Since my first car (a 1985 Fiesta 1.1 Ghia) I’ve always been a keen car audio enthusiast. Now we’re not talking H&K or Bose level stuff but just making sure I have a well rounded sound with a bit of bass thrown in. This has often resulted in a mismatch pair of 10 inch subs powered by a generic 700w amp bought from a “friend” that’s been fixed to the back seats with self tappers. Enough to rattle the interior mirrors and upset your neighbors at 3AM. Just how I like it 🙂
My previous car (much more grown up), was a 2013 C class AMG sport which was kitted out with quote possibly the best stereo I’ve had to date but that’s to be expected of that kind of marque. When looking at for a new car I had to make sure it at least had something to fill the gap after being spoilt by the Merc for such as long time.
The current generation of Skoda Octavia VRS comes with the option of a premium sound system – the Canton. Many of you (including me) will not have heard of Canton before so here’s a little snippet from their home page.
For more than 40 years we “Canton” have been developing and producing high quality loudspeakers to meet the most diverse of demands. They impress with their sound, design and quality. With currently more than 500 models, we are making the world of sound more colorful every day. Learn more about us or discover the color of your own personal sound!
After deciding to bite the bullet on a VRS DSG Estate, I had my heart set on making sure it would be equipped with the elusive German “premium” speaker option. On paper the Canton looks like a no brainer…
The Canton sound system for the new ŠKODA Octavia is a high-performance system consisting of 8 door-mounted speakers plus acentral speaker and a subwoofer. Perfect sound is ensured by anexternal amplifier with sound processor and 10-channel outputwith total output power of 570 W.
Thanks to the digital equalizer, you can switch between three spatial sound optimisation modes – for the driver only, for the front seats, or for the entire car. The equalizer also has presets for rock, classical music, pop and spoken word, and a linear setting.
It also allows setting of regular functions such as:
– Muting of front or rear speakers
– Individual volume settings for left and right speakers
– Surround sound
– Dynamic volume adjustment according to vehicle speed
– Acoustic filters for active elimination of noise.
So imagine my excitement when picking up my new moon white DSG VRS Estate… the sight of the Canton badges adoring my front speakers, the centre speaker tucked up on the dash and the “subwoofer” tucked nearly in the boot. Moist might be a word that entered my mind.
So whats it like?
After playing with all the EQs and sound distribution and settings I was finally able to hear the damn thing, that joy was short lasted.
Some songs fill the cabin with wonderful rich bass, solid mid tones and crisp highs, unfortunately this happens very rarely. The 6 inch sub-woofer hidden away in its tiny enclosure has a very narrow frequency response band meaning that often its all or nothing from the low end – something to expect from such a small driver. Overall the top end is great (source dependent) however the speakers lack mid-range punch so you feel dependent on the sub to make things up.
I might sound overly critical of the Canton system however the owners clubs are flooded with disgruntled owners also experiencing the same disappointment, especially when you take into account that the Canton is a £500 option. Just search the Briskoda forums and you’ll see what I mean. In fact we’ve seen posts on the forum asking how to test if the “damn thing” is actually working!
If you’ve ever heard the standard stereo setup in the Octavia 3 then maybe you’ll be breath-taken by the audio fidelity. The issue is that the standard setup is soooooo bad that anything would be an improvement, even a pair of eBay headphones. This is a double punch in the nuts when you take into account a “well specced” VRS is getting on for £30,000.
Many owners have taken to the screw drivers and replaced the subwoofer with something a little more substantial. It does require a very specific sub-woofer replacement (dual coil 8ohm) and the loss of some boot space but the overall consensus is that it’s the sub’s low end performance that’s lacking.
Do you recommend it?
Would I spend £500 on the system if I was given the chance again? Hell no.
I’d certainly have to make some major improvements to the stereo over the standard setup. This would require upgraded door speakers and a low pass filter to from the rear speakers to provide a signal to an amped sub in the boot. This would actually cost much less than the Canton and ultimately would offer a much richer and rounded sound that can be tweaked to suit the listeners music preferences. So unless you have £500 to burn or have a thing for shiny speaker badges then avoid like a cheap Adidas 2 stripe tracksuit on Gumtree.
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We’d love to hear your thoughts if you’re a Canton owner – so please leave a comment below.