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e39540iv8 10-03-2012 11:29 PM

BMW HeadUnit/Navigation
What's the best headunit for the E39 right now? I'm only referring to OEM looking ones by the way not the Pioneer and Kenwood style units. I've heard bad things from Dynavin and the OEM BMW ones are expensive and outdated. Anybody have some insight?

PS: I did do research on this but old threads are no use when it comes to this since new products and updates may have come out.

DennisCooper! 10-04-2012 08:01 AM


The cheap chinese replacement E39 specific head units are 'most' likely all made in some factory in deepest China somewhere and then the 'brands' you see put their software/skin on etc and then flog them on ebay mostly. Dynavin is currently the best of this bunch as they follow a distribution channel route that's much better. This means dedicated exclusive dealers/importers in each territory, proper sales and after care backup support, better guarantees/warranty claims if needed etc. None of the other cheap chinese made units offer this. There's one or two that have been flogging cheap electronics on ebay for years, Eonon is one name you may see, however they openly put up on forums that they'll illegally misrepresent the price in order to avoid import and local taxes/duties etc, so if they're willing to break the laws of countries like the UK and USA etc, I'd doubt they'd be anything but helpful if you need support.

In short, your term of 'best' is open to interpretation, personally, I'd never put cheap, generic low quality car audio electronics into my car and will always prefer the premium brands as they use high grade everything for their products. If you are after excellent sound quality, a properly made product, peace of mind in terms of a quality product with aftercare guarantee/warranty, get a premium branded head unit at the expense at the loss of 20% oem 'looks' in your dash. If you just want a replacement head unit with none of the above and sort of looks oem, choose one of the cheap chinese units at the risk of having 'issues' with it etc.

Cheers, Dennis!

e39540iv8 10-04-2012 09:39 AM

That's true Dennis but I wish there was a compromise. I mean the Pioneer and Kenwood units are pretty good in functionality but they look horrible. They're out of place and they look tacky even if you make a custom surround that fills in nicely. I'd put on on an EVO or STi but on a BMW or Mercedes etc no way. I wish there companies would make OEM style headunits for Mercedes and BMW because they would get alot of buyers. It's not like it would be hard for them. I was excited about Dynavin but I've heard shocking things about it and it seems to not have the best hardware for quality sound and smooth operation.

DennisCooper! 10-04-2012 09:56 AM


The simple fact is, overall and generally, and not just E39 specific, but BMW and perhaps similar Mercedes, there just isn't the demand for the premium brands to make custom fit/look versions that look like oem units. Although it appears there's many people wanting a head unit upgrade here on forums, I'd hazard a guess a maximum of 10% of total BMW ownership out there are those using forums and/or are enthusiasts. So why would premium brands spend all that money in tooling and development only to have a very limited number of purchasers?

Currently, you need to decide on what you want to have in regards to your audio and then either choose a cheap chinese unit, or a premiium brand double DIN. Here's what my interior/dash currently looks like;

Cheers, Dennis!

radd 10-05-2012 01:07 AM

I love your steering wheel.. neat for speed

*sorry off topic

e39540iv8 10-05-2012 09:11 AM

I don't think they would need to do much R&D since they would use the exact same software and hardware except add an OEM-style frame which is easy and program the buttons to do what they're labelled and steering controls. If a Chinese company like Dynavin can build a system for BMW and Mercedes then Kenwood and Pioneer should too. Again they wouldn't even need to change their software, just change the appearance of the frame and buttons.

Your car looks great by the way especially your steering wheel. I still can't stand the non-OEM looking head units though, they look extremely out of place.

z_driver 10-05-2012 06:27 PM


Originally Posted by e39540iv8 (Post 7115549)
I don't think they would need to do much R&D since they would use the exact same software and hardware except add an OEM-style frame which is easy and program the buttons to do what they're labelled and steering controls. If a Chinese company like Dynavin can build a system for BMW and Mercedes then Kenwood and Pioneer should too. Again they wouldn't even need to change their software, just change the appearance of the frame and buttons.


I've always been partial to Nakamichi head units and as far as I can tell, they still provide BMW orange lighting for all their models.

BigBoy740il 10-05-2012 08:24 PM

I personally wont put that Nakamichi crap in my BMW, looks cheap. Your interest is to install a unit that has updated features such as GPS navigation, back up camera, DVD player, MP3 player, Bluetooth, telephone, etc... you cant get this without major modifications to your audio system. If your intent is to keep the factory look, upgrade to the MKIV navigation, BM53 radio with aux input, bmw mp3 CD changer, Bluetooth adapter, and wide screen display. I'm sure after you do the math you'll realize why some folks go the aftermarket route.

Big Boyz with Bad Toyz

DennisCooper! 10-06-2012 06:21 AM


E39540iV8 - Sounds so simple when you put it like that doesn't it!?! here's some aspects you've not taken in to account. You will find owners of these cars who want an aftermarket unit to look and function exactly like the original, so they'll want full OBC functionality, they'll want it to 'plug n play' with cars that do have DSP fitted as standard. There'd be others who will then perhaps don't mind not having those but want all the usual features of a modern aftermarket unit with the oem looks but also to then 'connect' to their oem CD changer or oem Mic connection etc - also with some E39's with their electronics in the boot/trunk, and some with power etc at the dash area, it's extra costs to cater to the various configurations of oem E39 audio out there. Perhaps a big major factor is the price of such a unit at retail and I'd say perhaps around the $1200-1350 USD level would be about right. Remember also, the premium brands will also test and certify their products, use high grade electronics and ensure the high levels of performance which makes them premium quality. The E39 has been out of production for almost 10 years now, and even when it was in production, demand for aftermarket electronics etc was virtually nil. This is why nothing was ever developed to upgrade cars with the exception really of the iPod interfaces when the iPod suddenly exploded in popularity. None of the aftermarket premium brands will develop a product that's been out of production for a almost decade and also for a very tiny segment of the ownership of these vehicles who perhaps would drop $1200+ USD on a head unit. Keep in mind also, that you'd also need to upgrade the speakers and many owners are also not interested in sound quality increases either! - The Chinese cheaply made units out there haven't exactly sold in big numbers for the E39, due to their low, generic quality components and the high chance of issues in their operation. So it goes back to my initial response - if you want better performance, sound quality and a well made product, then go with a premium brand choice with the 20% loss of oem looks in the dash. If you *must* have oem'ish looks then go for one of the cheaply made chinese units at the risk of having issues etc.

Bigboy740iL - Nakamichi just so happen to be one of the high end brands for audio equipment. Although mainly home audio they do have car products which also have the same ultra high levels of engineering in all aspects of their products. Makes me chuckle, but if you are under the impression Nakamichi are 'crap' what do you is a great quality brand or unit?! Some of the Nakamichi units do indeed look really good in some BMW's, but not so in E39's and other BMW's from the mid 90's onwards.

Either way, retrofitting the oem widescreen monitor and GPS system etc, is extremely expensive and the modules are now at least a decade old etc. For those who *must* have oem only, it's currently the only choice, but in real terms offers very little overall value for money.

Cheers, Dennis!

Flybot 10-06-2012 08:16 AM

I had a Mk IV in my M5. It was functional but, as mentioned, horribly out dated. I would not recommend it. It would only be worth it if they cost maybe $200. But thats not going to happen any time soon. I have the previous gen Dynavin on my 528. Its maybe 2-3 years old now. I love it. Great nav, great streaming BT. Radio reception is a bit weak sometimes, but I live in a city so not normally a problem. The newest one looks even better. Not sure I would go with the android version tho.

Quest_908 10-06-2012 11:23 AM

Does the dynavin windows version work well with iPhones and I really don't understand why a head unit needs an OS can somebody explain that

Jynger 10-06-2012 11:40 AM

beacuse its cheaper to use widespread platform(software OS and hardware components) as base for the programs/options you want on your screen oposed to years and millions of euros you would spend if you would to build your own platform. Headunit is really a car PC in very compact form.

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