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    PLEEZE- advice on aftermarket radio/CD

    Am upgrading 99 528i sedan Business, non DSP, cassette player. I have been impressed with large double DIN Chinese units Hualingan (can't remember the other company), but I think DVD in the dash of an auto is not a good idea. I also believe a GPS should be up by the rear view mirror/sunvisor (like my TomTom XL340 TM is)- it does not block my field of vision and is as close to my straight forward gaze as possible. I'm interested mostly in quality "hi-fi", and not so much in gadgets. That said, I'm definitely interested in satellite radio capability (Willie's Place!), bluetooth, and possibly iPod. So I'm looking at single DIN "CD receivers". Most of the units in the $200 range have these features standard. Like Alpine 105, Pioneer, and especially JVC Arsenal KD A815. I'm not adverse to more expensive units- just seems like it's not necessary, and generally, as units get more expensive, they grow DVD screens, which, as I said, I'm not interested in. Pretty close to getting JVC Arsenal KD A815 from Crutchfield with SOEM-4 adapter, dash panel adapter facia, PAC SWI-JACK for CAN bus volume/station control, instructions, antenna adapter, etc.

    Please: any recommendations/favorite/best non-video head unit? Any experiences with the JVC radio? Seems the BMW amp in the trunk is not an an "amp" but a booster, and cannot accept "line level" input from the RCA's of the aftermarket radios. Runs off modified speaker output- accomplished (reduced) by the SOEM-4. At this point I'm not planning to change the stock BMW amp (booster).

    Any opinions/experiences/thoughts on viability/quality of the PAC adapters? Any advice or experiences would be appreciated- thanks, Kip.................. *1999 528i, stick shift, sport suspension package
    *1984 modified E28 with 450k miles


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    rwthomas1
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    Re: PLEEZE- advice on aftermarket radio/CD

    Most here will tell you not to mess with the stock MID (radio). A non-dsp unit is easily connected to aftermarket amps and processors so sound quality can be improved drastically without messing up the factory dash and wheel controls. Dice, etc. make interfaces that allow Ipod use and control with the factory MID and wheel controls. I believe the Dice Mediabridge will do Satellite, Bluetooth and Ipod

    Your biggest mistake would be keeping the BMW amp. Its crappy, dump it.

    I was an IASCA competitor years ago so I have an idea what makes a car sound good. Amps, drivers and clean inputs is what does it, not fancy head units.

    RT

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    +1 on DICE Medabridge

    Having one installed in my E39 next week to gain Sat radio etc., although my car has DSP, Nav and CD, and I am having to give up the CD. Apparently my car was built slightly too early (9/2002) to be Satellite ready from the factory.
    '03 525i Sapphire Blu/Grey, SP, Nav
    '02 325it Orient Blu./Grey, SP, Nav
    '98 323is Arctic Sil./Blk, SP
    '95 M3 Cosmos Blk./Blk

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    Re: PLEEZE- advice on aftermarket radio/CD

    I took a brief look at the wiring diagram in my Bently book, and decided to examine the system "later". I was under the impression that the "booster" has cross overs (no divider networks at speakers)- what aftermarket amps can replace the stock "amp"? Can you recommend amps that I can use without changing speaker setup? If I go the route you suggest, I'll need to get a stock CD player- that's the main thing that got me started on this project: the player in the trunk isn't working and I like CD player in the dash. I'll check out sources for stock CD player. Thanks, Kip............*1999 528i, stick shift, sport suspension package
    *1984 modified E28 with 450k miles

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    My trunk mounted CD changer gave up the

    ghost a few years ago and I decided to get the Dice unit so that I could hook up my iPod Touch. Best thing is I now carry over 1200 songs with m instead of the capacity of the 6 CD's. Plus, I still have the steering wheel controls and scrolling songs and artist info on the display. CD's are going to be fading away very soon much like the cassette. Also, the stock speakers are garbage. They provide no clarity or punch. If you can swing it, I'd recommend upgrading them too.

    jet black 2000 528iA
    sport premium package
    MB Quart speakers
    two Alpine amps
    MTX subwoofer
    AudioControl equalizer
    Dice interface for iPod
    BMW CCA member

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    rwthomas1
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    Re: PLEEZE- advice on aftermarket radio/CD

    Look in the Tips and Tricks section and you will find fairly detailed info on how to connect the factory wiring from the MID directly to amps, processors, etc. Use the search function, etc. Its all here. There is simply no reason to remove the MID unless its dead. Ipod/Bluetooth/etc. interface with aftermarket amps and speakers is the way to go. Since the factory amp is already in the trunk the wiring is all there for you. Remove factory amp, rework wiring, hook up amps, hook up factory speaker wires to amps, replace factory speakers. The battery is even in the trunk. It doesn't get any easier. Thats it.

    RT

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    Re: PLEEZE- advice on aftermarket radio/CD

    OK: looks interesting. Had a little trouble finding "tips and tricks"- it'll take me a while to grind thru it. I'll get back to ya. Thanks, Kip....................*1999 528i, stick shift, sport suspension package
    *1984 modified E28 with 450k miles

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    Re: PLEEZE- advice on aftermarket radio/CD

    Your options are limited in the E39 without a wholesale re-install (read EXPENSIVE)! The two most feasible options are the CD head unit or the DICE/Ipod. You can get a CD head unit off e-bay (get a pre-2001, or a 2001-or-later with the $150 cable adapters). The later versions will take the BMW SAT but, again the OEM SAT option is very expensive. If you have an Ipod, the DICE unit is a good option price-wise and sound quality-wise (plugs in the back of the head unit - Cassette or CD). Frankly the stock BMW sound system only needs a subwoofer to transform the sound quality - cheaper and easier than ripping out the hardware, rewiring and re-designing the whole system from front to back (literally as well as figuratively)!

    Keith
    2001 530i 5sp

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    greazedjebus
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    Tips & Tricks is @ bmwtips.com

    Not so easy to locate if you access the forum directly on roadfly...

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    Re: PLEEZE- advice on aftermarket AMP and x-overs

    Much thanks for your input. Looked at tips and tricks and did some research and more webb shopping. Apparently Crutchfield is wrong about stock amp being actually a booster which would require a higher input than 4v RCA's would produce. If I get a new HU and keep the stock amp, according to tips and tricks, it can connect from its RCA outs to the stock amp current inputs. Or put differently, an aftermarket amp can connect its RCA inputs to the existing input wires from the stock BMW HU.

    I may still get the JVC Arsenal KD-A815 HU, but sounds like new amp is a must. Looking for advice on good aftermarket 4-channel amp. Not interested in high sound levels, thump, etc- looking more for hi-fi. So, will not be using a subwoofer. Am looking at Soundstream Reference 4.400 and Alpine MRP-F300. I will use stock speakers for time being.

    Crossovers seem to be more of a problem- both amps sound like they would be a significant, simple, and inexpensive improvement. Any advice or good experiences with x-overs? I'll probably need to get resistance rating, frequency range, general specs on the multiple drivers in the doors. If anyone has this info, it would make it unnecessary for me to disassemble the doors to get the specs (info not found in tips and tricks). My system is non-DSP (3 speakers in each front door, one in each rear door, and a pair woofers in the rear "parcel shelf".

    Much thanks, Kip............. *1999 528i, stick shift, sport suspension package
    *1984 modified E28 with 450k miles

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    Re: PLEEZE- advice on aftermarket AMP and x-overs

    This is much more complicated than you understand. The outputs from the BMW head unit are balance differential outputs, not the more normal RCA single ended outputs. Not all amps will work with the stock head unit and not all head units will work with the stock amp. At best, the system won't be properly matched and at worst it either won't work at all or you'll ned a sound-killing LOC between the head unit and amp.

    Sorry, but the BMW sound system wasn't made to be messed with!Keith
    2001 530i 5sp

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    rwthomas1
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    Re: PLEEZE- advice on aftermarket AMP and x-overs

    Explain this please? Everything I've every read about converting the signal from the stock MID (non-DSP) is simply splicing RCA plugs onto the factory preamp feeds from the MID. These preamp level feeds plug directly into the aftermarket amps or processors. Thats it. There are numerous pages on how to do it from people that have done it. All the wiring is already in the trunk so its even easier.

    RT

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    Re: PLEEZE- advice on aftermarket AMP and x-overs

    Keith, anyone:

    What I'm getting from your post is that the info in "tips and tricks" (the first two entries by Bob Hazelwood for example) is inaccurate: "Simply plug this into any aftermarket amp which can handle a 4V signal. No problem, No noise." The fact that it was posted by someone who was in the business of selling aftermarket amps could explain the apparent "inaccuracies".

    I have purchased and am installing a JVC Arsenal KD-A815 HU. Your info seems to agree what Crutchfield told me- I will need an LOC. Based on the info in tips and tricks, I had been under the impression that I could feed the stock amp with the RCA outputs of the new HU and eliminate the LOC. Do you think/believe that this would be a waste of time and/or harmful? I have time, and don't mind experimenting to see if I can eliminate the LOC's and go RCA out to stock amp in. In my many years of home stereo use and tinkering (with the help of people in AudioAsylum I scratch build vacuum tube phono stage preamps for my moving coil vinyl setup), I've always avoided extra stuff- especially when connected in series like the LOC. Good audio has very few components. In this case, Crutchfield advises to put a PAC SOEM-4 LOC between speaker outputs of the JVC HU and inputs of stock amp. Sounds like it's a dreadful setup- and whatever I do, I plan to not have the LOC's in the system in the long run. I may set up the JVC per Crutchfield instructions for now just for jollies, and move forward with a proper setup or return to stock.

    Have you had any success with aftermarket amps or know of viable products; or have you opted to run completely stock? Are you aware of amps that work with the stock or aftermarket HU's? It's relatively clear to me that a an aftermarket amp would require tricky fabrication of x-overs between the amp and stock speakers (what should x-over frequencies be set at?). X-over design probably easier with aftermarket speakers since manufacturers might provide info and x-overs. Since I'm not looking for high level/thumpy sound at all but rather a "hi-fi" sound, speaker replacement might not be too big a problem.

    Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for the input, Kip..........
    *1999 528i, stick shift, sport suspension package
    *1984 modified E28 with 450k miles

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    rwthomas1
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    Re: PLEEZE- advice on aftermarket AMP and x-overs

    The simple system:

    You don't really need speakers in the rear unless you feel rear fill sound is important or you have passengers frequently that enjoy your tunes. If you want rear speakers coaxials on the rear deck will do the trick. Placing separates back there is a waste of coin.

    Get a decent set of separates for the front doors. Ignore the factory midrange. No one makes a suitable driver and you simply don't need it. A set of 5 1/4's from Boston, Polk, MBQuart, etc. If you have the coin look at Dynaudio.

    Use the factory speaker wiring from the trunk to the front doors for the woofer and tweeter locations for the separates. That means the separates passive crossovers will be in the trunk as well. Again, forget the midrange, not used or needed.

    Use factory rear deck woofer wiring to hook up the coaxials on the rear deck, obviously they get a full range signal.

    Amps I like Alpine. I've never broken one. Burned up lots of Rockford stuff back in the day but never an Alpine. I think their "self preservation" circuitry is better. Soundstream used to be good, can't say I know anything about the current product. Amp quality used to be judged by THD and Damping factor. Low THD and high damping factor is what you are looking for. Don't get to caught up in how many watts an amp is supposed to be rated for. 25 clean watts is better than 100 distorted watts any day. A decent 4 channel amp with 25-50watts per channel will do.

    Subwoofers-A 10" quality sub in a sealed box will sound cleaner and tighter than anything else over a wide range of musical tastes. Ported and more exotic enclosures will sound better at certain frequencies but are not as well rounded. I like JL Audio for subs. Kicker and Rockford ain't bad either. For a 10" sub a minimum number would be 200watts, 300 would be better. Again, clean power, low THD and high damping factor. A mono sub amp works nicely but most any two channel will also bridge mono easy enough.

    Active crossover-Most amps have built in crossovers now. Some are even adjustable. The 4 channel amp driving the separates and rear deck speakers should see 80Hz and above and the Sub 80Hz and below, is a good place to start. Some amps will "feed through" meaning the amp will split the signal, keep 80Hz and up for itself and feed out 80hz and down to a Sub amp. A separate two way active crossover could be used but likely is more than you want or need.

    RT

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    Re: PLEEZE- advice on aftermarket AMP and x-overs

    RT:

    Thanks for your post. My stereo project has uncovered differing opinions. As you can see in Keith's post, he believes my plan to go aftermarket HU RCA out to stock amp input is probably not gonna work. In my response to him, I described how I would rather not do that. Still haven't figured out if I'll try without the LOC, Kip............*1999 528i, stick shift, sport suspension package
    *1984 modified E28 with 450k miles

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    rwthomas1
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    Re: PLEEZE- advice on aftermarket AMP and x-overs

    For the record, I have not done my '00 540I sound system yet, but I have read everything in the Tips&Tricks as well as the archives on the subject. It was all quite straightforward until I read Keiths post as well. This is the first time I have heard that the factory MID supplies anything other than a "standard" preamp level output in the 4V range. The signal processing and amplification happen in the factory amp. The pin out diagrams show the MID supplying a "standard" left-right-front-rear 4 channel signal.

    It wouldn't really make sense that this MID signal is anything other than "standard" car audio output. I can guarantee that BMW didn't actually build the system, an OEM supplier did....

    I've never heard a really good factory system in any car. The amps and speakers are usually the culprits so I never considered keeping the factory bits other than the MID.

    RT

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    Re: PLEEZE- advice on aftermarket AMP and x-overs

    RT:

    Just saw this post. My preliminary reading of it parallels my thoughts. I will study it and probably ask you some questions. At this point I would like to know, if possible, if you think it's safe for me to proceed with the JVC HU RCA out to stock amp setup (seems do-able per Bob Hazelwood's and other's posts). I am doing the wiring for the install now. I will be getting new amp/speakers afterwards- I may also re-install the OEM HU if I don't like the JVC. Unfortunately, my 528i came with the cassette OEM HU- I will need to buy an OE CD HU. Pretty pricey for 12 year old used stuff. I decided to try the JVC because it seemed to simplify versatility issues (cheaper too): BlueTooth, satellite radio, HD radio, iPod, iPhone, USB ready to go.

    Thanks, Kip.............. *1999 528i, stick shift, sport suspension package
    *1984 modified E28 with 450k miles

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    Important info on AMP and x-overs

    RT, Keith, all:

    My experiences with my 1999 E39 seem to contradict some important info in "tips and tricks/E39 DSP Stereo Database". The info there (see first two posts) describes the interface between stock HU and stock amp as audio industry standard 4V. Crutchfield and forum member Keith claimed that this is not so. I tried wiring the RCA outs of my new JVC Arsenal KD-A815 CD/receiver HU directly to the OE dash harness circuits going to the OE amp. At full volume on the HU, the sound level was not really high enough; and I think there was some distortion. Crutchfield's description of the OE BMW setup is that the OE "amp" is a "booster"- not a normal amp. The OE steup's use of high "line level" makes some since, at least in the fact that it could stand up better to RF interference.

    I will connect now per Crutchfield recommendations thru the PAC SOEM-4 interface (LOC?) using HU speaker outputs to the OE amp inputs. This is probably a temporary setup since I anticipate sonic degradation because of the LOC. I'll post results and eventual system setup.

    On possible aftermarket amp choices: Soundstream Reference 4.400 amp I believe has the ability to use its x-over low-pass/high-pass wide-range adjustment setup features to use the "rear" speaker outputs for your tweeter. Use front speaker low-pass adjustment to cut high frequency to woofers. You would have front (or rear) speakers only, and would be limited to a two-way speaker setup. I saw this in the Soundstream Reference 4.400's owner's manual found on line.*1999 528i, stick shift, sport suspension package
    *1984 modified E28 with 450k miles

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    rwthomas1
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    Re: Important info on AMP and x-overs

    Since I am planning on keeping the MID the reverse may happen when I try to hook up to an aftermarket amp, too much signal, the amp gain may not be able to deal with it.

    You have prompted me to start experimenting on my own. My stock amp/booster is screwed up. Speakers turn off and on randomly so I don't even listen to the radio. That said, if I cannot get the aftermarket stuff to work I may sell the car. The factory system sucks. Period. If I can't readily upgrade it and retain the factory wheel controls, etc. the car is gone. Bullsh!t design.

    RT

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    Re: Important info on AMP and x-overs

    RT, all:

    I hooked the system up using the HU speaker outputs directly to the amp inputs. Crutchfield advised me to use the PAC SOEM-4 in between, but I called PAC support and they advised to leave it out and go direct. (PAC claimed that this product is more sophisticated than a normal LOC (line output conditioner?). As said before, in audio, less is more in my opinion. I don't like the sound- too much treble. Tinney. Since the LOC may affect the sound quality, I think I owe it to Crutchfield to hook it up and listen before I ask to return it. Dash looks like crap, screen color is adjustable, but when I match it to BMW amber, it's too dark, typeface is small and hard to read. I blame this poor sound to incompatibility- not to any of the individual components. I hate to, but I may ask to return it to Crutchfield. If not, I will sell it. Then study closely the E39 stereo forums on tips and tricks. And be very careful before I move to modify. At this point, I'll probably get rid of the JVC, get a stock used BMW CD/radio HU off eBay. Many people were advising to keep the OE HU's and modify the amp first, then the speakers (or both at same time). Curious to know what aftermarket amp they are mating to the stock HU. The Chinese double DIN DVD/every frigging thing else 7" LCD HU's look pretty good. Very attractive OE look. Warrant consideration (brands: Dynavin, and Hualigan). They are designed specifically for E39, and include everything. I don't believe in video screens in a car other than GPS; but I think a GPS needs to be up close to line of sight. If everything else was right, I might eventually get one (and keep my TomTom GPS by the sun visor). I'm curious to know what some of the purchasers think. There was alot of interest and I know that people were buying them up. Later, Kip.............

    *1999 528i, stick shift, sport suspension package
    *1984 modified E28 with 450k miles

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