Polestar 2 audio review: A phenomenal Harman Kardon system

The Polestar 2 is an all-electric saloon that claims to run for 292 miles on a single charge and manages to get to 60mph from a standstill in a tested 4.68 seconds. We found it to be a fantastic all-rounder but ultimately fell short in its driving range when pitted against cheaper alternatives.

When it comes to audio, it houses a 13-speaker Harmon Kardon system that outputs up to 600 Watts of power – an impressive feat for a car of its size, and further, as it comes as standard.

Click here to read the full Polestar 2 review

Polestar 2 audio setup

To tinker with the vehicle’s audio settings, one has to navigate to the appropriate menu on the 11.15″ infotainment system. Alongside a comprehensive set of volume settings, you’ll find a simple three-band equaliser (Treble, Bass, Subwoofer), and an ‘Advanced equaliser’ that gives you the ability to independently adjust nine frequency bands – here are our optimal ‘Tone and Equaliser’ settings:

Basic EQ:

  • Treble: +0
  • Bass: +0
  • Subwoofer: +0

Advanced EQ:

  • 75Hz: -6
  • 150Hz: -3
  • 300Hz: -1
  • 600Hz: -1
  • 1kHz: +0
  • 2kHz: +2
  • 4kHz: +1
  • 8kHz: -1
  • 16kHz: -2

You’ve also got a ‘Sound Experience’ tab, which comprises of the balance and fader, and a surround option that alters the “7.1 Quantum Logic Surround Sound” experience. We preferred listening to music with the surround sound option fully disabled, and selected the ‘All’ option within the ‘Sound Experience’ tab to get a more enveloping sound throughout the cabin.

It’s truly incredible to see such a degree of customisation from a vehicle – be it an EV or ICE-based car. Better still, to know this level of personalisation comes as standard with every Polestar 2, is certainly what we’d like to see going forwards from other automakers.

It doesn’t stop there, as the Polestar 2 is the first car to fully integrate Google’s Android Automotive OS, which is by far the best infotainment system we’ve seen on a car. It integrates Google Maps and has built-in data (for up to three years), allowing you to navigate without having to rely on a smartphone.

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Should you wish to connect to the system with either an Android or iOS device, Bluetooth connectivity is available: both the SBC and AAC codecs are supported, where the latter will be favourable to iPhone, iPad and iPod users as these natively use said codec. One could have hoped for LDAC support, given the highest quality Bluetooth codec is baked into all Android 8.0 or above devices, but alas that’s not the case.

iPhone users will also be pleased to know that Apple CarPlay is coming to the Polestar 2 soon, where you’ll be able to connect to the vehicle’s infotainment system and use Apple’s services instead of those on offer by Google.

As for media controls, they can be accessed through the display, via a physical control wheel found on the centre console (play/pause and volume) or through a set of physical buttons found on the right-hand side of the steering wheel; the latter allows for track changes and volume alterations, only.

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Polestar 2 audio performance

For a demo of the Polestar 2’s audio system head on over to our YouTube channel.

Speaking of volume alternations, the Polestar 2 seems to dip (or duck) audio each time you come to a standstill. This detracts from the overall listening experience, especially if you’re an audiophile – it happens each time without fail and we couldn’t find an option to disable this ‘feature’ through the infotainment system. We suspect that this might be due to safety reasons, as it allows you to hear your surroundings a little better. Still, it’s not something we’ve experienced in other EVs. We’ve reached out to Polestar to comment and will update this review if there are any settings we might have missed.

As for the positioning of the speakers, here’s how the system stacks up: at the front, you have a mid-range driver housed within each of the doors, a tweeter in each of the A-pillars, a centre speaker on the dashboard and an air-power subwoofer by the passenger side A-pillar (in-between the pillar itself and the bonnet). This totals to six audio drivers at the front of the cabin.

At the rear, there is a full-range driver and a tweeter housed within the doors, and a mid-range driver within each of the C-pillars. As for the boot, there’s a subwoofer and the system’s amplifier. This totals up to seven drivers at the rear of the cabin – 13 in total, which combined output 600 Watts of power. There are also two external speakers (at the front and rear bumpers) that are used to notify pedestrians of your oncoming presence.

When it comes to its audio prowess, the system delivers a meaty punch. This is thanks to a combination of the front-mounted air woofer, rear-mounted subwoofer and Dirac Unison technology, which cleverly co-optimises certain frequencies to ensure a more unified and tighter bass response. The result of these working in unison is an unparalleled mid-bass response – quite simply put, it’s flawless.

Take, for example, WSTRN’s ‘Never Find’, where the bass hits can be heard throughout the entirety of the song. Here, the Polestar 2’s audio system manages to portray a clean, natural and punchy mid-bass response. No matter where you sit inside the cabin, you’ll be able to enjoy a controlled and wholesome reproduction. We’d suggest reducing the 75Hz and 150Hz frequency bands by a few notches, where we’d go as far as reducing the former by up to six notches; in its default EQ, the system can sound a bit too overpowering in the low-end tones.

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The sub-bass response is also very impressive, where there’s a notable extension through the lower frequency bands. However, it won’t feel as pronounced as the likes of the audio system comprised within the Hyundai Ionic Electric, which is arguably one of the best systems we’ve heard – outside of ultra-premium or aftermarket solutions – for bassheads.

Polestar 2 steering design

Where the Hyundai fails, however, is in its mid-range reproduction – that’s not the same that could be said about this Harman Kardon system, which delivers near-forward-sounding mids. Indeed, the lower mids are almost perfect and come across eloquently. It’s a true marvel for a system that has quite a bit of heft in the mid-bass tones; often, systems that have a strong mid-bass presence have a notable dip across the lower mids.

Still, it’s not quite perfect, whereby there is a slight dip in the upper mids. We added a few notches to the 2kHz and 4kHz frequency bands to better the experience, and we’re pleased to say that this doesn’t detract from the system’s ability to reproduce an accurate sound.

Onto the highs, they do have a bit of a zing at the top end, where we found the system becomes a tad sibilant, namely at higher volumes. Reducing the 8kHz band by a notch and the 16kHz band by two notches yields a more agreeable experience. Of course, this is dependent on the type of music you listen to and further, your hearing range.

As for the soundstage, we found it to be a little closed sounding. You can, of course, use the 7.1 Quantum Logic Surround Sound to artificially give you a sense of width and depth, but we found enabling this option through the surround tab on the infotainment system detracts from the overall audio reproduction; it butchers the entire frequency range to give you a fake sense of surround sound.

On the plus side, instrument separation is excellent. Santana’s electronic guitar in ‘Put Your Lights On’ can be distinguished from Everlast’s deep voice and acoustic guitar strums, while subtle hi-hats can be heard throughout the song, no matter where you sit in the cabin.

Polestar 2 audio performance

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TotallyEV’s verdict on the Polestar 2’s audio system

On the whole, the Harman Kardon system comprised within the Polestar 2 is a marvel. It excels across the frequency range and will excite both regular listeners and audiophiles. Unless you look into premium offerings such as the Naim system found within a Bentley or a high-end Burmester system that you’d find in a Porsche Taycan, the Polestar 2’s audio system is in a league of its own when pitted against vehicles in the sub-£50,000 price category.

Better still, unlike many of its rivals and even more premium solutions, the 13-speaker Harman Kardon system comes as standard in every Polestar 2 vehicle. While you can’t buy it, it receives TotallyEV’s coveted Best Buy award.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the Polestar 2’s audio system. Let us know in the comments section below or via social media; we’re on: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Sub-bass
9
Mid-bass
10
Mids
9
Highs
10
Soundstage
8
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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.

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