BMW Audio Upgrade, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and X Series
All of the later style BMW models, ie, E60, E70, E90 onwards, share an almost identical audio set up. There are a pair of 6” woofers under the front seats and a pair of 4” mid range speakers fitted in the front door cards. In the back there are a similar set of 4” mid range speakers, model dependent.
The speakers under the seats are driven from the radio, no amplification, no crossovers; there is just a capacitor on the back of the mid range in the doors to get rid of the low frequencies. Most people are disappointed to say the least with the sound quality of the standard audio system, comments such as “no bass”, “no detail”,” muddled” and “distorted” are not uncommon.
BMW began using this speaker platform back in 2005 with the new 3 and 5 series models. At first the set up was a little daunting but we focused on finding a solution and eventually began to embrace and have now completely fallen in love this platform. After years of re-developing and fine tuning the setup we now believe this configuration can give better results than more conventional speaker layouts, one of the big advantages is being able to actually get the bass up front.
BMW Audio Upgrades have become the backbone of our business, over the last couple of years other car audio installers have began following our lead and offering their own similar upgrades, some even using the same system names and web section titles; they are simply not the same.
We take our BMW Audio Upgrades very seriously, that's why we have invested in a 4 Series and an X5 as demo cars which are fitted out with our solutions, we can also switch between several systems helping you make the right choice.
If you are thinking of upgrading please, please come and hear our demos before you make a decision. You will not regret it, if after that you don't want to go ahead there is no obligation at all; worst case you get to listen to some good music for a while!
We have 5 different solutions available and can offer bespoke systems that we are happy to discuss in person, our most popular upgrades are detailed below:
BMW Audio Upgrade System 1
The first thing we upgrade in any BMW are the front door speakers, unless you have one of the factory upgrades, you would have ended up with some of the worst sounding speakers ever fitted by a car manufacturer, not what you would expect from BMW.
The highly acclaimed Focal ES100K are, in our experience, the best 4” components available for the BMW. They use a beautifully engineered, cast alloy chassis, with a powerful yet tiny neodymium magnet, allowing for perfect fitment behind the factory grill, given the depth restrictions in all models. The tweeters are fitted in the factory locations and we will fit the BMW factory tweeter grills to maintain a completely OE look. Everything in the door is controlled by the Focal ES100K two-way passive crossovers fitted behind the door panel. We use around 3 sheets of Dynamat Extreme soundproofing in each door (model dependent) This is absolutely essential; if the doors are not acoustically treated you might as well install the speakers in a tin can. This is a very time consuming process but worth every minute spent.
Remember we are using the the hi-end Focal ES100K components, the best 4" speaker available, not the IF-BMW range designed for quick or DIY fitment.
The BMW System 1 takes around 4-5 hours to install and costs £499 including VAT for all models except the 4 series and F15 X5 which cost £539.
The images above show the Focal ES100K fitted to the BMW door panel, the back of the door card is sound proofed using Dynamat Extreme, as is the inside of the door cavity, this is a light weight but very effective product. The cables are loomed in Tessa Tape, this is a product used to protect the factory loom, it stops vibration and keeps everything very neat. We have added the factory BMW tweeter grill for a totally OE look.
BMW Audio Upgrade System 2
The next level of upgrade is the System 2. Firstly we carry out a system 1 upgrade, exactly as above, once the speakers are in place we separate the door speakers from the under seat subs by running all new speaker cables. This allows the system to be run half actively, the amplifier used is the JL Audio XD500/3v2, this is a very powerful 3 channel Class D amplifier. Now the Focal components can be driven in high pass mode and the factory subs can be driven in low pass mode.
The first photo shows JL Audio XD500/3v2 fitted discreetly under the boot floor in a 1 series BMW, mounted on a bonded MDF mount avoiding drilling any holes in the floor pan, all cables loomed in OE style Tessa protective cloth tape. The second photo shows Another JL Audio XD500/3v2 fitted behind the boot trim in an F10 5 series, mounted on a bonded MDF mount to avoid drilling the bodywork, these amps are extremely efficient allowing them to be hidden away with little ventilation.
We then install a sub level control in the pocket by the driver’s knee or another handy position to allow adjustment of the sub woofers depending on the music you are listening to and of course, your mood.
There is no other way to describe this system, other than a complete transformation, the front sound stage is now open and musical while the factory sub woofers produce a quite extended, tuneful and rhythmic bass.
The cost of a System 2 is £1099.
BMW Audio Upgrade System 3
The next upgrade is to really sort out the bass, in a System 3 we carry out all of the work in a System 2 plus the extra work below.
We take out the two 6” drive units under the seats, modify the enclosures and fit a pair of 8” Earthquake SWS-8X BMW specific sub woofers in their place. This upgrade gives considerably better bass than the factory drivers, the bass is tighter with much better extension and of course bags of power should you want it. They may be only 8" drivers but they produce real bass. We have auditioned every under seat sub woofer we can get our hands on and we truly believe the Earthquakes are by far the best. Come and hear them for yourself.
The first photo shows the factory grill under the driver’s seat. We are able to modify this grill so it can be refitted over the new Earthquake SWS-8X subwoofers without effecting or fouling the sub in any way. The grill is needed to keep debris away from the drive unit which will vibrate and eventually damage the cone. The second photo shows the BMW enclosures removed and modified with the upgraded Earthquake SWS-8X subwoofers fitted. They are carefully sealed before re installing under the seats.
BMW System 3 can be fitted in just a day, we do need a little notice as it’s a full day’s work for two technicians.
The cost of system 3 is £1599 fully fitted.
BMW System 2 "Plus" and BMW System 3 “Plus”
If you want to take your car audio to the next level, you might consider our "Plus" Options. We add an “Audison Bit 10” for the ultimate in control, this allows for De-Equalization of the factory head unit as well as time alignment and a 31 band EQ all set up individually using a laptop by our engineers at the end of the installation. Your audio system will literally be "tuned" perfectly to your car.
If you enjoy your domestic Hi-Fi, then you will know how important it is to sit in the "sweet spot". This makes a huge difference to the sound stage and overall realism of the music reproduction. By time aligning the front speakers in the car we are able to re-create the "sweet spot" effect from the driver's seat position.
The results are incredible, the sound stage is projected forward and upwards, instruments are positioned in the correct locations and vocals will sound as if they are being voiced from the middle of the bonnet. Every BIT processor is installed using a Audison ES3, this is a voltage stabilization device, it smooths the voltage to the processor protecting the electronics from nasty voltage spikes caused by start/stop etc.
The sound of your audio system is a personal thing, for this reason we are more than happy to re-tune your system in the future; re-tunes are always complimentary.
The images above show the amp and Audison processors mounted on fabricated panels, this avoids drilling the bodywork of the vehicles, the panels are generally bonded in position and the new electronics are then screwed in place. The vehicles above are an F10 5 series and and X5.
The total cost of a System 2 Plus is £1549
The total cost of a System 3 Plus is £2049
If you want the added flexibility of not just a driver focused sound stage but would like to be able to switch to a second more neutral front stage then we can add an Audison DRC controller; this allows for "Profile A" and "Profile B" tuning. The DRC controller has an additional cost of £100. The controller can be neatly fitted into either the ashtray, a pocket or the armrest, depending on your preference.
We have completed over 700 BMW Audio Upgrades since 2005 so we are pretty experienced and our systems are incredibly reliable, we use only the best electronics, interconnects, fuse holders, cables and terminals. If in the unlikely event there is ever an issue with our one of our systems we include a 3 year warranty on all the hardware and a life time warranty on our installation.
Please note, damage to a speaker by over-driving is not covered by warranty, this is of course quite difficult to do, if you should get carried away we do have a heavily subsidised speaker replacement program in place for getting your system healthy again.