So, I have investigated the potential options relating to getting seemless IPod control through my IDrive (CCC) system.
After much research the Dension Gateway 500 system seems to be the best option.
This is compared to:
1. Phone jack, leaving as is
2. BMW IPod Interface Retrofit
We know the BMW kit has limitations, including slow operation with an IPod with any number of artists / titles on it. Also, it has limited compatiibility with newer Applie units to charge. It also does not offer a USB function.
The Dension does offer USB. With The Dension I have the potential to plug in USB sticks or external hard discs full of mp3's. I can then navigate around this using the BMW IDrive system.
The Dension offers slightly better functionality than the mObridge from the research I have done. It also works out slightly cheaper if you install it yourself.
With the Dension, you are apparanatly able to drill down and search artist / title / etc by inputting the first letters and the unit narrows down the search results. You are not able to input first letter(s) and start filtering the results with the mObridge.
So, I purchased my brand new Dension Gateway 500 from In Car Music in Leyton, East London for £300, all in.
Today I installed it, my car does not have a CD changer and has never had one. Installation is pretty simple, but I had some issues with the MOST bus, so wanted to outline how this works to help others.
The information I used was:
Dension Install into an E90
BMW Instructions for Retrofit CD Changer
Overview of BMW MOST BUS
MOST is BMW's optical fiber network used for entertainment and communications systems. It is used as a system to connect together a few different systems in the car. . .such as Bluetooth, CD Changer, DAB radio, etc.
It works in a RING. Therefore each unit connected onto the MOST network has an input and output. Light goes into the unit and out of the unit. If you unplug a MOST connector somewhere in the ring, the ring is broken, light can no longer flow around the ring and all systems on the ring will therefore be down.
I chose to install my Dension into the LHS of the boot, where the CD changer should be. I will then put the bracket supplied with the Dension kit onto the plastic tray on top of this gubbins, meaning I will easily be able to access my IPod to remove it from the car.
To install it, you need to remove the LHS boot liner. Here you will find the CD changer wiring, installed in a padded sleeve, which is velcro fastened so you can simply undo it. In here you will see the CD changer connector. It consists of a MOST connector, which is two optical fibers (light in and light out). You will also see a power connector block on the side which is simply 12v and ground.
If you inspect the CD changer connector, you are able to press a plastic nobble and remove the power connector from the side of the connector. If you then look at the rear of the connector, where the MOST fiber connector is going in, if you press the tongue down with a small flat blade, you can withdraw the MOST connector from the CD changer connector.
You can then plug the Dension Gateway 500 MOST connector into the CD changer connector. (see Dension instructions for which one is the correct MOST connector on the Dension).
You then need to power the Dension Gateway 500. I took power from my Vibe Litebox Stereo 4 amplifier, which sits just below the CD changer bay.
So you now have the Dension with MOST connector plugged in and power. Put the unit into "invisible" mode. Dension call this service mode. Effectively what it does is simply make the Dension put the light received down the MOST input back out the output. Therefore the Dension is invisible on the MOST bus.
So, now we have the Dension Gateway 500 installed into the car, we need to connect the CD changer MOST bus optics up in the MOST bus connector block. On my car (2007 E92) the MOST bus connector block is located behind the LHS rear seat side panel.
It is explained in a diagram within the CD changer instructions, how to add the CD changer into the MOST bus loop. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to explain better how I believe this system works: