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      09-02-2012, 03:57 PM   #1
jb84
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Question E90 - audio/bluetooth upgrade options?

Just bought myself a 2006 325i SE and loving it!

However, I've got the basic audio system and basic headunit with no bluetooth.

The quality of the audio system isn't great and as such I was wondering if there is a simple way of upgrading it? Has anyone ascertained if it's the headunit or the stock speakers that are letting the system, or both? Would replacement of both be the way to go? I'm not looking for a massive system, just a neat upgrade to improve predominantly the bass and mid-range, but all round ideally.

Which leads me onto the bluetooth. If replacing/upgrading the headunit is on the cards, would it be possible to upgrade to a headunit with the BMW built in bluetooth capability? Ideally I would like to remain with the BMW kit, think it makes for an awesome interior finish and won't effect it's resale value.

Has anyone had any experience (good or bad) with upgrading any of the audio system kit?

Any thoughts appreciated. Thanks a lot.
JB
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      09-02-2012, 04:36 PM   #2
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A well covered topic

http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=641323

for bluetooth and usb/ipod

the known to work popular units are the dension gateway 500
(you need and add on module for bluetooth with that one)
and mobridge. Both have websites .
The Dension seems to be the one most used here.
There is the factory add on but it just does ipod no usb
and costs the same as the other to or just about.
Because Most Bus is used to connect add on s there are limited
options for these add on's

If you read the above thread carefully it should answer most of your questions. There have been quite a few from England on this forum doing mods lately so you might be able to see or listen
to some of there systems and get and idea of what you want to do. mob17 and makkan00 I think are two of them.

The MusicarNW kits are the easiest (+ most complete and plug and play) way to go but they come from Portland Oregon USA.

Last edited by ctuna; 09-02-2012 at 05:02 PM.
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      09-02-2012, 07:03 PM   #3
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Do you have tweeters inside of your door mirrors? Just trying to ascertain whether you have the base stereo or hifi system. I suspect you have hifi as your car is MY2006.

The speakers/amp are certainly the weak link in the OEM systems. The OEM HU can be used to create amazing systems, and has been by many members.

I also looked at HU replacement but I went off it as i found out that I would've lost most of my idrive functions, and i dont think you can get software updates from BMW as well. Plus i like the OEM look.
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      09-02-2012, 07:17 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jb84 View Post
Just bought myself a 2006 325i SE and loving it!

However, I've got the basic audio system and basic headunit with no bluetooth.

The quality of the audio system isn't great and as such I was wondering if there is a simple way of upgrading it? Has anyone ascertained if it's the headunit or the stock speakers that are letting the system, or both? Would replacement of both be the way to go? I'm not looking for a massive system, just a neat upgrade to improve predominantly the bass and mid-range, but all round ideally.

Which leads me onto the bluetooth. If replacing/upgrading the headunit is on the cards, would it be possible to upgrade to a headunit with the BMW built in bluetooth capability? Ideally I would like to remain with the BMW kit, think it makes for an awesome interior finish and won't effect it's resale value.

Has anyone had any experience (good or bad) with upgrading any of the audio system kit?

Any thoughts appreciated. Thanks a lot.
JB
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      09-02-2012, 07:46 PM   #5
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What does this head unit cost? Does it work pre 09's

What does this head unit cost?
And how does it integrate with older cars that have most bus connections
Hi Fi or L7 ?
If you already have bluetooth or BMW assist how would it affect these or be possible?
Are there any real improvement in sound for people with the base system?
What about reprogramming issues for people with the older most bus setup?
And at some point I got the impression that USB upgrades where not possible
with old non idrive setup from BMW using a BMW retrofit.

I read the bluetooth sticky and it looks like there is a lot of confusion and if you need the ULF module it costs 600 or more plus all the other trouble you have getting it up and running.
Might as well be a Dension Gateway 500 or a mobridge and be done with it. Confusing and Frustrating.

Last edited by ctuna; 09-02-2012 at 08:59 PM.
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      09-02-2012, 11:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctuna View Post
What does this head unit cost?
And how does it integrate with older cars that have most bus connections
Hi Fi or L7 ?
If you already have bluetooth or BMW assist how would it affect these or be possible?
Are there any real improvement in sound for people with the base system?
What about reprogramming issues for people with the older most bus setup?
And at some point I got the impression that USB upgrades where not possible
with old non idrive setup from BMW using a BMW retrofit.

I read the bluetooth sticky and it looks like there is a lot of confusion and if you need the ULF module it costs 600 or more plus all the other trouble you have getting it up and running.
Might as well be a Dension Gateway 500 or a mobridge and be done with it. Confusing and Frustrating.
from what i know, HI FI, Logic 7 all uses the same head unit. it's just how the head unit is being coded to send out the signals. meaning if you already have an existing head unit, you can upgrade to logic 7 and need to code the head unit to tell it that a logic 7 setup is now installed.
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      09-03-2012, 01:21 AM   #7
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That's not the question .

The question is about how to add USB , bluetooth and ipod.
These used to be add on modules . (well half the question the confusing part)
Also there are several different versions of the modules and now
there is a new version of the radio as well that has bluetooth and
usb ipod already built in .
So the question is how to get usb , iPod and Bluetooth most easily and effectively .

The audio upgrade path is well understood and documented
in this link( but usb and ipod is confusing)

http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=641323

The ipod usb bluetooth solution gets more convoluted on a daily basis.

So if you have a pre 09 pro head unit the answers may be different for ipod usb and bluetooth
if you have a TCU ,mulf , mulf2 , ulf or want to add the new head unit.
all require hardware and programming from what I can tell.

Last edited by ctuna; 09-03-2012 at 01:34 AM.
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      09-03-2012, 07:46 AM   #8
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This "new" OEM HU can be coded to enable either Bluetooth, USB or both depending if the car already has a TCU, a MULF or none installed respectively.
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      09-03-2012, 11:04 AM   #9
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Ok but what is the coding ?

Is the coding a known process the guy in the referred link said he had to program the head unit as a Nav Unit option to get it to work. He also said
there was some concern about the BMW programmer working with the
car after setting it up this way.
So is there a programming sheet to set up for all the options you might
have such as Hi Fi versus L7 versus stereo . What does BMW charge for this unit ? Is it the cheapest most effective way and best way to get USB if you don't already have it depending on what configuration you already have?
Are there other benefits and downsides?
If the cost of the Head Unit is over about 600 bucks it looks like the Dension gateway 500 would be a better way to go.
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      09-03-2012, 11:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctuna View Post
Is the coding a known process the guy in the referred link said he had to program the head unit as a Nav Unit option to get it to work. He also said
there was some concern about the BMW programmer working with the
car after setting it up this way.
So is there a programming sheet to set up for all the options you might
have such as Hi Fi versus L7 versus stereo . What does BMW charge for this unit ? Is it the cheapest most effective way and best way to get USB if you don't already have it depending on what configuration you already have?
Are there other benefits and downsides?
If the cost of the Head Unit is over about 600 bucks it looks like the Dension gateway 500 would be a better way to go.
Coding this particular OEM HU is no different than coding any other OEM HU. And coding a module not applicable in that particular model year has the same consequences at the dealership as coding a module not proper for the car.

http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=736582
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      09-03-2012, 01:56 PM   #11
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I gave the posting on ebay a question about HD radio

I gave the posting on ebay a question about HD radio
He indicated it also has HD radio built in .
Either that or he had more units that do.
So if you can make it work it might be the best way to get
USB.
I don't see how this would cause any problems with errors
or having the BMW programmer not recognize it since it is
OEM.

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      09-03-2012, 03:45 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the posts and info guys. To expand further (and not complicate the issue), I'm really not that fussed about bluetooth and usb. I will happily settle for a just an improvement in the quality of the audio. So what I'm asking is how easy is it to just upgrade the kit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Technic View Post
I have the headunit that the guy in this video ends up with, except it's definitely not producing anything I would describe as "professional" audio. See attached picture - that's the headunit I currently have.

I believe the current system in my car is the very basic system. 2 door speakers (no tweeters) and 2 rear speakers in the shelf behind the rear seats.

So, should I replace the headunit in order to improve the amp, and replace the speakers as well? I really like the OEM look and would love to keep it that way if possible.

I also have a large space with speakers cables lying around, on the passenger side, behind the trim in the boot. What's that all about?

Cheers in advance guys.
JB.
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      09-03-2012, 04:10 PM   #13
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Whats your budget for your audio upgrade?
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      09-03-2012, 04:20 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jb84 View Post
Thanks for all the posts and info guys. To expand further (and not complicate the issue), I'm really not that fussed about bluetooth and usb. I will happily settle for a just an improvement in the quality of the audio. So what I'm asking is how easy is it to just upgrade the kit?



I have the headunit that the guy in this video ends up with, except it's definitely not producing anything I would describe as "professional" audio. See attached picture - that's the headunit I currently have.

I believe the current system in my car is the very basic system. 2 door speakers (no tweeters) and 2 rear speakers in the shelf behind the rear seats.

So, should I replace the headunit in order to improve the amp, and replace the speakers as well? I really like the OEM look and would love to keep it that way if possible.

I also have a large space with speakers cables lying around, on the passenger side, behind the trim in the boot. What's that all about?

Cheers in advance guys.
JB.
You need the Alpine OEM amp upgrade for a definitive improvement in sound quality. The OEM HU with built-in BT and USB only was suggested just because you asked for BT capability. The USB is just frosting.

Search for the Alpine OEM amp upgrade if you do not know what it is.
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      09-03-2012, 10:49 PM   #15
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Most here agree the Head Unit only power sucks.

Most here agree the Head Unit only power sucks.
And the Hi Fi system is pretty mediocre at best.

The upgrade path for speakers amps and processors is pretty
well documented in the following thread. You don't have to change
the head unit but you should program it to Hi Fi output if you can
for clean balanced pre amp signals for whatever amps you decide on.


http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=641323

Only having a CD to play music does kind of suck to though.
I went and bought and aftermarket head unit for my old Integra
it has USB ,CD, Bluetooth , HD radio , Pandora , A2DP music streaming,
ipod compatibility , Bluetooth, phone and it was 400 bucks.
I was surprized
that A2DP doesn't sound that bad . The point is you get
a whole lot of technology for not much money something BMW would
charge you thousands for.

Last edited by ctuna; 09-04-2012 at 12:48 AM.
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      09-04-2012, 02:41 AM   #16
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My budget is probably around 500.

Where can I get my hands on an Alpine OEM amp?

I've got aux input as well, so am happy to settle with Aux, CD and Radio - so it seems that recoding is all that should be done.

Next question: how much will the system increase in quality just by simply installing an Alpine OEM amp and recoding the head unit to HiFi output?

Thanks for all your help folks.
Cheers.
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      09-04-2012, 04:10 AM   #17
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If thats your budget then the Alpine upgrade will come just under that fitted. Best thing to do is ask a few dealers and try and get their best price. Or look in the classifieds. If you recode then i think rear PDC gongs disappear or become very low.

I have heard the Alpine upgrade before. It is definately an improvement and i was tempted by it. But aftermarket sounds a lot better quality wise, especially with an ms-8. So its up to you. If you want a decent easy upgrade that once installed you can forget about then go for the Alpine upgrade. But if you want to build your own custom system with hand picked equipment, and are prepared to wait, then go aftermarket.
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      09-05-2012, 05:59 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mob17 View Post
If thats your budget then the Alpine upgrade will come just under that fitted. Best thing to do is ask a few dealers and try and get their best price. Or look in the classifieds. If you recode then i think rear PDC gongs disappear or become very low.

I have heard the Alpine upgrade before. It is definately an improvement and i was tempted by it. But aftermarket sounds a lot better quality wise, especially with an ms-8. So its up to you. If you want a decent easy upgrade that once installed you can forget about then go for the Alpine upgrade. But if you want to build your own custom system with hand picked equipment, and are prepared to wait, then go aftermarket.
Thanks for that mate. Is there a way to avoid the PDC gongs disappering after a recode?

From your signature, I like the look of what you've done. Do you mind if I ask how much that set you back? And was it easy to install? Is it completely reversible? I would like something that is relatively simple to do, while optimising the potential sound quality. The way I see it, I don't want to start cutting up the interior etc. so I'm limited to: replacing the original base system's speakers/woofers for uprated ones, and recoding the head unit.
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      09-05-2012, 07:28 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jb84 View Post
Thanks for that mate. Is there a way to avoid the PDC gongs disappering after a recode?

I think the only way to avoid it is if you amp the rear speakers. But im not 100% sure, someone else will have to chime in here.

From your signature, I like the look of what you've done. Do you mind if I ask how much that set you back? And was it easy to install? Is it completely reversible? I would like something that is relatively simple to do, while optimising the potential sound quality. The way I see it, I don't want to start cutting up the interior etc. so I'm limited to: replacing the original base system's speakers/woofers for uprated ones, and recoding the head unit.
Thanks

Generally when people go aftermarket it is not cheap. I also believe you get what you pay for, but that doesnt mean buy the most expensive stuff! Mine cost me around 1.7k, and thats just the equipment. I couldnt afford to pay this all in one go so i did the upgrade in stages. 1st stage cost me 650, 2nd was 630ish, 3rd was 200 and finally the 4th was 300. I installed the 1st stage in April, and the last was done at the end of July. It was mostly easy to install. The trickiest bit was wiring up Technics harness, but B33M3R did an excellent job of this. Another thing is that you will have to make your own speaker adaptors for Morels, if you decide on that. Its completely reversible (due to Technics harness), no cutting of anything and everything looks OEM. Used 4" speakers and 8" woofers. The ms-8 and amp are also hidden away so the boot looks normal. In my eyes this system would easily beat any of the BMW systems (got no proof of hifi and logic 7 as i havent heard them, but im pretty confident it will) and also is a lot better than the Alpine upgrade, which i have heard. But all my system needs now is a sub, which is the next stage! But there are other upgrade paths people have taken which they are happy with also.

The above system is more than just an improvment. Its a transformation which has brought music to life. But its hard to advise you on what to do as if you want just an improvement, there are loads of cheaper routes. Either Alpine or aftermarket.

If you go aftermarket your first port of call should be trying to get your HU coded. I couldn't because dealers said that it can't be done without hardware changes, and indys didn't know what i was on about. Plus i wanted everything to be easily reversible. Thats the main reason i got the ms-8, to sort out the signal, but after having used it there's so much more to it.

Just a quick point in case you do, please do not visit any audio specialist shops here in the UK. Most of them do not know what works best in BMWs and will ruin your car.
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