes, you can just walk down to your parked car, fire up the engine and start listening – but if you decide to crank up the volume, you might start annoying your neighbors. Secondly, most of the time you listen to music in your car while driving, so why not go out for a drive on some non-congested roads in the evening, or better yet at night when your senses will be able to pick up more audible cues due to not being overwhelmed with all of the visual information.
Now we can move on to what to listen to. If you’ve ever been to a home stereo audio show like High End Munich in Bavaria, Germany or Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest (RMAF) in Denver, Colorado, you know what kind of music audio equipment manufacturers/distributors will play to showcase their equipment in the best possible light.
It’s going to be Norah Jones in all rooms at all times – or at least that’s what it feels like after walking around for a few hours. And rightfully so, because the vocals on Norah Jones CD’s are among the best for evaluating the clarity of female vocals. The classy acoustic jazz instrumentals backing up the vocals also add to your listening pleasure. She didn’t receive all those Grammys by accident. So why not put on the Norah Jones album titled Come Away With Me and sink into the relaxing flow. Just don’t let it put you to sleep while driving!
While Norah Jones is among the greatest female singers in her own niche/style and always sounds great through any audio equipment, we also have more incredible, iconic music options available to choose from.
At this point it’s time to listen to a full album, uninterrupted just like back in the vinyl days where you would only have to flip the disc, but you would not dare skip songs like you do these days.
Try out Thriller by The King of POP Michael Jackson. Music doesn’t get any better than this. You’re guaranteed to have a great listening session, filled with a whole orchestra of instruments recorded and produced to absolute perfection by no one else than the Legend himself Quincy Jones. Just put it on and listen to the neverending richness of beautiful tones. Yet again, an X7’s trunk would not be sufficient to fit all of their combined Grammy awards alone.
Did you follow the above instructions? Great. You’re not likely to top off the experience of listening to Thriller. Sure, due to personal preferences, likes and dislikes it might not be up your alley – but from an objective point of view it’s exceptional art and you didn’t have to go to the Louvre to experience it.
At this point it would make sense to put on some modern tracks with drum machine generated bass. For this purpose let’s put on two differing songs, one from the 90’s and a more recent one.
Unless you’ve spent your life in a monastery you must have heard The Sign by Ace of Base. Its warm bass will wrap around you and the mesmerising vocals of Malin and Jenny Berggren will likely bring back great memories if you were born in the 80’s or before. If you’ve never heard it – check it out. It was and still is a banger.
Current songs with drum machine bass usually hit harder and deeper. While there are so many great songs to choose from to illustrate this, most of them come with lyrics that describe or endorse questionable behaviors to say the least. Mi Gente by J Balvin and Willy William on the other hand is fine in that regard, and has a great sounding synthetic low end with varying bass notes. There is even a melody within the bass – all around a great song to make your woofers do some work, preferably top down on Ocean Drive in Miami.
Staying in the realm of bass, this sophisticated piece will give you chills, and your woofers a great resonance test. Named one of the top bass songs for a car, Lorde's “Royals” prove that pop can bridge both seat-shaking beats and sharp lyrics. From the first seconds you should feel the thunderous effect of the bass drum and the deep kick of the electronic bass. Combine that with soaring, multi-tracked vocals, and you’ll experience a true soundstage without entering a theater hall. Feel the space:
We could go on and on with recommendations for albums and songs worth listening to. If you’re a music fan to the slightest degree – you don’t really need specific recommendations as you already have your own listening list.
What we can recommend though is a BMW speakers and amplifier upgrade that will substantially step up any Bimmer or MINI's audio game. The Alpha One range and Premium Audio system crafted by our expert sound engineers help any tunes come out crisp, spacious and powerful, and even more importantly thanks to the DSP tuning – tailored to your own musical preferences and your car chassis.
Hopefully, the above recommendations gave you some insight into your car audio system performance, and some fun along with it.
To sum things up:
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