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The stock audio system is great, actually. Here's why.

Horkchop

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Clubs
 
I hear a lot on these forums and reviews about the Maverick's stock 6-speaker sound system - rarely is any of it positive. So as a guy who is something of a frugal audiophile, I'm going to give some of my thoughts on the Mav's sound system.

A few caveats:
1. I never use Bluetooth. I'm not sure if it's the codec, but audio over Bluetooth has noticeable distortion and digital artifacts. I always run my audio from my iPhone 11 to the stereo using USB-C and through the Apple Music app over Apple CarPlay. I typically use mp3s and occasionally Apple encoded AAC files. YMMV if you're using a different audio source or file formats.
2. I'm a rock/alternative/metal fan, which are genres that are usually very mid-forward in instrumentation. My thoughts probably won't apply to some other, more bass-heavy genres.
3. Almost all of my 25,000 miles in my Mav have been spent listening to music, so the speakers should be broken in. Speakers are made from paper and glue - which are fibrous and adhesive, so play time can "wear in" a speaker by loosening those stiffer materials.
4. I don't have any scientific analysis to give you. Sure, I could get in a number of cars, run pink noise through the system and capture them in stereo using a high quality mic and pre-amp and then use a frequency analyzer to give you an exact reading of what frequency ranges are strongest and weakest at ear level in the driver's seat. And while that would be super cool and fun to do, it's also something I don't have the time for at the moment.

On with the background:

My Mav was just in the dealership for the air bag recall and they, surprisingly, handed me the keys to a brand new loaded 2023 Ford Escape ST with all the goodies to drive in the meantime. Nice car; glad to have my truck back. Anyway, it had the premium B&O sound system in it, so of course I spun some tunes in it.

This isn't the first time I've driven a car with an "upgraded" sound system in it. I've had Bose, Sony, and JBL systems, and the Escape's is definitely one of the better ones I've used. With that said, I think it's a toss-up between the Sony in my 2011 Ford Fusion and - surprisingly - the stock six-speaker system in my 2012 Toyota Camry as to which one is "best."

Crash course in audio: sound is caused by pressure waves in the air moving at different speeds, or frequencies. The head unit is supposed to deliver a pristine audio signal and the amplification power necessary for the speaker to move back and forth and create those pressure waves. Most systems are able to deliver audio frequencies between 20 hertz and 20,000 hertz (or 20khz), both values of which are usually well beyond the audible spectrum for almost everyone. The lower the frequency (the fewer hertz), the lower the note. The higher the frequency (the more hertz), the higher the note. Of course, music is rarely one single, pure note; but a combination of notes from multiple instruments and voices with many "harmonics" and "overtones" creating the sound ("overtones" are the reason why one note played on a violin will sound different from the same note played on a piano, for instance). Generally, a well-mixed song won't overemphasize any one frequency range over another unless a specific situation calls for it.

Audio systems, on the other hand, don't often play by those rules - "critical listening" devices like studio monitors or flat-response speakers give an accurate representation of the music played through them, but tend to sound "flat," "lifeless," or "boring" to most listeners. Thus, most "premium" audio systems - particularly in cars - will overemphasize the lowest and highest frequencies, leading to a "mid-scooped" or "V-shape" sound (so named because the mids are "scooped" out of the frequency range, making a "v-shape" on a frequency analyzer). This is not necessarily a bad thing - "sub-bass" frequencies are ones that are often more felt than they are heard, and a crisp high treble can really bring out the subtleties in cymbals, horns, or high notes in a guitar solo, for instance. A "mid-scooped" sound usually has the effect of making a recording sound "bigger" at the expense of the loss of midrange clarity. A "mid-boosted" sound, on the other hand, will typically highlight mid-forward instruments such as acoustic and electric guitars and most vocals at the expense of sounding "smaller," or "boxier." But let's face it - that V-shape sound profile is just plain fun. It's a quick way to feel like you're at a concert. Everything sounds big, distant, and you really can feel the bass.

The stock Maverick system doesn't do that - at least not well. I had to add just a touch of treble and bass to the mix from the audio settings to make audio sound a bit more open. Note: it also helps to fade the music back towards the back just a touch - since the speakers are mounted so high, they project more directly towards the driver's ears. Yes, your listening position relative to a speaker has a dramatic effect on what you hear - ask anyone who's ever tried to mic up a guitar speaker and they'll tell you that a 5-degree angle will fundamentally change the tonality of the recording. Still, the stock Maverick system just doesn't really do a good "V-shape" profile without sounding compressed and fake (and likewise, most premium car audio systems won't do a flatter, more neutral sound without sounding artificial). Nothing can replace having multiple speakers of different sizes and crossovers feeding each of them the specific frequency range that they're able to best replicate. But what the stock Mav system does so well is that mid-forward, "boxy" sound.

Having listened to some particularly gnarly metalcore in the Escape, I was immediately struck by just how much punchier and "heavy" the rhythm guitars sounded in the Mav. I could feel every kick drum beat in the Escape and hear that satisfying treble "click" of the drum pedal connecting with the bass drum, but the guitars and vocals were kind of a blur that felt distant and indistinct. Again - cool sound; it definitely sounds more "live" that way. But the Mav was much better at reproducing the pick attack and "crackle" of the distorted guitars, even if the cymbals were a little soft in the treble range and I couldn't feel the kick drum and bass. Additionally, with the moonroof open, I felt like the "boxy" sound of the Mav's system made it a lot easier to hear over the wind noise than the Escape's. Is the stock Maverick system "better," then? Well, it depends on your taste, but I'd argue that for driving, then yes. It is.

Ultimately, if I wanted a "big" audio experience, I would rather have it in my nice quiet living room with my relatively inexpensive 5.1 Vizio sound system. It's got a very pronounced V-shaped sound to it and sounds absolutely huge - which is particularly good for movies and games, as well. For a vehicle in motion creating wind, road, and engine noise, that mid-forward sound actually lets me better hear the vast majority of the frequency range where my music sits at a lower volume and still enjoy it. With the engine off and parked - yes, the Escape's B&O system is better. But how often do I sit perfectly still inside a vehicle and listen to music?

So with a little tweaking and some care as to what to source to use with the stock system, I think the Maverick actually sounds great, if not fantastic. Certainly better than the stock system in many other cars I've driven. I still think other cars can offer a happier medium between the two extremes (That 2011 Ford Fusion's Sony system, though!). So before you go try to find a way to change that system, give the Mav's stock system a chance, and over time, you might come to enjoy its sound too.
I agree. With some adjusting, I think the Maverick sounds good. It's not awesome, but it's 10x better than my old Elantra. It's definitely louder, but I do hear some vibration in the site panels when it goes to 11.
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Old Fart

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My local car sound guy quoted me $500 to upgrade the speakers, I've found backing off on the bass + a notch or two, and not filling the door pockets with loose change gives me a good sound especially when I figured out that the FITS dividers work really well to make the door pockets useable, you just cut off the thingy that holds them in the FITS slots.
Ford Maverick The stock audio system is great, actually. Here's why. 16976339499238406402716985016633


Ford Maverick The stock audio system is great, actually. Here's why. 16976340212533140140817057662057
 

Dignam

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Not a self-proclaimed audiophile, but I do dabble. The stock speakers are borderline junk. They are the lightest OEM speakers I've ever held. But I agree you can switch some things in sound settings to make it okay sounding.

I replaced the stock door speakers and it made a big difference. Though the infotainment system does not push enough power to fully utilize the new speakers. Upgrading that + adding a sub/amp combo would really wake things up IMO.
 

RobbieAG

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Excellent post, thanks. I'm glad to hear that the Maverick sound system sounds good. I don't have my truck yet (scheduled), but one of the reasons I went with the XL vs XLT is it has the same sound system. I'm formerly a professional musician and appreciate good sound but not an audiophile. I listen to jazz, classical, blues, classic rock and a lot of podcasts. I don't listen very loud so it should be fine for my needs. Maybe down the road I'll upgrade speakers and possibly add an amp.
 

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zach57x

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The sound engineer who set up the stock tune really did a good job of maximizing the performance of these cheap speakers. Not so much for speakers that are capable below 100Hz though.

My plan is to attack the lack of sound deadening first before changing from the stock XLT setup.

1) Acoustic Windshield (Got this one done already)
2) Front fender insulation
3) Amazon car sound deadener on the firewall, doors, and behind the rear seats
4) Front speakers (Powerbass)
5) Rear speakers (4" kicker KS)
6) Kicker key 200.4 with plug and play harness that is HS10 ready
7) Kicker HS10
How did you do the windshield and how much did it cost, and how do you plan to do the front fender insulation
 

billbillw

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"Great" is not how I would describe the stock Mav system. It is acceptable if you are not wanting to listen to detailed music at reference levels (ie: 85dB with 20dB peaks). The Maverick can do OK at the 80dB level but it runs out of steam with the peaks.

You need to turn off the speed sensing volume control and do some adjustments to the tone controls to make it anywhere near acceptable. It is actually much better than the stock system in my old 2008 Mazdaspeed 3 (not Bose). That was the last car I had that I thought needed an upgraded stereo...until I got the Maverick. The real problem with the Maverick's stereo is that it is trying to make all the bass from two smallish door speakers and that causes excessive door panel vibrations.

I have a set of Morel Maximus that are going in sometime this Fall along with several square feet of Kilmat for each door. Depending on how that sounds, the next step is an amp with DSP and possibly a slim subwoofer like the Kicker Hideaway. I still doubt that will get the Maverick to "Great", but it should be liveable.
 

crgator

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I've got so damned much ringing in my ears from my military days and listening to loud music since the sixties, it's hard for me to hear the nuances of quality sound systems anyhow, but I think the stereo in my XLT is just fine.
 

colinl

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"Great" is not how I would describe the stock Mav system. It is acceptable if you are not wanting to listen to detailed music at reference levels (ie: 85dB with 20dB peaks). The Maverick can do OK at the 80dB level but it runs out of steam with the peaks.

You need to turn off the speed sensing volume control and do some adjustments to the tone controls to make it anywhere near acceptable. It is actually much better than the stock system in my old 2008 Mazdaspeed 3 (not Bose). That was the last car I had that I thought needed an upgraded stereo...until I got the Maverick. The real problem with the Maverick's stereo is that it is trying to make all the bass from two smallish door speakers and that causes excessive door panel vibrations.

I have a set of Morel Maximus that are going in sometime this Fall along with several square feet of Kilmat for each door. Depending on how that sounds, the next step is an amp with DSP and possibly a slim subwoofer like the Kicker Hideaway. I still doubt that will get the Maverick to "Great", but it should be liveable.
agree speed sensing volume. the main reason to turn it off is because if you listen at a high level stationary, it could get much higher than expected when you accelerate to highway speed and then overdriven to distortion.

also agree on other settings. driver focus for base stereo, stereo mode for B&O.

your morels will be an upgrade but you definitely want an amp to reach their potential. they're relatively inefficient and want at least 50wrms.
 

Snowbird

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agree speed sensing volume. the main reason to turn it off is because if you listen at a high level stationary, it could get much higher than expected when you accelerate to highway speed and then overdriven to distortion.

also agree on other settings. driver focus for base stereo, stereo mode for B&O.

your morels will be an upgrade but you definitely want an amp to reach their potential. they're relatively inefficient and want at least 50wrms.
What does the speed sensing control do?
 
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colinl

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What does the speed sensing control do?
it turns up the output without actually changing the set point, and it has 2 levels - a little, or a lot of increase. the idea is that the output increases to overcome road and wind noise. stock, all mavericks have relatively quiet tires - even the Tremor! - but the door seals are not great and there is some wind noise at 70+ and it's really noticeable over 80.

the system is designed to keep a somewhat consistent level over the ambient noise, and this might work somewhat ok at low volume, say volume 10 when parked. then when you're going 70, the system still is set to 10, but it's producing output as if you'd turned it up to... say, 14 or 15.

the issue arises when you are listening at 20+ stationary and then it increases a lot at highway speed. it compounds if you have cranked up the bass in the tone controls.
 

James Garner

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I just hope it doesn't sound as cruddy as my wife's KIA or my daughter's Equinox. I hope it sounds as good as my '99 XLT Ranger. I'm starting to appreciate symphonic music.
 

billbillw

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agree speed sensing volume. the main reason to turn it off is because if you listen at a high level stationary, it could get much higher than expected when you accelerate to highway speed and then overdriven to distortion.

also agree on other settings. driver focus for base stereo, stereo mode for B&O.

your morels will be an upgrade but you definitely want an amp to reach their potential. they're relatively inefficient and want at least 50wrms.
Not sure if you looked at the specs, but the Morel Maximus are the ones that are more sensitive and are supposedly designed to work better with head units...
I know...marketing.
 

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I'm a real deal head banging, cutoff jeans, wallet chain rocker. I sing Iron Maiden songs at the top of my lungs and am more than willing to pass out keeping up with Rush, Journey, Dio or the wizard of Ozz himself. I don't give two ripe heeps about bumping bass or any of that. That being said the standard sound system in my XLTremor is plenty good enough for me. A few times I was out cruising I had it cranked up to the max singing every song. It rocks out perfect for me, just tune into whatever station is rocking the most and jam out. Anybody that disagrees with that has obviously never jumped off the speakers at a metal show!
Rock on !!! My lariat has a base system and it’s all I need !!
 

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Also- the interface is lame. No fast forward or rewind? The only option is next track or previous track? I already paid an extra $5K to get cruise control, how much more for rewind??????
Press and hold the skip track to fast forward and press and hold the skip back button to rewind. ;)

Ford Maverick The stock audio system is great, actually. Here's why. radio1
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