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Thread: Premium sound option and an aftermarket radio.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Ann Arbor Michigan
    Posts
    218

    Default Premium sound option and an aftermarket radio.

    This is a new thread.. based on another thread I started. My radio install has taken a turn and I seek new advice.

    First of all, my OE radio has never worked… well sort of.

    I took the OE unit apart and discovered the output amps were blown. I replaced chips and put the unit back in the car… still no sound. This really didn’t disturb me, I thought I might have missed something when I had the unit apart.

    Fast forward a few months and now I’m putting in an aftermarket radio. Sure enough after I install the new radio… still no sound….. So I check the Bently… ahhh perhaps my car has an amp… So I go looking in the trunk and Yep there is a secondary amp. Damm.

    I pull the amp and notice the fuse is blown… I wonder…Hmmm… I pop in a fuse and connect the original OE unit and fire it up… SOUND!

    OK, so the original sound system is good.

    This new Sony radio has RCA line outs and amplifier enable control wire. So its compatible with the BMW amplifier.

    Currently the new radio wired wrong because I was not aware of the power amp in the trunk. My current configuration is utilizing the built in 17 Watt amp in the Sony unit. I’m aware that this would overdrive the BMW trunk amplifier… just for giggles I tried it and sure enough it all works at low volume. I didn’t try to bump up the volume for fear of blowing the BMW amp.

    Anyway here is my question:

    Is the BMW amplifier worth keeping? It appears to work and I can rewire my Sony to provide line level input to the amp.

    Or I could just bypass the amp and have the Sony provide the power.

    I’m inclined to keep the BMW amp if its worth keeping.

    Comments?
    SOLD!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    395

    Default

    easy fix, your sony deck also has low level outputs in the form of rca plugs on the back of it. We will use these to feed signal to your factory amp. Take 2 sets of rca wires and cut off the ends, leaving enough room to solder or splice the ends of the wire.

    Remove your aftermarket wiring harness that plugs into your factory radio harness behind the radio. Instead of connecting speaker wire outputs from the deck to this harness, you want to use your cut rca's. Wire each channel, front left and right and rear left and right. The plug each rca into each corresponding channel to get low level output to your factory amp. This will yield the best sound output from your system. Email me or PM if you need more help.
    Greg Mannino
    Car Audio.Video.Security.Navigation Guru
    Electrical/Mechanical Specialist

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Roswell New Mexico
    Posts
    288

    Default

    it would be cleaner if you used a universal interface, you can find them at crutchfield.com. these are use to switch factory Front/Rear Signal to RCA's. This is if you don't already have Front/Rear RCA ouput's on your sterio.Also i'm assuming that you are going to be runing highs with your amp.

    If it were me I would get a better amp that has more power and options. Save the old one for a rainy day.
    Last edited by Dr. evil; 09-26-2006 at 11:18 PM.

    bilstin HDs, eiback prokit, K&N instert, DEPO fogs, sound system, zimmerman rotors, metal master

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    395

    Default

    Replace the radio first, he might be happy with his factory amp. Besides replacing the amp would involve re-wire each speaker with a new crossover.
    Greg Mannino
    Car Audio.Video.Security.Navigation Guru
    Electrical/Mechanical Specialist

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Switzerland
    Posts
    6

    Default bypass at your peril.....

    keep the bmw amp if it has more or less the same output than the sony. If you absolutely want to use the sony the followig applies:

    1) rewiring is an extensive job - crossovers need to be included, shared ground for the front speakers are confusing -
    2) research research research....this site was my haven for stereo wiring
    diagrams. http://www.bmwe34.net dont know if this here site has the same.
    3) big balls needed - cutting them there wires commits you.
    4) Count on some $$$ if you get an auto shop to do it - make sure they know what they are getting into as its not straightforward and if they havent done it before...well, you've been warned
    5) Stock up the cooler....you'll be at it a while if you do it yourself.
    6) Add a nice big removable subwoofer whilst you are at it - what a difference !!!

    My own setup after about 8 hours work:
    - Alpine 9850RI head unit (4 x 50 watts)
    - rear speakers : JBL GTO - 2 way
    - Front speakers - withe jbl crossover - combination of : tweeters-jbl component, mid range-stock, woofers-Stock; I cant fit my JBL woofers due to an inverted mounting system in the front kick panels...havent found the patience to figure it out yet)
    - Crunch 300w subwoofer amp - mounted in the car jack compartent
    - Crunch 500w subwoofer : A removable box which sits really nicely under the rear seat rim in the trunk - I just un-plug the speaker wires and make sure they dont ground out !!
    LOUD and AMAZINGLY CRISP - my kids particularly love the body shaking bass booms my system now makes !!!
    The Missile
    525 ix Touring Euro (Switzerland)
    '92 - 96,000 KM
    DiamantSchwarz Metallic

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Ann Arbor Michigan
    Posts
    218

    Default

    Experiment #1…
    I rewired the sony with line level output to the BMW amp… this proves to be NFG.

    Back to the drawing board…

    A little research on the Bimmer amp indicates that the amp is expecting a speaker level input with a maximum of 5 watts. The line level input is simply not enough.

    The normal output of the sony is 17 watts at speaker level… that is too much power for the BMW amp.

    Option #2 …I have the tools and facilities to build a plug in harness to bypass the BMW amp. I may do this today. Yep your right, the front speaker configuration appears a bit confusing . I’m certainly up to the job… I’m normally build robots and other industrial equipment.

    OR.. perhaps I’ll try an experiment by inserting some resistors in line to reduce the effective power of the Sony. I’ll need to calculate the wattage.

    Stay tuned
    SOLD!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    4,360

    Default

    This new Sony radio has RCA line outs and amplifier enable control wire. So its compatible with the BMW amplifier.

    No, (as you now know) the RCA outputs will not drive the stock amp's inputs.

    The stock amp however is more than an amp. (well actually it is a booster amp which prevents any benefit from the fitment of a high powered head unit)

    High powered head units are **** anyway, so it doesn't matter.

    To get good sound you need to use the low level outputs (RCA connectors) to connect the head unit to a decent (so long as it is reasonably heavy) amplifier. Why BMW didn't do this in the first place is a complete mystery, they got so much right about this car (espeically the amazing 10-speaker sound system) it is amazing that they went and used high-level connections and a booster amp to power it. But hey, maybe Engineering had to give in to Marketing somewhere...

    The BMW Booster amp is more than a booster amp. It is also a crossover which is why it connects to each of the 10 speakers individually through one of its connectors. It even has a special tuning module to adjust it to suit the accoustic characterisitics of each different interior. This is the part worth keeping.

    First thing to do is remove the amp and check to see if it is possible to retain the crossover section: If so, the upper section (incorporating the heat sink) will obviously unscrew from the box- when you open it up you will be able to see that it will as the booster amp is a separate PCB at 90 degrees to the main PCB which is the crossover section. If it isn't possible all the booster and crossover components are mounted on the one circuit board with the power transistors screwed to the one-piece casing... so there is no unplugging of the booster module itself.

    Now the point of doing this would be to install your new, additional amp using the low level inputs from the head unit- wiring this new amp's outputs to the cars crossover (booster removed) and thus simply retaining all speakers, wiring and the perfect crossover points for your car's cabin.

    If your amp is not this and you are handy enough to replace power transistors, it is easily possible to retrofit an old 535 amp (which you can definatley remove the booster from) and chuck the old amp. You just have to check the connectors as some pins are slightly different (the remote on connection) between your model and the 535 one, but the connectors are physically the same.

    Oh yes, and as a bonus you can even use the wiring in the car (what the head unit's speaker level connections used to use to run to the old amp) instead of routing a new shielded RCA lead. The remote on can come from the stock wiring to the crossover as will no longer be necessary to power the crossover unit. The only new wires you need to run will be the power and ground for the new amp and enough speaker wire to run from the new amp to the crossover inputs witinin the trunk.

    And before you ask the stock crossover and speaker system can handle ooodles of power. It will sound 3x as good with a decent power amp and 10x as good if you add a subwoofer. (Hint- get a cheap 5-channel amp and mount it under the parcel shelf). It will be much louder (without distortion) than you would possibly imagine before doing it. I can easily deafen myself if I start driving my car regularly. Nick

    By now you must be feeling that this is pretty hard work... but stick with the program, you can make this really worth doing.
    Last edited by genphreak; 09-28-2006 at 07:03 AM.

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    08/88 535i e34 M30+miller MAF, 'stiens, tints & teeth!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    249

    Default

    Either the factory head unit or the factory amp is too bass-enhanced for my taste. I intend to replace both and have the compenents on the bench, but I want to connect an XM tuner to my Eclipse HU, and the HU is "Sirius ready". Will require a little re-engineering. I already have the I2C protocols, winter is coming, I will get the time.
    The stone age didn't end for a lack of stones. Neither will the hydrocarbon age......

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Calgary AB Canada
    Posts
    589

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by genphreak
    This new Sony radio has RCA line outs and amplifier enable control wire. So its compatible with the BMW amplifier.

    No, (as you now know) the RCA outputs will not drive the stock amp's inputs.

    The stock amp however is more than an amp. (well actually it is a booster amp which prevents any benefit from the fitment of a high powered head unit)

    High powered head units are **** anyway, so it doesn't matter.

    To get good sound you need to use the low level outputs (RCA connectors) to connect the head unit to a decent (so long as it is reasonably heavy) amplifier. Why BMW didn't do this in the first place is a complete mystery, they got so much right about this car (espeically the amazing 10-speaker sound system) it is amazing that they went and used high-level connections and a booster amp to power it. But hey, maybe Engineering had to give in to Marketing somewhere...

    The BMW Booster amp is more than a booster amp. It is also a crossover which is why it connects to each of the 10 speakers individually through one of its connectors. It even has a special tuning module to adjust it to suit the accoustic characterisitics of each different interior. This is the part worth keeping.

    First thing to do is remove the amp and check to see if it is possible to retain the crossover section: If so, the upper section (incorporating the heat sink) will obviously unscrew from the box- when you open it up you will be able to see that it will as the booster amp is a separate PCB at 90 degrees to the main PCB which is the crossover section. If it isn't possible all the booster and crossover components are mounted on the one circuit board with the power transistors screwed to the one-piece casing... so there is no unplugging of the booster module itself.

    Now the point of doing this would be to install your new, additional amp using the low level inputs from the head unit- wiring this new amp's outputs to the cars crossover (booster removed) and thus simply retaining all speakers, wiring and the perfect crossover points for your car's cabin.

    If your amp is not this and you are handy enough to replace power transistors, it is easily possible to retrofit an old 535 amp (which you can definatley remove the booster from) and chuck the old amp. You just have to check the connectors as some pins are slightly different (the remote on connection) between your model and the 535 one, but the connectors are physically the same.

    Oh yes, and as a bonus you can even use the wiring in the car (what the head unit's speaker level connections used to use to run to the old amp) instead of routing a new shielded RCA lead. The remote on can come from the stock wiring to the crossover as will no longer be necessary to power the crossover unit. The only new wires you need to run will be the power and ground for the new amp and enough speaker wire to run from the new amp to the crossover inputs witinin the trunk.

    And before you ask the stock crossover and speaker system can handle ooodles of power. It will sound 3x as good with a decent power amp and 10x as good if you add a subwoofer. (Hint- get a cheap 5-channel amp and mount it under the parcel shelf). It will be much louder (without distortion) than you would possibly imagine before doing it. I can easily deafen myself if I start driving my car regularly. Nick

    By now you must be feeling that this is pretty hard work... but stick with the program, you can make this really worth doing.

    What he said
    Anthony
    03/64 production

    '91M5 - 11/90, was mine, it's Jim's now.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Grand Forks, ND
    Posts
    27

    Default 10 speakers?

    Do the American E34's have 10 speakers? I can only count 8.
    -Martin


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