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its quiet sunday afternoon, wifes doing over time, baby is sleeping, so i figured i would sneak in and catch up on another build log :)

Many of you know that we have become quite familiar late model Bimmers...probably over 30 or so in the past few years...but interestingly, almost all of them have been 3 or 4 series...so it was quite exciting for me to book a brand new 2015 F10 series M5.

Depending on how you look at it, the simple nature of the car either goes with or against the nature of the car...which is a relatively subdued looking luxury cruising packing a tremendous wallop in the form of a 500 plus HP twin turbo v8.

The goals:

1. achieve a much higher level of sound quality
2. maintain a 100 percent oem appearance in the interior
3. maintain as much stealth and space in the trunk as possible

in other words, this is kind of our most basic active sq install...nothing fancy or showy, everything geared towards sonic improvement and daily utility.

lets first take a look at this beast:







lets get started. luckily, almost all late model bmws share the same basic speaker configuration and mounting layout...so our experiences with the smaller models is almost 100 percent translated to this car. in the process of taking it apart and performing the install, i found a lot of similarities and some differences...in general, the car is slightly more of a pain to work on than the 3 and 4 series but not overly so...it would suggest to me that the F30 line of cars are on a slightly newer interior material and assembly process than the F10.

anyway...first up is upgrading the underseat woofers...and as usual, we chose to go with a set of Gladen Audio oem fitment flat woofers...whcih i feel is the best midbass option out of the ones commonly available...there are others that can go deeper and louder to be used as subwoofers, but these do a great job of providing impact and seamless integration between the true subwoofer and the midrange.

here are the horrendous bmw underseat units removed from the car:



the inside is fully deadend with STP CLD damper:



and the contact area on the back of the enclosure received a layer of ballstik foam to help with the panels buzzing against each other:



the Gladen woofers were then installed and wired up:





and then they were reinstalled into the vehicle, topped by the oem grille for a completely stock appearance:









moving onto the front stage...first, two pairs of new speaker wires were run into the door:



the midrange and tweeter are both morel, chosen for their sound quality and also oem fitment ability. the morel MT230 tweeters were nearly a direct snap in to the stock housing







the tweeter house was then snapped back into the vehicle and wired up:



i then fabricated a set of adapter rings for the morel hybrid 4" midrange and painted them black:





the morel mid was then snapped into the baffles, and it was bolted back into the vehicle:





the same process was then repeated on the passenger side:







then comes pics of the wiring bundle as it travels from the front of the car to the rear...as is our standard MO with late model bmws, all the cables were run down the driver side of the car, as far away from the stock main power cable connecting the alternator and the battery as possible. the bundle is organized and ziptied to the factory loom every few inches:



















i then took off the rear deck cover, and sound proofed the rear deck with STP cld damper...i also found out that the rear vent shelf is a source of rattle, so i took that off, and laid down some simpliciflock fabric at the rear edge where it contacts the rear window glass, and also applied foam on the underside, so now the piece of fully insulated from rattling against any other hard surface:











moving onto the trunk wiring...the two cables that went up the passenger side of the trunk is the main power and ground cables, and here they are, ziptied to factory loom and the power cable lead down to the fuse holder and battery, located in the trunk well...the battery location one of the key differences between this car and the F30 series:





on the driver side, we had the oem amp and other accessory modules...when i pulled the carpet back, i realized this whole area looked like some type of crazy server farm compared to the 3/4 series, which basically had a single amplifier in there... this one had quite a few modules and even a little fan that circulated air over them...quite interesting:



i took the oem MOST optical connector off and connected it to the extension cable that came with the Mobridge MOST optical adapter piece, and ran it up to the oem loom:



and there, it terminates at the mobridge module. now this may look like your standard DA2 MOST to analog preamp, but it is actually the new Mobridge DA3 piece with its on built in DSP, able to do a fully active 3 way system and sub. This is my first time using the piece and i will do a brief review of it at the end :)



from there, the cable runs up to the underside of the rear deck for the amps:

 

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so lets take a look at the finished product, and again, the idea is that it is very simple, clean and saves as much trunk space as possible.

so standing behind the car at normal height, all you can see is a new fiberglass sub enclosure on the driver side..stucked into the corner of the trunk and taking up very little usable space. it has a breathable carpeted grille that protects and hides the sub:





pop off the grille and you see a single audiomobile GTS2110 10" subwoofer mounted within:





ducked down lower and you can see two arc audio xdiv2 amps mounted on a simple plate bolted to the rear deck. a 1100.5 powers the mid and tweeter with 150 watts a piece, and sends 500 watts to the sub, while a 600.4 is bridged on the underseat woofers with 300 watt a side. nothing really fancy :)

















a few quick build pics of the trunk. first the sub enclosure.

the area was taped off and protected, and 6 layers of fiberglass mat went in:





when that cured, it was removed from the car, and trimmed to the desired shape:



then a ring baffle with side walls was aimed and attached:



mold cloth was pulled, resin applied, and allowed to harden. then the enclosure was cut in half from the back side, and thoroughly reinforced from the inside. then the two pieces were glassed back togehter, and final backfilling took place to make sure its a perfect fit:



then the enclosure was carpeted, and then dyed darker to better match the oem finish. you can tell the contrast in colors comparing the carpet on the front and the back of the enclosure, where it wasnt dyed:







and finally, a breathable grille was made, carpeted, and also dyed to match:



the amp rack is very simple, it is simply a piece of mdf with threaded inserts to mount the amps and mounting holes to bolt it to the rear deck. there is also a small plate that is done in a similar manner for the two distribution blocks. this is them before and after vinyl:





the amps were then wired up:



and finally, here are the six rivet nuts that secure the amp rack to the rear deck:



so how does it sound? well...quite good and very similar overall to the 3/4 series. imagine wise, the center is not as focused due to the speaker location, but still pretty much anchored in the middle of the dash. height and depth, along with width are all very good, tonally, the sound is best described as balanced and pleasant. the morel drivers are very smooth with good detail, and the gladen underseats, as usual, do a great job of providing that snappy midbass. the sub does a good job however, i found out that this car's trunk tends to be a much worse bass trap than the 3 and 4 series...maybe becuase of how thick the back seats are. since there are no other openings that can connect the trunk and interior, most late model bmws tends to suffer slightly with subbass precense interms of feel...this car, on the rta, showed a whopping 5 db difference between the arm rest up and down...the biggest i have seen in any car. the customer was not bass head so this isnt an issue, but i would suggest anyone looking for a lot of bass in these cars to go a bit heavy on bass and bass power. :)

now...onto the mobridge DA3.

for years, i have always loved the DA2 in that it allows the MOST audio equipped cars (audi, porsche, MB and of course BMW etc) to achieve an awesome level of signal quality while retaining the oem source unit (which for the most part, is not removable).

however, this does add an extra piece in the signal chain so it does affect the complexity of the system and of course, the overall budget. so when i heard that the DA3 is available, which is basically a DA2 with a full processing suite, i jumped at the chance to try it out. Not knowing how it would perform however, i intentionally built and wired this car to allow a mosconi 6to8 back into the mix.

turns out that was necessary as this turned out to be quite a competent unit.

since my experiences with the unit is brief, i wont attempt to digest all of its features and instead focus on things that i directly used.

the unit is quite compact, and has a single MOST input and 8 rca outputs. i configured it for 3 way active front and sub, but you can configure the 8 analog outputs for anything from fronts to rears and sub etc....so it is pretty flexible in that manner.

the tuning software has a really classy looking gui, far more modern than the mosconi...

setting up the unit wasnt bad...but there are a few quirky things that i wasnt used to...and i would like to think that i am pretty well versed with computer controlled dsps.

the unit has basically two eqs, each fully parametic, and unlike many other companies, there arent sliders for you drag, instead, you have an overall frequency response curve that you simply click and drag with your mouse to create the eq band. i never figured out how many bands there are as i used perhaps up to 13 or 14 and it still had more bands available if i chose to click on another freq. so this is one of those things that look really cool and should work well, but i found it a bit difficult with my laptop's touch pad.

for example, if you aim for 3khz, and drag 3db down, you may easily end up wtih 2893hz at 6db down, as literally ever mm on the line is several hundred hz up or down the scale. so what i find myself doing is, basically click on a freq and drag, and then manually type in the freq and the dial in the amount of cut or boost i desire. so in the end, it got me to where i want to be, but i had to do everthing twice in essence, thus making the overall tuning process much longer.

other slight quirks include that the unit is fully capable of left and right indepedent EQs, however, in order to do so, you must also unlink the left and right xovers...and set them individually, this isnt a big deal but kinda weird to me.

and finally, if you choose to do a 3 way active front stage, what you will get to select is front high, front full range, and front low.

the front high (tweeter) only has high pass avaiable, which is perfectly fine, the front full range (midrange) has band pass filters on it,whcih is also great. but the front low (midbass) only has a low pass filter on it..this means, you will likely have to engage the amp's onboard high pass for the midbass...again, not a huge deal, but a curious thing.

on the plus side, as mentioned the unit as two parametric eqs...which is really cool, the first, is what i mentioned above, on each individual channel...and then, it has a master parametric eq across all channels. this is kind great becuase once you finish eqing all the channels invididually, you can turn all of them on, and then simply use the master eq to get rid of any kind of issues that pop up from the speakers playing together. i think this is a great way to speed up final tuning of the car...just wish once again, i didnt have to click, drag, and then manually type in the numbers.

so overall, it took a lot longer for me to work on it, but in the end, the unit worked great, no noises and other bad things. the output voltage is for sure not as high as the 6to8v8 iam used to, but it is serviceable for sure. it has nearly as much tuning ability as any other processor out there (save for the odd lack of bandpass on the front low as mentiond)...and it definitely helps greatly to reduce system complexity and cost.

i will not hesitate to use this piece again, and i think once i get a wireless mouse on my laptop, the tuning will speed up dramatically. I would not hesitate to use this unit again.

here is a quick shot of the da3 interface for yall :)




you can find out more about it at DA3 DSP Professional | mObridge

cheers!

Bing
 

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Nice job as usual, but first time I notice you running new midrange wires, what is the purpose?
I find the BMW wires being good and never upgraded the wires unless I went with a bigger speaker.
 

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Its a force of habit..we needed to run another set of wires anyway into the door for the active mid and tweet..so we run two anyway so there is less modding to any stock wire. But yeah it is good enough and when we do doors passive (very rare)..we have used just the stock wire. :)

We run new wires into the doors on almost all the active late model bmw builds :) this just may be the first time in a while a specific pic was taken to show it as normally jesse does these and he uh doesnt remember haha :D
 

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Another great build!

One question, is the underseat sub the same as a typical 6.5'' mid-bass? Making this a 3-way active system?
 

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yeah the underseat woofers in this car acts as a midbass, its going from around 70hz up to 200hz or so. is it ideal? no, but i have found that when they are bandwidth limited to those freq, they dont really do too much damage to the imaging and staging of the overall sound.

b
 

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Its a force of habit..we needed to run another set of wires anyway into the door for the active mid and tweet..so we run two anyway so there is less modding to any stock wire. But yeah it is good enough and when we do doors passive (very rare)..we have used just the stock wire. :)

We run new wires into the doors on almost all the active late model bmw builds :) this just may be the first time in a while a specific pic was taken to show it as normally jesse does these and he uh doesnt remember haha :D
Ah yeah that's right you do active setups, I forgot, I only ever do semi active, customers here are not ready to spend extra for dedicated tweeters channels.
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yeah the underseat woofers in this car acts as a midbass, its going from around 70hz up to 200hz or so. is it ideal? no, but i have found that when they are bandwidth limited to those freq, they dont really do too much damage to the imaging and staging of the overall sound.

b
Just wondering if there is any tactile feedback from that configuration. Great install as always.
 

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There is for sure, but not bad since the seats r so well insulated...and they play such a narrow band, i dont feel like they are dragging the staging down or anything... compared say to my old car with a two way and midbass in kicks...certain judges definitely do feel it affects it.
 

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so overall, it took a lot longer for me to work on it, but in the end, the unit worked great, no noises and other bad things. the output voltage is for sure not as high as the 6to8v8 iam used to, but it is serviceable for sure. it has nearly as much tuning ability as any other processor out there (save for the odd lack of bandpass on the front low as mentiond)...and it definitely helps greatly to reduce system complexity and cost.

i will not hesitate to use this piece again, and i think once i get a wireless mouse on my laptop, the tuning will speed up dramatically. I would not hesitate to use this unit again.

here is a quick shot of the da3 interface for yall :)

you can find out more about it at DA3 DSP Professional | mObridge

cheers!

Bing
Hi Bing,

Theres a new UI and firmware out now. The UI now has the ability to assign lowpass & bandpass to both the mids and woofers solving the 3 way system setup. We actually made this change to the last UI version.

We've now added some more features such as master gain which will allow you to bump up that overall volume.

We've also now added presets in which can be triggered from the 'Surround' settings in the vehicle audio menu. You will see the PC UI update and sync in real time as you switch profiles now.

cheers,

mObridge
 

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Ah great alternative for those wanting to upgrade the harman kardon system without needing to buy an extra dsp. And as Bing said, IF bandpassed and tuned right, the underseat midbass doesn't affect staging and imaging much. Nice solid install again!
 
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