Hyundai Tucson audio review: Krell upgrade?

The Hyundai Tucson has been in production since 2004 and is the manufacturer’s best-selling SUV model. We found the PHEV model to be a good all-rounder, however, it lacked the promised fuel efficiency, namely when compared to its main rivals.

When it comes to audio, the Tucson houses six audio drivers within the entry-level SE Connect and the N Line trim. The former trim is not available as a PHEV. In the N Lise S, Premium and top-spec Ultimate trims there’s a nine-speaker Krell system, which we have on review.

Click here to read the full Hyundai Tucson review

Hyundai Tucson audio setup

To tinker with the vehicle’s audio settings, you’ll have to navigate to the appropriate menu on the 10.25″ infotainment system – here are our optimal settings:

  • Speed dependent volume control: Normal
  • Treble: +2
  • Midrange: +0
  • Bass: +0
  • Balance & Fader: Centre
  • Live Dynamic: Reference*

*While using the built-in media player (such as when connected over Bluetooth), you’ll have the option to toggle through the ‘Live Dynamic’ settings: Reference, Natural and Concert. Oddly, these modes aren’t present when using a third-party media player, such as when connected to Android Auto, Poweramp doesn’t provide you with said customisation. Thankfully, it would seem the recommended ‘Reference’ mode is used with other media players.

Speaking of connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both supported over a wired connection only. Of course, Bluetooth is also an option with the AAC and SBC codecs both supported – for the utmost sound quality, we’d always suggest plugging in your smartphone.

Moving onto media controls, they can be accessed through the 10.25″ display, via the capacitive volume and media controls found just below the screen and through physical buttons located on the steering wheel.

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Hyundai Tucson audio performance

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

In terms of its audio configuration, the entry-level models have six speakers: one in each door and a tweeter within each of the A-pillars. The higher-spec trims with the nine-speaker Krell system house two additional speakers within the centre of the dashboard and a singular subwoofer in the boot. Wattage claims, driver sizes or types haven’t been provided by the manufacturer – if and when we receive this information we shall update this article.

The inclusion of a subwoofer in the Krell system certainly adds to the sub-bass rumble. Songs that have a pronounced low-end rumble come to life. Granted, it’s not up to scratch with more premium systems that offer an even better lower-end extension, it’s still a notable upgrade over the stock system that omits a subwoofer altogether.

As for the mid-bass tones, they’re punchy, albeit a little uncontrolled at louder volumes. For example, in Rexx Life Raj’s single titled ‘Beauty In The Madness’ the bass slams are not delivered with the utmost precision. The bass is also rather prominent, so if you’re into classical music, or listen to a lot of talk shows/podcasts, you might want to dial it down a few notches via the EQ.

Unsurprisingly, this does have an effect on the mid-range tones, namely the lower mids, which sound pushed back and recessed. A temptation is to add a few clicks to the ‘Midrange’ EQ, however, doing so will result in lowered vocal accuracy and an odd reverb. As such, leaving it on its default setting is advised for a reference sound – doing so means you’ll have a slightly V-shaped sound signature.

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This leads us to the treble extension, which is zesty at the top end. Due to the inclusion of the dedicated tweeters, music comes to life at the front of the cabin. Alas, the omission of said speakers does hinder the experience for those sat at the rear; the system fails to reproduce that toe-tapping feeling.

Hyundai Tucson interior design

Speaking of which, the overall soundstage reproduction is quite disappointing. The system has a uni-directional sound due to its limited speaker configuration; even for those sat at the front, there isn’t that degree of engagement and fulfilment. While the addition of the speakers within the dashboard is appreciated, one can’t help but think what could have been if Krell and Hyundai had added extra speakers within the rear doors and parcel shelf.

Nonetheless, there’s a competent level of instrument separation that can be heard at the front of the cabin. This helps keep the front passengers excited when listening to more challenging tracks or live recordings.

Finally, onto cabin noise, the Tucson provides an impressive level of noise isolation for a vehicle of its class; granted there’s a bit of wind and tyre noise that creeps in at higher speeds, but it’s minimal for an SUV. Using a sound meter, we recorded 35-36 dBA at a standstill (this increases to 45-46 dBA with the engine engaged); driving at 20mph, 51-55 dBA; driving at 30-40mph, 56-58 dBA; and at 70mph, 69-71 dBA.

Hyundai Tucson audio award

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TotallyEV’s verdict on the Hyundai Tucson’s audio system

Frankly, the Krell system within the Hyundai Tucson provides consumers with better low-end extension thanks to the addition of a subwoofer and a more engaging sound due to the extra speakers within the dashboard. As such, the upgraded configuration receives TotallyEV’s Approved audio award.

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With that in mind, the Hyundai Tucson’s audio system can’t compete with some of the alternatives out there on the market. Whereby, audiophiles might want to look elsewhere for bettered audio reproduction.

Would you upgrade to the more expensive trims for the upgraded Krell system? 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.
hyundai-tucson-audio-review-krell-upgradeThe Hyundai Tucson houses six speakers as standard but can be upgraded to a nine-speaker Krell system. The latter provides better low-end extension due to the inclusion of a subwoofer and is more engaging thanks to additional drivers at the front of the cabin. As such, it receives TotallyEV's Approved audio award.


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