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Photos: Subaru adds Harman/Kardon audio

At the 2008 New York auto show, Subaru announced the addition of Harman/Kardon audio systems to its Legacy and Outback models. We take a look at, and a listen to, the new stereos at the show.

CNET Reviews staff

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Subaru joins BMW and Mercedes-Benz in using Harman/Kardon-branded audio systems. Subaru initially offers the audio system in its 2009 Legacy model, making it optional in the 2.5i base model, and standard at every trim level above that.
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The head unit remains the same in the Subaru Legacy--Harman/Kardon only supplies the amp and speakers. The Legacy's head unit uses an in-dash six disc changer that can read MP3 CDs. A spokesman for Subaru at the New York show suggested the company is also looking into improving this head unit.
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The Legacy gets 25 millimeter tweeters and 160 millimeters in each front door, 25 millimeter tweeters and 100 millimeter woofers in each rear door, and a 170 millimeter subwoofer on the rear deck. These speakers are powered by a 7 channel 385 watt amplifier.
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We came away very impressed from our brief listen to the quality of the new Harman/Kardon audio system. The bass is very palpable, while the highs come through with clarity. The system seems well-balanced, not too bright or dull, and represents a huge leap in audio quality not only over previous Subaru systems, but over many other automakers.
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Subaru gave its Outback model a big upgrade for 2009, which now includes the Harman/Kardon audio system. The system is optional on the base, 2.5i model, and standard in all trims above that.
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The Outback gets the same Harman/Kardon speaker arrangement in its doors as the Legacy, but, because of the larger cabin space, the subwoofer goes up to 200 millimeters, while it gets a bigger 8 channel 440 watt amplifier. The result is clear, strong sound across the spectrum.

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