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Jameswsb

Audio Advice (Novice!)

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Hi Guys,

 

I am looking to upgrade the stock sound system in my E39 M5 while keeping everything looking as stock as possible. The only problem being is that I am a total novice with regards to these things, so please be gentle! My brief is;

1) Keep it looking stock

2) Keep major work to a minimum

3) Avoid huge cost

 

I have done some research on this and spoken to a few people and I have come to the conclusion that I could get the stock amp upgraded by Carphonics (from 15w to 50w RMS) and have a bluetooth dongle installed to connect with my phone as a first step. Has anyone had this done? any thoughts?

 

Also Baris at Carphonics mentioned that the stock E39 speakers are very small and therefore contribute to an overall lack of bass. Would it therefore be worth upgrading the stock speakers to better quality items at a similar size or would that be a waste of time? 

 

I realise this is probably very basic stuff for some of you given the quality of the installs I have read up on the project sections but any advice would be very gratefully recieved.

 

Thanks a bunch

 

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Best money for a quick fix is to install an Intravee with the Alpine ipod interface - You get loads of options then for future upgrades and even more nifty features :D

 

I'm interested to know more about the amp upgrade and speaker upgrades available too for my M5 as the OEM stuff is a bit pony :/

You're only over the hill from me too - Used to live in Milnsbridge until I moved 6 years ago to Wakefield :)

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I have considered an Intravee which sounds like a great piece of kit but I have an Android phone so dont need ipod connectivity. Perhaps its worth getting in touch with Dennis or RichardP on this one.

 

The Carphonics am upgrade sound great as its not daft money and keeps everything looking stock. I would hope for a significant sound improvement too. http://www.carphonics.co.uk/bm54upgrades.htm. I understand custom baffles are required to fit bigger speakers but thats about as far as my knowledge on this subject goes!

 

Ah thats good to know, I thought I was the only one around the Huddersfield area. I have seen your project thread, car looks fantastic!

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Ahhhhhhhhhha - In that case, I have JUST what you need - a GROM Audio convertor - allows you to use your android phone or USB stick etc directly with the OEM stuff and has bluetooth phone capability (great if youre M5 doesn't have the ULF kit as standard). I only removed it as I upgraded to the Intravee kit :D

You're more than welcome to pop over, have a look at it working etc and if you like it, go from there :D

Edited by V8Warrior

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Couple of points based on comments above.

 

The Intravee won't help with sound quality, unless you fit a PXA processor but that's a different ball game, swapping out the amp and speakers is the only way to do that as the stock stuff is pretty awful.

 

All UK spec E39 M5s with Nav will have a separate amp, HiFi or DSP (or M-Audio which is similar to DSP but with better speakers).  Upgrading the amp in the radio module a la Carphonics will make some difference to quality, but you'll still be limited by the stock amp.  

 

Replacing the stock amp and speakers is not plug and play as even the HiFi amp has 10 channels, each one going to a separate speaker, three in each front door, two in the rear doors and two on the rear deck.  The easiest upgrade is to use a set of 2 way components up front with the mid/bass in the stock pods, either just the rear deck speakers or a set of coaxials in the rear, plus some type of sub.  Together with a 5/6 channel amp you can make a big improvement.  You can use 2 sets of the stock front speaker wiring and place the crossover in the rear with the amp.

 

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2 hours ago, RichardP said:

Couple of points based on comments above.

 

The Intravee won't help with sound quality, unless you fit a PXA processor but that's a different ball game, swapping out the amp and speakers is the only way to do that as the stock stuff is pretty awful.

 

All UK spec E39 M5s with Nav will have a separate amp, HiFi or DSP (or M-Audio which is similar to DSP but with better speakers).  Upgrading the amp in the radio module a la Carphonics will make some difference to quality, but you'll still be limited by the stock amp.  

 

Replacing the stock amp and speakers is not plug and play as even the HiFi amp has 10 channels, each one going to a separate speaker, three in each front door, two in the rear doors and two on the rear deck.  The easiest upgrade is to use a set of 2 way components up front with the mid/bass in the stock pods, either just the rear deck speakers or a set of coaxials in the rear, plus some type of sub.  Together with a 5/6 channel amp you can make a big improvement.  You can use 2 sets of the stock front speaker wiring and place the crossover in the rear with the amp.

 

Richard, thanks for this explanation. To be honest some of it I dont really understand what is involved, but I get the gist. Sounds very much like a job for someone who knows what they are doing. In your opinion are there any amp and speakers that are worth looking out for that are not daft money and do the job, or is it very much a case of anything is better than existing?

 

4 hours ago, V8Warrior said:

Ahhhhhhhhhha - In that case, I have JUST what you need - a GROM Audio convertor - allows you to use your android phone or USB stick etc directly with the OEM stuff and has bluetooth phone capability (great if youre M5 doesn't have the ULF kit as standard). I only removed it as I upgraded to the Intravee kit :D

You're more than welcome to pop over, have a look at it working etc and if you like it, go from there :D

Thanks V8Warrior. If the alternative is a full on audio install I may be interested in this as a stop gap as currently I have no music in the car as the CD changer is on the blink. I'll PM you and organise a time best for you. It would be good to get some tips and chew the fat a little, cheers.

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I have the Baris upgrade and it's an improvement but It's not gonna burst your eardrums . If you insist on staying OE then you need to get the M audio subs and try to find something suitable to replace the fronts. It will be OK rather than spectacular!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

And get an Intravee anyway as it gives you some great features regardless of the iPod functionality !

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Hi Jameswsb, 

 

Seems you've read up and spoken to various places to get more of an idea to your options for what you can do to improve the audio of the oem setup in your car. There's a few distinct options and it does depend on what you'd like to achieve overall given the amount you wish to spend and also if you can DIY or if you need professional fitting. 

 

What level of audio performance are you looking to have by upgrading? what kind of music to you listen to mainly? how do you like it reproduced? are you looking to 'add on' extra functionality as well (after the Bluetooth streaming function you've already mentioned) ? what's your anticipated budget you'd like to spend?

 

Depending on that, I along with a few others here can give you some more focused pointers. 

 

As already mentioned above, the Intravee only adds functionality to the OEM setup, it doesn't improve SQ. The M audio 'subwoofers' add some low end response for sure, but it's not true 'sub bass'. I understand that it might be all you are looking for though, To fit those, you'd need to find some, then depending on what your car has currently, either retrofit the correct loom/amplifier/speakers and then have them fitted. The amount of work/cost compared to the performance you'll gain is relatively poor. 

 

If you can update this thread with your feedback, I along with other's can make more suggestions to you. 

 

Cheers, Dennis!

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16 hours ago, DennisCooper said:

Hi Jameswsb, 

 

Seems you've read up and spoken to various places to get more of an idea to your options for what you can do to improve the audio of the oem setup in your car. There's a few distinct options and it does depend on what you'd like to achieve overall given the amount you wish to spend and also if you can DIY or if you need professional fitting. 

 

What level of audio performance are you looking to have by upgrading? what kind of music to you listen to mainly? how do you like it reproduced? are you looking to 'add on' extra functionality as well (after the Bluetooth streaming function you've already mentioned) ? what's your anticipated budget you'd like to spend?

 

Depending on that, I along with a few others here can give you some more focused pointers. 

 

As already mentioned above, the Intravee only adds functionality to the OEM setup, it doesn't improve SQ. The M audio 'subwoofers' add some low end response for sure, but it's not true 'sub bass'. I understand that it might be all you are looking for though, To fit those, you'd need to find some, then depending on what your car has currently, either retrofit the correct loom/amplifier/speakers and then have them fitted. The amount of work/cost compared to the performance you'll gain is relatively poor. 

 

If you can update this thread with your feedback, I along with other's can make more suggestions to you. 

 

Cheers, Dennis!

I have tried to get a good understanding on what is on offer but its quite overwhelming for someone without any background with this type of upgrade.

 

Whilst I would like to keep it all as stock looking as possible, I dont think the M audio option really interests me if the improvement will be minimal against the potential cost. Quite frankly, a some of the time I dont have any audio on as I prefer to listen to the exhaust! however, having the option to play music on a longer journey is a must really, hence my interest in upgrading. Firstly, I would like bluetooth streaming as I dont want a cable cluttering the inside of the car, that I am set on. An intravee is very appealing too if just for the nice upgrade in functionality this brings (albeit not audio). I would be interested in an aftermarket amp and speaker upgrade but have no idea on potential cost to have this installed, could you give me a rough guestimate? is it true that simply adding better quality speakers in the same size as stock would give a reasonable improvement in sound quality?

19 hours ago, BarryM said:

 

I have the Baris upgrade and it's an improvement but It's not gonna burst your eardrums emoji4.png. If you insist on staying OE then you need to get the M audio subs and try to find something suitable to replace the fronts. It will be OK rather than spectacular!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

And get an Intravee anyway as it gives you some great features regardless of the iPod functionality !

Barry, I have seen some posts on Cutters and the like saying that the Carphonics amp upgrade is good value and brings a noticeable improvement in quality given the cost. Would you agree with this?

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Hi Jameswsb,

 

Which OEM setup is in your car?  If you 'don't' have DSP, then it's a bit easier to add aftermarket amplifiers/speakers. On the flipside depending what you have, it might be as easy to add bluetooth streaming and the intravee setup. If you 'do' have DSP, then your choices are more limited for amplifier choices and speaker upgrade choices or, there's a different direction of cost if you go the best practice route. Once you provide this information along with the questions above, more focused and relevant suggestions can be made. 

 

Another question is would you consider putting in an aftermarket high quality head unit at all? A quick guide to prices would be around £250-350 for a 5 channel amplifier and £80-200 for front 5.25 inch 2 way component speakers, £45-70 for 2 way 5.25 inch rear co-axial speakers, £60-250 for a subwoofer and perhaps £150-250 for a well built, solid and well finished enclosure. 

 

The Carphonics upgrade for the amplifier adds more powerful electronic components. Many people mistakenly think a 'louder' setup is 'better sounding'. Whilst this can be true to an extent it's not a true representation. It's possible to have a much better sound that's more detailed, natural, open and detailed with less 'power'. The OEM audio setups have a factory set and non changeable Equalization curve and when you use different/add on amplifiers/speakers, the 'sound quality' changes and generally, it's not a big improvement. For some owners, like the ones you've read on M3cutters, Baris' upgrade is enough for them and it might well be that it's enough for you. 

 

Any reputable and quality car audio specialist when asked to retain the oem audio setup and improve the sound quality will use a sound processor to take all the outputs from the OEM amplifier. That processor will then cleverly remove the factory pre set EQ curve, boost the voltage, can sum together any crossed over inputs (this will be the case if you do have oem DSP) and will always output a clean non distorted signal no matter how hard you drive the OEM amplifier. That 'clean' signal is then passed to your choice of aftermarket amplifier and then upgraded speakers. Have a read of this thread I put up some years back;

 

 

The 'fundamental' design of this setup works extremely well and it doesn't have to cost big money. Although the owner of this car went to town on the sound deadening and finishing materials and visual impact aspects you don't have to do the same and can save a substantial amount. Here's another setup which is the same fundamentally but without the high cost aspects

 

 

I know it can be quite a lot to take in, drop me a pm or give me a call and can help explain more of what your choices are and your questions. 

 

Cheers, Dennis!

 

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Dennis,

 

My car has the bog stock audio. Personally the one thing I would really not want to do is to change the head unit. Reading up on the threads you provided has given a good idea of what is involved in differing levels of upgrade. Some of those installs at £2k to £3k look fantastic and I'm sure sound amazing, but for me, that would be too much to spend on audio. I think I would prefer to spend that amount on headers etc or save it for big maintenance jobs. Very interesting reading though, thanks for providing the links.

 

I think that leaves me with either the Carphonics upgrade at c£200 or buying speakers, amp and sub for circa £1k. I realise that the Baris upgrade will not give me a huge increase in quality but the Bluetooth streaming and ease of upgrade does appeal especially for the money. I think I need to spend some more time thinking about this, many thanks for all the help.

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Following with interest as I'm in exactly the same boat - Wanting an audio upgrade without spending mega bucks, and wanting to keep everything looking 100% OEM. I already have the Intravee which I'm really pleased with, but would love a bluetooth solution and an increase in sound quality. 

 

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Hi LeoE,

 

As per above, what kind of sound quality increase level would you ideally want? what kind of music do you listen to mainly, how do you like it reproduced? anticipated budget level? If you *must* keep the OEM head unit, assuming it's the widescreen monitor/GPS version, then look at the two links above which explain the best route forward. OEM bluetooth isn't capable of audio streaming so you could either have your BM54 amplifier modified or use an add on interface from the likes of Bury, iOplay, Scosche, Parrot etc which have Bluetooth audio streaming and mobile phone calls and install one of those. 

 

The 'without spending mega bucks' is open to opinion. If you are wanting excellent audio quality, reproduced cleanly, with good detail, staging, imaging and controlled musical sub bass, then perhaps just upgrading the oem amp to that stage 2 and some upgraded speakers won't be enough. If you are only looking for a marginal/modest increase then perhaps it would be enough. 

 

Cheers, Dennis!

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Hi Dennis,

 

Thanks for the reply - I've got pretty varied listening tastes (House, metal, hip hop, Radio 4...) and am not a huge audiophile. Ideally I'm looking <£1k all in. From the links above it sounds like upgrading the BM54 amp via Carphonics and upgrading the existing speakers could be the best route for me to go down. 

 

 

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After much deliberation I decided to go down the Carphonics stage 2 amp & bluetooth upgrade route. I looked at new head units but the car specific items had mixed reviews and some were expensive (Dynavin was £600!). Plus I had seen some at club meets and they just didn't fit very well in my opinion, even the E39 specific ones. I packaged the amp off and sent it to Baris who turned it around very quickly. It came back looking like this;

20170824_185252.thumb.jpg.c75e7cd094308812680ad3cc8c47b693.jpg

 

To be honest I was a bit disappointed to see the bluetooth dongle being held on with sticky tape! but he assured me it was just for 'extra security', whatever that means. I may swap this out for something less Chinese at some point. At first I wasn't best pleased as the car wouldn't recognise the AUX input but after a while it was fine and has been fine since. 

 

Despite my initial misgivings I have to say its a great mod to do. Audiophiles may laugh but the sound quality is much improved and I now have some reasonable bass. The bluetooth also connect brilliantly.  I would say go for it if you want a cost effective solution that keeps everything looking OE. I may upgrade the speakers in future for a further improvement but for now, this is a great upgrade in my eyes. 

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