BMW Audio Upgrades, 1,2,3,4,Z4,5,6,7 and X Series, Now covering all G Chassis models
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.
Our Demo Cars
We take our BMW Audio Upgrades very seriously, that's why we have invested in two 4 series BMW demo cars, both which are fitted out with our solutions, we can also switch between several systems helping you make the right choice. The first demo, a 435d has a "System 3 Plus" with the iDrive coded to "Advanced Audio". We are also able to switch out the Hertz H8 DSP to demonstrate a "System 3".
The second demo, an M4 Competition is coded to HK, in this car we have a "System 3 Plus" running optically to demonstrate the advantage of the pure digital connection, this car also benefits from the famous "Party Sub"
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 several different solutions available and can offer bespoke systems which 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 as well as Skinz Pro 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 in our opinion, not the IF-BMW range designed for quick or DIY fitment.
The BMW System 1 takes around 5 -6 hours to install and costs £599 including VAT. This includes the factory grill in most models, some models carry an additional cost or the option of fitting the Focal tweeter grill at no extra cost.
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 £1199 fitted.
BMW Audio Upgrade System 3, Z4 Notes apply.
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 remove the two 6” drive units under the seats, modify the enclosures and install a pair of 8” Audison Prima 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 output should you want it. They may be only 8" drivers but they produce real bass. We have auditioned every BMW specific fit subwoofer we can get our hands on and we truly believe the Audison Prima woofers are currently the best available. Come and hear them for yourself. The Audison Prima Woofers are an upgrade from the Earthquakes we traditionally installed.
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 Audison 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 Audison 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 £1699 fully fitted.
NOTE: The Z4 has a different woofer set up to the other models, we have a System 3 solution for the Z4 which produces equally impressive results, please call for further information.
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 a Hertz H8 DSP 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 DSP is installed using an 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 DSP mounted on custom fabricated panels, this avoids drilling the bodywork of the vehicle, the panels are generally bonded in position and the new electronics are then screwed in place. The images above are of a 5 series and an X5.
The total cost of a System 2 Plus is £1699
The total cost of a System 3 Plus is £2199
The Hertz H8 DSP has a small DRC controller, this can be used to change the listening position from driver focus to neutral focus, just in case you want to impress your passenger, it can also be used to adjust the subwoofer level which can be very handy depending on the music you are listening to. The DRC can be mounted in the ash tray area or in the armrest for a more discrete installation.
What if my car has Harman Kardon ?
If your BMW has HK, its no problem for us to upgrade at all, in fact, ultimately, although a little more involved, a HK equipped vehicle will produce even better sound quality than a non HK vehicle.
The BMW 3,4,Z4,5,6 7 and 8 Series all have an optical connection between the infotainment system and the amplifier, the details below cover these vehicles.
In a car with HK, the audio data is output digitally, it is sent to the HK amplifier in the boot of the car via the MOST ring, this is an optical loop that connects the audio components in the vehicle together. By removing the HK amplifier and replacing it with an Audison DMI we are able to extract the audio data and send it optically to the Hertz H8 DSP. The audio data is kept in the digital domain as it moves through the Hertz H8 DSP, the time alignment, equalisation and crossovers are all in the digital domain, its only as the audio data exits the Hertz H8 DSP that its converted to an analogue signal and transferred to the JL Audio amplifier. Its an incredibly clean signal path allowing exceptional accuracy, dynamic range and sound quality.
When upgrading from a Harman Kardon equipped vehicle, we have to upgrade several components within our system for complete compatibility, we exchange the JL Audio 3 channel amp for a JL Audio 5 channel amp and we add the Audison DMI to integrate with the factory audio.
There are two system upgrade options for Optical Harman Kardon equipped vehicles:
The total cost of a BMW System 2 Plus with DMI is £2349, This system uses the original Harman Kardon under seat subwoofers rather than the preferred Audison subwoofers.
The total cost of a BMW System 3 Plus with DMI is £2849.
If you would like the benefit of full digital transfer as above but you car does not have Harman Kardon, we can re-code your car for HK and add the fibre optics. Please call for further details.
The BMW 1,2,X1 and X2 Series have an analogue connection from the infotainment system to the amplifier, therefore the Audison DMI (optical interface) Is not needed.
The two system upgrade options for analogue HK cars are as follows:
BMW System 2 Plus from Analogue HK is £1899, This uses the original Harman Kardon under seat subwoofers rather than the Audison subwoofers
BMW System 3 Plus from Analogue HK is £2399.
Other Useful BMW Audio Information and Upgrade Options.
Although from the factory there are several audio options, Base Audio, Advanced Audio and HK, the BMW iDrive itself remains physically the same, it is however "coded" differently by BMW.
If the car has "Base Audio" then the iDrive actually powers the car speakers, the output is heavily equalised to boost bass and treble to help compensate for the poor speaker performance.
If the car has "Advanced Audio" from the factory then the output from the iDrive is a much cleaner signal without the nasty equalisation.
If the car has "HK", then its either an optical output from the iDrive as explained above or in the 1 and 2 series its a very good quality analogue output.
What does this mean?? This means that if you have a BMW with "Base Audio" Its a huge advantage to have the car coded to "Advanced Audio" This can be completed while we have your car in our workshop, we will also need to upgrade the amplifier from the JL Audio XD500/3v2 to the JL Audio XD700/5v2. The total cost of the coding, the amplifier upgrade and extra the wiring at the time of initial installation is just £249, making it a very worth while upgrade, this additional upgrade is compatible with the System 2, System 3, System 2 Plus and System 3 Plus.