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  #1  
Old 10-20-2011, 07:09 AM
Carlitos H. Carlitos H. is offline
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Can I replace just the HU on X5. Please explain like I was a 12 yr old

I have an E53 X5 with the non-premium sound system and no dsp. All I want is a new HU. I really don't have any need for a new amp or speakers.

I like the Kenwood KDC-X995. I went to a reputable place here (around The D) and they told me that it was not possible to just replace just the HU without some serious problems. Something about the "factory amp having to be retained". I could be misquoting.

He said in order to do it right it would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1500. The other option he offered was to simply add iPhone connectivity to the current system and add bluetooth which we agreed was not the same. I did not get the impression he was trying to hustle me, I'm from a country of hustlers. And, this is not the only place that told me the same.

You all seem to know the score. What's the real deal? Are the only two options spending far more than I planned (or am willing to spend) or being stuck with the POS system BMW seems to want you to stick with. Tell me there's a better way.

I have no experience wiring anything and would prefer to pay an insured specialist to install it. (that way there's someone to sue if at some point it catches fire.) I'm reasonably intelligent but entirely ignorant on the subject matter. I have nerd ball tendencies but do not consider myself handy. So, in short, explain it to me like I were a really bright 12 year old.

P.S. Why does anybody make proprietary anything? Does that seem stupid to everyone else?
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  #2  
Old 10-20-2011, 12:45 PM
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DennisCooper! DennisCooper! is offline
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Hi,

No, you can't just put in an aftermarket head unit and have it connect up and work with the OEM audio setup. The X5 / E53 has the same sort of setups as the E46 3 series, E39 5 Series and E38 7 Series as they were all from that era. BMW like any other manufacturer at that time switched from providing a single DIN slot into which an aftermarket Cassette/CD player could be fitted to proprietary audio and systems which also included things like computer readouts, AC controls integration etc etc. It wasn't a stupid move, it's what was done by manufacturers the world over.

You can either keep the existing setup and add things like Bluetooth and iPod adaptors and signal processors which then connect to aftermarket much higher quality amplifiers and speakers, or junk it all and go totally aftermarket. If you read up threads on this and usually, other busier forums you can read up about what the options are and decide to go with what suits you.

The proprietary stuff has things like specific impedances so aftermarket speakers can't be connected directly. BSW do a range of impedance matched drop in replacement speakers which do lift the Sound quality much much higher than the rubbish paper speakers BMW put in, but they are relatively pricey.

Cheers, Dennis!
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  #3  
Old 10-20-2011, 04:27 PM
Carlitos H. Carlitos H. is offline
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Location: Detroit
 
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Hey Dennis,
Thanks for the quick response and enlightening information. Are there specific forums that you think I should be looking into? As another option I had seen the dynavin and similar items. I have seen a lot of discussion on the forums but was weary to get into a label with comparatively little recognition or reputation one way or the other. They seem to be out of stock at the moment anyway. Most of the discussion seemed to be about the features as opposed to the quality, which is definitely more important to me. But that's a whole other deal. I'll have to sift carefully through the posts. Thanks again.

Cheers mate
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  #4  
Old 10-20-2011, 04:48 PM
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Technic Technic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlitos H. View Post
I have an E53 X5 with the non-premium sound system and no dsp. All I want is a new HU. I really don't have any need for a new amp or speakers.

I like the Kenwood KDC-X995. I went to a reputable place here (around The D) and they told me that it was not possible to just replace just the HU without some serious problems. Something about the "factory amp having to be retained". I could be misquoting.

He said in order to do it right it would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1500. The other option he offered was to simply add iPhone connectivity to the current system and add bluetooth which we agreed was not the same. I did not get the impression he was trying to hustle me, I'm from a country of hustlers. And, this is not the only place that told me the same.

You all seem to know the score. What's the real deal? Are the only two options spending far more than I planned (or am willing to spend) or being stuck with the POS system BMW seems to want you to stick with. Tell me there's a better way.

I have no experience wiring anything and would prefer to pay an insured specialist to install it. (that way there's someone to sue if at some point it catches fire.) I'm reasonably intelligent but entirely ignorant on the subject matter. I have nerd ball tendencies but do not consider myself handy. So, in short, explain it to me like I were a really bright 12 year old.

P.S. Why does anybody make proprietary anything? Does that seem stupid to everyone else?
Your particular OEM HU has low level, balanced outputs connected to a small analog amp in the hatch. There is no proprietary anything in that OEM amp.

Either replace the OEM amp with a balanced input aftermarket amp or replace the OEM HU with aftermarket using the proper mounting bracket and adaptors.

Metra sells mounting brackets (example): http://www.amazon.com/Metra-95-9308B.../dp/B003D3NEOA

My suggestion: replace the OEM amp and keep the OEM HU. This will retain all the OEM features (steering wheel controls) and give you better sound.
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  #5  
Old 10-21-2011, 10:05 AM
Carlitos H. Carlitos H. is offline
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Thanks Technic. Very helpful information. Right now the HU is what's getting under my skin. I have iPhone integration, bluetooth, aux etc on another car and I really miss it on this one. It's remarkable how much those things change your driving experience. The HU I like as well as many others have some other features like, Pandora integration, HD radio etc. I'm certain I'll wind up changing the amp and speakers in the future. Another day another dollar.
For this X5 Crutchfield says I'll need a Universal 4 line output converter (Don't know what that is) and scosche has a wire harness. They don't say what that's for. At least with the other you can say: "It converts the output... universally and on 4 lines". What type of signal am I converting from and into what? And what's the wiring harness for?
I wonder if its overly ambitious to get into this myself being that I've rarely even spliced a wire. I also wonder if I'm not better off just waiting for one of those full multimedia plug and play deals like the dynavin. The form factor is cool but I really wonder about the quality.Technic
Thanks Technic, much appreciated.
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  #6  
Old 10-22-2011, 06:14 AM
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DennisCooper! DennisCooper! is offline
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Hi,

Technic - my focus being within the car audio industry is aftermarket high quality and premium brand solutions and products as as such my knowledge of the intricacies of the OEM setups is limited. I'd like to know the following, so that if possible, I can mention it for future reference.

1. You say change the head unit - so if an Alpine, Kenwood, Pioneer etc is fitted, it's outputs are via either RCA/Phono plugs or via amplified speaker outputs. Exactly where can the RCA 'low level' outputs be connected onto the OEM amplifier? or where exactly can the amplified speaker outputs be connected to the OEM amplifier?

2. You also say change to an Aftermarket amp with a balanced input. Exactly where and which wires will connect to the aftermarket amp? There's no phono RCA's from the BMW setup and that leaves speaker level inputs, which won't be there as the OEM amp will have been removed! only thing I can think of is you'll then need to look at the wiring loom, work out which wires carry a 'low level' signal and connect those to the speaker level inputs of the aftermarket amp?

I may well be missing something massively obvious here, so apologies about that. However, in all the other threads, there's no mention of plug n play swaps as simple as this, so I'm just wondering.

Many install shops will leave the oem head unit and amplifier in place, and then use 'signal processors' to take the speaker level outputs from the OEM amp which will then provide RCA/Phono outputs, a very clean and acoustically flat response signal which can then be passed to a quality aftermarket amplifier and then onto suitably uprated speakers. All steering controls and functionality remains as is, but sound quality is massively improved.

Carlitos - You have the option above I just mentioned. The key word you mention is 'Quality' and the Chinese replacement units aren't very good in that department - build and sound quality is below average for the retail price they cost. Overall, the Dynavin probably has better sound quality than OEM, but certainly much less than a similarly priced unit from the likes of Alpine, Kenwood, Pioneer, Sony, Clarion etc etc. The Chinese unit's only selling point is they include all the features in one box - so GPS, iPod control, DVD player, 7 inch Touchscreen, bluetooth and an onboard amplifier are all integrated. To have iPod control with your oem setup means things like the Intravee/Dension/DICE/mObridge adaptors etc. Bluetooth for your phone means a Parrot add on kit as well. Satellite Radio, another add in box etc etc.

So you are going to be stuck between the two currently, keep oem and add on all the bits you want, or change to an aftermarket setup - be it the all in one dynavin at the expense of 'Quality' or have the Quality in an Alpine, Kenwood, Sony or Pioneer and not have such a long list of built in features and it not looking 100% oem.

This 'issue' is the same for X5 owners like yourself and E39 (people like me!) E46 and E38 owners as these cars all shared similar oem setups.

Cheers, Dennis!
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  #7  
Old 10-27-2011, 12:14 AM
Carlitos H. Carlitos H. is offline
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Location: Detroit
 
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Huh. They don't make it easy. I was afraid the quality of the Chinese units might be poor. Maybe buying a touch screen device from a tiny manufacturer from a country where you will have little or no support or recourse if anything should go wrong is just inviting disaster. I wonder what the failure rate is on those things. They look cool though lol.

I've decided not to try and wire this thing myself. I'm certain that I would eventually figure it out once I opened it up but I can't do w/o my car for more than a couple days.

I clearly don't have the where with all to answer the questions you possed to Technic, which are very interesting to me. Could these be solutions to the first problem? Can you tell me exactly what they are?

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_127SOEM4/PAC-SOEM-4.html

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_1207090...e-Harness.html

Any info is good. I feel like I'm learning something here. The more I know the better I feel, so that I can discuss this with a professional installer and not look like an ass and try to figure out why the first shop would not replace the HU.

Huh. If I gain some more confidence maybe I will put a Kenwood in myself. As long as I get a very clear understanding before I went in.

Thanks!
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