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waitee

How to: Aftermarket stereo and sub install

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Hey guys thought id do a wee separate thread on this as ive just finished my install. Couldn't find a thread like this when I was doing mine, over the course of the restoration.

Bit of a read sorry, but will help if you are replacing OEM stuff. Total cost was under £400.

 

Speakers are easy any 13cm decent brand speaker will do you will I opted for Sony XS-FB1330, I replaced all 4. Tips: use some window draft sealer on the speaker where it meets the OEM housing for best sealed sound quality, and if you gently pull the OEM foam of you can easily reuse with a little contact adhesive.

2 in the rear parce shelf and 2 in the front door cards, I left the OEM tweeters in place.

 

Heatunit is a little more complicated. My requirements where I wanted a volume knob, apple car play, and steering buttons to work. So I opted for a Sony xav-ax1000, very nice unit by the way and that powers the 4 speakers with 4x45w Amps.

 

for the facia I bought a cheap one off chinabay, there are a few different models around, I personally think the one I have looks best, most stock if you will. Now you don't need to modify it, but I did for the perfect fit, I used the sony mounting bracket and gorilla glued it onto the plastic fascia, this mounted the headunit perfectly flush once fitted in place. The fascial clips into the gap left by the OEM headunit nicely, and to remove the new headunit I find it easier just to pull the hole thing out as one piece with the fascia included. easy with a couple plastic pry tools.

 

Now the connection part: not all e39s are the same, mine had amp in the boot, so speaker cables where in the boot. I ran an ISO harness from the boot to the back of the headunit, down the left side of the car, just remove the scuff plates on the doors and push it into the carpet.

 

You'll need an ISO adapter in my case 17 pin round (OEM) to ISO some might have flat pins. And the adapter connect the old amp connector to the new ISO harness which connects to the back of the headunit. Simple!

 

Now for the "bits":

Steering button you'll need a connects2 adapter, theres a couple models, but the CTSBM003.2 works on the e39, now this goes behind the headunit, the input to which needs to come form the Ibus cable original in the amp in the boot. I just cut the original cable and patched it into one of the ISO cables that weren't being used. and did the same at the new headunit end, patched it into the connect2 unit. then the unit connects to your headunit with a 3.5mm headphone jack.

This worked perfectly all you have to do is in the settings of your headunit set ut to custom kets for the remote and it will prompt you to press the individually until it recognises the button and then you can assign it to what ever function you want.

For the auto dimmer function, which again won't work unless you connect another switched 12v to the orange cable in the ISO harness. Easy way to do this is to patch a cable from the rear position light to the ISO harness in the boot. So when you turn the lights one it sees a signal and dims the screen.

 

One this I found is that the ISO lead constant power (not the switched) wasn't powerful enough, so I ran a separate new constant 12v to the back of the headunit and didn't use the one from the ISO harness.

 

Lastly a very sleek sub instal. These new undersea subs are fantastic, lots of brands do them, I opted for a Pioneer TS-WX130DA, only because there was a new one on FB going cheap. There all similar in size and power, 160w in this case active, so easy to install.

I was planning on cutting a speaker sized whole in the ski hatch and mount it in the boot behind it, but when I got it and was fiddling with the placement I noticed its a perfectly tight fit wedged between the seat, tight enough that its not moving. plus its nice an vibration free! and looks good I think. Easy to quickly disconnect and put aside if I need to close the armrest, as its not affixed anywhere.

Connecting it is easy came with cables and fuse, ran to the battery for power, ground and swiched power from the ISO harness same as the headunit. Then run a RCA cable from the headunit under the side of the car up under the back seat to it. The cables from the battery go behind the boot lining and through a OEM hole thats in the ski hatch area.

 

Everything works great! and looks great to, I think anyway. 

 

Hope got helps someone. Sound is Epic, needs the sub to be good definitely.

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Edited by waitee

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Very useful, just starting a new stereo installation myself. Next task is removal of the standard cage/flap. How do you find the sound of those speakers in the standard enclosure? 

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Hi

 

Waitee - Nice writeup for your install. As mentioned in your build thread (I think), co-axial speakers in the front aren't a best practice choice as the high frequencies will be 'directed' or 'playing' towards your knee. The ideal is to have tweeters placed higher up and for a nice 'stage 1' upgrade for many E39 owners, the OEM location in the window corner is perfect. The results are that the 'soundstage/imaging' will be 'lifted' and playing towards your ears much better and gives the desired results of music sounding natural, accurate, open and engaging'. Of course, if how you have your's sounds good to you, then all good - doesn't matter what anyone else thinks/says! Ideally, you'd change the oem plastic enclosures to more solid baffles as that'll allow aftermarket speakers to 'play' better too by using the door cavity as an 'enclosure'. The OEM pods are made for the OEM speakers and by using those with aftermarket speakers, you get more of an emphasis on midrange frequencies due to the internal volume of the pods being meant for the OEM speakers. 

 

I used to have one of those fascias as well, the well made and complete with an aluminium fitting frame one from Connects2. With that one, there's was no need to glue anything. Looks like you've been able to utilise the oem fitting frame, many current E39 fascias can't use it!  A few E39 owners back in from 10+ years ago did the underseat powered subwoofer placed in exactly the same place as you've done too, a quick unclip and taking wires off meant it was easy to remove/refit and provides a simple way to 'add some bass' !

 

832ark - As per above, I'd recommend using component 2 way speakers for the front and to replace the oem plastic pods, it does depend on 'how well' you like your music reproduced and performing in the car of course, but 98% plus owners will go this route instead of co-axial speakers as explained as to why above. 

 

Cheers, Dennis!

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Cheers for the input Dennis, I don't really notice bad sound quality with current set up, tweeters are still in place though so I get the high frequencies sounding nice.

Regarding the speaker enclosures I would say they'd be tuned more to the car for resonating frequency purposes than the speaker in my opinion, but who knows. I have it sounding great. I used to be a music producer years ago, I use a spectrum analyser and 10 band EQ in the car to get the perfect flat frequency band in the car, so my sound is pretty decent haha :)

 

component speakers are better though no doubt.

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Thanks Dennis, I’ll be using a a pair of 13cm Infinity components and have read quite a few threads regarding the standard pods. I think the answer is to try them and see how it sounds. 

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Nice, did you go for the infinite battle (no box) with the sub? Or has it got a box attached?

 

I used an infinite baffle with my old E28 behind the arm rest, it worked ok but the 2 10” subs in the box I made specially for them in my E34 was much better. 
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14 hours ago, waitee said:

Regarding the speaker enclosures I would say they'd be tuned more to the car for resonating frequency purposes than the speaker in my opinion, but who knows.


I managed to convince them to let me do my main project on “Speaker Enclosures for Automobiles” in my Audio & Video Systems HND. 
Short answer - Denis is right, the enclosure has to be matched to the speaker, nothing to with the car size / volume. But I’m sure yours sounds better than the originals! 
 

Also just to let you know (I was on here for a good few years before realising) there are separate sections on here to post both project threads & audio stuff on. I have an old audio thread on there. I really should get round to making a project thread too!

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Cheers Andy :) so would you say it’s better to remove the speakers from the enclosures? Would you not get starting waves rattling around in the door cavity? I’m used to tuning concert halls not cars haha but I did the usual with a spectrum analiser, and eq, and pink noise. Got it sounding nice. For a car anyway. But happy to lean new things

 

was not aware there was a how to section. Happy if someone wants to move the thread

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Hi,

 

Waitee - As I say, if you're happy with how it sound, then it's all that matters! I'm coming from the view that if you were to ask any of the UK's reputable and experienced car audio dealers/installarers and car audio enthusiasts, it'd never be suggested or recommended to have co-axials in the doors like that. If you've piggybacked the oem tweeters onto the Sony speaker inputs, then you'll have higher frequencies from them and the ones playing to your knee!  It is recommended to 'try' and get a good frequency response/balance in the car and an EQ can/will help of course. For the most part, going to that level will be done by car audio enthusiasts looking for excellent Sound Staging/Imaging from the chosen higher end speaker systems used (2/3 Way components) and the style of the door builds used to house them to provide that excellent Frequency dispersion and 'tuned' via an EQ etc. It's something you 'might' look at in the future, or may not if you stay happy with the performance as is ! For car audio, tuning and getting the install right is significantly different to setting up a concert hall !   BMW's are well build and solid, and it's a little harder to get the installation just right if looking for a SQ orientated install. For the doors, then the ideal, tried and tested route is to ditch the oem plastic pods and if you want the stealth look, to then fabricate solid baffles that allow a chosen speaker to play much better/cleaner as there'd be minimal/zero flexing. You'd not run 'big' power to the cabin speakers and similarly, you'd generally not be running below 50Hz perhaps, so you won't get big/large rattles. 60/75 W RMS is very useable and for those wanting a more higher output and SQ orientated level, then 90-110/120 W RMS can be done once tuned and setup well. Others who don't have to have stealth looks, will do custom door builds which then significantly improve the performance again !

 

Andyrt200 - When I had my E34 back in 1999, I was very tempted to go with kick panel builds like those! I recall (vaguely) the speakers I wanted were just that little bit beyond my budget considering all the other items I'd purchased for the car both mechanically/styling and audio wise !! I ended up going with DLS R5A's (Have them in my E39 as well!) in the OEM locations and the tweeters custom mounted under the dash grille at a custom angle to improve the imaging/sound stage. My rear subwoofer enclosure was similar to yours for about 4/5 months as prior to that, I had a quite compact enclosure using two Kicker Solo Baric 12s but facing outwards. I had it setup for my preferences of excellent SQ primarily and with some adjustments via my Electronic EQ I could dial in the 'big bass' when I wanted to go for that kind of performance ! My writeup for what I did in my E34 is in the audio section too!

 

Cheers, Dennis!

 

 

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cheers for the input again bud, you've got me looking for 2 way component now, might replace the front door and oem tweeters with some 2 way component speakers then, I also thought about mounting the tweeters on the Dash facing the window so the sound would reflect of the windscreen and back into my face. Well see ;)

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On 15/01/2021 at 15:17, waitee said:

Cheers Andy :) so would you say it’s better to remove the speakers from the enclosures? Would you not get starting waves rattling around in the door cavity? I’m used to tuning concert halls not cars haha but I did the usual with a spectrum analiser, and eq, and pink noise. Got it sounding nice. For a car anyway. But happy to lean new things

 

was not aware there was a how to section. Happy if someone wants to move the thread


Every other car I’ve owned has had the door speakers just mounted in the door panel, it’s the far more normal way of doing it. Yes you do technically get waves inside the door panel but there is a lot of other car / road noises too that offset them (SNR) which makes car stereo set up quite different. If you’re going for best possible sound you should really line every inch of the inner door panel (& most of the rest of the car) with sound / vibration absorbing material. 


The E39 obviously has these pods so just mounting the speaker in the panel instead brings a whole new world of problems as I found:

 

As Denis said If you have got yours set up so it sounds good & you like it that’s all that matters!

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