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Old 11-14-2015, 05:32 AM   #1
SamxK
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BMW E46 Saloon BavSound Stage 1 Speaker Upgrade & In Depth Review

Hello!

I have owned my E46 2001 330i 4D for about 3.5 years now. There are 3 types, Standard, Hi-FI, and Harmon Kardon Premium Sound and I had the Hi-Fi speaker system. The sound was decent, not too muddy, but everything in general wasn't the best either. Sound wasn't crisp, bass was weak and not tight. This is very expected for a 15 year old car.

There are 3 reasons why I decided to upgrade specifically to the BavSound Stage 1 Speaker System.
1. I own a pair of JBL 12" Professional Studio Monitors and my ears were tailored to high quality music.
2. My rear deck midbass started rattling because the speakers were ripping at the surrounding part of the cone.
3. I wanted a quick yet high quality upgrade. BavSound specializes only in BMW speaker systems and it would only make sense for them to do so if their product was top notch.

(Yes, I know and aftermarket system with a better amp might have been better, but ain't nobody got time and the funds for that)

_________________________________________________________


This thread will be picture heavy because I believe visuals describe better than words.
I will give my best and honest opinion on:
- Installation process
- Sound quality after equipping these speakers on my daily driver for 1 month.
My ears are very sensitive to sound quality and I have listened to a huge variety of speaker systems on cars and in studio; ranging from car stock audio to a $5000 set up.

So without further ado...

_________________________________________________________


I received the package in a timely manner. Their presentation is definitely a 10/10 for efficiency and cost.












The tool kit that BavSound includes is definitely a keeper and much higher quality than I expected.







Here are the wiring harnesses that allows for plug and play installation. E6000 glue for sealing the mid speakers in place.







The silk tweeters are nice and heavy. Feels very solid in the hand, most likely due to the frame. Each component speaker comes with an interesting comment/fact on the side of the box. Classy.
Installation was extremely easy. All tools are included to do this. Nothing extra was needed. All instructions and videos are included on their website.











The mids are paper speakers for a simpler and natural sound.
Mids are the least easiest to install. Notice I used the word easy. The pictures show my progress on the front mids first and then the rears.
Instructions recommend to use a few dabs of the glue provided to adhere and seal the speakers in the plastic casing with grille. I used much more because more glue only means more security in holding the speakers in place. Allow few hours to dry just in case. I left it overnight. Use a toothpick to help. ezpz.













Rear door mids.











The woofers (says midrange drivers on the box) are a fiberglass weave construction. Quite interesting as I've never seen these before.
They come with a real nice BavSound rubber surrounding the backplate and magnet, maybe for protection. It is required to be removed for proper fitting. Removal doesn't affect performance.
I could have told my grandma to install these as they are only held in by three screws and is so easy to do. Although it may be easy, the fitment is still perfect and fits tightly in place.




















Installation is now complete. I also took this time to redesign my interior into a black and dove gray theme.
It required countless hours of repainting, patience for air drying, and disassembling, it has now been completed.
I am very pleased with the outcome.










____________________________________________________________ _____



-Review-

Installation: was really a breeze with no problems at all. These are the easiest speakers in the market to install. They are all plug and play and require no modding. I have installed aftermarket speakers on an E46 before and modding those component speakers and brackets to fit was the most annoying thing in the world. It took so much time and work!
These BavSound speakers were designed to fit like a glove and they really do. Their video guide online is very descriptive.
The least easiest step in this project was removing and installing the door panels, but if you've done your window regulator before, which I'm sure most of us has, then it's no problem at all.
Difficulty of installation on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being rebuilding and engine and 1 being changing a tail light bulb, I would rate this to be a 2.83 Not difficult, just requires a bit of time. It can be enjoyable if you like little projects on an ultimate driving machine that you love.


Sound Quality: After listening to the BavSound speakers daily for 1 month, I can say that I have no regrets purchasing these speakers for $500 except for the price. It really shouldn't be this expensive, however, we can't forget that we're also paying for the ease of installation. Also, there is legitimate overall sound improvement.
Here is my audiophile breakdown on the BavSound Stage One Speaker Upgrade

Tweeters The BavSound tweeters deliver noticeable crisper and cleaner highs compared to my previous Hi-Fi system, all without hurting the listener's ears. There are many tweeters out there that are crystal clear, but reproduce piercing sharp tones that hurts the listener's ears if played at a higher volume for a longer period of time. At higher volumes, these silk tweeters do not hurt my ears at all.
Vocals are very clean and the most slightest sounds are audible. A solid and great improvement.

Midrange Speakers These paper cone midrange speakers must accommodate the tweeters in order to deliver natural yet compelling mid->high frequency sounds. The pair are truly a dynamic duo and do an excellent job in replicating vocals and musical instruments. Tones are natural. They have no trouble doing their job.
In combination with the other speakers, the BavSound midrange speakers fill in the mids very evenly and are critical part of this sound system.

Woofers The BavSound woofers are where I noticed the most difference, partly because my Hifi rear deck woofers were torn and mostly because those stock speakers were just too inadequate. It's honestly the weakest link in the whole sound system, so most of my expectation was directed towards how BavSound could improve this component with the limitation of the low wattage supply from the factory amplifier.I was not disappointed, but my expectations weren't fully met.
I don't know how they did it, but these woofers provided much, much more cleaner bases and the impact was tight and ample. Lower frequency noises of my music was lacking with the Hi-Fi system, but these woofers replenished the gap. Music became much fuller and richer and the low tones were adequate enough to accompany the clean mids and highs. The cello and bass drums finally get a chance to come out of the closet and reveal their important role in music. Pop music became much more pleasant to listen to. No more muddyness and low budget drum sounds.

Now, you must be wondering, these woofers sound great, but why did it not meet my expectations? Here's why.
Many songs have beats or drums if you will. Although these speakers provide a cleaner thud for every beat, the sound is not diverse enough, in other words, different types of bass and beats sound very similar and in most cases the same.
It hard to describe audio in words, but allow me to demonstrate. I, a professional music producer, use a bass synthesizer to create an artificial low beat in one of my songs. (Many music producers use these now a days) Samuel, a completely different professional sound producing company, uses the sound of thousand dollar Pearl drums for his low basses. Through these BavSound woofers, they sound like the same thud. Not much of a diversity. And the thud sound isn't natural and tight enough to meet my expectations. However, this may not be the case for you because your ears may not have been trained with high expectations.
With the limited amount of watt output from the weak factory amp, I shouldn't expect better, however, the speakers were very pricey, so I did expect better. lol. A subwoofer would totally alleviate these woofers from their duty and most likely fill in this slight crevice. Pricey though.

Speaker System as a Whole and Audio Imaging
The BavSound speaker system overall satisfies my "silver spoon" ears, but not completely. Yes they are spoiled with quality audio and have high expectations. However, for you, it should and most definitely do so.
For a car's sound system, I am satisfied. The high, mid, and lows are able to blend together evenly to produce a pleasant overall sound. Everything in general had a substantial improvement. There are just too many factors to consider in rating quality audio, so I will just say that with average ears, these speakers will sound magical.
Audio imaging is how realistic and surreal the music sounds to your ears, as if the music is really coming from in front of you or around you. This speaker system does a very good job at this, but not excellent. But don't get me wrong, "a very good job" will get you into top Universities, but not Ivy League schools. Still very good.

At the end of the day, the BavSound speakers are truly excellent speakers and if not, the best available in the world (in combination with the factory amp). Sound quality is close to or maybe even at its peak with the factory amp.
For an above average listener's ears, these speakers are truly sufficient in almost every or every aspect. However, it all comes down to your taste and preference in audio quality, and of course the amount of benjamin's you have in your wallet. The human brain is a majestic organ, especially when we're talking about sound quality. There is a reason why some people are able to live with those little ear buds that come by default with your iPhones or smartphones. There is a reason why some audiophiles spend tens of thousands on a perfect set up. It all depends on the listener what kind of sound meets their expectations. If you are satisfied with your sound quality, then let it be so. If not, then take a step further until you are content. But as for me, I am almost satisfied. For others, it can be completely satisfying. I've stayed in my car for an hour at a time, for many times, listening to these speakers to be able to write the most accurate review.

My settings: bass +/- 0 treble +2
My music quality: 320 kbps audio. output through aux cord.

Rating based on my extremely sensitive ear. It should most likely be 8.5+/10 for other people and 9+/10 for many others.
highs - 8.5/10 - much crisper than stock
mids - 8/10 - blends pretty good with tweeters
lows - 7/10 - not strong enough to completely fill in mid/bass. Can't fully blame speakers for a sound system that does not require replacing weak factory amp.


**UPDATE 12/27/2015**
After installing an SQ HU, Pioneer DEH-80PRS, the sound quality drastically improved (bluetooth streamed 320kbps music)!
The head unit's clean output and SQ characteristics definitely brought the life out of these speakers.
My updated rating would be 8.796413/10 for all fields of highs, mids, and lows in conjunction with the Bavsound speaker stage 1.

Last edited by SamxK; 01-16-2016 at 03:16 AM.
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Old 11-14-2015, 06:28 AM   #2
Solidjake
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Very detailed write up and review. Thank you
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Old 11-14-2015, 09:01 AM   #3
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I want to hear these with a SQ headunit such as the Alpine 9855. I heard these are Rainbow rebrands', a very good thing!
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Old 11-14-2015, 10:21 AM   #4
FrankJR
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Absolutely great write-up. Thank you.
I'm very close to ordering these and this is by far the best review I have seen about the kit.
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Old 11-14-2015, 02:22 PM   #5
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I was debating whether to get these now that I have a dynavin headunit. Thank you for the great write-up, it really helps!
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Old 11-14-2015, 11:40 PM   #6
SamxK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daves325in2012 View Post
I want to hear these with a SQ headunit such as the Alpine 9855. I heard these are Rainbow rebrands', a very good thing!
Thank you all for your insight on how well I did this review. I now feel like my time spent on this thread is worth it (it takes a looot longer than it seems)
The forums have done so much for me in the past, therefore, I want to contribute to make it even better!

daves, thank you for the recommendation. I totally forgot that I could improve the sound quality even further with an aftermarket head unit which provides more advanced technology and greater power output. My expectations on sound quality are too high, so that is exactly what I'm going to do next!
I haven't started researching which head unit would be the best. Do you have any experience or recommendation?
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Old 11-15-2015, 09:05 AM   #7
daves325in2012
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Sam, I could give you suggestions to the moon, but firmly believe the Alpine 9855 is a GREAT place to start.

It's got a integrated 3-way ACTIVE crossover, glide touch, awesome display (not even found in current high end models), colors of backlit for buttons and primary seek buttons on an infinitely adjustable RGB scale (think custom color presets through the color spectrum), CD/MP3 support out of box, screen savers, lossy compensation algorithms (3 modes for FM, CD, AUX each), tilt functionality for the dead head, and even 6 RCA outs WITH Aux and what we call a AI-Link so you can add blue tooth sirus, etc
.one of the last awesome products before you know..things cheaped out?

*EDIT: Don't forget time alignment and a bad ass 3-way crossover..which the unit has BUILT IN . Believe me I've had this setup hooked up to $2,000 worth of amps and speakers (midrange for car audio nuts who buy retail) but high end for nuts who buy smart..and the SQ was like your I'm a studio, no one will believe me until you try it..but the coupe / vert HK system(stock) sounds preeeety freaking sweet if you ask me..and I'm sort of a audio nerd so that's saying a lot for paper speakers and a cheap 8" low wattage sub they have in my convertible..

I'll let anyone who is in Tampa, Florida stop by and take a listen, bet it beats out a lot of aftermarket systems in pure SQ, imaging, punch, and dynamic range too.

Search eBay and be careful not to get a 9885, the replacement.

I'm attaching a teaser pic since (right now) I'm not at my car
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Old 11-15-2015, 08:18 PM   #8
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very nice write up. I looked at this system a while back.
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Old 12-28-2015, 01:12 AM   #9
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**UPDATE 12/27/2015**

After installing an SQ (sound quality) head unit, Pioneer DEH-80PRS, the sound quality drastically improved (bluetooth streamed 320kbps music)!
The head unit's clean output and SQ characteristics definitely brought the life out of these speakers.
My updated rating would be 9/10 for all fields of highs, mids, and lows in conjunction with the Bavsound speaker stage 1.

For all audiophiles with these speakers or looking to get them, an upgrade to an aftermarket HU is a must!! (based on my experience)
Make sure you get one with A2DP or APTX support if you're looking to get one for bluetooth music streaming (or else your music will sound like poopoo), or better yet, the Pioneer DEH-80PRS.

I purchased an Alpine CDE-164BT ($200 Amazon) and the DEH-80PRS ($250 Amazon) to compare my options.
Both had support for high quality bluetooth music streaming, however, the 80PRS surpasses the Alpine unit in SQ by far, not quite sure why.

I did have 1 problem with the 80PRS where bluetooth calling would always have a background noise for whoever I'm calling. I've tried going to professionals, replaced the unit 4 times, making sure everything is secured in place and connected properly, but the problem persists. With the Alpine CDE-164BT, I did not have this issue. Therefore, my conclusion is compatibility issues with the 80PRS. (THIS MAY NOT BE SO FOR YOUR CAR. I honestly don't know why it was so)
That is the only problem, but it sounds so good for its price range that I have decided to keep it.

Last edited by SamxK; 12-28-2015 at 07:57 PM.
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Old 12-28-2015, 12:16 PM   #10
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Glad you like the 80PRS Sam, I feel the Alpine and Pioneer brands have different approaches to SQ on their higher end units. But have not compared newer models IRL.
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Old 12-28-2015, 12:31 PM   #11
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Is that stage 2 amp out yet?
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Old 01-18-2016, 01:36 PM   #12
gemjam4u
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@ SamxK,

Does bavsound woofer comes with screws ?

I ask because mine front woofers already replaced by some JBL and the OEM screws are missing.

Also does it distort at high volumes ?

I think some one should comment here about the Avin Avant 2 + BSW Stage 1 combination performance.

And as far as i know the specs for the default amp and headunit are mixes of different rating of ohms and stuff. Something you really wanna consider when going for aftermarket HU.
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Old 01-18-2016, 02:38 PM   #13
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Glad to see that you reviewed this. I was just looking at some YouTube videos today by BavSound and may be considering this package as a sound system refresh so to speak. I am an audio junkie as well and I love/want crisp, clear, studio-quality sound, no matter if it is computer speakers, headphones, or car audio. If it's direct plug and play with the factory amp, I'm definitely considering this. Also, if you say that removing the door panels was the hardest part, that makes it easier for me and hopefully others to look into this upgrade. Thanks again for reviewing this!


Also, where did you get your carbon fiber interior trim from?
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Old 01-18-2016, 10:03 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lllRazorlll View Post
Glad to see that you reviewed this. I was just looking at some YouTube videos today by BavSound and may be considering this package as a sound system refresh so to speak. I am an audio junkie as well and I love/want crisp, clear, studio-quality sound, no matter if it is computer speakers, headphones, or car audio. If it's direct plug and play with the factory amp, I'm definitely considering this. Also, if you say that removing the door panels was the hardest part, that makes it easier for me and hopefully others to look into this upgrade. Thanks again for reviewing this!


Also, where did you get your carbon fiber interior trim from?
Haha the same here buddy regarding the picky-audio. Considering myself to be an AUDIOPHILE .

For me removing the door panels are the easiest part as of now.

Those carbon fibers came from the factory i believe as i do have same 330i he has and the same trim as well. The steering trim on OP's car is aftermarket though.
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Old 01-19-2016, 06:59 AM   #15
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Thanks for the detailed review and install instructions. I'll hold off on offering any feedback on the sound quality as 1) I'm 52 and have tinnitus and 2) these were installed in my 23 yo's '04 330i so I've only had the pleasure of hearing them 1-2 times. He likes them a lot though has a bit of a rattle at high volume we need to chase down (or turn the volume down...). I need to do a side by side comparo with my '04 330i. All in all, I'd say good upgrade for 10yo paper speakers. Especially if you get them on sale like I did.

WRT the install, gluing the new speakers into the round housing was a bit of a pain and breaking the rear mid free from its housing was a tad bit scary as I didn't want to break the housing or impale my hand with the small screwdriver I was using... turned out fine though--be patient and deliberate.

Also, we didn't figure out that we needed to remove the rubber magnet surround IOT have the door card seat properly until we had been pushing on the panel and it kept popping back off in a few points. I referred back to the instuction and saw that in some cases you need to remove them--in our case we did, especially on the driver's side.
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Old 01-19-2016, 11:19 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by gemjam4u View Post
Haha the same here buddy regarding the picky-audio. Considering myself to be an AUDIOPHILE .

For me removing the door panels are the easiest part as of now.

Those carbon fibers came from the factory i believe as i do have same 330i he has and the same trim as well. The steering trim on OP's car is aftermarket though.
Carbon fiber trim was equipped for MSport cars but it has a matte finish. The OP's carbon fiber trim is glossy, which is what I am looking for
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