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      10-02-2011, 12:11 PM   #661
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The Alpine amp in the upgrade kit doesn't have RCA inputs. I think you're confusing the connector with the signal it's carrying. Typically, the head unit outputs voltages sufficient to drive speakers directly, up to 12-14V on a car. The inputs to the amp are by default set up to take an input at that level. However, Alpine say there are jumpers inside the casing to reconfigure the amp to take a 2V line-level input. Most aftermarket stereos deliver this using RCA connectors, so if you had one of these, you would need to snip off the connector at the amp end of the cable and connect it to the appropriate input pins, per the pinout diagram you've shown in one of those photos.
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      10-02-2011, 12:24 PM   #662
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The Alpine amp in the upgrade kit doesn't have RCA inputs. I think you're confusing the connector with the signal it's carrying. Typically, the head unit outputs voltages sufficient to drive speakers directly, up to 12-14V on a car. The inputs to the amp are by default set up to take an input at that level. However, Alpine say there are jumpers inside the casing to reconfigure the amp to take a 2V line-level input. Most aftermarket stereos deliver this using RCA connectors, so if you had one of these, you would need to snip off the connector at the amp end of the cable and connect it to the appropriate input pins, per the pinout diagram you've shown in one of those photos.
Thanks for the clarification, so you're saying if I went down the RCA route, I'd have to go RCA to line?
If most head units are set to 12-14V output, which matches the input of the alpine Amp, why am I being told most head units aren't compatible with the alpine amp? Is it because the preferred connection method is RCA/line, or have I missed something?
Also if not using the RCA outputs, what outputs are you using on the head unit to give 12-14V?
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      10-02-2011, 12:26 PM   #663
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There is no RCA/Phono input, you will need to make a cable up with RCA one end (head unit) and bare wires the other end, then snip the cable you have going in now and solder your new cable to the bare ends.

Or if going speaker level just leave it as it is. It is wired at speaker/hi level at the moment.


The head unit will be off centre as the oem head unit you have now is off centre, the din section of it sits over to the left, just that the faceplate covers the whole gap, it is oversized so you would never know.
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      10-02-2011, 12:38 PM   #664
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Thanks for the clarification, so you're saying if I went down the RCA route, I'd have to go RCA to line?
If most head units are set to 12-14V output, which matches the input of the alpine Amp, why am I being told most head units aren't compatible with the alpine amp? Is it because the preferred connection method is RCA/line, or have I missed something?
Also if not using the RCA outputs, what outputs are you using on the head unit to give 12-14V?
I missed the replies on here before my previous reply.


Most head units are not set from 12-14v, but the BMW ones are, so the Alpine has been set to see this, however voltage is variable, as you up the volume the voltage increases.
Many Alpine head units can put out around 18v before they start to clip.
Some Pioneers can put out 20v.

However, just just don't turn it up as loud, you will be fine. But, you are then going Pre amp - amp - pre amp - power amp.
You are far better to use the head unit as a pre amp only to an amp without amplifying it twice. Sound quality wise

The head unit will not be the best sound wise amplified, it doesn't have the current to sound that great, hence why we use power amps and use the head as a pre amp only, for a nice clean signal into the power amp, then match the inputs to get the best sound quality possible, setting your gains between pre ad power and getting it spot on makes a massive difference to overall sound quality.
Set the input too low and you loose dynamics and sound stage, set them too high and it clips and can sound harsh.

Have a look at this......

http://mobile.jlaudio.com/support_pages.php?page_id=143

The Professional head unit is EQ'd to make the basic system sound better, however, it then is too loud at certain frequencies for the Alpine amp, hence why you can code later versions to flatten it all out, it is then right for the amp, and sounds so much better.





Regarding coding etc
Without the OEM head unit in the car the system throws a wobbly and so you can't talk to the car, so you have two choices, either keep the factory head unit so you can plug it back in if needed, or wire it up so it has power and can + and - and hide it in the boot.

The third option is to get someone to delete your radio completely from your vehicle order, so when it gets plugged into BMW or any diagnosis machine it will play ball.
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      10-02-2011, 01:24 PM   #665
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Originally Posted by gIzzE View Post
I missed the replies on here before my previous reply.


Most head units are not set from 12-14v, but the BMW ones are, so the Alpine has been set to see this, however voltage is variable, as you up the volume the voltage increases.
Many Alpine head units can put out around 18v before they start to clip.
Some Pioneers can put out 20v.

However, just just don't turn it up as loud, you will be fine. But, you are then going Pre amp - amp - pre amp - power amp.
You are far better to use the head unit as a pre amp only to an amp without amplifying it twice. Sound quality wise

The head unit will not be the best sound wise amplified, it doesn't have the current to sound that great, hence why we use power amps and use the head as a pre amp only, for a nice clean signal into the power amp, then match the inputs to get the best sound quality possible, setting your gains between pre ad power and getting it spot on makes a massive difference to overall sound quality.
Set the input too low and you loose dynamics and sound stage, set them too high and it clips and can sound harsh.

Have a look at this......

http://mobile.jlaudio.com/support_pages.php?page_id=143

The Professional head unit is EQ'd to make the basic system sound better, however, it then is too loud at certain frequencies for the Alpine amp, hence why you can code later versions to flatten it all out, it is then right for the amp, and sounds so much better.





Regarding coding etc
Without the OEM head unit in the car the system throws a wobbly and so you can't talk to the car, so you have two choices, either keep the factory head unit so you can plug it back in if needed, or wire it up so it has power and can + and - and hide it in the boot.

The third option is to get someone to delete your radio completely from your vehicle order, so when it gets plugged into BMW or any diagnosis machine it will play ball.
Thanks for explanation. You mention that the professional system is EQ'd, but mine is the box standard business system is this also EQ'd. Does the business head unit have the same coding issues and so my car won't talk to the diagnostic kits without it?

I've found this thread fascinating as I knew/know nothing about this. I understand about how you have to balance the input to the output, and balance EQ's etc but I'm still confused as to what you mean when you say "leave it at speaker level". Would it possible to explain in complete numpty terms what you mean by this please, and also what outputs/inputs you use to wire it a 'speaker level'?

With regards to the centralisation of the single DIN, why is it single DINs are off centre but Double are central? Is it not possible to replace the whole single DIN housing with a central one? I have seen it centred, see below.




It seems as though there's a lot of negatives against getting an aftermarket head unit in an E9x BMW, without taking into account the problem with the Alpine Amp. There's the question mark against warranty, coding issues, and the centralisation of a single DIN, should I choose to go this route. The iphone station is looking a better and better option. It's such a shame they aren't going to mount it better.
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      10-02-2011, 02:44 PM   #666
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Thanks for explanation. You mention that the professional system is EQ'd, but mine is the box standard business system is this also EQ'd. Does the business head unit have the same coding issues and so my car won't talk to the diagnostic kits without it?
Not EQ'd but will still have issues.
The diagnostic systems used on these new vehicles first scan a file called a vehicle order, it tells it what options are fitted and then checks that all units are up to date so they can talk to each other, however, as soon as it can't talk to your radio (cause it is not there) it will not go any further.


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I've found this thread fascinating as I knew/know nothing about this. I understand about how you have to balance the input to the output, and balance EQ's etc but I'm still confused as to what you mean when you say "leave it at speaker level". Would it possible to explain in complete numpty terms what you mean by this please, and also what outputs/inputs you use to wire it a 'speaker level'?
Speaker level is simply that, the wires going to your speakers.
With the Alpine they are now going to the amp, and then new wires to the speakers.

Speaker level is also called Hi-Level, usually call it that when going to an amp.

Low level or Line level is a pre output, pre amplified level that you send between pre amp and power amp.

The speakers level is simply the cables coming out of your head unit.
The BMW radio can be coded in 4 ways.

Standard hi level to drive speakers direct. On the Professional unit this is EQ'd to take advantage of the fact there is no tweeters and to help raise the bass around 60hz as the mid woofers are small.

Coded for Alpine (professional only) the EQ is removed so the response is flat.
Not sure how much they drop the voltage by, but it is lowered slightly. Probably from 15v max down to 12v max.

Hi-Fi - This is again using the speakers outputs but is sending a 5v balanced differential signal to the amp in the boot. It is a flat EQ curve and then the amp separates the bass and mids and adds its own EQ.
Some people code their factory head unit with this when adding an after market amp, it gives very good results.

Logic7/Top Hi-Fi/DSP/Harman Kardon/Individual - The head is coded so all signals are sent optically to an amp in the rear, like above the amp then does all the separation and DSP stuff. This also disables all analogue outputs.



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With regards to the centralisation of the single DIN, why is it single DINs are off centre but Double are central? Is it not possible to replace the whole single DIN housing with a central one? I have seen it centred, see below.



That is a part for the BMW branded Becker Indianapolis, it is central and comes with a new cage to fit behind the fascia, it was 115 and was discontinued 4 years ago when Becker stopped making the Indianapolis.
Shame as it is a nice looking fascia, however, it fits a Becker which goes into OEM slot with no cage, fitting an alpine, pioneer etc. leaves a small gap between the head unit and the fascia, so not as neat looking as that.


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It seems as though there's a lot of negatives against getting an aftermarket head unit in an E9x BMW, without taking into account the problem with the Alpine Amp. There's the question mark against warranty, coding issues, and the centralisation of a single DIN, should I choose to go this route. The iphone station is looking a better and better option. It's such a shame they aren't going to mount it better.
For me I would go double din. It is the neatest solution for these cars.
Get one with your usb, sd, bluetooth etc. all built in. They will match your interior illumination wise and will cover all bases.

I would argue though that a decent double din will sound as good if not better than the Alpine amp, so you may want to remove this and get 250 back towards the install. Worth considering.



Coding is something that everyone has to put up with. Just be prepared to swap it out when you take your car in.
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      10-02-2011, 03:16 PM   #667
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gIzzE thank you so much for taking the time to answer this and all my other questions in so much detail.
Just to clarify, if my system is running at speaker level are you saying that speaker wire is connecting the head unit to the amp, and then from the amp to the speakers so no RCAs are being used? If you have this type of connection why have RCA?

I gather from what you're saying about coding, everytime my car goes into the dealer, whether it be for a service or fault I'd have to swap the new unit out and put the OEM one back? As I'm not experienced enough, or dare risk doing it myself this could work out quite costly, and quite a hassle as I don't have an audio centre in my town.
You mention keeping the OEM one wired up and hidden in the boot, is this quite straight forward or complicated and therefore expensive? Would doing this cause any negative effects such as interfering with PDC or steering wheel controls?

Single DINs are now out for me as there's no way I'd want an off centered stereo
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      10-02-2011, 03:37 PM   #668
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gIzzE thank you so much for taking the time to answer this and all my other questions in so much detail.
Just to clarify, if my system is running at speaker level are you saying that speaker wire is connecting the head unit to the amp, and then from the amp to the speakers so no RCAs are being used? If you have this type of connection why have RCA?
RCA is just a connector, also known as Phono.

It is a phono socket and an RCA plug, but both get called the same thing.

The point is, if you change your head unit the superior line level, low level signal will be coming out of an RCA/Phono socket.
It is a better connector as it allows a nice chucky shielded cable, which is what you want when running in a car along with loads of other cables that could pick up noise. Hence why they use it.


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I gather from what you're saying about coding, everytime my car goes into the dealer, whether it be for a service or fault I'd have to swap the new unit out and put the OEM one back? As I'm not experienced enough, or dare risk doing it myself this could work out quite costly, and quite a hassle as I don't have an audio centre in my town.
You mention keeping the OEM one wired up and hidden in the boot, is this quite straight forward or complicated and therefore expensive? Would doing this cause any negative effects such as interfering with PDC or steering wheel controls?

Single DINs are now out for me as there's no way I'd want an off centered stereo

Forget relocating the head unit, you really need to know what the car does and all the issues for every situation by doing this along with adapters for aftermarket head units for steering wheel control and PDC etc.

This is a whole new issue and is only something I would attempt if you understand all these things and can do it all your self if you need to trouble shoot. No offence but I don't think it is an option for yourself.



Swapping the head unit is a 5 minute job, much better option.
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      10-02-2011, 03:48 PM   #669
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RCA is just a connector, also known as Phono.

It is a phono socket and an RCA plug, but both get called the same thing.

The point is, if you change your head unit the superior line level, low level signal will be coming out of an RCA/Phono socket.
It is a better connector as it allows a nice chucky shielded cable, which is what you want when running in a car along with loads of other cables that could pick up noise. Hence why they use it.





Forget relocating the head unit, you really need to know what the car does and all the issues for every situation by doing this along with adapters for aftermarket head units for steering wheel control and PDC etc.

This is a whole new issue and is only something I would attempt if you understand all these things and can do it all your self if you need to trouble shoot. No offence but I don't think it is an option for yourself.



Swapping the head unit is a 5 minute job, much better option.
Haha, I wouldn't dream of doing it myself but was wondering if it was straight forward for a dedicated audio centre?

The audio centre I went to said it was a couple of hours job to fit the new head unit, fascia, parking sensor, steering wheel control etc, I assume then once this is all installed to then swap and change between this and the OEM is much more straight forward? They don't charge labour for fitting if you buy the head unit from them so don't think they're blagging the installation time?
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      10-02-2011, 03:54 PM   #670
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Haha, I wouldn't dream of doing it myself but was wondering if it was straight forward for a dedicated audio centre?

The audio centre I went to said it was a couple of hours job to fit the new head unit, fascia, parking sensor, steering wheel control etc, I assume then once this is all installed to then swap and change between this and the OEM is much more straight forward? They don't charge labour for fitting if you buy the head unit from them so don't think they're blagging the installation time?

If you are going to use speaker level from the new head unit than it is more like 20 mins to fit all that, and then you have to run 12v permanent from the battery, which takes another 15 minutes odd.

Chenging back to factory.
The trim just pulls away and then you slide the radio out, undo it with the adapters and plug your oem one back in.
Then do the reverse when you get back.
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      10-03-2011, 08:39 AM   #671
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If you are going to use speaker level from the new head unit than it is more like 20 mins to fit all that, and then you have to run 12v permanent from the battery, which takes another 15 minutes odd.

Chenging back to factory.
The trim just pulls away and then you slide the radio out, undo it with the adapters and plug your oem one back in.
Then do the reverse when you get back.
Thanks, you make it sound so easy I'm sure I could manage the speaker wires, but I'm not sure I could wire in the power cable, unless this is just a plug in the back?

I'm not sure I have confidence in my local audio centres now after 'speaking' to you. One centre is trying to sell me rear speakers and a separate amp to power these, as well as the head unit. Also they are the ones that said the air duct would need cutting for a double din.

The other audio centre said this when I asked how much they'd charge to swap the OEM system back in if I took the car for a service etc.

"Changing the headunit will not affect the vehicle diagnostics all that it will show is no factory set present"

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      10-03-2011, 08:43 AM   #672
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Alpine upgrade all fitted and working thanks gizze, I'll get the coding done next time I'm passing the dealers but even without it's a lot better than stock
Took me all day to do but i was determined to do it properly, money well spent IMHO
Thanks again for you help, you're a top bloke
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      10-03-2011, 09:23 AM   #673
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Thanks, you make it sound so easy I'm sure I could manage the speaker wires, but I'm not sure I could wire in the power cable, unless this is just a plug in the back?

I'm not sure I have confidence in my local audio centres now after 'speaking' to you. One centre is trying to sell me rear speakers and a separate amp to power these, as well as the head unit. Also they are the ones that said the air duct would need cutting for a double din.

The other audio centre said this when I asked how much they'd charge to swap the OEM system back in if I took the car for a service etc.

"Changing the headunit will not affect the vehicle diagnostics all that it will show is no factory set present"

Clarification from BMW; the head unit will not affect the diagnostics of the car so would not affect routine servicing and maintenance. However, should the car need reprogramming for any reason, such as to rectify a fault or after a fault has been fixed, then the old OEM unit would need to be reinstalled.

It appears that once again I have got my brain all in a twist and confused reprogramming with diagnostics

Last edited by snerkler; 10-03-2011 at 09:51 AM.
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      10-03-2011, 02:24 PM   #674
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Clarification from BMW; the head unit will not affect the diagnostics of the car so would not affect routine servicing and maintenance. However, should the car need reprogramming for any reason, such as to rectify a fault or after a fault has been fixed, then the old OEM unit would need to be reinstalled.

It appears that once again I have got my brain all in a twist and confused reprogramming with diagnostics
It depends where the fault is, and if it is logged or has to be found during a scan.
Problem is BMWs answer to everything is update the CIP (cars software) to make sure everything is up to date before going further, so it is a bit of a catch 22.


Just keep your oem radio handy, and swap out if you have any major issues.
It is not that big a deal.
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      10-03-2011, 02:26 PM   #675
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Alpine upgrade all fitted and working thanks gizze, I'll get the coding done next time I'm passing the dealers but even without it's a lot better than stock
Took me all day to do but i was determined to do it properly, money well spent IMHO
Thanks again for you help, you're a top bloke
No problem, but do get it coded asap.

You want to set treble to -6 and bass to around -2 whilst fading to the rear by 6 as well till you get it coded. This will help take the peaks in the frequency range that are in there at the moment.
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      10-03-2011, 02:27 PM   #676
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Thanks, you make it sound so easy I'm sure I could manage the speaker wires, but I'm not sure I could wire in the power cable, unless this is just a plug in the back?

I'm not sure I have confidence in my local audio centres now after 'speaking' to you. One centre is trying to sell me rear speakers and a separate amp to power these, as well as the head unit. Also they are the ones that said the air duct would need cutting for a double din.

The other audio centre said this when I asked how much they'd charge to swap the OEM system back in if I took the car for a service etc.

"Changing the headunit will not affect the vehicle diagnostics all that it will show is no factory set present"


It would make more sense to use the second channels on the alpine to feed rear speakers and add a new amp for the subs.


Edit: Actually scrub that as the amp is filtered for above 125hz to fronts and below 125hz to subs.
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      10-03-2011, 02:30 PM   #677
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"Changing the headunit will not affect the vehicle diagnostics all that it will show is no factory set present"



This is wrong.

This has been discussed to death on these forums over the last 6 odd years.

Forget what the people at BMW tell you, they simply don't know as much as people on here that have been testing this stuff daily.
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      10-03-2011, 02:58 PM   #678
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This is wrong.

This has been discussed to death on these forums over the last 6 odd years.

Forget what the people at BMW tell you, they simply don't know as much as people on here that have been testing this stuff daily.
It was actually an audio centre that told me that not BMW, although BMW did kind of confirm this as they said that an aftermarket head unit will not affect general servicing etc. I assume the car is hooked up to the computer at some point during a service, if not only to update the service interval?
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      10-03-2011, 03:28 PM   #679
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No, it won't affect servicing, they just reset the service interval computer nothing more, everything else is hands on.
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      10-04-2011, 02:25 AM   #680
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No, it won't affect servicing, they just reset the service interval computer nothing more, everything else is hands on.
Cool, thanks. So as long as I don't have an issue with the car I won't have to swap the stereo back. I like those odds
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      10-04-2011, 05:54 AM   #681
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It would make more sense to use the second channels on the alpine to feed rear speakers and add a new amp for the subs.


Edit: Actually scrub that as the amp is filtered for above 125hz to fronts and below 125hz to subs.
gIzzE - can the filters be altered on the amp internally?

Also what is the feasibility of adding say an additional matched alpine amp and tying the 2 left sub channels and 2 right sub channels together and powering a pair of sws's?
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      10-04-2011, 08:23 AM   #682
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Hi All,
Last weekend I’ve installed Alpine hifi kin in my E90 LCI (03/09 build, so cut-trough install). I have followed instruction in pdf exactly and after 1.5 days work it was finally done. But now I have some doubts about crossover thingy on mid range door speaker. I read on this forum that labeling of frequency switch could be wrong. I have SA606 business navigation in the car and navigation voice comes only though tweeters and is really in high frequency. Same goes with fader, if it set to front then voice comes though tweeters and little bit of bass. Do I need to let BMW re-code, or it’s just a matter to play with frequency switch connectors? Has anybody have a diagram how frequency switch should be installed?
P.S. Sorry for my English. I’m not a native speaker.
-=MrG=- is offline  
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