SQ and BMW 5 Series

Discussion in 'Mobile Phones / Entertainment' started by Tom Rosback, Apr 20, 2004.

  1. Tom Rosback

    Tom Rosback Stunt Coordinator

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    I bought a 2002 BMW 530i, and the factory stereo is horrible.

    The web consensus on the BMW boards seems to be:

    Keep the Alpine head unit (it is integrated into the car's display and steering wheel switches, speed/volume control, etc.)

    Keep the factory speakers.

    Replace the BMW amplifier.

    Add a sub.

    The local shop that appears competent is suggesting the above approach with following package:

    Eclipse PA 5422 4 channel amp for the mains
    Eclipse PA 4212 2 channel sub amp
    Eclipse 87121DVC 12" Woofer

    Any feedback on the approach and specifically, Eclipse equipment?
     
  2. Edison Tinker

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    If I were you I'd ditch the factory speakers as well and start fresh...speakers are the most influential improvement that you can make in a systems sound quality so it stands to reason that if your present sound quality is sub-par then changing out your speakers will more than likely improve it the most...what exactly is wrong with the sound quality of your system though?...is it poor imaging?...lack of bass or highs?...bad tonality?...by learning what you don't like aobut the system, it may be easier to make recommenadtions for fixes that will please you without having to re-do the whole system...

    As far as Eclipse goes, you could definitely do a lot worse...their stuff is of really good quality, however, you will more than likely pay a price premium for it...
     
  3. VinhT

    VinhT Second Unit

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    I agree with what Edison said. Replacing the BMW amplifier will have very little impact on how the system sounds.

    Eclipse head units are very well-regarded, but their other stuff is usually disregarded. Sounds harsh, but there is not a whole lot of specific feedback to be found when it comes to Eclipse amps and subs.
     
  4. Tom Rosback

    Tom Rosback Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks, Gents. The problems with the sound quality are:
    1.) Lack of bass. This will be the easiest to fix.
    2.) Distortion. Sounds like crossover distortion to me. Definitely an amplifier problem, not a speaker problem.
    3.) Lack of punch and muddy mid-bass.

    The speakers in the car are component, with 1" soft dome tweeters and 5 1/2 treated paper cone woofers in the doors. They are bi-amped.

    Apart from adding a sub, I plan to highpass the mains at 100 Hz or so, which will clean them up, and help integrate the sub. Have to dump the BMW amp to highpass the mains.

    I'll ditch the factory speakers in a heartbeat if I can't get the results I'm looking for. Just don't want to dig into the doors if I don't have to. The car is rattle free and dead quiet now, and I want to keep it that way.

    I have a Toyota that has a Fujitsu Ten system in it, and it sounds fantastic. Eclipse is made by Fujitsu Ten, so I figured it would be a good bet.

    But, there isn't a lot of info on it.

    The whole car stereo marketplace is pretty messy. Lots of garbage, inflated claims, heresay, etc. Kind of like home HT!
     
  5. David.G

    David.G Stunt Coordinator

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    Vinht what are you talking about!!! Eclipse is regarded as good in all aspects of their products. Their subs are only harsh when run by 1)a bad amp or 2) is not properly crossed over. As far as SQ and getting it, don't let the shop tell you keep the headunit. Thats where it all starts and you need a good one. Get the Eclipse 5448( its 54 something) or the 8454 or the 2003 model 8443. A new HU will improve your SQ more than anything. If you can get good frequencies to your speakers it doesn't matter how much your speakers are they'll still sound like BS. I'd get rid of the factory amp and get the Eclipse amp they said. Run that to a set of components up front and if you want punchy midbass add a set of custom kickpanels to hold 5 1/4 mids. The rears can stay as is until you blow them. For subs i'd go with Elemental Design( i'm a proud owner of the O-series 12" and it holds its own against any JL or Eclipse and cost half the $$). I'd say get two 10's since you got a sedan. You could go with one 12" if you had midbass subwoofers on the rear deck. if you want help ask me cause I'm only into CAr audio and stay up with the industry and products. i wouldn't cross my highs at 100hz either. If you get the 8443 or 8454 it'll allow you to crossover at low, low mids, mid/high and highs. I have my lows crossed at 80hz, low/mids at 125hz, mid/highs @ 800hz, and highs @13.5h. The PEQ will allow you to adjust gain, q factor and specific frequency per bad ( 10 bands in all)....if you got questions ask me and i'll help you get SQ. I'm doing SQ for my 99 Galant so i'm in the same boat as you.
     
  6. David.G

    David.G Stunt Coordinator

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    o and another thing, yeah replacnig the factory amp will make a big difference too. Factory amp is way underrated and doesn't have same tech as aftermarket ones. The factory amp is definitely one of the reason for the distortion since the power coming from that amp is poor signal. Afermarket ones will have a cleaner signal. But remember the signal starts at the HU so replace that first. Eclipse 8443 is around 420$ installed, you can't install it yoursefl or you can't use the warranty and they won't help with any problems. The HU is the 1st thing i'd change, then the amp, the add a sub. After that i'd replace factory speakers.
     
  7. Tom Rosback

    Tom Rosback Stunt Coordinator

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    I have made the following changes so far, and the improvements have been nothing short of dramatic:

    1.) Pulled out BMW amp. Give to friend with boat, or save for re-install on sale of car.
    2.) Added 4x85 WPC Eclipe Power amp. P/N PA5422. Plenty loud and very clean. .004% THD at full power. Eclipse amps are made by Fujitsu-Ten. Stone reliable and audiophile quality. This amp is mounted in the trunk, under the package shelf, port side.
    3.) The existing BMW speakers were bi-amped component systems of reasonable quality. They stay. Added four MB Quart passive crossovers. These mount on fiberboard where the BMW amp used to mount. Also added precision interface balanced to single ended convertor box, because the BMW head unit (Alpine) is balanced, and the Eclipse amps are unbalanced.
    4.) Add Eclipse 12" dual voice coil woofer, P/N SW7124DVC.T2. 2 Ohm voice coils, long excursion, low Vas. Mount in custom-fit 1.5 cu ft MDF box with sloping back to match angle of rear seat cover panel. Power with Eclipse PA4212, 200 wpc into 2 ohms, one channel per voice coil, 400 Watts total. Amp mounts on Starboard side, under the package shelf.
    5.) Hook amps to battery with 4 AWG streetwires power cables.
    6.) Use zeronoise low level interconnects.


    The head unit will stay because it is integrated with the car's sytems, including an excellent speed dependent volume control and steering wheel control of the Radio/CD player functions. It is an Alpine, and sounds very good now that the OEM amp has been replaced.

    I am very pleased with the system now. Much more dynamic, much cleaner, great integration of the woofer/mids/tweets.
     
  8. David.G

    David.G Stunt Coordinator

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    mmm....you're still not getting the max SQ from that setup b/c the factory still doesn't have everything that should. No factory HU will outdo an aftermarket one. There are alot of HU out there that have Speed Variable Volume, Pioneer, Alpine and I believe Eclipse. Half the time you can play it loud enough and get the SQ good enough that even with the windows down it doesn't matter. The high end Eclipse, Alpine and Pioneer all hae a time alignment feature, and Pioneer also has SLA to assist in moving to soundstage up to ear level. I would consider changing out the BMW tweeters just to get a better quality tweet, CDT image tweets are nice SQ tweets. I have them and they're .75" but play like a 1" tweet. They SQ on them is great. Sound like you're off to a good start. You should check on my car on sounddomain. It under 1999 Mitsu Galants and its under the name THE99GALANT. I've done a little bit more of getting everything squared away but its hard when i'm DIY'in.
     
  9. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    David,
    It sounds like the BMW comes with an Alpine HU. How does that unit differ vs. aftermarket options?
     
  10. David.G

    David.G Stunt Coordinator

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    well the aftermarket Alpines for one use RCAs for preouts instead of speaker outputs. Unless that Alpine has RCAs than there's one hinderance. The other is the EQs and feature an aftermarket one has on it. Most factory HU's come with a graphic EQ. ALpine has 3 different type of EQ system, Bass Engine, Bass Engine Plus, and Bass Engine Pro. I'd say your HU say something close to the Bass Engine not too much maybe a 5 band graphic EQ.....here's where the big difference is, this is what Bass Engine Plus includes:

    Bass Engine Plus: Bass Engine functions provide control over your system, so you can tailor the sound to your personal tastes. Bass Engine Plus includes the following functions:

    4-Channel Digital Time Correction: The time correction feature allows you to create virtual speaker positions by delaying the signals being sent to the speakers closest to you. When the correct delay times have been entered for the front right, front left, rear right and rear left speakers, all sounds reach your ears at the same time, providing optimized imaging and frequency response.

    4-band Digital Parametric EQ: The 4-band parametric EQ lets you select a center frequency, then adjust its output level and even the "width" of the boost or cut for precise system tuning. The parametric EQ offers a selection of 4 frequencies and 15 center frequencies: Band 1 (40Hz, 60Hz, or 90Hz), Band 2 (100Hz, 150Hz, or 200Hz), Band 3 (500Hz, 700Hz, 1kHz, 2kHz, 4kHz, or 6kHz), and Band 4 (10kHz, 12.5kHz, or 15kHz). Once a frequency is selected, you can adjust its level from -12dB to +12dB in 1dB increments. The Q for each band can be adjusted independently: Band 1 (1, 2, or 3), Band 2 (1, 1.5, or 2), Band 3 (1, 2, or 3), and Band 4 (fixed bandwidth). In addition to the user-adjustable EQ (Users 1 or Users 2), tone presets are stored into memory, allowing you to recall the best setting for different types of music. You may choose from the following tone presets: Rock, Pops, Jazz & Blues, Electrical, Hip Hop & Rap, Easy Listen, Country, Classical, News, or Flat.
    3-Position 12dB/Octave Crossover: An 80Hz/120Hz/160Hz low-pass filter is available for the subwoofer outputs, and an 80Hz/120Hz/160Hz high-pass filter is available for the front right, front left, rear right and rear left preamp outputs. Either, or both, filters may be turned off.
    Subwoofer Level Control: The level of the subwoofer preamp outputs can be adjusted to balance the output of your subwoofer with that of your other speakers.

    Subwoofer Phase Selector: The phase of the subwoofer outputs may be set to normal (0 degrees) or reverse (180 degrees); this function allows you to minimize phase cancellation of bass frequencies, for stronger bass response.

    MX (MediaXpander): The CDA-9830 features the MediaXpander function, which is offered on Bass Engine Pro, Bass Engine Plus, and some Bass Engine models. The MediaXpander function makes vocals or instruments sound distinct by restoring sound quality typically lost during recording or transmission; this function helps restore audio information that becomes obscured when audio is compressed. The MX function can be applied to all sources, except AM radio. There are three expansion modes for each internal source (CD, FM, MP3/WMA/XM), and each source can have its own setting. There are only one or two expansion modes available for external sources.

    All thats on a 330$ HU that plays MP3's, CDRs and all. If you're really wanting to get great sound in your car and money isn't the big hindrance than i can offer you something even better. I'd also check out Eclipse HU, the middle level may not the EQs the mid Alpine do but it does have 24bit DAC. With a car you need something to control the frequencies and control them well. A good HU can command all the frequencies that you input in. A good setup starts with a good HU.
     
  11. Sanjay Joseph

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    When I had my BMW 328, I swapped out all the components and fitted the car with Boston Acoustics speakers, a Poineer head unit, and MTX and Sony Explod amps. I think that my weak point was in the amps. Now, I have a Corvette and the factory stuff is again horrible...but better than BMW's stuff. Look into Boston Acoustics for speakers. I'm sure that many will agree with me.
     
  12. David.G

    David.G Stunt Coordinator

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    yeah speakers need to be replaced but after the HU is replaced. really if you have a new enough car, the tweets in the car are still ok, usually just need to be hooked to a passive crossover to help them out. HU is the most important part of a system. Besides subwoofers, the biggest noticable gain in SQ would be a headunit. And when you get one, you'll be able to find out what else needs to be swapped because that HU will show all the weakspots in the sound. Plus theres a huge difference in SQ fron a 1bit DAC to a 24bit DAC and DSP headunit. I'll never go back to 1bits, all 24bit for me.
     

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