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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
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  #1  
Old 09-17-2010, 11:59 PM
RyanTV RyanTV is offline
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Desperate for some audio upgrade advice

So my 2007 X3's audio system just isn't cutting it. It sounds pretty good at low volume, but it very quickly becomes obviously overtaxed as volume increases.

My requirements of the system are this:
  • Uses the stock head unit. I know that the head unit is one of the best and easiest upgrades to get better sound, but in this car I just personally really hate the way aftermarket radios look. It's purely aesthetic.
  • I want to use the stock speaker locations in the doors. While a custom molded door panel is ideal, I really like the stock look of the door panels.
  • Subwoofer must be removable. Easy enough. I can banana plug the speaker wire here and have it easy to unhook.
  • Don't need an SPL system. Just something that can produce clean audio.

So I went to my local car audio store and they underwhelmed me with their suggestions. These guys just don't think out of the box. I had to come to them with schematics of what I wanted in my Lexus - but they built it well. Long and short, they want to put these JL audio separates in the doors with a 4" woofer and what appears to be a .5" tweeter. a JL CleanSweep unit to convert from the stock deck to give it amp outs. then just put a 5 chan amp and a 10" sub in a ported box in the back and just disconnect the subs under the seats. They quoted me out for $1600 installed out the door. Sounds reasonable, but I'm wondering if I have other options.

The 4" woofers in the doors are the biggest limitation for me. Has anyone successfully gotten larger drivers in the stock location? I have not taken off the panel, but is there a chance that a 5 1/4 would fit if the tweeter was relocated to the panel opposite the side mirrors? If I can get 5 1/4s in there, my options on what type of speaker I can get go up exponentially.

Anyone have any experience with this CleanSweep product? Is there something better or different that I should take into consideration?

I just really need some good ideas on how to tackle this. It seems like the few installers I've talked to over the past few days have never even been in an X3 which is a little frustrating. Any knowledge you could send my way would be greatly appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 09-18-2010, 07:50 AM
Wongway Wongway is offline
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Please please please.... do a search for the poster named Evlengr

I'm still waiting to pull the trigger on my purchase, but he has a WEALTH of suggestions that helped me decide on certain components to build into a system.

Despite his recommendations, I however still changed a few components to suit my own tastes and will eventually get the following:
Infinity Kappa 42.9i - there may be issues with your sound taste here, but along with Evlengr's recommendation, should be a direct drop in fit.
Arc Audio mini - two of these powering the door speakers and the 2 floor subs, plus a 10 inch subwoofer
Cache coe6 - for sound processing
JBL 10inch subwoofer - for my added bottom end.

Do yourself a favor and read through Evlengr's recommendations. Make your own decisions from there, but at the very least, you'll get a finer understanding of the audio in your X3.
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  #3  
Old 09-18-2010, 08:09 AM
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SubSoof

I am toying with the idea of locating a sub in the area where the fold down armrest is in the rear seat. Any thoughts?
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  #4  
Old 09-18-2010, 09:07 AM
shamernj shamernj is offline
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The DIY sticky at the top has links to Evlengr's recommendations. Personally I like the idea of implementing a crossover to include the under-the-seat drivers in a 3 way configuration. Doing this means you don't over tax the 4 inch door speakers. You can also replace them with 8 inch Pioneer drivers. You can then add a sub in the back if you want the real low frequencies.
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  #5  
Old 09-18-2010, 10:09 AM
RyanTV RyanTV is offline
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I have read through Evlengr's post already - there are some good tips in there, but my main concerns are the 4" drivers. Knowing a bit about car audio, these are the biggest limiting factor in the whole equation.

I guess I'm going to have to pull the door panels off and make a 5 1/4 template and see if there is any way to fit them in there. It would really open up quite a few possibilities - I was hoping that someone had tried it before.

As far as putting a sub where the fold down arm rest goes, I don't see a problem with it, but there won't be that much of an advantage over it's placement there other than the look. You'd still probably want to do a ported box of some kind.

shaamernj - While I agree that it would be nice to implement a new use for the stock "sub" location, the real limiting factor is how little room there is there. Not enough airspace or depth in general to get any kind of good performance driver there. It would be really nice to have it be that stealth though.
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  #6  
Old 09-18-2010, 02:26 PM
shamernj shamernj is offline
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Let us know how the investigation goes into the use of 5 1/4 speakers. The limiting factor may be depth, unless you can build out into the vehicle.

I wasn't suggesting using the stock "subs" for anything substantial - just filling a gap between the 4 inch and the main sub in the back. I think Evlengr has reported that they can provide decent tight mid bass if fed with a good amp. Unlike the hideous boomy bass with the stock amp. I imagine upgraded drivers with a good amp could provide good performance for a limited frequency range, even with the limited space.

Stuart
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  #7  
Old 09-18-2010, 02:38 PM
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Evlengr Evlengr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanTV View Post
I have read through Evlengr's post already - there are some good tips in there, but my main concerns are the 4" drivers. Knowing a bit about car audio, these are the biggest limiting factor in the whole equation.

I guess I'm going to have to pull the door panels off and make a 5 1/4 template and see if there is any way to fit them in there. It would really open up quite a few possibilities - I was hoping that someone had tried it before.

As far as putting a sub where the fold down arm rest goes, I don't see a problem with it, but there won't be that much of an advantage over it's placement there other than the look. You'd still probably want to do a ported box of some kind.

shaamernj - While I agree that it would be nice to implement a new use for the stock "sub" location, the real limiting factor is how little room there is there. Not enough airspace or depth in general to get any kind of good performance driver there. It would be really nice to have it be that stealth though.

Not just the depth but sheet metal cutting and some grinding you will need to do to fit 5 1/4. Would love to do that, but even I try to retain the original design for when I sell the vehicle.

BTW Wongway..the Infinty kappa's are what I have currently. Wish I had known you wanted those I would have traded you out for a pair of the Alpines. They are just too bright for my tastes. I like a flatter response with some emphasis on bottom end.

Also, the sub installation requires at least .74 cubic feet even for a smaller sealed sub ( I prefer a non-ported sub..they don't give that whump whump sound, but a nice tight kick bass sound). I recommend against a ported sub as it sounds muddy as all get out in our vehicles.

You could do it with some creative engineering (armrest area), but would not be able to get it back to stock set up should you decide to sell or trade.

Again, all my suggestions are usually based on the presumption that you will want to return the vehicle back to stock set up at some point in the future. So yes you can mount a 5 1/4 heck I can get a 6.5 in the doors but cutting would be required and getting it back to stock near impossible.
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Last edited by Evlengr; 09-18-2010 at 07:29 PM.
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  #8  
Old 09-18-2010, 02:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shamernj View Post
The DIY sticky at the top has links to Evlengr's recommendations. Personally I like the idea of implementing a crossover to include the under-the-seat drivers in a 3 way configuration. Doing this means you don't over tax the 4 inch door speakers. You can also replace them with 8 inch Pioneer drivers. You can then add a sub in the back if you want the real low frequencies.
That is my current layout. I think I posted a visio diagram on that.
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  #9  
Old 09-19-2010, 02:13 AM
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RyanTV, I may have some good news for us both, but can't be sure until I take my door panels off again and get some really accurate measurements.

I have to thank you for your challenge as I think this week I have three days off and if the weather is good will do just that.

Turns out that my favorite mfg Boston Acoustics make a 5 1/4 (SR55) that has a cut out diameter that is only 4 1/2 inches. Now the tricky part is to see if a washer type mounting can raise the speaker enough from the inner door metal to mount it. The depth is over 2 inches and it was a tight squeeze with my 1 13/16 Infinity Kappas.

However, I love the all around smooth sound the BA's deliver and they are a relatively efficient speaker that would allow for the stock power to run them until you decided on your H/U and power amplifier.

Last time I did a door install I never took pics ( bad engineer I know). I will take some step by steps this time around for all those that have asked me in the past as well (Wongway, Shamernj, and Surgtech to name a few--many thanks).

I am having that technical upgrade itch that is begging to be scratched.
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Last edited by Evlengr; 09-19-2010 at 06:47 AM.
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  #10  
Old 09-19-2010, 09:51 AM
RyanTV RyanTV is offline
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Evlengr: that would be amazing if you would do that! I've really wanted to put Boston's in there this whole time, that's why I didn't want to go with this company's idea for my system.

Any help and pictures you can provide will be very useful and extremely appreciated!
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  #11  
Old 09-19-2010, 10:04 AM
AlanLX3 AlanLX3 is offline
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Please take pictures if you decide to try this Evlengr - upgrading the speakers in my wife's X3 is an unfinished dormant project I'd love go back to one of these days and this sounds pretty interesting. I was working on our X3 sound system a year ago but set it aside when I ordered a new 328xiT and spent time on it instead.
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  #12  
Old 09-19-2010, 01:14 PM
VQ35MAX6MT VQ35MAX6MT is offline
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You should think About getting shallow depth subs to replace the stock ones.... A. they are out of the way b. They are in the best part of the car acoustically. And u can get sone pretty loud and clear 4" drivers... I bought some 4" drivers out of a 5 series with logic7 system Nd put them in the front doors of the x... Even stock amp made a nice difference.
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Old 09-19-2010, 01:21 PM
surgtech72@yaho surgtech72@yaho is offline
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Infinity kappa

I don't know if the '06 has a different door configuration, but I bought 4 4" Infinity Kappa speakers on ebay, and took them to a local car audio shop for installation yesterday. They couldn't get them to fit, saying the magnet depth was too great. I was not very happy, and now I have to look at selling those speakers.

Ev, did you have to modify or cut anything to get the Kappas in your doors?
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  #14  
Old 09-19-2010, 03:29 PM
RyanTV RyanTV is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VQ35MAX6MT View Post
You should think About getting shallow depth subs to replace the stock ones.... A. they are out of the way b. They are in the best part of the car acoustically. And u can get sone pretty loud and clear 4" drivers... I bought some 4" drivers out of a 5 series with logic7 system Nd put them in the front doors of the x... Even stock amp made a nice difference.
Can you recommend a Brand and model that will fit? I would certainly consider putting upgraded subs here if I could get decent performance out of them and didn't have to modify the factory enclosures.

I'm not looking to quake my neighborhood, I'd just like to get clean, undistorted sound out of the system. Once you get the stock system turned up a bit it sounds a mess!
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Old 09-19-2010, 07:23 PM
AlanLX3 AlanLX3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanTV View Post
Can you recommend a Brand and model that will fit? I would certainly consider putting upgraded subs here if I could get decent performance out of them and didn't have to modify the factory enclosures.

I'm not looking to quake my neighborhood, I'd just like to get clean, undistorted sound out of the system. Once you get the stock system turned up a bit it sounds a mess!
Bavarian Soundwerks says they are working on a subwoofer to fit below the seats but I have been hearing that for quite some time now and haven't heard of anything in production yet. I used a pair of SWS-8 subwiffers (sic) in my wife's X3 and would dump them in a heartbeat of someone else came up with something that included actual quality control in the mfg process. I have an Alpine IDA-X100 HU with a Focal amp for the subwoofer channel and the SWS-8's just don't have the low end resolution for the job.
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  #16  
Old 09-19-2010, 07:38 PM
surgtech72@yaho surgtech72@yaho is offline
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bsw

Since I have owned my '06 X3, Bavarian Soundwerks have posted messages claiming "we are really close to a stage 1 speaker upgrade for the X3," and 4 years later there is nothing for the x3. Don't hold your breath.
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  #17  
Old 09-19-2010, 07:56 PM
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Evlengr Evlengr is offline
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Pics and Specs

Quote:
Originally Posted by surgtech72@yaho View Post
I don't know if the '06 has a different door configuration, but I bought 4 4" Infinity Kappa speakers on ebay, and took them to a local car audio shop for installation yesterday. They couldn't get them to fit, saying the magnet depth was too great. I was not very happy, and now I have to look at selling those speakers.

Ev, did you have to modify or cut anything to get the Kappas in your doors?
Nope they fit right in. Was very snug, but nothing had to be cut or altered. I plan on doing some R and D this week and will snap photos of current set up as well as some ideas for upgrades.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanLX3 View Post
Bavarian Soundwerks says they are working on a subwoofer to fit below the seats but I have been hearing that for quite some time now and haven't heard of anything in production yet. I used a pair of SWS-8 subwiffers (sic) in my wife's X3 and would dump them in a heartbeat of someone else came up with something that included actual quality control in the mfg process. I have an Alpine IDA-X100 HU with a Focal amp for the subwoofer channel and the SWS-8's just don't have the low end resolution for the job.
Both Pioneer and Kicker make a shallow mount that should fit. Never heard of earthquake and sorry I will get some folks mad on this one but I think BSW takes advantage of their exclusive market and could do much better for what they charge.

Alan what I recommend is that you use the 8 inch for a midrange fill and get a seperate 10inch shallow mount sub in a sealed box for the back.

I am toying wtih the idea of teaming up with a local speed shop (if they will have me that is) that does nothing but BMW, Audi, and Porsche for sound gear. If you are in the DC-Balt area they are phenomenal people and experience in itself http://www.atspeedmotorsports.com/


Short answer: If the weather is good and I am not exhausted Thursday I will do some retro engineering with pics and specs (been a long time coming).
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  #18  
Old 09-19-2010, 08:46 PM
RyanTV RyanTV is offline
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Evlengr: What 8" midbass drivers are you using? What are the depth restrictions down there?

Sounds like a quality idea to use those spaces for some fill - There really just isn't enough airspace there for really dramatic low end, but totally interested in a few choices.

If I could put 5 1/4" Bostons in the door locations, 1" dome tweeters opposite the mirrors and 8's under the seat, that would be a great start. I'd love to hear what that sounds like - possibly could forgo a cargo area sub. But if i put in a 5 chan amp in conjunction with a 2 chan it would leave that option open if I wanted rear fill.

Thanks for bouncing ideas around - This is all very useful and hopefully will be helpful to the whole X3 community!
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Old 09-19-2010, 11:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanTV View Post
Evlengr: What 8" midbass drivers are you using? What are the depth restrictions down there?

Sounds like a quality idea to use those spaces for some fill - There really just isn't enough airspace there for really dramatic low end, but totally interested in a few choices.

If I could put 5 1/4" Bostons in the door locations, 1" dome tweeters opposite the mirrors and 8's under the seat, that would be a great start. I'd love to hear what that sounds like - possibly could forgo a cargo area sub. But if i put in a 5 chan amp in conjunction with a 2 chan it would leave that option open if I wanted rear fill.

Thanks for bouncing ideas around - This is all very useful and hopefully will be helpful to the whole X3 community!
I am using the stock "subs" in there now. I was going to get the pioneer or maybe even the kicker as they have the lowest depth (2"or under), but driving them with a good amp and processor is enough in the 200-800khz (mid-bass range). It seemed financially prudent to invest more in a clean amp and 10 inch sub then drop money into something I was going to compliment with more bass in a larger sub. Plus the cubic feet where they are seated would not give them enough room to really perform.
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:48 AM
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This is unfolding into a wonderfully interesting thread with your help, mate.

I've scoped out this 6 chan amp that could possibly be used to drive the doors and midbass under the seats. JL Audio XD600. Looks like it pushes 75 watts RMS at 4 ohms and it's pretty small so it would be easy to conceal.

The shallowest Kicker i found was the 8" CompVT with a mounting depth of 3 3/8"
Pioneer's TS-SW841D is a shallow mount "sub" that has a mounting depth of only 2 1/2"

I wonder what either of them would sound like with 75 watts each on them. You think you'd probably need more?

If you could get something like that set up, then you could just add either a sub with a monoblock amp or one of those all in one jobs that Infiniti and JL make. I've heard the Infiniti one and it didn't sound half bad.

I'm crossing my fingers that you have a chance to investigate getting those 5 1/4 in the doors. What kind of mounting depth is available there?
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  #21  
Old 09-20-2010, 01:45 AM
RyanTV RyanTV is offline
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I just found this one too

Earthquake SWS-8 and SWS-8Xi (looks like one is 2ohms and one is 4ohms?)
http://www.earthquakesound.com/sws.htm

Says on that site that they are direct replacements for BWM factory woofers.
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  #22  
Old 09-20-2010, 03:42 AM
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Originally Posted by RyanTV View Post
I just found this one too

Earthquake SWS-8 and SWS-8Xi (looks like one is 2ohms and one is 4ohms?)
http://www.earthquakesound.com/sws.htm

Says on that site that they are direct replacements for BWM factory woofers.
I have used the stock 8's with an Alpine amp and they don't sound bad. In my opinion I don't think anything with that shallow a depth and circumference will be able to create the bass response "We" are looking to replicate. They are nice fills in the mid bass range when supplied with the right power and "tuned" correctly. Just think money is better spent in other areas. You can always double back and replace them if you still need more.

I used an Alpine processor and software. Does a decent job but software is a little clunky.

Also, read deeper. A lot of reviews are not that favorable on them. I wouldn't worry about impedance matching so much as long as you are consitent across the board if you are sharing on an amp.

Just ordered a set of nice nylon pry tools so will be getting the info we all need soon.

They are a must as the wood inlays will chip (I know arghhh) if you use conventional pry tools. I had to borrow a set after chipping (and replacing the wood).
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Last edited by Evlengr; 09-20-2010 at 03:59 AM.
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  #23  
Old 09-20-2010, 08:59 AM
AlanLX3 AlanLX3 is offline
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RyanTV - there is a lot of information on the under the seat speaker replacement in the e90 forums because this speaker/enclosure is identical to what we have in the X3. Happily for us there are lots of e90s on the road so their owners have compiled some nice resources we can tap.

A good starting point would be in this thread

http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=163804

The instructions are quite workable for doing this in an e83 although there are some differences in the floorboard construction. It is the case that you need to modify the enclosure slightly in order to fit the 2 1/8" deep SWS-8 into the OEM enclosure so the 2 1/2" Pioneer will require a little more work to make something to raise the height of the mounts.

A very long thread with lots of links to other under the seat installs:

http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=53945

We have more clearance to the seat rails than an e90 so doing something that raises the face of the speaker is easier for the e83 than it is in the e90. More than a few folks have installed the Pioneer you referenced.

There is a port from the speaker mounting enclosure into the rails along the door frame so the actual enclosure space is quite a bit larger than you might suspect. The lower door frame rails are a sealed compartment according to everything I have read although it is not clear what the actual volume measurements are.

As I mentioned above there seems to be a consensus that the SWS-8 speakers suffer from some serious QA issues and while some specimens sound nice others (like mine) are less than impressive.

My wife isn't willing to live with a box in the back for a standalone sub so I am still holding out hope for a better under the seat solution. I don't drive the X3 that much compared to my 328xiT (with a real sub) so my motivation to knock myself out on the e83 isn't all that high right now.
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Old 09-20-2010, 11:35 AM
RyanTV RyanTV is offline
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@AlanLX3
Thanks for all the info. I'll have to dig through it all and see what is what.

I definitely don't want to deal with speakers with shoddy quality so thanks for the heads up. Glad I didn't jump the gun on that.

Looks like I'm going to have to yank a seat out and get to those stock boxes.
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Old 09-20-2010, 08:05 PM
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Mein Auto: 2013 Audi S4 2010 MT MCS
I really like that pdf and a nice alternative to my 3 way crossover system.

In the long run it is cheaper. I would love to compare on the differences.

Chances are I will use this as an add on should I not be able to swap out the 4 inch speakers like we are hoping.
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2013 S4 Loaded (and NO RFT's) Awesome is an understatement
2008 MT X3 RIP you were a faithful sidekick and will be missed.
2007 AT X3 RIPOS
2005 GC
2000 Jeep Cherokee
1997 Twin Turbo RX-7
1984 GTI Wolfsburg Edition Neuspeed and more

Last edited by Evlengr; 09-20-2010 at 08:15 PM.
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