Have You Upgraded The Audio System In Your R8, And Is It Worth It?


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Thread: Have You Upgraded The Audio System In Your R8, And Is It Worth It?

  1. #1
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    Have You Upgraded The Audio System In Your R8, And Is It Worth It?

    Putting it out there for those who have upgraded their audio system (not just the head unit) or have experience with friends who have done so. I am definitely upgrading the head unit on my 2009, shortly, as it's woefully outdated in terms of technology, and I need a much better phone interface, XM radio interface, etc. I was fortunate enough to finally locate a master car audio installer (granted I have to drive almost 3 hours) who has very significant experience working on upgrading head units, and audio, on R8's. He asked if I wanted to add amplification, a subwoofer, upgraded speakers, etc. and offered me a series of options at different price points.

    Now, I realize there will be those who, and rightfully so, will chime in and point out that this is a very high performance sports vehicle and that the only sound needed is that of the engine/exhaust. In those ideal moments when you are somewhere that you can let the car stretch out it's legs and take off, I fully agree. However, unless you are fortunate enough to live somewhere very remote, or literally only take the car out in such circumstances, the reality is that much of the time you spend in it is at far less than a furious pace, unless your uncle is the local magistrate and can clear your speeding tickets. .

    My R8 is strictly for my enjoyment. I have another car that handles all regular duties such as grocery shopping, densely urban driving, bad weather and most of the general use categories. But, despite that, quite a bit of the time in the R8 is lengthy weekend trips, cross state travel, etc. I think better audio sound (and I am a big audiophile with a very serious home system) would be nice to have, a significant portion of the time, even though I do admit to appreciation of every element of this cars sporting nature. On my previous, strictly for enjoyment vehicle, an M3, I did utilize the cars audio system quite often.

    I'm really on the fence as to what to do here. I would appreciate hearing from those of you with experience, or related experience in this matter, and your perspectives. Thanks.

    JC

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  3. #2
    Senior Member ezmaass's Avatar
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    Re: Have You Upgraded The Audio System In Your R8, And Is It Worth It?

    Well, I probably fall into the camp of "don't touch it" for a few reasons:

    - While the head-unit is out-dated, for sure, I find it still easy enough to use for basic audio. It's painfully slow to read the SD cards, but the radio and XM interfaces seem OK enough to me. No streaming audio is a major drawback, and the phone interface is terrible. But most of all, I don't like the idea of touching the head unit because I despise when things feel anything but factory fit and finish - when materials don't match (plastics, finishes), gaps and tolerances don't align perfectly, and worst of all... when buttons fail to operate any longer (e.g. steering wheel controls or the controls below the head unit).

    - The B&O system is OK, but it's far below the quality of the 1,200 watt B&O that came in my 650. I get that it's not going to make an audiophile happy. I can't blame you there.

    I suppose I'm just not a fan of messing with stereos, though. I like maintaining the look and feel of the car's interior, and very, very few seem to get it done in a way that either maintains it or tastefully alters it.

    Then again, I'm in that demographic who lives in a semi rural suburb, and I only take the R8 out to enjoy it - point A to A driving. I usually head straight to country back-roads, windows down, and enjoying the sound of the car (with some music on in the background). If I was doing long-distance driving with the windows up, traffic, long highway stretches, etc, the stereo might be more important to me. For that, I really do enjoy the high quality B&O in my 650. At the same time, that car is far better on insulation, so I feel I can also enjoy it more as a GT. Even with the windows up in the R8, I still (enjoyably) get plenty of engine noise and whine behind my head - leaves me questioning how much fidelity would be experienced / appreciated if the stereo was much better?

    In any case, take it for what it's worth, just my $0.02... I'd leave it alone... especially if you plan to resell it. But, as I said, my circumstance is also very different, and if you think you'll truly enjoy the upgrade, go for it. I'd just keep the original parts and make sure whatever you do is reversible.
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    Re: Have You Upgraded The Audio System In Your R8, And Is It Worth It?

    Thanks EZ, your well considered input is always appreciated.

    JC

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    Senior Member GT#298's Avatar
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    Re: Have You Upgraded The Audio System In Your R8, And Is It Worth It?

    Yes! QuickSilver Titan SuperSport valved GT exhaust.


    What? . . .this thing has a stereo?

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    Senior Member DaveL's Avatar
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    Re: Have You Upgraded The Audio System In Your R8, And Is It Worth It?

    I'm with Ez, keeping the car and have no intention of doing anything with the original B&O system as it's good enough for me, the car spec says phone interface fitted but in 5 years I've never tried it!
    Black/Gold 09 V8 Coupe R-Tronic. Black/Gold 05 Race prep'd Yamaha R1.

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    Re: Have You Upgraded The Audio System In Your R8, And Is It Worth It?

    I appreciate everyones input, so far. I really have no choice but to replace the head unit, as a quality phone interface is critical to my needs. The XM radio interface can be used, but its much more difficult than it needs to be. And then, possibly the biggest problem, during much of the day if the sun is out, or its even remotely bright out, the display is either barely readable,or unreadable, it's simply not bright enough and the orange graphics are terrible. I'm driving almost three hours each way (and having to rent a car for two days while it is being worked on) because I found a master custom car audio guy who has guaranteed me an absolute factory appearance for the new head unit, as well as all factory functions. And he can do it, based on eight previous R8 customers input. Again, just pondering whether I should also upgrade the audio by adding an amp, better speakers, and a subwoofer.

    Also, remember that I do not have the B&O audio upgrade in my car, just the horrible standard audio system. If I had the B&O, even though I realize it isn't great,I wouldn't be considering an upgrade to the speakers, etc. And too, the 2009 head unit is much inferior to even plain (non B&O) ones from later models, esp 2013 on.
    JC
    Last edited by Slapshot; 06-03-2019 at 11:46 AM.

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    Member Gabe325's Avatar
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    I have upgraded everything but the head unit to keep the stock functions and look. Hertz Amps and Hertz components hertz 10 inch sub. Sounds awesome and I love it. We also used a DSP from hertz. Wasn’t cheap but I have music in all my cars.

  10. #8
    Senior Member ezmaass's Avatar
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    Re: Have You Upgraded The Audio System In Your R8, And Is It Worth It?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slapshot View Post
    I appreciate everyones input, so far. I really have no choice but to replace the head unit, as a quality phone interface is critical to my needs. The XM radio interface can be used, but its much more difficult than it needs to be. And then, possibly the biggest problem, during much of the day if the sun is out, or its even remotely bright out, the display is either barely readable,or unreadable, it's simply not bright enough and the orange graphics are terrible. I'm driving almost three hours each way (and having to rent a car for two days while it is being worked on) because I found a master custom car audio guy who has guaranteed me an absolute factory appearance for the new head unit. Again, just pondering whether I should also upgrade the audio by adding an amp, better speakers, and a subwoofer.

    Also, remember that I do not have the B&O audio upgrade in my car, just the horrible standard audio system. If I had the B&O, even though I realize it isn't great,I wouldn't be considering an upgrade to the speakers, etc.

    JC
    If you're dead set on the head unit for your needs, then I guess it just comes down to how much "better" you'd like the audio sound to be. As I said, I find it pretty decent. It's far from bad, and it's far from spectacular... just very middle of the road. Given that the car doesn't have great sound deadening, I question how valuable it is to invest in a really high fidelity system. To me, this makes sense in a home where ambient sound is truly minimal - like a home theater - and you can appreciate the super high end of clarity. But in a car, especially one with quite a bit of engine/exhaust and road noise, is it worth it?

    That said, if you're in there mucking with things already, another school of thought might be to just finish the job. But if you get into frunk-mounted amplifiers and finding space for additional subwoofers, etc, I feel the potential for cosmetic damage also goes up quite a bit.

    If all else fails, this is still one of the best solutions... back to the good old days of a car phone being integrated right into the center console. And while ancient now, man... that first BMW navigation system was a real solid thing of beauty. Hard to believe we're talking 20 years ago now. Still love this setup.

    Have You Upgraded The Audio System In Your R8, And Is It Worth It?-e38-interior.jpg
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    Re: Have You Upgraded The Audio System In Your R8, And Is It Worth It?

    Quote Originally Posted by ezmaass View Post
    If you're dead set on the head unit for your needs, then I guess it just comes down to how much "better" you'd like the audio sound to be. As I said, I find it pretty decent. It's far from bad, and it's far from spectacular... just very middle of the road. Given that the car doesn't have great sound deadening, I question how valuable it is to invest in a really high fidelity system. To me, this makes sense in a home where ambient sound is truly minimal - like a home theater - and you can appreciate the super high end of clarity. But in a car, especially one with quite a bit of engine/exhaust and road noise, is it worth it?

    That said, if you're in there mucking with things already, another school of thought might be to just finish the job. But if you get into frunk-mounted amplifiers and finding space for additional subwoofers, etc, I feel the potential for cosmetic damage also goes up quite a bit.

    If all else fails, this is still one of the best solutions... back to the good old days of a car phone being integrated right into the center console. And while ancient now, man... that first BMW navigation system was a real solid thing of beauty. Hard to believe we're talking 20 years ago now. Still love this setup.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    EZ, thanks again. you have an uncanny ability to touch on the points that concern me. You nailed it as far as the car not having great sound deadening anyway, and also not wanting to do anything that damages the original cosmetics. I've started leaning towards the option of only replacing the head unit, as I know that can be done by my guy and still look essentially factory stock overall. And that I really have to do, for the reasons I stated above. The phone interface is inadequate to the point of introducing potential danger to my drives in the car. There are times when I absolutely must be reachable by clients, and trying to struggle with that interface really does introduce unsafe conditions. Also as noted, I cannot even read the dim display on any bright, or even partly sunny days much of the time depending on which way the car is facing.

    I was hoping to hear a bit more from people who have gone the whole audio upgrade route, and whether they felt the performance could overcome the level of interior noise, etc. I have seena few tasteful audio upgrades where they did not use the frunk for amps, and subs, utilizing low profile equipment.

    JC

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    Re: Have You Upgraded The Audio System In Your R8, And Is It Worth It?

    I too prefer not to mess with the oem head unit. If the B&O is adequate sounding to you and the main concern is the phone interface, there's a simple solution with some velcros.

    Have You Upgraded The Audio System In Your R8, And Is It Worth It?-velcro-phone-rnse.jpg

    This workaround gives all the functions like hands free calls, touch screen, latest nav, streaming music, and all the latest Android apps. The phone that works best is the Xiaomi Mi Max 3.

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