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      02-10-2013, 12:14 PM   #1
makkan00
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Mak's Stage 3 Sound upgrade

EDIT: Stage IV details added.


Audio upgrade is a bug like modding bug and when it starts, it hardly finishes. Some people use their brain and limit themselves to reasonable audio upgrade, but when you have DIY bug and you can add / replace drivers / speakers/ components out of BMW, audio upgrade hardly stops. And unfortunately, I fall into that group (other than Kaigoss, Rudz & Mob17).

My journey of audio upgrade is very lengthy and Id like to share it as if somebody wants any information on the stuff which I have used in the past.

Mak Stage 1:
I started my Audio upgrade with JUST hi-fi coding and L7 under seats subs. Later, I upgrade my front and rear mids to different brands including vibe slick V4, L7 mids and some good German mids with the addition of Kenwood amplifier. I also replaced L7 under seats with earthquakes (SWS-8s). That was my stage 1 upgrade and it ended with the addition of JL XD 400/4 instead of Kenwood amp. I moved to JL amp as it could take differential balanced input (low noise) with no requirements of LOC.
During stage 1 upgrade, what was different to standard system?
HU coded to hi-fi
Addition of amplifiers
Addition of different speakers
Addition of different under seats
Outcome learnings:
Use those amplifiers which can accept differential balanced input to avoid any noise in your sound system and stay without LOC.


Mak Stage 2:
During the stage 2, I replaced XD400/4 with 600/6 and powered the rears speakers. I added JL 12W7 (as Infinite baffle) with JL Slash 1000/1 V2 amplifier and 2 Farad capacitor. It all worked great and sound was great for a stereo system. However my car lacked time alignment and some loss of SQ.
For experimentation purposes, I bought JL MS-2 (2 channel DSP) and that worked great in my car. One of the forum member tested it my car and commented that MS-2 really tweaked my sound system to its optimal level. The outcome was to go for DSP.

Along with the DSP, I wanted to go active (all crossovers setup electronically and not with passive crossovers). So, I thought of changing the HU for stage 3 upgrade.

During Stage 2, What was different to Stage 1?

6 channel amplifier
Addition of subwoofer with dedicated amplifier
Addition of Capacitor
DSP trial
Outcome learnings:
-I have tried different methods of subwoofer installation and IB worked excellent for me.
-Having stereo sound system is great, but DSP is a good addition to your sound system if you are audiophile.
-1000/1 V2 and 12W7 is way too much for my sound system (considering IB installation.) I could have lived with a sub having 700-800W RMS.
-With all these upgrades, I needed to upgrade my 4 inch speakers (mids).
Maks Stage 3:
Now, this is where we are. My stage III kit consists of
HU: Pioneer P99RS (Stage IV)

Pioneer P88RS (Stage III)

Compatible Ipod adaptor

Front Mids: Focal 100 KRS

Front speaker adaptors

Under seats:
Morel Elates 9 (Stage IV)
Earthquakes (SWS-8)

Steering wheel control stalk adaptor and Fakra harness for aftermarket HU
JL XD 600/6

JL Slash 1000/1 V2


JL Slash 300/2 (Stage IV)

JL 12W7 as IB

I have tested pioneer HU extensively to establish its clip free abilities and made that as a base to set the amplifier gains.


My installation started with fitting the HU in the network mode where it gives you HI, MID and LOW signals from HU and you can feed that to amplifiers. Aftermarket Fakra / harness worked without a fault (PS: I do not have reverse parking sensors).
Next task was to setup the door speakers with adaptors. Although the adaptors are good in size, but their screws holes are poor.


I have to widen the screw holes so the screws can sit square / flat against the adaptors.


This photos shows your different ways of fitting screws


I used the HU output to run front tweeters, 2 channels of XD 600/6 to feed Focals (50-60W each and they get bloody loud) and other four channels (in bridged mode) to feed SWS-8s (150W each). They were setup with Oscilloscope (O-Scope) and multi-meter.

I had to use the LP filter on sub amplifier and HP filter on SWS-8 to separate their frequencies. (Semi- Active Sound system). Rest of adjustment is done at the HU and can be changed without losing any other settings.

I have used pioneer auto time alignment and auto equaliser, and HU took approx 5 minutes to setup this for me.



Sound changed drastically after this and with fine tuning following are parameters;
Tweeters: HP @ 4KHz with 24db / oct slope and normal phase
Mids: Band passed for 200Hz- 4Khz
LP @ 4KHz with 24db / oct slope and normal phase
HP @ 200 Hz with 24db/ oct slope and normal phase
Low / Sub:
SWS-8; band passed for 70-160Hz
LP @ 160 Hz with 24db / oct slope and reverse phase (EDIT: It is 200Hz after I ran SWS-8 for two weeks which allowed them to break)
HP @ 70 Hz with 12db / oct and reverse phase
JL 12W7 LP@ 70Hz with 24db / oct and reverse phase
Infrasonic filter on at 30

After setting up the system, I must say that this is the best sound system I have ever heard IMO both in terms of SQ and SPL. Fidelity of sound system is excellent. I can say that this setup is SQL.


During Stage 3, what is different to stage 2?

Upgraded mid drivers / speakers
Aftermarket HU with built in DSP
Learning outcomes:
-DPS extracted best sound out of HU considering BMW internal dimensions and the speakers/ drivers I have
-Aftermarket HU worked way better than BMW HU. IMO BMW HU does not produce highs and lows very well.
-Earthquakes can also play mid bass if you feed them properly but within 160-180Hz (EDIT: 40Hz - 200Hz after breaking) max. You can expand the range of the frequencies but they do not play with the authority there.
-Fidelity of aftermarket HU is way better than BMW alpine HU.
-Hole in the BMW doors are big and 5.25 speakers with customized spacers MAY fit there. How much are you going to gain by additional 1.25 inch? This is a good topic for discussion considering the dispersion factors of the cone area at higher frequencies especially when OEM speaker location is off the axis.



Thats it for the time being till I get sometime and play more with under seats.
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      02-10-2013, 02:24 PM   #2
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Niiice, congrats! An aftermarket HU is definitely the way to go for max quality and should give you a better source!

What tweeters are you using? If you can, try playing your tweeters as low as possible, which should raise your sound stage :thumbsup

Can you invert the phase of channels from the HU?

How's the sub, does it integrate with your underseats nicely?

Now the real fun starts, weeks of tweaking and tweaking lol, and enjoying the work! Would you ever consider competing in OEM classes?
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      02-10-2013, 03:25 PM   #3
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that is a nice write up defo sounds like you have the bug. I think I am in between satge1 & 2

If you dont mind me asking what was your old front speaker set up? was it L7 mids?
If so if you are thinking of moving them on give me a shout
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      02-10-2013, 04:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mob17 View Post
Niiice, congrats! An aftermarket HU is definitely the way to go for max quality and should give you a better source!
Thanks mate.
It is really different. You get more definition at low and high ends. Crystal clear sound, more definition.
With BMW HU, I think frequencies lower than 50-60Hz were muddled.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mob17 View Post
What tweeters are you using? If you can, try playing your tweeters as low as possible, which should raise your sound stage :thumbsup
I am using Focal tweeters which came with the speakers.
Although Focal uses 3.5Khz as a crossover point, but I found 4K or higher xover value 'correct' balance b.w SQ and SPL.

If I keep tweeter xover lower than 4K, vocal split b/w mids and tweeters and SQ get degraded. Although it is very hard to distinguish, but you can still hear it.

I will give it another try.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mob17 View Post
Can you invert the phase of channels from the HU?
Yes mate, you can reverse the phase from the HU and change the volumer level of individual speakers as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mob17 View Post
How's the sub, does it integrate with your underseats nicely?
Much much better. With OEM HU, I could always distinguised the sub having time delay and out of phase. With inverted phase, it improved but still not inegrated into whole system.

With this system, everything is so much integrated that it is very hard to distinguish. When SWS-8s fed properly, mid bass has improved significantly and I am loving mid bass which my system lacked.

I have bought rainbows underseats (6.5 inch) but since SWS-8s are doing a good job, I may just get rid of them.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mob17 View Post
Now the real fun starts, weeks of tweaking and tweaking lol, and enjoying the work! Would you ever consider competing in OEM classes?
May be some further tweaks. I must say that compared to MS-8, this HU make things so easy. 5 minutes and things are setup and then you re-tweak sound according to your taste.

Sorry, I did not understand you comment on competing OEM classes? Since I am using after market HU, how can I compete in OEM classes.
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      02-10-2013, 04:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mistryn View Post
that is a nice write up defo sounds like you have the bug. I think I am in between satge1 & 2

If you dont mind me asking what was your old front speaker set up? was it L7 mids?
If so if you are thinking of moving them on give me a shout
Nitesh
I was using German mids. They are too deep (52 or 54mm) and they will not fit in E92.
Their woofers were brilliant, though their tweeters lacked authority b/w 18-20Khz. (tested on silly cheap RTA applications, although human ear hardly hear those frquencies).
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      02-10-2013, 04:33 PM   #6
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ahh ok no probs, was just looking for something to fit in the rears
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      02-10-2013, 04:41 PM   #7
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Sounds like its more or less sorted now.

You can still compete if you wanted. In the EMMA OEM class you are allowed to change the source unit As long as everything else is OEM, like grills, you should be fine.
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      02-11-2013, 02:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
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ahh ok no probs, was just looking for something to fit in the rears
do you know the max depth of E92 rear drivers?
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      02-11-2013, 02:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mob17 View Post
Sounds like its more or less sorted now.

You can still compete if you wanted. In the EMMA OEM class you are allowed to change the source unit As long as everything else is OEM, like grills, you should be fine.


Thanks mate. I will read T&C to see if I can participate. If the time permits, worth of trying.
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      02-11-2013, 03:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
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do you know the max depth of E92 rear drivers?
Iirc 42 or 44 mm
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      02-11-2013, 04:01 AM   #11
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Great post once again. I will be interested to see your system's sound versus my one after today when it all gets finished. Two different routes to the same outcome of sonic loverly ness.
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      02-11-2013, 01:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mistryn View Post
Iirc 42 or 44 mm
Sorry mate, mine are 50 or 52 mm and can't fit in yours.

I must say that they played low down to 100Hz with authority compared to Focals. If I play my focals dows to 125Hz, they start clipping.
However Focals are more sensitive.
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      02-11-2013, 01:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Great post once again. I will be interested to see your system's sound versus my one after today when it all gets finished. Two different routes to the same outcome of sonic loverly ness.
I am ready to meet James. Whenever you are free, we'll try to meet.
I'd love to hear your sound system as well being MB three system and that is something new.
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      02-11-2013, 02:32 PM   #14
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Congrats on the 3rd upgrade stage buddy, love to hear it when you're done! 12w7 as IB... now this I need to hear in comparison. I bet it'll blow the socks off mine lol!
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      02-11-2013, 03:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by makkan00 View Post
I am ready to meet James. Whenever you are free, we'll try to meet.
I'd love to hear your sound system as well being MB three system and that is something new.
Out of interest my installer has just removed a set of Focal 4" and Earthquakes from a e92 and replaced with the MB Quart 3 way. The customer was much happier with the SQ. I have told him to put on sale on here as i am sure there will be members that want that kit.

On looking at the 8" driver side by side the rubber surround on the MB Quart is much chunkier in comparison to the earthquake and the construction of it seems better. As a speaker they are very different in their delivery
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      02-11-2013, 05:38 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by AWBimmer View Post
Congrats on the 3rd upgrade stage buddy, love to hear it when you're done! 12w7 as IB... now this I need to hear in comparison. I bet it'll blow the socks off mine lol!
Surely, and I am looking forward to hear your sound system. You have not updated your thread with pics and findings.
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      02-11-2013, 05:46 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sohlman View Post
Out of interest my installer has just removed a set of Focal 4" and Earthquakes from a e92 and replaced with the MB Quart 3 way. The customer was much happier with the SQ. I have told him to put on sale on here as i am sure there will be members that want that kit.

On looking at the 8" driver side by side the rubber surround on the MB Quart is much chunkier in comparison to the earthquake and the construction of it seems better. As a speaker they are very different in their delivery
James
I am looking to change earthquakes just to find out why people are against them. I have found them versatile, with having the abilities to play low and equally play mid bass provided the condition that you feed them properly. Yes, they are power hungry but once fed properly, they work brilliantly. You will see what I mean.

I think we'll compare both of these sound system when we meet. Have you tuned your sound system with TA and auto equiliser?
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      02-11-2013, 05:50 PM   #18
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Makkan, does your HU auto EQ or does it have a 31 band EQ?
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      02-12-2013, 02:10 AM   #19
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Hi Makkan , looks like you have been busy again! Being as you own a e90 [and i didnt want to start a new thread] I want to change the fronts in my car. It currently has just the door mid drivers so no tweeters. What size can I get in there and is converting the front to a 2 - way set up a pain?
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      02-12-2013, 03:50 AM   #20
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Hi Makkan , looks like you have been busy again! Being as you own a e90 [and i didnt want to start a new thread] I want to change the fronts in my car. It currently has just the door mid drivers so no tweeters. What size can I get in there and is converting the front to a 2 - way set up a pain?
To go two way you need the tweeter surrounds from BMW which cost 26 each side. Plus a component set of speakers. Components there are various options, but require adapter plates and need to be of the correct mounting depth.

If you want a simple inexspensive solution you can fit the MB Quart coaxil doing away with the need of adapter plates and surrounds which will improve the standard system somewhat. As it happens i have two sets of these that are unused so if you are interested send me a PM.

As i am others have discovered up grading the sound system can become very exspensive.

Hope this helps
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      02-12-2013, 03:58 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sohlman View Post
To go two way you need the tweeter surrounds from BMW which cost 26 each side. Plus a component set of speakers. Components there are various options, but require adapter plates and need to be of the correct mounting depth.

If you want a simple inexspensive solution you can fit the MB Quart coaxil doing away with the need of adapter plates and surrounds which will improve the standard system somewhat. As it happens i have two sets of these that are unused so if you are interested send me a PM.

As i am others have discovered up grading the sound system can become very exspensive.

Hope this helps
Hi mate thanks for the info. I know what you mean in terms of the expense as have had a few cars with various systems. Most sold on and could not be bothered to strip out!

Still have the MB Quart IB sub and Phoenix Gold amps though so your set might fill the void nicely.
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      02-12-2013, 05:50 AM   #22
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Quote:
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As i am others have discovered up grading the sound system can become very exspensive.

Hope this helps
Tell me about it, 6 weeks ago I was considering a budget speaker upgrade, since then I've had all the speakers replaced with Gladen units driven by Mosconi amps Front (Gladen One 120.4 DSP & Bluetooth) & Rear (120.2). By the time the MoBridge iPod controller goes in at the weekend I won't be far off 2k .... ouch
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