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      05-28-2012, 04:37 PM   #1
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Radio Recode vs. Mobridge/MS-8/360.3 etc For L7 Upgrades

So for us L7 folks, upgrading is an issue due to the L7 amp not having any preamp outputs, and the head unit only outputting on the MOST bus.

Some options are:

Recode the radio to HIFI (done by Technic and some others). My understanding is this leaves you with balanced 4V preouts which, after running the RCA's to the back, can be used to power an aftermarket amplifier and power a system. Downsides are (correct me if I'm wrong) no factory EQ, so unless you run an aftermarket EQ, you're dealing with a flat response curve, which may or may not be ideal for your car.

Use a mobridge DA2 (reported to be available for the E9x cars now, or very soon). This ~$500-600 gadget replaces the L7 amp as a MOST bus participant, allowing you to remove the stock L7 amp, and keep the factory EQ (the docs appear to indicate that it has a built in EQ as well). It supplies balanced preouts.

JBL MS-8 - this one takes the speaker-level preouts and supplies you with balanced pre-outs, while also providing very nifty RTA/auto-balancing EQ features. You must keep the factory L7 amp, and the MS8, AND use your aftermarket amps if you so desire. The MS-8 has some power built in, 18w RMS per channel or so (and has 8 channels).

JL Cleansweep - similar to the MS-8 without the RTA/auto-balancing magic. About half the price too.

Now to my mind, the downsides of the MS-8/Cleansweep units are that it adds another layer of Analog/Digital/Analog conversion, and causes you to have to retain the stock amp. For packaging reasons, getting rid of the stock amp seems like a plus.

The radio recode seems like a great idea, but it is entirely possible the Mobridge preamp is superior to the preamp in the head unit? No data on this one but it seems reasonable. The radio recode is also about $100 if done at the dealer (according to another thread) and gets you where you want to go with a minimum of fuss. Can always add an inline EQ if needed at some point.

The Mobridge solution gets you where you want to go too, but allows you to use the factory EQ - downside appears to be cost and the need for another box in the car.

Whats the forums opinion on the right/best way to go here? I'd like to do this once and properly. I'm probably going to do a 4-way system with components in the front, underseat Jehnerts, and a 12" Musicar sub, powered by a JL 700/5.

Thanks for your input.
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      05-28-2012, 04:58 PM   #2
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Recode and add a processor just make sure it takes balanced inputs. For about the same price as recoding at the dealer (or less) you can buy a cable and code it yourself it's actually fairly easy and you'll have the cable if you want to code something else.
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      05-28-2012, 06:14 PM   #3
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The ms-8 substitutes for the existing amp

The ms-8 substitutes for the existing amp when you recode.
You still have simple treble and bass controls but the ms-8 allows
you to tweak like a graphic equalizer to my understanding.
So the OEM factory amp is removed and some people have tried
running with just the ms-8 18 watts a channel but they end up amping
the front doors and under seats most of the time.
The trouble with the L7 is you have a lot of channels to fill if you want
a channel to all the existing speakers. ( 9 of them)

If you want a one stop solution then you should consider
MusicarNW

If have seen a few pictures of the L7 amp an its split into a logic and power amp board . If you were clever with electronics it looks like you could remove the power board and use the logic board as a preamp.

Last edited by ctuna; 05-28-2012 at 06:30 PM.
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      05-28-2012, 06:40 PM   #4
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If you get an ms8 youll want to atleast amp the underseats and eventually the front stage.
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      05-28-2012, 06:44 PM   #5
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You can have an absolutely awesome sounding system by just hooking up an MS8 between the OEM amp outputs and the OEM speakers. That would costs about $500 (Processor & Technic harness). Then get a 2-channel amp for the L7 underseats for around $250. You will not believe how good that will sound. You can build on this system later on, by replacing front speakers and adding another amp, and potentially a trunk sub.

The signal after the L7 amp is actually very clean with no audible noise floor and works great with the MS-8 inputs. If the DA2 ever comes out I will get it for sure, but I am not sure I will notice much of an improvement. However, I like the idea of replacing the L7 amp to make sure it'll last until I sell the car.
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      05-28-2012, 06:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaigoss69 View Post
You can have an absolutely awesome sounding system by just hooking up an MS8 between the OEM amp outputs and the OEM speakers. That would costs about $500 (Processor & Technic harness). Then get a 2-channel amp for the L7 underseats for around $250. You will not believe how good that will sound. You can build on this system later on, by replacing front speakers and adding another amp, and potentially a trunk sub.

The signal after the L7 amp is actually very clean with no audible noise floor and works great with the MS-8 inputs. If the DA2 ever comes out I will get it for sure, but I am not sure I will notice much of an improvement. However, I like the idea of replacing the L7 amp to make sure it'll last until I sell the car.
Is there a reason why you haven't recoded?
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      05-28-2012, 07:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw325i View Post
Is there a reason why you haven't recoded?
I could not find a local shop to do it. But I also do not like the thought of having to get it coded back to MOST output when selling the car. So I would have to pay for coding twice...
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      05-28-2012, 07:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctuna
The ms-8 substitutes for the existing amp when you recode.
You still have simple treble and bass controls but the ms-8 allows
you to tweak like a graphic equalizer to my understanding.
So the OEM factory amp is removed and some people have tried
running with just the ms-8 18 watts a channel but they end up amping
the front doors and under seats most of the time.
The trouble with the L7 is you have a lot of channels to fill if you want
a channel to all the existing speakers. ( 9 of them)

If you want a one stop solution then you should consider
MusicarNW

If have seen a few pictures of the L7 amp an its split into a logic and power amp board . If you were clever with electronics it looks like you could remove the power board and use the logic board as a preamp.
You have to keep the stock amp when you add the ms8, and since I will use additional power amps not the ms8 power, it just seems like a kludgy D/A/D/A setup.
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      05-28-2012, 07:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaigoss69
You can have an absolutely awesome sounding system by just hooking up an MS8 between the OEM amp outputs and the OEM speakers. That would costs about $500 (Processor & Technic harness). Then get a 2-channel amp for the L7 underseats for around $250. You will not believe how good that will sound. You can build on this system later on, by replacing front speakers and adding another amp, and potentially a trunk sub.

The signal after the L7 amp is actually very clean with no audible noise floor and works great with the MS-8 inputs. If the DA2 ever comes out I will get it for sure, but I am not sure I will notice much of an improvement. However, I like the idea of replacing the L7 amp to make sure it'll last until I sell the car.
I was told the DA2 is ready to go now so I'm trying to decide the best route to get my balanced preouts. Sounds like mobridge or recode is the way to go?
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      05-28-2012, 08:16 PM   #10
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Personally for the price of recoding i dont see why someone wouldnt do it. Of course the da2 saves you from running analog wires to the back but not $600 worth of time.
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      05-28-2012, 08:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taibanl
Personally for the price of recoding i dont see why someone wouldnt do it. Of course the da2 saves you from running analog wires to the back but not $600 worth of time.
I haven't done any coding yet, would you recommend giving it a shot (I am a software developer, not a computer noob, although I've never done anything like coding). Alternatively, I do have a friendly dealer local that could follow the alpine instructions.
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      05-28-2012, 08:23 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taibanl View Post
Personally for the price of recoding i dont see why someone wouldnt do it. Of course the da2 saves you from running analog wires to the back but not $600 worth of time.
You can sell the DA2 when you're done with it...
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      05-28-2012, 08:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DallasBoosted
Quote:
Originally Posted by taibanl
Personally for the price of recoding i dont see why someone wouldnt do it. Of course the da2 saves you from running analog wires to the back but not $600 worth of time.
I haven't done any coding yet, would you recommend giving it a shot (I am a software developer, not a computer noob, although I've never done anything like coding). Alternatively, I do have a friendly dealer local that could follow the alpine instructions.
There is a great diy in the coding section as well as all current coding files. Its on my list of things to learn :-)
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      05-28-2012, 08:56 PM   #14
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ms-8 is used as a preamp with recode

ms-8 is used as a preamp with recode
Ok its not true preamp outputs but a lot
of people add amps using speaker out levels
to feed them, either with or without LOC's depending
on the amp. It not elegant but its done.
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      05-28-2012, 10:33 PM   #15
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DA2 .. Simple and clean. If you feel the need to advance your setup further down the road Toslink it ( not for said 'superior SQ', but for simplicity) to a P-DSP.

DA2s have been available and shipping for a month or so now...
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      05-28-2012, 10:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DallasBoosted View Post
You have to keep the stock amp when you add the ms8, and since I will use additional power amps not the ms8 power, it just seems like a kludgy D/A/D/A setup.
No: that is just an option kaigoss is pitching for you to save you the cost of recode.

I have a recoded radio piping into MS-8...no amp.

point taken on DADA...but no issues to speak of.

If you have money to burn, try the DA2, VP Elecricity had a buggy test bird so I am not sure if it has been ironed out.

Not discounting any of the other options though.
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      05-28-2012, 11:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taibanl View Post
No: that is just an option kaigoss is pitching for you to save you the cost of recode.

I have a recoded radio piping into MS-8...no amp.

point taken on DADA...but no issues to speak of.

If you have money to burn, try the DA2, VP Elecricity had a buggy test bird so I am not sure if it has been ironed out.

Not discounting any of the other options though.
I'm mostly wanting to do my audio one time and not be fiddling with different setups and patching stuff together through 4 iterations... if the DA2 works then I think it is the cleanest solution, right next to the radio recode. Why oh why wouldn't BMW just have the preouts active on all modes?
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      05-28-2012, 11:07 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DallasBoosted View Post
I'm mostly wanting to do my audio one time and not be fiddling with different setups and patching stuff together through 4 iterations... if the DA2 works then I think it is the cleanest solution, right next to the radio recode. Why oh why wouldn't BMW just have the preouts active on all modes?
Because those same pre-outs now that I've recoded (from base "stereo" system) used to be the speaker outs.

As far as your configuration...I suppose it could have a simultaneous D and A out.
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      05-28-2012, 11:10 PM   #19
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Because those same pre-outs now that I've recoded (from base "stereo" system) used to be the speaker outs.

As far as your configuration...I suppose it could have a simultaneous D and A out.
Ahh. Well, I guess that's a reason. I guess it's too much to ask them to just put the stereo preouts on the L7 amp?
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      05-29-2012, 12:00 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DallasBoosted
Ahh. Well, I guess that's a reason. I guess it's too much to ask them to just put the stereo preouts on the L7 amp?
That would make sense and that's not how BMW does things.

As far as coding read this http://www.trevorloken.com/bmw/NCS_Changing_the_Vehicle_Order_CAS.pdf

And you want to delete $677 and add $676 from both cas and frm(or nfrm depending on year) then recode rad2 with a blank man file

Have a look at this thread it shows what cable is needed it has the software and a DIY on how to use it.
http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=451145

If you want to learn more have a look at the coding forum since it's a little off topic here.
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      05-29-2012, 12:32 AM   #21
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Is there even one car company with pre outs?

Is there even one car company with pre outs?
They don't design these cars with aftermarket modders in mind
though I wish they did.
That some are compatible is just some kind of accident.
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      05-29-2012, 12:32 AM   #22
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Ive had my DA2 in my car for a few months now and replaced a DA1. Ive tried all the routes and the DA1/DA2 is the best option IMO. It just works, sounds great and can be returned back to stock just by plugging in the stock amp. With the technic harness, i can return back to stock system in a few hours without any issues.
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