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Thread: Unnacceptable sound fidelity with BMW Bluetooth

  1. #1
    Estesdon selledr's Avatar
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    Angry Unnacceptable sound fidelity with BMW Bluetooth

    I bought a 2012 R1200RT about a month ago with the BMW radio plus Sirius. Salesman convinced me I needed Bluetooth BMW Communications system ($400+) but, since the communications system would not fit in my helmet, they also convinced me to buy the Schuberth C3 ($700). Unfortunately, the sound quality from the Bluetooth system is abysmal. I am not an audiophile nut. It sounds like a radio station that won't tune in properly; not static, exactly, more like a distorted signal. Sound through the dash speakers is fine, so I'm confident the fault is with the Bluetooth. I can't listen to either FM or Sirius via Bluetooth because of the terrible distortion. Two visits to the dealer only resulted in them telling me "That's the way they all sound"; they could not improve the sound fidelity in the service department and they would not take a return on either the helmet or the BMW Communications system.

    I am looking into wired options at this point. But with more than $1100 already into a sound system that produces terrible sound quality, I am going to be very careful.

  2. #2
    John. jstrube's Avatar
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    At least enjoy the helmet, those are very nice. That unit is the same as the SCALA RIDER pretty much. Not sure if you can mod your helmet audio system to sound better, but I modded my SCALA to use molded in ear monitors. Pretty much anyone on here who has ever owned a SCALA has complained about the speakers.
    John.

  3. #3
    Outlander Omega Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by selledr View Post
    I bought a 2012 R1200RT about a month ago with the BMW radio plus Sirius. Salesman convinced me I needed Bluetooth BMW Communications system ($400+) but, since the communications system would not fit in my helmet, they also convinced me to buy the Schuberth C3 ($700). Unfortunately, the sound quality from the Bluetooth system is abysmal. I am not an audiophile nut. It sounds like a radio station that won't tune in properly; not static, exactly, more like a distorted signal. Sound through the dash speakers is fine, so I'm confident the fault is with the Bluetooth. I can't listen to either FM or Sirius via Bluetooth because of the terrible distortion. Two visits to the dealer only resulted in them telling me "That's the way they all sound"; they could not improve the sound fidelity in the service department and they would not take a return on either the helmet or the BMW Communications system.

    I am looking into wired options at this point. But with more than $1100 already into a sound system that produces terrible sound quality, I am going to be very careful.
    Welcome to the forum selledr. Here is a recent thread http://www.bmwmoa.org/forum/showthread.php?t=56796 It's in the gear section. I'll try to keep an eye on your post here and if it isn't getting responses, I'll move it over to Gear for you. Good luck. Gary
    "Well they say.. time loves a hero but only time will tell.. If he's real, he's a legend from heaven If he ain't he was sent here from hell" Lowell George
    2009 F800GS 1994 TW200
    Part of the Forum Threadside Assistance Program

  4. #4
    Estesdon selledr's Avatar
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    Thanks, Gary.

    Don

  5. #5
    Rally Rat RTRandy's Avatar
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    I have the wired Autocom system on my 08 RT, however I've also ridden my friend's 1600GT using his the BMW Shuberth system so I've been able to compare the two.

    The Autocom system has a much fuller sound with more base while the BMW system is flatter with more treble. Bluetooth technology compared to a cable connected helmet such as Autocom is more limited on sound quality (both music and intercom).
    That said, the Shuberth system should be more than adequate and certainly not causing distortion.

    Some things that might help:

    Not sure if the speakers in the Shuberth helmet can be moved around, but it's important that the center of the speaker lines up with your ear canal. Centering them with your ear will allow less needed volume to hear the speakers. If not centered, you may be turning up the volume to compensate causing distortion. Also earplugs, which you should be using for a hundred reasons, will help you hear the sound clearer at speed with wind noise.

    In any case, you shouldn't be getting distortion which might be happening due to the speakers being turned up past their limit. Also check the audio source. An iPod fully turned up can distort speakers. There is a "Volume limit" setting on iPods for example to keep that from happening. Perhaps listening with the engine off in your garage might help you try a few remedies. Earplugs should probably be used while testing as they'll be needed at speed for wind noise.

    Let us know what you find as it may help others in the same boat.
    Last edited by RTRandy; 11-24-2011 at 11:26 PM.

  6. #6
    Estesdon selledr's Avatar
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    BMW Communications fidelity good with other BT Source

    I paired my Schuberth C3/BMW Communications system with my iPhone (after a considerable amount of "fiddling") and found that the audio quality was very good. Tunes were crisp and clear without static or garbling. Bass was moderate to good. None of the terrible garbling of sound existed that I have found when the BMW Communications system in my helmet is paired via Bluetooth to the BMW stereo in my 2012 R1200RT, mentioned in my first post.

    I conclude that the fault is in the BMW radio in the motorcycle. However, I have not tried this on the road, only in my garage (there is snow on the roads). I will let you know if the good audio from iPhone to BMW Communications system is not available when on the road when I can take a ride.

  7. #7
    Estesdon selledr's Avatar
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    Unacceptable sound fidelity with BMW Bluetooth - work around

    After studying input on several blogs, I found reference to ways to hard wire an audio out from the R1200RT radio. (go to BMWLT and follow "Four-Pole line out...." [http://www.bmwlt.com/forums/showthre...&page=2&pp=50] and "New RT owner with query..." [http://www.bmwlt.com/forums/showthre...t=owner+query]). Special thanks to write-ups by IPilot and HPChallenged.

    There are three plugs near the head of the forks on my 2012 R1200RT. The 4-5 pin plug is attached to and provides power to the NAV IV. The two-pin plug provides voice directions from the NAV IV to the BMW radio, I believe. The remaining plug is for rear speakers.

    I purchased plug 83 30 0 413 584 from maxbmw.com ($17.76 + $12.28 shipping), a stereo (3-pin) female jack, flexible plastic shielding, and some wire from Radioshack (see attached picture), soldered them together to make a roughly 2' long cable (pins 1 & 3 are left and right [or vice versa] and pin 4 is ground). The cable was routed from the four-pin plug (actually only 3 pins) near the head to the cockpit.

    Turned Speakers ON, turned on LINE, and adjusted Fade to favor rear speakers. I obtained wonderful, distortion-free stereo sound from the ear buds for all audio inputs (FM, Sirius, iPhone). At least in the garage. When the snow melts, I will let you know if this set up does not work on the road.

    My only regret now is that I spent $400+ for the BMW Communications system and $700 for the Schuberth helmet (to accommodate the BMW Communications system).
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  8. #8
    azrtrdr
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    When using a blue tooth connection try turning the base and the treble values all of the way down. If this fixes the garbled sound, as it did in mine, then you can try increasing these values a small amount at a time until it begins to show distortion again. Back off 1 and you should be good.

  9. #9
    Estesdon selledr's Avatar
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    Yes, I tried reducing bass and treble all the way down to -6, and, although the garbled sound may have been reduced a little, sound fidelity still, IMHO, was unacceptable.

  10. #10
    Chairman of the hoard wmubrown's Avatar
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    Since Schuberth is using the Scala Rider BT setup in their helmets, and Scala is known to work fine (newer models anyway, older Scala's did not support BT stereo), I suspect the problem is with the BMW system. Try connecting another BT device (smartphone, iPod Touch, etc) directly to the helmet and check the results. At least this will narrow down the problem area. If it still sounds like crap, its the helmet and they can swap out the BT system. If its clean, then the fault is at the bike.
    John A. Brown - Kalamazoo MI
    '09 K1300S 'Zoot' (Wicked, bad, naughty, evil, Zoot!)
    '94 K1100LT 'Desert' (the horse with no name)

  11. #11
    Estesdon selledr's Avatar
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    Yes, I did this with my iPhone, as noted earlier. Thanks, wmubrown, for the suggestion. I will explain this to the service manager, but since three technicians at the dealership said my system was as good as any ("they all sound like that"), I doubt that they will do anything about my BMW radio.

    Quote Originally Posted by selledr View Post
    I paired my Schuberth C3/BMW Communications system with my iPhone (after a considerable amount of "fiddling") and found that the audio quality was very good. Tunes were crisp and clear without static or garbling. Bass was moderate to good. None of the terrible garbling of sound existed that I have found when the BMW Communications system in my helmet is paired via Bluetooth to the BMW stereo in my 2012 R1200RT, mentioned in my first post.

    I conclude that the fault is in the BMW radio in the motorcycle. However, I have not tried this on the road, only in my garage (there is snow on the roads). I will let you know if the good audio from iPhone to BMW Communications system is not available when on the road when I can take a ride.

  12. #12
    MATTWALSTON
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    If you're serious about trying an Autocom system, buy one that offers a 60-day guarantee and free shipping. You risk the time seeing if it works, they risk taking a hit selling a system as used if it doesn't.

  13. #13
    Estesdon selledr's Avatar
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    New Radio

    Great news for me! After I explained that the BMW Communications system in the Schuberth C3 helmet sounded fine when Bluetoothed directly with my iPhone, the dealer decided to install a new radio!

    The sound quality with the new radio in the motorcycle is much, much better. At least I can now listen to it via Bluetooth. I suspect there was something wrong in the Bluetooth transmission portion of the original BMW radio.
    2012 R1200RT
    2005 F650GS

  14. #14
    Registered User jscown's Avatar
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    Re: Great news...

    Thanks for sharing your experience Selledr.

    I have a 2011 RT and purchased the BMW Communications System with my BMW System 6 Helmet (I'm a Canadian, and System 6's are sold in Canada). I have found the sound to be acceptable when I pair the helmet to my iPhone 4 or to my Navigator IV. When paired to the sound system on the bike, the audio is awful. I have spoken to my dealer about this, and they have asked me to re-pair the helmet to the audio system, which I have done several times with no luck. I'm going to share your experience with the dealer in the hope that they install a new sound system as well.

    Glad to hear that your situation has been satisfactorily resolved.

    Jack

  15. #15
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    Angry Comms System, radio, Nav IV, and phone pairing

    Purchased a new 2012 1200RT in Dec 2011. Not sure the dealer even knew how to pair the equipment. They said it was simple and since it was my personal phone I would need to perform the pairings myself. Okay, if it's so simple why not do it now, but it was almost Christmas and I was in a generous mood, no problem.

    I brought it home and paired all systems without a hitch. The bike's radio paired with the BMW Comms System, NAV IV paired to BMW Comms System, and the iPhone paired to the NAV IV. All was working as expected and with good clarity and fidelity.

    Then, in the last month, I started hearing rumbling and static coming through the bluetooth connection from the radio. Thinking a reset of all pairings would not hurt, I deleted the pairings and attempted to reestablish connections. After performing the procedure repeatedly and unsuccessfully, the radio and helmet finely paired. What was that all about? Anyway it's paired, but the static across bluetooth connection remains.

    I'm thinking BMW will make it right and I can live with lower fidelity until I get the dealer, so, I tried to re-pair the NAV IV and iPhone with the Comms System. Neither would pair, no matter how I tried it. No success in pairing to this day. Yes, it's fully charged and I followed the pairing instruction verbatim, many times.

    I finally called the parts department and they were very accommodating and told me they had one in stock and will replace mine if they determine it to be faulty. Just call before I drive the 3 hours to make sure they still have the part. What else would you expect, right? So I'm patched to the service manager to arrange for what should be a 10-20 minute process of trying to pair the devices.

    Thats when I get the bad news. Service Manager tells me BMW has published a bulletin stating the dealer would not get paid for a replacement of the Comms System until BMW can determine it to be faulty. Okay, but if the service department says it's bad, they'll replace it and deal with BMW later. Nope, not happening. What followed was a lot of grumbling from the service manager about how BMW was inconveniencing the customer. Plus, his one and only expert that knows how to pair these devices is out working on another project. Apparently its a bad day, so I decide to call back another day. Overworked, stressed, burned out? Maybe all of the above, but, you would think that since I dropped $25K with this dealership, he wouldn't try to prove his point to BMW at my expense. Heck, it's a $400 item and I just ordered over $1000 worth of stuff from the parts department while on the phone with them. I won't keep you in suspense, THAT"S CANCELLED!

    Called back today and here is the wonderful plan as explained to me. Bring the bike in on his next available service date, which is about a month from now, and let them troubleshoot the system. If the dealer thinks the comms system is faulty, they will take the Comms System out of my helmet and send me home. After the Comms System is sent to BMW, we wait for the dealers resolution with BMW.

    At some later date, I will need to return for a replacement. Sure that's reasonable, I don't need the comms system and it's only a 6 hour round trip to the dealer. Not! I'm always looking for an excuse to ride, but riding for this aggravation with no resolution in sight is not my definition of fun. I offered to leave the helmet with him and he could eventually replace the item and ship it to me, but that was not accepted... he wants to make sure it works with my bike. Yea, just like he did when I drove off with the new bike in December... Come on Man!!! Are you kidding me!!!

    Okay, so enough of the rant. Sometimes equipment breaks, that's understandable, and I don't fault BMW for this, but I am regretting my decision to buy another BMW. Especially, with the pricey wiz bang radio package that requires an additional purchase of a very expensive helmet and bluetooth comms system.

    With the expense of these bikes I would expect the service to be above par.

    If anyone has any ideas, I'm certainly open to suggestions.

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