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Thread: Problems with OEM Alpine AM/FM cassette unit

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Posts
    293
    My Cars
    94 740i, 03 525iT, 86 VW

    Problems with OEM Alpine AM/FM cassette unit

    A few weeks back I got an email from the local pick apart that a '95 E34 had arrived at the yard, and I could tell the radio was OEM so I jammed over there and nabbed it. Turns out to be an Alpine AM/FM cassette unit and my old one was a Pioneer. The cassette drive belt had turned to tar which I cleaned up with acetone. Put in a new belt, got the code from the dealer, and popped in an old Prince tape I had in the glove... WOW! I couldn't believe how good it sounded with the 28 year old OEM speakers. I cranked it nearly all the way up and could swear I was at Carnegie Hall. I should add that the volume knob had a very slight crackle while adjusting it, but once it was set the crackle went away.

    Today I drove the car and it sounds like @$$. I have to turn it about 2/3 of the way up to get much volume and it's all crackly and distorted no matter what the source (tape, radio, CD). Adjusting balance, fader, etc. doesn't help either.

    Did I blow all the speakers at once? Is the amp toast? Is the Alpine unit not compatible with the rest of the system since the original was Pioneer? My car is a '94 740i if that matters.
    I have wrenched on vehicles with:

    1 cylinder
    2 cylinders
    3 cylinders
    4 cylinders
    5 cylinders
    6 cylinders
    7 spoke wheels
    8 cylinders

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    West London/Heathrow - UK
    Posts
    7,170
    My Cars
    03 530dT - Ex Police Car
    Hi,

    Sounds like (pun intended!) the oem head unit has finally given up.. after 25/6/7/8 years +

    You can have it sent away to see if it can be refurbished ? if so, get that done. If it can't be refurbished, either find another OEM head unit and cross your fingers it lasts well, or, just get a modern head unit.

    Cheers, Dennis!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Posts
    293
    My Cars
    94 740i, 03 525iT, 86 VW
    Quote Originally Posted by DennisCooper View Post
    Hi,

    Sounds like (pun intended!) the oem head unit has finally given up.. after 25/6/7/8 years +

    You can have it sent away to see if it can be refurbished ? if so, get that done. If it can't be refurbished, either find another OEM head unit and cross your fingers it lasts well, or, just get a modern head unit.

    Cheers, Dennis!
    Actually it sounds like a head unit that has been sitting a long time and the volume pot has corroded. I'm going to take it apart and douse the pot in contact cleaner to see if I can't get it working again. The most common issue with any older mechanical types of audio gear are dirty pots, whether it's the sliders on a mixing board or the rotating volume pot like on this unit. Saying it's just "given up" and should be replaced is akin to saying you should replace your engine because the alternator malfunctioned.

    By the way I did go back to the junkyard and pulled the amp from the same car, but no difference there. I then swapped my old head unit back in and the radio sounds fine (the cassette mechanism gave up the ghost a while ago), so it's definitely not the speakers nor the amp. I'm determined to stick with an OEM unit, not only for looks but to also allow me to play my old cassettes. Analog music sounds so much better than digital, and I can use a cassette adapter to play my iPod for podcasts and whatnot.
    Last edited by LysanderSpooner; 10-23-2022 at 04:43 AM.
    I have wrenched on vehicles with:

    1 cylinder
    2 cylinders
    3 cylinders
    4 cylinders
    5 cylinders
    6 cylinders
    7 spoke wheels
    8 cylinders

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