Jump to content
BarryM

E39 audio upgrade

Recommended Posts

I upgraded my E39 audio a few years ago and have been running a BM54 with Baris stage 2 amp along with an Intravee/iPod/DAB, with Rockford Fosgate 10” subs and Boston Acoustics S50 speakers in the front doors, I also have OEM DSP and have been very happy with the setup – more than enough volume/bass and far better overall sound than original.

 

However I recently acquired an Alpine PXA-H100 DSP and having bought that I’ve also ordered a Break-out-Box from RichardP so now plan on removing my OEM DSP and can add an amp (or 2) and better speakers. I want to get good quality sound and the extra options the PXA-H100 gives over the OEM DSP seems worth the extra expense but having no knowledge of specific amps or speakers I need some advice J.

 

I’m planning on going to see Baris @ Carphonics to get RCA outputs added (might as well add BT streaming while I’m at it although I will continue to use my iPhone through the Intravee) this will give me a feed into the Alpine DSP via the BoB.

 

First question is around the speakers: I have Boston Acoustics S50 speakers in the front doors which are component speakers so have separate tweeters and crossovers (and are rated @ 55w RMS – max 150w) for now I’m planning to keep these but might upgrade in the future. They are fitted in the OEM plastic pods but I see many people go with wooden door baffles – given there’s not a great deal of space behind the door card what difference does that make? I don’t see anyone using the OEM mid speaker in the door so is that just redundant, is a 2 speaker system better than 3 in this instance?

 

I do need to replace the rear parcel shelf speakers and see that people choose co-ax 5.25” speakers so need a good recommendation here, and given the front plastic pods get replaced why do people install the rear parcel shelf items in the plastic pods and not do away with them in the rear?

 

The rear subs are Rockford Fosgate R2SD4 10” subs and I have no intention of replacing them as they sound great, I actually need a bit more control to reduce the level of bass and the PXA-H100 has separate sub control which is ideal.

 

Now onto the most important part, what amp(s) to run and although I’ve read quite a few threads I really have no idea on this except I want the install to be as neat and unobtrusive as possible. Do I run a single amp for the 4 speakers and subs or a separate amp for the 4 speakers and another for the subs. I see that RichardP installed a Rockford Fosgate Punch PBR300X4 and someone else installed an Alpine PDX-4.100 – both in the stock location where the DSP came out and I really like the idea of that for relative ease of wiring etc but I’m a bit concerned about heat so any comments and suggestions around the amps and positioning? Both of those are only 4 channel amps so I’d need a separate sub amp and ideally I’d want to fit something small under the parcel shelf behind the subs if I’m going with separate amps.

 

I will probably do the install myself and plan to use the existing speaker wiring where possible so which is a good car audio forum to start browsing for support on the best way to wire things up? I’ll need a good source to order speaker connectors and the amp cabling too, although I do have a couple of audio specialists nearish to me so am I best to order locally instead of online – I have Sextons Car Audio very close in Portsmouth and Huets a bit further away.

 

I appreciate this is a long post but wanted to try and get all the info I need before I start this, and the aim is better quality sound but not at a ridiculous sound level!

 

TIA for any suggestions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Following.

I've got an Audison bit prima and apk130 door speakers. I'd love to find out what kind of amp may be needed, if at all.
@DennisCooper


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

 

BarryM -I will get you a  response and some recommendations once I've a little more time to think and evaluate some aspects. 

 

NF - Similar for you as well. 

 

Cheers, Dennis!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People usually upgrade the fronts to 6.5 inch with the wooden adapters as generally they give mire midbass than the 5 25 inch standard size.

With all the upgrades in various cars I have seen guys get hooked on upgrading the rears. No need. When do you sit in the back?

Fading to front only with possibly a little bit on the rears if you have passengers is all you need. When was the last time you stood at a concert and stood with your back to the band?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, bigrigbri said:

People usually upgrade the fronts to 6.5 inch with the wooden adapters as generally they give mire midbass than the 5 25 inch standard size.

With all the upgrades in various cars I have seen guys get hooked on upgrading the rears. No need. When do you sit in the back?

Fading to front only with possibly a little bit on the rears if you have passengers is all you need. When was the last time you stood at a concert and stood with your back to the band?

 

 

I've seen some of your other posts about rear shelf speakers and I guess it's a good point but I've not seen anyone delete them, what do you have in your car?

 

I guess the BA 5.25" speakers might be too lightweight but I didn't want to make big changes to the door cards to make 6.5" speakers fit - unless some will slot straight in now on the wooden baffles?

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Barry,

 

I've read and re-read your points and questions and your thoughts and as we've mentioned previously, I know and understand the route you are going given you prefer to keep the OEM modules in place. There's a few E39 M5 installs done in a similar route from members on here (who now don't post anymore) and another couple who aren't on this forum and heard their setups once all done, so I'll draw experience of those both in terms of installation/setup and audio SQ/performance. 

 

1. You'll most likely go with the 2 RCA modification from Carphonics, so all good there. That output will connect into your PXA-H100. Some years back, I had the Alpine iXA-407BT and it was 'IMPRINT' ready and the PXA-H100 was a compatible processor. I recall, that once installed, there's a calibration mic and setup CD so that automatic sound analysis can be done and the settings saved/used/benchmarked. Perhaps look at this in a little closer detail. At the time, I was tempted to add the processor, but instead opted to keep it more simple as 95% or more E39 owners most likely wouldn't go down this route along with good positioning of the speaker drivers and more solid fitment/install required to get the best out of such a setup. This moves me to your point about the speaker choice. Ideally, given what the processor can do, you'd have the front speakers in a custom door build with different positioning. I understand you don't want to go this route so speaker choice for you is a little more open/wider choice. BigrigBri mentions what you'll read 'most' on the forums, which is an 'auto choice/recommendation' to go to 6.5inch drivers. The concern/issue here is having enough clearance/mounting depth considerations. Different drivers in a 2/3 way component setup will have different mounting depths, so that's the first aspect to consider. In the OEM location, then the back of the door card sits close to the speaker's cone/surround and when the speaker is playing, it can touch/hit the back of the door card on full outward extension which will be heard as 'buzzing'. To remedy, you'd perhaps make some 'spacers' to have the speaker sit further back, so that'll resolve the 'buzzing' but might introduce a problem with the mounting depth. To compensate there, you'll need to choose a speaker with less of a mounting depth. The good news is that in recent years, some quality car audio speaker brands have 'slim fit' drivers in their components ranges, the flip side is they generally are their intermediate to higher end ranges and the costs are of course increased. If you stay with a entry level components choice from the high quality speaker brands, then going 6.5's means more work to ensure you have them fit so that there's no buzzing on the back of the door card and that they're not too deep. You have the now discontinued BA SC50's (was it SE50's, SA50's or S50's?) and these were such a model choice that their electrical characteristics meant they played well with the varying impedance of the OEM amplifier/setup. At 55W RMS and with a lower end frequency response to 60Hz, that's not too bad for a 5.25 inch component set. The OEM plastic pods are designed for the OEM (mediocre) paper coned speaker. When you put in much more capable speakers, then the internal air volume of them is such that the 'mid range' frequencies become much more pronounced, which gives a more unnatural sound. When those pods are removed and the MDF/Birch Play baffles are used, the rest of the door cavity becomes the enclosure and the speaker will play much better due to that and being a much more solid base, there's less flexing resulting in a better stronger lower end and mid bass response. Some of the E39s and M5's I mention above have 6.5's with the work done behind the door card to ensure good fitment/no buzzes and higher rated at 75/90/125 W RMS and run with more RMS wattage from the amplifiers used. In my install, I went with DLS R5A's, a 5.25 inch component set and a phenomenal performer as they respond down to 50Hz and the mid bass they are capable of is awesome - I've had a number of the UK's well known car audio sound off competitors have a listen and they did think I had to be running a 6.5 inch for that kind of mid bass! So, depending on your listening tastes and how you listen mostly, there's different choices you could go for if/when you change from the BA's. Price point will be a consideration as well. Definitely spend the vast bulk of your budget on the front end, as it's where all the detail, SQ, imaging, soundstage will come from as BigrigBri mentions. 3 way is possible and it's a next step up to make the best of them which ideally is a custom door build, and would also help make the best of the processor's capabilities. Finding a 3 way set with a mid range driver to fit in the OEM location is going to mean spending big money as I think there's literally just a couple of choices that'll have a 1&3/4 to 2 & 1/4 soft dome midrange driver. I think Morel have some that fit, but not in a off the shelf component kit, might be more choices in the last couple years, I've not looked much as 3 way setups almost always go with custom door builds. 

 

2. Rear Speakers - only needed for rear fill so £40-80 on 2 way 5.25 inch co-axials will be fine. The amplifier you use will have the rear gains/bass levels/frequency band set to lower levels anyway so you've got less to worry about RMS wattage. You'll not need to worry about the plastic pods either, just remove the oem drivers and pop in the new ones. You'll most likely set them up to provide 'some' level of rear fill which will be enough to play the differences via the processor, but, only a little time needed here.

 

3. Have you mounted the Sub drivers under the rear parcel shelf like where the OEM M Audio subs go? or like Richard P and installed in specific small enclosures just under the rear speakers (if I remember correctly as how he has them installed in his car!). The most efficient, easy to install, cost effective subwoofer route is a small, sealed enclosure that fits up against the rear bulkhead and which has the sub bass 'flow' through the ski hatch into the cabin. If your location is different, then depending where, there's a varying level of inefficiency. It sounds as though you are happy with this aspect regardless.

 

4. Nowadays, there's a lot more 'small footprint' amplifiers available with excellent to phenomenal RMS power outputs coupled with excellent efficiency. 4/5 and 6 channel very small units exist so I'd say go for a single unit with 5 channels minimum, as it means you only have one set of installation aspects to do. These amplifiers use Class D amplification technology and worries about heat a reduced to practically zero. Due to them being so efficient, if you choose modest/mid levels of RMS power output, you'll not likely need to uprate your car's electrical system as well. I use 2 very small Class D Arc Audio amplifiers in my install. I have them under a perspex panel and there's no real airflow and although we don't tend to get hot summers in the UK, whenever we have had 'hot' days, I've driven my car for extended periods of time at loud levels and I've not had one thermal runaway/shutdown happen with them. All the established well known brands will have these kinds of amplifiers and you'll also get choices from Amplifier only brands as well. Prices will be at the 'mid level' if you wish to mount only where the OEM CD changer is given physical dimension considerations. If you do want to go with 2 amplifiers, then you'll need to ensure you have space for them in the location where you are thinking and all the extra wiring/RCA cables/adaptors etc you'll need. You will have extra choice in amplfiers including the really tiny ones if you wished! Stick with Class D units and there's no extra concerns, if you go Class B which is more traditional, then heat dissipation/cooling does become more of an issue when it comes to mounting locations. These amplifiers are also more budget friiendly. 

 

Please do compare all the above with Huets, Sextons and other high quality reputable installers. Also nearby to you is Studio In Car - https://studioincar.com/  Carl did my custom D Pillar pods, perspex paneling cover and my CF cloth seat back covers as well as some tidying up of the audio. Huets have done plenty of E39's previously and I'm sure Sextons have too. Like you, I personally prefer excellent SQ with some good clean, powerful when needed, tight and controlled sub bass - I'm not wanting to shake the pavement ! More than willing to talk on the phone as the above is a good overview, but always good to talk, I'd meet up if my car was fully back on the road !

 

NF - I know you've changed your setup lately and I've not kept up with your direction. You might need an amp or may not. Can give you a call or meetup locally again if you want. 

 

BigrigBri - cheers for your posts as well! haven't seen much from you lately !

 

Cheers, Dennis!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dennis you could have elaborated your post a little more.

I guess I haven't posted much latelymore due to the nature of the op questions n such that I have no knowledge of.

 

Barry M, i am running my front speakers in the kick panels using 6.5 inch Hybrid audio Imagine coaxial drivers.

Running a seperate headunit in the dash centre vents and all amped along with 2 subs in the boot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Dennis, thanks for the very comprehensive reply and I’ll add a few thoughts!

 

I think I’m good with the OEM & Alpine kit as RichardP and others have documented how it fits together so I really need help starting with the amps.

 

Lots of good advice but I guess I was hoping for some recommendations for the amps and speakers. After finding Talk Audio I agree that cheapish speakers are fine in the parcel shelf and I will need to think about replacing the front speakers at some stage. I know the BA speakers are component but could I take them out of the doors and fit in the parcel shelf, I know they'll fit but will they have the range?

 

I am working to a budget so to get things rolling the priority needs to be rear speakers and amp or amps. D class makes sense but I can’t seem to find a small enough 5 channel that will fit in the original DSP location so maybe I need 2 smaller models - any specific recommendations?

 

I don’t want to cut into the vapour barriers and will use the stock door location, but I might order the 12Velectronics speaker mounts if I can slot 6.5s in without any great mods so do you know the slimmer models and will I still get improved sound over the 5.25s if I don’t hack the vapour barrier? I don’t think I’m going for custom builds and 3 way components.

 

My rear subs are mounted like the M Audio which I’m happy with (photo was before they were wired in or the sound proofing had been done), could I bolt a small amp on the underside of the parcel shelf between them?

IMG_1474.jpg.c71a4384c3039c424f60773fc1387452.jpg

 

 

I’ll pop along to Sexton’s for starters as they’re so local, although Studio In Car looks outstanding I don’t think I have the money to go to them, although their A pillar tweeter mounts look terrific.

 

Edited by BarryM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, bigrigbri said:

i am running my front speakers in the kick panels using 6.5 inch Hybrid audio Imagine coaxial drivers.

Running a seperate headunit in the dash centre vents and all amped along with 2 subs in the boot.

 

I found your post on Talk Audio and very impressed with the effort you've gone to, I'm trying to find some middle ground between OEM and the top end that you've gone for :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

 

Bigrigbri - You're right! I'll add some more soon ! ;)

 

Barry - With the OEM modules still in that location, then yes, you'll need to measure up and have a good look to determine the space available to put an amplifier. Given the relatively little space, I'd say it's a 5 channel that'd be best so it's just one unit to install. From looking at numerous other E39 install threads where the OEM stuff has been retained and where the owner wants to put the amplifier where the CD changer was, you may need to fabricate something for the amp to mount to and be securely held. As for suggestions, much will depend on the space and then checking various potential choices with other criteria such as RMS power output, price etc. How about these;

 

http://caraudiosecurity.com/amplifiers-eq_car-amplifiers_5-6-channel-amps

 

There's a number of potential choices from various brands there. 

 

 

Another selection of more focused car audio brands and amplifiers;

 

http://www.teamspb.co.uk/default.asp

 

There's some very small units here and perhaps one of the smallest available in the Mosconi D2 range - check each section, there's a 2 channel D2 150.2  D2 and a Mono D2 500.1 £339 and £349 respectively. These are Palm sized units so two would definitely fit. 

 

As for front slimline components, you have two choices in 5.25 and 6.5 inch from Gladen Audio, the RS130 slim and SQX130 slim for the 5.25 inch choice and RS165 slim and SQX 165 slim for the 6.5 inch choice. It's been a while since looking last, but I do recall Hertz also offer slim versions - https://www.hertzaudiovideo.com/car-audio-woofers-energy-evf165-5/ You'll need to look around on their site for their various ranges and then into each lineup to see which 'flat' design, I think the 'f' identifier in each range denotes it, but do double check. If you do speak to Huets, I'm sure they'll easily be able to make up the larger more solid baffles for you, unless you do wish to order in the 12V electronics ones. 

 

You could mount an amplifier in that location, Id' ensure if you do that it's a Class D one. A Class B or A/B will run warmer and as the heatsink is often on the top, then if you mount it upside down as it were the heat will 'rise' and not escape as easily, thus warming the amplifier up even more. Another member some years ago made a custom shelf there so the amplifier could be slotted in in it's normal orientation so that the heat would rise and dissipate away. 

 

Cheers, Dennis!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Barry m Hybrid audio do a 2 inch full range driver for 169 quid that could replace the mid n tweet and they sound unbelievably good. With a little getting they could be custom mounted in the tweet area and driven actively and sound breathtaking with the right time alignment and crossover points and we.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 07/03/2019 at 20:49, DennisCooper said:

Barry - With the OEM modules still in that location, then yes, you'll need to measure up and have a good look to determine the space available to put an amplifier. Given the relatively little space, I'd say it's a 5 channel that'd be best so it's just one unit to install. You may need to fabricate something for the amp to mount to and be securely held. As for suggestions, much will depend on the space and then checking various potential choices with other criteria such as RMS power output, price etc. How about these;

 

There's some very small units here and perhaps one of the smallest available in the Mosconi D2 range - check each section, there's a 2 channel D2 150.2  D2 and a Mono D2 500.1 £339 and £349 respectively. These are Palm sized units so two would definitely fit. 

 

As for front slimline components, you have two choices in 5.25 and 6.5 inch from Gladen Audio, the RS130 slim and SQX130 slim for the 5.25 inch choice and RS165 slim and SQX 165 slim for the 6.5 inch choice. It's been a while since looking last, but I do recall Hertz also offer slim versions - https://www.hertzaudiovideo.com/car-audio-woofers-energy-evf165-5/ You'll need to look around on their site for their various ranges and then into each lineup to see which 'flat' design, I think the 'f' identifier in each range denotes it, but do double check. If you do speak to Huets, I'm sure they'll easily be able to make up the larger more solid baffles for you, unless you do wish to order in the 12V electronics ones. 

 

You could mount an amplifier in that location, Id' ensure if you do that it's a Class D one. A Class B or A/B will run warmer and as the heatsink is often on the top, then if you mount it upside down as it were the heat will 'rise' and not escape as easily, thus warming the amplifier up even more. Another member some years ago made a custom shelf there so the amplifier could be slotted in in it's normal orientation so that the heat would rise and dissipate away. 

 

Cheers, Dennis!

 

Hi Dennis,

 

Thanks for the follow-up, as you suggest I think a 5 channel amp sounds like a good option and the choice is huge but I'd been looking at the Alpine PDX-V9 mainly because it will fit - a bit more than I would like to spend but if it does all the speakers then maybe worthwhile. I'm not specifically an Alpine fan so interested in feedback on that one - most other amps of similar spec seem bigger physically so won't fit in the original location. The Mosconi models don't seem the right spec?

 

For speakers I've not heard of Gladen but the cost seems fair so will put them on my short list along with Hertz, still not sure about 5.25 or 6.5 so will need to think more about this. 

 

I'll try and get along to one or two of the audio shops to discuss further but keep the suggestions coming.

 

Barry.

 

  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, bigrigbri said:

Hybrid audio do a 2 inch full range driver for 169 quid that could replace the mid n tweet and they sound unbelievably good. With a little getting they could be custom mounted in the tweet area and driven actively and sound breathtaking with the right time alignment and crossover points and we.

 

Thanks for the suggestion bri, so would I be buying the 2" full range driver and then a 5.25" or 6.5" speaker from Hybrid that would match? I guess I'd need to get one of the audio shops to help mount the 2" speaker to make it look professional.

 

I've done some reading on Talk Audio and tbh I'm just getting more ideas/more confused so beginning to think I'm gonna need to go and look at options and discuss at a couple of specialists.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Barry,

 

The Alpine PD-X range of amplifiers are very good, I had them on my shortlist as well for instance.The newer updated models are even better, have no qualms about them in this regard. The Mosoni D2 range were were suggested more for physical small sizing , their power output/spec would work ok. As for physical location with respect to physical sizing of the amps., you'll need to measure up and cross reference with physical space in the E39's cubby area to see what will and can fit

 

Gladen are a well respected and quality brand and again, have no worry about them, they do make excellent products :)

 

I do love Morel and their product offerings, similar to what bigrigbri mentions. However, I think this level of quality and their product offerings, you need to really know more of what you want and these products would be much better suited to custom applications/builds and/or where custom door and pillar enclosures/mounts are used top bring out their best of what they're capable of sounding like. 

 

Zip over to Huets first, they've done plenty of E39's in the past :)

 

Cheers, Dennis!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As an amplifier and dsp package there is no better than the Helix p6 amp sap combo in a tiny package.

Keep the Boston's in the front doors for now and see how it all pans out. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, bigrigbri said:

As an amplifier and dsp package there is no better than the Helix p6 amp sap combo in a tiny package.

Keep the Boston's in the front doors for now and see how it all pans out. 

 

Thanks for the suggestion but I can't afford the Helix p6 which looks like it includes DSP but I already have the PXA-H100 for DSP.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You could always sell it. People like myself hold on to stuff like that and say that it will come in handy one day.

The truth is that modern equipment has far more functionality and carries a warranties where older gear sometimes fails you at the least opportune moment needing capacitor changes and the like.

It's a consideration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are some pretty good used deals on eBay and for the same money you can get higher spec kit than buying new - how risky is buying used audio kit these days?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, bigrigbri said:

Amplifiers and some headunits can be repaired by the right people.

 

Understood, but I'm thinking more class D amps rather than the 'proper' amps that need servicing. There are some good deals on eBay as well as Talk Audio so just wondering if the risk is worth taking.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Popped along to meet Carl at Studio Incar today and it's fair to say he's not added a DSP and amp to a BM54 and intravee system before!

 

After I explained quite why I want to go this route he's agreed to take a look if I send him more info around the PXA-H100's capabilities, it's the integration into the OEM system I really want and after reading how happy RichardP, Maca and a couple of E46 guys have been doing this I'm determined to persevere.

 

The plan is for Carl to recommend a suitable amp and then I'll book the car in to get that and the DSP installed (hopefully in the factory DSP location), after that I'll see how it sounds and possibly look at the front speakers again in the future.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Barry,

 

Yes, car audio installers and fabricators like SIC will most likely not go the route you want due to the extra complexity and would prefer a single sound processor type solution for integration or even better, a new high quality head unit. I've heard Maca/RichardP's and a few other M5's and E39's that have had the 'Intravee/Alpine porcessor route' and there's no doubt at all when partnered with good quality amplifiers and speakers all installed properly that there's a significant increase in SQ and when you take it to the level Maca has, it's very impressive indeed ! Overall, You'll just need to evaluate the level of spend to the level of SQ you want with this route.

 

I've also heard an E39 with the JBL MS-8 setup from a few years ago, and for a single box solution, that was a marked step up in SQ but for me, not 'enough' for the level of spend for it and the upgraded speakers. For many owners, it may well have been more than enough though !

 

From the last couple of replies, I also used to want to use my older nostalgic head units/amplifiers etc, and then realised they'd all be past their best in terms of component degradation and didn't want to be having them repaired/worked on along with the install aspects of physical size and head output, so quickly decided to go with new units. 

 

Good luck with everything and please do update as you go along :)

 

Cheers, Dennis!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just got my BM54 back from Baris @ Carphonics so now I have the RCA outputs, also had the BT module added - even though I use the intravee I occasionally get passengers who want to play their music!

 

1966052268_2019-04-1117_30_34.jpg.191e75c35ae784c9e101984838e5cbe9.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finally found time to pop back over to Studio in Car and had a bigger discussion about installing the Alpine DSP and a modern D class amp. I sent them the OEM DSP wiring diagram that shows the front door speakers have separate feeds to each of the 3 speakers so it looks like I need an 8 channel amp so that's getting a bit pricier!

 

I've looked at various E39 build threads and an 8  channel amp looks unusual so is that because most people only run 2 front door speakers?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×