Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Charlotte NC
My Ride: 2001 BMW 330ci
Oh, I did not mean to make it sound like a big secret. There are pro's and con's to it though. The biggest issue some seem to have is ditching the OEM head unit. If you do, that, everything becomes simple. They make faceplates that will let you mount any normal sized (single DIN) units in place of the factory head unit.
Originally Posted by Stinger9
There are many of us who feel we are held hostage by BSW/BMW because when we try to find upgrade replacements, no one has anything listed. (Crutchfield never considered the e46 market large enough???) BMW seems to have put in odd sizes that will not fit any other speaker universally.
If you don't want to post info that would mightily help many on the public forum, I'd be more than willing to PM you for that information?
It is funny that you mention Crutchfield, because they sell these adapters. But, to them, this is considered an advanced install, so they do not push it.
When you install the new head unit, you can buy an adapter that will let you plug in directly between the aftermarket unit, and the BMW connector. The problem is, there is NO room behind there to fit an adapter and the stereo. So, you have to cut off the connector, and wire it in directly.
These 2 things are usually the biggest problem people have with aftermarket stereos. Will it look factory? No. Do you have to cut off a factory wire connector? Yes. If that is a problem, then you are most likely a slave to BSW. If not, then read on.
So, connect the power, ground, and ignition signal wires to the new head unit. This is another part some don't like - you have to ditch the rest of the BMW system as well. That means running a RCA cable from the head unit to the trunk, and adding an amplifier.
If you want simple, there are 5 channel Amps available that can drive the front and rear speakers, and a subwoofer. You can start with just front and rear speakers, and add a sub later.
Now, the speakers. You can get all the sound you need from a pair of 5.25in component speakers in front, and 6.5in component speakers in the rear (you can make 6.5in speakers work in the front doors as well, with a little work). You can mount them in the factory locations. This setup alone will provide more sound, and much cleaner sound, with more bass and more highs than you will get with a factory unit and BSW speakers. And you can easily do it for as much as or less than you will pay for a set of BSW's.
Best of all, you can easily upgrade this set up with more amps, subs, higher grade components, etc, as time goes by. You go with BSW, and you have to pray your factory head unit and amp holds up. That is not a bet I would make on 7-14 year old electronics. Also, once you have installed a full BSW setup, you are done. And not in a good way. You are done because that will be as good as it gets.
All of that was too resstrictivefor me, not to mention the price. I am all for paying for quality, and I don't doubt that BSW's are well made. But the BMW head unit, and amp are not well made. They are cheap. So, the quality of BSW's are wasted on cheap electronics.
The most important thing to remember is that you do not need to replace every single speaker, and that BMW's are no more complicated than any other car after you ditch the factory unit. If you are worried aboud doing it yourself, go to a local car stereo shop, and have them install it. You can still buy all of the components online, and save money there.
PM me if you want more details and specifics.