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Thread: BMW E46 Stereo Head Unit (With Nav)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Perthshire, Scotland
    My Cars
    2006 BMW E46 330cd

    BMW E46 Stereo Head Unit (With Nav)

    Hi all,

    This is my first time posting on here. Thank you in advance for any replies!

    The problem i am having is with my head unit, the car has sat nav but does not have the harmon kardon upgrade.

    After having owned an E46 with HK before this one i was very disappointed with the standard stereo system, so i decided to get it upgraded.

    Now I took it to a car stereo specialist to get my rear parcel shelf speakers upgraded and amplified.

    After he fitted them he said that my head unit did not have the remote feed output for a head unit, which meant he had to bridge the remote feed onto the key ignition.
    This means that the whole time the ignition is on the amplifier is on, which is slightly annoying because the speakers pop and so on when the ignition is turned on to start the car.

    Anyway after doing a fair bit of research on this forum among others i cannot understand why my head unit would not have the remote feed for an amplifier as from what i can gather, the head units in E46's with HK and Std are exactly the same. Surely the HK head unit must have a remote output for the HK amplifier?

    I am also told that due to the head unit not having an amp output on the back, the quality of the amplified sound will be worse, however i have never noticed this before and have done similar modifications in the past. This time though the speakers are putting out a fair bit of static, and a whining noise which is very annoying, and i am being told is simply down to the head unit ??

    Its not really all adding up to me. As when i also look online a lot of people prefer to buy their 46's without HK and upgrade the system themselve and don't seem to have any problem with adding an amplifier to the standard head unit. I would have thought if this was a common issue there would be a lot of posts discussing this.

    Apologies for the long read!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Arlington, VA
    My Cars
    2018 BMW M240i
    Great questions. E46s sold in the USA have a separate amp in the trunk (boot for you Scots). The head unit sends a 12VDC “turn on” signal to the amp to turn it in. Btw, the amp gets 12VDC at all times via another wire.

    Your non-HK factory set up likely had the amp in the head unit. As a result it may not have a wire by which it sends the 12VDC “turn on” signal to the trunk. So, the shop may be correct. Now, a solution, other than the one proposed by the shop, is to swap out the head unit with a head unit from a car that had the HK system. I’m betting the wire that carries the “turn on” signal is in your car. So, the hook up would be straight forward. In my 2001 330Ci that wire was of a light cream color. The caveat is that BMW changed head units slightly for the 2003 model year. The changes are the head unit has a single radio frequency (RF) input connection. Earlier head units had 2 connections: AM & FM. Also, the newer head uniys use a different RF amp that’s located in the “c” pillar on the passenger side of rhd cars. As your car is a 2006, I believe a head unit out of any 2003-2006 E46 with the HK option will work for you.
    Last edited by MarcoZandrini; 02-06-2018 at 08:46 AM.

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