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I've got a 1993 325i and want to install a new stereo system in it...thinking of a new head unit, speakers, and amp. The problem is that I don't want to spend more than $500--any suggesetions on brands/units to use?

Also, I absolutely hate the fact that the bottom exterior trim on my car is that gray/black color. Any easy way to paint it the color of the rest of the car?
 

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I am really interested in this, too. Can any of the stereo gurus on the board post a FAQ or how-to on upgrading the E36 stock system at different levels? I don't know much about the stock system or what to upgrade... maybe a list of "if you want to spend $500" and "if you want to spend $750" and so on? I'd like much cleaner bass, for example, and some more volume in general for when I have the windows down, but I like the stock look of the speakers and head unit.

FAQ time!!! :idea2
 

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you cant get a good quality system for 500. not possible. Since you didn't mention subs, its easier, but still hard. Without them, the 336 lacks suffcient size speakers to adequately reproduce bass. An Alpine HU will work great, as will Eclipse, and higher end Panasonics. Figure 250 right there. To replace main front and rear speakers you could easily spend another 200 for components up front and cheap coax in back. If circuit hadn't had their prices messed up my fronts alone would have been 105. Assuming I had the same type in the back, it would've been 200 w/tax. Luckily I went and they were the price of the 3.5s on sale. That only leaves 50 for an amp, so I suggest putting that into the HU money.

For 750, I suggest the same approach, only go for a sub and amp. 250 will limit you to a single 10 in a sealed box with a good amp, but it should make enough difference.

In all, my junk is worth around 1,400 and its only halfway serious.
 

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I had the same issue with my '98 M-3. I don't know if you have the same hk system, but the principle is the same as long as you have a rear mounted amp.

I do know a good deal about audio, and could tell that the HK speakers up front were decent, as is the head unit and the disc player. What is lacking is proper equalization (the high end is really rolled off even though there are separate super tweeter) and ofcourse, it needs more low end than the two 5.5 kick panel woofers can produce.

The easy and best sounding for the money is what I did, in my opinion.
I got the wiring diagram for the trunk amp off of the web. I went to ebay and bought a two channel audio control equalizer for about $125, a pair of JL audio 8" sub woofers-$125, an active crossover- $50 and another two channel amp for $135 to power subs and saved a bunch of time and effort by not attempting to cut subs into the rear panel by making my own custom enclosures out of home depo supplied 10" tubes used for cement forms-$5 w/plywood discs cut a bit bigger than the tube used to seal each end w/the sub opening cut and mounted into one end. Each sub enclosure is behind a seat on the floor, can easily be disconnected to go in truck if I have passengers or fears of theft. The tubes were stuffed w/polyfiber and sprayed w/undercoating to dampen, then covered w/grey matching carpet from Parts express or jc witney.

You go in trunk, expose the oem amp and splice in the eq to the front channels, then xover to the sub amp and woofers. By crossing over at about 90hz, you essentially boost the power to the main front speakers by a ton since most of their power goes to driving the woofers. Once it's properly eq'd, the boost to the high end and proper sub eq gives you 95% of what you'd have by purchasing all new spkers, amps and head. All done for way less than $500, and can play louder than you need, unless you are one of those assholes playing their 15" subwoofers at 110db's so the neighborhood can hear their bad taste in music. But I digress.

Run the rears as they are, I use the spacial button to leave them as a good surround but just barely audible. They aren't worth eq'ing in my opinion. You could have a circuit city install doing what I suggested and still come in under budget.

For what it's worth, 90% of home systems just need eq and a subwoofer to sound like what you would pay 3x more for.
 

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Learning the hard way on all of this. My system has been severely lacking bass and costing more than I had planned, which was going to be around $500. Here's where it's at:

Alpine 9813 Head Unit bought on ebay brand new for $269.00.

INfinity Component Speakers for the front panel and door $179.00 at Cartoys.
INfinity Coaxials to fit inside stock speaker enclosures in the back $79 at Cartoys.

Now the subwoofer - I'm going with matching Infinity Basslink Subwoofer. It's all fully enclosed with a built in 200Watt amplifier and takes up very little space in the trunk. Found it on ebay brand new for around $200.

I like the idea of a subwoofer with an integrated amp and enclosure. Hopefully it'll be enough bass. Reviews from what I've read have been good. I just want nice bass and balance - don't need to rock the 'hood.

Still, this system will be around $800 to put in.
 

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I have a 97' 318is that has a sony head unit, 2 12" JBLs (gt seires) and a planet audio amp. Really you dont need to replace the stock speakers in an E36 escpecally if you have the H/K opition. I bought my car with the head unit but I bought the JBLs and Amp used from a friend and installed them with his help ($200 used in good condition for both subs, amp and box). I would guess a pretty good head unit would cost around $300. I had help from friends to intall my system but if you arnt electricly inclined then you will be paying for a head unit/system install which would be anywhere from $50-200. It is usually cheaper to have the place where you bought your equipment from install it because they will give you deals if you bought from them. The only speakers i recomend to replace is the stock 4" mids in the rear which I currently still have but work fine (I just have to watch the bass running to the interiors). As far as brands go good head units are Alpine and Sony for head units. For subs and amps JL, JBL, Planet Audio, and Kicker and for a good relacement interior 4" Infinty Kappa (expensive though). All said and done i think it will cost about $750 for a good stereo upgrade. You can reduce cost by buying used stuff but you buy at your own risk. :driving
 
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