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      05-23-2013, 04:54 PM   #1
Ali-323i
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Smile My Stereo Install - From Base to Aftermarket

Hello all, I’m a newbie here but have been reading these forums for some tips and ideas on upgrading my stock audio system. Before I begin, I’d like to say that this forum was extremely useful, so Thanks to all!!

This is quite long as I’ve included a number of details on the installation, as well as my though process. Hopefully it doesn’t annoy you to saying “just get to the point already!”
The work is still in progress, and I have bolded a few areas where input/opinions would be appreciated. I will continue to update this post as the work gets done. Part 2 of the job may have to wait a few weeks as my schedule is just very tight.

Summary:
Although some of the decisions I made might have been contrary to what many have posted here, I am generally very pleased with the outcome of my setup. I’m currently still waiting on finishing the sub component, so am missing some bass, but otherwise very pleased with the overall job. This includes the sound quality and esthetics. I do have a couple of minor tweaks to request from installer when I get the sub done, see details in the HU section.

Original Setup:
I started out with the Base Professional stereo (no tweeters, no amp, 6” seat woofers) in my 2007 323i 4dr (Canadian model). It didn’t take me long before I decided I needed an audio upgrade (the two Talons I’ve owned prior to this have always had big box systems with amps and subs). As everyone knows, the base stereo is underpowered and lacks a flat sound curve.

Objectives:
I had a few main objectives I wanted to accomplish:
1. Functionality – mainly the addition of BT audio streaming WITH HU control (not using the AUX jack)
2. SQ – increase the quality of the sound across the board, add some volume
3. Bass – I’ve always been a bit of a bass-head, definitely needed some lows that I just wasn’t getting
4. Esthetics – I wanted everything to look clean and stock-ish. Not totally opposed to changing the stock look, but as long as it still looks clean
5. Cost – definitely wanted to keep costs down, so I wanted to maximize the use of equipment I had already owned from my previous installations

Head Unit:
As mentioned, I definitely wanted to keep a stock-ish type look to the car. At first, I was very hesitant to change the HU, the Professional radio looks very clean. After doing some reading though, I was finding it would be difficult, and expensive, to integrate Bluetooth audio support WITH audio controls (changing tracks from HU / Steering Wheel). Given I don’t have stock iPod integration, I think my options are limited to devices tricking my HU into thinking the BT adaptor is a CD Changer. I only found one such option (FISCON?) and it wasn’t cheap. Plus, keeping my stock HU also would require recoding (or the addition of an MS-8 or other device), which also would have further increased costs.
It’s for that reason, I decided to go with the double-DIN Pioneer AVIC-920 BT instead. Offers ALL the functionality I could want (BT audio, BT phone, iPod, Navi, DivX/video, EQ, etc.). I was still concerned about the esthetics of replacing the HU, but took the plunge as I decided function > form (but it was close).
Now that the HU is in, I’m super pleased! Frankie at 20 Hertz (Toronto) did an AMAZING job at creating a custom bezel for my HU. I have the manual climate controls (3 dials, not 2), and I had a hard time finding the right bezel for a double DIN in my car… I found ones that have the heater controls on the top, with HU at the bottom, but I wanted HU at the top for ideal access to screen while driving etc. Frankie made it happen, and was a pleasure to work with for the whole installation.
There are a couple of parts of the install that remain:
1) Steering Wheel controls – his supplier sent the wrong part, so I need to back another day for him to put that in, looking to get Volume and Prev/Next track support. Phone functions would be great, audio source button less so. In case the adaptor doesn’t give full access to all wheel controls
2) ACC/Ignition wires – as I’ve heard with many other aftermarket units, the HU only turns on when the car is on. This is a pain for me, I often am on a call / listening to music after arriving at my destination, and shut off the car but keep key in ignition until I’m ready to leave. Hoping we can find a different ignition trigger to use rather than something tied to Start/Stop button (i.e. lighter). SUGGESTIONS WELCOME!!

Amps:
With the HU installed, I had access to line level, flat inputs to feed into my amps. Ideally I would have wanted a 5 or 6 channel setup, allowing me to control the under-seat woofers separately from the 4” drivers in the front doors / rear deck. I only wanted to connect 2 amps (not 3). Again, using equipment I already owned, I had access to a 4-channel Sony amp and 2 2-channel Punch amps. On this decision, I decided to go form over function, and opted for using the 2 2-channel Punch amps because they just looks so much nicer together! Since I wasn’t using “compact” amps that would fit where a stock amp would normally go, my amps are mounted to the back of the back-seats (inside trunk, seats don’t fold down), and are on display. This definitely factored into my decision.
I bridged all 6 speakers inside the cabin to 2-channels, powered by a Punch 2002 (200W RMS). I know I lose flexibility for staging, and control to get better sound out of my seat woofers, but for “Stage 1”, it was fine. In the future, I may consider adding a 3rd amp to resolve some of these issues (especially if I change my cabin speakers, they are all stock for now). I did run each of the 4 speaker channels separately, and bridged them at the amp to “future-proof” my setup. Similarly, there are Front, Rear, and SUB RCAs coming from the HU into my trunk, despite not being able to use the Rear ones for now.
My second Punch amp, a 2-channel 3002 model (300W RMS) will be bridged to a 4-ohm mono load to power the sub in the trunk.
The installation was very clean, again, Frankie and his team at 20Hz were awesome, and did exactly what I wanted. I mounted one of the amps upside down to create a symmetrical look (see pics). I also had a stiffening cap handy, so we mounted that too, though it didn’t fit under the amps as I originally hoped.

Sub:
This part of the install is yet to be done, but I plan on creating a custom enclosure for a 12” woofer under the floorboard similar to the BSW sub. I love the idea of maintaining all my trunk space, and also think it would be esthetically cool to see the woofer under the floor. I’m not sure if the stock floor cover will allow enough bass through, without rattling, when it’s closed. Might just create a speaker cut out for the sub, and use a grill to protect the woofer. OTHER THOUGHTS / SUGGESTIONS?
Again, I had an existing woofer I wanted to use, a simple JL 12w0 which I pulled from a box that contained 2 such 12’s. Not sure why I didn’t check before, but when getting the system installed, I noticed the woofer was an 8-ohm, and wouldn’t be ideal for my single-sub setup. As a result, I’m now looking for a 4-ohm 12” woofer, and leaning towards a JL 12w3. Again, SUGGESTIONS WELCOME for sub options. I do want to stick to 12” for esthetic reasons, 10” woofers always just looked small to me.

Outcome:
Overall, I am very pleased with the output (pending Sub install). Of course, I’ll re-evaluate after the sub goes in, but for now, what a difference!
Esthetically, Frankie and team did a great job with the HU custom bezel, wiring, and amp install. The HU button lights can be customized, and I’ve matched the colour to the other stock controls 100%. The HU looks better than I originally expected, and still looks very clean and stock-ish.
SQ is significantly improved! Now that the source feed has been flattened, the need for tweeters has been highlighted, but still, for the stock speakers without tweeters, I’m surprisingly impressed with the SQ! Vocals are loud and clear, mid-bass is much improved (though I suspect there is still room for improvement here by upgrading to 8” seat-woofers, and using a bandpass filter – something for “stage 2”). Even the highs do sound better, despite the flat EQ and lack of tweeters. The highs need a boost, but sound more natural now.
Volume is increased too, and absolutely no distortion when pumping it up! The HPF keeps my stock speakers “safe” from being overpowered… or so I hope!! I’ve decided to disable the x-over on the amps, and use the HU settings for convenience. Cabin is HPF at 125Hz, and when the sub goes in, I expect to LPF that at 100Hz. I’ll play with my options once the sub goes in, so those numbers may change. I’ve read that I shouldn’t be worried about the “gap” in x-over frequencies, as both HPF and LPF will still play some frequencies between 100-125Hz, and together these may balance out.

Remaining Items:
As mentioned, I need to go in to see Frankie (20Hz) again to finish the job due to some complications. Things I expect to finish on that second visit (Suggestions welcome for other tweaks I should consider when I go):
1) Steering wheel control adaptor for Pioneer HU
2) Investigate finding a different ignition/remote lead from the car so the HU works with just the key inserted, and not having to start the car
3) Sub purchase (leaning towards 12w3)
4) Custom 12” enclosure under the trunk floor (where spare tire usually goes)
5) Investigate custom iPhone dock/holder in the small storage next to hand-brake (not center console) – SUGGESTIONS WELCOME (I want it to work with iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 – I already have apple 30-pin to lightning adaptor)

Future “Stage 2” options:
I’m planning to enjoy “Stage 1” for at least a year, to spread out the costs of upgrading my system. I do plan on keeping the car for a while (I only stopped driving my 95 Talon in December 2012, purchased in June 2000). Whether it’s next year, or sooner/later, here is what I expect my next steps to be:
1) Component 4” sets for the front doors, using OEM tweeter sails (may consider hacking my existing door trim for tweeters in the same location, but why not just replace the trim for a clean look and easy job?)
2) 8” mid-bass drivers under the seats – Kicker or some other alternative better geared for mid-bass (not earthquakes)
3) Use of a 3rd 2-channel amp to power 8” woofers separately to feed it adequate power, and band-pass them. Would consider replacing one of my 2-channel amps with a 4-ch to get same effect, but again, like the esthetics of my current setup. If I get a 3rd amp, may mount that in stock amp location and keep hidden. SUGGESTIONS WELCOME!
4) Install external crossover to control band-pass for 8’s mainly, but can control all crossovers for ideal SQ – I already have a crossover unit from my past applications
5) 4” coaxials for the rear-deck; totally optional, but I do believe rear seat occupants deserve good audio too!

Thanks for reading! Hopefully it wasn’t too long and you made it to the end.

Looking forward to feedback and comments!!

Sorry the Pics aren't in order
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Last edited by Ali-323i; 05-23-2013 at 05:01 PM..
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      05-23-2013, 07:56 PM   #2
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Where did you mount your antennas for Nav and Sirius (if you have it)? I bought some Fakra plugs to crimp on so I can have a clean install utilizing the factory Nav and Sirius antenna in the sharkfin. I will be doing a full write up on install after I get it done, seems there is very little info out there available to people.

For steering wheel controls the Axxess AWSC works just fine according to others here. Why aren't you using that?? If you are and it's not working, read the instructions more carefully, it requires different set up steps for different HU's.

Did you run your stock HU to the trunk?? There is a pretty simple DIY that only requires one extra cheap Metra harness and a few wires to accomplish.

And what's wrong with tapping regular ACC power?? If you're using the stereo while not running, just give the start button a quick stab to put you in ACC power and listen the stereo all you want.

Last edited by Viktimize; 05-23-2013 at 10:58 PM..
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      05-24-2013, 05:03 AM   #3
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What about a 12" Fi IB3 mounted in the ski pass.
http://store.ficaraudio.com/ib312/

For an amp take a look at the PDX V9, or a JL XD600/6 + a seperate amp for the sub.

Good call on the head unit, the stock one isn't worth dealing with when you can replace it with a nice double din.

Last edited by bmw325i; 05-24-2013 at 05:10 AM..
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      05-25-2013, 05:07 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies.

Viktimize,
I don't have Sirius, but mounted the GPS antenna under the plastic cover where the centre channel speaker would go if I had one. It's mounted in the middle of the panel, so it doesn't block any air flow from defogger.

The installer didn't receive the steering wheel adaptor, despite ordering it, so I need to go back for him to finish that part of the job.

I did not keep my stock HU, or relocate it. Just removed it altogether. Guessing newer harnesses allow for that? I think he used a Metra harness, not sure.

Main reason to find a new ignition wire is because I often arrive at my destination and while on the phone. I don't want to keep my engine running just to maintain connection to my speakerphone. Turning off the engine at that point results in the whole deck shutting off. Restarting the HU then takes a bit of time.

Bmw325i,
I'll look into the subs mentioned, but unfortunately don't have the ski pass in my car. No folding seats or any access to the trunk.
I want to use amps I already have, and was happy with the punch amp in my old car powering a 15" sub. I think it will do fine for a 12" here. In the future when I add a third amp, I still have 3 more amps at home ready to deploy from systems in my previous cars.

Loving the HU, so nice to have all the functionality available with such ease.

Thanks!
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      11-19-2013, 11:31 AM   #5
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hey!

I've been thinking about adding a sub in the trunk just like how you have yours or a corner enclosure.... only think that has stopped me so far is because I don't know how how much of a rattle it would give the trunk... can you comment on it? Last installs I've done I've ended up using dynamat (well actually fatmat) in the trunk and behind the license plate. I hate seeing cars with a nice-decent system but when the trunk is closed it sounds like shit outside.
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      11-19-2013, 11:41 AM   #6
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Rear-facing enclosures seem to have the most issues with rattling... from what I've seen and read, enclosures facing upwards (like mine) or corner loaded enclosures, seem to reduce/eliminate the rattle since the air isn't being pushed directly against the trunk lid.
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      11-19-2013, 11:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by techy1 View Post
hey!

I've been thinking about adding a sub in the trunk just like how you have yours or a corner enclosure.... only think that has stopped me so far is because I don't know how how much of a rattle it would give the trunk... can you comment on it? Last installs I've done I've ended up using dynamat (well actually fatmat) in the trunk and behind the license plate. I hate seeing cars with a nice-decent system but when the trunk is closed it sounds like shit outside.
A corner enclosure or an enclosure in the storage compartment would work good without much rattling.

If your wanting something with a little more output and no rattles, you could do something similar to what I have. Its 2 Alpine SWR 12D4's powered by an Audioque 2200d.
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      11-19-2013, 11:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw325i View Post
A corner enclosure or an enclosure in the storage compartment would work good without much rattling.

If your wanting something with a little more output and no rattles, you could do something similar to what I have. Its 2 Alpine SWR 12D4's powered by an Audioque 2200d.
Thanks for sharing your setup. I'm guessing you don't use your trunk much though...
That was definitely one of my primary concerns... needing to maximize trunk space. And those cornerload boxes seemed ok, but then I wouldn't be able to fit my golf clubs. I feel like I really had no choice but to go under the floor!
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      11-24-2013, 08:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ali-323i View Post
Thanks for sharing your setup. I'm guessing you don't use your trunk much though...
That was definitely one of my primary concerns... needing to maximize trunk space. And those cornerload boxes seemed ok, but then I wouldn't be able to fit my golf clubs. I feel like I really had no choice but to go under the floor!
Hardly ever. I am planning on getting 2 pdx m12's and mounting them somewhere else though so I can actually use the little space I have.

Anything other than a random box in the trunk is a good option. The storage tray is nice and hidden and you shouldn't have any rattles.
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      05-08-2014, 12:12 AM   #10
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Did you install a backup camera? i have problems finding the wire that triggers reverse signal to radio. the one on the light itself doesn't seem to work (yellow/grey), maybe it doesn't have enough voltage (8v) . When i turn on camera without the trigger it works fine.
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      05-08-2014, 05:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by constantin_md View Post
Did you install a backup camera? i have problems finding the wire that triggers reverse signal to radio. the one on the light itself doesn't seem to work (yellow/grey), maybe it doesn't have enough voltage (8v) . When i turn on camera without the trigger it works fine.
No backup camera for me (yet?). Keep me posted on your progress though as this may be something I choose to add in the future as well.
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      05-11-2014, 03:48 AM   #12
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I bought this newer cmos camera from ebay:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/130968579097...84.m1497.l2649
The rca video cable is just the right length, no extender needed.
video is great, even at night. will keep you posted when i try the relay to convert the reverse trigger from variable 8v to 12v stable.
also i fuse tapped http://www.ebay.com/itm/151176579878...84.m1497.l2649 to homelink fuse and ran the wire to the trunk.
also bought Permatex 80050 (amazon) for the small cut i did on rubber seal in the trunk so i could run power, trigger and video cable through it (right side / the part where wires come from the inner side of the trunk to outside of the car then to trunk door) won't get rain inside the car with this.
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      02-10-2016, 01:04 PM   #13
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How did u connect the remote wire?
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      02-10-2016, 01:29 PM   #14
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Have more pics of your system?
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      02-10-2016, 03:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bmwner View Post
How did u connect the remote wire?
Not sure I understand your question about remote wire. The harness uses a wire that turns on when the car is on, but not when the key is inserted... I had to do a lot of digging to find which wire my installer should tap into. I don't have the info anymore, but I think it was a purple wire near the driver footwell, close to the pedals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bmwner View Post
Have more pics of your system?
Any pics in particular you're looking for? I've changed the setup a little bit, just consolidated all those amps and now using a single JL 700/5, also hidden under the trunk floor similar to the sub.

I'll upload something soon.
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      02-10-2016, 03:03 PM   #16
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A couple of pics from my phone.
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      02-10-2016, 03:06 PM   #17
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I've also realized that I didn't update this thread when I progressed my system... so here's what I have now:

Pioneer AVIC HU
Steering wheel controls work (don't know which adaptor was used)
Audio System 3-way E90 kit (includes 4" mids for doors, tweeters, and 8" woofers for under the seat - all fits in stock locations)
JL 700/5
- 2 channels for front and rear (I know, not ideal... keeping an eye out for a deal on an amp(s) to give me 7 channels)
- 2 channels for under seat woofers
- 1 channel for sub
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      02-12-2016, 03:20 PM   #18
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did this set up work with your PDC? if you have it. If you don't do you know if it will be functional with an aftermarket double din like the set up you have?
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      02-12-2016, 07:34 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E90335xiLCI
did this set up work with your PDC? if you have it. If you don't do you know if it will be functional with an aftermarket double din like the set up you have?
I don't have pdc, but I'm sure it's been covered in another thread.

Good luck
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      02-12-2016, 08:05 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by constantin_md
Did you install a backup camera? i have problems finding the wire that triggers reverse signal to radio. the one on the light itself doesn't seem to work (yellow/grey), maybe it doesn't have enough voltage (8v) . When i turn on camera without the trigger it works fine.
I had this same problem when taping the tail light not enough power to power the camera. then I used a relay and used the reverse light power to power the relay when in reverse with a hot wire from the battery to power the camera works like a charm.
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