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Thread: Sunfire sub for Z3 series -- experience

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Sunfire sub for Z3 series -- experience

    I tried the Sunfire subwoofer/ subwoofer amp enhancement for the Z3 / MZ3. It is a BMW accessory that can be added to Z3 series cars that already have the HK sound system and were manufactured post 8/99. It's not cheap, but compared to a custom enclosure, it's a good deal. My local dealer wanted full list $695 -- I got it from Paul McLaughlin at South Motors BMW in Miami for $520 or so plus shipping (+1 (800) 883-7278).

    It was a substantial improvement in overall sound -- why the mid-range sounds better after adding a subwoofer and 400w sub amp, I don't know, but it sure sounds better. Plus, of course, the low end has definition that the HK lacks (a local audio expert said it well, "BMW HK subs sound like they're farting").

    However.... the sub amp developed a problem. It started doing a low frequency oscillation on all head unit sources and at any head unit volume. It seems that it was an "infant mortality" problem on the electronics.

    Again, my local dealer was not very cooperative on exchanging a part they did not install. So the sub made a trip back to Miami -- and Paul was very helpful on the return process.

    The replacement sub goes in today. This time I'm going to add some stand-offs on the sub amp so the trunk liner does not sit right up against the sub amp. Hopefully this will reduce heat build-up in the sub amp, and reduce the risk of heat-caused infant mortality in the electronics (if that was the problem).

    If you are not familiar with this accessory (page 22A of this years BMW Accessories book), the install instructions with a lot of drawings are at: http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...threadid=31622

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    Cool, thanks for the info! Also, if the sub adds balance to the exist system (audio balance, clarity, etc) that will make everything sound better, the highs, mids, lows, etc. Clarity and definition are what is important in a sound system, so better components can aid the overall audio experience, if they add balance.

    I used to work as a session player (guitar and bass) at a recording studio...

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    FINALLY! What an excellent post. I was asking about this some months ago and nobody had any experience with it for our cars. This is a great bit of information you have shared here. If your experiences are good with this product after you've re-installed the repaired pieces, I may call that shop in Miami and purchase one myself.

    Thanks you again for sharing!

    Looking forward to your updates.

  4. #4
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    Paul seemed to have the best BMW prices on almost everything -- and he's very aware of Ron Stygar's mods and views.
    phrider
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  5. #5
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    Well, I have the replacement Sunfire sub and sub amp all installed.

    Following the suggestions of "Steve//Borsse" (I think that's who suggested it on this on Roadfly), I put spacer buttons on the sub amp to hold the trunk liner away from the new Sunfire 400w sub amp.

    My next step is testing it turned up loud, annoying other drivers -- most of my music favorites don't have a lot of bass. Although Bo Deans "Go Slow Down" seems to.

    Give me a few weeks to test for electronics "infant mortality."
    Last edited by phrider; 03-16-2003 at 02:36 PM.
    phrider
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    What is "infant mortality?"

    Please let us know in a couple weeks what your assessment is.

    Thanks!

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    Infant mortality in electronics: The failure rate (failures per year per number of identical components) tends to be higher for new components. Once they're burned in for a while, the failure rate stays relatively constant. For some items, the failure rate starts going back up when the components get old.

    Combine infant mortality with aging, and you end up with a "bathtub" failure rate curve (high initially, low in the middle service years, then high late in the unit life).

    You model constant failures by an exponential probability distribution for the time to failure, with the probablity of the number of failures of identical components within a given period of time being a Poisson process (a fancy way of staying that stuff always seems to happen at once, but it is really spread out at an even rate). The mean time between failures stays constant, i.e., if a unit has mean time between failures of 1 year, even if a unit has been in service for 5 years, it's expected failure time is still one more year.

    Have I said too much...? :

    Short answer on infant mortality: More (electronics ) stuff will fail in the first month of its life than the number of failures that will occur in a month for a group of items that's a year old.
    Last edited by phrider; 06-03-2002 at 07:37 PM.

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    I can vouch for that over the years!

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    Spoken like a true mathematics statistician. I should have known this had something to do with population sampling.

    The propeller on my head is severely rusted.

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    "The propeller on my head is severely rusted"

    Sounds like a hygiene issue...

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    Thumbs up Update

    It's been about 6 weeks since my re-installation of the Sunfire. Knock on wood.... no electronics "infant mortality" this time.

    So far, everything sounds great. Bass definition is much, much better than the stock HK system.

    I have learned more about the Sunfire design. The Sunfire subamp and sub are designed to work together -- it is a higher voltage, lower current, and higher speaker impedence design (the Carver innovation). This matching of speaker response characteristics (a small speaker in a small sealed box) requires the specialized amp characteristics and protection schemes. (This is the same technology that is in their home audio subwoofer systems, shown at http://www.sunfire.com )

    So I asked Sunfire if they would release the pin-outs on the Sunfire connector, to allow people with pre-8/99 systems to hook a system to the sub/subamp combo... they said they did not want to do that because of the support responsibilities and costs. If someone reverse engineers it, OK -- but they did not want to do it.

    So, if you have a pre-8/99 HK system:
    1. Sunfire will not sell the speaker and the amp separately.
    2. Sunfire warns that they will not work reliably without a matching custom sub-amp. While running the Sunfire with another amp is possible, the equalization would be very odd. A speaker blow out would be likely.
    3. There is no info on the pin outs so you might be able to custom engineer a system for a pre-8/99 build Z HK system.

    Is the Sunfire addition worth it if you have a 8/99 or later dual amp HK system and want better bass? A custom designed subwoofer to fit in the confined Z space would take a lot of time (if you have the technical skill) or cost more than the Sunfire package -- even without an amp.

    So I think it is a good deal.

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    Very cool, thanks for the update!

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    I know all of the pinouts, that's not the problem. I even know how to wire the damn thing to the earlier stereo's. The problem is the proprietary BMW 42 pin connector that plugs into the Sunfire amp. It's actually two 21 pin connectors held together with a piece of plastic. Anyway, nobody has ever been able to get one. That's the catch.
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    Originally posted by roadster-dan
    Anyway, nobody has ever been able to get one. That's the catch.
    Did you try asking one of the Sunfire engineers for a source? It might work.... I doubt they would -- but they might slip and give you the connector source.

    Maybe.

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    Originally posted by phrider
    Did you try asking one of the Sunfire engineers for a source? It might work.... I doubt they would -- but they might slip and give you the connector source.

    Maybe.
    The connector is made by Seimens, but you can't actually get it. Also, Sunfire does not provide the connector you need, BMW does. I went to the parts dept at a dealer and they said they couldn't get me one.

    I hunted for a while and came up short.

    I have no idea where you could get that little thing.
    2000 <font color="#00FFFF">/</font><font color="#0000FF">/</font><font color="#FF0000">/</font><i>M Roadster</i> - White/Black

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    I'd try BMW again, first. A parts guy is helping on another project -- let's see if he can help on this one.

    Or we start looking around Siemens... (Kannen Sie Deutsche?).

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    A good alternative for those with the pre-8/99 woofer systems: replace the original woofers with CLARION SPEAKERS MODEL CLA SRR1323 5 1/4.

    See http://bimmer.roadfly.org/bmw/forums...?postid=937867

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    For a photo of the Sunfire parts kit, see http://bimmer.roadfly.org/bmw/forums...postid=1038380

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    phrider
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    Cool Got Plug?

    Hey guys, you might try this, its really two plugs!. I think the first 4 wires (in the grey1/2 plug) and the last four (in the black1/2 plug) go to sub. Grey is 1-13 and black is 22-34. Will this get you going?
    Steve H.
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    I wonder if that cable has its own part number and it can be ordered. Hmmm...I know the connector can't be ordered, but what about the whole cable itself...

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    Try asking Ron Stygar over on Bimmerfest re the subamp to amp cable....
    phrider
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  23. #23
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    Originally posted by roadster-dan
    I know all of the pinouts, that's not the problem. I even know how to wire the damn thing to the earlier stereo's. The problem is the proprietary BMW 42 pin connector that plugs into the Sunfire amp. It's actually two 21 pin connectors held together with a piece of plastic. Anyway, nobody has ever been able to get one. That's the catch.
    With apologies to Roadster-dan, or DWM as I believe he was known on other boards, this is a PDF inside a zip file with his detective work on the Z3 HK 2 amp wiring harness. He no longer posts here or there and his web site has disappeared.

    But I know many would like this pinout documentation, even if it is incomplete.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    phrider
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  24. #24
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    I have a 01 M Roadster. My subwoofer baffle is ripped from the frame. I was considering the upgrade to the sunfire amp/subwoofer. Are these still available? Do those of you who installed this upgrade have any suggestions or comments?

  25. #25
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    My understanding is that these haven't been available for several years.

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