2015 Audi A3: Audio Review
March 12, 2015
There's a wicked-awesome guitar solo at the 2:50-mark in the Red Hot Chili Peppers song, "Strip My Mind." If you were living under a rock in 2006 and missed the Stadium Arcadium album, I recommend you stop reading this and go listen to it now. It's a double album (sub-titled Mars and Jupiter) and it's an excellent way to spend 123 minutes.
Last week, I drove to work in our long-term 2015 Audi A3 with Stadium Acradium pumping through the Audi's speakers the only way it should be played: at full volume. It wasn't quite 9:00 a.m. by the time I parked at the Edmunds garage, and I should've been in the throes of a full-blown air-guitar solo. I wasn't though and it was the Audi's fault.
With the volume knob turned all the way to the right (the volume read "34"), which is its maximum setting, it just wasn't loud enough. Our Premium Plus A3 comes with the same ten-speaker audio system as the base A3 and it's got perfectly decent sound quality but with my iPhone connected, the stereo didn't reach its maximum potential.
Like many other systems, the A3's stereo can't get the best sound quality nor can it get the maximum volume out of devices connected via Bluetooth or USB. Sure, you can use compact discs instead, but carrying around 5,170 songs worth of CDs would be a bit cumbersome. Audi knows that people aren't using CDs very often these days and as such, they've tucked the CD player away inside the glove box where it's really difficult to reach. Switching CDs on a road trip would be pretty hard if you were flying solo.
Switching to AAC files instead of MP3 format may increase quality but that's not really the problem here. It's the audio strength. To compound these problems, the base stereo is backed by a plebian 180 watts of power which simply isn't enough to power that many speakers.
We equipped our A3 with the optional MMI navigation plus system for $2,600, but we didn't pick up the 14-speaker, 705-watt Bang and Olufsen sound system. The B&O system is standard on the Prestige trim level, but it's an $850 option on the Premium Plus. At that price (2 percent of our test-car's total price of $39,745) and with the limited ability of the stock sound system, there's no way I'd skip the upgrade if this were my personal car.
Aside from the volume limitations, the MMI interface is perfect. The controls are exceptionally intuitive and easy to use, the system catalogs my 817 albums with zero delay and you can quickly tuck the screen away into the dashboard if you want one less distraction while you're driving.
Our A3's sound quality is crisp, with good standard EQ levels and balance. But I want more audio power. Volume-wise, during those rock-out moments, the stock system just doesn't do the trick.
Travis Langness, Associate Editor @ 6,430 miles