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Old 02-21-2007, 02:59 PM   #1
Bartacus
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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?

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Old 02-21-2007, 04:11 PM   #2
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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.
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Old 02-21-2007, 04:53 PM   #3
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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.
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Old 02-21-2007, 05:37 PM   #4
paul christians
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I have about 3500 in my car,with out install..........
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Old 02-21-2007, 06:05 PM   #5
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I have about $2000 i mine, some parts new others used slowly peiced together, MAN that money could have been more well spent lol
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Old 02-28-2007, 02:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PedroBMW
I have about $2000 i mine, some parts new others used slowly peiced together, MAN that money could have been more well spent lol
ha ha join the club, i coulda had my e30 moving a little quicker without the system i have, im up there as well, im in the 3000 range without installations, and i can imagine what labor it would have cost me for my trunk that i did
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Old 02-28-2007, 03:25 PM   #7
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I've used a ton of head units over the years. At the end of the day, all the flashy feature loaded decks .......... I barely use any of the features on a daily basis. Be careful of getting suckered by all the gizmos. Most important feature is that the damn thing is easy to operate and that it sounds good.

Ebay is great for deals (sometimes), but you really take your chances. I have 170 some odd transactions on Ebay and some of them were bad. But if you're willing to risk it, giddy-up. I don't anymore.


My order of preference:

Adaptor to use the factory head unit that gets signal into a set of RCA's. This keeps the car looking stock. Factory head units actually have decent transport sections.
Amplifer(s).
Speakers and sub.
Tuning gear (cross over, EQ, time alignment, parametric, etc)


BTW, less is better. You really only need a pair of components up front and a sub. 5 speakers is all you need for awesome sound.
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Old 02-28-2007, 03:45 PM   #8
Bartacus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tominizer
I've used a ton of head units over the years. At the end of the day, all the flashy feature loaded decks .......... I barely use any of the features on a daily basis. Be careful of getting suckered by all the gizmos. Most important feature is that the damn thing is easy to operate and that it sounds good.

Ebay is great for deals (sometimes), but you really take your chances. I have 170 some odd transactions on Ebay and some of them were bad. But if you're willing to risk it, giddy-up. I don't anymore.


My order of preference:

Adaptor to use the factory head unit that gets signal into a set of RCA's. This keeps the car looking stock. Factory head units actually have decent transport sections.
Amplifer(s).
Speakers and sub.
Tuning gear (cross over, EQ, time alignment, parametric, etc)


BTW, less is better. You really only need a pair of components up front and a sub. 5 speakers is all you need for awesome sound.
Great advice! I'm not into gizmos much, but I do like the idea of being able to hook a USB key directly into the head unit. That way, I can just load up a 2gig USB key full of MP3s and go, no CDs required. THAT appeals to me since I tend to burn CDs like crazy and toss em out after a few weeks when they start to skip. So I don't think I'll be keeping the stock head unit. Plus, that Alpine deck I mentioned above is Ipod ready in addition to the USB thing. These gizmos might actually be useful.

Any input on the Alpine deck I mentioned, the CDA-9885, or the Pioneer DEH-P880PRS?

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Old 02-28-2007, 03:27 PM   #9
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Okay, Alpine has this one in my price range:

http://www.alpine-usa.com/US-en/prod...&lang=en&tab=F

The CDA-9885, just over $400CAD. Any input? I'm clueless when it comes to all these stats! Dammit I wish I knew how to read this shit:

"CEA-2006 Power Rating
CEA-2006 Power Rating (4Ohm@14.4 V =1% THD+N), S/N 80dBA (Ref: 1W into 4Ohm): 16W x 4

Max Power Output: 45W x 4"

Errrr, is that good? Anyone wanna translate this crap for me? Its practically like reading Chinese to me, and I ain't Chinese.

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Old 02-21-2007, 07:50 PM   #10
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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.
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Old 02-21-2007, 08:38 PM   #11
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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.
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Old 02-21-2007, 09:50 PM   #12
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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.
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Old 02-21-2007, 10:20 PM   #13
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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........
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Old 02-22-2007, 09:11 AM   #14
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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!

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Old 02-22-2007, 12:58 PM   #15
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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.
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