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Old 01-09-2006, 11:05 AM
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Audio Upgrade in a BMW X5 - Brian C.

Contributed by: Brian C

Well, originally this was supposed
to be a small project that adds a 8" subwoofer into the left storage
compartment, a small mono amp and a mp3 cd changer....but in the end I decided
I might as well do the whole thing...



Now after several weekends working on it, sound would come out correctly from
the stock speakers before I ripped the front speakers all out in order to
install a set of Focal 165kp's later this week. The rear doors will be left
untouched for now...the payoff to upgrade them isn't worth it at the moment.




For the front speakers and the subwoofer I'm using a Soundstream amp and the
u-dimension is used for rear fill (the rear tweeter is now disabled, I only
have the woofer hook up which is actually quite sufficient for rear
fill....but may be I'll replace them with a set of coaxials if I feel like it)


As for subwoofer, I chose to go with a board member's recommendation a while
ago and bought the Elemental Design's e8A. This sub is quite at home with such
a limited enclosure and later on may be I'll make a ported box just like my
friend did....it really made this sub shine. The enclosure itself is actually
quite simple to make since it consists of 5 sides MDF and then sealed off with
fiberglass on one side. The thing fits very snugly, no rattles or anything but
I put in a mounting bracket just to be sure. I can post the dimensions for the
box if there is interest.



The reason why I chose to have it installed on the right side instead of the
left side is because no matter what kind of exotic fiberglass enclosure you
choose to make, you would at most get .25cuft thanks to the stupid fuse box.
My box is .3cuft and takes only an afternoon to make, that's why. Well, if you
guys have no nav, consider doing what I did because it really is easy.

Later next year, I'm going to replace the stock headunit + soundgate + alpine
cd changer combo with a Eclipse headunit + changer combo for better sound
quality. Replacing headunit is really easy because all the dash kit and wiring
harness are available and fits very nicely.

The finish on the dash kit sucks,
I'm going to sand it to a smooth finish then paint it titanium silver when I got
a chance to. Basically, whatever you put in WILL look out of place (but if you
can afford the Denon's then okay...) personally I'm not going to blow that much
money just to get a better match, so I'll make the compromise and have it look
less nice....but sounds better!!



Eclipse makes some very decent units...but if you can get its bigger brand Sound
Monitor's headunits, it'd be a better match to the X. But again, pricing issues.




the wiring harness are indeed by Scosche, here are the part#'s:

Dash Kit BM2330

Wiring Harness VW03

Antenna Adapter VWA-3

I've gotten the parts and tested them on my 2003 X...all of those fit no
problem.

After several weekends pulling the X5 apart, ordering stuff, taking it
apart even more and order some more wires, the SUV is now back to the
original drivable state with a beautifully sounding stereo system!!




First off, new toys! Originally I ordered a set of Focal 165K2P
composites that I was planning to put in the front, but I changed my
mind and decided to return the 165K2P and order something even better -
Morel Supremo tweeter + HCW 6.5 woofer combo and have it driven by a
fully active network:










Man those tweeters sure sound good, but they are also very
large....and all X5 owners know, our dash might look big and wide, but
it doesn't leave any room for additional speakers at all.





After some analysis, I've made up my mind on how to mount the tweeters and do the wiring layout...let's pull the SUV apart!!










In order to mount the tweeters in the original tweeter location
(which is probably the most unobstrutive location in this car for
tweeters I can find) I have to make a speaker mounting that "slots"
into the cavity. First off let's make molds of the cavity and the
tweeters using composite fillers:














The released molds...held together by crazy glue:











After some work, here is the completed speaker mountings with tweeters mounted on them....I painted them black using gelcoat:











Done! Now glue the mounts into the doors:










With that done, the trickiest part of this project must be running
the speaker wires to the doors.....let's just say it wasn't easy and I
wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless you have good experience working
with X5's (and have no problem putting new holes into it or dremeling
some stuff off):














I used 12 gauge Bi-wires by Knukoncept, which was actually a
mistake because not only is it utterly overkill (I am now capable of
installing subwoofers up front), the gigantic wires also made the
project that much more difficult.





With that done, we can now put the speakers in:





I put some grill clothe on the tweeter for extra protection





I reinforced the woofer baffle with composite fillers just to make sure it'll hold up to the more powerful woofers.





You can see the RCA cables in the glove box, that's the pre-wire for Part 3 of this project








Here is the RCA cables sticking out of the factory head unit and glove box, readying for the next upgrade:















With all of that done, it's just a matter of hiding the wires under the carpet:








and here I got lazy and simply route the wires to the trunk right
under the seat...I could've done a neater job, but I'm already too
tired.








OK! That's it! Now let's put everything back together:




Other than the oversized tweeters, you wouldn't be able to see any
sign of the extensive upgrade I did....just the way I like it.









Here's the amp screwed in





Trunk cover and DIY rubber mat back in place











Some thoughts....total cost of this project is around $5k cdn which
is quite a bit over my original budget of $1800, but after I sat in the
SUV and listened to the spacious, warm and detailed sound of the
Supremo...I think it's totally worth it! This Christmas I'm going to
replace the factory head unit with an aftermarket one and also do
something about the subwoofer...stay tuned!

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