Firstly, many thanks to gIzzE for providing guidance in terms of what options are available and what options to take with this project via PMs. I have come from an E46 and was and am perhaps somewhat concerned with the huge step forwards in terms of the complexity level of the latest generation range of BMW cars. However, thanks to gIzzE and other members of forums like this, it gave me the confidence to proceed with something which I may well have not bothered with and paid someone else to do. I am not as young as I was, so am hurting a little now after doing this job, but it will be worth it in the end, of that I am sure.
I bought my E92 335i a couple of weeks ago and while the car has lots and lots of options, a decent Hi-Fi was not specced, so it has the bog standard 6 speaker system, no amp, driven from the head unit.
Compared to the standard E46 system, it is better. However, it is obviously nowhere near good enough for anyone who likes listening to and being involved by music.
I therefore trawled through the forums and was looking to perhaps do the Alpine upgrade, which I think represents reasonable value when considering the price of the kit and is attractive because they supply a loom which makes it nice and easy. However, I was not entirely convinced by the fundementals of the Alpine amp supplied with the kit and was interested by the recent talk of the Vibe Litebox Amps.
1. Install must be completely stealth and car must continue to look factory.
2. Upgrade must be reversible. I have been known to change my cars on occassion, so I wanted something, that if it is good, can be transferred into another E92 and easily put back to standard the car that had the install.
I therefore forumulated a plan (with a lot of input from gIzzE), to implement a three phase upgrade to sort out the car audio.
Install Logic7 Tweeters
Install Earthquake SWS-8 subwoofers to replace BMW items
OK, so onto the First Phase:
Phase 1: Install Amplifier Instructions and Guidance Notes
I started at 09:00 this morning and finished at 18:30. I guess I went pretty slowly and was careful not to damage anything. The car still needs a couple of hours to be put back together in places (boot liner, rear seats, front seats fixing back in, mount amp, etc). I will do this tomorrow morning and tune optimise the amp settings at the same time.
1. Vibe Litebox Stereo 4 Amplifier (1nr) (http://www.audiorepaircentre.com/
2. AWG8 Shark power cable red (6m) (Maplin - BZ92A)
3. AWG8 Shark power cable black (1m) (Maplin - BZ93B)
4. AWG8 Maplin red and black gold ring terminals for connecting onto battery and earth point for amplifier power (1 set) (Maplin - A42FL)
5. Insulated crimp terminal / bullet plugs (16nr) (Maplin - JH86T)
6. Insulated crimp terminal / bullet sockets (16nr) (Maplin - JH84F)
7. 79 strand speaker wire (22m) (Maplin - XR72P)
8. Wire cutters / wire strippers / insulated and non insulated connector and cable crimpers (1nr) (Local Motor Factors - Laser Tools 1336)
9. 4 rolls electrical tape - 4 colours. I used red (signal), green (midrange), black (subwoofer), yellow (to bond round all wires every 12 foot to make a 3 pair loom)
10. Inline hi-fi fuse (Maplin - DR84F)
11. Plastic or other thin material size of amp to mount amp onto as a base. Must be thin
12. Velcro to mount amp to base and then base to BMW LHS boot meccano assembly
Activity list / Guidance Notes
1. Remove boot floor trim
- Lift out
2. Remove RHS boot liner trim
- Remove fixings including stowage eye
3. Remove LHS boot liner trim
- Remove fixings including stowage eye
4. Remove RHS / LHS sill / kick panel trim
- Slide to the left and right and gently disengage the clips, to refit, remove clips from car body and insert them into trim, look carefully through and line them up with the holes, then press firmly home.
5. Remove RHS side / footwell kick panel
- Unscrew bonnet release lever and remove. Unscrew screw beneath where bonnet release lever was, gently prise off panel.
6. Remove LHS side / footwell kick panel
- No screws this side, gently prize it off. For reassembly, insert the plug type clips into the panel and then press home, as before looking through any gap to check plug alignment with hole in body.
7. Remove LHR and RHS rear seat base
- Lift upwards at front, starting at corner and then work along.
8. Remove rear seat squab side panels
- Pull outwards from side (with seat folder forward you are able to get your hand behind it to pull it outwards), when clips give, simply manipulate it downwards slightly from top trim and out.
9. Undo 4 seat bolts each side for each front seat
- Put seat in forwards position as if allowing someone out from the rear of the car and tilt backwards. BE VERY CAREFUL not to overstress the wiring loom connecting to the bottom of the seat. You will probably have to adjust the seat so it can be tilted back and not stress the wiring loom too much.
10. Remove subwoofer speaker grilles
- 6 screws and remove grille. I was expecting to see the smaller subs on my car with an adapter plate. However, my car has what look to be full size subs. No matter, because they are being swapped out shortly for better items.
11. Make up loom for LHS
- around 3.5m per pair IIRC. Loom consists of 3 pair. Measure up and then cut one pair. Use this to cut the other 2 pair. Use the electrical tape and put a little bit round each pair every foot or so. Once you have done this, use the yellow tape to wrap round all 3 pairs every foot or so which creates the loom.
12. Make up loom for RHS
- around 4.5m per pair IIRC. Follow procedure above for colour coding and looming together.
13. Run cables from amp
- amp to be located withing RHS boot liner side panel, beneath arpeture for CD changer. You will need to remove the Meccano type metal rack to get the amp in the bottom of this. Loom cables for RHS and LHS along BMW cables in boot. Pass the LHS cable loom through the hole into the cabin the other cables are following. Follow the BMW cables all the way. You will need to remove the carpet around the rear side panel and then put your hand into the void beneath the seats, near to the floor the factory cables run in and pull your loom through. Use the yellow electrical tape to fix to the BMW loom every foot or so.
For the RHS, follow the same procedure, but cross over the boot with the BMW cables at the rear of the boot that go to the bluetooth module (if present). Go down and up the other side next to the lashing points BMW supply and join onto the BMW loom on the RHS of the boot.
Eventually, you will get the cables to around the middle of the door arpeture.
14. Interface into BMW loom
- Locate the BMW wiring for the audio. It goes into a "connector" on either side of the car, which basically is just a bit of blue plastic which bonds together the signal from the head unit, the subwoofer input and the midrange speaker input.
On the RHS the wires are:
+ = BLUE/BLACK
- = BLUE/BROWN
On the LHS the wires are:
+ = BLUE/WHITE
- = BLUE/BROWN
You will have to trace the wire(s) which come out of the sub along the loom until you feel a slightly thicker bit of loom. Undo the BMW tape and you should see the blue plastic connectors. There is a nice bit of slack on all three pairs when you remove the tape at the point of the connector, which makes things much easier. On my car, on the RHS, the connector was not too far from the sub, probably around midway on the sill in the door arpeture. However, on the LHS the connector was almost at the front of the door and there were much more wires on the LHS, with other looms spurring off here and there, making it a little more tricky.
Use the bullets to interface the cables you have run for input from head unit, output sub and output midrange.
I pulled the cables apart, so I had three pairs. I then turned on the radio and worked out what was what. On my car, the wires going to the midrange speaker were much thinner than the wires from the headunit and those from the sub. I then put some electrical tape, matching the colours on my own loom on the BMW wiring.
15. Get power to the amp
- Run the red power cable, with the inline fuse, from the battery. I used the terminal nearest towards the centre of the car. I then ran the cable round at a gentle 180 degree turn to go back towards the front of the car. I then turned 90 degrees again towards the side of the car and put my inline fuse here in the lower height area, next to the actual battery terminal. I used double sided tape to secure the fuse holder onto the top of the battery. I then continued my cable run up along the BMW loom on the RHS, down with the speaker cables to the RHS of the car, past the lashing point, across the boot and up the other side with all the rest, back down the the CD changer area.
I left the fuse OUT of the fuse holder, meaning I could work safely connecting everything up and running the cables. The last thing I did was to put the fuse in, which then put the power to the amp.
16. Get ground to the amp
- There is a grounding point near to the amp install point. I used this.
17. Set up amp
- I set front to high pass, around 120 Hz - Front channels then drive the mids and phase 2 install tweeters.
I set rear to low pass, around 130 Hz - Rear channels then drive the subs.
Gain to minimum
Bass boost to zero
Auto sense to on
Level input to high (head unit)
18. Connect everything to amp
- I used the front channels to drive the midrange and soon to be installed tweeters. I used the rear channels for the subs. Vibe supply RCA plugs with bare wire ends in case you are using high level inputs. I put bullets on these. However, because there is front and rear channel inputs, I put two wires into each bullet. Front and rear L + for example went into a single bullet connector to be connected to my L+ from the BMW head unit.
- I am going to be doing this tomorrow so will report back.
However, it already sounds very, very good.
Amazing considering the size of this amp. The factory subs are distorting if I really push them, but this is the horrible noise of speaker distortion as the amp is able to drive the speaker to it's end stop!!
Sorry there are no photos, but it has been raining here horribly today and I therefore was not able to get the camera out.