David's Take: Volkswagen 2018 Golf R Fender Audio Review

David Susilo

Published: 09/05/2018 08:50:02 AM EST in David Susilo

David's Take: Volkswagen 2018 Golf R Fender Audio Review

I don't like driving. I find it to be a chore. So the only way for me to cope with the stress of driving is to have a good audio system. Factory basic audio systems are often not ideal, so I usually upgrade my cars' system using gear from companies like Clarion ProAudio, Alpine, and Pioneer.

When the car companies offer their own upgraded factory audio options from partners like Harman Kardon, Burmester, Monsoon, and Dynaudio, I usually opt for them in the package.

So when I purchased my new Volkwagen Golf R a couple of month ago, I was (somewhat) happy to learn that it comes with upgraded audio from the get go. In Europe, the upgraded audio system is from Dynaudio. The North American version gets Fender Premium Audio.

According to the specifications, it includes nine speakers along with a 10-channel amplifier providing 400 watts of system power. The tweeters are of the soft dome variety, dual voice coil mid-bass for the front doors and single coil for the rear doors, plus a dual voice coil subwoofer. Fender claims the system offers "uncompromised clarity at low or high volumes, powerful bass response, and detailed midrange." Couple that with a multitude of positive reviews, and I expected the sound system to be great.

Sadly, I was disappointed.

Perhaps I may just be in the minority. But I find that highs are unbearably brittle - as if the sound is coming from cheap tweeters you can buy for $12 a pair from Wish. Mids have can-like sonic quality, and lows are so muddy and uncontrolled that I am out of words to describe them. When played loudly, they can rattle my doors, but that is about all the system can do. The subwoofer may add more oomph than my Dynaudio system, but with no clear lows. Soundstage doesn't exist. It's like listening to a badly recorded mono recording coming from all speakers. Further, the sounds come from somewhere near the bottom of the car. I only listened to CDs and test tones, by the way, not music via Bluetooth, MP3, or anything compressed, so it can't be the music source that's the issue.

Even doing a frequency sweep with an AudioControl RTA, the frequency response variance is at +/- 6 dB which none of the tone controls (subwoofer, bass, mid, hi) can address, as each control was designated to control a frequency with too-wide of a slope. The biggest irony? The car was manufactured in Germany where the option to use a Dynaudio Excite system seems to make the most sense.
I cannot import and install the Dynaudio Excite system because the speakers (and the subwoofer enclosure in the trunk) are all the wrong size for this car. And any replacement aftermarket speakers I can find require cutting of the doors.

Bottom line: I wish Volkswagen would bring back Dynaudio as an option for its cars sold in North America. For now, I'll sadly be driving with the audio off, and dreaming of the day that autonomous driving finally becomes a reality so I can pop on a good pair of headphones as I get from Point A to Point B.

Article Tags:  fender, volkswagen, golf 4, audio, review, speakers, 12v, dynaudio, factory audio, upgrade, david's take


David's Take: Volkswagen 2018 Golf R Fender Audio Review

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