Audio from iOS sounds worse through Carplay than Bluetooth with Helix


Ready to race!
Hi all,

I have the latest iOS, and a 2017 GTI.

I also have a Helix subwoofer, properly programmed. EQ settings set to default across the board.

When I listen to music now, especially apple lossless, it sounds dead, not vibrant, etc using Carplay.

Music played through bluetooth is far FAR better, it comes alive, the bass is better, sounds come out of the shadows. It's just great.

Back to Carplay, and man is it flat and bad.

Any ideas?


Passed Driver's Ed
Lancaster, PA
2019 GTI SE
I will be interested to hear some responses on this! I have a 2019 GTI SE with the Fender Premium Audio and I strongly prefer using Bluetooth for my music streaming because it sounds so much better!

I know in the infotainment’s sound settings you can adjust the Bluetooth volume across 3 settings (Low, Medium High I think) so it allows you to adjust the source volume from the BT to then pump up the bass, mid, treble etc.

The same feature cannot be found for CarPlay and to achieve the same volume with CarPlay I easily have to have it turned up 50% higher then BT. Even at that higher volume the bass just doesn’t deliver like it does with BT.

Hopefully these forums can shed some light on this phenomenon!


Autocross Champion
Los Angeles
As far as I can tell the Bluetooth specific sound options are blanket EQ boosts. I suspect that carplay is giving you more accurate sound. I have a pair of headphones that are not in any way accurate but I use them at the gym. Given the ambient noise at the gym, these headphones sound the way I want them to sound.

Same goes for your car. It's not an ideal listening environment due to the noise floor and stock speaker locations are also not ideal. If you want to use carplay that probably means playing with the car stereo EQ. It's counter intuitive because it makes sense that audio should be better with it flat. But in that context better typically means more accurate. Unless you're in competition, more accurate isn't nearly as important as having it sound good to you.

Consider that the helix you have installed is already doing some EQ to adjust for deficiencies in the stock setup. Those adjustments bring the sound closer to something that a majority of people describe as better. To a point the sound with the helix is probably more accurate, but now that you're within a "window" of accuracy just make it sound the way you want it to sound.


Autocross Champion
Out of curiosity I tested this out yesterday on my '19 SE w/ Fender; audio was noticeably better (to my ears, at least) via CarPlay than via Bluetooth. Subjective, obviously, but CarPlay seemed (to me, at least) to give a richer sound with more subwoofer response.


Autocross Champion
Los Angeles
I prefer the sound through AndroidAuto/CarPlay to the sound over bluetooth at the low volumes, where I listen normally. My wife's normal volume is a good bit higher and at that level both sound about the same to me. Once everything is louder the imbalance of frequency response is more difficult for me to pick out. Mid range in particular seems non-existant over bluetooth at low volumes.

I have the helix, with some mid-range Infinity coaxials, my own amp/sub and sound treatment throughout the car (doors, under carpet/rear bench/hatch lining and above headliner) so my noise floor is lower than factory. I ripped a couple of CD's to the internal storage of the head unit (quality set to high in the adaptations) and they sound pretty good at all volumes. I don't know the format or bitrate of these files though.