Mihai

Bowers&Wilkins sound system in e39

28 posts in this topic

Brilliant idea have come in my head (in my opinion). So let's start from the beginnig, i have poorest stock sound in my e39 and the cheapest stock radio head unit (hate the looks) and as we know the sound is shi...ty. Now, home i have bowers&wilkins a5 airplay speaker which sounds just amazing, i am not the fan of bass so for me this is just best system that i had, what i want now? i want same sound quality in my e39 and i thought it will be interesting to fit B&W system in a car. So my idea consist in buying a zeppelin system (which has also a subwoofer) to tear it down and speakers to mount in stock door places and the system amplifier to mount in trunk and somehow to connect it to stock bmw tv unit that i plan to buy.

If i will be lucky to get one airplay version of zeppelin the plan is to buy an airport router si this way i will have purest b&w sound in my e39 via airplay from iphone, sounds cool ha?

At this point we have some problems, the b&w speakers should easily fit in door stock places of old ones as b&w are smaller and i should think of a way to fit them tight, not biggest problem in my opinion, the tweeters should also fit in stock tweeter places now remains one speaker the subwoofer which i think to put in a place of back speakers. From what i saw on gumtree you can find one zeppelin system for less then 100 punds which makes this not the most expensive upgrade. Now looking for a right b&w donor and will keep you updated how will go. Also if any have ideas that will help me with ideas on how to connect stock unit to b&w also how the best to fit smaller speakers in stock holes i will be pleased to hear. Hope will be a great project :) 

Edited by Mihai

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The Zeppelin works due to its design, you'll never reapeat that by taking it apart and putting it into your car!

 

You'd be better off buying specific in car speakers and amplifiers and doing it properly...

 

Unless you really want to do what you've suggested!!!

 

Being an audiophile (and having owned all the Zeppelin incarnations and currently owning the B&W PM1 speakers in one of my systems), audiophile spec speakers won't really cut the mustard in a car IMO 

 

Great idea, but fairly flawed I'd say and a very expensive experiment 

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Thanks for point of view Dan, i understand that i will not get 100% of the zeppelin sound by putting it in a car but if i will get 70% of it i will be more then happy comparing with what i have now, i don't think that it will be a bad sound, i think it will be just different but anyway a high quality sound (the best that i heard is my a5 system so...) so will see my friend, will see :). i don't think for this i will spend more then 200 pounds for all. As an audiophile can you please advice me of an alternative not too much expensive but with great quality. Thanks    

Edited by Mihai

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One other thing to keep in mind, automotive specific speakers are built with materials that can cope with extreme temperature changes and more importantly humidity changes that an indoor monitor might not necessarily be. One side of the cone is in the door aperture which can be cold and damp and the other side in the cabin which could be warm and dry. 

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Best thing you can do for the E39 stock system is to add a subwoofer so it has some actual bass. Haven't listened to the B&W but from the specs it has a single 15cm woofer. That will never produce noticeable bass in a car. Need a lot more cone area.

 

Try a decent 25 or 30cm sub in a ported or sealed box, even with a budget amp that will give you enough bass to feel it. Any local car audio shop will be able to advise with your budget in mind.

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Hi,

 

As pointed out by Dan1979 & 711jrp - the idea is substantially flawed due to the different acoustic characteristics of the BMW interior/cabin space and the fact 'home audio' products don't use automotive grade materials. Add to that the amount of hassle to dismantle the B&W, then to fit it into the car, add/change for such things like sound deadening/driver placement, any additional costs even if all DIY, then the resulting sound quality will be perhaps significantly lower than the '70%' you are thinking. If you *must* do this, then go ahead, it's your car and money/time etc !

 

The E46 HK setup is mediocre at best, had it in the Alpina B3S that was in the family a few years ago and along with other's who have it in their E46's it's not worth retrofitting elsewhere. You 'could' perhaps make it work by extracting the HK amp from an E46 and working out how to fit that into the E39, but again, it's very little in the way of an improvement Vs time/faff/costs. 

 

Age hasn't really got anything to do with bass/sub bass - too many car owners think that getting sub bass means trying to rumble the street and rip up pavements when the truth is when evaluated correctly, then installed and setup well, sub bass capability means the full spectrum of the audio range can be reproduced and no one outside the car would be any the wiser.

 

My suggestion to you would be to get a good quality modern head unit which will have good/excellent sound quality capabilities (£100+ for a single DIN, £300 for a quality double DIN) and then purchase car audio grade upgraded 2 way 5.25 inch component speakers for the front (£75-200 for entry level ones) mounted in a stronger baffle (£20 a pair from a accessories shop on ebay) and those will sound and perform better than your idea of trying to make a B&W Zeppelin fit/work. 

 

Cheers, Dennis!

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18 minutes ago, Mihai said:

Thanks, but i need quality in sound not bass, i am too old for that :)

 

The right bass is where the quality is at, not it's quantity and that's where most folk get it wrong!

 

Just because it's in a car; doesn;t mean it doesn't fall into the audiophile ranks etc

 

I had the B&W PV1 sub with my Cyrus/B&W PM1 system and it was great, but then became overbearing and it was moved on... Tried a PMC sub,  better and faster this time around, but still wasn't right...

 

Went back to the speakers alone, faffed around with the stands and weighted them a bit more and all of a sudden the sound became spot-on! The deadening of the stands is what was creating a lack of soundstage in areas... More so it lacked right at the 'sweet spot'

 

Ok, you'll never get full stereo imaging in a car, but, having the right sounds in a care will make a massive difference, due to the many voids that cannot be avoided!

 

You'll waste your own time and money on this project, but hell, that's your call! I still stand by though, trying to install a home designed 'all in one' system, into a car, by taking apart and butchering into places it was never designed for, into an environment it was never designed for, will be painful and will sound horrible, IMO

 

Quality sound will come from the right components in the right places... 

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2 hours ago, Mihai said:

Yep, this is true, but i think b&w speakers will handle that ;)

Your missing my point some what, it's not weather they can handle it .....say they picked an uncoated paper cone because of it's superior tonal and responsive quality that's all well and good in the home enviroment...that same paper cone might fall to bits when exposed to a few damp March mornings.

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20 minutes ago, DennisCooper said:

Hi,

 

As pointed out by Dan1979 & 711jrp - the idea is substantially flawed due to the different acoustic characteristics of the BMW interior/cabin space and the fact 'home audio' products don't use automotive grade materials. Add to that the amount of hassle to dismantle the B&W, then to fit it into the car, add/change for such things like sound deadening/driver placement, any additional costs even if all DIY, then the resulting sound quality will be perhaps significantly lower than the '70%' you are thinking. If you *must* do this, then go ahead, it's your car and money/time etc !

 

The E46 HK setup is mediocre at best, had it in the Alpina B3S that was in the family a few years ago and along with other's who have it in their E46's it's not worth retrofitting elsewhere. You 'could' perhaps make it work by extracting the HK amp from an E46 and working out how to fit that into the E39, but again, it's very little in the way of an improvement Vs time/faff/costs. 

 

Age hasn't really got anything to do with bass/sub bass - too many car owners think that getting sub bass means trying to rumble the street and rip up pavements when the truth is when evaluated correctly, then installed and setup well, sub bass capability means the full spectrum of the audio range can be reproduced and no one outside the car would be any the wiser.

 

My suggestion to you would be to get a good quality modern head unit which will have good/excellent sound quality capabilities (£100+ for a single DIN, £300 for a quality double DIN) and then purchase car audio grade upgraded 2 way 5.25 inch component speakers for the front (£75-200 for entry level ones) mounted in a stronger baffle (£20 a pair from a accessories shop on ebay) and those will sound and perform better than your idea of trying to make a B&W Zeppelin fit/work. 

 

Cheers, Dennis!

Thanks for you're ideas and opinion on that Denis, is not a must for me to brake by parts the already amazingly working system by putting it into the car also i understand that it can be a loss of money/time this was just my idea that i think it will work, i thought if i get in my room such an amazing sound from that speaker, why i should not get same quality sound in a car where is even more compact space. What i want is to get in the car something close to what i have in my room. And i hate all this aftermarket units that has different plastic facture and color and that android menu, i want to keep all in oem look, light and stuff. I was thinking of a way to just control b&w system by bmw oem gps unit and from what i see is close to impossible. In any way thanks and i would like to know brand names of quality speakers that will have same size as factory ones, maybe also to change wires (if need?)   

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4 minutes ago, 711jrp said:

Your missing my point some what, it's not weather they can handle it .....say they picked an uncoated paper cone because of it's superior tonal and responsive quality that's all well and good in the home enviroment...that same paper cone might fall to bits when exposed to a few damp March mornings.

Ye, i've got the idea from first time, thanks for explaining, i also thought about that,but don't thinks this is my biggest problem on this. Will keep this in mind.

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34 minutes ago, d_a_n1979 said:

 

The right bass is where the quality is at, not it's quantity and that's where most folk get it wrong!

 

Just because it's in a car; doesn;t mean it doesn't fall into the audiophile ranks etc

 

I had the B&W PV1 sub with my Cyrus/B&W PM1 system and it was great, but then became overbearing and it was moved on... Tried a PMC sub,  better and faster this time around, but still wasn't right...

 

Went back to the speakers alone, faffed around with the stands and weighted them a bit more and all of a sudden the sound became spot-on! The deadening of the stands is what was creating a lack of soundstage in areas... More so it lacked right at the 'sweet spot'

 

Ok, you'll never get full stereo imaging in a car, but, having the right sounds in a care will make a massive difference, due to the many voids that cannot be avoided!

 

You'll waste your own time and money on this project, but hell, that's your call! I still stand by though, trying to install a home designed 'all in one' system, into a car, by taking apart and butchering into places it was never designed for, into an environment it was never designed for, will be painful and will sound horrible, IMO

 

Quality sound will come from the right components in the right places... 

This is what i am talking about, i am not a bass fan and i can tell that amount of bass which gives me my a5 is enough for me, what is more important for me are mids and highs. I hope is not a waste and will think twice before starting to do it but still think that anyway it will sound good. 

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What i really want is to get a good quality sound (without big subs in a trunk) by keeping the original oem look of cabin, i also don't want usb/aux wires from phone and stuff, i love the clean original look. If anybody have upgraded the stock audio by keeping the original look please let me know how and using what components have done it. I don't wanna spend money for useless things or to break by parts beautiful home components without good result. Thanks 

Edited by Mihai

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17 minutes ago, Mihai said:

What i really want is to get a good quality sound (without big subs in a trunk) by keeping the original oem look of cabin, i also don't want usb/aux wires from phone and stuff, i love the clean original look. If anybody have upgraded the stock audio by keeping the original look please let me know how and using what components have done it. I don't wanna spend money for useless things or to break by parts beautiful home components without good result. Thanks 

 

 

If you do want to keep everything OEM and get better sound quality then it is now , then in my opinion you should get Dynavin head unit and speakers upgrade from BSW . 

Edited by ellis23

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Remove rear armrest and create a small volume sub box the same size, trimmed to match the seat if possible.

Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk

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Hi,

 

Ellis - Mihai mentions he doesn't want anything with the android screen on it, so changing to the Dynavin or any of the other cheap chinese units is out of the question. Also, BSW as a company don't ship internationally now and on their site mention for anyone outside of the US to purchase and use a friends address there so that they'll be shipped free to them. The friend can then ship them to you. 

 

Superdave - Similar to above, Mihai isn't interested in adding any kind of bass upgrade, just midrange and treble!

 

Mihai - Reading all you've mentioned - dismantling a Zeppelin unit, not dismantling it, only wanting midrange and treble,  wanting to use the oem head unit to try and control the zeppelin electronics or using just the actual midrange and treble drivers only etc etc, then the BSW stage one E39 front speakers upgrade is the only solution for you. There's no other car audio manufacturer that offers direct fit, with no cutting, impedence matched upgraded speakers for this car. The current price for them is $397 USD. If you are in the UK, then I'd estimate with the cost of fully insured shipping, Import Duty, VAT and clearance fees, you'd be looking at around £495-500 delivered to your door. These speakers are markedly better than the OEM standard ones in terms of performance, will most likely sound better than if you got the Zeppelins drive units to work as per your initial idea. Take note of the the above, you'll need someone in the USA to accept the speakers and then have them ship them to you.

 

Cheers, Dennis!

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All I can add is I've tried a Bluetooth speaker (which sounds fine in the House) in the car and it was left wanting. And as a youth I ran my "ghetto blaster" off the cigarette lighter in a car and again it sounded shite really.

Very different sound set up in a car and I'm am no audiophile or expert and whilst I get what you're after I'm not convinced it will work.

My plan fwiw is an in line amp, new 2 way front speakers and an aux in plus a dab if I can tie it all in for a modest out lay but better sound.

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I did a big part of my degree focused on loudspeaker design... the sound of a speaker is probably 70% enclosure 20% drivers 10% crossover. You can have the best drivers in the world but if you put them in a badly designed, flexy box they will still sound awful. Conversely you can have a set of cheap plastic drivers in a well designed box and they will sound pretty good- this is the case with most consumer level hifi equipment.

 

If you take apart a set of speakers from a manufacturer like Mission or Cambridge the drivers often have plastic frames, small magnets, but look nice on the outside with fancy "composite" cones etc. The difference you see when you handle a driver from someone like Seas, Scanspeak, Vifa etc. is staggering- they often use paper cones (which is actually a really good material from a sound quality point of view but looks cheap) but have huge magnets and heavy cast frames.

 

Think of a speaker driver as a spring and the enclosure (or rather the air contained in the enclosure) as the damper, they need to be matched otherwise the cone won't be controlled properly. The driver will have a set of design specs called "Theile Small parameters", with these you can get a good starting point for how big the enclosure needs to be, whether it would suit a ported or sealed box, crossover frequencies etc. There's lots to think about. Just taking a set of cheap far eastern drivers from a glorified boom box won't end well.

Edited by lufbramatt
NWJW, d_a_n1979, sshooie and 1 other like this

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the idea is a bad one for reasons pointed out above

i have the 16:9, running an alpine amp, to stock speakers, and a 10" self enclosed sub... the sounds is good , pretty dam good

the best 1st stage upgrade you could do IMHO is bypassing the stock HU amp and run a reasonable quality amp, and go from there

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37 minutes ago, lufbramatt said:

I did a big part of my degree focused on loudspeaker design... the sound of a speaker is probably 70% enclosure 20% drivers 10% crossover. You can have the best drivers in the world but if you put them in a badly designed, flexy box they will still sound awful. Conversely you can have a set of cheap plastic drivers in a well designed box and they will sound pretty good- this is the case with most consumer level hifi equipment.

 

If you take apart a set of speakers from a manufacturer like Mission or Cambridge the drivers often have plastic frames, small magnets, but look nice on the outside with fancy "composite" cones etc. The difference you see when you handle a driver from someone like Seas, Scanspeak, Vifa etc. is staggering- they often use paper cones (which is actually a really good material from a sound quality point of view but looks cheap) but have huge magnets and heavy cast frames.

 

Think of a speaker driver as a spring and the enclosure (or rather the air contained in the enclosure) as the damper, they need to be matched otherwise the cone won't be controlled properly. The driver will have a set of design specs called "Theile Small parameters", with these you can get a good starting point for how big the enclosure needs to be, whether it would suit a ported or sealed box, crossover frequencies etc. There's lots to think about. Just taking a set of cheap far eastern drivers from a glorified boom box won't end well.

 

Very much this!

 

I've some old Tannoy speakers; probably made when I was around 3-4 years old... Paper cones, but huge magnets and a solid metal frame, all held together very tightly and they weigh a ton...

 

Did have their old speaker boxes, but they got perished beyond repair, so had a pal who's very good with wood work, replicate them and I got some proper sound deadening from Tannoy themselves, 're-packed' the boxes and installed the drivers and they're one of the best speakers I've ever heard...

 

They're just huge and ugly, that's their main problem! But, they're worth a small fortune due to the rarity of the drivers, so they'll be kept until I know they've hit the top of their value and will sell them on etc...

 

As I said initially, the Zeppelin works due to how it's built and it's enclosure. You'll NEVER replicate this in a car, no matter how much you try!

 

But, as I've also said, it's your car and your money, so you do what you want and let us know how you get on... 

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5 minutes ago, d_a_n1979 said:

 

Very much this!

 

I've some old Tannoy speakers; probably made when I was around 3-4 years old... Paper cones, but huge magnets and a solid metal frame, all held together very tightly and they weigh a ton...

 

Did have their old speaker boxes, but they got perished beyond repair, so had a pal who's very good with wood work, replicate them and I got some proper sound deadening from Tannoy themselves, 're-packed' the boxes and installed the drivers and they're one of the best speakers I've ever heard...

 

They're just huge and ugly, that's their main problem! But, they're worth a small fortune due to the rarity of the drivers, so they'll be kept until I know they've hit the top of their value and will sell them on etc...

 

As I said initially, the Zeppelin works due to how it's built and it's enclosure. You'll NEVER replicate this in a car, no matter how much you try!

 

But, as I've also said, it's your car and your money, so you do what you want and let us know how you get on... 

 

they sound like the old Dual Concentric drivers with the tweeter in the middle of the bass driver, very cool bit of classic hifi. Got a mate who has about 4 of those drivers waiting to be re-foamed, worth a fortune, especially the gold basket ones with alnico magnets.

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Yup ;)

 

Tannoy 15" Gold's with recapped crossovers etc :) 

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 It's already been mentioned but if I wanted to upgrade I would just add a subwoofer and a head unit with some form of eq and a dedicated subwoofer output, I would then apply a trick I learned years ago and that is to cut the bass frequencies going to your standard speakers and allow the subwoofer to cover all low frequencies. The advantage to this is that now your standard speakers are not struggling to reproduce low frequencies they can concentrate on the mid and high frequencies which they will be more efficient at and you may actually be surprised just how good you can get things sounding with a bit of careful setting up. As for the subwoofer enclosure, I have seen a small enclosure for an 8" sub driver that fits in place of the rear arm rest (again, as already mentioned), I would probably go down that route.

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