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      03-20-2010, 04:01 PM   #1
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E92 Audio Upgrade Intro and Phase 1 - Vibe Litebox Stereo 4 Amplifier Install

Firstly, many thanks to gIzzE for providing guidance in terms of what options are available and what options to take with this project via PMs. I have come from an E46 and was and am perhaps somewhat concerned with the huge step forwards in terms of the complexity level of the latest generation range of BMW cars. However, thanks to gIzzE and other members of forums like this, it gave me the confidence to proceed with something which I may well have not bothered with and paid someone else to do. I am not as young as I was, so am hurting a little now after doing this job, but it will be worth it in the end, of that I am sure.

I bought my E92 335i a couple of weeks ago and while the car has lots and lots of options, a decent Hi-Fi was not specced, so it has the bog standard 6 speaker system, no amp, driven from the head unit.

Compared to the standard E46 system, it is better. However, it is obviously nowhere near good enough for anyone who likes listening to and being involved by music.

I therefore trawled through the forums and was looking to perhaps do the Alpine upgrade, which I think represents reasonable value when considering the price of the kit and is attractive because they supply a loom which makes it nice and easy. However, I was not entirely convinced by the fundementals of the Alpine amp supplied with the kit and was interested by the recent talk of the Vibe Litebox Amps.

Prerequisites:

1. Install must be completely stealth and car must continue to look factory.

2. Upgrade must be reversible. I have been known to change my cars on occassion, so I wanted something, that if it is good, can be transferred into another E92 and easily put back to standard the car that had the install.

I therefore forumulated a plan (with a lot of input from gIzzE), to implement a three phase upgrade to sort out the car audio.

Phase 1: Install Amplifier

Phase 2: Install Logic7 Tweeters

Phase 3: Install Earthquake SWS-8 subwoofers to replace BMW items

OK, so onto the First Phase:


Phase 1: Install Amplifier Instructions and Guidance Notes

I started at 09:00 this morning and finished at 18:30. I guess I went pretty slowly and was careful not to damage anything. The car still needs a couple of hours to be put back together in places (boot liner, rear seats, front seats fixing back in, mount amp, etc). I will do this tomorrow morning and tune optimise the amp settings at the same time.

Parts Checklist

1. Vibe Litebox Stereo 4 Amplifier (1nr) (http://www.audiorepaircentre.com/)

2. AWG8 Shark power cable red (6m) (Maplin - BZ92A)

3. AWG8 Shark power cable black (1m) (Maplin - BZ93B)

4. AWG8 Maplin red and black gold ring terminals for connecting onto battery and earth point for amplifier power (1 set) (Maplin - A42FL)

5. Insulated crimp terminal / bullet plugs (16nr) (Maplin - JH86T)

6. Insulated crimp terminal / bullet sockets (16nr) (Maplin - JH84F)

7. 79 strand speaker wire (22m) (Maplin - XR72P)

8. Wire cutters / wire strippers / insulated and non insulated connector and cable crimpers (1nr) (Local Motor Factors - Laser Tools 1336)

9. 4 rolls electrical tape - 4 colours. I used red (signal), green (midrange), black (subwoofer), yellow (to bond round all wires every 12 foot to make a 3 pair loom)

10. Inline hi-fi fuse (Maplin - DR84F)

11. Plastic or other thin material size of amp to mount amp onto as a base. Must be thin

12. Velcro to mount amp to base and then base to BMW LHS boot meccano assembly

Activity list / Guidance Notes

1. Remove boot floor trim - Lift out

2. Remove RHS boot liner trim - Remove fixings including stowage eye

3. Remove LHS boot liner trim - Remove fixings including stowage eye

4. Remove RHS / LHS sill / kick panel trim - Slide to the left and right and gently disengage the clips, to refit, remove clips from car body and insert them into trim, look carefully through and line them up with the holes, then press firmly home.

5. Remove RHS side / footwell kick panel - Unscrew bonnet release lever and remove. Unscrew screw beneath where bonnet release lever was, gently prise off panel.

6. Remove LHS side / footwell kick panel - No screws this side, gently prize it off. For reassembly, insert the plug type clips into the panel and then press home, as before looking through any gap to check plug alignment with hole in body.

7. Remove LHR and RHS rear seat base - Lift upwards at front, starting at corner and then work along.

8. Remove rear seat squab side panels - Pull outwards from side (with seat folder forward you are able to get your hand behind it to pull it outwards), when clips give, simply manipulate it downwards slightly from top trim and out.

9. Undo 4 seat bolts each side for each front seat - Put seat in forwards position as if allowing someone out from the rear of the car and tilt backwards. BE VERY CAREFUL not to overstress the wiring loom connecting to the bottom of the seat. You will probably have to adjust the seat so it can be tilted back and not stress the wiring loom too much.

10. Remove subwoofer speaker grilles - 6 screws and remove grille. I was expecting to see the smaller subs on my car with an adapter plate. However, my car has what look to be full size subs. No matter, because they are being swapped out shortly for better items.

11. Make up loom for LHS - around 3.5m per pair IIRC. Loom consists of 3 pair. Measure up and then cut one pair. Use this to cut the other 2 pair. Use the electrical tape and put a little bit round each pair every foot or so. Once you have done this, use the yellow tape to wrap round all 3 pairs every foot or so which creates the loom.

12. Make up loom for RHS - around 4.5m per pair IIRC. Follow procedure above for colour coding and looming together.

13. Run cables from amp - amp to be located withing RHS boot liner side panel, beneath arpeture for CD changer. You will need to remove the Meccano type metal rack to get the amp in the bottom of this. Loom cables for RHS and LHS along BMW cables in boot. Pass the LHS cable loom through the hole into the cabin the other cables are following. Follow the BMW cables all the way. You will need to remove the carpet around the rear side panel and then put your hand into the void beneath the seats, near to the floor the factory cables run in and pull your loom through. Use the yellow electrical tape to fix to the BMW loom every foot or so.

For the RHS, follow the same procedure, but cross over the boot with the BMW cables at the rear of the boot that go to the bluetooth module (if present). Go down and up the other side next to the lashing points BMW supply and join onto the BMW loom on the RHS of the boot.

Eventually, you will get the cables to around the middle of the door arpeture.

14. Interface into BMW loom - Locate the BMW wiring for the audio. It goes into a "connector" on either side of the car, which basically is just a bit of blue plastic which bonds together the signal from the head unit, the subwoofer input and the midrange speaker input.

On the RHS the wires are:

+ = BLUE/BLACK
- = BLUE/BROWN

On the LHS the wires are:

+ = BLUE/WHITE
- = BLUE/BROWN

You will have to trace the wire(s) which come out of the sub along the loom until you feel a slightly thicker bit of loom. Undo the BMW tape and you should see the blue plastic connectors. There is a nice bit of slack on all three pairs when you remove the tape at the point of the connector, which makes things much easier. On my car, on the RHS, the connector was not too far from the sub, probably around midway on the sill in the door arpeture. However, on the LHS the connector was almost at the front of the door and there were much more wires on the LHS, with other looms spurring off here and there, making it a little more tricky.

Use the bullets to interface the cables you have run for input from head unit, output sub and output midrange.

I pulled the cables apart, so I had three pairs. I then turned on the radio and worked out what was what. On my car, the wires going to the midrange speaker were much thinner than the wires from the headunit and those from the sub. I then put some electrical tape, matching the colours on my own loom on the BMW wiring.

15. Get power to the amp - Run the red power cable, with the inline fuse, from the battery. I used the terminal nearest towards the centre of the car. I then ran the cable round at a gentle 180 degree turn to go back towards the front of the car. I then turned 90 degrees again towards the side of the car and put my inline fuse here in the lower height area, next to the actual battery terminal. I used double sided tape to secure the fuse holder onto the top of the battery. I then continued my cable run up along the BMW loom on the RHS, down with the speaker cables to the RHS of the car, past the lashing point, across the boot and up the other side with all the rest, back down the the CD changer area.

I left the fuse OUT of the fuse holder, meaning I could work safely connecting everything up and running the cables. The last thing I did was to put the fuse in, which then put the power to the amp.

16. Get ground to the amp - There is a grounding point near to the amp install point. I used this.

17. Set up amp - I set front to high pass, around 120 Hz - Front channels then drive the mids and phase 2 install tweeters.

I set rear to low pass, around 130 Hz - Rear channels then drive the subs.

Gain to minimum

Bass boost to zero

Auto sense to on

Level input to high (head unit)

18. Connect everything to amp - I used the front channels to drive the midrange and soon to be installed tweeters. I used the rear channels for the subs. Vibe supply RCA plugs with bare wire ends in case you are using high level inputs. I put bullets on these. However, because there is front and rear channel inputs, I put two wires into each bullet. Front and rear L + for example went into a single bullet connector to be connected to my L+ from the BMW head unit.

19. Optimise - I am going to be doing this tomorrow so will report back.

However, it already sounds very, very good.

Amazing considering the size of this amp. The factory subs are distorting if I really push them, but this is the horrible noise of speaker distortion as the amp is able to drive the speaker to it's end stop!!

Sorry there are no photos, but it has been raining here horribly today and I therefore was not able to get the camera out.

Last edited by sniffer; 03-21-2010 at 04:21 PM.
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      03-20-2010, 05:11 PM   #2
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Wicked write up, it's a real shame you didn't manage to take any snaps though!!

Out of interest, did you buy the amp online from the store you linked to? 150 for that amp sounds like a bloody bargain!!

EDIT:

Surely phase 3 requires some modifications to fit the SWS-8 speakers in? I believe it involves cutting out some of the housing that holds the OEM units??
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      03-20-2010, 05:53 PM   #3
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Thanks.

I know, bummer about the photos, but it has been raining that horrible drizzly thin rain which soaks you all day; it was difficult stopping the bits and bobs in the car getting knackered. Will stick some photos up tomorrow of what I can.

Yes, I bought the amp from those guys. Apparantly the amp that I got has been used by Vibe for press shoots, etc and never even been switched on. It is certainly immaculate and looks that way. I would defo recommend them.

The SWS-8 install should be pretty easy. I will take pics and post up about that. From what I have read and what gIzzE has said;

I think I need to dremmel out the ribs at the bottom of the enclosure, get some foam from B and Q and stick this round the sub so it seals, then glue gun / silicone up the hole where the factory sub has a plug and thats it.

If I get the SWS-8 low enough I can put the factory grilles back on, which I really want to do or they will get knackered with rubbish from the floor of the car on them I am sure.
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      03-21-2010, 03:43 AM   #4
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You don't need to dremmel anything in the sub enclosures if you make or buy some spacers

there is a USA member that makes and sells a set, do a search for SWS8 and there's a thread
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      03-21-2010, 04:39 AM   #5
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Nice write up.
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      03-21-2010, 04:57 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MOB View Post
You don't need to dremmel anything in the sub enclosures if you make or buy some spacers

there is a USA member that makes and sells a set, do a search for SWS8 and there's a thread
But isnt it then not possible to refit the BMW grilles back on?
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      03-21-2010, 05:54 AM   #7
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Would you really need a full spacer that goes around the entire edge of the speaker or could you just use a spacing washer on each of the mounting points?
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      03-21-2010, 08:37 AM   #8
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You could, but the sws8's must be well sealed to sound good, and these spacers mean you don't have to use a load of sealant

the spacer kit from the usa come with spacers for the oem grilles so the fit ok
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      03-21-2010, 03:26 PM   #9
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OK, spent another couple of hours today tuning it up and putting the car back together.

Got some pics today too as the weather was nice here in London.

So, first pic shows tilting seat back out the way. Note I have been a little naughty here
and you can see the BMW loom from the car to the seat is being "pulled" which is bending
the bracket on the seat slightly.

Second pic, close up of subwoofer speaker grille fitted back and carpet back to normal on LHS
of car.

Third and fourth pic show rear seat area, RHS. You can see the BMW loom and then my own loom
with the yellow tape bonding it all together and then the different tape on each pair denoting either
signal from head unit, subwoofer or midrange power back from Litebox amp.
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Last edited by sniffer; 03-21-2010 at 04:00 PM.
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      03-21-2010, 03:39 PM   #10
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More photos:
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      03-21-2010, 03:46 PM   #11
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And some more . . . . .

Note BMW earth point on RHS rear wheel arch where I have taken the earth for the amp from.

Also note amp turned upside down and velcro mounted on either end. I am about to put the amp
into the bottom of the CD changer BMW meccano assembly on the LHS of the boot. The area of the
"meccano set" at the bottom is not big enough for the amp to allow it to sit up and a gap to be under
the fan, so I made a base which you can see out of some plastic I had lying around. I then fixed the
amp to the plastic with velcro and the plastic to the bottom of the maccano set. This allows the amp to
sit up above the plastic and have a gap to allow air to get into the fan.

This is a little amp for the power, so cooling needs to be a consideration, especially allowing the fan to do
it's thing!
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Last edited by sniffer; 03-21-2010 at 04:15 PM.
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      03-21-2010, 03:51 PM   #12
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And again:
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      03-21-2010, 03:55 PM   #13
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And finally:
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      03-21-2010, 04:13 PM   #14
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So what did we learn today?

The E92 boot liner is a lot more of a pain to get in and out than the E46!

Not sure I have set the amp gain up correctly. I used the method of using a multimeter. I calculated that I should be seeing 19V out each channel at 3/4 volume on the head unit (90W RMS per channel amp into 4 ohm).

Set it up with a 1000hz test tone. Turned off all crossover, etc. Got all 4 channels to around 19v. Put in a 50hz test tone and saw 26v, clearly too much.

The gain controls on this Vibe amp are highly sensitive!

Slightly concerned about temperature of amp. Went out for a drive (30 minutes of loudish music). Came back and put my fingers through the CD changer hole onto the amp and it was very warm. This is probably normal as it is tiny, but I am a little bit concerned by it at the moment.

System sounds really good. LHS subwoofer is blown I think. At high volume levels I can hear speaker clipping, which is a nasty noise. Cannot hear it from the RHS sub. . . .think either gain is slightly higher on LHS, or LHS woofer is damaged.

When I put my head in the middle of the car, it sounds balanced, so assume damaged LHS woofer.

Can anyone help with gain setting? There are 4 of them! One per channel. When I was setting it up, the tinyest movement would result in 3 or 4 volts change, so it took a while. Then when I changed the tone, it was all wrong. Doh!

I eventually just set them all at the same angle, which sounded good at 3/4 volume on head unit. By angle, I mean the angle of each gain screw on the amp looked the same. But if the gain controls are so sensitive that a tiny movement can change 2 or 3 volts output, could my gains all be different now meaning I am getting different volumes to each channel??
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      03-21-2010, 06:13 PM   #15
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The BMW headunit outputs 12v at around 80% volume, and then it clips, so I would set the front gains to minimum as this is 13v input, and then you will have to adjust the subs a liitle higher as they are not as senitive.

Hold on, did you split the front out to the two inputs or did the amp split the signal internally??
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      03-21-2010, 06:20 PM   #16
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I put the Vibe RCA inputs for FR and RR in parallel with the BMW Head Unit FR I tapped into at either sill area.

Does that makes sense?
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      03-21-2010, 06:26 PM   #17
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This is the procedure I used to set the gain on each channel of the Vibe amp.

http://www.soundsolutionsaudio.com/f...ain-t3704.html

I used the 1000hz to get them all to 19V AC. Then when I changed the test tone to 50hz, I got 26V AC.
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      03-21-2010, 07:14 PM   #18
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Yeah that is great if you don't know the output, however we do, and you need to set it to 13v which is the lowest setting on the amp.
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      03-22-2010, 05:39 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gIzzE View Post
Yeah that is great if you don't know the output, however we do, and you need to set it to 13v which is the lowest setting on the amp.
OK, I will set the gain up again at the weekend.

Something odd was that when I was setting the gain up using the linked procedure, it looked like the crossover was not working.

I would see the same sort of voltage output at the terminals of a rear channel, for example witht the 10000hz tone. The rear was set to low pass, with the crossover frequency at 13hz ish. I would not have expected to see any voltage there in this scenario.

Anyway, I then turned off all crossovers to set the gain up as the link.

Thanks again.
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      03-22-2010, 05:49 AM   #20
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Duplicate post.

Last edited by sniffer; 03-22-2010 at 07:08 AM.
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      03-22-2010, 08:28 AM   #21
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Hi. the amp WILL overheat I'd say.

To resolve the heat issues with my amps, albeit I had 3, I had to install 2 12cm CPU fans. One in the left wheel arch to "suck" air from the outside world, and one in the right wheel arch to pull it through. Nice little wind tunnel across the boot now

This is my boot:



I'll admit a little less "stock" than yours!! But you get the idea
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      04-01-2010, 04:49 PM   #22
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Lifted some pics which may be useful to people to understand what the BMW wiring connectors are which effectively fuse together head unit output, sub input and mid input:

You can see here:

1. The bulge in the BMW loom, which can be hard to find actually on the passenger side as there are many more cables here.

2. The BMW plastic cover for effectively three fused wires which just pulls off. You can see either + or - here for a front channel.

3. The seperated wires. Note the thinner one is the mid, or was in my case (2007 E92).
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