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2013, Outback, Limited 2.5
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Discussion Starter #1
I have been checking out the new 2013 Subaru 2.5 Limited and have been very impressed. The only negative is with the Harmon Kardon premium audio system, as it has a very noticeable hiss over the speakers up in the dash. The sound gets louder for a few seconds after using the navigation console or even doing other electronic operations, such as turning on the high beams. I noticed this in every car I checked. I thought I was going crazy so I asked the technician at the dealership and he was aware of the problem with the audio system. He indicated that Subaru of America knows about it and is working on a solution. He said it is a capacitor issue. I am hopeful that someone might know when or if Subaru has corrected the issue on the new cars being made? With wanting leather, dual temp, moon roof, nav, etc. locks me into the limited with this systemL I really like the car, but don’t love the idea of what might be required to resolve this issue later.
 

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2015 2.5i Limited Carbide Gray
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Its been covered many times with both the four and six cylinder models. As of now they don't have a fix and it generally boils down to some models are louder than others (or many other factors) but once you are driving the noise is less noticeable. It's also less noticeable with a small amount of volume, since it's mainly noticed when you have the volume down low and low ambient noise. You can replace the radio and wire around the H/K amp to fix the problem but that could get costly depending on what you want in the long run.

Personally I wouldn't let such a menial issue detract from a great car. I replaced the radio in my Limited with about 800 miles on the clock and haven't looked back.
 

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2013 outback: problems with upgraded audio

Hi I am so relieved to find your post and to know that others are aware this is an issue. We purchased a 2013 outback limited 2.5 last weekend (11-11-12) and immediately noticed this issue with the audio...a seemingly random, sometimes loud/buzzing, sometimes hissing, staticy noise coming through the speakers in all modes of audio (fm/am radio, CD, XM, mp3, etc.) that is highly annoying and frustrating. We actually returned our black outback immediately and the dealer swapped out for a navy blue - exact same issue. Tried to negate transaction and dealership was not cooperative. Called SOA and they told me that they are only aware of the issue being specific to location that limits reception (i.e. being near tall buildings, a large truck, etc.). We do not feel this is the case. Currently, my new outback is in the shop and the tech says he hasn't been able to hear the noise so they are keeping for another day.

You are smart to hold off on your purchase. My husband and I are also dreading pursuing the lemon law process should it get to that point but certainly will if necessary. Curious to know why SOA is telling some it is a capacitor issue and/or why there are no complaints on the NHTSA website or TSA service bulletins. What do we need to do to help generate those?

I recognize this is not a safety issue; however for us it's resolve is imperative being that we have an 8 month old son with a moderate hearing impairment who wears hearing aids. As you can imagine, his reaction to the louder, buzzing static noise (best way I know to describe it is like something is being shocked in the sound system) is quite negative.
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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Just get a good aftermarket system and get Subaru (either your dealer or SOA) to comp you something close to the cost of the replacement. You'll be happier, the car will sound better. H-K is just another watered down brand name plastered onto something cheap these days anyway.
 

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2013, Outback, Limited 2.5
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Discussion Starter #5

I also found the issue posted on several forums. Here is an example of one of the threads that will also be helpful to you. It appears to start with the 2012 model and continued to be an issue in 2013. Unfortunately it appears that even though a number of people have been contacting Subaru of America, everyone is being told that they are not aware of the issue. I, too, am really confused how technicians at a dealership know about the issue, but Subaru of America does not. You will see in the other thread that they are recommending that everyone is sure to submit this issue to Subaru of America.


http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/104-gen-4-2010-present/39293-2012-ob-harmon-karmon-radio-hiss-3.html
 

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Thank you subquest for your link to the other thread. The more I read on this forum, the more regretful I become. I honestly thought we were making a great purchase being that we are an active family and we thought this would be a fun, rugged, but nice car for my son to grow with. Consumer Reports also recommended the OB and rated highly. (Obviously, they don't check out the audio.) Really wish we had ponied up the extra $5-6k and gone with the Acura RDX I was really lusting after. As I'm sure you can imagine, this will be our last Subaru regardless of the outcome. I find it ridiculous to spend over $30k on a car and immediately find yourself sorting out a hot mess.:28:

As I believe another member pointed out, this has truly become just as much a technical issue as it is a customer service nightmare. SOA and HK should both be ashamed.
 

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2015 2.5i Limited Carbide Gray
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In my world $6k extra for an RDX isn't worth it. I guess that this is your first purchase of anything that has an issue. I'd like to see what your past cars were so that I know what is perfect from the manufacturer. Especially since for $6k you could get one heck of an aftermarket option, and more room and more ground clearance!

As a side note, not every car has the issue. It's common, but not every model. Most people aren't as critical.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
jkwillia... I would be very interested in what the shop tech ended up doing or saying. A good way I found to reproduce this is to turn the car to ACC (don't start) and go from low to high beam. It doesn't matter if the radio is on or not. Also, touching any setting on the console will trigger it. You will hear the sound increase for a few seconds and then go back to a very low volume.

Have you tried calling SOA? At this point a number of people have reported it so it should be very interesting.
 

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jkwillia... I would be very interested in what the shop tech ended up doing or saying. A good way I found to reproduce this is to turn the car to ACC (don't start) and go from low to high beam. It doesn't matter if the radio is on or not. Also, touching any setting on the console will trigger it. You will hear the sound increase for a few seconds and then go back to a very low volume.

Have you tried calling SOA? At this point a number of people have reported it so it should be very interesting.
Thank you for your advice. My husband tried it immediately but unfortunately did not have any success. We did ride around with a video recorder in the car the entire thanksgiving holiday and got some great footage of the problem. Submitted to SOA and they basically said I have to take the car back to the dealership and drive it around with a tech until we hear the sound. You can imagine how pleased I was to hear this - haha!

A number of people have reported this issue and Subaru is still saying they have no record of it. We will give them a fair chance to try and fix it again this week but should we meet any resistance from SOA, we will certainly be following through with one of the attorney's we've already contacted regarding this issue as well as continuing to pursue a buyback through lemon law. Wish us luck!
 

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2013 2.5i Outback Limited w/ moonroof
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Thank you for your advice. My husband tried it immediately but unfortunately did not have any success. We did ride around with a video recorder in the car the entire thanksgiving holiday and got some great footage of the problem.
Can you post the video on YouTube? I'm curious what your hearing.
 

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2013, Outback, Limited 2.5
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Discussion Starter #11
I have also been discussing this issue with SOA and was told that their Service department is going to investigate. I made my SOA contact aware of this thread in hopes it will help and expedite the discovery and resolution process by bringing different people working this together. If you are willing to post the dealership once you have demonstrated the issue to them, I will provide it back to my SOA contact so they have one more point of contact for their investigation.
 

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Yes I will try to post to youtube later tonight and provide link. I'm beginning to think it is something different from what most on this forum are hearing. It sounds like the system is being shocked like when you put you cell phone too close to a baby monitor. We have tried riding around without our smart phones and still experience the problem however.
 

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2013 3.6R SAP
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From what everyone else is saying, I guess I should at least report it to my dealer so they can register the problem.

The hiss problem I hear (2013 outback 3.6R limited, nav, sap, no rse) is very consistently reproducible. It happens continuously but stays in a very quiet level when no sound is being output. Any form of sound from any source will cause the hiss to jump to a louder level. But the low and loud hiss levels are always identical regardless of volume setting, source, etc. Even adjusting the sound positioning (front/back/left/right) has no impact on the hiss. I set the sound to full rear and the hiss came through the front just the same and at the same volume.

It happens when playing music but the music easily overpowers the hiss. The easiest way to hear it is pressing buttons on the screen for the nav system and settings in general. That causes a touch response beep which then triggers the hiss for a couple of moments. Or with music playing, immediately turn the volume all the way down and you'll hear the hiss for a couple of moments before it drops back to its low level. Again.. no matter how loud the music is, the hiss level is always either low or high.. doesn't vary. The kind of noise doesn't vary at all either. It's a sort of soft white noise. At least that is my experience. It's as though some form of fixed amplification system (that is triggered with the system detects sound output) is causing the noise. I am living with it without too much annoyance but I'm just annoyed that the quality isn't what it should be for a premium system (not quite an audiophile but more like quality OCD).

Side note, I had to fool with the EQ for a long time before I finally got a setting I like (for primarily USB memory stick MP3s). It's something like at just slightly under half for 50, only 3 bars on for 160, and roughly around 75% of the way up for the rest of them (varying a little bit for each). Until I cranked down the 160 level, I was having major mid-bass issues overpowering everything else.

Added note: I tried to capture it on cell phone video but the sound isn't audible at all. I'll have to try a laptop and external mic once I get a chance. Or maybe sit the phone on top of one of the tweeters.
 

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I managed to capture the sound by sticking the phone on top of one of the tweeters in front:

Hk hiss example - YouTube

The volume control is completely down and the beeps are me pressing nav screen buttons. The high level hiss is easy to hear but you can also just barely here the low level hiss as well when it drops off. I'm assuming this is the sort of sound most people are talking about with the "HK hiss" issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you so much for capturing the sound and posting it!!! What you described and posted matches exactly to what I experienced.

I will send this on to SOA.
 

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2013 Outback 2.5i SAP Limited
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Hi all,

I recently purchased a 2013 2.5 Outback with SAP, and was so excited to finally have a car with navigation and bluetooth capabilities for making calls and streaming audio! What a disappointment when I got home with my new car and noticed immediately the annoying hissing. I figured I would hit this forum to learn that this is a new issue and that Subaru will be deploying a fix soon, only to learn that this issue has been around for some time and also existed with the previous years models. This tells me it is highly unlikely we will see a fix for this in existing models.

I do not notice it as much when music is playing, however when I make a bluetooth call I can clearly hear the rising hiss each time the person on the other end talks. It is also quite audible when programming the Nav system.

Has anyone heard anything new/any updates from SOA? Has anyone had any luck with getting this fixed? Between this issue and my brake pedal clunking at the 1000 mile mark, my experience with the new Outback has been mixed and these issues really make it feel like I am driving a cheaply made car.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
No updates yet. I believe our only chance is get as many people to register this problem as possible with the SOA and the dealership.

Side question... what is the brake clunk are you experiencing as I have been surprised how loud the pedal clunks when I take my foot off the brake.
 

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It is loud, isn't it!? I started hearing it around 1,000 miles, and it is very annoying. Loud clunk when releasing the brake, usually from a dead stop. Lots of posts on here about that, and I just commented on a recent one on the "Gen 4: 2010-Present" forum page. I am regretting this purchase.. Unfortunately for both the brake noise issue and the audio hiss, it seems that these issues have been around since 2011, so it does not appear that Subaru plans to address this in the future.
 

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Makes me strongly consider NOT getting the limited or any Subaru with the HK system. Why should I take the risk of getting a crappy stereo for big dollars.
 

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I'm not sure if there has been any change but the 2.5i limited I just bought seems to have no hiss with the stereo off or on. It has no navi system so I'm not sure if that is a difference. My ear is okay and my wife is a classicly trained musician and after messing with the settings feels the HK does a fine job at 50-80% volume output. If the issue arises I will contact SOA.
 
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