Improving the BMW audio

We have had a lot of calls recently from owners of newer BMW 1, 3 and 5 series vehicles complaining about the very poor sound quality of the factory audio system; even those with the Harman Kardon upgrade option. Some have described it as the worst sounding system they have ever heard! We have carefully listened to lots of these cars and can definitely agree. The bass is weak, the midrange is very confused and even where the optional tweeters are installed the treble is dull and lifeless.

Standard BMW speaker.

As if the poor speakers were not enough the problems are compounded by the head unit itself. Since BMW know that their installed speakers are of low performance the head unit is pre-equalised to prevent the user damaging them. This manifests itself as a roll off of bass as the volume increases; amongst other tricks such as reducing the treble when you think you are turning up the bass. All this adds up to a very disappointing performance with poor definition and a dreadful sound-stage.

But help is at hand. At Car and Home Stereo we have developed a 3 stage plan to improve any BMW audio system. All upgrades are specifically designed for the BMW and fit seamlessly with no changes to the vehicle interior. Each stage is a significant improvement and can be performed over time to spread the cost.

Stage 1; upgrading the speakers.

There are 6 speaker locations in the front of the BMW; tweeters either in the door or wing mirror position, mid speakers in the front doors and  bass units under the front seats. There will also be two speaker locations in the back of the car.

A stage one system replaces the front speaker set as we are always most concerned with the sound for the front of the car. If your vehicle is not equipped with tweeter locations then the appropriate parts can be obtained from BMW spares. While we can just replace the mid speakers, the tweeters add a tremendous performance boost.

There are quite a few manufacturers producing a BMW speaker replacement kit and we take great care to match the speaker set to our customer’s preferences. Not all the sets have the same characteristics and choosing the right one is important to make sure it suits the application.

We can install the speaker set in as little as 3 hours; we guarantee you will be very impressed. This upgrade may be all you need to satisfy your tastes, but in case you want even better, read on.

Stage 2; amplification.

This is where we can make staggering improvements. It is not enough to just add a simple amplifier because if we did then we would just get a more powerful version of the original signal. This is fairly pointless as we know the signal from the factory head unit is poor with all the problems mentioned above. What we need is a way to overcome those problems and that means we need a DSP, a digital signal processor. These are powerful equalisers that allow us to adjust the head unit output to correct the built in problems.

Ideally the processor and amplifier should be the same unit and fortunately there are a range of very high quality units available from Audison, JL Audio and others. Like choosing the right speakers it is imperative that we choose the right amplifier to ensure we can realise the perfect sound for our customer.

One of our favourites is the Audison AP8.9. This compact 8 channel amplifier/processor is capable of providing power to the whole car system. It can even be enhanced with the addition of dedicated slave amplifiers to increase the system power. The real strength of these amplifiers lies with the DSP. It allows me to carefully tune the sound output to perfectly match the acoustic requirements of the vehicle and the musical tastes of the customer.

A stage 2 system is worlds better than the original and is often enough of an improvement to satisfy; but of course there is an obvious final step…

Stage 3; adding a sub-woofer.

Although the under seat speakers are 8 inch drivers they should not be considered sub-woofers, they are really bass speakers, an attempt to get too much low frequency will drive them to distortion. If you want plenty of deep bass then there is no alternative except to add a boot mounted sub-woofer. That does not mean there has to be a boot full of large speakers. On the contrary, we have many solutions that are extremely compact. Again we will choose the best solution for your needs from Hertz, JL Audio and Audison to name a few.

So there we have it, three simple stages to audio heaven in your BMW. Don’t forget that all of this is removable and can be reused in your next car; try doing that with a factory upgrade!

If you would like to know more about how we can improve the audio in your BMW or indeed any other car, please get in touch. Call us on 01625 432707 or better still call into our shop on Sunderland Street in Macclesfield. We look forward to speaking to you.

Posted in Car & Home Stereo, Custom Fittings, Sound System and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .


    • Hi Michal, please give us a message on Facebook, or a call on 01625 432707 or pop into the shop. Would love to help!

  1. Hi there I have an 5 series E61 BMW, all 3 speakers down the drivers side do not work, (door speaker, under seat sub, and the right head lining speaker, I think there is a problem with the pre amp as I only have the standard system not the logic 7. I want to know if that is something you can fix? Also I’m thinking of upgrading the speakers throughout the car and adding an amp for the speakers if possible, thankyou!

  2. I am working on a 2004 545i E60 and the owner wants his single din head unit, from his previous vehicle, to be mounted in dash. What suggestions might you have?

    • I will email you directly but yes, there is a tremendous improvement between stage 1 and 2. More power, greater clarity and punch.

  3. Hi there, are you able to tell me what the BMW advanced loudspeakers system comprises of in a new BMW 3 series 2020 model? I previously had a Harmon Kardon system in a X1. Prior that the standard sound system I had in my previous 3 series was awful. Is the advanced system better and what would you recommend if I was to upgrade it and also what would the costs be? Thanks

    • Hi there, thanks for getting in touch and my sincere apologies for the slow reply.
      In my opinion all the BMW systems sound poor and can definitely be upgraded. There are a lot of options and it all depends on the level of performance you want and of course your budget.
      Please feel free to call me on 07971 928881 or 01625 432707 for a chat.

  4. Hi, could you let me know prices for a stage 2 and stage 3 setup in a 2017 BMW F31. Details of kit that would be installed as well please.

    • Hi Tony, thanks for getting in touch.
      A typical stage 2 would be between £1300 and £2000 and adding the sub for stage 3 would add around £400 to £600 depending on performance required. Of course we also install full custom systems and these can be any level you want.
      We always try to build a bespoke system to your exact preferences so please feel free to call me on 01625 432707 or 07971 928881 to chat about what you would like.
      Thank you

    • Hi, thanks for getting in touch.
      There are many options and ideally it would be great to chat to you about them and exactly what you want. Please feel free to call me on 07971 928881 or 01625 432707.
      Having said that I have just finished a 4 series today with a stage 3 Audison upgrade. This replaces the front door speakers (including tweeters) and the under seat drivers. I add a DSP amplifier and slim active subwoofer. The sound is tuned to suit the car acoustics and your tastes with tremendous results. Total cost is £2400.
      As I say there are other options both higher and lower so please call to discuss or book in.
      Thank you

  5. As the new bmw are having a shortage with Harmon kardon stereo systems at present and only the standard stereo systems are being installed how much would it cost to upgrade to an equivalent package as Harmon kardon currently have on 3 series

  6. I don’t have any problem with the speakers. They sound just fine. But, being an audiophile, I’m not happy with just fine. How can I elevate my experience? 540i, 2018 mode

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *