In 2018, the BMW 3 Series was refreshed for the G20, or seventh generation, and blessed with a 382-horsepower turbocharged inline-six. For about $55k, you can pick up a Nurburgring-certified sport sedan without any options. That’s great for normal people, but if you’re an audiophile and want only the best BMW offers for your 3 Series, then get ready to cough up an extra $2100 in packages just to be allowed to pay another $875 for the BMW M340i Harman Kardon sound system. It’s like BMW is trying to get on Porsche’s level of outrageous options prices.
The Harman Kardon system employs Logic7 surround software with a full equalizer, internal hard drive, and even Spotify built in to get the most out of the 16-speaker, 464-watt system with two bass speakers under the front seats. What does seem to be missing is Android Auto, a 3.5 mm aux input jack, and CD player, which most consumers can live without. If you’re a CEO and can’t live without equipping your BMW with the Executive Package, then a fun feature is thrown in called Gesture Control which will let you control volume and skip songs with a twirl or swipe of your hand.
After spending time with the Harman Kardon equipped M340i, Charlie concluded the system doesn’t seem to stack up to the Volvo V60’s more expensive system from Bowers & Wilkins or the ELS system in Acura’s TLX, which are both more affordable vehicles. The bass isn’t very powerful in standard settings, but if “bumped up” halfway, it’s much more prominent though not quite enough to meet elite systems in competing vehicles. The speakers are good, but the mixing needs work, so it’s possible it’s not that Harman Kardon makes bad speakers but rather that BMW didn’t engineer the speakers to be used to their highest potential.
How We Test
Here at Daily Motor, we take sound systems seriously. We take every car, from a budget sedans like the Honda Civic to supercars like the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S, and put them through our in-depth sound-system testing. We use the same lossless, uncompressed WAV audio files on a USB stick plugged into the audio system so that every system we test starts from the same baseline. To give a realistic impression for the sound test, we use high-quality binaural microphones for recording. We test every radio with its sound settings set to their factory settings, since that is how the radio’s engineers designed it to sound, but we test all the sound settings on many types of music before shooting these reviews. After demonstrating the sound settings, adjustments, inputs, speaker locations, and Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay functionality, we start out on the road to listen to our sample tracks at freeway speeds. Most cars can sound good while stationary, but road, wind, and engine noise can deteriorate music quality. At the end of the test, we give a rating based on sound quality and overall system usage as well as a subjective rating factoring in vehicle attributes and cost.