BMW iX2 (BMW X2) audio review: Harman Kardon Upgrade?

The BMW iX2 is an alternative all-electric SUV to the iX1 and iX3. Despite sharing many similarities with its siblings, it’s not our favourite as it’s not as engaging to drive, has a shorter driving range and isn’t as practical with the limited amount of space for rear occupants.

In terms of its audio configuration, the iX2 and X2 share the same setup. Both have a 100W six-speaker configuration but can be upgraded for £600 to a 12-speaker 205W Harman Kardon audio system.

Click here to read the full BMW iX2 review

BMW iX2 audio setup

To tweak the audio settings, one has to navigate through the 10.7″ infotainment system. Here are our optimal settings:

  • Treble: +5
  • Bass: -1
  • Balance & Fader: Centre
  • Enhanced Sound: On

The EQ controls are rather primitive, as there are only Bass and Treble controls. Quite surprising, as its larger sibling the BMW iX3, has a multi-band EQ, which provides excellent customisation for more experienced users.

As for connectivity, both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported over a wired and wireless connection – the former type is suggested for you to attain the utmost audio fidelity. Bluetooth is also an option, however, the SBC and AAC codecs are supported only.

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BMW iX2 audio performance

For a demo of the BMW iX2’s audio system, head on over to our YouTube channel.

In terms of its audio configuration, the stock 100W six-speaker system has a midrange driver within each of the four doors and central bass speakers underneath the front two seats. The optional £660 205W Harman Kardon system adds the following: a tweeter and midrange driver as a central speaker in the dashboard, and tweeters within each of the four doors, which takes the tally up to 12 speakers in total.

The omission of a subwoofer is quite surprising, especially considering other Harman System audio systems we’ve reviewed feature the speaker in the boot – such as the configuration found in the BMW i4, Kia Soul EVVolvo XC40 and Polestar 2. The missing speaker does affect the overall sub-bass extension, with bass-heavy songs such as ‘Another One Of Me’ by Diddy & The Weeknd & French Montana sounding a little tame in the lower echelons of the bass tones. The same comments were made about the Harman Kardon system found in the BMW iX3 and iX1, which also opt for central bass speakers instead of a singular speaker in the boot.

With that said, the sub-bass tones can still be felt, especially at the front of the cabin, providing an engaging experience over vehicles that leave out bass speakers altogether. Speaking of which, the audio drivers found underneath the front two seats do an excellent job of delivering a hefty punch in the mid-bass tones; so much so, that we had to reduce the bass EQ by one notch as it was a tad overpowering.

The emphasis on the lows results in pushed-back mids, which means both Ciara and Chris Brown’s vocals don’t come out to the foreground in their single, ‘How We Roll’. To combat this, you might want to add a few notches to the Treble EQ. It’s quite disappointing that the manufacturer hasn’t provided a means of altering the mids independently from the highs, as this could have led to a superior listening experience.

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Moving onto the soundstage, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Without the ‘Enhanced Sound’ option enabled through the infotainment system, the speakers lack width and depth; but with it switched on, there’s a slight reverb. As a result, if you want a reference sound, you’ll need to sacrifice the overall soundstage by having the option disabled. Yet again, it’s surprising that there’s no means of adjusting the surround sound effect. Indeed, the Harman Kardon audio system found in the BMW iX3 provides more flexibility with a ‘Surround’ slider, which can be used in conjunction with the ‘Logic 7 Surround’ option. However, in the iX2, it’s an all-or-nothing type of approach.

With that in mind, instrument separation, tonality and imaging (minus the slight reverb) are all excellent. We sense many will be pleased with the overall reproduction. However, even with the ‘Enhanced Sound’ option enabled, there is still a lack of width and depth. This results in a less engaging experience than one might expect for a vehicle of its price. Compared to the BMW iX1, the iX2 is a tad less engaging, which is quite surprising given both vehicles share the same audio configuration.

Aside from its sound reproduction, the BMW iX1 has a relatively quiet cabin, but can’t quite compete with the serene cabins of the BMW iX1, BMW iX3, Jaguar I-Pace and Audi Q8 e-tron. Using a sound meter, we recorded: 35-36 dBA at a standstill; 58-62 dBA, while driving at 20-30mph; 64-67 dBA, while driving at 40mph; and 69-73 dBA when at 70mph.

We should also point out that you have ‘IconicSounds’, which provide fake engine sounds that are played back through the audio system. They’re not as accurate as some of its competitors and are best left disabled. Of course, that is subjective, so should you wish to have a fake whoshing sound each time you put your foot down on the accelerator pedal, the option is there. Note, this comes as standard in the AWD xDrive30 but will cost an additional £180 in the FWD eDrive20 model.

BMW iX2 award

Read next: Tesla Model Y audio review: An audiophile’s dream?

TotallyEV’s verdict on the BMW iX2’s audio system

On the whole, the Harman Kardon audio system found within the BMW iX2/X2 packs a punch and will leave most excited with its overall sound reproduction. Given the added premium and what it brings over the stock six-speaker system, it’s an option we’d suggest looking into, especially if you’re into audio. As such, the system receives TotallyEV’s Approved audio award.

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However, if you’re a serious audiophile, you might want to consider the alternatives from Tesla, Volvo, or even Kia, as these vehicles come fitted with more impressive and capable systems that’ll perform better across the entire frequency range. Equally, you might want to consider the BMW iX1 or BMW iX3, which in our opinion are sonically slightly superior.

What do you make of the iX2’s audio system? Let us know in the comments or via social media; we’re on: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, X and LinkedIn.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Sub-bass
8
Mid-bass
10
Mids
7
Highs
9
Soundstage
7
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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-ix2-bmw-x2-audio-review-harman-kardon-upgradeThe BMW iX2 and X2 house six audio drivers as standard but can be upgraded to a 12-speaker Harman Kardon system. While the latter system doesn’t excel across the frequency range and lacks advanced EQ controls, it still provides that extra audio zest and as such, receives TotallyEV’s Approved Audio award.

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