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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > AUDIO/VIDEO + BLUETOOTH + Electronics/Alarm/Software > Focal vs Stage 1 (my 2 cents)



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      01-18-2016, 12:10 AM   #1
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Focal vs Stage 1 (my 2 cents)

I am currently driving the fifth BMW I have owned during 25 years. I had always installed, modified and completely changed their sound systems myself. I created some quite impressive sounding systems in all of them, until I got a 2000 3-Series, which had a Harman Kardon Premium sound system. It was the best factory system I have ever heard, so except for adding a true aux input, I left it alone and thoroughly enjoyed it. In March, I got a super clean 2011 E90, which had a Standard Hi-Fi system. The HK had set a bar, and when buying this last car, I knew I would hate the sound before I switched it on. I was still disappointed that it was worse than expected. It was harsh and shrill, completely missing the lower-mid ranges and some vocal frequencies. The sub-woofers aren't terrible, but are not helping in the upper-lows.
I read and heard enough good things to first try a full set of factory-fit Focal Speakers, with pairs of tweeters and mids for the upper front doors and a pair of mids for the rear deck. I finished the install in the right side door and started to compare them. Not so good. I installed one in the rear deck, and did another comparison. I swapped the rear deck speakers and compared again, right to left, front to back, and all four points around using different music and even a frequency generator. The Focals were, of course, were much cleaner in the highs and had some better characteristics throughout their range, but they had a barely noticeable better lower-mid, and I thought the vocals had such a shallow lack of presence compared to even the factory speakers. I was disappointed, but had no trouble returning the Focals.

I bought a full set of BAVSOUND Stage One speakers, which also included a pair of oval-flange tweeters that are easy to add next to their rear deck speakers under the factory grill, for much less money than the Focal speakers I was returning. But it wasn't about the money. I rejected the Focal speakers to search for a better sounding option, and was now more skeptical. The Stage 1 drivers had a better, and actually perfect fit, and much better connectors that truly mated the factory ones. I did the installation the same as before, comparing along the way, but I could tell right away that this was going to be a huge improvement. The Stage 1 tweeters are silky bright and clean but don't sting, and overall the system is smoother throughout its range with some added mid-bass punch, and great presence in the vocals. I really like these speakers.
This BMW factory design lacks upper-bottom and lower-mid sounds. They just should have made the holes for a 5-6" speaker in the lower front doors, or foot well, panels. It had certainly worked well before.
BAVSOUND says their new Ghost subwoofers, which should be easy to swap in under the front seats, can reach up to help fill this void. Since they were right about what they said, and I like the Stage 1 upgrade, I will trust them enough to probably try their woofers.

But, after reading so much about this in these forums, I am thinking more about trying the JL Audio XD600/6, first. Guess I'll need to reach out to Technic?
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      01-20-2016, 07:41 PM   #2
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Thank you for this assessment. You have saved me money.
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      01-20-2016, 09:08 PM   #3
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If you are thinking of speakers

If you are thinking of speakers and adding an amp.
Morels , Jehnerts ,Gladens, Rainbow may give you more
of a quality sound for your Bucks.
Jehnerts are pretty popular here for a balanced across the
board sound.
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      01-22-2016, 01:43 PM   #4
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I think the Bavsound ST1 are meant to be driving off the factory HU/amp but Focals or Jenhert or something along those lines would require adding an amp.
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      01-22-2016, 02:20 PM   #5
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Which is why which system you have is important

Which is why which system you have is important
when going for a speaker upgrade. Because only the L7
has an amplifier that will do a good job with some of
the new plug and play speaker sets.
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      01-22-2016, 09:24 PM   #6
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instead of just adding a xd600 you may want to add one of the Helix/Match DSP/Amp combo units. given that you have done so many systems, I think you will enjoy the SQ and adjustability that the DSP offers and with the new units and their harnesses, they are basically plug and play
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      01-25-2016, 01:00 PM   #7
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I thought I might chime in since I have the hi-fi system in my E90 and upgraded to the JL600/6 last year after much reading on here, but kept the stocks speakers.

I was looking for a modest improvement, mostly in the lower range which is the worse part of the hi-fi system IMO. I wanted a little more punch from the underseats and the JL600/6 budget solution gave me just that (with a Technic harness). I went that route since almost everyone agree that the amp is the first weak link to upgrade. From there, if you think you want more power/clarity, you have enough power to drive aftermarket speakers.

Fast forward to today, if I were to do it again, I would consider the Helix DSP before the JL600/6 for flexibility, but it could lack power if you are to add speakers down the road.

Next step is adding MBQuart kit, but I'm not sure if the improvement would be worth it...or if I really need it

Last edited by Rick328; 01-25-2016 at 05:48 PM.
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      04-02-2016, 04:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick328 View Post
I thought I might chime in since I have the hi-fi system in my E90 and upgraded to the JL600/6 last year after much reading on here, but kept the stocks speakers.

I was looking for a modest improvement, mostly in the lower range which is the worse part of the hi-fi system IMO. I wanted a little more punch from the underseats and the JL600/6 budget solution gave me just that (with a Technic harness). I went that route since almost everyone agree that the amp is the first weak link to upgrade. From there, if you think you want more power/clarity, you have enough power to drive aftermarket speakers.

Fast forward to today, if I were to do it again, I would consider the Helix DSP before the JL600/6 for flexibility, but it could lack power if you are to add speakers down the road.

Next step is adding MBQuart kit, but I'm not sure if the improvement would be worth it...or if I really need it

Hi Rick,
So just changing your amp first substantially bright to life the rest of your hifi system ? I also have a hifi in my 2011- would you recommend te JL600 amp still?
Any functionality loss going with this amp ? How was the install (trunk?)
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      04-02-2016, 05:54 PM   #9
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Jl 600/6 is an easy install with a technic harness

Jl 600/6 is an easy install with a technic harness
Running the power wires is the hardest part.

The Helix 82 DSP offers greater control of the sound
though.

http://www.e90post.com/forums/attach...3&d=1329017429

Last edited by ctuna; 04-02-2016 at 08:36 PM.
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      04-02-2016, 06:25 PM   #10
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C tuna why would power wires need to be run, Aren't they there from the factory amp?
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      04-02-2016, 08:34 PM   #11
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if you put in and aftermarket amp and you want

if you put in and aftermarket amp and you want
to do it properly . You need to run some big power wires
to the battery . Look at my install procedure . This is true of
any aftermarket amp in any car . Its not that hard it just requires
some work.
The factory wires are small and could overheat or limit the current
and blow power driving them.
I believe the Bimmertech kit runs off the factory wiring but its
for convenience not really the best way to do it.
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      04-03-2016, 05:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herakles
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick328 View Post
I thought I might chime in since I have the hi-fi system in my E90 and upgraded to the JL600/6 last year after much reading on here, but kept the stocks speakers.

I was looking for a modest improvement, mostly in the lower range which is the worse part of the hi-fi system IMO. I wanted a little more punch from the underseats and the JL600/6 budget solution gave me just that (with a Technic harness). I went that route since almost everyone agree that the amp is the first weak link to upgrade. From there, if you think you want more power/clarity, you have enough power to drive aftermarket speakers.

Fast forward to today, if I were to do it again, I would consider the Helix DSP before the JL600/6 for flexibility, but it could lack power if you are to add speakers down the road.

Next step is adding MBQuart kit, but I'm not sure if the improvement would be worth it...or if I really need it

Hi Rick,
So just changing your amp first substantially bright to life the rest of your hifi system ? I also have a hifi in my 2011- would you recommend te JL600 amp still?
Any functionality loss going with this amp ? How was the install (trunk?)
Looks like ctuna summed it up pretty much! Thanks to him, a very knowledgeable guy in the audio section.

Herakles, JL600/6 is the perfect drop-in for a DIYer on a budget looking to boost the bass and a little more clarity. But on OEM speakers, one can only hope for so much improvement... No downside IMO, all functionnality are retained.

Good luck
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      04-03-2016, 05:44 PM   #13
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Thanks Rick - I'm gonna go visit a reputable audio shop and see what he can do and how much for install

Amp, speakers, subs -

Where can I get technics harness ?

Last edited by Herakles; 04-03-2016 at 05:56 PM.
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      04-03-2016, 08:30 PM   #14
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FYI

http://www.technicpnp.com/product_pu...E90-92-93.html

Also most auto stereo shops do not know how to do
a BMW correctly. They may end up trying to sell you what they
stock . If you don't want your car screwed up you or an expensive
bill for something that doesn't satisfy
best follow the guidelines on this board.

Unexpected Creation in New Jersey would be the recamended place for
the upper East Coast.

Last edited by ctuna; 04-03-2016 at 08:36 PM.
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      04-03-2016, 08:58 PM   #15
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Says here you would lose aux Sirius and Bluetooth ?

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      04-03-2016, 10:40 PM   #16
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No you won't and I don't see where it says that.

No you won't and I don't see where it says that.
In a Hi Fi setup the amp only gets simple analog connections
The bluetooth and aux come from a separate module in most
cars before 2010 and at some point directly from the radio .
The only difference is that amp it gets all the same signals and
doesn't disturb anything else. Also that guy routing on the power
wire has the problem that the carpet won't go flush and is a bad
place to have it in case of a rearender.

I have done this and nothing happened to my bluetooth or aux.
Lots of people have done this here and there has not been one
instance of loss of bluetooth or aux due to a Hi Fi amp change.
The modules that do the bluetooth and aux are located in a different
position and communicate over a fiberoptic interface that you are
not messing with when changing the amp.
If someone told you this they don't know your car or what they
are talking about.


BMW stereo types
http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=352586
http://www.e90post.com/forums/attach...2&d=1266451970
http://www.e90post.com/forums/attach...2&d=1260829447
http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=343673
http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=138949
http://www.e90post.com/forums/attach...1&d=1209780605
http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=641323
http://bmwcoders.com/forum/3-er-8/bm...1-e92-e93-291/
http://www.e90post.com/forums/attach...1&d=1209780865
http://technicpnp.com/menuDiagrams/d...e90_92_93.html
electical e90 pdf
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...,d.cGU&cad=rja
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...85464276,d.cGU
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...85464276,d.cGU
http://www.musicarnw.com/page-2/
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=903551
http://www.e90post.com/forums/attach...4&d=1278871872

If you go to an aftermarket head unit you will loose the bmw bluetooth
and satellite and have a whole set of other problems.

Last edited by ctuna; 04-03-2016 at 10:57 PM.
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      04-04-2016, 11:12 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctuna View Post
No you won't and I don't see where it says that.
In a Hi Fi setup the amp only gets simple analog connections
The bluetooth and aux come from a separate module in most
cars before 2010 and at some point directly from the radio .
The only difference is that amp it gets all the same signals and
doesn't disturb anything else. Also that guy routing on the power
wire has the problem that the carpet won't go flush and is a bad
place to have it in case of a rearender.

I have done this and nothing happened to my bluetooth or aux.
Lots of people have done this here and there has not been one
instance of loss of bluetooth or aux due to a Hi Fi amp change.
The modules that do the bluetooth and aux are located in a different
position and communicate over a fiberoptic interface that you are
not messing with when changing the amp.
If someone told you this they don't know your car or what they
are talking about.


BMW stereo types
http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=352586
http://www.e90post.com/forums/attach...2&d=1266451970
http://www.e90post.com/forums/attach...2&d=1260829447
http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=343673
http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=138949
http://www.e90post.com/forums/attach...1&d=1209780605
http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=641323
http://bmwcoders.com/forum/3-er-8/bm...1-e92-e93-291/
http://www.e90post.com/forums/attach...1&d=1209780865
http://technicpnp.com/menuDiagrams/d...e90_92_93.html
electical e90 pdf
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...,d.cGU&cad=rja
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...85464276,d.cGU
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...85464276,d.cGU
http://www.musicarnw.com/page-2/
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=903551
http://www.e90post.com/forums/attach...4&d=1278871872

If you go to an aftermarket head unit you will loose the bmw bluetooth
and satellite and have a whole set of other problems.

Thanks Ctuna- if you read the comments the guy doing the install said it! so if concerned me and wanted to share/ confirm.. its a reply actually to one of my comments.
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