View Full Version : Help with BMW e36 system design

01-03-2012, 08:10 PM

Im looking for some suggestions for designing a system for my 99 BMW e36 323is coupe.

The car currently has the factory Harmon Kardon 8 speaker system. 5 in the front kicks 3 mid and 1 tweeter in the door and 6x9 in the rear shelf. Factory H/K amp and factory C43 cassette deck player in the dash.

I listen to a wide range of music from Rap, country, reggae, classical, rock, ect and Id like to have a balanced system with overall SQ as a goal. I also want to keep the system as hidden as possible and retain a factory OEM look. Trunk space is important to me as is retaining the functionality of my rear fold down seats. Im more interested in good value than name dropping and Im open to using used equipment.

So far I have a BMW business CD43 head unit and a Phoenix Gold Xenon x200.4 four channel amp.
Im looking for a good pair of 6.5 2 way components for up front. I listened to a pair of Focal v30s at car toys the other day that sounded good but I was a little put off by the price tag and Ive heard they dont sound as good when installed in a car with limited air space in the kick panel. They also had a rather large case wich concerns me about mounting behind the factory grills as I will already have some massaging to do to make them fit. I will be sure to properly seal the kick pods and add poly fill.

Eventually I plan to use a pair of 10 subs in the rear shelf where I will build a custom sealed fiberglass enclosure. Two reasons for this, 1) BMWs are notorious for well-sealed trunks making it difficult to pass volume into the cabin and 2) trunk space is very important to me. I will be looking for something with low air space requirements and power them be bridging the rear channels of the PG amp.

Does anyone have a suggestions for the 6.5 and 10 speakers? Any tips tricks or other experiences with e36 BMWs?

Thanks for your help!

01-03-2012, 10:46 PM
In my experience with putting systems in that car; there's no real benefit to 6.5" components over 5.25" sets. A good set of 5.25" components will sound nearly identical to their slightly larger models. Not worth hacking things up IMO. Let your ears decide what works best...those Focals do sound pretty good though.

As far as subwoofers go; ask someone on a BMW forum how they like their JL Audio IB4 subwoofers. JL used to make a Stealthbox with a pair of infinite baffle 8" woofers (8IB4) and they were popular with BMW owners. They sounded awesome and outperformed much larger woofers thanks to how BMW trunks swallow up bass. I'd look into free-air solutions instead of glassing a new box.

As far as IB subs go, I've used JL, ADS, Rockford, and Alumapro. Liked 'em all but JL doesn't make the IB4 subwoofers anymore, ADS was sold to the ChiComs, Rockford's new subs are completely different than the old Punch stuff, and I'm not sure if Alumapro is still around. There's other IB capable woofers on the market, do a little homework and I think you'd be really surprised what a pair of 8-10" free-air woofers can do.

double 07
01-03-2012, 11:03 PM
I have a 2000 323i and I used Boston 6.5" components up front and Boston 6.5" coaxials in the rear deck. I have one Ascendant Audio Havoc 12" and my sunroof bounces. I cut a rectangular hole in the rear deck under the carpeted cover between the 6.5" and my sub came alive. It didn't hurt the car's integrity and I lined the bottom side of deck with Stinger Roadkill along with trunk. Oh and my car sounds amazing!!!!! GOOD LUCK

01-03-2012, 11:32 PM
I love my shallow mount Focal 165vrs and they didn't require any door cutting or even spacing adaptor rings. There is not much breathing room in those coupe doors.

Personally, I think there is a huge difference between a 5 1/4" door speaker verse the 6 1/2" version. Those 30th year anniversary Focals your looking at aren't cheap but they are a really nice speaker. As the previous poster noted, there are all kinds of posts on BMW forums about getting the best sound out of your door speakers.

Good luck on finding some strong bass options without losing some trunk space. I'm not sure if your 3 series coupe has a ski-pass to vent your sub into the cabin or once you remove your 6 X 9's, that will allow some bass to enter up front.

You won't regret getting any version of the polyglass Focals and your on the right track to audio nirvana with your BMW, especially with the different genres of music you enjoy. The best thing to do is remove the entire HK system and add an amp, sub, components, and head unit. When people ask about your system, you can just tell them, "Yeah...it's an upgraded system. I like it".

Good luck and enjoy the journey!

01-05-2012, 02:25 PM
Thanks for the replies! I’ve had 6.5” Polk and 5.25” infinity Kappas in the kicks of other BMWs and I was really disappointed with the mid base of the 5.25’s. Maybe it was the installation, maybe it was the speaker but I’m hesitant to spend the money on a good set of separates and not hear the full range. I do like the sound of the Focal’s but they have a very thick cast basket and I think they are actually 6.75”. I’m sure I can make them fit but it might be easier with a driver that had a stamped basket. Is there anything on the market that is comparable to the Focal v30’s that might be a bit smaller and possibly a bit less expensive?

I’ve read about the JL stealth boxes but they are getting scarce these days and I’d like to get a little more bass then an 8 can provide. I originally considered going IB but my interest fell off when I couldn’t find much available. I’ve been doing some more research and came across this thread: IB Subwoofer Setup for E39 BMW M5 - DIYMA.com - Scientific Car Audio - Truth in Sound Quality (http://www.diymobileaudio.com/forum/system-design-help-me-choose-equipment-my-car/57041-ib-subwoofer-setup-e39-bmw-m5.html)

I really like all the specks on the MW 190’s but they are far out of my price range for subs. I’m going to call AE and see if they still can make the 10” or 12” IB subs for a reasonable price.

I don’t have a ski pass; instead I have the fold down seats. I love the functionality of the fold down as I often use it to haul things that would otherwise never fit in my car but if I had a solid trunk I would make for an easier decision for installing a system.

01-05-2012, 10:36 PM
I have an E39 so i do have some experience dealing with these cars, and i can say that compared to other cars, bmw's really **** to take apart, but it is definitely do-able. I noticed a good difference in my bass when i cut a ski hole , it has the fold out armrest, but their was metal behind, not anymore though. I have pioneer d series components, and they r pretty good especially for the price. Although their is not much midbass, but because i have subs i dont really care. I know dinavin and bavarian soundwerks makes stuff for our cars, i have some of their front component speakers. They were ok, much better than my stock speakers, but they do not get any louder without distortion because they would still be powered by the factory amp, and they r not supposed to get any louder. They do make a stealth sub and box too, have not heard it, but u could look up some reviews on it. Also, i believe Fi Audio has a line of IB subs, but i have not personally read any reviews on them, but Fi Audio is known for their amazing products, so check them out...

01-06-2012, 12:00 AM
In my experience with putting systems in that car; there's no real benefit to 6.5" components over 5.25" sets. A good set of 5.25" components will sound nearly identical to their slightly larger models. Not worth hacking things up IMO. Let your ears decide what works best...those Focals do sound pretty good though.

In theory, there are some important differences. Other things being equal, the 6.5 driver should have a better low end sensitivity. Suffice to check the FS spec of 6.5 and 5.25 drivers. The 5.25 driver on the other hand, will have a better extension into the upper midrange, which can be handy if higher crossover frequency between tweeter and midrange is desired. However, I am with you on this issue. I lack any fabrication skills, tools, etc. I would first try a really good driver that fits. If the OP wants recommendation, I have had good results with Hybrid Audio Imagine 6.5 set running active. I wouldn't recommend running these speakers with their passive crossover as it is rather primitive, but HAT Unity and HAT Clarus come with more robust crossovers and there are 5 inch versions.