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      07-23-2015, 05:29 PM   #1
whatheheck
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DIY: Speaker and Subwoofer upgrade. Harman Kardon based System

Here you go for sharing in case anyone is interested.

First things first. Some notes and disclaimers:

I am posting for sharing in case anyone wants to do the same upgrade here is the information you need to make your upgrade easier for you.
I am not posting asking for your approval or whether you like this mod or not, or want to engage on a debate with anyone about their own stereo system. Just sharing information. So please keep criticisms to yourself. Remember always, to each his own.
Your car so do whatever makes you happy.

Do this mod at your risk and please dont blame for anything.

Now that we got that out of the way.
Purchase my 2015 M4 new 3 months ago now. Even though I have the Harman Kardon option, it appears one thing BMW still needs to improve is their stereo system as I had the same issue on my 2001 M5, 2006 M6 and 2009 M6 DIRAC system.

Midrange and Tweeter speaker / drivers:
Harman Kardon makes very good amp but their speakers are dull and lifeless sounding in my opinion at low to medium volume. When driven hard they are harsh sounding.

So I upgraded all my speakers to BSW. Done. Now the sound is smooth and clean even at high volume. Thanks to BSW for making drop in great sounding speakers.

Subwoofer:
The stock subwoofer I am also not happy with. It is boomy and not as tight as I want it to be.
I thought it may be the stock HK amp so I installed an aftermarket 300W subwoofer amp to drive the stock subs. I learned that the stock subs are powerful enough to handle 300W watts but they are still boomy. I want a tight punchy sounding subs so time to get it replaced as the lower end is the only part lacking now to make a great sounding car stereo system.

When I do upgrades I try to make it as stock looking as possible. I dont like to cut and hack my car. That's just me.

My experience also with subwoofers says the best location is under the seat so I can actually not just hear the bass but also feel it. Also when installed in the trunk I had to crank it up so loud before I can hear the subs inside the cabin.

I just want a better sounding and more powerful subwoofer. I am not aiming for subwoofers that people can hear 2 miles down the road and the entire car is rattling.

So I did numerous reading and searches and learned that SWS makes a drop in replacement for our M4 and reviews are very high and they are priced very reasonable so I thought I'd try them.

http://www.earthquakesound.eu/car-au...rs/sws-8x.aspx

I also learned I need an adapter spacer to accommodate the stock connector.

Here you go:
Subwoofer - perfect fit: Earthquake Sound SWS-8X, 4 Ohms:
Specifications:
Model: SWS-8X
Size: 8" high performance sub
Freq resp: 20-300Hz
Max Power: 300W
RMS Power: 150W
Impedance: 4Ω
Sensitivity: 86.7dB

For our F82 M4 you will need the adapter ring bracket:
http://earthquakesound.eu/car-audio/...s/r8-sws-.aspx

I ordered subwoofer and brackets here.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/2-Earthquake.../181403219896?

They are also available at Amazon.

For amplifier I used a spare subwoofer amp I had in my garage. Its a Sony XM-1S capable of producing up to 900 watts peak at 2 ohms. They dont make this anymore and its an outstanding subwoofer amp for the price. I think I paid $199.00 for this Sony XM-1S three years ago for my M6 but never had a chance to install it.

If you want a small subwoofer amp I highly recommend the JBL GTO-751EZ Monoblock. I used JBL GTO amp in my Ferrari 360 and it sounded awesome. You can find this Amp in Amazon or Sonic Electronix. Just do a search and read user and professional reviews.

Aiming again for clean installation I installed my subwoofer amp under the rear deck. Photos coming soon.

The most important part once you get the subs and subwoofer amp installed is fine tuning the settings of the subwoofer amp. You should aim for nice clean, undistorted, tight bass sound. So amp settings is very critical.

First thing to do is to set your stereo bass and treble to FLAT / Middle setting.
Do the same for EQ. Set it all flat.

Set your subwoofer amp gain to its lowest setting. Set your LPF to around 80 Hz. Then play music or audio test CD and slowly adjust your subwoofer amp gain until the subs blends with the rest of the speaker system or slightly above.

I also dont recommend using the subwoofer amps Bass Boost. I recommend you set this at its lowest setting or turn it off. Bass boost only muddies up the sound and promotes distortion at high volume.

You can follow Crutchfields guide to setting subwoofer amp here:
hhttp://www.crutchfield.com/S-KoBBIlVND64/learn/car/subwoofers/tuning.html

If you buy the JBL GTO amplifier it will come with a test CD. Use the test CD to set the optimum gain of your subwoofer amp. This makes the subwoofer amp gain setting so much easier. Just follow the instructions on your subwoofer amp on how to use the test sound CD.

Once the subwoofer amp gain is set to your liking you can play around with your car stereo EQ for the sound that best suits your taste of music. Once the EQ is set, I suggest you leave that alone and just start enjoying your outstanding stereo system. You can do tweaks from here on using your bass and treble adjustments as some recordings lack bass and/or highs.

Hope that helps.

Summary:
Original HK Amp driving the 14 midrange and tweeters.
Midrange and tweeters upgraded to BSW stage 1 kit.
Two subwoofers made by SWS. Model SWS-8X. (4 ohms each)
Subwoofer power amp I used Sony XM-1S. 500W RMS @ 2ohms. 290W at 4Ohms.

Photos and video clip coming soon. What a difference.

I can crank up my stereo now and it sounds like Im watching a live concert and I am in the middle seat in front of the stage. Nice, clean, tight and powerful sound.

I close my car windows and you can barely hear the stereo outside (this is my preference as I prefer not to disturb other people)

Some notes about me, I am no expert, I just know a little bit. I am an electrical engineer for an aerospace company. We design the installation of In Flight Entertainment Systems.
I installed car stereos and car alarms while in college. I have done most of my electrical upgrades in all my cars, I am a moderator in M5/M6 board.

Hope this helps some of you. Photos and video clip coming soon.

Oops, I almost forgot, one tip - the subwoofer adapter ring is made of plastic so during installation DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN the screws. Ask me how I know

Dan
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      07-23-2015, 06:46 PM   #2
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Here are some photos. Audio Video coming soon.
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      07-23-2015, 07:05 PM   #3
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What LOC did you use with that aftermarket amp?
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      07-23-2015, 11:18 PM   #4
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Hi,

I didnt need an LOC as the Sony subwoofer amp I used takes speaker level inputs. Most amps now I see takes speaker level inputs. And I recommend finding a subwoofer amp that takes speaker level inputs so that you wont have to use a line output converter. Direct feed to the amp in my opinion is better.

I havent had time yet to shoot video but the sound is amazing.

I took my car to work today. Did a demo to my fellow engineers and they were all blown away on how great my stereo system now sounds. (They heard my stereo before with stock subs)

Since the stock HK amp now no longer drives the subs the sound to the mids and tweets are super clean even at very high volume as there is no longer the subs eating most of the power output.

Hope that helps

Dan
Quote:
Originally Posted by Technic View Post
What LOC did you use with that aftermarket amp?
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      07-23-2015, 11:24 PM   #5
whatheheck
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Here is the amp I used. Its discontinued. Rated very highly and I am very impressed on how powerful this amp is at such small form factor.

http://www.sonicelectronix.com/item_...ony-XM-1S.html

http://www.crutchfield.com/S-I6P67Hy...l-d-XM-1S.html

I can recommend this JBL amp: Also accepts speaker level input.

http://smile.amazon.com/JBL-GTO-751E...+subwoofer+amp

http://www.sonicelectronix.com/item_...GTO-751EZ.html

Dan
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      07-23-2015, 11:54 PM   #6
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Your Sony aftermarket amp accepts up to 16V of high level inputs. Your HK OEM amp outputs 30V+ peaks, and about 21V on average.

Your Sony amp will be damaged.

No aftermarket amp high level inputs currently in the market can handle the HK OEM amp woofer outputs in the short or long run.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whatheheck View Post
Hi,

I didnt need an LOC as the Sony subwoofer amp I used takes speaker level inputs. Most amps now I see takes speaker level inputs. And I recommend finding a subwoofer amp that takes speaker level inputs so that you wont have to use a line output converter. Direct feed to the amp in my opinion is better.

I havent had time yet to shoot video but the sound is amazing.

I took my car to work today. Did a demo to my fellow engineers and they were all blown away on how great my stereo system now sounds. (They heard my stereo before with stock subs)

Since the stock HK amp now no longer drives the subs the sound to the mids and tweets are super clean even at very high volume as there is no longer the subs eating most of the power output.

Hope that helps

Dan
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      07-23-2015, 11:57 PM   #7
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Well done
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      07-24-2015, 12:19 AM   #8
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Thanks for the info. Greatly appreciated. I will keep an eye on it.

I've been running the amp now for over 2 weeks and its always on every time I go out for a drive, driving it hard and the Sony amp is still running fine.

I guess I'm lucky so far.

I will try and find a compatible LOC and install an LOC soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Technic View Post
Your Sony aftermarket amp accepts up to 16V of high level inputs. Your HK OEM amp outputs 30V+ peaks, and about 21V on average.

Your Sony amp will be damaged.

No aftermarket amp high level inputs currently in the market can handle the HK OEM amp woofer outputs in the short or long run.

Last edited by whatheheck; 07-24-2015 at 12:32 AM..
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      07-24-2015, 12:59 AM   #9
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      07-24-2015, 06:21 AM   #10
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Do any of the replacement woofers allow for you to remount the speaker grills or do you have to mount them without?
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      07-24-2015, 06:28 AM   #11
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Thanks very much

Dan
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Originally Posted by Dave 90TT View Post
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      07-24-2015, 06:32 AM   #12
whatheheck
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Here is a short 1 minute audio / video. Clean sound, nice and tight and powerful bass.

I am going on a long drive again this weekend and will crank it up and drive it hard and see if the Sony amp gives up. As I mentioned I've got the amp installed now for over 2 weeks, every time I go out for a drive I crank it up and drive the Sony amp really hard and so far so good.

Perhaps this Sony amp is more tolerant to over voltage input. Or I am just getting lucky.



Dan
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      07-24-2015, 06:33 AM   #13
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Thanks.

Yes, Fluke makes excellent multi meters.

'Been using Flukes since college.

Dan

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Originally Posted by F83 View Post
Side note but love the Fluke meter. Choice of champions.
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      07-24-2015, 06:35 AM   #14
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My research shows the SWS is the only subwoofer currently in the market that is one to one swap out with no physical modification required.

I know BSW is working on one for our cars but they havent released it yet.

Dan
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Originally Posted by rubber_ducky View Post
Do any of the replacement woofers allow for you to remount the speaker grills or do you have to mount them without?
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      07-24-2015, 07:08 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whatheheck View Post
My research shows the SWS is the only subwoofer currently in the market that is one to one swap out with no physical modification required.

I know BSW is working on one for our cars but they havent released it yet.

Dan
so one can just swap in the SWS? the OP also installed an AMP....do we need to do that?
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      07-24-2015, 08:04 AM   #16
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You are just lucky for awhile.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whatheheck View Post
Here is a short 1 minute audio / video. Clean sound, nice and tight and powerful bass.

I am going on a long drive again this weekend and will crank it up and drive it hard and see if the Sony amp gives up. As I mentioned I've got the amp installed now for over 2 weeks, every time I go out for a drive I crank it up and drive the Sony amp really hard and so far so good.

Perhaps this Sony amp is more tolerant to over voltage input. Or I am just getting lucky.



Dan
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      07-24-2015, 08:12 AM   #17
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I dont recommend doing this mod per Technic's input. I know he knows a lot about our cars and according to him there is no after market amp out there yet that can handle the high line voltage output of the HK stock amp.

Also I dont recommend just replacing your subs as I understand the HK stock amp cannot handle after market subs. Stock subs are 7 ohms and we need two.

Let me be the guinea pig. I will continue to run my new subwoofer and Sony amp set up for a while and see what happens.

I am OK with it if I eventually blow my subwoofer amp. I should be able to find a replacement. Hopefully by the time my Sony subwoofer amp gives up there is an after market subwoofer amp out there already available for our cars. Perhaps BSW will release their set up soon and that will be my replacement sub set up once my Sony eventually quits.

Will keep doing my research and trial and error.

I will keep you folks posted.

Dan
Quote:
Originally Posted by chillindrdude View Post
so one can just swap in the SWS? the OP also installed an AMP....do we need to do that?

Last edited by whatheheck; 07-24-2015 at 08:23 AM..
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      07-24-2015, 02:49 PM   #18
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There was another brand, from Germany, of underseat speakers that fit, and I can't seem to remember the name of them. Anyone?
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      07-24-2015, 03:09 PM   #19
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Quote:
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There was another brand, from Germany, of underseat speakers that fit, and I can't seem to remember the name of them. Anyone?
Jehnerts
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      07-24-2015, 05:33 PM   #20
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thanks!
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      07-24-2015, 09:26 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave 90TT View Post
There was another brand, from Germany, of underseat speakers that fit, and I can't seem to remember the name of them. Anyone?
There are a few that are drop in replacements. Jehnert just seems to be the best, all things considered. Gladen also makes a pretty good one that is just drop in. But these are mid-bass drivers, not subs.
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      07-24-2015, 11:07 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RocketBoots View Post
There are a few that are drop in replacements. Jehnert just seems to be the best, all things considered. Gladen also makes a pretty good one that is just drop in. But these are mid-bass drivers, not subs.
Well aware that those are mid bass. I have a trunk sub installed already. Of course, if I was really smart, I would have just looked at my own thread, where I specifically stated the Jehnert XE-200's were something I was considering. Sometimes, I'm too smart for my own good....
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