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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First off, I hardly anything about car stereos but have tried to educate myself lately. Please give advice accordingly!:)

Because of this, I'm trying to keep things simple. Here's what I want to do:

Disconnect all stock speakers in my 2002 non-dsp, non-nav system. I don't want rear fill. Replace front door speakers with Infinity 50.9cs speakers. Replace stock amp with a 2 channel system to power the Infinitys and use the Infinity crossovers.

I need recommendations for a new amp and a line out converter. I want it to be plug and play, that is, I want it to get power from the existing power line going to the amp and work with my HU. I do not want to spend more than $200 for the amp. I think LOC are relatively inexpensive.

Later on I'll worry about adding a second amp to power a subwoofer, but that project is for LATER.
 

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First off, I hardly anything about car stereos but have tried to educate myself lately. Please give advice accordingly!:).
Cool. Happy to help.

Here's what I want to do:

Disconnect all stock speakers in my 2002 non-dsp, non-nav system.
Good start. Love E39s.

Replace front door speakers with Infinity 50.9cs speakers.
OK, we are now off the rails. I think this is a bad idea on several levels, but go on.

Replace stock amp with a 2 channel system to power the Infinitys...
OK, good...

...and use the Infinity crossovers..
OK, not as good, but go on...

I need recommendations for a new amp and a line out converter. I want it to be plug and play, that is, I want it to get power from the existing power line going to the amp and work with my HU. I do not want to spend more than $200 for the amp. I think LOC are relatively inexpensive.
You do NOT need an LOC. You need an amp with balanced differential inputs. Such an amp will take the speaker-level output of the BMW HU just fine. I have had great results with Zapco amps using the Symbilink balanced inputs. I have some in a friend's E39, they sound great. There are other choices - JL, Arc, etc.

But I differ very strongly with your choice of speakers in front. The E39 has a small enclosure in the door for a 130mm "5.25" woofer. Car 5.25 drivers are intended for door-size enclosures, not small enclosures. This makes them almost infinite-baffle in operation. You put any car-intended 5.25 driver in that small E39 door enclosure, and all the bass disappears and there is a huge midbass peak (the effect of cramming any woofer in too small a volume enclosure).

If you were going active on the front mid and tweeter, you could put in a home-intended 5.25 which matched up well with the small enclosure (stamped-frame preferred so it fits - cast-frame 130mm drivers really don't fit). But you want a 2-channel amp which means a passive 2-way kit.

I would consider the Hertz HSK130 2-way component set. The woofer is stamped frame. The 25mm silk-dome tweeter will fit in the E39 sail where many larger tweeters won't. It is a good-sounding two-way which will not saw your ears off like Infinity will (especially Infinity without a subwoofer in an E39!)

Your best possible amp choice would be a Zapco DC350. That amp does not fit in your price range, but it allows you to digitally EQ the speaker with parametric equalization that is built in. That would let you damp out the peak and extend the bass somewhat.

Your car is very tough to make sound good, easy to make sound bad, and it is very hard to do cheap. I would do more research on bimmerfest and bimmerforums audio sections before going too far with it...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Cool. Happy to help.



Good start. Love E39s.



OK, we are now off the rails. I think this is a bad idea on several levels, but go on.



OK, good...



OK, not as good, but go on...



You do NOT need an LOC. You need an amp with balanced differential inputs. Such an amp will take the speaker-level output of the BMW HU just fine. I have had great results with Zapco amps using the Symbilink balanced inputs. I have some in a friend's E39, they sound great. There are other choices - JL, Arc, etc.

But I differ very strongly with your choice of speakers in front. The E39 has a small enclosure in the door for a 130mm "5.25" woofer. Car 5.25 drivers are intended for door-size enclosures, not small enclosures. This makes them almost infinite-baffle in operation. You put any car-intended 5.25 driver in that small E39 door enclosure, and all the bass disappears and there is a huge midbass peak (the effect of cramming any woofer in too small a volume enclosure).

If you were going active on the front mid and tweeter, you could put in a home-intended 5.25 which matched up well with the small enclosure (stamped-frame preferred so it fits - cast-frame 130mm drivers really don't fit). But you want a 2-channel amp which means a passive 2-way kit.

I would consider the Hertz HSK130 2-way component set. The woofer is stamped frame. The 25mm silk-dome tweeter will fit in the E39 sail where many larger tweeters won't. It is a good-sounding two-way which will not saw your ears off like Infinity will (especially Infinity without a subwoofer in an E39!)

Your best possible amp choice would be a Zapco DC350. That amp does not fit in your price range, but it allows you to digitally EQ the speaker with parametric equalization that is built in. That would let you damp out the peak and extend the bass somewhat.

Your car is very tough to make sound good, easy to make sound bad, and it is very hard to do cheap. I would do more research on bimmerfest and bimmerforums audio sections before going too far with it...
I tried Bimmerfest and was told to come here :confused:
Nobody in Stereo Forum - Stock Amp ? - bimmerfest - BMW Forums

The amp you suggested is $430 here:



I have a mac so I'm not sure if I can still adjust it via usb. Can I still digitally EQ it?

I googled the Hertz HSK130 and they appear to be a European brand speaker and I could not find any online US shops that sell it.

Since I've already installed the Infinity midbass, could I buy the Zapco DC350 and see what it sounds like? I can't return the Infinitys. Maybe I could remove the stock 5.25 enclosure and mount the Infinity 5.25 on to a piece of MDF that mounts to the door in the same mount points as the stock enclosure? Or maybe open up a port in back of the stock enclosure?

Also can I use the same power supply that powers the stock amp to power the Zapco amp? And could you recommend an amp that is a little less expensive? If I had to I could spring for the Zapco if there is nothing near as good.

Thanks for the help. I love the E39 and I'm trying to get better sound while staying on somewhat of a low budget and DIYing it.
 

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If you're seriously going to consider the Zapco, go talk to Bill at Progressive Auto Sounds in Aiea. He's a good guy and has some experience with Zapcos and BMWs. I've been talking to him about doing a Zapco in my M3. We have different opinions on certain things but I've been going to him for a long time and he will definitely point you in the right direction. You can always come back here for confirmation if anything he says confuses you. Another guy you can talk to is Kent at Security & Sound Systems on Beretania. Also a good guy and did the install in my last car. I don't know if he has direct knowledge of the BMW system but he can show you other products if you don't like what you see at Progressive. Both shops are not going to be the cheapest in town but they both do very good work and have great service.

Its going to be tough to stick to a $200 budget and get your system to sound good though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
If you're seriously going to consider the Zapco, go talk to Bill at Progressive Auto Sounds in Aiea. He's a good guy and has some experience with Zapcos and BMWs. I've been talking to him about doing a Zapco in my M3. We have different opinions on certain things but I've been going to him for a long time and he will definitely point you in the right direction. You can always come back here for confirmation if anything he says confuses you. Another guy you can talk to is Kent at Security & Sound Systems on Beretania. Also a good guy and did the install in my last car. I don't know if he has direct knowledge of the BMW system but he can show you other products if you don't like what you see at Progressive. Both shops are not going to be the cheapest in town but they both do very good work and have great service.

Its going to be tough to stick to a $200 budget and get your system to sound good though.
The $200 budget was for the 2 channel amp to drive my front speakers. Later I want to add a subwoofer and I'll have a budget for that.

I'm not looking for a competition quality system or anything close. I just want to improve my existing stock system. I find it hard to believe that on a "DIY" forum I can't get any simple advice on how to do this.I'm sure everyone would agree that my stock system sucks, so how hard could it be to improve it? The Infinity speakers have to be better than the stock speakers, right? Aren't there any $200 amps that would sound better than the stock amp?

The BMW forums tell me to come here. People here tell me to go there. I ask about a good $200 amp and I get told about a $430 amp (online price, HI dealer probably $100 more) and that I need to go to an expensive installer to get advice on how to install it.

Geez, is this stuff that hard?:surprised: Buy the right amp, hook up power and my speakers and crossovers, and tune it. Can't anyone here offer this basic advice? I just want it to sound better than stock!

Sorry for the rant but I know there are MANY experts on here. Just try to dumb it down for someone that would be happy with better sound, nothing else.
 

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The $200 budget was for the 2 channel amp to drive my front speakers. Later I want to add a subwoofer and I'll have a budget for that.

I'm not looking for a competition quality system or anything close. I just want to improve my existing stock system. I find it hard to believe that on a "DIY" forum I can't get any simple advice on how to do this.I'm sure everyone would agree that my stock system sucks, so how hard could it be to improve it? The Infinity speakers have to be better than the stock speakers, right? Aren't there any $200 amps that would sound better than the stock amp?

The BMW forums tell me to come here. People here tell me to go there. I ask about a good $200 amp and I get told about a $430 amp (online price, HI dealer probably $100 more) and that I need to go to an expensive installer to get advice on how to install it.

Geez, is this stuff that hard?:surprised: Buy the right amp, hook up power and my speakers and crossovers, and tune it. Can't anyone here offer this basic advice? I just want it to sound better than stock!

Sorry for the rant but I know there are MANY experts on here. Just try to dumb it down for someone that would be happy with better sound, nothing else.
Since you admitted to being a total noob, I figured that it would be better for you to get the help of an experienced installer. Of course, someone here can tell you how to do it, but we don't know how mechanically inclined you are so playing it safe, I recommeded that you go seek professional help. Being a noob at this stuff, it might be helpful to form some good relationships with local dealers so that if you ever need help later, they will be there to help you. Paying a little extra for the equipment up front to get that tech support later is worth it in my opinion. If you have it set in your mind that they don't know jack and are only there to take your money, they will pick up on that and be less willing to help you when you really need it. I consider myself pretty knowledeable about this stuff but I still seek their help sometimes because there is no one person that knows everything. Two or three minds attacking one problem is always better than one.
 
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Mark,

Didja check out the e39 installs in the build logs? There are a couple of good ones that will help you plan the way forward.

I've been able to get away without using a loc on a few e39s but you do need to pay attention to the line in voltage the amp can handle... use line level inputs if its an amp that has them (usually a cheapo). You can tap into the wiring in the trunk (at the amp) for everything but the power and ground for the amplifier. The existing wiring may be adequate for a small amp but it is not worth the trouble to test it.... There are pinouts for the amp connectors on the BMWtips website. I would not use the Infinity speakers you are looking at but they will likely sound better then the stock ones, especially if they have been driven hard. I've heard a few e39s with upgraded 5.25s in the doors and the midbass is pretty lacking. I would shoot for 6.5s...

Take a look a Pscalfano's install it will give you a good idea of what your looking at. You can look at my bastardized e39 install also...

Good Luck,

KC
 

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Lots of E39 M5 owners have installed Alpine PDX-5s as replacement amps for the stock DSP unit with great success. I am one of them. Check out Douglas Baker's blog on M5Board.com about how to use a Metra adaptor to tap into the outs from the radio in the trunk (assuming that's where the radio is on your E39). A number of us also use Alpine SPX13-REF 5 1/4" speakers in the door locations with the matching component tweeters in the mirror sails. All probably exceeds your budget by a bit, but a very nice mid-level upgrade. Same amp with some form of EQ/processor and better speakers and a couple of subs either through the ski pass or in the rear deck can really elevate the sound quality.

I myself use two PDX-5s after an Audio Control DQXS to power an active three-way front stage and two subs in the rear deck. Works beautifully for me.

VP Electricity on this board, from whom you've already heard, also knows his stuff about E39s.
 

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Geez, is this stuff that hard?:surprised: Buy the right amp, hook up power and my speakers and crossovers, and tune it. Can't anyone here offer this basic advice? I just want it to sound better than stock!

Sorry for the rant but I know there are MANY experts on here. Just try to dumb it down for someone that would be happy with better sound, nothing else.
Look, you asked for advice and now you don't like the free advice you got. You bought a difficult car, I've worked on them, I shared my advice. E46 would be easier, E36 would be easier, E53 would be easier, even my E90 is easier. If I were you, I would ask why you are getting this advice rather than just complaining about it.

You may very well LOVE how it sounds putting a regular 5.25 into that enclosure and not EQ-ing it. I think it sounds honky on vocals and too thin on snares.

Do whatever you want, though, it's your car. Mahalo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Lots of E39 M5 owners have installed Alpine PDX-5s as replacement amps for the stock DSP unit with great success. I am one of them. Check out Douglas Baker's blog on M5Board.com about how to use a Metra adaptor to tap into the outs from the radio in the trunk (assuming that's where the radio is on your E39). A number of us also use Alpine SPX13-REF 5 1/4" speakers in the door locations with the matching component tweeters in the mirror sails. All probably exceeds your budget by a bit, but a very nice mid-level upgrade. Same amp with some form of EQ/processor and better speakers and a couple of subs either through the ski pass or in the rear deck can really elevate the sound quality.

I myself use two PDX-5s after an Audio Control DQXS to power an active three-way front stage and two subs in the rear deck. Works beautifully for me.

VP Electricity on this board, from whom you've already heard, also knows his stuff about E39s.
I am not changing my speakers I installed. Period. I know they suck. They are probably way worse than the stock speakers. I now I should buy any one of a hundred other better speakers.

What I want is a new amp. Subwoofers will come later. At this rate maybe 2 years.

Will the PDX-5 be a good choice for a non-DSP system? An since I only want to drive the front door speakers, wouldn't the PDX-2 be a cheaper alternative? And what is wrong with using the crossovers that came with the Infinitys? Seems like they would be designed to work with the speakers. If the midbass lacks a little, that's OK. I'm only looking to add an 8 inch sub later as I'm not looking to join the "40" club. The 8 should pick up where the 5.25 leave off.

As far as being able to turn a wrench that's not a problem. I just need to know how to hook up an amp. I agree it would be good to know a dealer/installer but we have a 2 day old baby and my time is a little limited. I would rather order the amp over the Internet and hook it up myself.

Thanks for any help. :)
 

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Will the PDX-5 be a good choice for a non-DSP system?
Yes. When DSP system is replaced, the radio outs revert to analogue. Your non-DSP system is already analogue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining. I asked specifically about what amp would work with my stock HU. While I appreciate everyone's enthusiasm about how to build a perfect system for my car, I really did not want to open a can of worms. I know almost everyone here has spent thousands of dollars on their systems and endless hours tweaking them to sound perfect. But that's not what I'm trying to accomplish with mine.

I've gone through 5 cars in the last 10 years so with that track record I don't expect to stay in this one very long. I don't want to invest that much in this car. I would like to be able to put everything back to stock when I sell the car. That's why I don't want to modify the door panel to accommodate a 6.5 and decided to replace the 5.25. I'll probably buy an Infinity BassLink II sub for the trunk for minimal hassle.

Again, thanks for everybody's help. I've been typing here while juggling a newborn so if I came off snarky I'll blame it on lack of sleep.

Mahalo

I probably should have explained all of this in my first post so you could base your recommendations with this in mind. That's my fault; I know everyone here has good intentions but I really hoping for a quick fix that would sound better and louder than stock. I'm half deaf in one ear anyway from working around jet engines so if the SQ was hoky or thin I probably wouldn't be able to tell anyway.
 

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Yes. When DSP system is replaced, the radio outs revert to analogue. Your non-DSP system is already analogue.
Actually, the indasah HU ALWAYS puts out analog. The output level is fixed in DSP mode (the DSP amp has a preamp in it and the HU controls system vvolume through the K-line).

The DSP systems have an A/D converter on the amp input, then the DSP processing happens, then it goes D/A.

THe fixed output is to avoid overdriving the inputs of the DSP IC. The Toyota JBL and Chrysler Boston Acoustics systems do something similar.

The early DSP systems had coax digital output cables from the trunk changer to the DSP amp... in later years BMW decided they didn't help and left them out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
OK so I read the post A Basic Guide to Crossovers, and now I can see why some (most) of you want me to lose the passive crossovers that came with the Infinitys.

It seems the PDX-5 does not provide active EQ and the Zapco DC350 does. Does the Zapco constitute going "active"? If it does then I can see the advantage even though it costs more than I wanted to spend. If it allows me to tune the front speakers I guess I can justify the added expense. But I'm wondering if you need a Windows laptop to adjust it? I have a MacBook.

I googled those Hertz HSK130s again and no luck. VP Electricity do you know where I can find them? If not maybe I can equalize the Infinitys so they don't saw off my ears!

Lastly, is the Symbilink balanced inputs something extra I need to buy or is it a feature of the DC350?
 

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OK so I read the post A Basic Guide to Crossovers, and now I can see why some (most) of you want me to lose the passive crossovers that came with the Infinitys.
Cool.

It seems the PDX-5 does not provide active EQ and the Zapco DC350 does. Does the Zapco constitute going "active"?
Not exactly. The Zapco has an internal DSP EQ, but it doesn't do active crossover for the tweet and mid (that takes 4 channels and it is only a 2-channel amp). The guys recommending active are addressing crossover differences and also the tweeter is loud compared to the mid since the mid is in that small enclosure (this restricts output a bit).

But I'm wondering if you need a Windows laptop to adjust it? I have a MacBook.
I don't think you can do it in Boot Camp.

I googled those Hertz HSK130s again and no luck. VP Electricity do you know where I can find them? If not maybe I can equalize the Infinitys so they don't saw off my ears!
I know where to get some, I will PM you.

Lastly, is the Symbilink balanced inputs something extra I need to buy or is it a feature of the DC350?
It is a feature, but you need a Symbilink cable to mod to use for the input.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Now we're talking! Seems like the DC360.4 would be the better choice if I lose the Infinity passive crossover, correct?

Man, I knew you guys would suck me in. The DC360.4 is $600 on woofersetc.com. Is that a good price? I suppose if I got this amp and my Infinitys sound like saws the amp would still work for the replacements.
 

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Actually, the indasah HU ALWAYS puts out analog. The output level is fixed in DSP mode (the DSP amp has a preamp in it and the HU controls system vvolume through the K-line).

The DSP systems have an A/D converter on the amp input, then the DSP processing happens, then it goes D/A.

THe fixed output is to avoid overdriving the inputs of the DSP IC. The Toyota JBL and Chrysler Boston Acoustics systems do something similar.

The early DSP systems had coax digital output cables from the trunk changer to the DSP amp... in later years BMW decided they didn't help and left them out.
I know. I was talking in shorthand. The point is with a E39 BMW DSP system, once you remove the DSP amp, you can access analogue outs with which to drive your aftermarket amp. The HU does show DSP as a set of options on the nav screen, but once you remove the DSP unit and temporarily disconnect the power, the DSP options "ghost" then after a while, disappear altogether. This is collectively is the phenomenon people using shorthand describe as "reverting to analogue." Tomato, tomaaato.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hey VP what about that PM? I'm curious how much they go for. I'm noticing some distortion in my Infinitys. Looks like you were right about putting them in the door enclosure! From now on I'm all ears.
 
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