Currently reading: Over-the-air audio tuning coming to car stereos
Manufacturers could be quick to incorporate US brand Harman’s OTA sound tuning via software
Autocar
News
2 mins read
30 January 2020

The ability to improve your car’s sound system simply by downloading new software could become reality as manufacturers and their suppliers look to find new ways to upgrade existing cars during their lifetime.

Buying premium audio at a later date is the brainchild of American company Harman, which has a significant presence in the automotive field through its Harman Kardon, JBL, Mark Levinson and Bang & Olufsen brands. This seemingly impossible task, announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in the US, will be made possible as wireless software updates become more prevalent.

Harman’s pitch to car makers is that they install slightly better speakers and more computer power into models sold with the base audio system, then persuade the customer to buy an upgrade from whichever audio brand they prefer.

Harman argues that tuning audio systems via software is nothing new, and that they already do it to achieve a certain quality of sound to suit each particular brand.

Those unconvinced will be able to download a trial or receive a demonstration at a dealership. Harman is currently talking to car makers about offering the digital upgrade; it estimates this will be slightly cheaper than the current premium option, which costs around $1000 (£750) in the US.

Harman also suggested that rental companies could offer temporary upgrades for customers who value better sound in their hire cars.

Wireless upgrades were a big topic at CES as car makers figure out how to boost revenue by enabling customers to add more features over the life of the car, much like many do with smartphones. They argue that this would keep the car up to date and therefore could boost residual values.

Audi, for example, showed different on-demand options, such as upgraded parking assistance. “You have the decision to upgrade the car at any point later, and that’s a huge difference to what we have now, because you have to make a decision when you purchase the car,” said Jana Ackermann, the company’s electronic modules manager.

One advantage presented by upgrades and add-ons after purchase of the car is that they wouldn’t increase its list price, she added. This would reduce taxes affected by list price, such as benefit-in-kind tax for company car users in the UK.

Nick Gibbs

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7

30 January 2020

 Improvement in sound quality largely depends on how quiet it's inside, unless speakers are better placed so that you can hear every single note, word and so on, I can't see the worth of upgrading in a £20 grand car...

30 January 2020

In other words Harman are selling software audio plugins for people's cars, provided the processing is there in the first place.

30 January 2020

One of the most important factors (probably the most important) in car entertainment are the speakers, will they be able to upgrade them 'over the air'?

Thought not, it's just one more bit of bling! 

30 January 2020

I wonder how much new car consumers are bothered about longer term potential software upgrades on their cars, certainly for such things as audio quality or adding accessories. After all, most are bought on 3 year PCPs, where people regularly get a new, possibly different model. And will manufacturers really want to pay to install better quality speakers, etc from new, on the off chance that someone might want to pay for software upgrades further down the line?

30 January 2020

From a sound quality point of view, if you dont change the hardware, this cant really be any more than altering the settings on a graphic equaliser.

I dont think many people in the UK would be bothered anyway. Far too many people just turn the bass up, and dont care one bit about the quality, and i would love to know how they propose to add a subwoofer over the air?

30 January 2020
artill wrote:

From a sound quality point of view, if you dont change the hardware, this cant really be any more than altering the settings on a graphic equaliser.

I dont think many people in the UK would be bothered anyway. Far too many people just turn the bass up, and dont care one bit about the quality, and i would love to know how they propose to add a subwoofer over the air?

There are lots of things you can do in the processing software to improve quality.

30 January 2020

Already had this on my aftermarket Android stereo for 6 years.

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