'96 328 Harman Kardon System Question, - BMW Forum - BimmerWerkz.com
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#1 (permalink) Old 02-24-2005, 01:35 PM
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I purchased a '96 328i last October, with the original premium stock sound system. It worked & sounded great until a couple of weeks ago, then things started going kaput all at once. First, the CD changer in the trunk developed a problem where the radio doesn't sense it. Then, two days later, there was no sound anymore with any function, and this was finally diagnosed as the amplifier being dead. After thinking over my options, I finally decided to go with a new head unit in the dash (replacing the stock C33). CDs now load at the dash unit, so I've done away with the trunk CD changer. The installer removed the dead amp and wired to bypass an amp, using the head unit's existing built-in amp. (4 x 18 w RMS). The system's sound is okay, not bad, but I definitely notice some of the "punch" and richness of the previous sound missing. Also, I can definitely hear some distortion develop in the speakers at times when I've played music at higher volume for a while. The speakers being used are all the original stock Harman-Kardons in the front & back. So I have questions regarding an amplifier: First, I'm thinking I definitely want to have an amp again for the improved sound, and hope I'm correct in assuming this would get rid of the distortion I'm hearing (if I get the right amp for these speakers).. I'm wondering what would be the right amplifier choice, but also if it's better I looked for another stock BMW/Harman Kardon amp, like my old one that died, if still using these stock speakers? That amplifier is out of production, but I've been told I can find used ones?
The other thing is, the fader/hi fi switch at the back of the shifter console, to select two different speaker modes, is now non-functional. I figured it was due to the amp being removed, but by installing a new amplifier would make it functional again. My installer, though, said something to the effect it was designed only for the original amplifier, and wouldn't work with another? Is this true? If so, that could be a factor my in looking for another (used) stock amp, but I'm nut sure yet.
Any opinions/insights on these things appreciated!
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#2 (permalink) Old 02-27-2005, 10:33 PM
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Yes a new amp would help things out, but I might attack the problem from different direction.

Oem audio systems work well enough, but they don't play well with aftermarket components. You are currently trying to run a factory speaker system, with four channels of aftermarket power. This is not a happy marriage.

As you currnetly have several speakers, you would need one heck of an amp to run them all. Instead, I would recomend aftermarket speakers. This will do several things. First, your head unit will be able to power them better, because they will come with crossovers that will reduce the load currently being place on your indash CD player. Secondly, they will give you the potential to get far better sound compared to what you once had with the stock system. You will also save some money, as an amp and installation can be very pricey. Keep in mind, new speakers and a new amp to power them would be the best of both worlds, but that can get very expensive very quickly. As for speakers, check out Infinity, PolkAUdio, and MBQuart. They all make great stuff for the money.

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#3 (permalink) Old 03-11-2005, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jllphan@Feb 27 2005, 07:33 PM
Yes a new amp would help things out, but I might attack the problem from different direction.

Oem audio systems work well enough, but they don't play well with aftermarket components. You are currently trying to run a factory speaker system, with four channels of aftermarket power. This is not a happy marriage.

As you currnetly have several speakers, you would need one heck of an amp to run them all. Instead, I would recomend aftermarket speakers. This will do several things. First, your head unit will be able to power them better, because they will come with crossovers that will reduce the load currently being place on your indash CD player. Secondly, they will give you the potential to get far better sound compared to what you once had with the stock system. You will also save some money, as an amp and installation can be very pricey. Keep in mind, new speakers and a new amp to power them would be the best of both worlds, but that can get very expensive very quickly. As for speakers, check out Infinity, PolkAUdio, and MBQuart. They all make great stuff for the money.
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Thanks for the advice! I meant to post this reply sooner, but have been away.
I'll go the route you suggest, trying the speakers first. As for my speaker situation: From what I gather, there are a total of 8 speakers in my car, two in front (kick panel) two in back, and the midrange & tweeters in the doors. One of my midranges in blown, bad distortion. The tweeters have their outer (grill) rings breaking apart so I feel like ordering new ones from BMW just because they look bad (eyesore). If I get 4 new "main" speakers, should they be single cone or coaxial? Should I still use the door speakers, (have them wired/operational) or just the tweeters or midrangers? I'd have to buy at least one new midranger from BMW if so, because of the blown one. Finally, what amp(s) would be sufficient to power these if I also got an amp, after the new speakers? Final note: My CD player in my new head unit is presently getting very hot (ejected CDs come out VERY warm), so I see what you mean about the need for reducing the load on it. Is this what the "crossovers" you're referring to would correct with new speakers?
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#4 (permalink) Old 03-11-2005, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by gfowler@Mar 11 2005, 11:34 AM
Thanks for the advice! I meant to post this reply sooner, but have been away.
I'll go the route you suggest, trying the speakers first. As for my speaker situation: From what I gather, there are a total of 8 speakers in my car, two in front (kick panel) two in back, and the midrange & tweeters in the doors. One of my midranges in blown, bad distortion. The tweeters have their outer (grill) rings breaking apart so I feel like ordering new ones from BMW just because they look bad (eyesore). If I get 4 new "main" speakers, should they be single cone or coaxial? Should I still use the door speakers, (have them wired/operational) or just the tweeters or midrangers? I'd have to buy at least one new midranger from BMW if so, because of the blown one. Finally, what amp(s) would be sufficient to power these if I also got an amp, after the new speakers? Final note: My CD player in my new head unit is presently getting very hot (ejected CDs come out VERY warm), so I see what you mean about the need for reducing the load on it. Is this what the "crossovers" you're referring to would correct with new speakers?
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I too would suggest replacing the speakers first. If you have grills that are cracking (a lot of times from sunfading, and drying the plastic, get your windows tinted dang it ), that may indicate that the paper cones on the factory speakers are also dryed out and brittle.

Since you have 8 speakers in there and one, or a couple may be bad, this may increase the load presented to your new radio. That be one reason for the excessive heat. Replace them and see what you get, you may be pleasantly suprised at how well your 18x4 performs. If not, you have will already have an excellent start and well ready for the 4 channel amp installation and the hard part (rewiring the speakers) will already be done. As far as the Coaxial/Component debate goes, the component will almost always sound better, but at a price. A good coaxial will sound good (especially amplified). It's all in what you want your final outcome to be.

I always like to suggest to really listen to ANY audio equipment before purchasing. If you can, listen to the exact same song each time too. You will hear things present in some speakers that arent there in others. This will help you in making your decision. Psst...dont always buy what your buddy tells you too, you guys may have the same taste in music but everyone has their own idea of sound quality. Listen, listen, listen and then purchase.



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