2022 CX-9 Rear speakers virtually no volume

A couple of points:

You seem to believe that it's impossible to have a good stereo in a car because of the numerous hurdles that have to be overcome. This is simply untrue. Everything, literally everything you mentioned, the speaker placement, the noise floor, the materials that the car is made out of, all of that can and has been dealt with. Fact is, because the car audio community has been dealing with these challenges this for literal decades now, the fixes have become fairly trivial.

And as far as having control and fading to the rear in a high end stereo? That's generally impossible, simply because the best car stereos don't even have rear speakers! There's nothing back there to fade to! But yes, we absolutely do have full control over our stereos, and it's done with a laptop over hours and even days of tuning it. And once it's dialed in, no we don't go messing with it hurkey jerky, screwing up all of the work we just poured into it. After it's dialed in, the only adjustment that is made is with the volume knob!

For the kids in the back of my car, they wear headphones, because I don't want to hear SpongeBob for the 9 Trillionth time anyway.
I think the low volume is a product of Bose's "psychoacoustics" marketing. Their equalization has always been unusual and biased toward what sounds pleasant to most people rather than flat frequency response.

In the old days, the rear speakers on "high end" car stereos were intended to try to override the road noise coming from the back of the car rather than really add to the overall accuracy of sound reproduction.

I'm surprised these stereos don't have a setting to pick how many people are in the car. From the descriptions in this thread, the stereo in the 2022's appears to be set up as if only the driver is in the car. Other makes I'm familiar with have a setting to change the equalization for situations where the car is full of people rather than just the driver.

My 2022 GS-L (Similar to Touring I think?) is a non-Bose/base model stereo, and has the same characteristic.

It does have a setting to change between "driver" focused vs "all" seat positions. Rear speakers still barely amplified in either.

It sounds plenty good for what it is. I'd like to compare the two systems though!
You seem to believe that it's impossible to have a good stereo in a car because of the numerous hurdles that have to be overcome.
I don't know how many times I can beat this drum, It's not about sound quality, but it is about sound control.

I certainly do not believe that you can't have good sound from mobile audio. I even know what good sound in car audio is like. I used to have Kenwood Excelon, Precision Power amps and MB Quart speakers in my B-series. It wasn't competition quality, but I would argue that it was better than any audio upgrade from the factory.

Can you imagine being the salesperson who gets to deal with the guy who just test drove a new Mazda, and noticed you didn't have hardly any control of the volume for the back seat.

Salesperson: So, how did the test drive go:
Customer: Drives great, love the styling, but what's the deal with the audio? Why can't you turn the volume up in the back?
Salesperson: Oh, that's a feature.
Customer: A feature????
Salesperson: Yes, it allows you to close your eyes and imagine that you are actually at the music venue listening to the band.
Customer: you want me to close my eyes and imagine I'm at a music venue while I'm driving?
Salesperson: no, of course not. but this sound system makes it more like you are actually at the music venue.
Customer: But only the front seat passengers.
Salesperson: 🤨
Customer: Where in the venue are the back seat passengers? Are they out at the concession stands or maybe in the restrooms?
Salesperson: :confused:
Customer: Can I turn that feature off?
Salesperson: I'm sorry, that is not something you can turn off.
Customer: OK, Thank you for your time, I think I will go test drive a Telluride or an MDX and see if I can get one of those without that feature.

If you are someone who really wants that High End Car audio system, there will always be shops that will be willing to sell you the gear, do the installation and program it with a laptop. For the vast majority of the rest of us, give us good quality sound, and the ability to control it where anyone in the car, or at least the first two rows, can enjoy it at the volume level they want.

I don't think this has anything to do with Mazda trying to program in the best sound imaging as possible, or anything to do with Bose. As I stated at the beginning and others have said, it happens on the non Bose systems too. If I had to guess, who ever Mazda hired to do the programming for the already troubled infotainment system, had trouble integrating multiple audio sources at the same time (music, being interrupted by navigation directions). And this is what we ended up with.
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Resurrecting an old thread to add a few things i've found with my own CX-9.

TL/DR Possibly the worst designed premium sound system out there. Not the worst sounding, but worst designed for sure.

I have a '21 Signature with Bose. Overall system config shouldn't be all that different from non-Bose, except the size of woofers in front doors, the bose specific software options in the head unit, and maybe the quality of components in the amp.

I've also brought the car to the dealer with the same concern and was also told that everything is as per design. They've also checked other vehicles on the lot for comparison.

Here are the problems that i've found:
1) Fader has to be set to -8 in order for the volume to be normalized across all speakers
2) Bass has to be set to -8 in order for the bass of the front door subwoofers to match the now much quieter front midrange and tweeters.
3) You'd think that front door subwoofers, together with the trunk sub, are actually separately controlled via the bass slider, since that's what the fader values down to -9 lead you to believe, but no, moving fader all the way to -10 disables the front subs altogether.
4) 2nd and 3rd row speaker quality is beyond atrocious. These sound extremely tinny, with a huge SPL peak between 500-1500hz, with virtually no bass and barely any treble. The system as a whole sounds okay-ish when fader is at 0, with front speakers supporting the 2nd and 3rd rows at least a little, but once you start moving fader back to equalize the sound in between rows, the quality of 2nd and 3rd rows becomes unbearable.
5) Using a Bose Centerpoint (for Bose specific systems), adds volume, reverb, echo and delay to the rear speakers, while also adding post-processing in an attempt to suppress vocals. This is a tried and tested bad way to create a concert-like sound. Its also an old school post-processing way to turn 2.0 into 5.1 and been used by various brands since the very first DTS Surround Sound systems appeared on the market back in late 90's, with Bose being one of the first brands to adopt it for their Home Theaters. It also destroys any remaining sound quality that was present in the 2nd and 3rd rows.

Overall the system is alright-to-good for front row passengers and bad-to-very-bad for anyone who's not sitting in the front row. I can only imagine how much worse the system performs for non-bose model owners, where front doors have typical 6.5" mid-woofers instead of woofers or whatever those 1-ohm 9" speakers are.

At this point i don't yet know if the problem is with the amp or the head-unit, but looking squarely at how centerpoint performs, it leads me to believe that it is the head-unit.
If it is the amp, then replacing it with an 8-channel, or two 4-channel amps would fix the problem.
However, if it is the head-unit, which is where i think the problem originates, then it will be much more problematic. Here are the options that I can see:
- using an 8-channel amp or two 4-channel amps with individual channel gain controls, would bring back the volume for the 2nd and 3rd rows. That would however exacerbate the issue with overall sound quality due to these rows sounding tinny. This problem is fixable if the speakers are the problem.
- However if the head-unit is what creates such a crappy sound for the 2nd and 3rd rows, then the only option is to feed all channels off the front two, effectively disabling the Fader and Centerpoint controls. Or, using an $800 DSP, or something like an $1800 8-channel amp with DSP built-in, to bring back what was suppressed for 2nd and 3rd rows.

We have owned a bunch of other vehicles in my family, from a ton of different brands, premium and non-premium, and this is the worst designed sound system i've seen in the last 25 years. Notice that I said the worst designed, not the worst sounding...

Its possibly also one of the toughest systems to modify.
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Yep, so the rear seat passengers get little to no sound? Ridiculous and stupidly designed. Mazda, just admit you screwed the rear set passenger and do something about it.

Oh, so if I replace the factory amp, I'll get equal sound on/from all 4 speakers (if faded in the center)?
So far that's an unknown, since we don't know whether the DSP is done inside the amp or in the headunit.
When i have some time, i'll try to tap into the headunit line out / amp line in, to see what's going on there per channel. Will post whenever i get around to doing it.

Or if someone else has the time and the oscilloscope to measure the darn thing, i think it'd be helpful for everyone.
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Thanks for posting, @StanP. When you mentioned the fader and bass settings, I thought you were crazy, lol. This is how I had my settings previously on my 2018.


I've always had at least one carseat in the 2nd row. I may have only ridden in the 2nd row once or twice, and that was just for short drives. Never really paid attention to the audio because I was more focused on the baby at the time. As the main driver, I liked having the audio where it was because I thought it sounded fine. After poking my head into the 2nd row with music playing, I could hear why people complain about the rear audio. It wasn't barely audible as some have mentioned, but it was much, much quieter than the front. It was almost like there was a plexiglass panel separating the front from the rear.

These are my settings now. The 2018 only goes from -6 to +6, but I mimicked your bass and fade settings, then adjusted treble to my liking. Audio now sounds more "centralized" and a bit more airy, and 2nd row listening experience is very close to driver and passenger experience. I can turn it up a bit more now and the bass feels more appropriate as well. I can probably still tweak it a bit further with the Poweramp EQ, but for now the sound is much better for everyone in the car, not just up front.

I'm really hoping Mazda or Bose car audio engineers are reading this thread, cause if you are, you need to look into the Acura ELS system. Not the best one out there, but it is properly dampened and nicely balanced across almost an entire sound spectrum. The headunit software is trash, but that's a different issue altogether.
@sm1ke I see you pulled the Treble into the positive territory. I'll try that on my '21 Sig as well. Maybe that'd rescue the rears. Its tough with Bose system, since mids and highs up front are perfectly fine.

You also have to keep in mind that my front woofers are dual 9" and not dual 6.5" due to a Bose setup

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