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      11-26-2010, 11:54 PM   #1
VP Electricity
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2011 335d audio upgrade



I know I have some messages to return to forum members - the combo of a sick kid last week, the short week this week, and the job below all have kept me away from my computer. I will catch up this weekend - promise!

A forum member from NorCal called, was spending the holiday in Seattle, wanted to drop off the 335d for an upgrade and take the train up north.

Car has iDrive, harman/kardon, rear PDC, Bluetooth, no folding rear seat, no skipass.

Upgrade plan:

- Add JBL MS-8 (no permanent installation of the display)

- Retain harman/kardon 2-ohm midrange and tweeter speakers

- Try the moving-a-tweeter-to-the-center-channel mod that kaigoss speaks so highly of

- upgrade the underseat woofers

- add our trunk subwoofer system

- add amplification to power the underseats and the trunk sub

- plan the system with an eye to future upgrades of the front stage


So, we used, in addition to the MS-8:

- A Technic Logic 7 sub harness (we modified it, more on this later)

- An Arc KS125.4 mini Class H amp (75wpc RMS, 125wpc of actual dynamic headroom into a constant load, Class AB with two internal power supply voltage-rail modes, fan-cooled, very small)

- our trunk sub with a Musicar 10" sub (aluminum cone, cast frame, 600W RMS of electrical power capability if needed)

- The EU driver-side trunk quarter panel for CD changer-equipped cars, to give us somewhere to put the MS-8 and the amplifier.



- EQ SWS-8 woofers in our steel adapter rings

Why use a speaker that isn't ranked as a great midbass driver, for midbass? The thinking is as follows - the MS-8 can optimize the speaker response after measuring the actual acoustic performance in the car. The SWS-8 fits, it's pretty durable, and it's in production and warranteed (if a discontinued woofer fails, we can't get a replacement - but we can't tell the client to screw off, either). If the midbass was poor, we would have solved that problem, but as it turned out, it was pretty good. More on this later...

We made a bracket for the tweeter, took it out of its semi-horn mount carefully, and stuck it to our bracket and plugged it into the midrange.



We made a rack for the MS-8 and the 125.4 above the factory amp, and we modified the Technic Top HiFi harness by grafting the MS-8 input and output harnesses onto it as needed.





We got all done and realized that the car had Park Distance Control to the rear! Since we had only used the front and sub outputs of the Top HiFi amp, we weren't getting any tone from the rear to speak of.

So we rewired to dedicate the OEM amp rear door outputs for the rear door mids, and racked the fader forward 100%. This was effective at killing any sound coming from the rear door speakers, EXCEPT for the PDC chime.

It also slightly - but noticeably - reduced the bass from the OEM amp. So we recalibrated after making the change. That got the bass back where we wanted it.

After calibration and listening, as we've done before, we reduced the center-channel output level to almost minimum - without cutting the center level, the center overpowers the fronts and it sounds like mono.

We set the MS-8 output level to maximum. This kept us out of trouble with the inputs clipping, since it got louder than we ever needed it to get, so we never heard the Top HiFi sub channels clip the MS-8 inputs.

We set the trunk sub to 50 and down, the midbass from 250 down to the trunk sub, and the center and rear from 350 and up.

We also added some EQ boost between 80 and 200, and brought up the sub level a couple of clicks on the MS-8 (this boosts both the sub output and the bottom end of the midbass speaker).

I've spent some time listening to various songs today in the car. I don't listen to hip-hop much. I listen to jazz, singer-songwriters, female singers, some rock, and Lyle Lovett.

Clark Terry, Live at the Village Gate, sounded great - clear positioning of the voices in the club, good room noise.

Jennifer Warnes, The Hunter, sounded great - Way Down Deep has some notes that ONLY exercised the sub.

Corinne Bailey Rae's Choux Pastry Heart has bass notes that are audible as a heartbeat only on systems with really clear, tight bass. Check.

Icky Thump by The White Stripes has a good tight thump to it, without overhang or boominess. This song does show the limitations of using a 75x2/250x1 amp on the bass - you could get more.

Focus on Sight by Thievery Corporation is similar - tight bass, not boomy, extends much deeper than stock, but if you want to really lean on it, you could use more power than we had (and that would outrun the MS-8's internal deck-power amp ICs pretty readily, I suspect).

The HK speakers sound a little thin at times, and the tweeters get a little bright (I cut a bit at 2k on the EQ and that helped). The customer wants to upgrade the front speakers in future and add an amp, so I am recommending getting a mono subwoofer amp, and using that half of the current 4-channel amp on the front components.

We coiled up the display cable and the display and put them under the pop-out plastic tray on the quarter panel. We also velcroed the remote to the inside of the CD-changer door. This allows the customer to open the door, grab the remote, reach under the tray through the door and pop the tray out, pull out the display and cord, and tweak the system.

It's certainly not a perfect system, but it's got real bottom-octave extension compared to stock, it's louder than stock and clearer, the imaging is very good, and it is 100% reversible!

Thanks to Technic for the harness and to the customer for the chance to do the install.

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      11-27-2010, 09:41 AM   #2
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Nice install...

FYI: If you use 6 inputs into the MS-8 high level port (front, rear doors and woofers) the PDC sounds are retained.
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      11-27-2010, 11:06 AM   #3
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Thanks - that was plan B. With that approach, the tones would be coming out of all the speakers equally, I expected, and with this approach we keep the majority of the tones coming from the rear of the car. There is some PDC tone from the front speakers, not sure why, but the rear speakers seemed louder in my testing.

Both are totally valid approaches as long as everyone understands the implications (with mine, don't center the fader, and with Technics, be aware that the rear bias goes away).
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      11-27-2010, 11:59 AM   #4
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Nice work...if I could only drop of my car to you for the install.

I think I'll need that same Euro CD changer panel as my car is the same as the one you just did. Can you tell me the PN?
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      11-27-2010, 01:37 PM   #5
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Did you try running the mid/high x-over at 150 Hz instead of 250 Hz? That's where I have mine set and the HK mids seem to have no problem at that frequency with MS-8 "deck" power.

I would appreciate your honest, unbiased opinion as a car audio professional - on a scale of 1 to 10, where do the HK speakers rank when controlled by the MS-8, compared to say the Rainbow SLC and the Morel HO? What particular weaknesses of the HK speakers was the MS-8 not able to correct?

Nice install, BTW!

Edit to add: I have not felt the need to reduce the center channel level at all. I would think this is only necessary if too much of the stereo signal was being pulled towards the middle. My soundstage is extremely wide (from DS mirror to PS mirror) and voices are right in front of me. Playing some of the tracks from the Focal CDs - like "walking saxophone" or the "pencil on paper" track - confirms to me that there is no bias towards the center. The added bonus of having the center channel is of course also the increased volume. I would think the MS-8 would quickly reach its limits in terms of power if I reduced the level of the center as much as you described.

I guess the perception of a good sounding, well-balanced system is mostly subjective but I am a bit curious as to why we are experiencing such different results with the center channel. I am wondering if your x-over points (250 on the doors and 350 on the center) are what's causing the center to have a different "appearance" in the system. If you have the opportunity (or post-install by the customer), please cross all "high" speakers over at 150Hz (24 dB/oct) and let us know if that changed anything.

Last edited by kaigoss69; 11-28-2010 at 08:01 AM.
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      11-28-2010, 10:41 PM   #6
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I didn't try 150 on the center. After I lowered the output level to like 20%, I should have tried it over, but I didn't. I'm really gunshy with retail installs when crossing over OEM speakers - I'm always worried about them blowing.

I personally thought that the hk mids sounded a little thin, and the tweeters a little more forward, than I like. Now, they sounded pretty good - and for the budget we were working with, I think that leaving them stock and enhancing the sub-bass was a good choice.

But I don't have any doubt that Morel Hybrid Ovation, for instance, have better heft in the midbass and are a little warmer.

The Rainbow 210.25? I think the tweeters are just a little smoother while still having a similar level of detail (I think the Rainbow CAL25 is an amazing tweeter for the money), and the mid is similar. I suspect that some of the harshness or forwardness I hear is the top end of the 4" mid, and there's no low-pass crossover present to help tame that top end. The Rainbow does have a very good passive crossover (better than the new Morel HO 4 II).

But it's worth mentioning that IMO upgrading the speakers requires adding amp channels. The customer is willing to do this in future. However, adding two amp channels AND front speakers and a matching center does kick the price up. I think this is the right approach.

I still wanna hear the Dynaudio 1400 Esotar 4"
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      11-28-2010, 10:55 PM   #7
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Thanks. I'm learning. Is it a common belief that the Rainbow SLC 25 (?) are a wise choice upgrading a HiFi system? I have my amps, harness, and I believe a pair of Jehnerts for underseat woofers are enroute. I also have the BSW upgrade kit, unopened. Looks like there is roughly a 2X price difference between the Rainbows (this is the model with the 25 mm tweeter) and the BSWs.
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      11-29-2010, 01:04 AM   #8
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Well, I would never comment on another authorized vendor's product offering (at least, now that I'm an authorized vendor and am supposed to maintain some semblance of decorum : )

The CAL25 is the Rainbow 25mm tweeter, and the 210.25 SL is the Sound Line 2-way 10cm midrange 20mm tweeter kit. It's become popular because it fits, it's less than the Morels, and it sounds darned good in my opinion. Cast 4" frame, paper cone, silk tweeter diaphragm, and a somewhat large and ungainly but very advanced passive crossover. I mean that it has great parts and also great flexibility - tweeter attenuation, midrange LP slope, notch filter on off, and tweeter polarity. I should test it someday actively biamped off an MS-8 without the passive crossover

We sell the 210.25 at $295 in systems with the rings for the BMW door mid and machining the plastic housing of the tweeter so it snaps into the BMW mount (it is a hair too big to snap in - there are other ways to install it, modding the mount or glue or the like, but we've settled on machining the housing as the best path).
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      11-29-2010, 10:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VP Electricity View Post
I didn't try 150 on the center. After I lowered the output level to like 20%, I should have tried it over, but I didn't. I'm really gunshy with retail installs when crossing over OEM speakers - I'm always worried about them blowing.

I personally thought that the hk mids sounded a little thin, and the tweeters a little more forward, than I like. Now, they sounded pretty good - and for the budget we were working with, I think that leaving them stock and enhancing the sub-bass was a good choice.

But I don't have any doubt that Morel Hybrid Ovation, for instance, have better heft in the midbass and are a little warmer.

The Rainbow 210.25? I think the tweeters are just a little smoother while still having a similar level of detail (I think the Rainbow CAL25 is an amazing tweeter for the money), and the mid is similar. I suspect that some of the harshness or forwardness I hear is the top end of the 4" mid, and there's no low-pass crossover present to help tame that top end. The Rainbow does have a very good passive crossover (better than the new Morel HO 4 II).

But it's worth mentioning that IMO upgrading the speakers requires adding amp channels. The customer is willing to do this in future. However, adding two amp channels AND front speakers and a matching center does kick the price up. I think this is the right approach.

I still wanna hear the Dynaudio 1400 Esotar 4"
I dropped my son off for basketball practice tonight so I had an hour to kill and I decided to try and duplicate your set-up with the higher x-over points to see what impact it would have on the sound of the system. Honestly, I did not hear much of a difference from a tonality standpoint, but there definitely was a "draw" towards the center speaker. The image was shifted about 6" away from my "perfect spot" (right in front of me), over towards the middle of the dash, and I swear I could locate certain sounds as coming directly from the speaker, whereas before, with my old x-over points, none of the speakers were "detectable" at all. So my little experiment confirms that x-over points for front components and center channels need to be set as low as the speakers allow, otherwise you may have funky results.
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      11-30-2010, 10:04 AM   #10
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Small clarification needed.

I appreciate your discretion. I am a little confused, does it have a 25 mm tweeter or a 20 mm tweeter kit?

Thanks,

Rob


Quote:
Originally Posted by VP Electricity View Post
Well, I would never comment on another authorized vendor's product offering (at least, now that I'm an authorized vendor and am supposed to maintain some semblance of decorum : )

The CAL25 is the Rainbow 25mm tweeter, and the 210.25 SL is the Sound Line 2-way 10cm midrange 20mm tweeter kit. It's become popular because it fits, it's less than the Morels, and it sounds darned good in my opinion. Cast 4" frame, paper cone, silk tweeter diaphragm, and a somewhat large and ungainly but very advanced passive crossover. I mean that it has great parts and also great flexibility - tweeter attenuation, midrange LP slope, notch filter on off, and tweeter polarity. I should test it someday actively biamped off an MS-8 without the passive crossover

We sell the 210.25 at $295 in systems with the rings for the BMW door mid and machining the plastic housing of the tweeter so it snaps into the BMW mount (it is a hair too big to snap in - there are other ways to install it, modding the mount or glue or the like, but we've settled on machining the housing as the best path).
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      11-30-2010, 10:27 AM   #11
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Should have read 25. Typo.
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