JBL car audio – how C-HR’s system was developed

According to a recent survey, the car is the preferred place for people to enjoy listening to music. And yet the car is one of the most challenging environments for achieving great audio. There are packaging constraints and speaker locations to consider, not to mention a range of interior materials – each of which absorb and reflect sound waves at different rates. In view of these factors, we wanted to understand how Toyota and audio partner JBL collaborate to produce high-end audio systems. So we asked JBL car audio senior acoustic engineer Rishi Daftuar (below) to give us the inside line on its development.

JBL car audio

Was the JBL car audio system in the Toyota C-HR engineered in from the outset?

Daftuar: “The sound system design and speaker layout is a true collaboration between JBL and Toyota. Once Toyota shared the vehicle specifications and layout, our engineers worked up a proposal for what we thought was an ideal – and feasible – design for that vehicle model’s sound system. Once the engineering teams were aligned, we worked very closely together with Toyota to make the system a reality.

“Packaging a sound system in any vehicle is quite difficult and complex. It’s crucial that it’s a joint effort in order to meet both the vehicle and audio requirements and deliver a great experience for the end customer. We were delighted that much of our initial proposal for the [Toyota] C-HR made it to production.”

What customer analysis was carried out?

Daftuar: “JBL works with Toyota to identify the customer needs in every vehicle sound system. We consider the target demographic when identifying key factors such as speaker architecture, design and layout, feature sets and price point. It’s a true custom system design based on all these factors.”

JBL car audio

Why did you decide on a nine-speaker JBL car audio layout in the Toyota C-HR?

Daftuar: “I believe that the nine-speaker system in the [Toyota] C-HR is the sweet spot when delivering the core JBL sound – a punchy, clear and concert-like sound. The nine speakers achieve this by having a traditional three-way system in the front, two full-range speakers in the rear, and a subwoofer in the rear corner.

“In the front of the [Toyota] C-HR, the door subwoofers deliver powerful bass. The mid-range speakers reproduce vocals and instruments, and the horn tweeters accentuate transients and provide a wide sound stage. The rear speakers support the fronts by adding punch to the system and creating the listening environment in the second row.”

In-car speaker

In what way is the tweeter location a JBL signature, as other vehicles have tweeters in the A-pillars?

Daftuar: “The [Toyota] C-HR has the signature horn tweeter found in many JBL speakers. The horn tweeter is part of JBL’s DNA, and now it can be experienced in the automotive environment. It delivers a clear and wide soundstage that helps improve the ‘sweet spot’ for more listeners in the vehicle. The tweeters are arranged in a cross-firing position, near ear level. This is what delivers precise imaging and a lifelike sound.”

Does your Toyota C-HR require a service? Click here to find out more

Is it possible to tune the system to sound great irrespective of the number of people in the car?

Daftuar: “Absolutely. JBL acoustics engineers aim to deliver a great sound experience for every seat in the car, whether there is a person occupying the seat or not. While the presence of people does change the sound characteristics in a vehicle, similar to the difference between an empty and full concert venue, the system is tuned to work well for both driving solo and traveling with others.

“But while all seats in the [Toyota] C-HR sound good, the driver’s seat sounds best. When designing and tuning a sound system, there are always trade-offs between the seat position, speaker locations and the cabin of the vehicle. Most of those trade-offs are made in favour of optimising the driver’s seat, because that seat will always have someone in it.”

Does the location of the subwoofer and its port outlet have an effect on the sound?

Daftuar: “Each subwoofer implementation in a vehicle is a unique design. The type of speaker, enclosure, and location are all considered and adjusted to work within the constraints of the vehicle packaging.

“The 19cm subwoofer in the [Toyota] C-HR is no exception. The subwoofer and ported design were customised to work specifically in the car. The rear corner position is a good location for bass and it achieves the low frequency response found in all JBL sound systems.”

C-HR car speaker

Does the Toyota C-HR’s complex diamond-pattern speaker grille design affect the sound waves?

Daftuar: “Similar to other aspects of the sound system, the speaker grilles are also uniquely designed for every application in the vehicle. Grilles serve both acoustic and aesthetic functions. From the acoustics side, we consider the type of speaker, the properties of the sound waves, and the packaging location to determine the appropriate criteria.

“Even with such a visually compelling pattern, the speaker grilles in the [Toyota] C-HR are optimised within the standard vehicle constraints to deliver the high-quality sound for which JBL systems are known for.”


Were any particular audio tracks or artists used to tune the system?

Daftuar: “We always use a wide selection of music to optimise the audio system for a variety of musical styles and genres. Artists we used specifically to tune the [Toyota] C-HR system included Bruno Mars, Regina Spektor, Daft Punk, JR JR, Diana Krall, Meghan Trainor, Queens of the Stone Age, Alvvays, St. Vincent, Joshua Bell, Toto, The Benny Goodman Orchestra and Kendrick Lamar, to name a few.”

Was the JBL car audio system primarily designed for modern music?

Daftuar: “A JBL sound system is never designed to only work for a certain genre or era of music. Any good sound system can reproduce audio from a variety of different time periods and styles. While modern music sounds excellent in the [Toyota] C-HR , so does most other music as well. That’s important as what we listen to day-to-day changes.”


  1. I have just bought 2018 toyota chr with jbl system, I have never heard audio of so bad quality there is virtually no mid range, in fact its so bad I thought one of mid range speakers was connected out of phase i panned speakers hard right and left and there was no improvement so the phase was alright. I’ll go to service to check that out, but if its how it should be then its not even funny.

    1. Hi Lukasz,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us. We’re really sorry to hear you’re unhappy with your C-HR. We would recommend contacting Toyota in your region for further help with this.


  2. Hi

    Does the system impact on luggage space at all? ie is the sub in the boot (trunk) an extra item or is it built in such a way as to not take up room?

    1. Hi Paul,
      Thanks both for your comment and your patience.
      The JBL sound system is integrated into the body of the boot, meaning that it does not impact on the boot space.
      Hope this helps.

    1. Hi Tanveer Hossen Sakkhor,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Please contact Toyota in your region for further assistance.

  3. hi i have a 2017 toyota CH R and it does not have a sub in the boot ? are not all models from this year standard? and it only has a six speaker system not 9 ? please can you help

  4. Is there any way of adjusting the volume of the sub? I want to get more bass from the speaker in the boot. I’ve adjusted it from the eq on the dash board display but I was wondering if I pop the cover off around the sub is there any control in there that I can turn up?

    1. Hi James,thanks for getting in touch.

      Apart from the EQ on the head unit there are no other controls for increasing the bass driver on the JBL system.


      Toyota UK

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