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      03-15-2019, 11:56 PM   #1
largebaboon
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My (Un)Scientific experiment of cruising noise levels of several cars

Hello all,

A little introduction! I currently live in-between two countries, USA and Indonesia. So, I own several cars right now, including F10 BMW 535i, G30 BMW 540i, G30 BMW 530i, W212 Mercedes-Benz E400, among other cars.

Out of my own curiosity, I've conducted several (un)scientific experiments in some of my cars at 100 km/h, ac on low with no music on. For all of these, I put the measuring device right at my eye level in all of the cars. It just seemed that my BMW 530i is a lot quieter than the other cars, and seems that this experiment proves it. Thought it was iinteresting and I wanted to share.

Honda Mobilio


Toyota Innova Venturer


Mercedes-Benz E400


BMW 530i
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      03-16-2019, 12:56 AM   #2
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Confirms my subjective feelings in my 520i
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      03-16-2019, 03:35 AM   #3
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Absolutely - confirms my thoughts too. When I get in other cars I am surprised by how loud they are in comparison (and how poor the ride is). Great to see some data about this. I'd be really interested if anyone had a comparison between the 5 and 7 series - that would be useful to see.
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      03-16-2019, 04:07 AM   #4
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The other thing I have noticed with cars is how quickly you get used to your own car. When I first drove the 540 I thought it was very quiet but as you get used to that I don't feel that so much now, as you say you need to travel in something else to re appreciate it
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      03-16-2019, 06:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
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The other thing I have noticed with cars is how quickly you get used to your own car. When I first drove the 540 I thought it was very quiet but as you get used to that I don't feel that so much now, as you say you need to travel in something else to re appreciate it
Yes, that's what I noticed too! When I got into other cars then going back to the G30 it just feels really smooth and quiet. This applies to even going back to my G30 from my W212 E400. Granted, the Benz is about 3 years older, but even when the Benz was new it never gave me this smooth and quiet feeling that the G30 has. I still think it is quite a looker though!

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      03-16-2019, 09:59 AM   #6
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Is your 530 quieter/louder than 540 or the same?
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      03-16-2019, 10:08 AM   #7
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Interesting. Is your "measuring device" a stand alone decibel meter or an app on your phone? In either case, what brand/model/App? Thanks--Bob
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      03-16-2019, 10:09 AM   #8
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I haven't measured the 540i yet but subjectively the 530i is definitely quieter. However, I suspect because my 530i is using 18" wheels, whereas the 540i is using the 20" m-sport wheels with the super thin tires.
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      03-16-2019, 10:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warp Ten View Post
Interesting. Is your "measuring device" a stand alone decibel meter or an app on your phone? In either case, what brand/model/App? Thanks--Bob
It's an android app called "Sound Meter." However, the app needs to be calibrated with an outside source first due to the difference of each phone's mic sensitivity.
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      03-16-2019, 08:56 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by clee1982 View Post
Is your 530 quieter/louder than 540 or the same?
Not the OP but when I test drove the 530 and 540 both m-sport 19Ē summer RFT, I found the 530i to be quieter. The engine in the 540i is louder but it does sound better and feels smoother. I didnít measure anything at itís subjective I could be wrong but that was my impression after driving both a few times. I ended up going with the 530i because I sit in traffic mostly
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      03-16-2019, 11:01 PM   #11
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When I test drive different cars, I always use my sound meter on my iPhone to see how it compares. The BMW sedans are definitely the quietest vehicles on the road. Even the X3/X5 platform is much louder (8-10db) because the rear wheels are inside the cab.
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      03-17-2019, 01:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by largebaboon View Post
I haven't measured the 540i yet but subjectively the 530i is definitely quieter. However, I suspect because my 530i is using 18" wheels, whereas the 540i is using the 20" m-sport wheels with the super thin tires.
My 530i is extremely quiet inside even with the 19" wheels/tires I have.
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      03-17-2019, 01:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjohnson View Post
When I test drive different cars, I always use my sound meter on my iPhone to see how it compares. The BMW sedans are definitely the quietest vehicles on the road. Even the X3/X5 platform is much louder (8-10db) because the rear wheels are inside the cab.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjohnson View Post
When I test drive different cars, I always use my sound meter on my iPhone to see how it compares. The BMW sedans are definitely the quietest vehicles on the road. Even the X3/X5 platform is much louder (8-10db) because the rear wheels are inside the cab.
Sedans will always be quieter than hatchbacks, wagons and SUVs. The 3-box design and separate trunk help with that. Also BMW makes extensive use of sound deadening glass, door seals, etc.
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      03-17-2019, 01:56 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssquared View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by clee1982 View Post
Is your 530 quieter/louder than 540 or the same?
Not the OP but when I test drove the 530 and 540 both m-sport 19” summer RFT, I found the 530i to be quieter. The engine in the 540i is louder but it does sound better and feels smoother. I didn’t measure anything at it’s subjective I could be wrong but that was my impression after driving both a few times. I ended up going with the 530i because I sit in traffic mostly
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjohnson View Post
When I test drive different cars, I always use my sound meter on my iPhone to see how it compares. The BMW sedans are definitely the quietest vehicles on the road. Even the X3/X5 platform is much louder (8-10db) because the rear wheels are inside the cab.
530i is the car most people (99% to be exact) would ever need. Haven't regret it my decision to go with it vs 540i.

If you have mostly a short daily commute in heavy traffic gridlock, the B58 turbo in the 540i is simply wasted. The 2 liter in the 530i is pretty good in daily driving and the smoothest 4 pot I have ever owned.

I come from a e90 with the N52 6-cyl N/A engine which was sweet sounding but rather thirsty in dense city traffic. The B46 in the 530i is quicker off the line has has superior fuel efficiency over the old N52 sixer it replaces.
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      03-18-2019, 08:54 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 530iDriver View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssquared View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by clee1982 View Post
Is your 530 quieter/louder than 540 or the same?
Not the OP but when I test drove the 530 and 540 both m-sport 19" summer RFT, I found the 530i to be quieter. The engine in the 540i is louder but it does sound better and feels smoother. I didn't measure anything at it's subjective I could be wrong but that was my impression after driving both a few times. I ended up going with the 530i because I sit in traffic mostly
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjohnson View Post
When I test drive different cars, I always use my sound meter on my iPhone to see how it compares. The BMW sedans are definitely the quietest vehicles on the road. Even the X3/X5 platform is much louder (8-10db) because the rear wheels are inside the cab.
530i is the car most people (99% to be exact) would ever need. Haven't regret it my decision to go with it vs 540i.

If you have mostly a short daily commute in heavy traffic gridlock, the B58 turbo in the 540i is simply wasted. The 2 liter in the 530i is pretty good in daily driving and the smoothest 4 pot I have ever owned.

I come from a e90 with the N52 6-cyl N/A engine which was sweet sounding but rather thirsty in dense city traffic. The B46 in the 530i is quicker off the line has has superior fuel efficiency over the old N52 sixer it replaces.
I don't doubt you, in the true NY <20 mph fashion the 540 has pretty poor mpg (thinking I got 16 mpg). Though I still love this car and when I can get to highway I get to 30+ mpg without trying
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      03-18-2019, 09:16 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clee1982 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by 530iDriver View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssquared View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by clee1982 View Post
Is your 530 quieter/louder than 540 or the same?
Not the OP but when I test drove the 530 and 540 both m-sport 19" summer RFT, I found the 530i to be quieter. The engine in the 540i is louder but it does sound better and feels smoother. I didn't measure anything at it's subjective I could be wrong but that was my impression after driving both a few times. I ended up going with the 530i because I sit in traffic mostly
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjohnson View Post
When I test drive different cars, I always use my sound meter on my iPhone to see how it compares. The BMW sedans are definitely the quietest vehicles on the road. Even the X3/X5 platform is much louder (8-10db) because the rear wheels are inside the cab.
530i is the car most people (99% to be exact) would ever need. Haven't regret it my decision to go with it vs 540i.

If you have mostly a short daily commute in heavy traffic gridlock, the B58 turbo in the 540i is simply wasted. The 2 liter in the 530i is pretty good in daily driving and the smoothest 4 pot I have ever owned.

I come from a e90 with the N52 6-cyl N/A engine which was sweet sounding but rather thirsty in dense city traffic. The B46 in the 530i is quicker off the line has has superior fuel efficiency over the old N52 sixer it replaces.
I don't doubt you, in the true NY <20 mph fashion the 540 has pretty poor mpg (thinking I got 16 mpg). Though I still love this car and when I can get to highway I get to 30+ mpg without trying
The ZF 8-speed automatic helps tremendously so does the gearing.

The B46/B58 engine's are both direct fuel injection while the N52 was multiport fuel injection.

Probably all things considered, the B58 has better city mileage than the N52/54/55 were able to achieve. Also remember my N52 328i had a GM sourced 6-speed automatic.

Highway mileage on that car was pretty good also, 32-34MPG with cruise control set at 75MPH, 4 people on the car and their luggage.
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      03-18-2019, 10:30 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by largebaboon View Post
It's an android app called "Sound Meter." However, the app needs to be calibrated with an outside source first due to the difference of each phone's mic sensitivity.
Thanks for the info. I just downloaded a sound level meter app for my iPhone put out by NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a federal agency. It seems to get very high user ratings. I will try it sometime soon. My feeling is that a great deal of noise in a car is directly attributable to the size, type and manufacturer of one's tires, and the presence or lack of any sound deadening material around them, at least it certainly is in my Z06. I did the whole back area in sound deadener DynaMat, which helped a little. The 540xi was very reasonable in terms of highway noise on our recent 3,500 mile trip. --Bob
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      03-19-2019, 05:00 AM   #18
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After trying to hypermile on my 530i, I managed to get 21.1km/l (About 48 US mpg). This is also by far the smoothest 4 cylinder that I have ever experienced.

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      Yesterday, 09:03 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warp Ten View Post
Thanks for the info. I just downloaded a sound level meter app for my iPhone put out by NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a federal agency. It seems to get very high user ratings. I will try it sometime soon. My feeling is that a great deal of noise in a car is directly attributable to the size, type and manufacturer of one's tires, and the presence or lack of any sound deadening material around them, at least it certainly is in my Z06. I did the whole back area in sound deadener DynaMat, which helped a little. The 540xi was very reasonable in terms of highway noise on our recent 3,500 mile trip. --Bob

I definitely agree. Most of the road noise do come from your tires and the insulation from there. I have heard a lot of good stuff about dynamat as well! In my 540i, an option I definitely regret getting was the 20 inch wheels. In my opinion while it looks good and the ride comfort is still acceptable, it definitely downgraded the ride quality and the quietness of the car from the smaller wheels.
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      Today, 10:41 AM   #20
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Quote:
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Probably all things considered, the B58 has better city mileage than the N52/54/55 were able to achieve. Also remember my N52 328i had a GM sourced 6-speed automatic.

Highway mileage on that car was pretty good also, 32-34MPG with cruise control set at 75MPH, 4 people on the car and their luggage.
My e90 328 was 6MT so I had the ZF but it was x-drive so heavier. Around town in LA traffic I was getting about 15MPG. My RWD 530i weighs a little more than the 328xi and gets about 22-24MPG in the same conditions. I attribute this mostly to the ASS system (traffic lights in LA re excruciatingly long and not synchronized despite the hypocritical government officials and socialists here ranting and raving about the environment) and the transmission based solely on my gut but I have nothing to back that up.
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