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E36 /7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 roadster and coupe talk with our gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 10-16-2002, 11:48 AM
Mdriver315 Mdriver315 is offline
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Z3 Radio Mods

I apologize if this has been posted before, but I would like to see what some of you guys have done to battle the less-than-perfect radio that we were sold.
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  #2  
Old 10-16-2002, 07:03 PM
Daver Daver is offline
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Here's the path I took:

Step one: Replaced the kick-panel and door speakers with a component set by FOCAL. This helped the audio quality a LOT; I didn't see any need to change-out the HK amp at this point.

Step two: Replaced the Business CD with a JVC CD/MP3 player. This gives me the ability to have several full albums of music on a single CD without needing a changer.

-- At this point, I traded my Z3 Roadster for a Z3 Coupe. I first re-installed all the factory gear in the Roadster. After the trade, I installed the good stuff in the Coupe.

Step three: Replace the rear hatch ceiling speakers with some Phoenix Golds.

I'd recommend doing an upgrade in stages... you might be happy with just replacing the speakers. Upgrading the head-unit is not too difficult or expensive, but the only reason I did it was for the MP3 capability. The next step would be to get rid of the HK amp and install something with more power. As it is though, I just don't see the need to upgrade any further.
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  #3  
Old 10-16-2002, 09:44 PM
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phrider phrider is offline
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If you already have the Harmon Karden speaker system and your system was built after about 10/1/99, you may want to consider the BMW/ Sunfire subwoofer speaker and amp upgrade. For pricing, install instructions and details, see

http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...threadid=31622

and

http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...threadid=33903
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  #4  
Old 10-26-2002, 08:42 PM
Roadsterwench Roadsterwench is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Daver
Here's the path I took:

Step one: Replaced the kick-panel and door speakers with a component set by FOCAL. This helped the audio quality a LOT; I didn't see any need to change-out the HK amp at this point.

Could you let us know which FOCAL component set? Thanks for sharing
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  #5  
Old 10-27-2002, 01:10 AM
Daver Daver is offline
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I got the FOCAL Polyglass 136v... these are 5.25" for the mains, and 1.5 or 2" for the tweeters. Actually, they are metric approximations because the mounting holes in the main speakers were slightly off from the screwholes in the kick-panel. I just enlarged the holes in the speaker a bit, works fine.

You could probably just start the screws at a slight angle because the plastic block they go into has some freedom of movement.

FOCAL Polyglass 136v web-page
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  #6  
Old 10-27-2002, 06:09 AM
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JST JST is offline
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Re: Z3 Radio Mods

Quote:
Originally posted by Mdriver315
I apologize if this has been posted before, but I would like to see what some of you guys have done to battle the less-than-perfect radio that we were sold.
If you are replacing your Business CD, let me know. I may be interested in buying the old unit.
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  #7  
Old 10-27-2002, 07:54 AM
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Pani Pani is offline
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Here's my solution. It was a bit expensive, but I think it is pretty unobtrusive. Just FYI,

M Coupe Stereo
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  #8  
Old 10-27-2002, 09:16 AM
Roadsterwench Roadsterwench is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pani
Here's my solution. It was a bit expensive, but I think it is pretty unobtrusive. Just FYI,

M Coupe Stereo
Very nicely done, but since I don't have a coupe, I can easily resist spending all those $$$$

The focal speakers, however, are looking tempting . . .
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  #9  
Old 10-27-2002, 10:34 AM
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Kaz Kaz is offline
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I have Focal Polykevlar 130KS separates in my E46, and they sound great... after I yanked the stock amp and its crossover and used the crossover its supposed to use. If E36/7 wiring is different and the crossovers aren't in the amp, it makes progressive upgrades much easier.

I'm curious to find out some of the space-saving subwoofer solutions Z folks have come up with. I assume with the limited room in your cars people have been a little more creative than just slapping a box in back. I really don't wanna have a box/tube/whatever in my wagon like the sedan/coupe folks.
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  #10  
Old 10-27-2002, 11:01 AM
Roadsterwench Roadsterwench is offline
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Yeah, Kaz brought up a good question: Daver, what did you do with the crossover? Is there a crossover in our amp?
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  #11  
Old 10-27-2002, 01:17 PM
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Pani Pani is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Roadsterwench
Is there a crossover in our amp?
Yeah the amp in the Z3's is the same as the amp in the E36's with the HK premium audio package, meaning that it has an integrated crossover. That's why replacing the speakers sort of necessitates replacing the amp and vice versa. Either that or just run new speakers off a new head unit, which would basically be a waste if you're going to go with speakers like FOCALs. I think the only decent upgrade to do with out replacing everything is to change out the headunit, since you can get a cleaner signal to the stock amp. I basically thought of the stock amp and speakers as one item and thus replaced everything .

Last edited by Pani; 10-27-2002 at 01:20 PM.
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  #12  
Old 10-27-2002, 04:01 PM
Daver Daver is offline
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I don't entirely agree with everything there. Certainly every part of the system factors into the total experience quality, but in my experience (on the 2000 Roadster), the speakers were by far the weakest link. After upgrading to FOCALs, I was able to run at higher volumes with minimal distortion, and the sound quality all around was great.

The only reason I swapped out the head-unit was to get the MP3 playback capability. I didn't notice much, if any, improvement in the sound after doing that; perhaps at that point, the HK amp was the limiting factor.

Now, on the Coupe (2001), the stock speakers sounded much better. I'm guess that it is because the listening environment is much better (far less road noise)... but perhaps BMW made some improvement with the speakers between 2000 and 2001. I upgraded the stock speakers with the FOCALs since I had them anyway, and the improvement I noted was better definition all around, and more solid bass response.


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  #13  
Old 10-27-2002, 10:11 PM
Roadsterwench Roadsterwench is offline
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Daver,

Isn't there still the box that is called the "crossover"? I thought I saw it in the pic of the focal component set. What did you do with it, if the amp already includes a crossover (not that I know what a crossover is, mind you)
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  #14  
Old 10-27-2002, 10:43 PM
Daver Daver is offline
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The FOCAL set that I got included two cross-overs (one for left and right)... I didn't need them with my current set-up because the HK amp already does this.

A cross-over takes an audio signal and separates the high, medium, and low-ranges so you can feed just the portion of the audio band you need to the speaker. For example, you only want to feed high-frequency to the tweeters.

In a full-blown installation with an aftermarket amplifier, you'd feed the output of the amp into the cross-overs, and then wire the cross-over outputs to the high and mid-range speakers... the cross-overs have separate outputs for each range.

In the Z3's, the HK amp serves this purpose, and there is separate wiring going to each speaker... so the wires that go to the tweeters in the doors only have high-freq audio, and the wires for the speakers in the kick-panels only have mid-range (and a fair amount of low-range).

The installer who originally did my Roadster didn't know this... he took the signal going to the kick and fed that into the FOCAL cross-over, and from that he fed the kick-panel and the door speakers. The problem is that the kick-panel speaker didn't have any high-range signal, so the door-speakers weren't getting any signal. He took the FOCAL cross-over out of the picture and used the stock wiring, and all was fine.

Whew... didn't mean to blather on so much!
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  #15  
Old 10-27-2002, 10:51 PM
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Kaz Kaz is offline
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Component speaker crossovers, especially on something high-end like a Focal set does more than put low and highpass filters in. They often match levels, impedances, phase and possibly other things depending on their sophistication., and do this based on the characteristics of the drivers to which they're paired.

If you're happy with the way they sound, fine, but just because the stock amp has builtin crossovers does NOT mean you can toss the original ones out the window.

I know for a fact when I originally put my Focals in and ran em off the stock amp (with the intention of doing it right later, which has now happened) and its internal crossover, they sounded like total crap.
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  #16  
Old 10-28-2002, 11:07 AM
Daver Daver is offline
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What signal did you use to feed the cross-over? When my shop used the signal going to the kick-panels, the high-range output of the cross-over had NOTHING.

When you had them hooked-up directly, you said they sounded like 'total crap'. Would you say it was better or worse than the stock speakers. In my experience, they were much better than stock... but there's always room for improvement.

-- edit --

Also, how hard was your amp install ... did you do it yourself? How did you interface between the factory HK-amp harnesses and your new amp? Did you find mating connectors, splice into the harness or what? Did you run all new wiring from the amp to the speaker locations or did you use the stock wires?

I've been putting off this stage of the audio upgrade because of the perceived complexity.

Thanks!
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Last edited by Daver; 10-28-2002 at 11:13 AM.
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  #17  
Old 10-28-2002, 11:16 AM
Rufus330Ci Rufus330Ci is offline
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I wonder if an Kicker Solobaric L7 sub can squeeze into that small space in the Z3's? I bought an L7 awhile back but it was a 12" the box that I made for it (to spec) was just under a cubic foot it was like 13"x13"x8" maybe you guys could look this way for a potential subwoofer. Definitely need an amp for this though I wouldn't push anything less then 50w rms to one of these. Just a thought.
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  #18  
Old 10-28-2002, 01:20 PM
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Kaz Kaz is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Daver
What signal did you use to feed the cross-over?

When you had them hooked-up directly, you said they sounded like 'total crap'. Would you say it was better or worse than the stock speakers.

Also, how hard was your amp install ... did you do it yourself? How did you interface between the factory HK-amp harnesses and your new amp? Did you find mating connectors, splice into the harness or what? Did you run all new wiring from the amp to the speaker locations or did you use the stock wires?
To answer the questions point-by-point:

1. I fed the output out of the aftemarket amp into the crossover.
2. Yes, it was 'better' than stock but it was completely out of tonal balance, as the tweeter was being driven much louder than the woofer. And going from 3-way stock to 2-way aftermarket there was virtually nothing between about 800Hz and 3kHz or so.
3. I installed the amp (2 different ones; see my older posts on this) myself with no permanent mods to the car (I cut away part of a replaceable bracket, and a in-floor plastic tray, and drilled 1 hole) and no cutting of wires (I had to cut the tweeter wires in the doors but in retrospect if I did more checking I think I coulda avoided that too). I built up wiring harnesses that plugged into the factory amp harness, and ran separate power and ground (easy with the batt in back).

Aside from splicing the stock tweeters back in, I can return the entire system back to 100% stock with 2 new parts.
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  #19  
Old 10-28-2002, 07:21 PM
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The Roadstergal The Roadstergal is offline
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Hey, M driver - make sure you talk to Blazeman on the Roadfly board. He has a helluva setup in his 1.9 roadster.


(I'm from Evanston.)
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