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      01-03-2021, 11:22 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by 2kaccordocoupe View Post
I added the individual audio system to my e92 build. By far the best system for the 3/4 series. Nothing in the HK space even comes close... Wish BMW continued to offer a premium sound option in later generations.
E92 M3 premium audio upgrade was well worth it and best I've heard in a 3 series. My M340i is meh despite trying to tweak settings. It's fine but my X3M is considerably better. Maybe it has to do with iDrive 6 vs iDrive 7 in the 3er? Anyways I'm not impressed by HK in M340i but at least satisfied by it.
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      01-04-2021, 04:48 AM   #24
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@evanescent03 Did you put in your own system to the M6? If so, what? - Well, no, I didn't do the installation myself (I leave that to experts), but played a role in deciding how to build it. The goal was simply to create great listening experience with enough power and quality to cover all "expected" listening situations I could foresee, and retain OEM look. Naturally, to retain the head unit was a non-negotiable, and didn't want to make new holes for speakers. Also, I'm of an opinion that the surround systems are really only ways to "hide" bad quality by making the sound field less easy to identify - kind of "fix noise with additional noise", if that makes sense, but doesn't really solve for the sound quality fundamentally.

The challenges were a) standard speaker placement and sizes, b) the canbus interface and c) low frequencies. First, the F-series front speaker placement and sizes don't really leave too many options, and from sound quality perspective front speakers are the crucial ones (if you don't need to design something specifically for rear sear passengers), rear speakers are really there only to create "space" to the sound. So, selected Focal split system with a separate crossovers and also replaced the under seat 8" woofers with better quality ones from Focal. Same Focal splits went into rear doors as well, mainly to make sure they are balanced with the front speakers. Also, proper sound deadening materials were put into all doors (inside the trims).

Secondly, iDrive 6 introduced changes to the canbus and compatibility with aftermarket D/A modules. I had previously used mObridge in other builds, this allows for aftermarket DSP and amplifiers to be connected via canbus. Luckily,my installer had a good relationship with the local mObridge rep who designed a software upgrade to their standard DA1 device. With that available, they were able to use Mosconi DSP/6-channel digital amp that also has a preamp out for a separate monoblock amp for the sub (used a SoundStream amp for that). There is also a small extra remote for the Mosconi, this is neatly fitted to the rear end of the centre storage, under the folding lids, so effectively out of sight, and I think I have used it to change anything maybe 3 times in nearly 3 years...

Then the low frequency problem... I always knew that a separate high quality sub would be required. My installer designed and built a custom passive enclosure (appr. 50 litres) that was installed into the trunk more or less permanently. The biggest sacrifice was that smaller half of the rear seat is no longer really something that can be turned down, and obviously the sub takes some space in the trunk (there just isn't enough space in the sides of the trunk to fit a proper enclosure, and I wanted to retain the full width at the rear end to be able to easily fit a golf bag.

Apologies for the long explanation, but not really a simple way to explain this all... The end result is sensational, though. What really surprised me was that the Mosconi amp is only rated as 6x60 W, but that comes without practically any distortion. I don't think I have ever turned the volume up to higher than half - after that I'd need to run out from the car as it would be just too loud, but still completely distortion free and clear. You need a good sound source, though, as with that quality the source makes a huge difference.

Oh, final comment... The total cost of the build, including all gear and installation would have been somewhere in the range of $7k AUD, so give or take $5k USD - don't need to spend a fortune...

Hope this helps?
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      01-04-2021, 07:28 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MelbourneFinn View Post
@evanescent03 Did you put in your own system to the M6? If so, what? - Well, no, I didn't do the installation myself (I leave that to experts), but played a role in deciding how to build it. The goal was simply to create great listening experience with enough power and quality to cover all "expected" listening situations I could foresee, and retain OEM look. Naturally, to retain the head unit was a non-negotiable, and didn't want to make new holes for speakers. Also, I'm of an opinion that the surround systems are really only ways to "hide" bad quality by making the sound field less easy to identify - kind of "fix noise with additional noise", if that makes sense, but doesn't really solve for the sound quality fundamentally.

The challenges were a) standard speaker placement and sizes, b) the canbus interface and c) low frequencies. First, the F-series front speaker placement and sizes don't really leave too many options, and from sound quality perspective front speakers are the crucial ones (if you don't need to design something specifically for rear sear passengers), rear speakers are really there only to create "space" to the sound. So, selected Focal split system with a separate crossovers and also replaced the under seat 8" woofers with better quality ones from Focal. Same Focal splits went into rear doors as well, mainly to make sure they are balanced with the front speakers. Also, proper sound deadening materials were put into all doors (inside the trims).

Secondly, iDrive 6 introduced changes to the canbus and compatibility with aftermarket D/A modules. I had previously used mObridge in other builds, this allows for aftermarket DSP and amplifiers to be connected via canbus. Luckily,my installer had a good relationship with the local mObridge rep who designed a software upgrade to their standard DA1 device. With that available, they were able to use Mosconi DSP/6-channel digital amp that also has a preamp out for a separate monoblock amp for the sub (used a SoundStream amp for that). There is also a small extra remote for the Mosconi, this is neatly fitted to the rear end of the centre storage, under the folding lids, so effectively out of sight, and I think I have used it to change anything maybe 3 times in nearly 3 years...

Then the low frequency problem... I always knew that a separate high quality sub would be required. My installer designed and built a custom passive enclosure (appr. 50 litres) that was installed into the trunk more or less permanently. The biggest sacrifice was that smaller half of the rear seat is no longer really something that can be turned down, and obviously the sub takes some space in the trunk (there just isn't enough space in the sides of the trunk to fit a proper enclosure, and I wanted to retain the full width at the rear end to be able to easily fit a golf bag.

Apologies for the long explanation, but not really a simple way to explain this all... The end result is sensational, though. What really surprised me was that the Mosconi amp is only rated as 6x60 W, but that comes without practically any distortion. I don't think I have ever turned the volume up to higher than half - after that I'd need to run out from the car as it would be just too loud, but still completely distortion free and clear. You need a good sound source, though, as with that quality the source makes a huge difference.

Oh, final comment... The total cost of the build, including all gear and installation would have been somewhere in the range of $7k AUD, so give or take $5k USD - don't need to spend a fortune...

Hope this helps?
Great info thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts and execution down!

This seems like a very reasonable price considering you likely got (much?) better sound from the custom setup for similar money as the premium system offered by BMW.

Question is.. am I really enough of an audiophile to put the energy into doing this ... time will tell.

Thanks again and enjoy the setup!
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      01-05-2021, 08:34 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nick776 View Post
I'm going to chime in here because most people do not realize that BMW actually downgraded the Harman Kardon audio system in the G20 3 Series compared to the F30. Although upgrade price remains the same, you receive a noticeably inferior product. The amplifier wattage has decreased significantly. And the G8x M3/M4 will have that same audio system.

I owned an F30 with HK audio and was very pleased with it. I was also one of the first to get a G20, again with HK audio. The system is noticeably less competent both in loudness and bass. If you turn the volume up to reasonably loud levels, you can really hear it struggling. I still remember driving my G20 for the first time and trying out the audio -- I was really disappointed and didnít understand why BMW would downgrade a well-performing product.

About three months after I got my G20, I received a survey call from BMW North America. I voiced my disappointment in the downgrade and told the representative I was baffled by their decision. My wife has a 2021 X5 with HK audio, and it has the same system wattage. You can really hear it struggle in the X5.

I mention all of this to say that I, too, am disappointed that BMW is not offering a higher-end audio setup in the M3/M4. The HK audio they are putting in it is not a worthy setup for this car if you care at all about quality audio.
I have noticed the downgrade also. I went to the HK web site and checked the other "luxury" brands they show and all had more power than the BMWs. Even Volvo.
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      01-06-2021, 10:17 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MelbourneFinn View Post
What really surprised me was that the Mosconi amp is only rated as 6x60 W, but that comes without practically any distortion. I don't think I have ever turned the volume up to higher than half - after that I'd need to run out from the car as it would be just too loud, but still completely distortion free and clear.

You need a good sound source, though, as with that quality the source makes a huge difference.
Sound 'quality' is an emotive and subjective thing and this is a bit off-topic, but I felt compelled to comment.

I used to have a setup of somewhat high end hi-fi separates at home (which unfortunately I no longer have) and what you've said about your amp is a bit of a 'truism' of good equipment.

My lovely Exposure Super 15 amp was 'only' rated at 50 watts per channel (this is only a stereo amp, not multi-channel), so would probably be considered vastly underpowered by most car hi-fi nuts!

The thing is (like so many things in life) it's not what you have, but what you do with it that counts! The aforementioned Exposure amp had a whacking great big hand-wound transformer (mounted in one corner, so you had to be careful picking it up), which meant PLENTY of clean *current* supply to very high quality output stages.

It also had a relatively simple circuit design to the point it didn't even have a headphone socket. However it could go pretty loud (a bit like your comment about having to move away if I got too ambitious with the volume knob!) and the results combined with my Ruark Talisman II speakers was SO satisfying. So in short, watts are not everything and are a blunt tool in terms of trying to classify system performance.

If you have sensitive speakers with good signal-to-noise (remember the lower the impedance, the higher the current draw) with a well designed amp and top quality sources, then you don't need 1000 watts to 'go loud' or to have high 'quality'. Obviously even if you do have something rated at 1000 watts its no guarantee it will sound good, if the power supply is not good you might get 'clipping' and/or more distortion, then if its really poorly designed it might overheat and go into thermal protect before it runs out of Amps.

As you rightly said the source is clearly a big factor too and I was interested to read another comment regarding "superior CD" as a source. Some of those into their vinyl will contest, but CD is ok to a point, but the quality is subject to multitude of factors including:

1) The read/decode point - so cheap CD transports with cheap DAC have an effect on sound 'quality'. Hence why I spent a lot of money on a CD player and why some will have a CD transport with separate DAC to reduce electronic inteference across circuitry and PSUs.

2) Add to point 1 that the read accuracy will affect the 'quality'. So this can be the electronics, but also the mechanical aspects such as the CD transport. This is because read accuracy will impact the error/error correction rate and 'jitter' (effectively signal timing errors), simply put the more of these two are present, the worse your source signal will be and your output deteriorates. So needless to say, its very doubtful anything you're going to get in a car is going to be at the top end of the quality scale (as per point 1) and will be mechanically affected by the environment it finds itself installed in (i.e. you will likely be getting both higher error rates and jitter in a car CD system influenced by stiff suspension over poor roads, combined with lower end reading/decoding/output circuitry to handle it).


3) 'CD quality' (16-bit/44KHz) audio is obviously better than 'lossy' compressed formats, particularly such as low bitrate (<256kbps) MP3, but can no longer be considered an ultimate even if you ignore factors 1 & 2. Someone else mentioned they use Tidal MQA (their proprietary high bitrate, lossless format), this is really where you want to be for 'studio quality' source material nowadays. Look at lossless high *sample* rate material, high bitrate (e.g. 96KHz and above) is another factor, but note that some 'hi-res' formats using single-bit (versus multi-bit, e.g. 24-bit) encoding, these include formats such as FLAC, DSD and others.

With the best will in the world, even with the latest devices, Bluetooth ain't going to cut it for the best music reproduction (even Apple Airplay/wireless CarPlay will introduce transcoding/compression).

So obviously you have to have a device and system that can accept & play these formats (without having to do intermediary transcoding; like if you play hi-bitrate stuff on a smartphone which then has to be downsampled because the output stage doesn't support it), but if you get the right combination of source material, device & DAC you'll give your amp and speakers a fighting chance of doing a decent job.

All these factors affect not just distortion (which is mainly what you'll perceive in the end results as 'quality'), but the level of detail that is available to recreate in the first place (i.e. you can't make up what's not there), plus the 'dynamics' (difference between loud and quiet sections).

The most glaring factor above all of these is that cars are a 'hostile' environment for high quality audio reproduction at the best of times, with the oddly angled glass surfaces, imperfect listening positions, engine/wind/road noise (not so much an issue in a Rolls-Royce, but definitely in my F82!) etc etc.

Anyyway quite a ramble, but if anyone is interested, my two pennies/cents on audio 'quality'

Last edited by naywa01; 01-06-2021 at 10:30 AM..
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      01-06-2021, 10:35 AM   #28
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The HK system in the X3M is good not great and I expect this will be the case for these cars. That said how you set the EQ makes a massive difference and from a lot of the EQ threads I see here too many people have them set up to produce horrible sound cranking up all the bands. The best audio reproduction is with most of the bands at or near flat levels.
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      01-06-2021, 10:25 PM   #29
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There is no excuse for BMW giving loyal customers an inferior product--especially when they have given them MUCH better in the past. I've been BMW loyal for a long time. Audio in my car is the most important option I always select. If other luxury brands are getting better systems, BMW should be ashamed.
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      03-20-2021, 12:46 PM   #30
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Thought the HK sound in the G80 was very disappointing. So sad for a car with sticker around 80K.
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      03-21-2021, 09:03 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heavyD^2 View Post
The HK system in the X3M is good not great and I expect this will be the case for these cars. That said how you set the EQ makes a massive difference and from a lot of the EQ threads I see here too many people have them set up to produce horrible sound cranking up all the bands. The best audio reproduction is with most of the bands at or near flat levels.
Absolutely. And small cuts should always be the first step when tuning a system, not pumping up one band or the low-Q Bass/Treble control.

My biggest disappointment with these systems is that they give us zero timing control. Some lower-end cars are coming with actual timing adjustments now, and it would make a huge difference. Having to use Balance and Fade to adjust for being too close to one driver pair doesn't work well enough.

In my last couple of cars, tuned by a local well-known shop in my F30's and then my M2C where I did the work, timing was more important than anything else. A few inches off on the timing ruined the sound.

I've been told by many folk that Bluetooth and Car Play sound better than they used, but switching to either "wireless" source instead of the flash drive with FLAC files that I usually use results in a significant decrease in audio quality. It's terrible. And streamed music isn't any better. If the source is bad, the sound is bad.
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      03-28-2021, 11:25 AM   #32
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Comparing to the HK in the 2018 M3 Comp, which I think had a decent HK system, how does the new G8X HK compare? If it's about the same, it works for me. If it sounds worse, then I'll be sad, and a bit mad (how is BMW going to take a step BACK in audio systems in their new flagship sporty car?).
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      04-01-2021, 10:18 AM   #33
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Quote:
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Thought the HK sound in the G80 was very disappointing. So sad for a car with sticker around 80K.
I agree. Very underwhelming. I'd pay for B&O upgrade.
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      04-08-2021, 09:01 PM   #34
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I agree. Very underwhelming. I'd pay for B&O upgrade.
I would GLADLY pay for B&O upgrade!
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