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      03-23-2012, 12:44 AM   #1
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Three step audio install on 2011 BMW 335i sedan with Hi-Fi System

I decided to do my audio install in 3 steps. The first reason was to acknowledge my time constraints. The second was to get a more accurate impression of the improvement brought on by each step. So my steps were:
  1. Install my new JL 600/6 amp with the OEM speaker system
    2. Install the new Morel Ovation II speakers and crossovers in the front doors
    3. Install new Jehnert 200 mm speakers in the underseat enclosures

So I will try to document my issues and results on a step-by step basis.

1. Amp install. I purchased a JL 600/6 amplifier new on ebay for approximately $380. I also purchased a wiring harness kit for $75 plus shipping. The install was easy with the only issue being why the harness did not have an additional foot of grounding cable so I could ground to the same point as the battery. Finally I accepted grounding onto the point on the LR fender. Not the ideal solution. In my experience, multiple grounding points only raise the probability of hum later on. The additional cost to be able to ground the power at the same location as the battery could not have exceeded $1.00.

Results in comparison to stock: Not much difference at all despite the higher quality amplification quality. The JL amp did afford the possibility to increase the gain to the underseat woofers, with some sonic improvement.

2. Install of Morel Hybrid Ovation II mids ,tweeters, and crossovers in the front doors. Price on Ebay was $449. $25 additional spent on wires/connectors to avoid cutting/splicing the BMW wiring. Install was a bit of a PITA finding a suitable location in the door panels for the crossovers. I had to solder a splice in the wiring to the mids and the tweeters, which surprised and disappointed me. Why not just make the lead wires a few inches longer? One issue was mounting adaptors for the 4 bolt Morel speakers on the factory 3 bolt mounts. After considering alternatives I spent $55 plus shipping to obtain machined aluminum adapters, and I am glad I did this. The results undoubtedly saved me a lot of time.

Results were great. Replacing the OEM speakers with the Hybrid Ovation II snapped the soundstage into focus and eliminated the fuzz. I was pretty happy with this for several weeks, and more-or-less forgot about the mid-bass.

3. A lot of work has been done with Kaigoss and others on the mid-bass support that can be expected from various speakers in the underseat enclosures. After a lot of review it appears that the Jehnert 8" mid-woofers are as good as it gets. What can I say, these speakers are pretty pricey for an 8" woofer, especially when you consider that you are not getting a cast frame construction in the deal. Reality is that the Jehnert looks fairly inexpensive to make, and it only has a 1 inch voice coil to boot.

I thought these speakers were pretty pricey in the US, but I would be able to get around this by purchasing them in Germany (where they are manufactured) or India. What I finally found out was that the purchase price in the US was as good as it gets, so I bought them here for $459 for the pair plus the spacers, delivered to my door. Cost of this step also includes $25 for wiring/plug adapters for the underseat woofers, to preclude cutting the BMW wiring harness. This makes step 3 marginally more expensive than step 1 or step 2. Results of Step 3 were less dramatic than step 2, to be truthful.

So TIC approaches $1500 with lots of my labor. Luckily, I work very cheap. The best bang for the buck was Step 2, but I do not have sufficient data to show how this would work using the stock amplifier in lieu of the JL 600/6.

I hope my observations are helpful to others trying to decide what must be done to improve the BMW Hi Fi system for acceptable listening. It is too bad that the improved components that I have installed are not BMW standard equipment.
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      03-23-2012, 05:28 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redz06 View Post
I decided to do my audio install in 3 steps. The first reason was to acknowledge my time constraints. The second was to get a more accurate impression of the improvement brought on by each step. So my steps were:
  1. Install my new JL 600/6 amp with the OEM speaker system
    2. Install the new Morel Ovation II speakers and crossovers in the front doors
    3. Install new Jehnert 200 mm speakers in the underseat enclosures

So I will try to document my issues and results on a step-by step basis.

1. Amp install. I purchased a JL 600/6 amplifier new on ebay for approximately $380. I also purchased a wiring harness kit for $75 plus shipping. The install was easy with the only issue being why the harness did not have an additional foot of grounding cable so I could ground to the same point as the battery. Finally I accepted grounding onto the point on the LR fender. Not the ideal solution. In my experience, multiple grounding points only raise the probability of hum later on. The additional cost to be able to ground the power at the same location as the battery could not have exceeded $1.00.
The OEM amp ground is located in that LR fender ground point, thus the 3ft length of the ground cable. No need to connect to the battery ground and no hum/hiss/whine.
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      03-23-2012, 09:55 PM   #3
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I'm just sayin"

Technic,
You're missing my point, which is to provide a better result than the OEM arrangement does.

I understand why BMW would ground the (dare I say crappy) OEM amplifier on the fender when the correct grounding point is a couple of feet away. Saving 0.25 Euro on ground cable for thousands of BMWs makes the bean-counters very,very happy. I just want to do a little better than what makes the bean-counters happy.

I could have done without the splices in the door connectors/leads as well. An extra foot of what, 16 gauge lead wire cost me another splice in each front door. All I'm sayin' is that there is still room for improvement, and 16 gauge wire is pretty cheap.

If I did not want something better than OEM, I just wasted $1500. If you do not like my free constructive feedback, I am OK with that as well.

PS, my post was not about the harness or the door connectors, but the whole experience including the relative value of the replacement amplifier, replacement door speakers, and replacement underseat speakers. The harness and the door connectors is interesting just because it is the most user-friendly way to get there.
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      03-24-2012, 12:21 AM   #4
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Nice test. Since your goal is to help people decide on how to upgrade the system, thought I'd add a few points in the same spirit.

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Originally Posted by redz06 View Post
The install was easy with the only issue being why the harness did not have an additional foot of grounding cable so I could ground to the same point as the battery.
Because you didn't get our kit. We include equal-length power and ground wires, with the ring terminals already attached and the fuseholder already in line, for that reason.

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Originally Posted by redz06 View Post

Results in comparison to stock: Not much difference at all despite the higher quality amplification quality.
Why I say "incrementalism doesn't work", and that's exactly why we don't try to sell an amp-upgrade kit - people would not like us after giving us their money.

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Originally Posted by redz06 View Post
Install was a bit of a PITA finding a suitable location in the door panels for the crossovers. I had to solder a splice in the wiring to the mids and the tweeters, which surprised and disappointed me. Why not just make the lead wires a few inches longer?
Again, because you didn't get our kit - where we have already extended the wires, put Molexes on them (both driver and crossover sides), and prepped the crossover for mounting in the door - all with appropriate wire lengths. Literally Plug and Play.

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Originally Posted by redz06 View Post
One issue was mounting adaptors for the 4 bolt Morel speakers on the factory 3 bolt mounts.
Our kits come with steel 3-bolt adapters and foam gaskets already mounted, so our customers don't have to worry about that.

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Originally Posted by redz06 View Post
A lot of work has been done with Kaigoss and others on the mid-bass support that can be expected from various speakers in the underseat enclosures.
Yes, it has. Since Kaigoss hasn't ever used the Jehnerts as far as I know, "others' probably played some role...

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Originally Posted by redz06 View Post
What can I say, these speakers are pretty pricey for an 8" woofer, especially when you consider that you are not getting a cast frame construction in the deal. Reality is that the Jehnert looks fairly inexpensive to make, and it only has a 1 inch voice coil to boot.
OK, let's talk about reality. These woofers took tooling - this is not a standard basket or cone out of some Chinese build-house catalog, like a $60 MSRP coaxial. They only fit into BMWs and the newest Minis. They do really well in the car's enclosures. They require neodymium, which has quadrupled in price in the last year (GOogle "neodymium pricing" and select Images, and look at the graphs...)

Most speakers are not vehicle-specific, but these are - so Jehnert has a very small addressable market to sell these speakers to. Do the math on amortizing the tooling costs, and add that to your points about where you think COGS comes from, and I'm sure you'll agree that tooling cost and the low volume of units to cover it affect the cost of the speaker a good bit. I'm sure we would sell more of them at $200 a pair, until Jehnert killed the SKU for unprofitability.


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Originally Posted by redz06 View Post
Results of Step 3 were less dramatic than step 2, to be truthful.
The improvement from a set of HO4 relative to stock would be greater than a set of Jehnert relative to stock. The mids and tweeters in a HiFi system suck more than the woofers do.

That said, how many hours do you have into them? They do loosen up a good bit after they play for a week or two.

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Originally Posted by redz06 View Post
So TIC approaches $1500 with lots of my labor. Luckily, I work very cheap.
Apparently. Fortunately, our customers don't have to spend much time on the issues you solved, since our kits already have addressed most of them.

- Speaker mounting adapters
- Speaker wiring harnesses
- Equal-length power and ground harnesses
- Amplifier mounting panels that bolt into the HiFI bolt-holes
- Amplifier harnesses already attached in many cases
- Tweeters already installed into E92 and E82 trimpieces
- Amp crossovers already preset
- Speaker crossover tweeter attenuation settings already preset
- Woofer rings and wiring adapters attached before shipping

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Originally Posted by redz06 View Post
The best bang for the buck was Step 2, but I do not have sufficient data to show how this would work using the stock amplifier in lieu of the JL 600/6.
No, but you do seem to have provided additional evidence to my longstanding position that incrementalism doesn't work.

The HiFi amp is not thrilled with the insertion losses associated with either parallel or series inductors in higher-quality passive crossovers, I can tell you that

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Originally Posted by redz06 View Post
I hope my observations are helpful to others trying to decide what must be done to improve the BMW Hi Fi system for acceptable listening.
Well, hopefully it will kill that canard that you should just replace the amp.

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Originally Posted by redz06 View Post
Ebay, ebay, ebay....
None of the gear you bought on eBay is warranteed by its manufacturer when purchased through eBay. Whether I think that's good or bad is irrelevant. Manufacturers are trying to curtail the sale of gray-market goods, and one way that they do it is to make warrantees hard to take advantage of, if need be, for product bought through unauthorized channels.

You also seem to be the kind of guy who doesn't want any after-the-sale support. eBay, of course, doesn't offer any.

They don't sponsor Bimmerpost, either

But eBay vendors do sell cheaper than many other channels. Were I to try to be cheaper than eBay, I would soon go out of business. Instead, we feel that we solve most of the issues you list so that our customers don't have to spend any time on them, and we think that's where our value lies.

Enjoy your system, I'm sure it sounds very nice. Maybe in future we can help you with a DSP processor in front of the amp.
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      03-24-2012, 12:39 AM   #5
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Are you serious "VP"? Is that how you plan to sell products? Wow, this is amazing. Very classy.
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      03-24-2012, 12:45 AM   #6
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Are you serious "VP"? Is that how you plan to sell products? Wow, this is amazing. Very classy.
What? The OP listed all sorts of things he overcame to finish his install, so that people would know what it took (my understanding of his post). So I pointed out that you don't have to do what he did. You CAN - we all did the same things when we started back a few years ago, when none of this had been done and it was all R+D, and I certainly can't tell someone to NOT do what we all did.

But you don't have to - that seemed a legitimate point to make, given the stated goal of the post.

As far as the sarcasm, we always offer sarcasm as a free part of the service.
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      03-24-2012, 03:11 AM   #7
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WOW VP, one of the most informative post I've ever read from a sponsor o wait I should have wrote rudest. So lets get this right...
Hey don't do things your own way; do it my way cause its the best ever- incrementalism sucks.
Hey don't buy other audio equipment cause it all sucks- incrementalism yeah
Hey we are the only people with a warranty...in the world.
Order from me cause i will send you a box full of everything you need even that extra 13.7 inches of ground wire. If you don't have any extra time no worries cause when you open the box all of our audio equipment installs itself.

Have you ever thought some people like trial and error, maybe some people enjoy working out their own problems and want something that sounds better than what you offer? Maybe the OP didn't get his desired result but I would bet that he will throw a sub in the trunk and be very happy with his audio system that HE built.

Im sure most of us realize that vendors are on here to sell product, well after reading your less than appealing post you lost at least one person.

I hope your mission statement changes,
"Musicar Northwest exists to help people have better music systems in their car affordably, profitably, and with our integrity intact. No sale is more important than your satisfaction or our integrity."

To me your reputation is tarnished.
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      03-24-2012, 11:03 AM   #8
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OP ,When you reinvent the wheel and try to patent it.

And you seem to be pretty loud about it.
You should have at least provided pictures .
People have been putting this same system in since the Jl600/6
was out . There are multiple examples of it from the last year and half.
So I would say the post is rather short on research to say the least.
Also people have results of what the differences are at every step
of the way.
I was actually reluctant to respond cause I think this has already degenerated
into non logical responses but it raises my irk .

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      03-24-2012, 01:29 PM   #9
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Well, VP's post is a bit like a sales pitch, but it's all true, and for someone reading this thread who is okay spending a couple hundred extra dollars, they could do this same system with one of VPs kits and save a few days of work.

It really depends on how you like to spend your brain cells and weekends.

I'm a tinkerer, and have learned a lot from VPs free (okay maybe there's a sarcasm tax, but it's mostly entertaining) advice. So much so, I'm hoping he can direct me to his commercial offerings for DSP, since my setup is exactly what the OP put in, though I have a JBL-MS8 (with a technic harness, from which I removed the speaker leads once I added an amp) ahead of my JL600/6.

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Maybe in future we can help you with a DSP processor in front of the amp.
At the risk of bumping this thread to the top of the topic, perhaps you can PM me with a link to your DSP offerings. I think the MS8 is nice, but it doesn't seem optimized for the way BMW gets us to put our midbass woofers under our seats.
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      03-24-2012, 01:48 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Nathan_h View Post
Well, VP's post is a bit like a sales pitch, but it's all true, and for someone reading this thread who is okay spending a couple hundred extra dollars, they could do this same system with one of VPs kits and save a few days of work.

It really depends on how you like to spend your brain cells and weekends.

I'm a tinkerer, and have learned a lot from VPs free (okay maybe there's a sarcasm tax, but it's mostly entertaining) advice. So much so, I'm hoping he can direct me to his commercial offerings for DSP, since my setup is exactly what the OP put in, though I have a JBL-MS8 (with a technic harness, from which I removed the speaker leads once I added an amp) ahead of my JL600/6.



At the risk of bumping this thread to the top of the topic, perhaps you can PM me with a link to your DSP offerings. I think the MS8 is nice, but it doesn't seem optimized for the way BMW gets us to put our midbass woofers under our seats.
Nate Dogg, are you having issues with your MS-8 levels?
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      03-24-2012, 02:30 PM   #11
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Not sure. I'm a tweaker and a show-me-the-results-for-myself kind of guy, so if there's a flavor of DSP I can try, in the same or lower price range, that takes up less space, I may do an a/b comparison with the JBL. Now that I'm no longer using the JBL amps (didn't realize how poor they were at driving the underseat woofers!), I don't have a center channel, and I don't need something to remove HU processing (I have the hifi head unit with flat stereo output) something smaller, cheaper, less finiky would appeal to me. (Oh and perhaps due to my installation skills or lack of knowledge about settings, but even with an external amp, I still get a bit of a thump when it powers down.) I was VERY impressed with what adding the MS8 to an otherwise stock system did for the quality of the sound, for under $500 bucks. I'm less sold on it now that I am using less and less of the features. But the MS8 may still be the best option available.

It just seems like the test tones used require us to be a little more creative in our setup than the MS-8 is designed for. In fact, on the DIYMA forums, it really sounds like JBL is working on a (long delayed, may never see the light of day) firmware that offers more flexibility/appropriate setup options in cars like ours.
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      03-24-2012, 04:02 PM   #12
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There are several very easy lessons gleaned from this:

1.) You get what you pay for
2.) "Custom" car audio is very much that-- custom, not tailored to one specific vehicle
3.) People generally don't enjoy working for free


I didn't get much from the OP aside from gripes about how unimpressed he was with the incremental upgrades and installation procedures using very universal-type installation components. None of this should be surprising from those who have worked around car audio installations. One forum member offers true PnP solutions, if that's your thing (read: expectation).
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      03-24-2012, 05:16 PM   #13
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Sometimes You pay for what you get.

Sometimes You pay for what you get, more than you expected.
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      03-24-2012, 05:19 PM   #14
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Tuna, you've got to stop writing half your posts as part of the "subject" line...it doesn't show up on the iPhone app and makes for some really confusing reading!
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      03-24-2012, 09:11 PM   #15
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I'm just saying (encore)

Like others out there I'm just a tweaker as well. I have put my own systems in several cars before, and this will probably not be my last. I have also built home hi-fi speakers, so I was not going in blind. The fact that I put the system in in three steps was for my convenience, as I am not quitting my day job to go into competition with VP.

The narrative in with my install was just to point out the things that don't go as planned the first time one does a project. One might say I set up VP to tout all of the improvements his kit offers, which are a result of his doing the same project many times. Of course his experience, some short bits of wire, and the 4" speaker rings do not come at a small price.

Looks like Imperator learned some lessons from this. So did I, but they were not the same lessons. My lessons were:

1) Sometimes you get what you paid for; sometimes you get less.
2) Custom should be better than what the OEM's beancounters installed; otherwise someone has missed the point.
3) Some people do like working for free. I do it all the time on my cars and my hi-fi system. If you are like me, don't quit your day job.
4) Based on my results, incrementalism does not work well for this system. That being said, I wish I had tried the Ovation II speakers in the doors ahead of the JL amplifier, as one of our forum threads was pretty complementary of that setup.

Some folks may think I had to overcome a lot to do this install. It really did not seem that way to me. Yeah, I ordered speakers from Israel, Amp from Arizona and speaker rings from Hawaii. It's all pretty painless on Amazon. I ordered the Jehnert speakers directly from the US importer and the wiring harnesses from Techic. I have warranties on everything, though it is not one-stop shopping.

By the way, the Jehnert speakers are not vehicle specific. If you go on the Jehnert Germany website, you will see that Jehnert is applying the same speakers to a number of other German cars. Now the clear plastic spacer rings, those are BMW specific.

My comment on the cost versus visual quality of the Jehnert speakers stands. I hope they last forever, but I purchased mine from the US distributor, so I will not have to depend on hope. I have someone else in that game with me.

My past experience at buying raw drivers has been that the stamped steel frames with small voice coils does not make for a long-life product. I was looking for a beefy cast frame with a 2" diameter voice coil at the price point involved. Silly me.

I am very happy with the results of my project. The soundstage is very focused and spans the entire windshield. The underseat woofers pick up the bass below 200 Hz (and I have not tried any other frequencies yet). I have been using the Ovations and JL amp for three weeks and the Jehnerts for about a week. I have had to increase the gain of the amplifier that drives the Jehnerts a coule of times. The gain of the channels that drive the Ovations is minimized.

This is not because of amp distortion but rather because the volume of the seatbelt gong was driving me crazy when I tried to raise the sensitivity of the front channels. NO I do not drive on the public streets w/o seatbelts. The loud gong noise when I am working on the car in my drivewaystill bugs me. I suppose I could get the gong removed by re-programming, but I am not looking forward to this issue everyting the dealer decides to reflash the ECU. If someone on this forum has another way to silence the gong, I would appreciate that info.
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      03-25-2012, 07:12 AM   #16
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I did a similar incremental upgrade on my 08 with HIFI
But I also replaced the tweeters
I think the oem tweeters are the weakest link in the HIFI system.
Adding an amp and tweeters made a huge difference.
I have heard the oem HIFI amp and the xd600
And I can assure you there is a huge difference in sound

There is nothing wrong with incremental upgrades
I actually prefer them for DIYers as you can trouble shoot much quicker when the only thing you added was an amp
VS needing to check your dsp settings and speaker wire runs etc
Just don't expect that every step will yield a huge advantage
Keep your expectations low, and consider it a work in progress
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      03-25-2012, 04:31 PM   #17
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Morel Hybrid Ovation II Speakers

Kmarei,
The Hybrid Ovation II set includes a pair of the MT-22 tweeters (the ones with the 1.125" voicecoils and a pair of the Accuset TX22.4 crossovers which provide a 1800 Hz crossover with hi-pass and low pass slopes of 12 dB/octave. All this is in addition to the 4" Morel Hybrid Ovation II "woofers".

When you compared the JL600/6 amp to the stock Hi-Fi amp, what speakers were you using? Since I was using all OEM speakers, I did not hear much difference. I suspect that was because the tweeters and 4" speakers in the door are so poor.

Regards,
Steve

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      03-25-2012, 09:01 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by redz06 View Post
Kmarei,
The Hybrid Ovation II set includes a pair of the MT-22 tweeters (the ones with the 1.125" voicecoils and a pair of the Accuset TX22.4 crossovers which provide a 1800 Hz crossover with hi-pass and low pass slopes of 12 dB/octave. All this is in addition to the 4" Morel Hybrid Ovation II "woofers".

When you compared the JL600/6 amp to the stock Hi-Fi amp, what speakers were you using? Since I was using all OEM speakers, I did not hear much difference. I suspect that was because the tweeters and 4" speakers in the door are so poor.

Regards,
Steve
I was using the oem HIFI mids and I upgraded to Infinity Emit tweeters
Very old school model, but they're still the best tweeters I've ever heard
The oem mids can sound pretty good if you filter out the lower frequencies
I believe I was high passing them at 100hz or around there
The oem HIFI subs sound good too, but I was too worried I'd blow them so went with the sws-8s
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      03-26-2012, 01:16 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmarei View Post
I was using the oem HIFI mids and I upgraded to Infinity Emit tweeters
Very old school model, but they're still the best tweeters I've ever heard
The oem mids can sound pretty good if you filter out the lower frequencies
I believe I was high passing them at 100hz or around there
The oem HIFI subs sound good too, but I was too worried I'd blow them so went with the sws-8s
I figure my oem underseat woofers are expendable... We'll see if they blow before I find a decent price on some used underseat woofers and am forced to compromise on something cheap.

I'm surprised you high pass the midrange drivers in the door at 100hz. Most people go for 150 or 200hz. No problems?
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      03-26-2012, 10:08 AM   #20
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I'm surprised you high pass the midrange drivers in the door at 100hz. Most people go for 150 or 200hz. No problems?
i tried 150-200, i thought it sounded bad
the sws-8 sound pretty muddy when they go that high
they sound great when i had them low passed at 90hz
i think the system sounds much better when the mids go to about 100hz
only problem is you can't do that if you are giving the mid 100 watts
no 4" can withstand 100watts and such a high crossover
so you are somewhat limited in the power you an give them

when the mids are crossed over that low
the bass sounds like its coming from the mids
when i crossed them over at 200, you can instantly tell the bass is coming from underneath you
i'm not a fan of bass coming out of my ass
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      03-26-2012, 10:16 AM   #21
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I hear what you are saying!

I guess the SWS-8 are the determining factor here. I run my doors at 200hz high pass, the underseat woofers at 200hz low pass, 6db slope, and it doesn't sound like there's bass under my butt -- but that's probably because the stock OEM underseat woofers can play accurately that high.
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      03-26-2012, 10:03 PM   #22
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Im just sayin'

With the Jehnert 8" speakers in the underseat enclosures and an active crossover at 200 Hz, the bass is not directional, so I put my hand on the underseat speaker grilles to confirm the source of the bass sound. The Jehnerts are doing their job.

I find the sensitivty of the Jehnerts is less than the Morel Ovation II mid and tweeters, so I run considerably more gain into them via my JL 600/6 amp to provide a balanced musical sound. I use the stock underseat grilles and have not found any necessity to remove them for mid-woofer clearance as folks have done with the SWS speakers.

I have not added an 80 Hz low pass filter to the Jehnerts as suggested by the manufacturer. I do not think most folks are running this filter with these speakers, unless they are running subwoofers with very high amplifier power. Nevertheless, it may be a "fair warning" to folks running the Jehnert 8" speakers that this speaker has only a 1" diameter voice coil, wihch can only dissipate so much power, and large amounts of low frequency power will likely eventually destroy the Jehnert speakers( not the way I want it, blame physics).

One other caveat is that the Jehnert underseat mid-woofers have thin stamped-steel frames which may be intolerant of installation forces in comparison to the cast frame competition. Be very careful not to overstress the stamped steel speaker frames during installation for fear of destroying the alignment. between the voice coil and the magnet structure.

'nuf said.
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