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Old 04-17-2003, 03:41 PM   #1
Shortshift
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12 Spkr H/K stock

Hello,

Could anyone with the 12 speaker Harmon Kardon system tell me if it sounds good... I consider myself to be an Audiophile and prefere clean articulate sounds... loudness and BASS dont matter to me. Replicating the music as pure as posible is my goal.

I relize this is a car and because of that fact I can "tune down' (no punn intended) my taste for that noisy environment. My main listening stage is in my house.

I am not a "frill" type person and want to remain as stock as possoable. If someone could give me a run-down of quality upgrades with-out "hacking" my car I would appreciate it.

If the 12 spkr H/K system sounds compairable to the Vette's Bose then I would be at least pacified.
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Old 04-17-2003, 11:45 PM   #2
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The HK is pretty good for a stock system. I don't know what the Vette Bose system sounds like, but I'm betting the HK isn't as good -- case in point, I just finished replacing my front and rear speakers, and the drivers are paper, and the tweeters are fair.

So, if you don't care about bass, you could get by by upgrading the front components with an aftermarket brand with metal tweeters (JL, Diamond, MB Quart, Focal, etc.), but to do them justice, they need to be powered by an aftermarket amp as well.

I don't know what you consider "hacking" your car, but to do the above, you're just mounting an amp on the trunk roof, tapping into the factory harness to get the headunit signals/feed the front speaker locations, and popping off the door panels to put in the new components. "Hacking" or cut/drill modifications would allow you the new components to be larger (6 1/2" vs. 5 1/2" woofers).
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Old 04-18-2003, 03:29 AM   #3
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John, Thanx for the input.

You have the 12 speaker H/K system..? I was hoping to hear that they were above average for a stock system... I would like to replace all speakers with Either MB Quart or Boston Acoustic's and leave the head unit in.

Where is the H/K amp located..? in the back... if so coulnt i replace that with a higher quality one..?
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Old 04-18-2003, 11:04 AM   #4
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Yes, I have the 12 speaker HK setup. As I said, it's good for a factory stereo, but it's still a factory stereo and/or not to the level of BMW's competitions' stereos in their new models, e.g., the Mark Levinson systems in the new Lexus-es.

As far as the fronts go, their downfall is their tweeters, as the stock one has a plastic driver, which can't compare in sound quality to the metal/high-tech materials used in aftermarket components. Yes, many have replaced their fronts with MB Quarts, and a few have used Boston Acoustics as well -- it's all personal taste.

The HK amp is in your trunk, just in front of the black storage tray on the left of the trunk under the trim cowling. That's also where you would find the factory harness.

Yes, if you changed the speakers, again, you would want to add an aftermarket amp, as it will have the power the new speakers crave, and you will have control of the crossover frequencies and gain, unlike what you have now with the factory amp, where the crossover frequencies are fixed internally.
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Old 04-18-2003, 10:12 PM   #5
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John, thanks again...!

Yuck.. plastic drivers..? Guess i should start compiling a new system up before i even get my car.. (dilvery some time in June).

I prefere the sound of the MBquart "Q"-series or the Bostons Proseries.... each have a good clean sound when drivin properly... it comes down to how they sound in a particulair installation IMO.

What if anything do i have to do/prepare for when trying to install either of these systems. Is one a better application (drop-in) for a 330ci over the other..?? I do not wish to dremel/tweak anything if I absolutly dont have to.

Anysuggestion on a replacment amp..? Is the a link to the current Amps outputs and such..?

12 speakers.... might be hard to find a (small) decent amp to push 12 channels.. maybe 11 if subs are mono.
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Old 04-18-2003, 10:27 PM   #6
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Whoa, you don't need an amp to drive 12 channels, remember that when you buy aftermarket components, you'll be feeding an outboard crossover that will then divide the signal to the woofers/mids/tweeters in a 3-way setup or woofers/tweeters in a 2-way setup. That is unless you plan to bi- or tri-amp your new speakers, but that would be quite expensive, and unless you're going to buy some real high-end stuff, not worth it.

To make it simpler, you can get away with a 4- or 5-channel amp:

2 channels for 2-way components in the front doors. Note the existing setup is 3-way, but it's very difficult if not impossible to find an aftermarket 3-way whose mids fit in the factory locations.

2 channels for JL Stealthboxes which would replace the woofers in the rear deck.

Or, you could get a 5-channel amp and use 4 to bi-amp the fronts (again, kinda over the top) and use the 5th channel to drive the Stealthboxes, wired in parallel. Most 5-channel amps are setup with 4 channels at a lower power (e.g., 4x75W) and the 5th at a higher power for a sub/subs (e.g., 1x200W).

Unless you really care about your rear passengers, you don't have to replace the mids in the rear doors. Remember the rear woofers are gone, and because you've replaced them with subwoofers, you can remove the factory subwoofers.

So that's the easiest way to replace factory equipment for the least pain.

Regarding speakers, search the old posts. The general rule is that any 2-way components with 5.25" woofers and 1" tweeters will fit in the stock locations. Some 6-6.5" woofers may fit (e.g., Diamonds S600s), but require drilling/dremeling here/there. The 6-6.5"s also usually present mounting depth problems, and the sedan is slightly shallower than the coupe.

Amps, like speakers, are personal taste, but I have an a/d/s (got it used, but expensive new) and many others have used JL Audio, Alpine, Soundstream, Precision Power, etc.

When choosing an amp, it makes things easier if it accepts high-power/balanced differential inputs, as that avoids having to use a line output converter for the BMW headunit signal.

Last edited by johnhab; 04-18-2003 at 10:30 PM.
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Old 04-19-2003, 12:18 AM   #7
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System

John, thnx once again...!

That last part about 12 outputs was a joke.... get it maybe 11 ..??

I was looking at the Alpine MRV-F450 (MRP-F320), not sure if they have balanced inputs to deal with the line-noise prob the Head-unit pics up.

I want to keep all 12 speakers... I dont need Sub's bigger than 6" and they really arnt neccesary in a closed volumn of space such as a car..... qualty not quantity.

I am not even aware of the exact speaker location in my soon to arrive coupe... but if the subs are in the doors then I will just replace them with better ones and set the sub-sonic cut off at 15 or 30 and keep them tight and precise.
or I could move them to the back as you suggested and move a woofer into the old Sub spot.

I plan on having the 4 mids /with tweeter crossover in front and back ... for fullness of sound.

I look at it this way; When listening to an orchestra you dont have 1 loud Tubba player you have 5 in concert to achieve the same perceived loudness... (volumn.. but not decibles.

I really appreciate your help... hopefully WE can nail my system down and I can get the **** ordered.

With 12 speakers I will need 2 amps a 5-way and another small 2-way i think.... do you see this causing any probesm with the harness...??
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Old 04-19-2003, 12:31 AM   #8
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In order:

Before my a/d/s, I had an Alpine MRV-T420 in my system, and it can only handle 2V inputs, so need an LOC for it.

The Stealthboxes are 8" subwoofers, so only slightly bigger than your 6" preference and they are prefit for the car so easier than doing a custom job for 6s or putting a box in an already small trunk (http://www.jlaudio.com/stealthbox/3series2.html).

I'm pretty sure there are no tweeters in the back of the car (6 drivers in front, 6 in the rear (2 mids, 2 woofers, 2 subs)). So if you used the Stealthboxes, you would then only have 4 speakers in the back, and again, the cost/benefit of trying to find a mid that fits in the factory location is not worth it.

Same problem in the front doors, can't fit an aftermarket mid in the factory location. So, you're either at 5 channels (2 tweets and 2 woofers in the doors and parallel subs in back), 4 channels (2 front crossovers and 2 stereo subs in back) or 3 channels (2 front crossovers and parallel subs in back).

To your last point, yes, if you wanted to replace every driver, you're going to be doing significant work on the harness, you'll have to splice in for each one (1 pair for each channel, so conceivably 24 wires)...
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Old 04-19-2003, 12:52 AM   #9
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The Harmon/Kardon system absolutely SUCKS!! The Bose system that was in my Mercedes was waaaaaay better. I've had nothing but trouble with this bullsh*t H/K sh*t in my car...I'm just saving enough funds to replace the f*ckin thing.
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Old 04-19-2003, 09:40 AM   #10
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Hindsight is 20/20...

Knowing what I know now, if I had to do it all over again, I would have bought my E46 with the cheapest OEM sound system I could have gotten at the time, non-H-K with cassette deck, and replaced the whole system with aftermarket stuff like I plan to do now.

My personal opinion of the H-K system is that it is probably adequate for most people's tastes. When I bought the car I thought it sounded OK, certainly not the worst I'd ever heard. At the time there was not the wide variety of aftermarket stuff available for the E46 since it was a new design. And I thought it would be very difficult, if not completely impossible, to replace the H-K system.

My wife has the H-K system in her E46 and she thinks it's the best system she's ever heard. Of course, after I get mine installed, she may have a change of opinion!!
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Old 04-19-2003, 05:00 PM   #11
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Please verify:

front: 2 woofers, 2 subs and 2 tweeters.

Back seat: 2 Woofers, 2 Tweeters

Read deacklid: 2 Woofers


Is this info correct ..?
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Old 04-19-2003, 05:06 PM   #12
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front: 2 woofers near bottom of door, 2 mids near door handle, 2 tweeters near A-pillar

rear: 2 woofers (same size as in front door) in rear deck under rear window, 2 subwoofers in trunk mounted to trunk "ceiling" and 2 midranges in rear doors

I have a sedan, and I don't remember if you have a coupe or not, but either way, I believe the speakers are the same, i.e., no tweeters in rear...
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Old 04-19-2003, 05:35 PM   #13
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OK thnx...

There are 2 sets of speakers mounted in the deck-lid..??
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Old 04-19-2003, 05:51 PM   #14
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I'm sorry, I'm a complete idiot on audio here. So what's the difference between woofers and SUBwoofers?

I've the basic OEM setup (6 speakers) right now and am looking to upgrade.
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Old 04-19-2003, 06:43 PM   #15
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The 160mm/6.5" woofers that are in our front doors and rear deck can only move so much air and produce frequencies only so low with their small surface area, so to produce frequencies below 100Hz, subwoofers are used.

In our cars, the subwoofers are 6x9 and not very large, and thus do not do a very good job, that's why most people upgrade the subwoofer/bass section of the factory system first.

http://www.caraudiohelp.com/car_subw...subwoofers.htm
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Old 04-20-2003, 01:09 AM   #16
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A woofer typically designates the "Woof' sound... the vocal and lower frequencies..... ~150 Hz

Sub woofers are for frequencies bordering on the threshold of audibility and tangible sound waves usually from 150 Hz~ 20Hz.

Typically "BASS" requires ALOT of energy and cone movment to re-produce acurate sound lvl's. It is more efficient to have a 12" sub reproduce a "bass" signal than it is a 6" Sub. The 12" sub can displace ALOT more volume or air and more effertlessy make a load massive base rifts. On the oither hand it requires a 6" Sub to pianstakenly produce the same with more precision at a costlier outcome. It requires two 6" Subs to equal the audible output of a 12" at twice the power requirment.. but two 6" subs will handle 'tighter' base and sound extremly clear.

Now there are MANY (if not all) that will argue this point. But intill they witness's a three 6" sub in a car than they have no idea what controlled bass is.

Two 6" subs in stereo @150~45Mhz cross'd over and one at 100~20Mhz in a car will sound better than two 12" Subs any day... IMO

Lager subs are more for pleasing your neighbor and friends than reproducing Herby Hancooks "Rocket" precisly and flawlessly...

Simply listen to a few orchestra's.... they do not have 1 horn, they have a quartet to fill the volume. It is all about prescision and air volume.

Remember, this is car sytem with a closed envirenment... not your living room with 12x the amount of CF (cubic feet).

OK now to my Original point, two 6" speakers can reproduce sound better than one 12", but not as loud. John was right in saying that...

**** "The 160mm/6.5" woofers that are in our front doors and rear deck can only move so much air and produce frequencies only so low with their small surface area, so to produce frequencies below 100Hz, subwoofers are used.

In our cars, the subwoofers are 6x9 and not very large, and thus do not do a very good job, that's why most people upgrade the subwoofer/bass section of the factory system first.
" ****

It is easier and cheaper to go with 1 BIG sub.. you get plenty of VOLUME and decibles.. but you loose the delicate reproduction of lower frequencies. Anything above an 8" sub sounds sloppy to a trained ear..... it like an Orchestra having a BIGGER tubba to make up for the 3 guys who didnt show up that night.... load and noticeable, but not in concert with the others...!

You have to understand whre I am comming from... I am a driver.. and I require the upmost in sound... I dont proport to MAKE my neighbor listen to what I am playing. I.C.E events are nice, but in the end you still sitting in 20 cu. ft of space and listening to music... not volume.... (for a stadium to hear)
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Old 04-20-2003, 12:22 PM   #17
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Sportshift and John,

Thank you both for the explanation. That was very helpful.

Now, Sportshift,
I think I'll probably be undergoing some upgrades as you're since I only have the very basic 6 speaker (F: 2 tweeters, 2 mids. R: nothing onthe door, 2 woofers on the rear deck). Can you please list the parts and price after you've decided on your planned upgrade so maybe I can go along the same line if price is not out of range. (I wonder who should I trust in having those guys cutting holes out of my door panel )

TIA
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Old 04-20-2003, 07:02 PM   #18
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Shortshift -

I have the 16 speaker HK system and I think it's one of the lousiest OEM systems available...and it's not due to the lack of bass.

The system has horrible imaging and both the highs and lows are extrememly muddy, especially at higher volumes.

The highs are too "in your face" and there are funny resonances all over the frequency range.

Half the time, I can't even stand to listen to music with the system.
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Old 04-21-2003, 08:35 PM   #19
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Hota, thnx ...!

Big, yeah ... I've been looking into the a/d/s amplifier since it was mentioned that it is a good "drop-in" for the Alpine amp that the 12 spkr H/K comes with.

I guess we have to be deicate in choosing a right amp due to the need for a balanced input (variable), if not we need a LOC unit i belive.

I simply cannot believe that you cant take out 12 speakers and put back in 12 aftermarket speakers of higher quality.....

.... I've been trying to get EXACT information on speaker location AND speaker size for those locals. It is my hope that if i can fins sme 91+db sensitive speakers I will not have to replace the AMP and just upgrade the 12 speakers with a more acurate speaker... then if they feel underpowered a new amp. But if i can fins sime 94+ db sensitive or even better then power means less.... I am not the type of person that "jams" my tunes for the car next to me..... I need it LOUD and CLEAR.... and when it becomes unclear i turn it down.

I just dont want that point to be too low.

Still looking for the best set-up to fit my needs.
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Old 04-21-2003, 09:02 PM   #20
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This is what I've got sitting on the shelf and ready to go in:

a/d/s 346is components for the front stage
a/d/s 6.5" woofers from the 3-series set for rear imaging
Arc Audio 5150cxlr 5-channel amplifier to drive the whole system
Peripheral Ven4 to convert the differential signal from the head unit

I've already got 6x9 Kicker subs swapped out for the HK subs, but I'll have to wire them from 4 ohm stereo to 2 ohm mono to run off of my amp.

Even though I rarely crank up the volume, my only concern is that I'm not sure I'll have enough power/headroom with the 45W/channel driving the front stage.

Shortshift - You'll have more depth available for mounting the front woofers since you have the coupe instead of the sedan. Also, you might have a hard time getting a good sound by just swapping out the speakers because the crossover points are not adustable and take place inside the OEM amp.
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