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Bartacus 02-21-2007 03:59 PM

Best "el cheapo" audio upgrade
Okay, E46 320i, horrible business CD stock sound system, no CD changer. I'd like better sound but I'm poor, so I'd have to do it in pieces. I DON'T want a bass-bumpin machine. Rap NEVER stains my ears and I would kill anyone who even TRIED to play a rap CD in my car. :) But I'd like better sound, QUALITY sound, not just volume. I listen to a lot of classical and ambient electronic shit that just sounds awful on a stock BMW system.

So, what do I do first? Right now I'm kinda dying for an MP3 headunit, preferably one that plays MP3s from DVD-R discs so I can skip the iPod bullshit. So I was leaning towards that first. Where can a car audio noob research speakers and head units? Anyone got any good links, advice, etc?


PedroBMW 02-21-2007 05:11 PM

when it comes to car audio you get what u pay for, I've never been able to find anything cheap AND good quality. Its sorta one or the other. Whats your budget?? Maybe you;d have some good luck buying a used headunit+amplifier+cd changer and then just buying your speakers new. But if you buy cheap speakers its not gonna do you any good anyway. Really you kinda gotta decide on a budget first.

kerisabe 02-21-2007 05:53 PM

If ure not really crazy bout SQ and dun want ot spend too much money on a system, id suggest u just get a flip out headunit. Get a pioneer or alpine. Ull be happy with how much an aftermarket headunit paired up with stock system.

paul christians 02-21-2007 06:37 PM

I have about 3500 in my car,with out install..........

PedroBMW 02-21-2007 07:05 PM

I have about $2000 i mine, some parts new others used slowly peiced together, MAN that money could have been more well spent lol

328IScreamer 02-21-2007 08:50 PM

First off I agree the BMW stock systems really suck! The first thing I did when I got my 328 was replace the stock system with something better and yea i'm reachen the $3000 mark but it's true you get what you pay for. I also did notice a really big difference when I hooked up a decent headunit to my stock speakers. It didn't last long though cause once you start upgrading it's hard to stop till you have everything. I would suggest lightly used stuff (not ebay) and maybe you can toss a few new items in there if you can't find what you want used.

T.Dot_E30 02-21-2007 09:38 PM

I still have the factory front and rear speakers in my e30, hooked upto a 4 Channel amp, makes them sound a hell of alot better.

Im not too sure how good or bad ur 320i speakers are, but if you are doing things in pieces. First upgrade the headunit.

Then upgrade to a 4 channel amp hooked upto stock speakers, and see if there is any improvement.

If ur still not satisfyied then upgrade the speakers to something after market.

I didn't know car mp3 players can play dvd-r discs? is this tru? or is he talking about a dvd player.

$500bimmer 02-21-2007 10:50 PM

well to give you some advice.

get a good headunit. You could SPEND alot of money of high end speakers but if you do not have a high end "heart" of the system it wont sound good.

Thats my tip. get a good head unit and you should be able to tune it to sound pretty good untill you can grab some good speakers.

hope that helps.

paul christians 02-21-2007 11:20 PM

OK,I will one spet further,deck 400 to 600,front & rear speackers 300 to 400,try and get 5chennel amp 800, sub(1) with box 400, wiring and install plus the tax man..........but this all on what you what....I can find out more if you game........

Bartacus 02-22-2007 10:11 AM

Thanks a lot for the replies guys! This really helps. I haven't started planning the upgrade path yet, so I didn't have a fixed budget in mind.

Paul: your recommendations for price range are great, thanks! Ballpark numbers are just what I need since I know NOTHING of car audio. Great info, but a bit too much for me, at least all at once. I don't want a trunk fulla sub either. :) My trunk gets used and I'm not willing to cut it up for ICE, but I would sure be open to a decent sub that doesn't need a big fiberglass box in the trunk. Do you know if there is a head unit out there that plays MP3s from DVD-R discs? Not DVD audio, just a normal PC-burned DVD-R full of MP3s. I'm trying desperately to avoid hooking my iPod up to my car.

Pedro: gracias man! Your so right about da quality. I probably should have mentioned that I'm not that cheap, but I just can't afford to do it all at once. Quality is definetly the factor here, not price (within reason of course). I don't mind buying used at all, but since I'm not into ICE, I'd probably get ripped off pretty easily. eBay is out for me since I know jack about this ICE shit. I really need some good research info on this crap!

T.Dot_E30: I'm not sure if that head unit exists, its just what I want. :) Would be perfect for me. 4.6gigs of MP3s per disc, 50 cents a blank disc. **** the iPod. :)

Okay, sounds like head unit is the first logical choice. Anyone wanna help me pick one? Got some good model numbers, links, reviews I could read? Thanks a lot guys. This site sure has gotten a LOT friendlier than the first time I had an account here a few years back!


propr'one 02-22-2007 01:58 PM

I have zero knowledge about e46 audio systems, however.

In my e36, adding an aftermarket headunit made an enormous difference. I'm not an audiophile, but i do enjoy clean sounding music, and even just having upgraded my HU, the sound became clear and crisp, perhaps only really lacking in bass. Once i added a subwoofer/amp to the system, it started really sounding great.

I'd just do HU first, although for e46 i'm not sure what options you have. I'm sure you could get a single din deck, but it may look strange.

paul christians 02-22-2007 02:29 PM

this goes to 10th posting,I will be giving a closer idea from low to mid range set-ups next week and it will more to those that use their truck more for everyday the same time mid to wild range set-ups too,and for those that are in to SPL set-up I will give you guys idea as well..........

Bartacus 02-22-2007 03:10 PM


Originally Posted by paul christians
this goes to 10th posting,I will be giving a closer idea from low to mid range set-ups next week and it will more to those that use their truck more for everyday the same time mid to wild range set-ups too,and for those that are in to SPL set-up I will give you guys idea as well..........

Paul: THANK YOU SIR!! That would be great! Much appreciated!


paul christians 02-22-2007 03:17 PM

^^^I am here to help out and to give ideas no matter how crazy they are..

BMW03 02-22-2007 03:23 PM

I agree with the head unit, start your system off with a good head unit, usually being the first thing you but, then slowly add in the better speakers as you get money, and then finally buy the amp sub and box as a group and install those.

Starting with a head unit would be smart, and the better the head unit the better the sound because of the more eq options and such.

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