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  #1  
Old 04-19-2008, 06:04 PM
Fudman's Avatar
Fudman Fudman is offline
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Mein Auto: '02 530i Sport auto
E39 Armrest Subwoofer DIY

This is a relatively low cost, easy DIY for those of you who long for better bass but have been reluctant to add a subwoofer because of cost or you don’t want to give up trunk space (specifically golfers!) for a BassLink. While I wouldn’t classify the overall sound quality as audiophile quality, it is a HUGE improvement over the OEM sound system without sacrificing space.
I had first replaced the front door speakers (woofer & mid) with Infinity Reference 5010cs components and the rear deck with Kenwood KFC 1361S (due to height limitations). While these greatly improved the clarity and definition of the sound system, the low end was still woefully inadequate.
I had seen another poster put a JVC CS-BB2 subwoofer into the armrest pocket. This speaker is no longer made so I searched for an alternative. The Blaupunkt THB-200A subwoofer appeared to fit perfectly. It has a larger amp and bigger woofer than the JVC, so I went with it. I found it for $130 from online but shipping added $27. I also spent less than $10 at RadioShack for wiring connectors, harness ties, and a 10 amp fuse holder. Total cost about $165. The entire process took about 2 hours and I was taking my time, being careful and neat. The only power tool required was a drill to mount the restraining straps. A sharp knife, pliers, wire cutters, screw driver, & duct tape were everything I needed. Here is what I did (I have photos but do not know how to post them. PM me and I will email you the Word file w/photos):

1. I opened the armrest and removed the pre-cut thick foam pad against the bulkhead. I popped the plug (save this) that holds the trunk liner in place, as this is where the wiring will go through. I then trimmed the side and bottom edges of the thick foam to accommodate the subwoofer. To minimize vibrations, I lined the bulkhead with thin (1/4”) closed cell foam. You could glue or tape these in place but I just tucked the edges under the thick foam at the sides. To restrain the subwoofer, I did not use the mounting plates that came with the subwoofer as there is not enough room on the sides. Instead, I screwed a pair of nylon straps with a Fastex buckle against the bulkhead to provide restraint and allow a quick release for removal of the subwoofer. I wanted to be able to quickly remove the subwoofer for those rare instances when I need to carry 3 rear passengers. I then screwed a nylon strap onto the plate holes to allow me to grab the top edge of the subwoofer for easier removal.

2. I positioned the subwoofer with the speaker down low to allow easier access to the wiring and adjustment knobs. I taped the edges of the hole to minimize the possibility of the edge cutting the wiring harness. I ran the wiring harness through the plug hole, leaving enough slack in the harness to allow tilting of the upper subwoofer out for removal. I broke one of the tabs off of the plug and replaced the plug to hold the trunk liner in place. I ran the wiring harness in the slot of the broken tab (fits perfectly).

3. All wiring in the harness is of sufficient length to reach the battery and stereo amp. I bundled the four signal wires and routed them to the driver side rear (amp). I bundled the four power cables (2 [red] hot & 2 [black] grounds) and routed them to the passenger side rear (battery). I routed each bundle through the perforated frame member below the rear deck and then behind hid each cable bundle behind the side trunk liner panel for a clean installation.

4. Using the 12 pin wiring diagram found in BMWTips.com, Stereo, 9. non DSP e39 speaker color codes (I have a 2002 530i with non-DSP stereo), I tapped into the speaker wiring coming out the top of the amp using the red squeeze connectors (use 18-22 gage, $1.99 @ RadioShack). Use an X-Acto knife to trim away a small (1mm) section of insulation on the speaker wiring to ensure a solid connection. Use the connectors to tie the subwoofer signal wires into the speaker wires. Here’s the wiring I used:
Blue w/ purple striping - right rear woofer - positive
Blue w/ grey striping - right rear woofer - negative
Yellow w/ purple striping - left rear woofer - positive
Yellow w/ grey striping - left rear woofer – negative
In retrospect, I maybe should have tied into the front speaker wires, as my kids always tell me to turn it down. I fade to the front to accomodate them but that reduces the bass output. Oh well... Maybe I should just tell 'em to shut up.

5. I added a 10 amp fuse inline to the two red hot wires and then connected the fuse directly to the battery. I tied the two negative wires together and connected them directly to the battery ground. This wiring approach is acceptable as this subwoofer turns the system off when the signal to the subwoofer is off for 60 seconds.


6. I then plugged the harness into the subwoofer, tilted it into the pocket and gently pushed it into place. Keep the nylon strap exposed at the top for easy pullout. I buckled the Fastex buckle and Voila! Improved low end! This subwoofer has phase, crossover and volume adjustments to allow you to tailor the sound to your tastes.

The armrest tilts up about to almost vertical, so you do lose a seating position with the subwoofer installed. Removing it takes less than 30 seconds and it will stow in the trunk. The leather flap is rolled down in the picture but unfurls and completely hides the subwoofer, if you are worried about theft. All things considered (cost, improvement to sound, simplicity of install, fit, etc.), I should have done this years ago!

Happy Motoring!
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  #2  
Old 05-01-2008, 02:54 AM
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SevenMan SevenMan is offline
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Nice write-up! Please post up pics if you can. You can upload them at PhotoBucket.com or Imageshack.us
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  #3  
Old 05-14-2008, 07:15 PM
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WHITE E39 WHITE E39 is offline
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i would also like to see some pics. i'm looking to fit an 8" ported box by Hertz in to the armrest.
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  #4  
Old 08-21-2008, 05:49 PM
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VinZul VinZul is offline
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Location: Philadelphia, PA
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
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Mein Auto: 6.0 GMC Slow Mobile
Quote:
Originally Posted by WHITE E39 View Post
i would also like to see some pics. i'm looking to fit an 8" ported box by Hertz in to the armrest.

still building a port
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  #5  
Old 04-03-2009, 10:33 AM
monzavifar's Avatar
monzavifar monzavifar is offline
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Location: Charlotte, NC
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 262
Mein Auto: 330Ci 2001 Sport package
Any pictures?
Does your car have the DSP? Does it matter with or withour DSP?

Tnx,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
This is a relatively low cost, easy DIY for those of you who long for better bass but have been reluctant to add a subwoofer because of cost or you don’t want to give up trunk space (specifically golfers!) for a BassLink. While I wouldn’t classify the overall sound quality as audiophile quality, it is a HUGE improvement over the OEM sound system without sacrificing space.
I had first replaced the front door speakers (woofer & mid) with Infinity Reference 5010cs components and the rear deck with Kenwood KFC 1361S (due to height limitations). While these greatly improved the clarity and definition of the sound system, the low end was still woefully inadequate.
I had seen another poster put a JVC CS-BB2 subwoofer into the armrest pocket. This speaker is no longer made so I searched for an alternative. The Blaupunkt THB-200A subwoofer appeared to fit perfectly. It has a larger amp and bigger woofer than the JVC, so I went with it. I found it for $130 from online but shipping added $27. I also spent less than $10 at RadioShack for wiring connectors, harness ties, and a 10 amp fuse holder. Total cost about $165. The entire process took about 2 hours and I was taking my time, being careful and neat. The only power tool required was a drill to mount the restraining straps. A sharp knife, pliers, wire cutters, screw driver, & duct tape were everything I needed. Here is what I did (I have photos but do not know how to post them. PM me and I will email you the Word file w/photos):

1. I opened the armrest and removed the pre-cut thick foam pad against the bulkhead. I popped the plug (save this) that holds the trunk liner in place, as this is where the wiring will go through. I then trimmed the side and bottom edges of the thick foam to accommodate the subwoofer. To minimize vibrations, I lined the bulkhead with thin (1/4”) closed cell foam. You could glue or tape these in place but I just tucked the edges under the thick foam at the sides. To restrain the subwoofer, I did not use the mounting plates that came with the subwoofer as there is not enough room on the sides. Instead, I screwed a pair of nylon straps with a Fastex buckle against the bulkhead to provide restraint and allow a quick release for removal of the subwoofer. I wanted to be able to quickly remove the subwoofer for those rare instances when I need to carry 3 rear passengers. I then screwed a nylon strap onto the plate holes to allow me to grab the top edge of the subwoofer for easier removal.

2. I positioned the subwoofer with the speaker down low to allow easier access to the wiring and adjustment knobs. I taped the edges of the hole to minimize the possibility of the edge cutting the wiring harness. I ran the wiring harness through the plug hole, leaving enough slack in the harness to allow tilting of the upper subwoofer out for removal. I broke one of the tabs off of the plug and replaced the plug to hold the trunk liner in place. I ran the wiring harness in the slot of the broken tab (fits perfectly).

3. All wiring in the harness is of sufficient length to reach the battery and stereo amp. I bundled the four signal wires and routed them to the driver side rear (amp). I bundled the four power cables (2 [red] hot & 2 [black] grounds) and routed them to the passenger side rear (battery). I routed each bundle through the perforated frame member below the rear deck and then behind hid each cable bundle behind the side trunk liner panel for a clean installation.

4. Using the 12 pin wiring diagram found in BMWTips.com, Stereo, 9. non DSP e39 speaker color codes (I have a 2002 530i with non-DSP stereo), I tapped into the speaker wiring coming out the top of the amp using the red squeeze connectors (use 18-22 gage, $1.99 @ RadioShack). Use an X-Acto knife to trim away a small (1mm) section of insulation on the speaker wiring to ensure a solid connection. Use the connectors to tie the subwoofer signal wires into the speaker wires. Here’s the wiring I used:
Blue w/ purple striping - right rear woofer - positive
Blue w/ grey striping - right rear woofer - negative
Yellow w/ purple striping - left rear woofer - positive
Yellow w/ grey striping - left rear woofer – negative
In retrospect, I maybe should have tied into the front speaker wires, as my kids always tell me to turn it down. I fade to the front to accomodate them but that reduces the bass output. Oh well... Maybe I should just tell 'em to shut up.

5. I added a 10 amp fuse inline to the two red hot wires and then connected the fuse directly to the battery. I tied the two negative wires together and connected them directly to the battery ground. This wiring approach is acceptable as this subwoofer turns the system off when the signal to the subwoofer is off for 60 seconds.


6. I then plugged the harness into the subwoofer, tilted it into the pocket and gently pushed it into place. Keep the nylon strap exposed at the top for easy pullout. I buckled the Fastex buckle and Voila! Improved low end! This subwoofer has phase, crossover and volume adjustments to allow you to tailor the sound to your tastes.

The armrest tilts up about to almost vertical, so you do lose a seating position with the subwoofer installed. Removing it takes less than 30 seconds and it will stow in the trunk. The leather flap is rolled down in the picture but unfurls and completely hides the subwoofer, if you are worried about theft. All things considered (cost, improvement to sound, simplicity of install, fit, etc.), I should have done this years ago!

Happy Motoring!
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  #6  
Old 12-16-2009, 02:54 PM
16hr Day's Avatar
16hr Day 16hr Day is offline
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Mein Auto: 2011 535i
yeah? DSP? anybody?
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  #7  
Old 02-28-2010, 07:33 PM
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abanjableu abanjableu is offline
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Mein Auto: 02 540/74 911/01 Z3(hers)
DSP shouldn't mean a thing if you are using a line output convertor to get to the rca hookups for the amp
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  #8  
Old 12-23-2010, 03:03 PM
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Mack Mack is offline
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Location: Atlanta
 
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Mein Auto: '02 525i
No pics? WTF!!!?
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