2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible: Audio Review
By Doug Newcomb | August 15, 2011
Convertibles are not the best vehicles for good sound reproduction. There's all the extra wind and road noise when driving with the top down -- which is the whole reason for owning a ragtop. And the sonic phenomenon known as cabin gain that boosts bass response in an enclosed car evaporates when there's no roof.
Consequently, few systems in convertibles sound as good with the top open compared to when it's closed. The Boston Acoustics system in the 2011 Camaro 2SS Convertible I recently tested is a rare exception. In this case "good" is a relative description since the system has several flaws. But considering that that the Boston system is standard (or a $495 option in the 1SS) and doesn't have a double-digit speaker count or pack lots of power, it does a more than decent job of providing car tunes to accompany the thrill ride produced by the Camaro SS Convertible's 426-horsepower V8.
The Boston Acoustics system in the 2011 Camaro 2SS Convertible consists of 8 speakers powered by 245 watts. The speakers include a 6.5-inch midrange low in each door, a 1-inch tweeter in the "sail panel" in the lower-forward corner of each front window, a 3.5-inch midrange/tweeter in the center of the dash, another 3.5-inch mid/tweet in each side panel flanking the rear seat and a 10-inch subwoofer behind the rear seat. In one of the coolest applications I've seen in an OEM system, the 10-inch sub blasts bass through webbing between the two rear seats. (For a cool photo of the sub without the back seat in the way, click here).
As usual, I auditioned the system using the same jazz, rock, folk, pop and rap music tracks I've listened to in hundreds of cars to gauge clarity/lack of distortion, tonal balance, timbre, tonal accuracy, soundstaging, imaging and dynamics. And I tested staging/imaging, linearity and absence of noise using non-musical test tracks. For details on our testing procedure, check out the Edmunds.com article Sound Advice. I also tested the system sitting still with the top up and down, and while driving at moderate and highway speeds.
Here's the bottom line if you're considering buying this car or the 1SS with the optional Boston Acoustics system: The sounds was very good while cruising city streets and carving canyons -- mainly with the top down, of course. While driving with another car-crazy, audiophile friend, we were both impressed with how well the system (and the Camaro itself, of course) performed on twisty mountain roads, even over the throaty roar of the V8. But once on the highway, forget about any kind of sound quality from the system. Better to put the top up if you want to hear other people in the car talk to you, much less listen to music.
What We Say
The Boston Acoustics audio system in the Camaro Convertible SS is much like the car itself: basic, somewhat brutish, with lots of low-end rumble. It's also fun as hell to drive and hard not to keep a smile on your face when you're behind the wheel on a nice top-down day with great tunes going. That it also delivers great bang for the buck makes the Boston Acoustics a rare convertible system that's a keeper.
iPod Integration: A-