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JBL Premium sound system problem

Discussion in 'Gen 5 Prius Audio, Electronics and Infotainment' started by o_intent, Feb 15, 2024.

  1. o_intent

    o_intent Junior Member

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    I have a 2023 Prius Prime XSE Premium which comes with the 8 speaker JBL "Premium" sound system. While driving home and listening to music on Android Auto last week, the volume suddenly dropped by 50%, initially prompting me to think that the car had attenuated the sound in order to deliver a message/warning, much like it would cut music when prompting a navigation message, but the volume would never returned to normal.

    I normally cruise and comfortably listen at a level 17-20, going to 25 would be deafeningly loud. Now I would have to turn to 25 just to get any semblance of audio I'd normally get at 15. There is no more bass, the mid-range is just flat, and the thumping sensation caused by the moving air pressure is non-existent now.

    My second thought was that a connector somewhere had come loose, or maybe a fuse to the amp had blown. Going in the sound tuning page of the infotainment system revealed that only the FRONT door speakers had any sound, while fading to the rear yields nothing back there! The next couple of days would see me checking all of the fuses in the car, unplugging the battery and re plugging in hopes it would reset some things back to default.





    Brought it to the dealership, and naturally they returned with what one would expect, the tech found nothing obviously wrong with it, and that it sounded fine. Well, I've daily driven and listened to this car for 4 months now, enough to know exactly what it sounds like, and how it sounds when it all of a sudden goes completely away!

    This is a bug that they are either aware of, and is sweeping under the rug, or is so new that it's only affecting limited number of cars, either way I am putting it out there for exposure.

    While scouring the web I discovered another post from a RAV4 forum where the owner of a 2023 RAV4 Prime described his/her issues, and they sounded like a word-for-word copy.

    Strange thing happened with my sound system yesterday. 11 speaker &quot;premium&quot; JBL system, 10.5&quot; display. | Toyota RAV4 Forums <-------- For reference, copy and paste link, remove spaces
     
  2. Zeromus

    Zeromus Member

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    I've had the car beep for a notification of some sort, then just... Never turn off the sound attenuation mode.

    On a base model prime.

    The voice navigation on android auto also stopped working entirely. It would "play" but no assistant voice would play, and it wouldn't read messages out to me etc also and music was similarly lowered in volume.

    Only restarting the car or resetting the head unit worked to resolve it.

    Probably some weird software AA related glitch.
     
  3. samsprius1

    samsprius1 Active Member

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    Is all sources of music! Is it same with FM radio? I use apple CarPlay with YouTube music! but if I get voice text lowers sound to 50% to hear text and resumes full volume!
     
  4. qduong00

    qduong00 New Member

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    I have the same issue as OP but with 2024 model. Sound was normal while driving, then level suddenly drops 50% ish. This has happened 3x since owning the car for 4mos. Normally a power cycle would solve it immediately, however, today I tried 2x power cycles and it won't return to normal levels.
     
  5. o_intent

    o_intent Junior Member

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    Alright, a little update since my last post...

    I have brought to car back to the dealership twice now, each time they weren't able to re-create the problem, so they stated that's how the car is coming off the factory, so it's a non-issue! What's worse, they tried to prove it by pulling up another Prime XSE premium, and the sound system was JUST as as anemic!

    At this point, I am convinced that it's not a hardware issue as initially thought, since it's happening to remote vehicles, and at times cars straight off the dealer lot.

    I went to JBL's website, under their collaboration with Toyota it lists every model and the specs of the system they were fitted with. https://www.jbl.com/toyota.html . and to my bewilderment, this is an 800 Watts amplified system!

    I would encourage everyone with the JBL system to listen to your own and assess. If your system is 90% front speakers biased, if turning the fader to the REAR sounds like you're on a laptop, and system only seems loud when you're centered, then you're affected.
     

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  6. o_intent

    o_intent Junior Member

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    As of this moment, it's affecting all sources of media, not just AA or Carplay. Just to be sure I loaded a few Hi-res mp3's and FLAC files on a USB and played it there. No difference, levels seem as though they're attenuated, no clear highs, the thumps from bass completely gone.
     
  7. Zeromus

    Zeromus Member

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    Are the rear speakers 2 way?

    If there are no clear highs then the JBL system simply gas more speakers front vs back, and the woofer is likely wired in the front and the software doesn't isolate it from fader/balance. Also if the front speakers are 2 or 3 way with crossovers, then the low end speaker cones in the door will be biased to be bass heavy, vs the rears if they're 2 way speakers in a single piece.

    At some point I might upgrade the speakers in the Prius just because I spoiled myself in my old car (before the crossover broke on the driver side door somehow making the woofer speaker not work half the time). I'd swap the kicker KS over if the sizes match after fixing the crossover this summer, but theyre so old now, they probably have moisture related rust on the magnets now.

    If they are in good condition when the old one dies, and if tweeters are easily accessible I'd consider.it though.
     
  8. soft_r

    soft_r Junior Member

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    So if you're using android auto, there are a few quirks.

    1. If you have the dolby atmos option on your phone enabled and you're connected via android auto, it can be weird on how/when it activates. When it does activate it's like the EQ gets bumped a TON for almost the entire range. Bass will really kick, etc. I disabled dolby atmos entirely because I didn't like having an option that would almost randomly via certain interactions (like my passenger tried to take a picture using my phone while I was on wireless android auto playing over spotify and dolby atmos decided to kick in and blast my speakers). This may very well be your issue, some software EQ/sound boosting quirk of the phone.

    2. On a rare occasion a system notification which lowers the playback volume doesn't complete the routine of restoring the playback volume. Leaving you with muddied audio until you restart the phone or until you get another notification that completes the lowering/restoring routine. I doubt it's this since it also sorts itself out if you restart the phone and I'm sure you have since then.

    So, how to test... Sirius/FM radio. That removes the phone from the equation. If the test you did with the dealer car was at the same volume level on the same xm/fm radio station sounds the same as yours, then the issue is with something on your phone that was boosting your music quality. Probably some EQ program. I turned off dolby atmos, turned off EQ stuff in spotify, I think I even went into my developer options on my phone and changed something. All to make sure that my phone and the software on it would not affect my audio output. Since I want a consistent source that I can tune at my headunit/amp/dsp.
     
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  9. o_intent

    o_intent Junior Member

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    Here's a few more tidbit I should have added...

    The phone being a possible culprit was the very first thing on my mind, so that was the first thing I had to cross off the list.

    I was initially on Android Auto, but since the issue manifested I have troubleshot every mode of audio, including FM radio to USB drive. the problem still persists, and it's across the board.

    For anyone who thinks there might be something funky with your system, try this....

    - *While speakers at centered, turn volume to....about level 25 or so....*
    - turn on FM radio, and tune to a decently thumpy song
    - go Toyota settings > Sound & Media
    - scroll down to Radio, and under the options UNCHECK "HD Radio FM" and "HD Radio AM"

    If you don't immediately hear your volume raise significantly, then you're not experiencing my problem. The level it lowers or raise, is the same amount I seem to have lost, when the car attenuated its audio--while I was driving and listening--, and so far it's the only clue I've got to convince the grease monkeys at the dealership that there's a bug in the infotainment system!
     
  10. o_intent

    o_intent Junior Member

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    While I haven't worked up the courage to start tearing panels out myself to check for levels, I've looked up what I could about this system (I also told the dealership that I'm not giving you bastards an excuse to blame me for this.)

    My car has just over 3K miles on it, and I was IN the car listening when this happened, so you can't sell me on this "This system has always sounded like crap" BS.

    I found a thread another user by the name of Gokhan has started here JBL vs standard sound | PriusChat which suggests that this is a carry-over system from the Toyota Yaris. Along with some literature on JBL's website pointing to the fact the Rear door speakers (Location D) were supposed to do lower bass, subwoofer duties while the Front door speakers (Location C) do the same but not as uniquely specific.




    s-l1600.jpg s-l1600 (2).jpg s-l1600 (3).jpg JBL + TOYOTA PRIUS 03.PNG JBL + TOYOTA PRIUS 04.PNG
     
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  11. Zeromus

    Zeromus Member

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    I think the images would explain why using the balance/fader would make the rear sound really bad, since its so heavily tuned toward the low end and away from mid/high. That's really all I was trying to get at when it comes to the sound mix when using fader/balance to test things out.

    Now, why the sound attenuated significantly one day to the next - that's probably a software bug as you point out. Maybe that weird "clarifi" or whatever tech they show on the JBL page is doing something wonky, or as someone else pointed out, its interacting strangely with a setting on your phone related to audio that got updated and introduced a quirky bug :/
     
  12. flarecde

    flarecde Member

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    I've experienced the same, the volume ducks out for a notification then doesn't recover. It's usually back to normal by the next drive though.

    If it were a computer, I'd say reboot it, but rebooting a car on the highway might not be a good idea. Sometimes I appreciate some of my friend's views that a car shouldn't have anything more complicated than a carburetor in it.
     
  13. radsaq

    radsaq Junior Member

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    If you experience volume ducking/loss of navigation audio until the media system reboots or the car is power cycled, then it sounds like a generic bug that is present in the standard media software at least with android auto (I don't have any apple devices so I can't confirm it's broken for both) that there is another thread about: restoring media volume after tss &quot;warnings/dings&quot; | PriusChat

    It sounds like there may potentially be some overlap between that and what the OP described, but the other issue is not something that persists across reboots and I only have access to an XLE with the base audio so there's no way for me to test further.

    Oh, and you can reboot the media system by holding the power button down for some number of seconds, though that's a bit annoying in a model with the larger display.
     
  14. soft_r

    soft_r Junior Member

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    I've read that you can hold the volume button down on the head unit for 10 seconds to initiate a reboot of it while driving. Havent' tested it myself but it sounds like it'd work.
     
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  15. Zeromus

    Zeromus Member

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    I think the issue OP has is more fundamental and isn't being fixed with a reset of the head unit. The resetting of head unit only works for a glitch that happens when navigation directions happen at the same time as a safety notification/ping sound - like when you signal early for a lane change and there's a person there, or if you have your blinker on in a turn lane next to another turn lane so the car beeps at you about your blind spot (since it doesn't know its two turning lanes).
     
  16. o_intent

    o_intent Junior Member

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    Certain speakers being tuned a certain way (ie. a tweeter emitting highs) that, I can understand. By that reasoning I would expect a speaker purported to pull low-end bass duty to be thumpy. No matter where the fader is positioned, the speakers out back are consistently not only at a WAY lower volume, it's at a lower level compared to the front doors.

    So far I have only found 1 way to restore levels back similarly to how it was before, and it's by toggling the setting up above (I'm also pasting it below). However this only works on FM radio. The rest of the sources still sound like they're forcibly attenuated.

    Initially the grease monkeys at the dealership had to crank the levels to 40+ to get it to a reasonably loud. I tried to tell them, I don't drive around listening to music at 80% it's maximum volume. The levels go only to 60.


    Test to see if you're suffering the same symptoms I have (JBL Equipped vehicles)


    - *While speakers at centered, turn volume to....about level 25 or so....*
    - turn on FM radio, and tune to a decently thumpy song
    - go Toyota settings > Sound & Media
    - scroll down to Radio, and under the options UNCHECK "HD Radio FM" and "HD Radio AM"


    If your volume change by a large margin, and I mean HUGE, then let me know.
     
  17. o_intent

    o_intent Junior Member

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    That's it! One of my theories it that the car thinks there's a fault, or a condition occurring right now that it lowers the volume to prompt me for. The thing is, it hasn't given those levels back.

    I have done just about everything, unplugging the battery multiple times, resetting the head-unit to factory, tried every source of audio
     
  18. Zeromus

    Zeromus Member

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    That's interesting. HD Radio is a digital broadcast alongside the analog broadcast. It's entirely possible this is related to the car converting the digital signal to the analog one. Since you have an amplifier, I am going to assume that the task of processing that digital signal is happening there. Maybe there's something wrong with it, or there's a glitch in the tuning at a level that the headunit cannot communicate with the amplifier on to address.

    As for the soundstage though - there is nothing you can do about the back seat audio. The fact the back 2 speakers are woofers, and the fact you have an amplifier means that the amplifier is going to be filtering the audio signal such that only the response range for the rear speakers is being sent there. You can put in whatever you want, a 2 way, or three way speaker - you'll still only get the low end frequencies that the amp is filtering for those speakers to pass through them. And to *some* extent, you should always expect the rear speakers to be at a lower volume as a result. Since low end of the spectrum is going to be quieter in terms of volume unless you're compensating through much more power. All this being said If they're tuned for super low frequencies, and the amplifier is filtering very low frequencies to them, the issue of an error in the signal processing could be exacerbating this. It could be that its filtering too high a frequency that the speakers have a poor response to, and the lowest frequencies they would have a good response to could be getting cut off. It's also possible that the amplifier is just not providing the appropriate power level at the same time.

    If it works better when the volume is cranked, that's a sign to me at least that the amp is only really sending solid power at that higher volume. Often aftermarket amplifiers will have a gain setting which is related to their processing to apply a flat +X dB to all signals being pushed through the amp so that you can tune more effectively just how sensitive you want the volume knob to be. A really high gain means every notch on the volume knob will push way more power. If you tune it too high you can blow your speakers very easily. Too low and you have the issue you have where you have to CRANK it. Ideally it should be tuned such that 75% volume on the knob is very loud through the amp, but maxing out the volume doesn't introduce distortion and damage to the speakers. But at this level it should be comfortable to listen to music between 25%-75%. My previous experience with car audio was that an amp tuned in this way will often feel too quiet below 25% system volume on the head unit more often than not.

    Maybe there's a way to check the amp, its connections, if it has physical gain knobs, or if there's some software setting that needs to be updated directly, or a poor connection?
     
  19. Hammersmith

    Hammersmith Senior Member

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    I'm going to have to agree with the ones on here saying there's a problem. I finally got around to testing today and the rear door speakers are hardly getting anything compared to the front door speakers. And what's getting to the back is tinny and anemic. From what I can tell, the front and rear door speakers are almost identical in construction(if not completely identical), so there's no good reason for the fronts to be getting a full-range signal(including almost all of the bass) while the rears get hardly anything.

    I think it's fair to say someone screwed up the settings in either the head unit or the amp. I'm not the guy to do this, but it would be interesting to see the raw F/R levels coming from the head unit and also the WF/R levels coming out of the amp. That would help pinpoint if it was a head unit programming issue or an amp issue.
     
  20. o_intent

    o_intent Junior Member

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    You can cross out the amp being at fault for this. Yesterday I went in my nephew's Gen4 Prime LE, which has the basic sound system. After playing with the fader, it was clear like night and day that the FRONTs were biased.

    Last week I tested out my friend's Rav4 Prime with the JBL system and as expected, anemic REARs. The only thing that sets the RAV4 apart from ours, is that it has a dedicated Subwoofer in the back which I still was able to hear.

    My problem has 2 parts to it: (1) the signal antennation which I am slowly solving as answers begin to unravel; and (2) the incredibly weak rears that apparently is known throughout the Toyota community, according to some. There's speculations floating around that says the offset sound was by design, to save Toyota from unnecessary warranty repair as users have affinity to crank their stereo systems!