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2013 Outback 2.5 Premium
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515 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I'm an audiophile who is also a high-end retailer. I've got a very good ear for sound systems.

Factory systems are usually just tolerable to me, but my 2013 Premium with standard radio and dash tweeters had the worst sound I'd heard in years. Bass was far too boomy and ill-defined, treble was way over the top. Very slurred and sloppy sound. Tone settings to make it tolerable were -4 on bass, -4 on treble, and I think +4 on midrange. That's far beyond the adjustment one should have to make.

Reading the manual, I realized there was an 'SRS' tone system that could be turned on or off. It claims to enhance bass and raise the soundstage to ear level. The manual said it was turned off by default, so I went to try turning it on. Found out that it came from the factory with it already on. When I turned off the SRS, it sounded MUCH BETTER. Enough that I'm no longer shopping for an aftermarket system.

Try turning your SRS off and try setting up with these tone and balance settings. This is a great starting point. They should each be within one step of being right for your listening position and source quality (note: Use CD or digital device for accuracy. Radio quality and tone can very widely.

Bass -2
Midrange +2
Treble -2
Balance 0 or 1R (can depend if someone is sitting in the passenger seat, absorbing some volume).
Fader 1F
 

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2013 2.5i Premium 6mt, Twilight Blue
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2,370 Posts
I'm far from an audiophile but still appreciate decent sound while driving and also found the stock setup to be nearly intolerable. After searching this forum I saw there was a loudness setting then can be turned on/off and I found that turning loudness off was a HUGE help to remove the "boomy" sound of the stock settings.

JDelman I'm going to give your settings a try since I really just messed around with the settings until they sounded at least better; but check out these "secret" settings too which may help fine tune your audio:

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/104-gen-4-2010-present/51418-6-speaker-stereo-secret-menu.html
 

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2013 Outback 2.5 Premium
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515 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for that tip on the internal settings! I didn't even think they might exist. Do you know if the 2010-2012 is the exact same radio? I didn't see anything about a loudness setting in my 2012 manual. Wonder if the pre-2013 has SRS.

I'm hesitant to turn off the internal EQ settings unless I know how to bring them back. I'll have to read through that thread and the one linked to it and see if there's more information.

The fellow who was a recording engineer said with EQ bypassed, he's using a +7 Treble. That number is way higher than should be used. Distortions from clipping and phase shifting can happen at those extreme settings.

So far, pretty good on the sound I'm getting. Turning off SRS saved me from ripping it all out for now. Check to see if yours is actually on or off, rather than take the manual's word for it that its factory default is off.
 

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2013 2.5i Premium 6mt, Twilight Blue
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^ I played around with the basic audio settings and SRS on/off before I knew about the "secret" menu. Now I have SRS off, Loudness off, and the basic audio settings adjusted slightly (can't remember the settings exactly, will have to check later).

I believe the 2010-2012 stereo is the same as the 2013 but it may have a different model number. Like I said, I'm no audio expert I just know what sounds "good" to me, so I would love to hear what you end up with as your final settings after you look through the "secret" menu.
 

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2018, Outback Touring 3.6
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41 Posts
Excellent thread. We are about 3 weeks into owning our first OB, and I am learning stuff every day. The only things that sucks, is its the wife's car, so I don't get to play with it that much. I'll try and put those settings in tonight, and see how they work. Thanks!
 

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2013 2.5i Premium CVT
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85 Posts
I've been trying to get a descent sound from mine. The best I can get is having the SRS on and:
Bass +1
Midrange 0
Treble +6

It still isn't great.
 

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2012 2.5i Premium 6MT
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67 Posts
I can confirm that the 2012 Premium non-HK sound system has the same "secret menu" settings that AORiver posted.

I am a musician and recording engineer - that is to say, extremely picky about sound quality. Like other posters in this thread, I struggled with the stock audio system before discovering the secret menu settings - in particular, the bass was way too boomy with a nasty resonant peak. The standard EQ settings did not work to tame it in any balanced way.

Turning "loudness" off has made a big, big difference to me - the low end feels much more balanced, and I have been able to bring the bass EQ setting up from -4 to -1 or 0. I won't claim that it makes the stereo into something great, but much more acceptable.

I'm planning to add a subwoofer under the passenger seat next - hoping that will clear up and smooth out the low-mids and mids from the stock speakers.

Overall, for a factory-installed system, I've been reasonably pleased - certainly no worse than I expected, and far better than what some people described for the older ('10-'11) non-HK system.
 

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2012 Outback 2.5 i Premium
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474 Posts
I hated the boominess as well. I turned off the loudness and set the EQ to "Through Mode." I also turned of SRS.

After that I put the bass at -1 the mid at +1 and the treble at +4. It's still not fantastic but I can hear everything now which is a step in the right direction. It's a lot better than having to listen to music like a 16 year old in a Chevy S-10.
 

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2011 Outback 2.5i Premium, CVT, Steel Silver, all-weather package. Upgrades: Tweeter kit, BlueConnect, media hub, remote start, Curt 2" receiver hitch.
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1,127 Posts
Okay, I'm going to replace my head unit. How do I fit this in a double din?

 

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2019 Forester Sport. Love the Orange.
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4,018 Posts
Okay, I'm going to replace my head unit. How do I fit this in a double din?

If you put it under the seat it will eliminate the woeful floor heat problem. ;)
 

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2013 Outback 2.5 Premium
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515 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
McBrew, is that your sweet amp? If so, we should chat. Looks like a Cambridge Audio piece on the left side.
 

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2008 OBXTLtd 5MT
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52 Posts
J Delman,
Do you deal with PA systems at all? I am currently looking for a setup and am in Santa Cruz as well.
 

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2012 2.5i Premium CVT
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921 Posts
Why did I look in this thread???? I've had many many tube guitar amps but never bit the bullet for a tube stereo. I don't have anywhere to properly set one up.

Maybe if I can do a 5 channel tube setup for my home theater. hmm....
 

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2013 Outback 2.5i Limited Deep Indigo Pearl Moonroof, Navigation and EyeSight System, Wheel Arch Moldings
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21 Posts
Remember the days (If you are older) when it was easy to find a tube tester in the store and you would come in with 4 or 5 tubes to find the bad one ?? THOSE were the days......
 

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2019 Forester Sport. Love the Orange.
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Remember the days (If you are older) when it was easy to find a tube tester in the store and you would come in with 4 or 5 tubes to find the bad one ?? THOSE were the days......
I do, although it was for TV tubes. Good call, I had forgotten all about those testers.
 

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2011 Outback 2.5i Premium, CVT, Steel Silver, all-weather package. Upgrades: Tweeter kit, BlueConnect, media hub, remote start, Curt 2" receiver hitch.
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1,127 Posts
McBrew, is that your sweet amp? If so, we should chat. Looks like a Cambridge Audio piece on the left side.
Yep, that's my rig. The amp is a VTA ST-70 (Roy Mottram/Bob Latino design) with several modifications. The power tubes are Russian Genalex KT66 Gold Lions.

The preamp on the left is a VTA-Z-TCLA (Roy Mottran design) with an SP9 line amp board and a PH6 phono board. It has 7 tubes, six of which are 12AX7s. I also have a set of Slovak JJ EL34s for the ST-70, and some random JAN (US military), Sovtek and Sylvania tubes.

To the right is my Technics SL10 turntable. It is sporting an LP Gear T4P reference series VS (shibata diamond) cartridge.
 

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2013 Outback 2.5 Premium
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515 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Hi Ipa! Nice to find a member in Santa Cruz.

I own Value Audio Value Audio Stereo & Home Theater - Authorized Dealer of Acoustic Zen Techonolgies - DH Labs - Analysis Plus - Cambridge Audio - Audio Refinement - MSB - Atlantis - Acoustic Energy Aego - Creek - Epos - Music Hall - Monolithic Sound - CI Audio - Acme . I don't do PA systems per se, but I do carry cabling accessories that can significantly improve sound quality. I also have excellent home systems - all of audiophile quality. Speaker cables for instance from $100 to $15,000 a pair (yes, I've sold the $15,000 ones - a 10 foot pair :)
 
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