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      10-20-2010, 05:48 PM   #1
adrianBMW99
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2011 E90 335i Base Stereo Upgrade

I know this has been discussed like a 1000 times before but as we all know the base stereo sucks miserably. I have an early 2011 build e90 which has the Base Stereo (completely inappropriate for a 50K car). Not only do the speakers pop when turned up, the overall sound quality is horrendous. I was wondering, are there any within reason ~$500 upgrades available for me to make this stereo considerably better (which probably won't take much !). I know I don't want to replace the head, so maybe an amp, speakers/tweeter combo and head reprogram of some sort. Note: Upgrades need not be BMW OEM but I would prefer to keep stock speaker look and would prefer no drilling if it meant adding speakers on the inside of my mirrors (where the HIFI speakers would normally be). Does anyone make speakers outside of HK/BMW that would nicely fit in that location?

Thank You
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      10-20-2010, 06:24 PM   #2
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The cheapest solution may be the Alpine upgrade package. You may also want to get in touch with forum member Technic, who also lives in FL, but the kind of upgrades he normally does are way more than $500...
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      10-20-2010, 06:44 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adrianBMW99 View Post
I know this has been discussed like a 1000 times before but as we all know the base stereo sucks miserably. I have an early 2011 build e90 which has the Base Stereo (completely inappropriate for a 50K car). Not only do the speakers pop when turned up, the overall sound quality is horrendous. I was wondering, are there any within reason ~$500 upgrades available for me to make this stereo considerably better (which probably won't take much !). I know I don't want to replace the head, so maybe an amp, speakers/tweeter combo and head reprogram of some sort. Note: Upgrades need not be BMW OEM but I would prefer to keep stock speaker look and would prefer no drilling if it meant adding speakers on the inside of my mirrors (where the HIFI speakers would normally be). Does anyone make speakers outside of HK/BMW that would nicely fit in that location?

Thank You
The problem with your system is that it has a nasty EQ curve in the front OEM HU outputs. If you replace the front full range speaker with components you will notice an exagerated emphasis in the highs -made by design as there is no tweeters in your system.

This means that any decent aftermarket upgrade to your system will require a DSP processor to normalize that OEM EQ curve. That will add at least $200 to your total budget (Cleansweep).

You can try the OEM Alpine upgrade (amp, pair of OEM Logic7 speakers, harness) which is made specifically for this system for $500 or so, installation extra. That keeps the OEM woofer and the rear speakers in place and may keep your OEM audio system warranty if you let your local dealer install it -it is after all an OEM part, but it is European.

That will blow your $500 budget in no time.

For ~$750 I would do:

- SSMB8 woofers ($170)
- HiFi tweeters ($80)
- OEM tweeter pods ($60)
- Cleansweep ($210)
- Pioneer GM-6400F 4-channel amplifier ($140)
- Stereo harness ($65)

If you are close to Ft Lauderdale I would be willing to install all that for free just to show how the Stereo harness would work for a combo like that. That will make up for the extra $250 over your budget.

Last edited by Technic; 10-20-2010 at 06:53 PM.
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      10-20-2010, 06:51 PM   #4
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Whoa T, that's a VERY generous offer! OP, don't even blink...
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      10-20-2010, 08:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Technic View Post
The problem with your system is that it has a nasty EQ curve in the front OEM HU outputs. If you replace the front full range speaker with components you will notice an exagerated emphasis in the highs -made by design as there is no tweeters in your system.

This means that any decent aftermarket upgrade to your system will require a DSP processor to normalize that OEM EQ curve. That will add at least $200 to your total budget (Cleansweep).

You can try the OEM Alpine upgrade (amp, pair of OEM Logic7 speakers, harness) which is made specifically for this system for $500 or so, installation extra. That keeps the OEM woofer and the rear speakers in place and may keep your OEM audio system warranty if you let your local dealer install it -it is after all an OEM part, but it is European.

That will blow your $500 budget in no time.

For ~$750 I would do:

- SSMB8 woofers ($170)
- HiFi tweeters ($80)
- OEM tweeter pods ($60)
- Cleansweep ($210)
- Pioneer GM-6400F 4-channel amplifier ($140)
- Stereo harness ($65)

If you are close to Ft Lauderdale I would be willing to install all that for free just to show how the Stereo harness would work for a combo like that. That will make up for the extra $250 over your budget.
I have to say that is a very generous offer; unfortunately I don't have the cash to spend at the moment. I do have a few questions in regard though:

1. I have a leased car which I plan on returning, how stock will this setup look, I prefer to have almost no visual alterations?
2. Is it possible to place amp and subs under seats?, I prefer not to have anything in my trunk. (once again, visual alterations).
3. Will there be drilling involved (i.e. for the tweeters)?
4. Will stock head unit keep all original functionality and will I get any more EQ settings (or how is all that adjusted?)


Thanks again for all of your help and when I am in South Florida again, I just may hit up up!
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      10-20-2010, 08:17 PM   #6
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Whip out the plastic man ...that install is probably worth more than the hardware itself.
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      10-20-2010, 08:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adrianBMW99 View Post
I have to say that is a very generous offer; unfortunately I don't have the cash to spend at the moment. I do have a few questions in regard though:

1. I have a leased car which I plan on returning, how stock will this setup look, I prefer to have almost no visual alterations?
All that posted is PnP, no single OEM wire in your car will be cut and it is 100% reversible:

- the front doors mids stay put, the new OEM tweeters plug into those mids.
- the OEM tweeter pods replace your current pods.
- the SSMB8 woofers are mounted in a 1/2" plastic spacer, which bolts into your existing OEM woofer enclosures (replacing the OEM 6.5" woofers). New wires are run from the amp in the trunk to these woofers as the existing OEM wires are shared (parallel connection) with the front door mids. A custom jumper is used in the OEM woofer connector to restore the signal path to the door speakers.
- the Stereo harness will take both the inputs/outputs and the remote turn on signal from your OEM HU to the trunk and back to the back of the OEM HU. The front outputs will be connected to the Cleansweep for the De-EQ and then input to the Pioneer amp. The Pioneer 4-CH amp will power the front and the woofers, the rear OEM speakers will be kept driven by the OEM HU.
Quote:
2. Is it possible to place amp and subs under seats?, I prefer not to have anything in my trunk. (once again, visual alterations).
There are woofers under your seat, you cannot install anything other than the new woofers there. There is plenty of space in the trunk for the Cleansweep and the amp and still be stealth.

Quote:
3. Will there be drilling involved (i.e. for the tweeters)?
No, all is PnP.
Quote:
4. Will stock head unit keep all original functionality and will I get any more EQ settings (or how is all that adjusted?)


Thanks again for all of your help and when I am in South Florida again, I just may hit up up!
The OEM HU functionality will remain intact, the only change will be much better sound. The only manual adjustment will be the crossover points for the front (HP) and underseat woofers(LP) in the Pioneer amp. No equalizer for this budget.

Once you normalize the front outputs you will have a much better signal to work with.
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      10-20-2010, 10:05 PM   #8
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Technic, you are awesome. This is exactly what I've been looking for. I have read threads that seem to require a complete overhaul and I'd prefer an OEM or PnP solution like this one. I just need to find some time to do this mod...

Last edited by javaperson; 10-20-2010 at 10:14 PM.
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      11-13-2010, 04:23 AM   #9
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I'm thinking of doing a budget upgrade to the base stereo based on your recommendations above, but I have a few, maybe naive, questions. I've never installed a stereo/speakers in a car, but I enjoy tinkering and I'm looking for a fun project.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Technic View Post
the new OEM tweeters plug into those mids
Do the OEM mids already have a connector for the OEM tweeters, or do i need another harness/tap?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Technic View Post
A custom jumper is used in the OEM woofer connector to restore the signal path to the door speakers.
Is this jumper some part that I need to get/make from parts from radio shack? or is it already there?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Technic View Post
The front outputs will be connected to the Cleansweep for the De-EQ and then input to the Pioneer amp. The Pioneer 4-CH amp will power the front and the woofers, the rear OEM speakers will be kept driven by the OEM HU.
Since the Cleansweep processes the front outputs, the bass or treble settings I use in the OEM HU won't matter, right? Those settings would only affect the rear speakers which are still driven by the OEM HU, right? If this is true, I worry that I wouldn't be able to make any adjustments and would rely on the new tweeters to produce decent highs. I guess this is a limitation of going on a budget? Do you have any recommendations if I wanted an EQ on a budget? Thanks.

Last edited by javaperson; 11-13-2010 at 04:34 AM.
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      11-13-2010, 08:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by javaperson View Post
I'm thinking of doing a budget upgrade to the base stereo based on your recommendations above, but I have a few, maybe naive, questions. I've never installed a stereo/speakers in a car, but I enjoy tinkering and I'm looking for a fun project.

Do the OEM mids already have a connector for the OEM tweeters, or do i need another harness/tap?
Yes, and the OEM tweeters have a high pass filter inline. So it is really PnP.


Quote:
Is this jumper some part that I need to get/make from parts from radio shack? or is it already there?
I provide those jumpers with the harness if requested.

Quote:
Since the Cleansweep processes the front outputs, the bass or treble settings I use in the OEM HU won't matter, right? Those settings would only affect the rear speakers which are still driven by the OEM HU, right? If this is true, I worry that I wouldn't be able to make any adjustments and would rely on the new tweeters to produce decent highs. I guess this is a limitation of going on a budget? Do you have any recommendations if I wanted an EQ on a budget? Thanks.
The OEM bass and treble settings still apply with the Cleansweep.

The only "budget" EQ that I can recommend is an Audiocontrol EQS after the Cleansweep, but that combo will be within $200 of a JBL MS-8. So this upgrade is limited by your budget.
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      11-13-2010, 08:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Technic View Post
The only "budget" EQ that I can recommend is an Audiocontrol EQS after the Cleansweep, but that combo will be within $200 of a JBL MS-8. So this upgrade is limited by your budget.
If you are getting an eq like EQS to tweak manually, do you still need the cleansweep?
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      11-13-2010, 09:03 AM   #12
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If you are getting an eq like EQS to tweak manually, do you still need the cleansweep?
Yes if you do not have an RTA to de-EQ manually; the Cleansweep takes care of the de-EQ automatically and then you use the EQS to set your own curve.
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      11-13-2010, 05:57 PM   #13
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Hey, Technic, would you like to install one of our kits with a preprogrammed Zapco DSP amp, one of your harnesses, and SWS-8?

We could find out what you think of our EQ curve...
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      11-13-2010, 06:04 PM   #14
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Our $1300 upgrade with new fronts, new underseats, a new amp/processor with DSP preprogrammed, gets great reviews. All looks stock, OEM tweeter trim used, no cutting, but it's not $500.
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      11-13-2010, 09:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VP Electricity View Post
Our $1300 upgrade with new fronts, new underseats, a new amp/processor with DSP preprogrammed, gets great reviews. All looks stock, OEM tweeter trim used, no cutting, but it's not $500.
Pleases PM with the details of this upgrade. I am interested for my 08 e90 M3
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      11-14-2010, 03:20 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Technic View Post
Yes, and the OEM tweeters have a high pass filter inline. So it is really PnP.

I provide those jumpers with the harness if requested.

The OEM bass and treble settings still apply with the Cleansweep.
That all sounds good. Earlier, I missed that the Cleansweep was calibrated with a reference CD - makes sense that the OEM bass and treble settings still work. I may not go with an EQ at least for now.

Is there a particular reason why you recommended the Pioneer GM-6400F? Is it just good bang for the buck?

I'm trying to plan out the upgrade before I start. How do people typically route the harness away from the HU? I presume the harness be snuck out at the back of the footwell (need to remove a panel in the footwell) and then under the doorsill (on its way to the trunk)?
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      11-14-2010, 09:35 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by javaperson View Post
That all sounds good. Earlier, I missed that the Cleansweep was calibrated with a reference CD - makes sense that the OEM bass and treble settings still work. I may not go with an EQ at least for now.

Is there a particular reason why you recommended the Pioneer GM-6400F Is it just good bang for the buck?
The 6400F is relatively cheap for a 4-channel amp with decent power output from a quality manufacturer, that's all.

Quote:
I'm trying to plan out the upgrade before I start. How do people typically route the harness away from the HU? I presume the harness be snuck out at the back of the footwell (need to remove a panel in the footwell) and then under the doorsill (on its way to the trunk)?
Yes, left doorsill.
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      11-14-2010, 09:36 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by VP Electricity View Post
Hey, Technic, would you like to install one of our kits with a preprogrammed Zapco DSP amp, one of your harnesses, and SWS-8?

We could find out what you think of our EQ curve...
Email sent...
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      11-27-2010, 12:53 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Technic View Post

For ~$750 I would do:

- SSMB8 woofers ($170)
- HiFi tweeters ($80)
- OEM tweeter pods ($60)
- Cleansweep ($210)
- Pioneer GM-6400F 4-channel amplifier ($140)
- Stereo harness ($65)
Assuming I made the changes above without the woofer replacement, then the speaker composition would be similar to the Alpine kit and the prices would be similar (alpine maybe cheaper?). Which upgrade would be the better one? Would the aftermarket one above sound better? Does the Alpine normalize the EQ?

I like sticking with OEM, unless the performance is noticeably worse.
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      11-27-2010, 01:45 AM   #20
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Quote:
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The 6400F is relatively cheap for a 4-channel amp with decent power output from a quality manufacturer, that's all.
Have you used one?
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      11-27-2010, 02:48 AM   #21
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Quote:

I like sticking with OEM, unless the performance is noticeably worse.
Technically, it's not OEM. It's sold thru parts only - I guarantee it's considered "aftermarket" by BMW. That's probably why it's not available in the US - if it were, legally, the manufacturer cannot say, "you can get this from us but no one else - their equivalent product will void your warranty - even though they're the same".
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      11-27-2010, 09:37 AM   #22
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Have you used one?
I used to have a GM4300F installed in a 2008 VW Passat... decent amp for the OEM speakers for $110.00 on ebay. Just cheap and good, in that order.
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