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Thread: Speaker upgrade

  1. #1
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    Speaker upgrade

    I replaced what BMW laughingly refers to as the radio and now realize that the stock speakers are horrible. I guess when you put enough power through them so they can be heard one can hear they're worse than garbage.

    Is it just me?

    Rick

  2. #2
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    Slippery slope here.

    My opinion (and of many others here) is that the stock amps are actually the problem. While most aftermarket amps measure Total Harmonic Distortion in .0XX%, these amps are around 1.0%

    They really aren't worth the meatal they're encased in. You'll be much better off getting a new amp now that you have an aftermarket HU which should have pre-amp outputs.

    -Todd

  3. #3
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    Actually, the CD43 factory head is a quite good pre-amp. BSW makes a speaker plug and play replacement kit this is great, but pricy. Integral Audio makes a model 80S sub that is dynomite, but very pricy indeed. If you replace all the speakers and the sub, and add a sub amp, the factory amp is able to handle the remaining speakers quite well. JBL makes an 8 channel amplified digital signal processor called the MS8 that looks like the ideal replacement for the factory amp, amusing you amplify the sub separately, and assuming you want to keep separate channels for the other speakers. The factory system is a 10 channel system (with two bridged for a single speaker sub). Keeping the CD43, I have done all but the MS8 so far and the system sounds very good at all volumes. I am planning on going the extra mile with the MS8 this year. I am planning on running the tweeter and mid (in each door) off of one channel with cross overs, and keeping the separate amplification for the sub, thereby freeing up a channel to use as a center. We'll see. Don't forget, the factory head put out a line level signal to the amp, so if your new head is sending an amplified signal to the factory amp, that could account for the crappy sound--unless you have cut the amp out of the system altogether.

  4. #4
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    I agree with the slippery slope, but really, you should replace everything in the system except the wires. I agree that the head unit is fine, however modern head units provide capability to control IPods, etc.

    The possibilities and combinations are limitless. Do a few searches here to get an idea of what you are in for. Then plan to replace the kick panel and door speakers with component speakers, plan to install the crossovers in the trunk, plan to add an amplifier with about 80 watts per channel (L&R) plus 200-250 watts for the subwoofer, plan to replace the subwoofer, and maybe the subwoofer enclosure. The best connection is to run a 3-channel RCA cable from the head unit to the amplifier, and on this car, thatís the hardest part of the job.

    Maybe a little daunting to some, but it's not that hard. Or you can hire a good stereo shop to do it. But the enjoy ability of your car will increase dramatically.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blacklane View Post
    I agree with the slippery slope, but really, you should replace everything in the system except the wires. I agree that the head unit is fine, however modern head units provide capability to control IPods, etc....
    With the GROM USB unit I connect my iPhone to the CD43 via bluetooth--I can control the iPhone functions through the head or the phone, stream anything (Pandora, my own music, pod casts, etc.), and it incorporates my audio system as a handsfree connection, with a microphone and sound through the system. With Siri, I voice dial and text--Google maps gives directions through the audio--it is every bit as modern as any new unit. The advantage to the CD43 is that it is so clean as a pre-amp, and preserves the factory appearance.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Bingley View Post

    With the GROM USB unit I connect my iPhone to the CD43 via bluetooth--I can control the iPhone functions through the head or the phone, stream anything (Pandora, my own music, pod casts, etc.), and it incorporates my audio system as a handsfree connection, with a microphone and sound through the system. With Siri, I voice dial and text--Google maps gives directions through the audio--it is every bit as modern as any new unit. The advantage to the CD43 is that it is so clean as a pre-amp, and preserves the factory appearance.
    I agree the CD34 is a great factory headunit. After a few different setups, I still prefer the CD34 w/ USA Spec adapter. But I stand by the fact that the factory amps are garbage.

    -Todd

  7. #7
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    is there anyway to get the harman sub to communicate with an aftermarket head unit?

  8. #8
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    Plug your harman sub into a nice single channel amp. Get a 4 channel amp for the rest of the speakers. Get on crutchfield and look up the box that attaches factory head units to aftermarket systems. Done.

    I did similar to this on my STI as I like the head unit it has but hated the sound it made.

  9. #9
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    the PO put an aftermarket head unit in but the subs aren't doing anything

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by pennpen View Post
    the PO put an aftermarket head unit in but the subs aren't doing anything
    Sounds like a hatched job to me. Might have to go back to square one and re-wire the lot.

  11. #11
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    In my gfs 1 series it's a great system...true bass and good highs. My old e34 touring improved a lot from a new head unit and two rears but I want a little more bass. I don't want window shaking bass but a nice punch like e46's or hers...I don't think the sub from hers will work in mine so what can I do? The front is fine, it's very clear but the rear is just the two down firing 6.5's. I want to put the other two mid to high range speaker in the empty holes like the 10 speaker Tourings but don't know how. Main thing is the bass...I like a clean look so I don't want to simply put a sub behind the rear arm rest. Any ideas?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Touringfanatic View Post
    In my gfs 1 series it's a great system...true bass and good highs. My old e34 touring improved a lot from a new head unit and two rears but I want a little more bass. I don't want window shaking bass but a nice punch like e46's or hers...I don't think the sub from hers will work in mine so what can I do? The front is fine, it's very clear but the rear is just the two down firing 6.5's. I want to put the other two mid to high range speaker in the empty holes like the 10 speaker Tourings but don't know how. Main thing is the bass...I like a clean look so I don't want to simply put a sub behind the rear arm rest. Any ideas?
    Your ID doesn't list a Z3--are you asking about a Z3 here, and if so, what year/engine?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Bingley View Post
    With the GROM USB unit I connect my iPhone to the CD43 via bluetooth--I can control the iPhone functions through the head or the phone, stream anything (Pandora, my own music, pod casts, etc.), and it incorporates my audio system as a handsfree connection, with a microphone and sound through the system. With Siri, I voice dial and text--Google maps gives directions through the audio--it is every bit as modern as any new unit. The advantage to the CD43 is that it is so clean as a pre-amp, and preserves the factory appearance.
    I've seen you praise the GROM USB several times on this forum and now you've piqued my curiosity. (and yes, I've also seen the messages from those that curse the GROM)

    I have a 2000 M Roadster with the CD43 headunit and factory (HK) two amps. I've replaced all of the speakers (incl sub) and will be replacing the HK amps with a JL Audio XD700/5 amp in the next few weeks.

    Can you describe the install procedure of the GROM? If you add the GROM bluetooth adapter, is there any need to do any wiring in the interior of the car? Does the GROM give you the ability to charge an iPhone? Does the CD43 headunit display the song title/artist/etc from the iPhone?

    Thank you for any info you can provide.

    Jack

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacksails54 View Post
    I've seen you praise the GROM USB several times on this forum and now you've piqued my curiosity. (and yes, I've also seen the messages from those that curse the GROM)

    I have a 2000 M Roadster with the CD43 headunit and factory (HK) two amps. I've replaced all of the speakers (incl sub) and will be replacing the HK amps with a JL Audio XD700/5 amp in the next few weeks.

    Can you describe the install procedure of the GROM? If you add the GROM bluetooth adapter, is there any need to do any wiring in the interior of the car? Does the GROM give you the ability to charge an iPhone? Does the CD43 headunit display the song title/artist/etc from the iPhone?

    Thank you for any info you can provide.

    Jack
    The Grom is a great unit and works pretty much flawlessly. However, it does have some limitations. Installation is relatively easy, depending on what cable options you go for. It is about the size of a cigarette pack, and can be mounted in the trunk via the CD changer port that is hard wired into our cars, or directly to the back of the CD43 via the input port for the CD changer. I ordered the Grom cable with a noise suppressor after the one without had some noise. Be sure to just order this off the bat. It has an optional bluetooth dongle and car kit that I highly recommend--it really shouldn't be optional at all, but standard. I installed the bluetooth kit, a USB cable, an iPhone/Pod cable and a standard input jack cable, and ran all of these to the center console. If I had it to do over, I wouldn't have bothered with any of the cables, and just installed the bluetooth kit--I have never used the cables. I assume that you could charge your iPhone from the Grom iPhone cable, but that is no different than from a cigarette lighter charger imho. If you were to use the iPhone cable, the Grom will give you play list control from the head and provide play list read out. However, the bluetooth just creates a direct portal between the iPhone and the CD43 with no read out, which you control basically from the iPhone (although you can skip tracks and answer calls via buttons on the CD43). I have found that I no longer play any of my own music resident on my iPhone, but always stream, either Pandora, NPR, or what have you. I also have the iPhone mounted in view (center console air vent), which is less distracting to look at than the CD43 anyway. The ability to stream is so nice that I cancelled my Sirius (which also worked through the Grom). The car kit is amazing--I put the microphone on the top of the driver's A pillar, just below where the top attaches (Roady), and I can talk on it at 80 mph with the top down no problem without the person I'm talking to knowing I'm not in my office.

    Hope this helps.

  15. #15
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    Excellent explanation! Thank you.

  16. #16
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    So, could you be implying that I could upgrade to a head unit with a pre-amp only unit (RCA outs) and just put RCA connectors on the signal leads that go to the amp?
    I guess I should ask if you know the output level of the CD-43? Also, are the leads to the back shielded?
    I am looking to upgrade the entire system but it has to be done a little at a time. Thanks for your response.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Bingley View Post
    Actually, the CD43 factory head is a quite good pre-amp. BSW makes a speaker plug and play replacement kit this is great, but pricy. Integral Audio makes a model 80S sub that is dynomite, but very pricy indeed. If you replace all the speakers and the sub, and add a sub amp, the factory amp is able to handle the remaining speakers quite well. JBL makes an 8 channel amplified digital signal processor called the MS8 that looks like the ideal replacement for the factory amp, amusing you amplify the sub separately, and assuming you want to keep separate channels for the other speakers. The factory system is a 10 channel system (with two bridged for a single speaker sub). Keeping the CD43, I have done all but the MS8 so far and the system sounds very good at all volumes. I am planning on going the extra mile with the MS8 this year. I am planning on running the tweeter and mid (in each door) off of one channel with cross overs, and keeping the separate amplification for the sub, thereby freeing up a channel to use as a center. We'll see. Don't forget, the factory head put out a line level signal to the amp, so if your new head is sending an amplified signal to the factory amp, that could account for the crappy sound--unless you have cut the amp out of the system altogether.
    Last edited by rudyrov; 01-27-2013 at 08:41 AM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by pennpen View Post
    the PO put an aftermarket head unit in but the subs aren't doing anything
    My GF had an aftermarket head unit installed at Best Buy and her sub works.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by rudyrov View Post
    So, could you be implying that I could upgrade to a head unit with a pre-amp only unit (RCA outs) and just put RCA connectors on the signal leads that go to the amp?
    I guess I should ask if you know the output level of the CD-43? Also, are the leads to the back shielded?
    I am looking to upgrade the entire system but it has to be done a little at a time. Thanks for your response.
    The CD43 is line level output, so yes, you could theoretically use the RCA out's of an aftermarket head to drive the factory amp. No, the wiring is not shielded, it is just normal BMW automotive wiring, and fairly thin at that--18 gauge or so. However, the link between the factory head and the amp is not normal in the sense that a normal head just sends a right and left channel output to the amp--the factory system sends high and low, left and right, front and rear signals. Moreover, there are several factory set ups that were installed, one amp, two amps, HK, non HK, etc. The specifics of the wiring will be dependent upon your particular set up.

    Here is the wiring for a 3/98 M roadster--yours may be different--the wiring link takes you to a pretty thorough discussion of these issues:

    HK Amp Wiring
    M Roadster, 3/98 build date

    J1 12-pin AMP connector
    pin function wire color
    --- -------- ----------
    1 12V red/white
    2 on/off white
    3 ground brown
    4 ground brown
    5 RBLO+ blue/purple
    6 RBLO- blue/gray
    7 LFLO+ yellow/red
    8 LFLO- yellow/brown
    9 RFLO+ blue/red
    10 RFLO- blue/brown
    11 LBLO+ yellow/gray
    12 LBLO- yellow/blue

    J2 26-pin Siemens connector
    pin function wire color
    --- -------- ----------
    1 RB- IN blue/gray
    2 RB+ IN blue/purple
    3 LB+ IN blue/black
    4 LB- IN yellow/brown
    5-7 n/c n/c
    8 RFHI+ yellow/red (LTwtr)
    9 RFHI- brown/orange (LTwtr)
    10 LBHI+ yellow
    11 LBHI- brown
    12 RBHI+ blue
    13 RBHI- brown
    14 RF- IN blue/brown
    15 RF+ IN brown/black
    16 LF+ IN yellow/red
    17 LF- IN yellow/brown
    18-20 n/c n/c
    21 LFHI+ yellow/green (STwtr)
    22 LFHI- yellow/brown (STwtr)
    23 RFHI+ blue/brown (STwtr)
    24 RFHI- blue/green (STwtr)
    25 LFHI+ yellow/blue (LTwtr)
    26 LFHI- yellow/gray (LTwtr)

    J3 6-pin AMP connector

    pin function wire color
    --- -------- ----------
    1 GAL IN black/white
    2 SPATIAL n/c
    3 SUB LO n/c
    4 GAL OUT n/c
    5 SUB OW n/c
    6 SUB HI n/c


    Notes:
    * J1 connector has the thick gauge wires
    * pin numbers are labeled on the connectors
    * Function is as labeled on the HK Amp circuit board;
    RBLO+: Right Back Low-freq speaker positive
    * n/c: not connected; STwtr: small tweeter;

    I can email you a complete wiring schematic for the car in .pdf format if you like--just pm me an email address; it's a nice thing to have in any event--very well put together document with hyper links--very thorough.

    I'm not sure that replacing the CD43 is necessary in any event; a lot of very knowledgeable people (Mpire among them) insist that you replace the factory amp for clean sound. I have not gone that route myself, though I am planning on it, because I want to keep the 10 channel separation. I replaced the factory speakers, added a separately amplified sub, and bluetooth integration with the head (Grom). I am looking at the JBL MS8, which is an 8 channel amplified digital signal processor specifically designed to work with factory heads and produce a perfectly flat curve (if that is what you want). I would have to sacrifice pure separation between the front door mids and highs in favor of cross overs, but I get to add a center channel, and the MS8 has the logic to create true surround sound from a non-surround sound source. I could add separate amps with built in cross overs for the door speakers for active crossing as well. The MS8 fits in place of the factory amp. Anyway, hope this answers your question.

  19. #19
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    Wow. You guys are engineers!

    I put in a new radio with bluetooth, satellite and a usb plug. The radio is great but the speakers are tinny. I know nothing about amps, etc.

    So if I replace the speakers......??

    Rick

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ashevillez3 View Post
    My GF had an aftermarket head unit installed at Best Buy and her sub works.
    Best Buy. One of the worst places to have a radio installed. If I were you, I'd reverse their install and check their work. Would not surprise me if those monkeys did damage that is worth at least 3x the cost of the radio.
    Last edited by felonious monk; 01-28-2013 at 12:31 AM.

    2001 S54 LSB/NAPA. 1 of 7.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenSky View Post
    Wow. You guys are engineers!

    I put in a new radio with bluetooth, satellite and a usb plug. The radio is great but the speakers are tinny. I know nothing about amps, etc.

    So if I replace the speakers......??

    Rick
    Good improvement to be had in replacing the speakers, for sure. The stock speakers are really quite small and light compared to the aftermarket speakers I replaced them with. They are also paper cone, which after 13 years in your car, are likely pretty well had. All I replaced were the speakers, sub and the head unit, and while I am no engineer either, it was easy to do myself and sounds much better.

  22. #22
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    Mr. Bingley, thanks for the response to my question about the use of an RCA equipped head unit with the stock harness. I do appreciate your thoroughness.
    I would love to see the .pdf schematic you are speaking of, we can never have enough information when magic smoke lurks nearby.
    PM sent.

    Thank you Sir!

    Rudy

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by rudyrov View Post
    Mr. Bingley, thanks for the response to my question about the use of an RCA equipped head unit with the stock harness. I do appreciate your thoroughness.
    I would love to see the .pdf schematic you are speaking of, we can never have enough information when magic smoke lurks nearby.
    PM sent.

    Thank you Sir!

    Rudy
    email sent

  24. #24
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    I replaced just the front speakers and found the right one was blown. No wonder the sound was so bad.

    Tried to get the rear speakers out but the panel didn't want to move. I'm afraid to force it. The sound is much improved but I would like to replace those in the rear.

    At least now I can listen to music without my ears hurting.

    Rick

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by felonious monk View Post
    Best Buy. One of the worst places to have a radio installed. If I were you, I'd reverse their install and check their work. Would not surprise me if those monkeys did damage that is worth at least 3x the cost of the radio.
    Funny you should mention Best Buy being bad. So My GF took her Z3 to have the stereo installed and the installer said, "we can't install this radio in a Z3". Now they were the ones who confirmed upon purchase that the radio would fit. So my GF speaks to the department manager who begins to argue with her about the install. She went on to say they could not install the radio and would not refund her the $50.00 she paid to have it installed. GF then called for the store manager who calmed things down and called over another installer to do the work. To this day the radio does not work. I suspect they forgot to hook up the antenna with the special adapter my GF had to purchase.

    Bottom line... yes I plan to pull and check their work. But I need to pull the center console anyways to replace bulbs and fix the temperature control knob that is broken. So I'll do it all at once.

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