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Old 02-08-2010, 01:50 PM
el_duderino el_duderino is offline
Location: Portland OR
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 708
Mein Auto: 07 E91 xiT
E70 X5 base audio upgrade (image-intensive)

Just did a 2010 X5 E70 audio upgrade, and I'd like to share the results of my analysis.

The goal was overall musicality and invisible, usable installation.

The attached PDFs are screenshots of the electrical output of the iDrive head unit, with the tone controls flat and playing a pink-noise test signal.

The vehicle has the base audio system, which comprises:

- Empty tweeter sails in the front doors

- Empty center channel grill in the dash

- Four-channel deck power from the head unit/Cd drive

- Front door mids and flat underseat woofers on the front channels

-- The mids and a hair under 4" - they are slightly smaller than the 4" speakers in an E90 or E82. They have series capacitors to gradually filter the bass out of them. Morel Hybrid Ovations fit, barely. There are a couple of plastic tabs on the back of the door panel which need Dremeled off to put a new speaker in. Does not impair reinstallation of OE speakers.

-- The underseat woofers are 6.5" woofers with an 8" frame. They are in special spacers with VERY limited depth. The EQ SWS8 will fit, and maybe the Space 8 from Hertz (which is really a midbass speaker), but no other 8" driver I know of will.

- Rear door mids.

The signal to the speakers from the head unit is pre-processed:

- The front signal has a slight subsonic filter - taking out the very lowest bass and the highs are slightly boosted.

- The rear signal has a significant high-pass filter to take the bass out completely (since there is no bass speaker connected to these outputs) and the highs are slightly boosted.

- Constant bass. When the fader is run to the rear, the front outputs still play low-frequency sound. This is a great thing for any upgrades...

- Auto-loudness. There is some volume-dependent EQ, but it tracks the Fletcher-Munson loudness curve - lows and highs emphasized at lower levels. This really doesn't need to be reversed.

So what we are doing, after all this analysis, is using a Zapco DC650 6-channel amplifier with Morel Hybrid Ovations in the front doors, OE speakers in the rear doors, and SWS8 woofers underseat. So we used the DSP equalizer in the Zapco DC650 to counter these curves (really, only the hi-volume curves, the low-volume auto-loudness EQ was fine to leave in place) and then we added some cabin-specific EQ settings. I didn't take screen shots of each step - we were running short of time, but I wish I had - sorry!). We're adjusting the EQ in the DSP to reverse the BMW processing at high levels, so that the low-volume auto-loudness still works. We will restore much of the sub-bass so the new woofers can play them.

We're also using the DSP to damp down the worst offending notes in the rear door speakers. We are also using the rear speakers as a sort of ambiance channel, delaying them in time and filtering their signal so that they make the cabin sound bigger, without dragging the vocals aft.

Installation notes:

The plan was to use a Zapco DC650.6 amplifier/processor to power new front mids and tweeters, factory rear door speakers, and new underseat woofers. The amplifier has some pretty sophisticated DSP onboard, programmable with a PC and a USB cable. We used the DSP to "reverse" the speaker-specific EQ and low-frequency filtering shown in the graphs, and also some cabin-specific tuning with the new speakers.

The amplifier site just forward of the battery, in place of the long, narrow pocket.

We were going to use Morel Dotech 4 components in the front doors, and Morel ADMW9 woofers in the underseat locations (as we've done in other BMWs). Turns out the underseat provision in the E70 is REALLY different than the injection-molded enclosures in the E90/82/etc. There was a depth limit which simply wouldn't allow anywhere for the 71mm mounting depth for the Morel to go. So we changed to the flatter SWS8, which has less midbass capability, and then we upgraded the fronts to my favorite BMW speaker, the Hybrid Ovation 4 components from Morel. This gave us more midbass capability from the door speakers and helped "meet" the underseat woofer without shortchanging the upper bass region.

The tweeter mount in the E70 is REALLY shallow. Morel tweeters pretty much snap in into the place of OEM tweeters, adding about 3mm of depth - but that's too much. You need to mod the tweeter sail carefully (invisible behind the grille) or you need to use an even shallower tweeter (rare), or you need to use a smaller-diameter tweeter and mount it further into the sail - which will then need its own mounting approach, since it won't be snapping in.

Door mids and tweeters

The door mid location has very little depth. The Morel Hybrid Ovation 4 is the deepest speaker I could imagine installing, and a wider magnet would have prevented it from fitting (due to the arc the door panel must describe as you fit it back on).

The round tab in this picture, around the backside of the speaker opening, must be ground off carefully to install a deeper speaker. If you grind it off indiscriminately, you also grind off the plastic welds holding the grille in place. You must then use gasket tape to space the frame enough to keep the Morel surround from striking the back of the door panel.

Here is a pic of the pre-modified tweeter mount:

This was too deep! Had to remove the lip inside the tweeter mount and position the tweeter forward about 2-3mm.

Underseat woofers

The OE grille (looked the same at the end, as we retained the OE grille):

OE speaker and spacer assembly in place:

The floor under the woofer spacer (note the crescent-shaped passage into the frame cavity):

The OE woofer spacer assembly removed:

The perforated top acts to keep the carpet off of the speaker and also gives the underseat grille screws a place to anchor.

This spacer assembly has very limited height (and you can see in the earlier photo that to get more depth into the floor involves cutting into the frame - negative, Ghost Rider). You can't go up as the seat rail sits directly on part of the grille, and the seat motor passes millimeters over the top as the seat moves fore and aft.

So we needed a flat woofer.

This woofer almost fits in the spacer... it needed about 2mm of shim, plus we needed to seal the notch for the OE woofer's speaker-wire terminal connector. The woofer still mounts to the OE provisions, just with this shim in place.

The new woofer and spacer assembly:

And in place, before OE grille is re-installed:


This took a good bit of planning and good harness making.

The passive crossovers went in the driver's corner area, where the factory amplifier would go.

The signal was handled by Zapco BTL speaker-level attenuators into the Zapco's fully-balanced inputs.

The area with the plastic trim removed:

The amp rack panel test fit:

The finished panel after vinyl wrap:

Amp in place:
Attached Files
File Type: pdf 2010 x5 hu op f.pdf (18.8 KB, 1082 views)
File Type: pdf 2010 x5 hu op f lo vol.pdf (18.8 KB, 624 views)
File Type: pdf 2010 x5 hu op r hi vol.pdf (18.9 KB, 475 views)
File Type: pdf 2010 x5 hu op r lo vol.pdf (18.9 KB, 502 views)
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Old 02-08-2010, 01:51 PM
el_duderino el_duderino is offline
Location: Portland OR
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 708
Mein Auto: 07 E91 xiT
Panels re-assembled:

The results:

The overall results were night and day beyond the factory base audio system.

The lows have both impact and detail. The bass is not boomy or thumpy. There is a big peak in the response without using any of the DSP, so we used the parametric equalizer function and "tamed" the bass peak to keep it musical.

As expected, the underseat woofers don't play a lot of middle bass notes (bass guitar, male voices, lots of the drum kit). We ran the Morel mids lower than I would any other 4, with a steep filter of any lower bass notes, and they handled it flawlessly. With 50x4 and 100 watts to each underseat woofer, it's not enough power to blow you out of the car - in fact, I wouldn't bet that it plays any louder than the base audio system. (It's a sucker bet - you will play it louder than you would ever play the base audio system, because the base audio system sounds heinous at higher levels).

From the passenger front seat, there is a lot of sound blocked by the steering wheel. For that reason, the passenger-side speakers sound a lot louder to the passenger. So we cheated a bit - we time-delayed the image a bit for the driver's better front stage and center image. Without any of the DSP's time-correction function used, there was a bit of a "hole" in the center of the sound (possibly part of why BMW put that center channel in the HiFi system for these cars, when they usually don't use one until Logic 7).

After the time correction, the sterei image was well-dispersed across the entire windshield from the driver's seat. The passenger gets good tonality, but not a great image - but I blame the steering wheel

Overall, it's really a very musical, enjoyable system, and I wouldn't hesitate to do this exact system in any E70 (including mine if I drove one). For reference, it would take us three days of work to install, and it would cost right about $3500 installed.
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Old 04-14-2010, 06:04 AM
Malibu Bimmer's Avatar
Malibu Bimmer Malibu Bimmer is offline
Drive like you mean it.
Location: Pacific Palisades, CA
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 242
Mein Auto: 2009 750li KASCHMIRSILBER
Very well done. Making me reconsider having ordered my car with the base audio system!
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Old 04-27-2010, 05:59 PM
manonfire manonfire is offline
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Location: Planet Earth
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 24
Mein Auto: ML63, M3
Very very nice..
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." - T. Jefferson.

<img src=http://i107.photobucket.com/albums/m300/ldangeli/3407b583.jpg border=0 alt= />
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Old 05-02-2010, 09:03 AM
Malibu Bimmer's Avatar
Malibu Bimmer Malibu Bimmer is offline
Drive like you mean it.
Location: Pacific Palisades, CA
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 242
Mein Auto: 2009 750li KASCHMIRSILBER
Upgraded to 'premium sound' - car is supposed to be done now, waiting for transport and delivery.
Will update when I hear how it sounds...
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:17 PM
KenH KenH is offline
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Location: VA
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 8
Mein Auto: 911+M3+X6
Great article.
Just out of interest, why would there be four wires going to a subwoofer?
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