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I posted an observation about the RAV4/JBL system the other day: My 2013 LTD with the jbl system does not sound very good and many others have had many issues with it as well. A friend of mine just bought a 2013 Venza, used, and it has a version of the JBL system. The door speakers are labeled "JBL Synthesis". I IMMEDIATELY noticed that her system sounded MUCH fuller and with a lot more bass. I checked the treble/bass settings and they were not cranked up. I also noticed that the audio settings page (under the DSP tab) had the 2 choices: "Automatic Sound Levelizer" and "Surround". Either could be turned on or off. On my RAV I ONLY have the sound levelizer. In the MANUAL it shows both as a screen cap (page 104). It also says, Surround Function" IF EQUIPPED! What is the model of the 2013 RAV4 other than the LTD with the JBL (w/NAV, entune, etc.) that WOULD have the 'Surround' mode???
 

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Interesting data point! It is interesting in that they might have had different software releases for the Venza vs. Rav4. It could also be a completely different head unit and/or completely different software.

The way to sort this out is to compare the radio (hardware) model numbers should be on the front of the radio. Also need the various software versions which I believe can be found in the software update menu.

Please let us know what you find out.


Thanks,
Steve
 

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I also noticed that the Venza had a different arrangement for the radio (the on-screen). The unit had buttons on either side of the display like on the RAV, but in a slightly different arrangement. I'll get some pics from my friend's car. I'll see what version of Entune she has, etc.
 

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The Venza has a totally different system, from head unit to amp to speakers. There's no point in comparing them. It also a dead model, they don't make them any more.
 

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I get that the Venza has a different system: it sounds better. What model of RAV4 (the 2013 model) has the 'Surround' feature as shown in the manual? I have the most loaded one available at that time.
 

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Seems like a lot of people are complaing about the JBL speakers in their RAV4 to Toyota, but has anyone complained to JBL themseleves as well? I mean they are working together to build these systems aren’t they? Not arguing just asking.
 

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Not just JBL.
Gracenote is useless and official Toyota answers was - Sorry, there no update for Gracenote.


So:
- JBL Sub is useless
- Gracenote is useless
- Pandora RIP
- Maps update for fee.
 

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Pandora's a waste anyways. You're better off with Apple music or Google play. Eventually Android auto will come. Only reason it's not on the Toyota's systems now is because of privacy issues.
 

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JBL SOUND SYSTEM SUCKS -

No doubt about it, OEMs like Toyota all pay more for tiny chrome applique's / logo's like Bose, JBL, etc. than then actually spend on the electronics! The logo's include fees for licensing of course. On top of that, Japanese manufacturers have single source Japanese suppliers mandated by their common *bankers (A *keiretsu is a set of companies with interlocking business relationships and shareholdings. In the legal sense, it is a type of informal business group that are loosely organized alliances).

Soooo, when you have your customer captive, you don't try too hard to design or build great products - just cheap! Toyota has succeeded in doing that for sure. Ugh.

Think lots of names live of past reputation, but do not really deliver on value anymore. e.g. Bose, Apple, Toyota, etc. Next vehicle will be a GM!
 

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I am interested if the OP ever got any farther with this issue. I just found this and I see it started 3 years ago but am still interested in more information. Thanks!
M
 

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I think this is as far as it went. There last argument was you should have checked the audio out before you bought it. Once you buy it you accept it.
 

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Which is a valid argument. It's a shame that it's marketed as a premium audio system when it's not. Also, when you do a test drive with a salesperson in the car you don't often crank the stereo system and create different settings for different inputs. It is buyer beware and ultimately the responsibility of the buyer to thoroughly test everything. It's just a shame that an automotive company with a reputation like Toyota puts such a poor product into a good vehicle. Just my two cents worth 😉. Thanks!
 

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It's a shame that it's marketed as a premium audio system when it's not.
Well, it initially was a premium system with enough power to actually cause body rattles and speaker damage if abused. Some customers chose to abuse it and then claim warranty repairs.

So Toyota (in their infinite stupidity) decide to punish EVERYONE by "defanging" the system with a software update! Voila! No more warranty claims but crap sound. This was a DELIBERATE! act by Toyota. There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with the really EXPENSIVE hardware.
 

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Interesting.... I've read a few different things about how Toyota downgraded the system. The unfortunate thing is that I've lost some faith in both Toyota and JBL... At least as far as car audio goes. I'm a musician and have had great luck with JBL products. The issue probably lies more with Toyota. I could understand if they had to make a few slight changes but in my 2018 RAV4 Platinum there's not near enough volume, the JBL sub speaker in the rear cargo area is damn near silent, all the sub frequencies are in the second row doors and most of the sound comes out of the dash. I've tweaked every setting on that thing. I suppose I am just going to have to upgrade it at some point. I don't recall what the cost was for the premium system but it probably was a hell of a lot more than putting in your own premium system.
At least it's nice to know I'm not crazy when I say the system really sucks.
Maybe we'll save some future Toyota buyers some grief and money by talking about it.
 

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but in my 2018 RAV4 Platinum there's not near enough volume, the JBL sub speaker in the rear cargo area is damn near silent, all the sub frequencies are in the second row doors and most of the sound comes out of the dash.
If you are getting usable sound out of the second row doors then Toyota made another change. In my 16 Rav the bass comes almost exclusively from the front door speakers. However, you'll never know with the dash speakers turned up so high. This is one of my first attack vectors in this post:


Things get MUCH better by damping and taking 6 dB out of the dash speakers.

The rear sub can be made to do some work but you will need to have good content which you won't find on radio or likely XM.

I suppose I am just going to have to upgrade it at some point. I don't recall what the cost was for the premium system but it probably was a hell of a lot more than putting in your own premium system.
The issue with any upgrades is that significant vehicle functionality and diagnostic capability will be lost by replacing the head unit. Now the rear JBL amp has fiberoptic inputs which might be a standard protocol like SPDIF or Toslink which may provide a way to access the HU signals. It now appears that Toyota may have just mucked up the firmware in the DSP amp and not the HU as I previously thought.
 

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I don't think I want to replace the head unit because of all the functionality that it has. I am going to look into speakers/amplifiers/crossovers & equalizers to see what I can do. I read in one post that they cheapened the speakers so they could put more cost into the head unit. I'm sure some of what I read isn't correct but ultimately the stock system is not up to the task of producing quality audio... At least for me 😕. I'll just take it one step at a time, and as funds allow and see what happens. If I find anything interesting I'll post it here.
 

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It might be perfect for some people. And that is not meant as an insult to those that like it. I am a musician, in particular a bass player so my tastes and needs are different. 😉
 
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