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Thread: Low Cost e36 Speaker Replacement Guide

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    tmaxx445's Avatar
    tmaxx445 is offline E38 6 Speed Club Member! BMW CCA Member
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    Low Cost e36 Speaker Replacement Guide

    When I first bought my e36 last year it was equipped with the Harmon Kardon 10 Speaker Hi-Fi system with the factory installed 6 disk changer. After I had the car for a few weeks I noticed that it did not sound as good as my fathers e36 1998 M3/4/5 with the same Hi-Fi system which had been stored in a temperature controlled garage the whole time he has owned it (Bought it in 2000). I was not sure what the problem was at first, then I shined a flashlight through the speaker grills and noticed that there was nothing left of the foam speaker surrounds in the door woofers. I then took all of the speakers out and looked at them and realized that there was not much life left in any of the door speakers or the rear tweeters. The kick panel woofer's surrounds were OK as were the 6x9 woofers in the rear deck, but I am replacing it all anyway. I was just going to get the BSW stage 1 upgrade which included all new speakers for $500. This seemed like a very good option and is by far the simplest and quickest in terms of speaker selection as well as installation. Then I came across this website - http://www.dvatp.com/bmw/diy/hk_speaker_upgrade/. This got me wondering if I should not just do something similar to what he did. After much thought, planing, and research I decided that I was going to go for the more DIY/custom option. I really wanted to keep the OEM head unit as I think aftermarket head units look cheap with the rest of the e36 interior. All of the chrome dials and blue and red lights make them look like something that belongs in a ricer Honda. I am sure that the sound quality is better on some of them, but I was happy with my C33 with 6 disk changer and the AUX in mod. Someday I might get a CD43 if I run across one at a good price, but I wanted to keep the BMW look. I also was not too thrilled about replacing the amp as it is more money and work than I was looking to get into as I would be happy if it was just back to stock form in terms audio quality speakers. I just waned to replace the speakers with units of equal or better sound quality than the originals while keeping the cost as low as possible as I am only 16 years old. I selected 10 new speakers to replace the originals while still keeping them all behind the stock speaker grills. I am also keeping the stock head unit. I am using the stock amplifier as well.
    Speakers that I have selected:

    Mid ranges in the Door:
    https://www.madisound.com/store/prod...oducts_id=9049

    Kick panel woofers and door tweeters:
    http://www.woofersetc.com/p-5208-cl-...-speakers.aspx

    Rear woofers and tweeters:
    http://www.sonicelectronix.com/item_...se-SC6900.html


    The total for the 10 new speakers above is about $230. I have the 6 speakers for the front stage installed now and they are a big improvement over what I had and offer better bass as well as high frequencies than my fathers HK e36 does that is in good condition. I did not use the included crossovers with the CDT system, but plan on installing them after the amplifier later as it will protect agent overdrive it that is even possible with the stock amp as well as provide some gain settings for the tweeters. I will be getting and installing the 4 rear speakers in the next few weeks and will let you know how they work out for me. I had to do some dremeling on a few things but it was not too bad to get the front 6 installed. I will have to modify the rear speaker baskets a tad bit when I get them, but this is outlined in the website above as is most of the other things that may have to be dremeled if you go with new speakers other than the BSW ones. If you have any more questions don't hesitate to ask.





    tmaxx445
    Last edited by tmaxx445; 03-21-2011 at 04:28 PM.
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    This sounds good it's exactly what I want to do. However, be prepared to be flamed allot of the people here believe that unless you spend allot of money there is NO WAY it can sound good (THEY think they know more about what YOU like or believe is reasonable to spend) so just ignore them and enjoy your new sounds.
    Here is an example of what I'm talking about.

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    I have a few questions about your how to. First, I don't have the stock head unit, I have a clarion one hooked in with a wiring harness. It all sounds good to me, except my damn midranges are shot. To be honest, I only want to replace the midranges, but after reading the article you linked to it doesn't really say anything about connecting non BSW aftermarket midranges. Nor does it or you say anything about how to secure the midranges to the door. Any input on this would be appreciated!

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    All I need are my front tweeters replaced... Do you think it will sound funny if I only replace those? How difficult was the install?

    98 5MT Hellrot 328i SOLD
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    I'm thinking of copying this. Can anyone suggest an affordable amp that would work well with these speakers and be able to support a decent sub?

  6. #6
    tmaxx445's Avatar
    tmaxx445 is offline E38 6 Speed Club Member! BMW CCA Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by soth View Post
    I'm thinking of copying this. Can anyone suggest an affordable amp that would work well with these speakers and be able to support a decent sub?
    I have no idea on aftermarket amps as I am just using the factory HK amp with my set up and never looked at them. I am planing on installing a basslink II and trying the setup without any rear 6x9's. I am hoping that the basslink and new rear tweeters with the 6x9 pass through open will be better than just new 6x9's and tweeters.
    http://www.infinitysystems.com/car/p...=US&Region=USA




    tmaxx445
    2001 740i / S62 Swap / 6 Speed Swap / Titanium Silver Metallic / Grey Montana Leather / M Sport / Convenience Pkg / Heated Seats / PDC / MKIV Navigation / DSP / Bluetooth TCU / Dice Mediabridge / Vavona Trim / Illuminated ZHP Shift Knob / Short Shifter / Cat Delete / SAI Delete / Euro Tune / Koni Singles / H&R II Springs / Custom 3.15 25% Limited Slip Diff / Staggered OE M Parallels / 275 & 245 Firehawks / Euro City Lights / Celis Tail Lights / SunTek 70% CXP Tint

    2005 M3 Coupe
    / 6 Speed / Silver Gray Metallic / Black Nappa Leather / Premium Pkg / Cold Weather Pkg / Bi Xenons / Adjustable Bolsters / MKIV Navigation / Harman Kardon / Bluetooth / Sirius XM / Aux In / Carbon Trim / ZHP Shift Knob / Short Shifter / StreamLine Intake / SS Headers / AR20 Resonator / Exhaust Bypass Valve / P0lar Tune / Koni Yellows / Eibach Springs / Staggered OE CSLs / 275 & 245 595 Evos / Angel Eyes / CF CSL Splitters / SunTek 38% Carbon Tint


    2003 4.6is X5 / Boring Stock Vehicle /

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    tmaxx, if you're listening, I can speak on the Basslink II as I had one in my 97 328is. Let me start by saying the Basslink II is an awesome powered sub. Mine has the 4 channel amp extension and was the backbone of a slamming system in my old 300ZX. It truly was amazing in that tiny hatchback. When I bought my e36, I moved it over. What I found was the trunk of the BMW is so well sealed I got maybe 25% of the bass I used to enjoy. BSW and others sell the Basslink but I would not recommend it unless you just want some low end support. Even with the rear seats folded down there just wasn't enough bass to satisfy me. I'm not out to turn heads though, I just love it loud.

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    I don't understand all the confusion over this, the stock speakers can be changed straight out with any other brand as long as they fit the profiles (Every decent brand accommodates BMW stock profiles).

    You are simply wasting your time and money by buying those speakers, you are also wasting your time and money on amplifying them.
    Buy some decent branded components and you will have no need for amplification nor for tweeters.
    I only amplify my 2x 12 inch pioneer subs, the components run on stock power with absolutely no loss in performance, they have no problem keeping up with the amplified subs.
    Also without changing out your head unit you won't be getting any sound worth while, the stock standard BMW head units are only good for paper weights, plus most don't support RCA connections which means you won't be adding subs!

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    Quote Originally Posted by baseball View Post
    be prepared to be flamed allot of the people here believe that unless you spend allot of money there is NO WAY it can sound good (THEY think they know more about what YOU like or believe is reasonable to spend) so just ignore them and enjoy your new sounds.
    Here is an example of what I'm talking about.
    There were what, 2 people in that thread that were negative. One thing I missed in that thread was that the BSW stage 1 fronts are $330 shipped. There's a no brainer to me. Front speakers are the most important part of the car stereo and to get a $330 solution using Rainbow gear and being plug and play is an excellent result. Yes you can save $100 mixing and mingling different brands (and there's nothing wrong with Vifa) but why would you, when BSW have spent some considerable time getting speakers that work properly with the 3 way amplifier in the factory system. If budget's the issue then grab a cheap 2nd hand 2 channel amp and track down some 2nd hand 2 way components instead.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamE36 View Post
    You are simply wasting your time and money by buying those speakers, you are also wasting your time and money on amplifying them.
    Buy some decent branded components and you will have no need for amplification nor for tweeters.
    I only amplify my 2x 12 inch pioneer subs, the components run on stock power with absolutely no loss in performance, they have no problem keeping up with the amplified subs.
    Also without changing out your head unit you won't be getting any sound worth while, the stock standard BMW head units are only good for paper weights, plus most don't support RCA connections which means you won't be adding subs!
    have to call you on that, it's absolute rubbish

    Your components have approx 18w rms on tap to them, some of which will be lost in the passive crossover and they can keep up with your 2 x 12" subs? Sorry to burst your bubble but you will have an enormous imbalance (and a huge hole) in your midbass. All speakers benefit from external amplicifation. Why? Because the headunit's internal amp is pretty rubbish. Expect some decent distortion from about 2/3 full volume and above.
    The reality of having 'decent branded components' is you need to amplify them to get the most out of them, and if you aren't going to get the most (or 90%+) out of them then why waste money buying them in the first place when a cheaper nastier set of components would have equally poor performance in an externally un-amplified system.

    Now BMW headunits. Apparently they're not too bad. Someone on here had one on a scope a while back and demonstrated that they hold their own with aftermarket units in terms of sound quality. Downside is they lack bells and whistles.

    Also please note that RCAs are not essential for adding external amplification. Adding a LOC gives you a cheap and basic solution to this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogan View Post
    There were what, 2 people in that thread that were negative. One thing I missed in that thread was that the BSW stage 1 fronts are $330 shipped. There's a no brainer to me. Front speakers are the most important part of the car stereo and to get a $330 solution using Rainbow gear and being plug and play is an excellent result. Yes you can save $100 mixing and mingling different brands (and there's nothing wrong with Vifa) but why would you, when BSW have spent some considerable time getting speakers that work properly with the 3 way amplifier in the factory system. If budget's the issue then grab a cheap 2nd hand 2 channel amp and track down some 2nd hand 2 way components instead.



    have to call you on that, it's absolute rubbish

    Your components have approx 18w rms on tap to them, some of which will be lost in the passive crossover and they can keep up with your 2 x 12" subs? Sorry to burst your bubble but you will have an enormous imbalance (and a huge hole) in your midbass. All speakers benefit from external amplicifation. Why? Because the headunit's internal amp is pretty rubbish. Expect some decent distortion from about 2/3 full volume and above.
    The reality of having 'decent branded components' is you need to amplify them to get the most out of them, and if you aren't going to get the most (or 90%+) out of them then why waste money buying them in the first place when a cheaper nastier set of components would have equally poor performance in an externally un-amplified system.

    Now BMW headunits. Apparently they're not too bad. Someone on here had one on a scope a while back and demonstrated that they hold their own with aftermarket units in terms of sound quality. Downside is they lack bells and whistles.

    Also please note that RCAs are not essential for adding external amplification. Adding a LOC gives you a cheap and basic solution to this.
    What a load of shit, You need to amplify components to get the most from them? So you are saying that an 8 speaker setup would need 2x 4 channel amps to power components properly .So even low range we are talking about putting at least 300 watts through a 5.25" speaker which may have a 60-70 watt MAX.....that's some sound advice right there. Or are you saying it's a good idea to share channels? RMS means nothing without ohms, shopping around for speakers based only on RMS is completely ridiculous.

    Please answer this, do you honestly think those BSE speakers amplified would even be able to touch JL components unamplified? You can amplify components all you want but all you will be left with is a high pitched,unpunchy setup..Honestly if you are relying on anything but subs to provide bass you are clearly not right in the head!!
    And mid-range bass? BUY SOME DECENT SPEAKERS!!!!!! You will be amazed what they have done since the late 80's (where you seem to be stuck) in the way of speakers....jeez they are even making high end 6-way splits these days.

    We can end this quite easily to see who is correct....post videos of our systems in action, I will even do a video with and without my subs. Put your money where your mouth is

  11. #11
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    I'm not saying don't use passive crossovers, just saying that you need to understand that they use up some of the available power. 18rms is about the limit per channel of a headunit's internal amp and this is what powers your tweeters, midrange and midbass. Please understand that midbass is a frequency range you wouldn't want your sub playing in a car because it would drag your sound stage backwards (note: not covering the use of dash-mounted subwoofers here). The issue you have is balancing the output of your midbass drivers (ie your 5.25 speakers) with the output of your subs. 5.25 cone size and limited throw restrict the low frequency output ability such that you'll be lucky to have much authority under about 200hz which is well above where your subwoofer signals should be crossed. This is the hole I'm talking about in your midbass frequencies. Midbass does not equal subbass.

    Getting back to headunit internal amplifiers. Look at the physical size of a headunit, subtract the volume for the CD mechanism, the nosepiece and associated controls, the connectors at the back, and all the electronic trickery required for usb inputs, DACs, power supply and regulation and you'll realise there isn't much space left for an amplifier. Regardless of whether it's built in built in the 1950s or on Mars there simply isn't the volume of space required to provide the necessary functions of a decent amplifier: power supply, heat dissipation and all the other witchcraft that goes on inside.

    A headunit's internal amplifier is designed to make 95% of it's users happy, and it does a pretty reasonable job of that, but push them over about 2/3 volume and you start to get distortion in the output. I'm not saying that you have to have external amplification nor is it unacceptable to run components off the headunit when you have subs: a few years ago I put a basic system in my wife's car, 5.25 comps in the front running off the headunit and a 10" sub with 300rms in the boot. Was cost and install-time effective and was a pleasing result, but there's no way you'd have labelled it sound quality, nor did it reach any where near the potential of the front speakers.

    I haven't heard any JL components I'd want to own, but I have heard Rainbows and rated them. This is a subjective opinion and I'm sure there's others who would have an entirely different opinion. I wouldn't use either, but if I had to make a call between the 2 I'd take the BSW without blinking.

    I own 3 way splits and have played with a fully active 5-way front stage (which I wouldn't recommend to anyone), but never have I seen 6-way splits. Damn being trapped in the 80s.

    What purpose would a video of your system serve. All it's going to show is how bad the microphone you used is, and how appaling my computer speakers are. I can send you a picture of an orange, even a video of it if you really insist, but how's that going to tell you what it tastes like?

    You can amplify components all you want but all you will be left with is a high pitched,unpunchy setup..
    This is so wrong I just don't even know where to start here. Audition a car where there been alot of work done on midbass and you'll understand what punch is all about.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamE36 View Post
    What a load of shit, You need to amplify components to get the most from them? So you are saying that an 8 speaker setup would need 2x 4 channel amps to power components properly .So even low range we are talking about putting at least 300 watts through a 5.25" speaker which may have a 60-70 watt MAX.....that's some sound advice right there. Or are you saying it's a good idea to share channels? RMS means nothing without ohms, shopping around for speakers based only on RMS is completely ridiculous.

    Please answer this, do you honestly think those BSE speakers amplified would even be able to touch JL components unamplified? You can amplify components all you want but all you will be left with is a high pitched,unpunchy setup..Honestly if you are relying on anything but subs to provide bass you are clearly not right in the head!!
    And mid-range bass? BUY SOME DECENT SPEAKERS!!!!!! You will be amazed what they have done since the late 80's (where you seem to be stuck) in the way of speakers....jeez they are even making high end 6-way splits these days.

    We can end this quite easily to see who is correct....post videos of our systems in action, I will even do a video with and without my subs. Put your money where your mouth is

    This is quite possibly the dumbest post ever in this forum. You can spell fairly well so I'll assume you can read. You should do ALOT of this.

    You obviously have no idea how a speaker works if you think you can get maximum performance without amplification.

    I am sending you a mental image (with sound) of my system since I don't have time to make a video. Hear that? That's 880 Watts of fine Italian amplification demonstrating to you what "impact" and "mid-bass" mean.

  13. #13
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    FYI, I wanted to share that I've found the Visaton FRS7-8 to be an excellent, inexpensive($12) replacement for the front door panel HK 65mm midrange speakers in my 98 e36 323ic. It's 2018 and this thread is old, but for $12 and a quick trim with tin snips to convert the 2.5" square frame to 65mm round, it seriously rocks. The speaker is the shallow enough to fit into the HK mounting tube, and the magnet is a little beefier and matches the 8 ohm spec of the one I removed. Now I have to replace the other door's midrange because it sounds so flat... Tweeters and kickpanel speakers already replaced about 5 years ago.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenWa View Post
    FYI, I wanted to share that I've found the Visaton FRS7-8 to be an excellent, inexpensive($12) replacement for the front door panel HK 65mm midrange speakers in my 98 e36 323ic. It's 2018 and this thread is old, but for $12 and a quick trim with tin snips to convert the 2.5" square frame to 65mm round, it seriously rocks. The speaker is the shallow enough to fit into the HK mounting tube, and the magnet is a little beefier and matches the 8 ohm spec of the one I removed. Now I have to replace the other door's midrange because it sounds so flat... Tweeters and kickpanel speakers already replaced about 5 years ago.
    What were your other low cost replacements options 5 yrs ago for the other speakers?

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