2015 Porsche Macan S: The "A Word"
April 15, 2015
If you want to start an Internet flame war guaranteed to entertain on a rainy day, visit any music/home theater/car audio forum and start dropping the word "audiophile." Man, that word can get people fired up, at least the kind of people who nerd out to audio-quality obsessions and, equally, those that mock them.
Start dropping the word "Bose" shortly thereafter and you'll have the kind of conflagration that drives people from their Malibu and Laguna canyon homes. In fact, I'm hoping to start one right here in this thread. I'm practically handing a lit match to our chief pyromaniac, fordson1, hoping his/her expertise in every facet of automotive manufacture, design and operation lights this puppy up like a crateful of Tijuana bottle rockets.
"Audiophile" is such a loaded word, drawing detractors and defenders, but what drives me bananas is seeing the word abused as a marketing term, such as it is in our 2015 Porsche Macan S.
The Bose audio system features a "linear" setting that purports to adapt a neutral sound character that satisfies your inner audiophile. It even states its intentions in the display. All I hear when selecting it, however, is a thin film of digitally-processed reverb lifting away and a slight crossover shift that's probably filtering out anything below 80Hz (in the owner's manual, Porsche/Bose maintain that selecting Linear de-emphasizes heavy bass for a more neutral setting).
Also, I'm not sure you can characterize a system as "audiophile" when bass and treble are the only available tone controls, as they are in our Macan. And this is before we all agree that quality listening in the interior of an automobile — a small cage of concave and convex surfaces, plastic and glass, road, tire and wind noise — is as productive as playing tennis on the beach.
This isn't to say the Macan's Bose system is bad. It's not. Bose quality varies widely in the automotive world — the system in our former C7 Stingray was disappointing, for example — but the system in our Macan is nice enough. It's balanced and can get loud enough without distorting. That'll work for almost everyone. But audiophile it is not, regardless of what the Sound Options menu tells me.
As a $1,400 option, the Bose wasn't a bank buster. That sounds like a lot, but you'd spend more on aftermarket preamps, speakers, and the installation if you went off the options sheet. But you'd probably end up with a better system.
Then again you could just go big and order the optional $5,700 Burmester system.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor