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-   -   Harman Kardon speaker and tweeter replacement help in 2003 E46 M3 Convertible (http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=959298)

garrafa 12-05-2012 01:51 AM

Harman Kardon speaker and tweeter replacement help in 2003 E46 M3 Convertible
Hi Fellow ///M3 junkies!,

My 2003 M3 convertible came with a "premium" Harman Kardon audio system, but the front door lower speakers don't sound good anymore, there's distortion even at moderate bass levels.

"Mid Bass" speakers (FRONT and REAR)
I removed the door panels expecting to find broken foam on the speakers, but the foam is intact! It's probably something internal with the speakers.

(By the way, www.simplyspeakers.com said that they could fix them for about $50 each which I will consider, but still doing a little research. This is a good alternative I guess... )

Besides going OEM or buying from BSW (both expensive!), I called Crutchfiled and they said that there are no direct fits for my car, but that some speakers can be adapted, but they won't tell me how or which speaker to go with. They said the limited depth of the panel limits the speakers that I can use. Do you guys/gals have any feedback? I'd also like to replace the rear speakers on the side panels (those don't sound nearly as bad though), ideas on those as well?

The front door tweeter assembly is made up of two tiny speakers (one measures about 2.5" in diameter and is made with a paper cone and foam on the borders. The other one looks like just a hard plastic dome and is smaller). The foam on the paper cone one has torn. Crutchfiled said that a 1" tweeter may work but would need adaptation. Any ideas on replacing this as well?


Snik 12-09-2012 09:28 PM

For the door tweets I'd honestly go with BSW, but I suspect like mine that most o your distortion is coming from the door woofer. Which I believe if you can get the specs u can find something that fits. Then it's just a matter of making the connection with the new speaker.

I plan on tackling this one nex year some time. Once I turn mine up past a certain volume the distortion pretty much ruins it.
Surprisingly. I'm not hearing much distortion from the subwoofer. It seems 90% of it is from the door woofers.
Kinda sad crutchfield won't help u more. That's who I was gonna check with to figure out what size and depth speakers to get.

NorthJersey 3er 12-10-2012 01:44 PM

Have you tried plugging the speaker in and playing it with the door card off? Sometimes the plastic screen can rattle giving off the distorted sound. Try playing a song you know triggers that bass line that makes it sound distorted, but with the speaker out of the door card on its own.

silyb0y 12-16-2012 09:51 PM

Are you sure its the speakers thats making the noise? The speakers make the doors vibrate. It might as well be the clips that are holding the door panel, the rain foil, loose screws, loose windows (tighten screws and see if it helps).

Its tough to find recplacement speakers that would work for you - because the Harman Kardon speakers dont all have 4 Ohm impedance. There are replacement speakers on the market (like Rainbow and AudioSystem - dont know if available in the US) but they are IMHO all 4 Ohm. You simply cant tell if it works and how it would sound.


Anyway - the BSW midbass woofers (dont know if they work with the Harman Kardon System) are only 190 Dollars or so. They arent that expensive - if you are sure your midbass woofers are shot I would give it a go. For comparison - the AudioSystem midbass woofers (a pair - without tweeters and crossovers) cost 100 Euros (about 130 Dollars).

I dont know how much of a HIFI guy you are but if I were you I would remove the Harman Kardon System completely. Sound dampening the doors and door panels, install the above mentioned Rainbow or AudioSystem speakers, built a small 8 inch sub (like the one BSW offers). I would use an JBL MS-8 to pick up the sound from the BM54 module - use the MS-8 built in amp to power the speakers (fully active - front and rear) and an additional small amp to power the sub. Such a system should sound much better than the Harman Kardon system.

In case you dont know -> the JBL MS-8 has

-deequalizing (to correct the sound coming from the oem car stereo)
-8 speaker outputs (you can use the built in adjustable electronic crossover - no need for crossover circuit)
-auto equalizer (to correct sound coming from the speakers - user adjustable)
-time correction (to correct delay due to different distances)

What that means? Perfect sound due to perfect staging. It actually does what the Harman Amp does - only better, its adjustable and you can hook up aftermarket speakers.

emaxon 12-26-2012 02:37 PM

Same boat: Just installed Vifa NE65W-04...
(My first post here?)

I had the same crackling problem, with the same HK system in a 2002 330cic. Foam surrounds on both mid-range speakers torn.

** Edit **

There may be nothing wrong with your door woofers if the foam isn't torn/rotten... For whatever reason, the flat EQ setting on my car leads to ludicrously flabby excess bass from the front door woofers.
Even for my doom metal to sound "live", I end up with the bass turned down 2-3 steps. With the bass turned down to sane level, I'll bet you'll be happy with just the mid/tweeter upgrade, but if you wish to upgrade these woofers, others have delved deeper. The best solution I saw was the BMWGM5.com guy... he used neodymium magnet drivers (which inherently lead to shallow mounting depth) and cut a simple trim ring that held the speaker in place using the original screw holes on the door card. Unfortunately, due to the insane cost of neodymium, woofers that use it are incredibly rare & expensive now compared to several years ago.
I'll try to take accurate measurements of the original woofer / mounting when I have the door cards off to do the tweeters.

** End Edit **

After scouring the forums, I chose the Vifa NE65W-04 as a replacement. (Available from parts express for about $65/pair.) Not the cheapest replacement, but certainly quite a bit less than the BSW choice.

While there are also several well-priced Tang Band paper cone neo magnet 2in drivers available with 4ohm impedance, all would require cutting plastic and/or sheet metal, and gluing the speakers in place. (This is the route I went with my last E36 install, and I wouldn't do it again. They sound the same in their pass band of roughly 800Hz - 6kHz, and were a pain to glue into place.) These Vifas simply drop into the hole left after popping out the old drivers, (you can break the glue and old driver loose with just a firm hand grip on the magnet,) and can be secured with the 2 original screws in their original holes... Just use fender washers, or a piece of scrap metal with an offset hole so that the scrap piece / washer pushes down on the edge of the speaker basket when the screw is tightened. I've seen photos of people using 3 smaller screws to secure it to the stock plastic assembly. Not a good choice given how *thin* the plastic is away from the intended screw holes. I used the aluminum straps sold with a cast aluminum outdoor electrical box, snipped in half, as my washers.

I used the black strip-caulk Parts Express sells to plug the tiny gap near the terminal plate of the mounted vifa, as well as in lieu of the original foam stip that sealed the pod to the door card. I love this stuff, and recommend it over foam tape for versatility, better sealing, longevity.

I love the way the vifas sound, but they're only part of the battle.

The 4ohm vs 3ohm impedance doesn't seem to present any problems-- I feel able to run quite loud & clear now with these new mids, and I find myself playing with the tone controls no more than before. I felt that the flat EQ setting was ludicrously bass-heavy, mid and high-light. While the mids are clear and free of distortion now, I hate the highs, and am shopping for replacement tweeters. (My surrounds were torn so badly since I bought the car, I've never listened to the front speakers until now. Mylar dome tweeters should be banned by international treaty!)

Do yourself a favor and replace both the tweeters and mids together.

Other forums report the overall outside diameter of the tweeter at somewhere between 1.3-1.4in, with an available mounting depth of only 7/8in. Most claim the stock impedance of the original HK tweeter to be 8ohms. All I can say is that the 82db/w Vifas are clearly more efficient than whatever tweeter's in there.

Here's the big question: Are the convertible tweeters on a separate amp channel, or do they share a channel with the mids? My car had two pairs of wires going to the pod, indicating bi-amping, but still had a crossover capacitor on the tweeter! Without getting too deep into this here, mystery be damned: I'll start with a relatively efficient 4ohm or 6ohm tweeter, crossed with an appropriate cap, and pad it down with resistors, (L-pad,) if it's too hot.

Still unclear thanks to difference between convertible / coupe / sedan HK amps (and internal crossover points / padding,) but the roughly 6kHz crossover point is easy for just about any tweeter. The primary goal is to find something that fits, has a nice flat /extended response, low distortion, and good dispersion, (as they won't be pointed right at your noggin or your passenger's noggin.) This means tiny neodymium magnet domes, w/o fancy back-cups, heat sinks, or horns.

The list of tweeters others have tried/documented, and those that will physically fit into our factory door pods is short: Dayton ND16FA-6, Dayton ND20FB-4, Dayton ND20FA-6, Vifa OX20SC00-04, and *maybe* (waiting for an answer) the round planar/ribbon Beston RT003C.

My current front-runner is the Vifa 0x20sc00-04 for ease of installation, but I miss the sound of the ribbons I had in my old E30... Might give the beston's a try after liberating them from their plastic horns/bezels.

If anyone cares, I'll report back with results, photos, physical and impedance measurements of the original tweeters and values of the original xo caps.

linom3 12-28-2012 09:39 PM

I just order the bsw stage 1 speaker kit and the sub.

YOLO89 12-28-2012 09:52 PM

^ from what site? Looking for speakers

linom3 12-28-2012 09:55 PM


Originally Posted by YOLO89 (Post 15014753)
^ from what site? Looking for speakers


YOLO89 12-28-2012 09:56 PM


YOLO89 12-28-2012 09:59 PM

Thank you

linom3 12-28-2012 10:03 PM


emaxon 04-05-2013 01:58 PM

Follow-up on Vifa NE65W-04 mids, based on a PM I received:

I'm not the first to have used these, and while I liked them initially, problems have arisen:

(1) They are about 3-4db LESS efficient than the factory tweeters and woofers in the doors, so for proper balanced sound in front, I need to duck the bass and treble about 3 clicks each. This leads to a mid-forward sound in the rear.
(2) I honestly don't know if it's because the terminals are touching the metal of the door and shorting, or if the amp can't handle these speakers (same impedance as the ones I removed!) or I've got some other problem brewing, but the amp chip that feeds both door tweeters and mids shuts-down at random, comes back at random, usually after driving over a bumpy road. I though it was condensation / temperature-related over the winter, but the problem persists. I've simply been too busy to pop the door panels and have a look.

Midrange clarity is wonderful, and these could really do well up to 18khz+, (allowing me to disconnect the awful tweeters entirely,) but I'm pissed that they are so inefficient compared to the rest of the system. They are also deep, sit right on the metal of the door, (padded by the rubber/plastic molded into the basket/magnet assembly, so no noise/paint rubbing results.)

Bottom line is that for $70/pair, given these problems, I'd rather have spent $40/pair on the Tang Band's from madisound (also neodymium magnet, but with a plastic basket, paper cone) and done the extra work to make the square peg (the frames really are square) fit into the round hole.

If you're willing to fiddle with a hacksaw, file, glue, give these a try instead: http://www.madisoundspeakerstore.com...-2-full-range/ (8ohm, flatter response, better top-end... disconnect tweeter with this one 85db/W in pass band, but power is halved at 8ohms... probably result in same imbalance as Vifa.)
http://www.parts-express.com/pe/show...number=264-808 (4-ohm impedance, 85db/W = better efficiency, likely better match, dead ringer for BSW mids. Lumpy top end, leave tweeter connected. Needs Low-pass cap to attenuate lumpy top?)

You'll probably have to trim off the corners, but may still be able to screw them in place. Black strip caulk helps seal any gaps.

Don't expect miracles unless you trash the entire factory system, or pay for someone else's time properly EQ-ing everything (see BSW's apparently re-badged tang-band speakers.)

I'll work the bugs out, and DO like these Vifa speakers, but they take time & fiddling to sound "right" in this car with the rest of the factory system. I'd probably love 'em if I didn't have the problem of the amp shutting down at random.


dknightd 04-05-2013 08:05 PM

One day I'll tackle stereo. It is a gentleman's car. Sounds fine at that volume. As near as I can tell the amp is the weak link. It starts clipping when turned up - as expected. I expect to get better (loader) sound I'll have to replace amp and speakers

JamesSJ1 01-05-2015 01:58 PM

emaxon, sorry to drag up an old thread but I just got a 2006 M3 'vert, and hate the crappy audio from the 2000-2006 HK systems (Logic 7 in my '06 M5 was at least acceptable). What speakers did you ultimately end up mounting in the different spots? Looking at options from the Tang Band and Goldwoods, considering others. Don't mind a little specialty work to make speaker swaps happen, but also don't want to drop $630 to BSW for a complete setup when something can be done with most/all for under $200.

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