Firstly credit where credits due!
I would like to say a massive thank you to all the members who have taken the time to produce guides and contributed to the hundreds of threads on this forum. Without their help I would have probably not bothered with my own little project, the results of which I am very happy with.
I have been a member of many car forums in the past but have to say the level of genuine knowledge, expertise and good will on this forum is remarkable! I would like to make a personal mention of thanks to VP Electricity, Technic, kaigoss69, carlitosz and to the many others who have taken the time to post up their own projects and experiences which have helped me no end!
Before I post this up I fully acknowledge much of this will simply replicate some of the other excellent guides on here and what I have done has only been achieved through researching others hard work. I’m not looking to take credit for others efforts but simply posting this as a record of my own experience and adding it to the mix.
I’m happy to answer any questions and will help out where I can (if there are any questions!) but I will defer anything of a technical nature to the many experts on this forum. If anything I hope this will help other amateur ‘have-a-goers’ like me who are weighing up what to do themselves as in all honesty I was surprised how easy it was to do all this.
I haven’t documented every single step as allot of this is available elsewhere on this forum. I hope at least some of you find this useful!
From the moment I ordered my car and first visited this site the one theme that popped up time and time again from other members was the poor standard of BMW’s ‘Base’ stereo system. Having not upgraded from the ‘Base’ option on ordering I prepared myself for the worst during the months I spent awaiting delivery. Personally I would describe myself as massive lover of music and although I am in no way an expert in audio systems I do have a reasonable understanding of what it’s all about and a keen ear for sound quality.
When my car finally arrived I couldn’t wait to hear for myself the quality of the stereo and have to say that sitting on my driveway with the engine off at a moderate volume I did initially wonder what all the fuss was about? It did not sound as bad as I was expecting and I did think at that time it would suffice. This feeling of contentment soon wore off and within days I knew something had to be done!
I first considered the Alpine upgrade offered from BMW but after looking into this I didn’t think this would be enough for me and although this might have been quite an attractive upgrade a couple of years ago the price of this has crept up somewhat. I also didn’t like the fact the kits required splicing wires and ultimately feared if there wasn’t enough oomph I would be stuck with it as I really couldn’t justify upgrading again!
I decided I would go aftermarket and initially add a set of good quality front components, an amp and some under seat subs but after much research it was apparent this was not that simple a concept. For a start cars fitted with the ‘Base’ system have an inbuilt factory EQ to make up for the lack of tweeters and low quality speakers. This would need sorting out first so I looked into having the car re-coded to Hi-Fi at my local dealer. Although they had not come across this request before they stated any re-coding would cost just over £100 per hour (ouch). This did not really instil much confidence that they knew what they were doing but more importantly it soon transpired on the forum that newer cars could not in fact be re-coded as the hardware was not there. The tweaked EQ would need to be normalised externally.
The best solution to this would be to add a JBL MS8 and with its eight channels came further possibilities. This prompted me to add a centre channel as well as upgrade the rears.
My Equipment List
The main components of my install are
Focal 100KRS K2 - Front Doors
Earthquake SWS8X (4 ohms) – Under Seats
Vibe Slick 4 – Centre Channel & Rear Deck
JBL MS8 Processor
JBL GTO1004 Amplifier
In order to make the install as plug and play as possible I ordered Technic’s harness along with his custom speaker adaptors and custom jumpers to allow for the under seats to be amped separately.