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2019 Forester Touring CVT
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Discussion Starter #1
Question for you all.

I have a '19 Touring, running latest HU firmware (as of last week).

Audio quality over CarPlay seems.....flat. --No bass or treble, lower volume. It doesn't sound like the sub in the back is even on.
Meanwhile, over BT, it sounds much, much better. --better range, a little muted but overall good quality.
If I disable CarPlay, use my iPhone effectively as an iPod (through Media), the audio quality is perfect. --best range. Bass and treble are superb.

I mostly listen to Jazz and Classical so I'm a little sensitive to the differences in tone and range.

Any thoughts or suggestions on this? I'm happy to use my iPhone over Media (w/out CarPlay) but it seems odd that the audio is so different between CarPlay (USB) and iPod Mode (also USB).
 

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2019 Forester, Touring CVT
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A few things come to mind. Not sure how the EQ settings are set in your head unit but if not already you might want to work with these. While in CarPlay go to the Subaru home screen and settings then Sound to adjust. Next thought would be to take a look at the settings on you phone and under Music there are some preset EQ settings that Apple provides. I tried changing this with CarPay connected and could not detect any difference in sound. If I had to guess the audio out while in CarPlay over the lightning connector is just raw audio without any EQ from the phone. The phone settings may work with it in iPOD mode and bluetooth but not CarPlay. Good luck and keep us posted.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much for checking.

I tried CarPlay a bit this afternoon, even setting the EQ on the phone to “bass booster” but it still sounds flat. Also, the volume sounds 1-2 clicks lower with CarPlay than without it turned on.

I’ve tried it with two iPhones, an iPhone 7 Plus, and an iPhone 6 Plus. They sound exactly the same. If I have CarPlay turned on, the audio range seems more narrow, less highs and lows, than when disabled.

My only suspicion is CarPlay puts out a bit stream of audio but at a reduced bitrate to compensate for the 8” screen.

One other thing I noticed when running CarPlay for longer than a few minutes is my iPhone gets ridiculously hot to the touch. I noticed when getting out of the car, I grabbed my iPhone and it was really hot. When I turn off CarPlay yet still have it connected via USB, it never gets more than gently warm.
 

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Yes, when in CarPlay the phone EQ settings are ignored. I searched around the web and it seems others have a different experience and report that CarPlay sounds better. As you said it is odd that using the phone as an iPod sounds better. I would expect that both CarPlay and iPod put out bitstream audio and use the DACs in the HU. What happens when you turn off the EQ settings on the phone and then compare the two? Still a difference? My only other thought would be to consider one of the apps such as VOX that has an EQ and see if this helps. VOX works with CarPlay but to use the EQ I think you must pay extra. The trick is to find a free app that has EQ that also works with CarPlay. Or try the EQ settings on the HU to see if you can find settings that work. Good luck, if you find a solution I am very interested in hearing about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I just installed iOS 13, thought I’d give CarPlay one more shot. Everything seems to work fine except three things:

First, the audio test still seems flat, not as bad as it was under iOS 12. I turned on EQ and turned off the EQ, no difference. Meanwhile, using it as an iPod, the sound is stellar to my ears. On a lark, I asked a friend to sit in the car, see if she could hear the difference between CarPlay and iPod Mode being that she’s a musician. She said the audio is fuller and more vibrant in iPod mode, CarPlay sounds flatter and more narrow.

Second, the GPS for Apple Maps and CarPlay tends to put me at 30 paces away, rather than where the car is. I checked with Subaru, they told me that the GPS for CarPlay only uses the iPhone, not the GPS antenna from the car at all. No problems with the integrated Tom Tom, highly accurate so I continue to use that instead.

My one last major gripe with CarPlay is that it monopolizes the entire head unit, I can’t use Voice Control at all bc Siri takes over. No radio or climate control changes, only Siri.
 

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@JuanGuapo What are you using to play your music on your phone? I use Spotify and just found that they have separate EQ setting within the App. Also, I found that lowering the Mids in the EQ really helped improve the sound quality from the HK stereo. Its not something I've done in other vehicles but it seemed to help this time. Good luck!
 
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Discussion Starter #7
@DenGas144 Thanks for the info, my friend. I use Apple Music and downloaded (lossless tracks), the audio quality marginally improved with iOS 13. I will try lowering the midrange, see if there is any change. On the iPhone, I've changed the EQ setting within Settings--no measurable change, at least to my ears.
 

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@DenGas144 Thanks for the info, my friend. I use Apple Music and downloaded (lossless tracks), the audio quality marginally improved with iOS 13. I will try lowering the midrange, see if there is any change. On the iPhone, I've changed the EQ setting within Settings--no measurable change, at least to my ears.
Did you try the EQ settings on the head unit? When in Car Play I found that the phone EQ settings had 0 impact on the sound however if I changed the EQ settings on the Harmon it made a difference. Just a thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you. I played with the EQ settings today but I think It still sounds flat.
I had a nice long road trip today to play with it. On one leg of the trip, I drove with CarPlay on; on the return, I drove with it off. Sounded much better, mostly the same music.

I had a nice long road trip today to play with it. On one leg of the trip, I drove with CarPlay on and EQ defaulted; on the return, I drove with it off, EQ same. Sounded much fuller, mostly the same music.

I also tried listening to a CD, original recording, vs the lossless version through CarPlay. Big difference, CarPlay still sounds a little flat compared to CD.

Meanwhile, I can’t tell any difference if I run the iPhone through iPod mode with CarPlay turned off and the original CD.
 

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2020 Subaru Forester Sport - Ice Silver Metallic, Option pkg 24.
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Could one of you guys let me know if Carplay can only be activated by plugging in the iPhone or will it work wirelessly via Bluetooth?
 

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Could one of you guys let me know if Carplay can only be activated by plugging in the iPhone or will it work wirelessly via Bluetooth?
Requires the cable. Some vehicles allow wireless bit the Forester requires the cable to be connected.
 

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I just installed iOS 13, thought I’d give CarPlay one more shot. Everything seems to work fine except three things:
...
Second, the GPS for Apple Maps and CarPlay tends to put me at 30 paces away, rather than where the car is. I checked with Subaru, they told me that the GPS for CarPlay only uses the iPhone, not the GPS antenna from the car at all. No problems with the integrated Tom Tom, highly accurate so I continue to use that instead.
Has anyone else experienced this? And if so, does anyone have any troubleshooting tips? CarPlay GPS was perfect for me under iOS 12, but since the iOS 13 upgrade, it's been unusable.

Specifically, both my wife (iPhone 7) and I (iPhone 11 Pro) have experienced our location "jumping" in Apple Maps and Google Maps to ~100+ ft away, placing us on the wrong roads, heading in the wrong direction, etc. As soon as we disconnect CarPlay and get directions just on our phones, navigation resumes perfectly.

It does seem the car is somehow sending "bad data" to the phones—whether that's GPS or something else, I don't know.
 

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I have a Touring model and have not noticed this behavior with the GPS. I did some searching and it appears that Apple recommends for a USB connected phone that the GPS data to be provided by the car to the phone. That said I would assume that Foresters equipped with GPS are providing the phones with GPS data. I am also reading that this seems to be a very common problem across multiple auto manufactures and not limited to Subaru. It also appears that even if the internal navigation is correct the Car Play navigation can be off. The only solution I have seen is HU updates which if true we may be waiting a while. I would check to see that the HU has the latest release from Subaru. Another thought that comes to mind is the setting for the clock. Make sure the setting for the clock is set to automatic. If you have navigation the time will come from the GPS and without Nav it comes from the phone. There are settings on the iPhone to make this work if you do not have Nav which can be found in forum with a search or in the owners manual.
 

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I've had GPS that are at least 30 paces away for years in cars etc. I think GPS in certain places just aren't more accurate than that. Also, I remember a while ago whenthe public was "allowed" to access GPS (originally a military weapon) the public wasn't going to get the fully accurate signal - don't know if that isn't true any more.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Good afternoon.

I asked about this question/issue a year ago, I'm curious if there have been any changes/updates since.

Originally, I noticed that the audio quality if I decide to use CarPlay either on my wife's phone or my phone sounds like it has reduced range. For example, bass is still low compared to when using it through media with CarPlay turned off, or over Bluetooth.

Currently I'm running the latest version of iOS on my iPhone and I noticed that the audio has slightly improved but overall the base just feels lacking. I can adjust the EQ but it still doesn't sound nearly as vibrant (e.g., bass) as when I use it over Bluetooth or plugged in directly, and using the iPhone as an iPod. The mid range and the highs are well represented, just not the low-end.

I'm not saying it sounds "bad" over CarPlay but it doesn't sound nearly as full as when using it without it.

I notice it with jazz and classical music because the percussion comes through much differently through CarPlay then with out it.

Any suggestions, I would be most appreciative.

--JG
 
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