BMW i7 audio review: The new benchmark for audiophiles

Now in its seventh generation, the BMW 7 Series is offered as a fully electric vehicle. Indeed, the BMW i7 is aesthetically similar to its petrol sibling but has two electric motors, which combine with its 101.7 kWh battery pack to produce 400 kW (544hp) of power, 750 Nm of torque and will run for a quoted 367-387 miles on a single charge. In the UK, it starts from a whopping £113,970.

In terms of audio configuration, both the 7 Series and i7 come equipped as standard with an 18 and 17-speaker 655 Watt Bowers & Wilkins system, respectively. The upgraded 36 and 35-speaker 1,965 Watt Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System in the 7 Series and i7 can be found within the £5,775 Technology Plus Pack, which also adds Driving Assistant Professional and Parking Assistant Pro. The latter system is on review.

BMW i7 audio setup

To tinker with the vehicle’s audio settings, you’ll have to navigate to the appropriate menu on the 14.9″ infotainment system – here are our optimal settings:

  • Speed olume: +0
  • Sound profiles: Concert
  • 3D intensity: -1
  • 4D bass experience (Synchronise all): -1
  • Personalised surround intensity (Synchronise all): +0
  • Treble: +0
  • Bass: +0
  • Balance & Fader: +0
  • Equaliser, custom
  • 100Hz: +1
  • 200Hz: +0
  • 500Hz: -1
  • 1kHz: +0
  • 2kHz: -1
  • 5kHz: +0
  • 10kHz: +2

In order to connect to the vehicle’s system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both supported over a wired and wireless connection. Of course, Bluetooth is also an option with both the AAC and SBC codecs supported – for the utmost sound quality, we’d always suggest plugging in your smartphone.

Moving onto media controls, they can be accessed through the 14.9″ display and through the buttons located on the steering wheel.

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BMW i7 audio performance

For a demo of the BMW i7’s audio system head on over to our YouTube channel.

In terms of its audio configuration, both the stock and upgraded Bowers & Wilkins systems in the 7 Series differ from the i7. The fully electric model integrates a singular 200mm dual voice coil (DVC) subwoofer in the boot, while the regular 7 Series omits the speaker altogether in favour of two 217mm central bass speakers located underneath the front seats. This is why the Surround Sound System in the i7 has 17 speakers as opposed to 18 of the 7 Series, and equally 35 speakers down from 36 speakers in the premium Diamond Surround Sound System.

Concentrating on the fully electric i7, the stock 17-speaker system houses eight speakers at the front of the cabin, eight at the rear and one in the boot; they are as follows: five 25mm aluminium tweeters (front and rear doors), one 100mm glass fibre midrange speaker (dashboard), four 100mm Continuum midrange speakers (front and rear doors), two 50*80 mm dual balanced woofers (front doors), four 60mm headrest speakers (rear seats) and a 200mm dual voice coil (DVC) subwoofer in the boot.

The Diamond Surround Sound System that we have on review, houses a monumental 35 speakers; 16 speakers at the front, 14 at the rear, 4 within the headliner (top), and one in the boot – these are as follows: four 50*80mm aluminium dual balanced woofers (front and rear doors), four 40mm aluminium 3D speakers (headliner), two 25mm aluminium tweeters (rear doors), eight 4D shakers (backrests of front and rear seats), eight 60mm headrest speakers (front and rear seats), three 25mm Nautilus Diamond dome tweeters (dashboard, front doors), five 100mm Continuum midrange speakers (dashboard, front and rear doors), and a 200mm dual voice coil (DVC) subwoofer in the boot.

So, how does it perform? Well, in short, it’s the best audio system we’ve reviewed to date as it excels across the frequency range and provides an exciting listening experience. Let’s break it down. In terms of the system’s sub-bass presence, the DVC subwoofer provides a hearty extension in Bryson Tiller’s song ‘Outside’. It’s not overdone, however, and is faultless in its execution of the lower-end tones. Better still, the two 4D shakers which are integrated within each of the four backrests (as they’re omitted in the rear middle seat), provide a more immersive and fun experience. We’d suggest taking one notch off the 4D bass slider to reduce the somewhat artificial rumbling effect. Of course, as with anything in audio, it’s all very subjective.

As for its mid-bass reproduction, it’s hearty, lively and precise. There’s no wobble or unwanted vibrations that can be heard from the 50*80mm door-mounted woofers. The system provides phenomenal, class-leading control across the low-end tones, which ultimately leads to a warm yet accurate sound profile.

What really stands out, however, is the system’s ability to deliver pinpoint accurate vocals. This is, in part, due to the vehicle housing dedicated midrange speakers both at the front and rear of the cabin. Combined with the eight headrest speakers, which are yet again omitted in the rear middle seat, provide an engaging, inch-perfect mid-range reproduction.

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Onto the highs, they extend tremendously well at the top-end. The clarity of cymbals comes to fruition with the addition of dedicated tweeters dotted around the cabin. Namely at the front, where there are three 25mm Nautilus Diamond dome tweeters that provide a faultless, non-fatiguing sound even at louder volumes. To add some context, these undergo the same manufacturing process used to create Bowers & Wilkins’ premium loudspeakers. Suffice to say, owners of the i7 will be left with goosebumps when listening back to more challenging tracks.

Equally, the system’s ability to deliver a phenomenal soundstage reproduction helps listeners appreciate the vehicle’s audio prowess. Aside from excellent instrument separation both and the front and rear of the cabin, the tonality, imaging, width and depth are all done to perfection.

It is worth pointing out, however, that the four 40mm aluminium 3D speakers that are present in the headliner won’t work in the more reference ‘Studio’ preset but rather, in ‘On Stage’ and ‘Concert’ – excluding the ‘Rear’ profile as that directs and prioritises audio to the rear of the cabin. Indeed, if you’re looking for that extra notch in clarity and want the utmost reference sound from the i7’s audio system, you’ll want to opt for the ‘Studio’ preset, which is the mode that Bowers & Wilkins would prefer you to use. However, with a bit of tinkering with the audio settings through the infotainment system, we’d suggest using the ‘Concert’ mode in order to get that cabin-filling audio experience.

BMW i7 Bowers & Wilkins award

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TotallyEV’s verdict on the BMW i7’s audio system

On the whole, the BMW i7’s audio system, more specifically the 35-speaker 1,965 Watt Diamond Surround Sound System by Bowers & Wilkins, is the best audio system one can attain without having to look into aftermarket solutions. It excels across the frequency range and provides a jaw-dropping experience, which will be appreciated by even the most demanding audiophiles.

Find the best BMW i7 deals

As such, the Bowers & Wilkins’ upgraded system not only receives TotallyEV’s Audio Excellence award, but is also the first to get the full-whack 10-star rating. It stands in a league of its own and is arguably one of the best audio systems to have been offered within a vehicle’s configuration – be it fully electric or other. This paints an exciting future for what is to come from the British company and the German automaker.

What do you make of BMW’s integration of Bowers & Wilkins’ audio systems? Let us know in the comments section below or via social media; we’re on: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Christopher Minasians
Christopher is an avid car enthusiast and techie. In his spare time, he reviews the latest consumer electronic products on his YouTube channel, TotallydubbedHD. Elsewhere, he practices Taekwondo, in which he has held a black belt for several years and coaches at a national level. He also speaks fluent English, French, Armenian, and loves to practice freestyle street dance.
bmw-i7-audio-review-the-new-benchmark-for-audiophilesThe Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System is the best audio system we've reviewed. It provides a phenomenal experience across the entire frequency range and excels with its engaging soundstage. It's the only system we've given a full-blown 10-star rating and to us, is the new benchmark for in-car audio. It should come as no surprise that the BMW i7's upgraded audio system receives TotallyEV's Audio Excellence award.


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