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E46 coupe UK Factory Vs HI-FI Speaker System

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E46 coupe UK Factory Vs HI-FI Speaker System

Postby brioni » Tue, 05 Jan 2010 14:55:59 UTC

Hi, I’m having difficulty ascertaining the actual differences between these two systems through numerous web searches and the dealer. I used to own a 2000 X 325ci SE with the 10 speaker HI-FI upgrade. Last week I switched to my new car: a 2004 320cd M Sport and like most have been shocked at the quality of the sound system. It cannot possibly stay as it is, I never expected the come down from the HI-FI system to be so huge. I did discover through the BSW site that the US get the HI-FI speaker system as standard! All the perks huh, but even then it seems many want to switch out the speakers and even the HK ones for that matter. Personally I found it more than adequate for my needs so I’m trying to find out what i’m missing to bring it back up to a respectable level! I suspect that’s going to be tricky with the way these motors are put together and I really want to keep it as invisible and plug & play as possible. How they can put crap like this in I don’t know...it’s completely at odds with the quality of the rest of motor, especially when it’s a M Sport.

So am I right in saying, the 10 speaker system has a tweeter, mid & woofer 3 way in the doors and mid & woofer 2 way in the rear? (i seem to remember the mid was positioned above the rear passenger arm rests)
The brochure mentions “4x25w woofers and 6x15w mid & tweeters”. I assume there’s also a (Bose? Alpine?) amp hidden away in the boot.
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/partgrp.do?model=BV52&mospid=47613&hg=65&fg=25

So with the factory fit, I can see the 2 rear mids are gone. But what else is different?

Have I dropped down to 8 speakers? How many speakers are in the factory fit?
Are the speakers themselves different?
I’m assuming there’s no amp at all? No wiring harness or bracket to plug a amp in? No rear mid mounting positions, connections behind the armrest?
Any other boxes that make the factory fit work? I’m not very fluent with how ice installs work. I guess the factory system is all hanging off the headunit?

Thanks.
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Postby RichardP » Tue, 05 Jan 2010 16:23:18 UTC

The stock system is woeful in the E46, it's 4x15W. There are just the 4 channels with 2 drive units on the front 2 channels and just one on the rear, so you should have 6 speakers in total. The front tweeters are just wired in series with the mid/bass and have a small capacitor in line as a very crude cross over.
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Postby brioni » Wed, 06 Jan 2010 00:17:42 UTC

OK, thanks. Got an idea of what i’m dealing with now- which ain’t a lot! My thinking was to get an amp in and see how it sounds but as the speakers are under powered then they will probably have to go. I think when it comes to BMW quoting the amount of speakers they seem to include the tweeters. I liked the idea of the BSW stage I but as that system is designed to work off of an amp i’ve got some work to do first. Currently i’m thinking of sourcing a used HK amp and wiring kit and seeing what someone can do with that. Or even try and get hold off the whole HK kit, maybe not as nice as BSW’s but should be plenty for my needs...at least on paper.
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Postby RichardP » Wed, 06 Jan 2010 07:09:35 UTC

Don't even consider retrofitting HK! It's a big job and the results are just not worth it. It's not hard to install an amp and better speakers.

The BSW Stage 1 is designed for HK or Hi-Fi cars as that's all the US guys get!
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Postby rs_730d » Wed, 06 Jan 2010 11:52:36 UTC

I've done a complete reinstall in an 03 E46 Coupe. I'd recommend you go for a new head unit if you can - Blaupunkt, Alpine or Becker if you have the ££.

I used Rainbow speakers (2x the front kit that Rainbow sell) with minor modifications for the rear. The only thing I would do differently next time compared to the info below is add a sheet of Dynaliner foam inside the front door cards.

Pictures for the work I did on the rears http://s179.photobucket.com/albums/w287 ... -speakers/

Here is a repost of a thread I created on another forum last year.

So onto the front speakers – replacement of OEM 6.5” mid/bass drivers and tweeters with Rainbow IQ-line components. This install differs from the rear install as it makes use of the full crossover capability of the Rainbow kit.
Same starting point – new components.

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I was a bit apprehensive about messing around with the door cards – but here goes.
Firstly remove the screw cover inside the door pull – use a very thin-tip flat screwdriver and take care not to ruin the fairly soft plastic. Mine already had some scratches. Undo this screw fully with a Torx T20 bit and put in a safe place.

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Then remove the 2 door handle bolts with a Torx T40 bit – they are very tight at the start then nice and easy – again put them in a safe place.

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Now the dreaded door card clips – using a wide, flat trim removal tool, start at the bottom left and work your way around the bottom of the door from left to right. A fair bit of (measured) force is required, don’t be afraid to give it a decent prising force but no sudden force as you could damage the plastic clips. Same for the upper left and right clips.

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Now the top edge by the window line needs unclipping. Again – a fair bit of force is required but be patient as they are quite tight. Start form the top left and move towards the right (door pin end) – obviously the direction changes dependant on which door you are doing.

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You should end up being able to pull the door card upwards and then completely away from the door metal – but it will still be held on by the door release cable. This needs unclipping by pulling away from you – quite easy but take care so as not to smack the door card back into the door metal.

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Now the speaker connections can be unclipped and the card is completely free of the door. So far so good.

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Find a good flat surface and lay out a towel or something else that will protect the carbon/plastic face of the door card.
Remove the sound-deadening around the speaker – I made the mistake of thinking this should be reused but we’ll come to that bit later. Unclip the tweeter connection from the 6.5” speaker unit. There are three cross-head screws that need removing for the 6.5” speaker and 3 Torx T20 screws for the tweeter assembly – undo all of these and remove the OEM speakers from the door card.

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The next bit needed a bit of thought – I didn’t want anything to rattle but using tape isn’t the best idea – so decided to combine the sticky properties of Dynamat Extreme sound-deadening with the routing of the component set wiring. I started with the 6.5” replacement, found a good location for the mini-crossover unit and secured it into place with thin acoustic carpet (as packing material) and the Dynamat then routed all the wiring – again using the Dynamat. More carefully-placed strips of Dynamat round the plastic bits immediately surrounding the speaker – this stop sound transferring from speaker to plastic and means the sound will project from the speaker rather than get all muddied and crap.

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For the tweeter I realised that the Rainbow pre-fab assembly could rattle – so again by using acoustic carpet I made a “sandwich” layer and cut out a rough hole for the tweeter to fire through. This plus the Dynamat means it fits nice and snugly when screwed back into place.

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For the 6.5” and tweeter units I just reused the OEM screws and everything went nicely back in. Some more tactical Dynamat on plastic surfaces that could resonate and the door card is ready.

Started with this

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Ended up with this (ignore the sound-deadening around the 6.5” speaker in this pic)

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Then back to the car – the metal door skin also needs Dynamat – particularly on the area directly where the speaker is going to fire. I cannot stress enough how much of a difference this makes – would recommend spending the time on the door metal to get the best value out of your speaker investment. I also chose to do a few other areas where resonance could occur. Note I haven't gone too mental with the Dynamat - just enough to stop the door metal trying to behave like a speaker.

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Then the door card needs re-hanging on the door. Reverse the approach to taking it off remembering to fix the door pull cable on first – but only clip in the top piece so the speakers need connecting to the OEM door wiring.

Then from underneath the door you can plug in the speaker wires to the OEM connector block – I then wrapped this in a small piece of acoustic carpet and taped round to ensure no rattling and some protection for the home-made connector.

This is the point where you MUST check the speaker phase (positive/negative connections. As with the rears – low volume and listening to the sound it’s pretty easy to tell which is the right way. Don’t leave this bit until after you’ve refitted as it will be a bugger to fix !

Then push in all the remaining door card clips – firm force required without being brutal. Make sure the speaker connection wires are safely out of the way so they don’t get damaged.

So why not reuse the OEM sound deadening round the 6.5” speaker ? Well I tried the door card half-on with the volume up a bit – then 2/3 on to double-check – and it sounded pretty rubbish. The Rainbow kit seems to prefer having more room to breathe – so I ditched the material.

Double-check all the clips are tightly fixed, then refit the large Torx T40 bolts – might need some nifty handiwork to get them lining up correctly inside the door card – then refit the Torx T20 screw into the door handle assembly, replace the plastic cover and all done !

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The difference is pretty astonishing – I’ve gone for fading the system back 1 or 2 notches, Bass up 2 and Treble at the middle setting. For a speaker-only upgrade, this is well worth the ££ and time.

The rears took me 2.5 hours and the fronts 3.5 – but I did the second front door in about an hour including removal and refitting. Very glad I spent the time routing all the wires and checking everything carefully as it all worked first time and has now given me the audio quality that the car should have been given from factory. More than happy with the with the results !
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Postby brioni » Fri, 08 Jan 2010 15:01:10 UTC

rs_730d wrote:I've done a complete reinstall in an 03 E46 Coupe. I'd recommend you go for a new head unit if you can - Blaupunkt, Alpine or Becker if you have the ££.


Thanks for the guide- what did you do amp wise? and how did you get on with the cabling? replacing the HD was not something i was considering but a iphone/ipod connection is gonna have to find its way in somehow so it might come into play then.
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Postby rs_730d » Fri, 08 Jan 2010 15:32:36 UTC

I went for a Becker head unit and ignored the amp option - decided it was the easiest route in the CSL.

would recommend an amp around 40W per channel for the Rainbow speakers.

However unless the speakers are mounted properly with the correct sound deadening and decent cabling it's always going to sound "ok" rather than excellent.

The other problem is the mounting points for both the front the rear speakers - the stock locations really do not lend themselves to projecting the sound correctly into the cabin space.

If I had the chance to do the CSL again I'd seriously look at door metal modifications to mount proper speaker pods (with JL Audio ZR 6.5" components) and rear shelf mods to mount JL audio ZR 8" components, then drive the lot from a decent head unit and something like the JL audio 300/4 amp. This would need a lot of work though, and I couldn't bring myself to cut the metal on the CSL.
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