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Tech Article

Audi C5 A6 Symphony Sound System (Stereo unit, Radio) by Bose

Last Updated: 09/21/2019
Parts Group: Stereo sound system / radio main unit
There is still an acoustic guitar in my living room, and I still love music though I'm not as intensely into it as when I was a teenager. At that time, not just was I enthused to listen to music, but I was also learning about the varous artists ... and types of stereo equipment. As teenagers, we tried to be (and sound) knowledgable with almost all of the information based on hearsay and what we'd read. Supposedly the best combination could be made with a Bang & Olofsun turntable, a TEAC casette deck, Pioneer amp and a Kenwood graphic equalizer -- as I recall. As to the brand called Bose ... that was unknown to me at the time.

The first things I learned about Bose were that they're some kind of newfangled (by my clueless standards) non-mainstream high-tech outfit that made tiny speakers that sounded as good as something vastly larger. Until then, I'd always figured that to have good sound I'd need speakers the size of refrigerators.

Fast forward to the year 2000 or so, when Bose was making the Audi Symphony stereo unit in the top-of-the-line C5 Audi A6. Initially, I'd thought I'd bought a used Audi and it happened to come with a Bose sound system, but nowadays I am tempted to think that I got a good deal on a used Bose sound system and I got an Audi thrown into the deal for free.

Not just does it sound great, but the features are impressive. For example, the faster you drive your Audi, the more the engine noise, road noise and wind noise. Eventually these might affect your stereo system listening experience, so the Audi Symphony stereo unit has a built-in feature whereby, the faster you drive, the louder the volume automatically gets. It also has a way of disabling that feature, in case you don't like it. Wow!

We generally have music playing loudly in our (fairly large ... room for six cars) shop, and the range is pretty wide though it loosely centers around rock music from a few decades ago. Our shop sound system is nice, but when I walked into the shop yesterday, it sounded dramatically better. My tech was working on a C5 Audi A6. Both doors were open, the trunk was open and he'd removed the cover over the bass speakers.

"I upgraded our shop sound system to Bose," he announced. Nice!

At the price-and-age point where these cars are today, when bought used, the current owner might on average be the third owner, and by now whoever had the theft-prevention radio unlock code might have lost it, or the book in which it was printed. So, nowadays the stereo system might display "SAFE" and be quiet, awaiting the radio code. The current owner in such a situation is then faced with several not-so-great options:
- Go without.
- Replace the Audi Symphony Bose system with something aftermarket, which isn't likely to be an upgrade unless it's pricey, and then the wiring might thereafter forever be a mess.
- Get a radio unlock code from the dealer. Whether that's possible, how that process would work and how much that would cost, and how to enter it ... these are all unknowns to many owners. Perhaps our article on the radio unlock code can help.
- There is also the question of whether or not the unit will work even after it's been unlocked. For example, in one of my A6 cars, the stereo unit didn't work any more, and I'd guess the reason is that it had been drenched a few years before in something that looks like it had cost $5 per cup and had come from from Starbucks. I'm clear that Audi engineers are generally brilliant, but I do wonder if there is an exception as to whoever decided to locate the cupholder just above the stereo unit.

For Audi owners whose Audi Symphony sound systems are dead for whatever reason, we offer good, used units, with matching radio code included, guaranteed to work:We also have an article explaining how to remove and replace the radio a.k.a. Audi Symphony sound system, including where to get the required (and affordable) tool set you would need. If you prefer and if you buy a sound system from us, you can borrow our tool set, though we do charge a deposit.

We also offer the original Audi Symphony booklet as originally came with these cars.
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