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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > AUDIO/VIDEO + BLUETOOTH + Electronics/Alarm/Software > Stereo Upgrade - Thanks to this Community!



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      09-04-2011, 01:33 PM   #1
dmatre
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Stereo Upgrade - Thanks to this Community!

First, forgive the log post, but I don't know how to do this any shorter.

Second, I would like to thank the many members of the E90 community who posted their experiences and wisdom in this section. Especially thanks to VPElectricity, Technic, Tuhujoho, azwillnj, Ferrucio, Hot Toddy, Rich335d, B-737, and many others. Their reviews and experiences took a lot of the guess-work out of my search. Their DIY's were well-written, well-photographed, and spot-on, and made my own installation stress- and trouble-free.

I was not satisfied with the original (Professional Hi-Fi) stereo in my car, so I started to look around town, and to search the forums. I was looking for better sound, without changing the head unit, and without cutting anything in the car.

Around town, it seemed that I couldn't find anyone with a great experience locally, so I started to search the web.

From the web research, there were two real options:
1) BSW's kit
2) MusicarNW's kit

Because the BSW kit was limited by the fact that upgrading the amplifier is not permitted, I decided to go with the MusicarNWsystem.

After talking with Ken by phone, I decided to go with the 'Level 1' system, but to upgrade the doors to the Morel Dotech 4's, and the subs to Jenhert. I placed my order and waited for the delivery. Ken was also able to recommend a highly-regarded local installer to make the installation - which was another benefit for me.

During the wait, I started searching this forum to find out just what was involved in putting in the system. Because of the fantastic DIY's provided by many of the above-named people, I thought that I would try to do the install myself - and if I found I was over my head I would carry a box of pieces to the professional and throw wads of money at him, hoping he could put it all back together again....

When the delivery arrived, I opened it to see what was what, and I was pleasantly surprised. MusicarNW had pre-wired the crossovers, the subs, and the amplifier, and all cables had connectors that fit the factory connections. No cutting/splicing/soldering required. The only connection that was not already terminated was the power feed to the amplifier, which had to be run through the bracing under the rear deck lid - but the amplifier even came with an allen wrench for making this connection. Not only was everything pre-wired, but the crossovers and the amplifier were already set-up with the correct adjustments, so no reading of technical literature was required.

Following the DIY's for removing the door panels, I swapped out both doors in about 2 hours (1:30 for the first door - taking it slow & easy, 30 minutes for the 2nd door). Everything fit in the factory locations, using the factory mounting hardware, except the crossovers, and those were mounted inside the door panels using adhesive-backed velcro. No fabrication, no fuss, no muss.

The replacement of the subs came next, and this took just 1 hour for both, about 30 minutes each. This job is also well-documented in the DIY section, and was not difficult at all.

Finally, the amplifer replacement took about 90 minutes, and most of that was simply taking my time while running the power cable from the battery to the amplifier (again, this is covered in a DIY here).

Some quick tips for anyone doing a similar install:
- Buy a proper set of trim removal tools (Harbor Freight has a set for <$10), they make the trim and door panel removal effortless and damage-free
- Roll down the windows, unlock the doors, and remove the seat rail bolts prior to disconnecting the battery
- Do one door (completely) at a time, so that when you are re-installing the window trim, you will have a reference to look at.
- It is NOT necessary to remove the seats from the car, or to disconnect the electrical harness from the seat. If you have a friend to hold the seat back, it is possible to remove the subs with the seat still in the car. This eliminates the possibility of damaging the seat or the interior of the car, while wrestling the seat out through the door. (NOTE: Still be sure to disconnect the battery, just in case you accidentally pull the seat wiring harness loose)
- Before installing the subs in the boxes, thread all 4 screws through the provided washers and into the plastic spacer (also provided with the MusicarNW kit). It is much easier to start all of the screws when you can manipulate the spacer, rather than trying to start the screws when the spacer & sub are already in the box.

Finally, the time came to reconnect the battery and listen to the difference.

Upon reconnecting the battery and starting the car, no smoke was observed - a good start. Then I put in a CD and adjusted the amplifier gains (again, Ken was right-on with his settings; I had to slightly tweak one pair of inputs slightly, but not a lot). Immediately it was evident that the sound was far better than stock. Compared to the MusicarNW system, the factory sound is far brighter, far harsher, and at the same time, far muddier.

The Level 1 system (with the selected upgrades) now has a depth and texture that wasn't apparent at all in the factory system. Vocals are crystal clear. The music has far more depth to it. The bass is much stronger and cleaner than factory, and is more uniform. The factory system seemed to either have not enough or far too much, depending on the music; and had an annoying (non-musical) 'thump' or 'boom' with drum beats. The new system has more than enough power to be heard clearly when driving on grooved or textured concrete, and doesn't get harsher as the volume is turned louder.

For those who like hip-hop, rap, or techno, the bass does fall off in the very low range, so adding a trunk-sub (which I may do in the future) would make the system completely perfect. (or maybe use the SWS-8s) But for 99% of my listening, there's no perceived loss.

In short, I'm extremely happy with the results. The fact that I saved the installation costs is an unexpected bonus. Having every wire pre-terminated saved not only the time, but the aggravation of looking up which wire goes where, and having to toil through that drudgery.

To anyone looking to upgrade their sound system, while retaining the stock appearance (and the ability to revert to stock); I highly recommend contacting Ken at MusicarNorthWest (VPElectricity here).

His expertise, his products, his preparation, and his advice are all first-rate; and are greatly appreciated.

Thanks again to all!
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      09-04-2011, 02:49 PM   #2
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Which amp did you get?

Which amp did you get?
Did you leave the rear OEM dissonnected as per VP?
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      09-04-2011, 03:15 PM   #3
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The amp is a JL 600/6.
The rears aren't disconnected, but the gains are set so that they are almost not heard from the front (with the fader at '0').

I had noted VP's insistence that rear speakers were the work of the devil, but all of the posts I saw mentioned tuning them down, rather than eliminating them completely. (I probably missed a few)
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      09-04-2011, 05:10 PM   #4
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Rear speakers when used with a processor like the ms-8 sound great
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      09-05-2011, 02:10 AM   #5
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install sounds great. looking at doing some thing very similar to my 2011 E90 320d.

quick question, how is the amp wired up?
what did you do with the 6 channels?

4", tweeter & underseat subs all active?
or
4" & tweeter passive running ch 1 & 2. Underseat subs ch 3 & 4, what did you do with the other 2 ch's?

Thx in advance.
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      09-05-2011, 05:58 AM   #6
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To be honest, I didn't wire up the amp - I removed the factory amp, installed the new amp in the factory location, and connected the pre-wired harness to the factory connector. (I did run the power cables, but that's only 2 big wires, and they connect Red-to-Red and Black-to-Black... hard to screw that up).

The 6 channels are driving:
1/2 Door speakers - 4" woofer, passive crossover, tweeters
3/4 Rear deck speakers - gains turned down so barely audible (fill only)
5/6 Underseat subs

As I am truly not a 'subject-matter expert', I'd recommend emailing or calling Ken at MusicarNW.

I'm not an audio guru, but I like good sound. I did some research, found a system that many others raved about, and purchased it. Having everything pre-wired was what changed my mind about doing the install myself rather than paying a professional to do it. After reading & printing the many DIYs here, the install appeared to be within my abilities - and it was.

Hopefully, my experience can help others improve their audio systems, as I was helped by the great members of this forum. The difference is remarkable, and is better than I would have was possible without also changing the head unit.

Good luck with your setup!
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      09-05-2011, 09:46 AM   #7
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WoooHooo!! awesome write up!!!
sweet choice on the Morels! i would love to hear those.

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      09-05-2011, 11:58 AM   #8
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How did you mount your Amp

Velcro again ?
I would assume it went in the same space as the original?
Did Vp try to suggest other amps if so which ?
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      09-05-2011, 12:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctuna View Post
Velcro again ?
I would assume it went in the same space as the original?
Did Vp try to suggest other amps if so which ?
To be honest, I don't know where the original crossover was. I mounted the new one in the same place as was shown in one of the DIY's - at the lower, rear of the door panel. I guess I just didn't pay a lot of attention looking at the inside of the door panels - I was spending more time looking at my printouts of the DIY's, to make sure that I didn't screw something up...

VP didn't suggest any other amps.

We discussed what I was looking for, and what he could offer as a 'kit' that would fit my needs and my budget. And that was that. I went out on a limb a bit, not being anywhere near the West Coast, with no way to follow up if there were problems - but in all of the threads I researched, nobody had any complaints about the quality of the sound, the parts, or the service - so I felt reasonably confident pulling the trigger.
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      09-05-2011, 12:49 PM   #10
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So you Velcroed the Amp?

So you Velcroed the Amp in the Hi Fi location?
Others suggest this as a solution.
It wasn't clear in the last reply.
Thanks for the reply by the way.
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      09-05-2011, 02:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctuna View Post
So you Velcroed the Amp in the Hi Fi location?
Others suggest this as a solution.
It wasn't clear in the last reply.
Thanks for the reply by the way.
Yes, I did velcro the amp to the floor in the factory Hi-Fi location.
I tried to make it work with the factory mounting bracket, but the amp was too high, and the CD case cover wouldn't fit correctly.
So, I removed the factory amplifier bracketry and used some extra adhesive-backed Velcro to mount the amp to the floor.
(not elegant, but functional)
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      09-05-2011, 06:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmarei View Post
Rear speakers when used with a processor like the ms-8 sound great
Rear speakers are a g_______d Commie plot.

Just thought I'd establish the two ends of the spectrum
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      09-05-2011, 06:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctuna View Post
Velcro again ?
I would assume it went in the same space as the original?
Did Vp try to suggest other amps if so which ?
We have developed the packages where we have one amp identified which works and fits, and the speakers are the option that you can move around. Since we have like 6 permutations per car, we are trying to keep that number from exploding
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      09-05-2011, 06:30 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattex View Post
install sounds great. looking at doing some thing very similar to my 2011 E90 320d.

quick question, how is the amp wired up?
what did you do with the 6 channels?

4", tweeter & underseat subs all active?
or
4" & tweeter passive running ch 1 & 2. Underseat subs ch 3 & 4, what did you do with the other 2 ch's?

Thx in advance.
The amp is wired up beautifully

Front/rear/non-fading bass. 1/2 F 3/4 R 5/6 U/S

We preconfigured the xovers and the inputs settings, but we leave the gain for setting in the field.

Technically, ctuna, we did make other recommendations (or we usually do) in that we have three levels of upgrade and this was our first level (although with some upgrades).

I really appreciate the review, because we've had a lot of customers for these packages lately, but most clients aren't posters, and so we didn't have a review. Thanks to the OP for the very nice write up.

The next thing we want to add to the kit is a precut amp mounting board.
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      09-05-2011, 07:55 PM   #15
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Excellent review! I, too, recently purchased the Level 1 kit from VP as well. Also, opted for the Morel upgrade, but stayed with the SWS woofers as I prefer Hip-Hop and Techno music. Just got back from vacation and managed to get the amp wired and tested, using only the factory speakers and just the amp alone makes quite a difference. If I didn't know any better, I would swear that someone changed the speakers! Hoping to get around to changing out the fronts and under seat subs in the coming days. I've been itching to do this for a while and after speaking with Ken and reading reviews such as this, I'm almost giddy with excitement!
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      09-05-2011, 08:38 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VP Electricity View Post
Rear speakers are a g_______d Commie plot.

Just thought I'd establish the two ends of the spectrum
I never knew you felt that way
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