Review: Skoda Octavia 3 iii Canton Sound System (Estate VRS)


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!

Sounds promising!

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:

– Volume
– 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.

You’ll notice that we’re having a bit of a run on helpful articles for our fellow Skoda Octavia owners. You might also like

We’d love to hear your thoughts if you’re a Canton owner – so please leave a comment below.




Karl is the editor and owner of this glorious website. He currently writes for numerous environmental websites, producing content for the greater good. His experience in graphic design, Wordpress and all things automotive have helped sculpt into its current form from very humble beginnings. He has numerous IT qualifications, a red belt in Taekwondo and likes craft Ales. Get in touch via our Contact Page

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19 comments on “Review: Skoda Octavia 3 iii Canton Sound System (Estate VRS)
  1. Øyvind Glende says:


    I own a 2015 Skoda Octavia Variant with this Canton sound system, and I totally agree. I also have this impression that the system is set up to sound better at higher volumes. Driving alone, I can get it sound pretty good. But when playing at lower volumes making it possible to have a conversation in the car, the sound system is so bad. The sound is “dead” and pretty much of the mid-range totally disappears. I find the EQ very poor and I think it would be better if they made it equalize in 5 ranges instead of 3.

    I have owned a almost similar VAG-car (VW Golf/Jetta Variant) earlier with an 8 speaker VW system (pretty basic – no high end), but this was so much better than the Canton.

  2. Andy says:

    Thanks for the review. I can definitely believe all you say, after test drives in various cars. I myself have a 2011 Golf with the Dynaudio system and I have to say that it is a really good quality system. High and mid range frequencies are crisp and bass is ok. It doesn’t have the “subwoofer” but I gotta say those small boxes are useless. Would need a real subwoofer to have an effect. Waiting for a manufacturer to embed a real subwoofer to a factory delivered sound system..

    • Karl says:

      I completely agree. The tiny sub woofers and enclosures they use are terrible, especially when you consider how much you’ll pay for that option. The Skoda option alone is £500!

      The biggest / substantial sub woofer I have seen was in a Mitsubishi Outlander many years ago – I’ve done some digging and it seems that Rockford Fosgate and Mitsubishi have quite the relationship. Have a look at this page

      If only manufacturers fitted their vehicles with RCA output and sub level controls, that way you could fit one to a factory system without loosing all the vehicle options now tied into the head unit.

  3. Andy says:

    Yes exactly that is a great idea that they’d enable or pre- wire installation of subwoofer, especially now that it’s getting ever more complex to make any changes in the head unit!!

  4. midgard says:

    Hi everyone,
    A little off-topic: any thoughts on the previous hi-fi system on Octavia 2 FL (SoundSystem) vs the standard one?
    I’m looking to buy one in the near future and I’m not sure if it’s worth spending extra money on it.

  5. Paul says:

    Totally agree with your review. I had an audi q3 with the bose speaker option and the octavia does not come close. Specially at lower volumes. That had a massive sub. Even my polo gti sounds much better

  6. Alexandru Iordache says:

    Hello guys!
    I’ve just bought a 2014 Octavia 3 combi, with Canton audio system and…it simply sucks. I also have a 2001 VW Bora (Jetta in some countries) with it’s original speakers and it’s SOOOOO much better even if it has 16 years of use. The bass is rich and deep no matter the volume and mids and highs are just perfectly balanced. In the Octavia it sounds like a bucket. The only way I was able to make it bearable was to totally cut out mids and highs and no subwoofer and play songs via bluetooth which are 320kbs mp3s. If I listen to the radio it sounds like a park speaker, no fidelity whatsoever. Hasn’t anyone done a tutorial and suggestions on how and with what to replace the car’s speakers?

  7. Tomas says:

    Just got Skoda Octavia with Canton. First impression Bass dont work (its extra sub-woofer installed), but it appeared all works fine. While ordering i thought it will be something real useful, but it appeared its peace of crap. Other producers have original stereo better. I tried BMW extra sound system and it was real wow. Was expecting something close from Skoda….

    • Karl says:

      Hi Tomas

      You’re not the only one who thought that.

      You’d be much better taking your £500 and having a professional audio installer upgrade the speakers and put a subwoofer in the boot.

      I did look at adding a better dual coil speaker but guides on this are few and far between.

      Cheers Karl

  8. niio says:

    agree, I was testing the canton and on lower volumes and it sounds terrible, also in higher volumes I was missing middles. My first impresion was, that there is missing something, this could not be premium audio (still better than premium in honda civic). The Bose sound in renault megane sounds incredible in comparison to canton. Bose is something I imagine pure sound in all frequencies.

  9. R says:

    Same thoughts here, had a Octavia ELegance 1.8Tsi 2011 model for 5 years with standard Swing radio and now had a 2016 1.8Tsi L&K with canton audio. Old models standard stereo was soooo much punchier compared to this Canton “premium”. That small sub in boon sound more like a plastic bucket thats been hit with a rubberboot than a subwoofer. Pathetic. Have also made same conlclusion, on higher volumes sounds bearable, but on lower levels, useless 🙁 Unfortunately.

  10. Paul Whiteley says:

    Reminds me of an 80s hip-hop track “where’s the bass!”
    Got a vrs and the sound systems pants.Back to the old school 15 sub in boot and jbl gto 6x9s on the parcel shelf at this rate.come on Skoda pull your finger out.

  11. RJ_NSW says:

    Noted many tales of sound connoisseurs taking delivery of a brand new Octavia 3 (a pretty competent set of wheels in many respects) Elegance c/w Tech Pack and immediately spending serious money to upgrade the ‘Canton Premium Sound System’. That’s a bit of a contradiction, but – if sheer weight of decibels and sound purity result – there’s still the also reported issue of excessive cabin boom. [Margin note: 40% profile tyres, checked by swapping between quality, mainstream brands remain stubbornly harsh on this vehicle]
    So … segue to Vehicle Noise Cancellation aka ‘Active’ aka ‘Dynamic’ that should come as part of the Canton kit. Has anyone tried to find evidence of the hardware, let alone verify if the cancellation tech works? Sure, there’s a black box under a front seat [amp] but no known access for plug-in diagnostics. Wouldn’t there normally be at least 2 sensing microphones – A-Pillars or thereabouts?
    Puzzled …

  12. Jacky says:

    The canton system on Superb sounds really really great. I have at home Heco Aleva GT 1002 and the sound can be compared in the quality. Not sure why Octavia’s CANTON system would sound so bad. However I did have to fine tune settings. Took me a month or so to archive my perfect balance between mid/high/low.

    I would spec for canton anytime.

  13. Stefan says:

    I have a Superb Sportline 2018, and the Canton system is really a piece of crap. I will in wintertime let of some time to investigate what is wrong with Skoda, Canton technicians ears.
    I have worked for several years with making of high end speakers…. and this is not the best car stuff of 2018. I also have a SAAB 9-3 with a sub in the trunk. Did a -3db on dashboardspeaker tuning, that’s it. Sound picture is way over Skoda/Canton.
    But I wonder if the mainunit drives all the channels in class D, listen to the high mid, very harsh sound. The nearly total absence of midbass…. 😔
    Today is high powerful bass no problem as sharp high treble. BUT the mid, (it is always but the mid), Canton has totally lost it.

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