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992 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I recently purchased a 2007 S80 V8 Sport with Nav and the Dynaudio system. Audio and music have been a life-long passion for me, and for a time I worked as a consultant for high-end car audio products. So, the audio system in my car has always been a top priority in the purchase of a car.

When I selected the S80 I was fortunate enough to have the Dynaudio system as one of the options, though I had never heard the system in the S80 before I got the car. The evening I brought the car home I got a handful of CD's I am very familiar with that I have used through the years to tune systems.

I was stunned and delighted to find out just how good the Dynaudio system is in these cars. I soon came to the conclusion that it would be very difficult to improve on the system. Indeed, it would take several thousand dollars to even duplicate what is there.

I found the system to be very articulate whether at low or high volumes. The sound stage is very good exhibiting both three-dimensional depth front to rear, and width that virtually seems to extend past the physical location window and tweeter to the driver's left, a very difficult feat to accomplish in even the best systems. The midrange, due to the dedicated dome midranges in the front doors is particularly well defined allowing delightful discernment of instruments and voices in even the most complex passages. Treble is lifelike and balanced, as part of the musical presentation without calling attention to itself. Bass response, for four door speakers, is very precise, full, deep, and rich. The other day I heard the ringing of the drum head during a complex series of double kicks by Dean Castonovo. Percussion lines in the intricate Rush passages are particularly enjoyable. With this system it is easy to discern whether a vocalist is using other backup singers, or have themselves overdubbed harmonies. Harmonic timbres that differentiate specific brands of instruments can be discerned.

The ability to choose Dolby II, center speaker, or pure stereo configurations is versatile and allows for listener preference. You can also choose between sound staging that is optimized for just the driver, the front seat, or the whole car, a very nice touch. Further, within the Menu driven car options there is a separate equalizer for both front and rear of the car, which is independent of the Bass and Treble controls that are more easily accessed for quick adjustments from the audio knob.

So all in all a very impressive, and musical, system.

One of the few areas where much was left on the table for improvement is in the lowest octaves. For whatever reason, though available on other Volvo models, a subwoofer option is not offered on the S80. I believe I have read on an earlier searches that this option may be available in Europe, but not in NA, though I would like to confirm that.

So, a simple upgrade is planned that can be easily copied from readily available equipment. Goals for the subwoofer upgrade are these:

  • Transparent supplementation of the lowest octaves and integration with existing. The sub should not call attention to itself; indeed you shouldn't notice it unless it is turned off.
  • Minimal intrusion on the physical functionality of the car.
  • Minimal drain on the vehicle electrical system.
  • Minimal loss of trunk volume balanced against maximum fidelity in reproduction, or sound quality (SQ).
  • Low distortion, accuracy, articulation, and dynamics commensurate with the Dynaudio system.
  • Equal applicability also to the premium sound system.
  • Maximum value.
  • Excellent reliability.

I will be consulting with others for input, and would appreciate yours as well if you have any experience in this area. I plan to evaluate the car and come up with several viable solutions. I will also go through the options considered for both speaker and amplifier placement, with the advantages and disadvantages of each. I will detail interesting options or equipment combinations I run across. Even if an option doesn't meet my specific priorities or needs, it might well work for others. I plan to post photos and details here along the way.

Feedback and input from the community here would be very helpful, especially in identifying:
  1. Location of stock amplifiers and wiring.
  2. Detailed wiring diagram of both the Dynaudio system and the Premium (non-Dyn) system.
  3. Determination if indeed a subwoofer is offered on the European models; if so, are either the Dyn or Premium systems pre-wired for a sub, and what is the location of that wiring? Is a software download required for signal to be present on these leads, and if so, is it available in NA?

Should be a fun project, and hopefully will document the main issues and be beneficial to the other S80 owners with similar interests.

992 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
More information on the S80 Dynaudio system...

There is not a lot of info out there on these cars.

You may want to be aware that there is a thread on the DIYMA Do It Yourself Mobile Audio forum, search S80 Dynaudio there, by S80 Dynaudio owners interested in exporing modification of the stock system. I will be posting my pertinent information from that thread participation here on this forum as well for S80 owners.

The car is a great platform for the Dynaudio, is quiet and the Dynaudio engineers have done an excellent job with the system, one of the best stock systems I have heard.

Following is a summary of what I have run across so far investigating the system for those who might be considering modification of the stock system for whatever reason. Several items are from my overloaded memory so don’t quote me as to exact accuracy...

The amplifier used is an Alpine sourced unit. DSP is utilized, but I haven’t determined if the DSP is resident in the dash controller, or the amp itself. (In the XC90 and S40 I believe the DSP is in the amp). The amp is located under the front passenger seat according to the drawing in the wiring diagram. The communication between the audio controller in the dash and the amp is optical. I have not determined yet whether the bitstream is proprietary or not, and therefore whether it could be diverted for input to say, a Bit One. The software that controls the car is by Seimens, and is pretty restrictive, requiring a software update to even add many OEM optional accessories. So I suspect without a third party interface, it would be unlikely to be able to use an optical audio feed.

The OEM IPOD interface, based on the installation instructions which allows for special handling of an optical cable, apparently interfaces optically with the system. I have not yet determined where the unit interfaces with the stock system though, maybe at the dash controller. The OEM unit does not charge the latest gen iPods/iPhones without an inline aftermarket adapter. There is a line-level audio input located at the rear of the center console armrest storage compartment This could be used for an MP3 unit or iPod as well, using the analog output, or using the digital output of the iPod and a separate D/A converters/preamp, though that could get pretty unwieldly. Use of the Aux jack requires use of the iPod controls for track access, where the OEM accessory unit uses the controls on the dash unit.

This release provides some interesting information and insight into the systems design:


and says “Digital technology is also used in Volvo’s modern amplifier, which has been developed together with Alpine. A digital class D amplifier has very low current consumption allied to a very high efficiency rating. This means it produces less heat than an analogue amplifier – and it can be made more compact. Volvo’s amplifier also has a very high attenuation rate, thanks to ICEPower® technology from Danish experts Bang & Olufsen PowerHouse a/s. This system contributes to the clear and powerful sound all the way down to the deepest bass tones. “

The amp is five channel amp, 5 x 130 watts according to the marketing-speak. Two channels drive the three-way system in the front doors, two channels drive the two-ways in the rear door, and one channel drives the two-way center channel. The diagram shows each of the speaker systems in parallel off of the channel feeds from the amp, and the release says that all passive crossovers are used.

Oddly there is no subwoofer used in the system, though there is one available in other Volvo models. One route to improvement in the system might be to upgrade with a subwoofer, which would allow the stock amp to be alleviated somewhat from having to reproduce the lowest octave, and would free up some headroom for better dynamics. For many this would likely be all that would be needed. Except of course for the fanatical few...ahem..you know who you are.

If the optical feed to the amp can’t be hacked, then the only option for adding amps would be to bridge off of the speaker-level outputs of the amp. The audio system in the car, dependent on which source is selected, or how the system is optioned in the menu, can utilize either Dolby II, Center Channel, or Stereo. So depending on the source, the rear channels may at times only have derived Dolby II information on them. The center channel two way in my car (with Nav), is a pretty small mid driver, so the DSP in the system likely rolls off the lowest information and I doubt the signal to these drivers is full range. So the only source of full range material is the front channel amplifier feeds. But also bear in mind that the information at any given amplifier channel will be affected by the user preference Menu selection of Driver, Front, or Rear; these cannot be defeated.

Conceivably, then, a few options are available to tweak the already excellent system.

First, the front channels could be bridged to provide input to a suitable mono sub amp (JL Audio, etc.) with high-level inputs, driving a sub in one of several good locations in the trunk.

Second, the front channels of the stock amp could be used to drive a higher powered multichannel amp to provide more headroom and better dynamics. My experience with aftermarket Dynaudio components is that they respond well to, and seem handle considerable power. I have used as much as 200 watts with no issues. The units in the Volvo appear to be essentially the same units as the aftermarket Esotec offerings on different frames, though only the Dynaudio engineers would know for sure.

A third option would be to use the front channels to drive a processor such as the MS8 or Bit One, etc., using downstream amps of your choice for mains and sub. This would require the factory unit to be set to stereo to disable the Dolby processing. As you noted this would also mean that there would be another A/D D/A conversion that would have to take place. In the case of the MS8 I believe I have read that Andy seems to think this is of negligible consequence, or at least offset by the other more significant advantages of such an arrangement. These would include time delay, EQ of each speaker system, etc. In the extreme if you wanted to take it that far, this would allow active crossover of the stock Dynaudio units with more than the five channels implemented in the stock system. And performance of these outboard processors would be affected by the fact that the stock system’s seat position setting cannot be fully defeated.

Frankly though, the stock system is good enough I wonder if it would be worth the trouble, and there is always the possibility that you could end up with a lesser result, introduction of noise, etc.

It would be interesting to talk to Andy Wehmeyer with Harmon International/JBL at some point about the possibiltiy of using the MS8. I read on a post somewhere that he had an S60R with the Dynaudio system in it, so he may have actual hands-on experience with the Volvo Dynaudio systems - if its not just a rumor. Volvo and Dynaudio selected from among the state of the art equipment available at the time the system was developed. I wonder if the MS8 might have been used if it was available then?

My gut is telling me to keep it simple, and that extensive modifications may be a lesson in diminishing returns. The more I have found out about the design of this system the more I come away with more appreciation for the Dynaudio engineers efforts within the budget they were given.

So plan A for me is to try the subwoofer upgrades to augment the lowest octaves, free up headroom in the mains, and see if there is even a need for plan B.

Any input any of you can add, or corroborate what I think I have found so far, will be great. Should be an interesting project.

2,697 Posts
Any updates?

How big are the drivers in the front doors? Just curious.

I have an S60R with an incredible premium sound system from Harman/Kardon (OEM). I tried adding a subwoofer (JL w6v2 powered by an old school PPI art A600) and it was too much bass. Even from a smaller subwoofer, it would be too much bass. If the drivers in the front door aren't too big in the S80, then a subwoofer might not be a bad option. Plus most dynaudio speakers and systems I've encountered are a bit anemic when it comes to bass as dynaudio tries to stick to a more neutral sound.

Another big problem is you'd want a HPF for the other drivers tuned to about 100Hz or so, otherwise the drivers in the doors etc. will distort when you crank up your system to get more bass from the subwoofer.

992 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Sorry for the delay. Been busy with the kid's band activities. I'm a pit Dad, which is basically a roadie for the marching band. :) Besides being able to spend time with the family enjoying something they love, I also get to make some great friends and reconnect with the passion of live music. I'll be supporting the color guard in the off season when they compete, but hopefully I can squeeze in this upgrade.

I have decided to use an infinite baffle subwoofer. If you use your search engine to find "diyma s80 Dynaudio" you will find a thread that details a lot of information on the S80 but also on the S60 as well. (I post as "SynRG" on DIYMA). You can find where an S80 owner mounted a Dynaudio sub to the pass thru, bolted to a mounting board that fastens to the metal frame on the back of the seat. This is the method I will be using. There is minimal intrusion on the trunk space and it is a relatively simple install. But the main reason I have chosen infinite baffle is that it is very easy to integrate with the factory system, and has excellent sound quality. Many competitors in Sound Quality SQ competitions use this method. I will be using a 12" Flatlyne driver by Incriminator Audio, a company known for its SPL competition achievements. But since I wanted prodigious output in the lowest octave, so that dynamic range limitations would not be a factor for my listening goals, it made sense to me to seek a driver that would be very robust in the application. Indeed, many sound quality competitors have placed first with this driver. Further, this driver was recommended to me strongly by a friend who designs and imports high end speakers, and whose expertise and experience I respect highly.

For an amplifier I will likely use either the JL Audio HD750, or a Mosconi One series 240.2. Both have power sufficient to drive the Flatlyne sub to full excursion with plenty of head room. Though the JL is a class D amp, and the Mosconi is a class AB design, both are very efficient and will add minimal load to the electrical system. I will post more later on the progress.
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