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F10 / F11 (2011 - Current)
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  #1  
Old 04-25-2011, 09:48 AM
Ry"c Ry"c is offline
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Music Playback in BMW--Quality format Choices

Music Playback in BMW==Quality Format Choices
I received my 2011 550i in March 2011. I have been experimenting with the vehicle’s sound system using different music playback formats when connected to either the USB ports or the console AUX input port. I enjoy listening to music, so I wish to play back selected music in my car with the best reproduction quality and highest fidelity.
After extensive informal trials and testing, I have discovered the following results:
1. For me, the best choice is music files stored onto a USB flash drive. The flash drive is connected to the center console USB port. The music is stored as *.WAV PCM 16-bit, 48kHz sampling rate formatting.
The remaining choices were tested and resulted in increased degradation of music audio quality.
2. Playback of music CD's using the vehicle's CD player. CD's are 16-bit 44.1kHz WAV files, so only slightly worse than #1 above.
3. Files which I stored on the USB flash drive in AAC MPEG 4 format. Although audio between the two methods of AAC is similar, the MPEG 4 container is better since the MPEG 4 container displays the artist and album names. AAC MPEG4 has metadata embedded with each music track and is used by the car to display these artist and album names. The car displays "Various Artists" for WAV and AAC ADTS.

4. AAC ADTS format. The music has comparatively similar sound to MPEG4, but as stated in #3 above, no artist and album name is displayed.
Both AAC MPEG4 and AAC ADTS have the capability of increasing the amount of playable music to store for a fixed flash drive capacity since these music files are compressed. However, simply stated, the sound quality is not as good when compared to the uncompressed WAV files.

5. Playback of music files from the iPod, iPhone or MP3 player. These devices were connected using the headphone jack (mini-plug) to the center console aux player. The playback quality of iTunes music downloads or music MP3s is significantly lower. I discovered that connecting the iPod headphone jack to the aux input is better than connecting the iPod to the USB Port for two reasons: 1. The video continues to display on the device. Using the iPod connector to the USB center console USB port will cause the video to go black. 2. At the same time the headphone jack is used to playback any audio, the iPod connector can be connected to the center console power plug to charge the phone when a charger adaptor is used.
My auto's build date does not support BMW Apps, so using the iPod connector to the USB port may access features in Apps of which I am not aware,
6. Copying music files from CD or flash drive to the BMW's internal hard drive. I do not recommend this approach. BMW's compression format used when storing files onto their internal hard drive has very poor audio reproduction quality through their own high quality sound system when music is played from the hard drive. Is this store to then playback from the hard drive problem unique to my car or do others of you have similar experiences? If so, isn’t it strange that the high quality sound system was not fully exploited when BMW decided to allow storage and playback of music files on the hard drive?
7. The Bluetooth music feature was not tested.

Note: Placing any device in the auto's glove box USB port allows the USB external device to copy files to the auto's hard drive only. Therefore do not expect to use this port for music playback.

Recommendations. As a fellow BMW owner, we should convince BMW to support and build into their vehicle sound system the encoding and decoding of high quality audio compression format files. This post suggests the use of WAV music files, an uncompressed format, because of the poor quality exhibited by AAC, MP3 and the BMW's hard drive compression. But since WAV files are large, BMW should also consider supporting two technologically current lossless compression music formats, FLAC and ALAC (Apple Lossless). These two formats would allow owners to have a choice of playing selected high quality, high fidelity music (particularly useful when taking a long road trip).

Also, BMW should support better-than-CD quality music files, such as 24-bit, 88.2 kHz or 24-bit, 192 kHz.
Under the current recommendation, using a 16 Gigabyte USB flash drive, an owner can store up to 20 albums (approximately 150 songs) of 16-bit, 48 kHz WAV music. It is akin to taking 20 CDs in the car. The driver periodically replaces the files on the flash drive, or uses a second flash drive to increase his selection while on the road. Using a home or office computer with conversion software, stored music and/or CDs, the owner can develop his own playlist and store onto the flash drive(s) prior to departing on his trip.
For my tests I used the following:
1. Linn Studio Master recordings of Beethoven Piano Concertos http://www.linnrecords.com/recording...tos-3-4-5.aspx, and singer Barb Jungr http://www.linnrecords.com/artist-barb-jungr.aspx originally stored on a RipNas server in 24-bit, 192 kHz and 96 kHz compressed in FLAC.
2. WAV-MP3 conversion software http://www.wav-mp3.com/ . After several experiments at different conversion formats, bit sizes and sampling rates, I discovered that the best the BMW would playback is 16-bit, 48 kHz WAV PCM.
3. LEXAR 16 Gigabyte USB flash drive.
4. My new 2011 BMW 550i sound system.
**Support analogue! Still the best audio reproduction quality. Vinyl LPs are making a comeback.
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  #2  
Old 04-25-2011, 10:11 AM
ksoze ksoze is offline
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Good post, but I do not think the differences in lossless and larger files are not as meaningful enough in an acoustically horrible listening environment like a moving car to give up the amount of music available.

On a dedicated iPod in the center armrest, I have a mix of formats from 128K AAC to Lossless. For the most part, the differences are not enough to warrant the increased file size, except on the iPod where space is less a premium than USB. I have found the quality to be as much as factor of source material and encoding technique as opposed to simply the bit rate. In a better environment, the differences can be heard, but a moving car is an inhospitable place to hear the subtle differences and trade off access to more music. In a home system with control over the environment and better playback components, yes there is more of a difference.

I do agree the encoding from the glovebox USB is less than stellar in its bit rate limitation (~320kb), but I have seen worse in cars.

Last edited by ksoze; 04-25-2011 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 04-25-2011, 12:20 PM
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Gran Turismo Gran Turismo is offline
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Thanks for that post which answers quite some questions I've raised in the following thread a couple of weeks ago:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=529284
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Old 04-25-2011, 12:45 PM
Qwerty2000 Qwerty2000 is offline
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I'm using a usb hard drive (1 Terabyte) with a couple of thousands songs on it, all formatted into a lossless WMA (Windows Media Audio) file format. The benefit of this format is that I don't lose any original audio quality (= lossless format), it is a compressed file format (like FLAC), you can define and have the availability of your own meta data you like to have (artist name, song title, album title, genre, etc.) and you can add and see high resolution cover arts that belongs to a song file.

Take care about the WMA file format. This format exists as lossless (like FLAC) as well as lossy format (like MP3). From the outside you can't recognize the differences between the two audio quality format from only the file name.

The standard rip from an audio cd to the internal BMW hard drive is based on a WMA lossy file format at a relative low bit rate. That's the cause of the bad quality you'll hear once you've tried this. As a normal user, you can't do anything to change this setting of the digitized process in your car. The only way to get in control of the digitized process is by doing it yourself and putting it on a usb hard drive / usb memory stick.

By defining a couple of your own playlists on your own hard drive / memory stick, you are able to select your own set of songs, depending on your mood and/or your passengers you have to take care of, without sacrificing anything to the audio quality and the number of songs.

Last edited by Qwerty2000; 04-25-2011 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 04-25-2011, 02:06 PM
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Gran Turismo Gran Turismo is offline
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@Qwerty2000: Which software are you using for ripping/converting CDA to WMA lossless with Album Art integration? Also, what are you using for creating playlists which will be correctly read and processed by the BMW Audio System?
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  #6  
Old 04-25-2011, 02:52 PM
bfv bfv is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qwerty2000 View Post
I'm using a usb hard drive (1 Terabyte) with a couple of thousands songs on it, all formatted into a lossless WMA (Windows Media Audio) file format.
Did you notice any lag in playing tracks or do you think hard drive is slower that USB flash drive?
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Old 04-25-2011, 02:58 PM
Qwerty2000 Qwerty2000 is offline
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For ripping from CDA to FLAC (my default song archive standard), I make use of the program 'dBpoweramp CD Ripper'. From FLAC to WMA (Windows Media Audio 9.2 lossless), I'll make use of the program 'dBpoweramp Batch Converter'. To complete the digitized process, I modify the set of meta data and add high resolution album art with the help of the program 'Mp3tag'. Take care when you want to save the meta data for the ID3v2 format, that it should be saved into the format ID3v2.3 ISO-8859-1. The UTF-8 and UTF-16 has given me some troubles in the past.

A playlist should be saved into the text file format 'Ansi' and has the file extension '.m3u'. Every line in this file has an expression '/[full path]/[full file name].[file extension]' without a drive letter as part of the [full path] expression. For example a line in this file could look like '/music/Beatles/Album 1/Song1.wma', where [full path] = '/music/Beatles/Album 1/', [full file name] = 'Song1' and [file extension] = 'wma'. Every line in this text file is one song file and is independent of the format of the song file. It may be any kind of formatted song file (WMA, MP3, etc.).
If you are too lazy to type the whole list by yourself (like I do), I make use of the program 'Oddgravity Playlist Creator'. Set the settings of this program in such a way, you're able to create the above defined lines.

I hope this will give you enough information to make the arrangement you like to create for yourself.

Last edited by Qwerty2000; 04-25-2011 at 03:18 PM.
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  #8  
Old 04-25-2011, 03:10 PM
Qwerty2000 Qwerty2000 is offline
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During playtime, you won't see, hear and feel any different between a hard drive and a flash drive. The only different between both is when the BMW audio system needs to read and to collect all the meta data information for the search and filter facility. The waiting time for a hard drive can be a couple of minutes (depends of the number of song files it has to process; for example 5000 song files take something of less then 5 minutes of waiting), while a flash drive has almost instant access to all these information. This waiting time is only taking place after something has changed on the drive. If no change has happened, the cache on the internal BMW hard drive use the already cached information of the external drive for an instant immediate start, no matter what kind of drive type you're going to use.

The only problem you have to take care of is when you're going to use an external usb hard drive, that this external usb hard drive needs to follow the maximum 5 volt usb standard. Sometimes an external usb hard drive needs a little bit more then this 5 volt usb standard, what gives troubles for the BMW usb audio connection. With the help of the 12 volt cigarette connection you can solve this limitation too, by using a Y-split usb cable (one for the power and the other one for the data exchange).

Last edited by Qwerty2000; 04-25-2011 at 03:25 PM.
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  #9  
Old 02-06-2014, 04:17 AM
GhostWorks GhostWorks is offline
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My setup and what i noticed for CIC bmw with Aux/USB and HDD collection

1. ripped Flac to Apple lossless ( max 48Khz/24bit ) for iPod classic, as found the classic having a better DAC rather than iPhone/iPod Touch/Nano as I tested all of these options
2. imported 12GB worth of 320kb MP3 to hard drive via glove box, I did try to do WAV lossless import however the importing didn't work for wav ( only plays wav via arm rest USB flash drive )
3. Got a Fiio X3 portable digital player for flac etc , Digital in on my Audison BIT 10 DSP for 96Khz/24bit max music playback in arm rest
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Old 02-06-2014, 05:17 AM
Qwerty2000 Qwerty2000 is offline
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Importing music to the internal BMW hard drive is only possible via the glove box usb connection and is only for mp3 digital files and original cd-audio discs. The resulted digital wma lossy files on the internal BMW hard drive iwill be of a pity very low resolution. I don't know by heart anymore (have tested this a long time ago in the past), but the resolution was a maximum of 64 or 128 kb.
Playing music can be done via the arm rest usb connection. This connection supports the formats wav (lossless), wma (lossy), wma (lossless) and mp3 (lossy). I've tested the support for higher resolution (ie. 96kHz and 192kHz), but this failed and only the 44.1kHz are supported.

To be able to get a far more higher quality and bypass the limitations of the BMW audio system, I've added and replaced additional audio components to the already build-in Logic 7 audio system in my car.
The 12 passive speaker drivers (5 tweeters, 5 mids and 2 woofers) are replaced by other high quality speaker drivers (Gladen Zero Aerospace 165.3 tweeters, Brax Matrix 3.1 mids and Gladen BMW ONE woofers), all active connected by 3 Alpine PDX-V9 and 2 Helix C-DSP. Only the trunk has its original passive left (tweeter and mid) and right (tweeter and mid) speakers. Playing music works still via the original BMW way, but with a higher sound quality. It still has the above mentioned limitations in the digital sound resolution.
To realize a higher sound resolution, the DSP has the additional functionality to connect another player straight via the digital connection or via bluetooth. Until now I haven't done that yet, because most of my music originally comes from my cd-audio discs anyway and has been digitized for the BMW into the lossless wma 16-bits, 44.1kHz format, which is the origianal cd-audio sound resolution.
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Old 02-07-2014, 12:34 PM
MERTON MERTON is offline
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Ry"C,

Good comments, but you didn't say which audio system you have.

FWIW, I consider myself somewhat an audiophile (or audio snob). I can hear the differences between Chinese and American 300B tubes in the amp in my basement stereo, a Grado vs. Sumiko cartridge in the main system, and CD vs. SACD or DVD-A. I don't pretend to hear differences between $ 50 and $ 3k snake oil interconnects or speaker wires. I also sit front of house at 70-80 live music concerts per year, with audiences of 8k - 55k people. Of course that doesn't help my hearing, but I do wear a double-muff ClearCom headset and an in-ear monitor every night.

Anyway, in my 535 with Premium Audio, I honestly cannot hear any difference between a Wav file and Apple Lossless. I KNOW I can't hear any difference between a 48K or 44.1K Wav file. That's hard to hear even with my home system. Maybe some people could hear the difference in these files if they have the B&O system and are sitting in their garage... Regarding your iPod/iPhone, are you sure you have your audio levels matched for both the line in and USB? Most people prefer the louder source in otherwise identical A-B comparisons, and using the line out of your iPhone will pass through 2 additional DACs over USB: D to A in the iPhone then A to D before going to the car's digital processor. MP3's sound terrible no matter what audio system I'm listening to.

I also must admit I hear little difference between the console USB input and Bluetooth. It's really hard to A-B these inputs as changing between them is clunky and time consuming.

Though my dealer said it was impossible to retrofit my 2012 with BMW Apps, I was able to have the car hacked and have it installed by Bimmertech. Bimmertech did a great job, but I'm disappointed with BMW Apps itself. I stream a lot of internet radio on my commute between Atlanta and Nashville, and while driving locally in Atlanta. Bluetooth gives me the most stable connection as both USB and the iPhone cradle connections drop out at 30 second intervals. I have found TuneIn Radio to be the best internet radio tuner for my favorite stations: WNCW, WMVY, Fatmusicradio, and Jazz Wyoming. 128k streams are about the best I can get. They sound OK -better than commercial FM. Maybe technically not as good as Sat Radio, but with far better program material. I've become far less happy with Sat Radio ever since Sirius took over and screwed up XM.

TuneIn Radio is a supported app that runs through BMW Connect or separately through Bluetooth. I get song info and album artwork if the station supports it. Actually, when driving around town, the Bluetooth interface is easier to use. Under Bluetooth I have to charge through the 12-volt outlet in the console. Using BMW Apps, when I get back in the car, I have to restart BMW Apps on the phone, then scroll through the iDrive menu to reconnect. This can take 30-60 seconds. With Bluetooth, the phone and car reconnect and my last internet station restarts in ~ 10 seconds, without any action on my part.
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  #12  
Old 02-07-2014, 07:59 PM
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Sonicendeavor Sonicendeavor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qwerty2000 View Post
Importing music to the internal BMW hard drive is only possible via the glove box usb connection and is only for mp3 digital files and original cd-audio discs. The resulted digital wma lossy files on the internal BMW hard drive iwill be of a pity very low resolution. I don't know by heart anymore (have tested this a long time ago in the past), but the resolution was a maximum of 64 or 128 kb.
Playing music can be done via the arm rest usb connection. This connection supports the formats wav (lossless), wma (lossy), wma (lossless) and mp3 (lossy). I've tested the support for higher resolution (ie. 96kHz and 192kHz), but this failed and only the 44.1kHz are supported.

To be able to get a far more higher quality and bypass the limitations of the BMW audio system, I've added and replaced additional audio components to the already build-in Logic 7 audio system in my car.
The 12 passive speaker drivers (5 tweeters, 5 mids and 2 woofers) are replaced by other high quality speaker drivers (Gladen Zero Aerospace 165.3 tweeters, Brax Matrix 3.1 mids and Gladen BMW ONE woofers), all active connected by 3 Alpine PDX-V9 and 2 Helix C-DSP. Only the trunk has its original passive left (tweeter and mid) and right (tweeter and mid) speakers. Playing music works still via the original BMW way, but with a higher sound quality. It still has the above mentioned limitations in the digital sound resolution.
To realize a higher sound resolution, the DSP has the additional functionality to connect another player straight via the digital connection or via bluetooth. Until now I haven't done that yet, because most of my music originally comes from my cd-audio discs anyway and has been digitized for the BMW into the lossless wma 16-bits, 44.1kHz format, which is the origianal cd-audio sound resolution.
Just for clarification for owners with newer F10's, wav, flac, mp3 and wma can now be copied from USB to the hard drive with no loss in quality. This includes flac at up to 24/192 as well as dts 5.1 surround. Ripping from CD's DOES convert to wma so you'd need to rip the CD to a USB drive, then copy it to the hard drive in order to obtain higher quality.
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Coded myself: Turn off power when opening door, ASS off by default, Enable turn signals in HUD, DVD in Motion, Transfer telephone ringtone to car, Enable tire pressure and temperature display in iDrive. Disable iDrive legal disclaimer, Disable Rear/Side camera disclaimers.
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