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Audio quality with the Bose sound system is hit or miss. I blame it on the mid bass peak that sounds exaggerated with some music genres. First off, regardless of the genre, FM is simply muddy and lifeless. I don't blame Bose or Mazda for that, although it could be a tad better. In any case, loss of FM quality doesn't matter to me since I normally wouldn't listen to it. Again I blame the mid bass which is already a problem with compressed FM making it sound worse than necessary.

As for Bluetooth with my Samsung S3, it works fine for most acoustic music whether jazz or classical. If electronic/dance music such as with some Nile Rodger remixes, the bass is horrible even when the equalizer for bass is set to "far left"! I thought maybe it was bluetooth but it sounds fine on a $59 Creative Soundblaster with bluetooth since the bass can't be "enhanced".

Some of the problems can be compensated for a little with the built in equalizer but it needs to be used far to often and I don't want to crash my car. I blame the need for constant tweaking of the bass on the Bose speakers.

My expensive home audio system rarely needs any adjustment regardless of the music played or the volume.

My 2004 Mazdaspeed has a much better Bose sound system but is not of much use with the top down. It also lacks the internet connection.

I have the sedan. Maybe the hatchback sounds different. I do like the sound of my favorite genres over bluetooth so it isn't a total loss. That is because most of my favorite music is light in the bass department.

For listening to my favorite genres, it works OK near flat on Bass and Treble. It sounds terrible with many genres that are heavy in the bass department. The mid bass overwhelms the music regardless of the equalizer settings.
 

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Add a sub, make the crossover higher, slightly decrease bass in the "equalizer"/tone control, and your problem will be made much better. The door woofers are the weakest link in the Bose system as they are low power, 1.75 ohm speakers that are a bit muddy because the magnet is just not strong enough to hold the frequencies. The other thing I missed were the highs as they were not very clear so staging and separation suffered. That's why I also added tweeters. Since I added a compact powered sub and used good, but inexpensive components, that upgrade only ran me about $300 doing it myself.

I'm doing a second stage by changing out the speakers and using better components. We'll see how much of a difference that makes when I complete it in a week or so. I really like to play with this stuff and experiment, but I'm not going to hit audiophile quality which will cost 3 times as much as the mid-level upgrade I'm doing now. Besides, the audiophile upgrades utilize a 2.1 setup and I want the sound pressure of a 12-14 speaker system and use of Centerpoint for some genres.

That said, my current sound quality is quite good for most genres. It only begins to fall off for full orchestra type arrangements which I unfortunately listen to a great deal.
 

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Audio quality with the Bose sound system is hit or miss. I blame it on the mid bass peak that sounds exaggerated with some music genres. First off, regardless of the genre, FM is simply muddy and lifeless. I don't blame Bose or Mazda for that, although it could be a tad better. In any case, loss of FM quality doesn't matter to me since I normally wouldn't listen to it. Again I blame the mid bass which is already a problem with compressed FM making it sound worse than necessary.

As for Bluetooth with my Samsung S3, it works fine for most acoustic music whether jazz or classical. If electronic/dance music such as with some Nile Rodger remixes, the bass is horrible even when the equalizer for bass is set to "far left"! I thought maybe it was bluetooth but it sounds fine on a $59 Creative Soundblaster with bluetooth since the bass can't be "enhanced".

Some of the problems can be compensated for a little with the built in equalizer but it needs to be used far to often and I don't want to crash my car. I blame the need for constant tweaking of the bass on the Bose speakers.

My expensive home audio system rarely needs any adjustment regardless of the music played or the volume.

My 2004 Mazdaspeed has a much better Bose sound system but is not of much use with the top down. It also lacks the internet connection.

I have the sedan. Maybe the hatchback sounds different. I do like the sound of my favorite genres over bluetooth so it isn't a total loss. That is because most of my favorite music is light in the bass department.

For listening to my favorite genres, it works OK near flat on Bass and Treble. It sounds terrible with many genres that are heavy in the bass department. The mid bass overwhelms the music regardless of the equalizer settings.
My wife had a similar issue with her Galaxy S3. In the car, whether bluetooth or through the auxiliary input, the music had way too much bass and the volume was crazy loud. she had to drop the phone volume to below half to make it sound decent in her car. I think it has something to do with the equalizer settings on the phone. She traded out the S3 for an iphone and she now has an HTC M8. The issue didn't exist with the iphone or her new phone.

I'm not sure exactly what "sound blaster" you're talking about because, Creative has used the name for computer speakers, phone docks/speakers, sounds cards, headsets, and a plethora of other devices for the last 20 years. My wife did notice that her phone sounded fine connected to head phones though.

If you have another phone or an MP3 player. Heck, even just a thumb drive that you can copy a couple songs to, it'd be interesting to see if there's any change.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Both replies have useful suggestions. Thanks to both of you. I have yet to bother with CD's as a "Gold Standard" and the sound from Pandora and Google Music is much better than with FM. There does appear to be something wrong with the mid bass boom from the door speakers as suggested above. Even with the bass turned all the way down using the equalizer it can still be boomy in a few situations. I checked my Google Music setting and the equalizer is set to Flat. I have a subscription so I can select the same tune and play it over and over again for test purposes. It is the overhyped bass from electronic dance music where the Bose system just falls apart with the loud boomy bass overwhelming the rest of the music. Thankfully I don't listen to that genre often but do like a few tunes but not in the Mazda.
 

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Most modern car audio systems suffer from the "Beats effect" wherein mid-bass levels are raised substantially. This is an offshoot of both HipHop and those big subs people put in their cars. You have the same effect with Beats headphones which is why I won't touch them. Since we don't have an addressable equalizer in the 3, we can't adjust the output. Adding a sub with the right LOC will compensate for that by both pulling some of the bass volume from the door woofer lines and by allowing you to reduce the bass in the system and still get strong output. Centerpoint will also induce a "loudness" function that raises the level of mid-bass. You can't fully solve it without putting new speakers in the front doors bypassing the Bose amp with a separate amp of your own. Many people are now used to the heavy mid-bass and think that is normal. Also, the door woofers start distorting earlier than the other speakers in the system. If you listen closely, volumes above about 42 start distorting the front door speakers.
 

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I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks the mid-range bass is overdone, too boomy in a number of situations. I already have the bass setting at -2 from centre and it is still too much, but any less and some of the fullness starts to lack a bit....hard to describe in words.


As for audio quality, I still primarily use CDs- hence my gripe with a lack of door pocket storage space....that is where I stored my CD cases. I would listen to XM more if it had more than one classical channel (what is wrong with society.....200+ channels and 1 is classial? :scared:)
 

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I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks the mid-range bass is overdone, too boomy in a number of situations. I already have the bass setting at -2 from centre and it is still too much, but any less and some of the fullness starts to lack a bit....hard to describe in words.


As for audio quality, I still primarily use CDs- hence my gripe with a lack of door pocket storage space....that is where I stored my CD cases. I would listen to XM more if it had more than one classical channel (what is wrong with society.....200+ channels and 1 is classial? :scared:)
I ripped all of my classical CD's to high quality (high variable bit rate) mp3's and they are all on a USB stick. The classical channel on SiriusXM is not that good so I listen to other genres there. You will not get fullness for a full orchestra on the Bose system but it is very good for other types of music. I upgraded once by adding tweeters and a sub and that gave me a full range and brightness especially with violins, high pitched woodwinds, and percussion. But that still won't get you a good strong orchestral sound. That's why I'm taking the next step and changing out the Bose speakers for components and adding a mid-level quality amp. Some people are going high level with Focal and Dynaudio, but I just can't justify that in this car and while they will get really accurate and clear sound, won't have the fullness of a 12 speaker system.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Most modern car audio systems suffer from the "Beats effect" wherein mid-bass levels are raised substantially. This is an offshoot of both HipHop and those big subs people put in their cars. You have the same effect with Beats headphones which is why I won't touch them. Since we don't have an addressable equalizer in the 3, we can't adjust the output. Adding a sub with the right LOC will compensate for that by both pulling some of the bass volume from the door woofer lines and by allowing you to reduce the bass in the system and still get strong output. Centerpoint will also induce a "loudness" function that raises the level of mid-bass. You can't fully solve it without putting new speakers in the front doors bypassing the Bose amp with a separate amp of your own. Many people are now used to the heavy mid-bass and think that is normal. Also, the door woofers start distorting earlier than the other speakers in the system. If you listen closely, volumes above about 42 start distorting the front door speakers.
I believe you hit the "nail on the head"! It's unfortunate that the built in equalizer can't at least minimize the defect for those "outrageous" bass tracks. Turning down the volume does little as the distortion seems to be due to an over aggressive mid bass that is from the speakers themselves. Whatever the problem is, the equalizer can't handle it.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I would like to "qualify" my criticism of the Mazda 3 Bose sound system. I am a senior and have done more than a few audiology tests on the internet using Grado SR 60 headphones. My hearing is "moderately" impaired in the high frequency range. It is possible that a younger person with a more "balanced" sense of sound would not find the boomy bass so annoying. My only misgivings with that line of thought would be why I don't like to increase the treble setting beyond the first notch on the equalizer.

There seems to be little doubt in my mind that I can be overly sensitive to bass that is "poorly" implemented even though I enjoy my two subwoofers with my audiophile system. I have them set on lower than normal but still miss them if they are not used.
 

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I would like to "qualify" my criticism of the Mazda 3 Bose sound system. I am a senior and have done more than a few audiology tests on the internet using Grado SR 60 headphones. My hearing is "moderately" impaired in the high frequency range. It is possible that a younger person with a more "balanced" sense of sound would not find the boomy bass so annoying. My only misgivings with that line of thought would be why I don't like to increase the treble setting beyond the first notch on the equalizer.

There seems to be little doubt in my mind that I can be overly sensitive to bass that is "poorly" implemented even though I enjoy my two subwoofers with my audiophile system. I have them set on lower than normal but still miss them if they are not used.
I'm also a senior but have excellent hearing as tested. And the "boomy bass" is annoying not because it is so loud, but because it is distorted and is not clear. Regarding subs, I added a small, 8" powered compact sub that takes up very little room and it fills the lows in nicely. It won't pound like two 12" boxed subs, but if all you want is quality balanced sound, it works great.
 

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I ripped all of my classical CD's to high quality (high variable bit rate) mp3's and they are all on a USB stick. The classical channel on SiriusXM is not that good so I listen to other genres there. You will not get fullness for a full orchestra on the Bose system but it is very good for other types of music. I upgraded once by adding tweeters and a sub and that gave me a full range and brightness especially with violins, high pitched woodwinds, and percussion. But that still won't get you a good strong orchestral sound. That's why I'm taking the next step and changing out the Bose speakers for components and adding a mid-level quality amp. Some people are going high level with Focal and Dynaudio, but I just can't justify that in this car and while they will get really accurate and clear sound, won't have the fullness of a 12 speaker system.
Agreed. I'm not going to do any upgrades......car audio is one of those things that while I appreciate if done very well, I'm not going to spend the time and money to upgrade. In addition, the amount of noise in general the car makes due to lesser soundproofing would reduce the full improvements anyway.

To be fair, I kind of got used to the Logic7 surround system in my mother's BMW E90 so that may have spoiled me for the few months I borrowed the car. And once a friend took me for a spin in a press fleet 5er with the Bang and Olufsen system and that really spoiled me!
 

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Agreed. I'm not going to do any upgrades......car audio is one of those things that while I appreciate if done very well, I'm not going to spend the time and money to upgrade. In addition, the amount of noise in general the car makes due to lesser soundproofing would reduce the full improvements anyway.

To be fair, I kind of got used to the Logic7 surround system in my mother's BMW E90 so that may have spoiled me for the few months I borrowed the car. And once a friend took me for a spin in a press fleet 5er with the Bang and Olufsen system and that really spoiled me!
After I finish the current upgrade next week, I'll be in a unique position to compare the base system, with a tweeter/sub upgrade, with a speaker change. Given that I listen to a lot of jazz with deep bass and high percussion/guitar harmonics, just adding the sub and tweeters for slightly less than $300 was a great investment. This next upgrade will run another $500 and should take it to the next level. About $100 of that will be wasted because of the stepwise approach. I'll see if I wasted my money.

I didn't go with extreme low level components, but mid-level. My objective was not to replace completely the current system, but to use all of the capabilities of Bose so I wouldn't have to play with controls outside the system once it was balanced. I still want a 12+ speaker system to surround myself with sound even though audiophiles might not like it. I wanted to use the Bose amp in addition which was needed to have that many speakers going. It took me a while to figure out a scheme that would work and that I could balance. Few people know that Bose builds time alignment into their system which is part of the Bose amp so I wanted to connect after that amp so I'd get the benefit of time alignment will all of their speakers. Taking out the amp gets rid of that capability. However, if you're just using high end components, left and right, in the front and a sub, that is not an issue. In order to do this, I'm going to need 2 AudioControl LOC's so I can have front and rear inputs into the 4 channel amp.

We know that putting in a high level system will cost between $2500 and $3500 for parts and labor. Parts alone would run between $1500 and $2500. I put in a mid-level system in my last Porsche with 10 speakers and it just blew people away, so I know what kind of sound to expect. It will sound fuller than a high end audiophile installation, but less accurate. It would be nice to be able to directly compare the alternatives. When I'm done, if anyone near me in NW New Jersey would like to hear it, I'm sure we could meet.
 

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I wonder if upgrading the door speakers to better speakers would be worth the investment? I got a cheap pair of Alpine speakers on my old E83 X3 when one of the cheap speakers failed (at just 100k km, go figure) and it made an appreciable difference, well worth the $150 I spent on parts and install back in 2008.

Aside from the bass, the sound seems to lack clarity and crispness and I wonder if a simple door speaker upgrade would be worth a small investment.......that's something that won't involve huge bucks. I have heard good things about Dynaudio which is what VW uses outside North America, I'd love for a Harmon/kardon set but I don't think they just sell speakers, usually whole systems.
 

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I wonder if upgrading the door speakers to better speakers would be worth the investment? I got a cheap pair of Alpine speakers on my old E83 X3 when one of the cheap speakers failed (at just 100k km, go figure) and it made an appreciable difference, well worth the $150 I spent on parts and install back in 2008.

Aside from the bass, the sound seems to lack clarity and crispness and I wonder if a simple door speaker upgrade would be worth a small investment.......that's something that won't involve huge bucks. I have heard good things about Dynaudio which is what VW uses outside North America, I'd love for a Harmon/kardon set but I don't think they just sell speakers, usually whole systems.
Harmon/Kardon sells speakers under the Infinity brand name. The higher end Infinity speakers are just as good as Alpines. Dynaudio speakers are 3-4 times as much. I'm using Infinity reference components in the front and DB651s in the rear doors. The rear doors have less depth and the DB651's seem to be one of the few that fits the space well.

Changing the speakers without putting in a more powerful amp should work if you're using lower power speakers like the DB651's. However, you won't get as full a sound. The front door speakers are woofers only which go lower and don't have mids or highs. So replacing them is tricky I would not replace them without adding a sub although trying is not that expensive. If you preserve the original Bose units.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I'm also a senior but have excellent hearing as tested. And the "boomy bass" is annoying not because it is so loud, but because it is distorted and is not clear. Regarding subs, I added a small, 8" powered compact sub that takes up very little room and it fills the lows in nicely. It won't pound like two 12" boxed subs, but if all you want is quality balanced sound, it works great.
There is little doubt that the bass is not extended and is also distorted. The problem for me is that it can't be minimized with the Bose equalizer settings. It ruins some sound tracks the same way road noise can.
 

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It totally depends on the source. The cleanest is using a USB drive. My GF and I both have an S4, she is on the stock software and I have modded mine with Cyanogenmod - Over Bluetooth AND the AUX jack, our phones sound slightly different between songs. Her's (stock) sounds more boomy, if that makes any sense. While using Bluetooth there's less clarity and separation of instruments. I listen to a variety of music, but not very much Hip-Hop or Rap, so I tend to like a subdued bass sound - it's kinda hard to get that over Bluetooth, but the USB drive is better.

Edit: that being said, I was disappointed when I read that BOSE would be the premium sound option for the car. They, like Beats, like to deceive people with the "Wall of sound" created by over-boosted mid-bass. Turning centerpoint off actually decreases the overblown mid-bass, but you loose the surround processing (similar to logic7 but not as sophisticated, plus those setups use more, and higher quality speakers).

Also - any type of streaming service, will compress the song which causes an amplification of the mid range (higher and lower frequencies require more bits). Combine that with Bluetooth and for some songs it sounds like the 2 front door speakers are just groaning away like tire noise haha. That effect STILL happens even with high quality encoded AACs, for these songs I turn centerpoint off and turn the bass to -1. An example of the songs that require just that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzPbWQ8KoUw
 

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It totally depends on the source. The cleanest is using a USB drive. My GF and I both have an S4, she is on the stock software and I have modded mine with Cyanogenmod - Over Bluetooth AND the AUX jack, our phones sound slightly different between songs. Her's (stock) sounds more boomy, if that makes any sense. While using Bluetooth there's less clarity and separation of instruments. I listen to a variety of music, but not very much Hip-Hop or Rap, so I tend to like a subdued bass sound - it's kinda hard to get that over Bluetooth, but the USB drive is better.

Edit: that being said, I was disappointed when I read that BOSE would be the premium sound option for the car. They, like Beats, like to deceive people with the "Wall of sound" created by over-boosted mid-bass. Turning centerpoint off actually decreases the overblown mid-bass, but you loose the surround processing (similar to logic7 but not as sophisticated, plus those setups use more, and higher quality speakers).

Also - any type of streaming service, will compress the song which causes an amplification of the mid range (higher and lower frequencies require more bits). Combine that with Bluetooth and for some songs it sounds like the 2 front door speakers are just groaning away like tire noise haha. That effect STILL happens even with high quality encoded AACs, for these songs I turn centerpoint off and turn the bass to -1. An example of the songs that require just that:
I could not agree more on everything you've said. Depending on a quality sub for low frequencies covers the "Beats Effect" to a certain degree. When you put in a quality LOC tapping into the front door woofers, it also reduces the booming effect slightly. Adding tweeters does give you the effect of clarity because the Bose system doesn't do much above 15K so you miss harmonics and good staging. This system is far better than most car systems, but is nowhere near a mid or high level custom system. You really don't notice the difference unless you experience it side by side. I have a much harder time discriminating between a mid-level upgrade and a high level upgrade depending on how it is installed.
 

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I could not agree more on everything you've said. Depending on a quality sub for low frequencies covers the "Beats Effect" to a certain degree. When you put in a quality LOC tapping into the front door woofers, it also reduces the booming effect slightly. Adding tweeters does give you the effect of clarity because the Bose system doesn't do much above 15K so you miss harmonics and good staging. This system is far better than most car systems, but is nowhere near a mid or high level custom system. You really don't notice the difference unless you experience it side by side. I have a much harder time discriminating between a mid-level upgrade and a high level upgrade depending on how it is installed.
I saw your thread on the additions you made. I'm tempted to do the same, but I'm not too sure on how long I'll have the car. Perhaps when I have some cash burning a hole in my pocket and free time burning my brain, but I do imagine it fixes the holes in the frequency range - given that we are complaining about the exact same thing.

I've had people ride with me and comment that it sounds really good for a stock non-luxury car, and I have to agree with them. Am I going to point out my audiophile nitpicking to them? No! My old Highlander sounded as hollow as a single speaker in an auditorium, so this is a welcome upgrade. As you said, the point of diminishing returns can come quite early in a car like this. Even in luxury vehicles, a car simply isn't well suited for audiophile sound reproduction (it's designed for driving, no? lol).
 

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I saw your thread on the additions you made. I'm tempted to do the same, but I'm not too sure on how long I'll have the car. Perhaps when I have some cash burning a hole in my pocket and free time burning my brain, but I do imagine it fixes the holes in the frequency range - given that we are complaining about the exact same thing.

I've had people ride with me and comment that it sounds really good for a stock non-luxury car, and I have to agree with them. Am I going to point out my audiophile nitpicking to them? No! My old Highlander sounded as hollow as a single speaker in an auditorium, so this is a welcome upgrade. As you said, the point of diminishing returns can come quite early in a car like this. Even in luxury vehicles, a car simply isn't well suited for audiophile sound reproduction (it's designed for driving, no? lol).
Adding a compact powered sub only cost me about $200. My tweeter parts including a LOC with a volume control, a small amp, and good tweeters is for sale in this forum for half of the price I paid and the parts are only 2 months old. The installations do require some work in tapping into and running the wires. So for $250 you could have the same thing I had if you did the work yourself. Running the wires was not that bad. Tapping into the wires on the Bose amp took some finesse. For my next install, I'm going to remove the passenger seat (which I should have done in the first place). I think $250 is reasonable. My mid-level upgrade that keeps the sub but adds an amp and speakers will run another $500. I'm halfway through that now.
 
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