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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 12-29-2012, 06:36 PM
Cheflance Cheflance is offline
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Mein Auto: 2004 BMW 325 Ci
After market stereo

Making this one a separate thread.

Looking for recommendations on a new stereo for the car. 2004 325ci. It's killing me to not be able to use my iPod in the car. The stereo is good enough but the radio out here in the Bay Area SUCKS!!!! Stations are pretty lame. I am not carrying around cd's anymore, I want to find a good stereo that is going to fit in nice and flush. I don't want anything that is going to hang out too far or look awkward.

Don't need much - just iPod capability, don't care if its wired into the glovebox or has a front input. Crisp sound. User friendly controls. What works with the sound system? I don't have the Harmon/Kardon system but everything sounds great through the stock right now on the cd's I burn.

What's your preference?
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  #2  
Old 12-29-2012, 07:03 PM
Jimmys 530i Jimmys 530i is offline
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I would stay with the stock system. At work, I frequently trace back random electrical gremlins to aftermarket stereos.
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  #3  
Old 12-29-2012, 08:30 PM
vandyboy vandyboy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheflance View Post
Making this one a separate thread.

Looking for recommendations on a new stereo for the car. 2004 325ci. It's killing me to not be able to use my iPod in the car. The stereo is good enough but the radio out here in the Bay Area SUCKS!!!! Stations are pretty lame. I am not carrying around cd's anymore, I want to find a good stereo that is going to fit in nice and flush. I don't want anything that is going to hang out too far or look awkward.

Don't need much - just iPod capability, don't care if its wired into the glovebox or has a front input. Crisp sound. User friendly controls. What works with the sound system? I don't have the Harmon/Kardon system but everything sounds great through the stock right now on the cd's I burn.

What's your preference?
Dude, just get the Ipod interface wire set from the BMW dealer for about $40.00. It will work on your stereo because it has the auxillary mode. I have a 2001, so I just use an FM modulator to play my iPhone and listen to Pandora.
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  #4  
Old 12-29-2012, 11:40 PM
Cheflance Cheflance is offline
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Mein Auto: 2004 BMW 325 Ci
I hadn't really looked into it. If there is a wire harness that can be attached that would be great. I tried the FM modulator a long time ago in my old car. It didn't work so great but I would guess that the technology is better now. Thanks for the wire harness idea. I think that would be the best of both worlds - cheap and I don't have to switch anything out and but in some type of face plate.
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  #5  
Old 12-30-2012, 09:51 AM
TannerT TannerT is offline
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Yeah j bought my auxiliary hook up form $30 very easy install all you need is a drill and a a couple bits. Also 30 mins time.

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  #6  
Old 12-30-2012, 01:44 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is online now
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+1 on the iPod interface. Bavarian Auto has it and this place has all sorts of tried and tested upgrades for BMWs. Will probably get new speakers from them this summer cuz mine sound crappy now.

http://www.bavariansoundwerks.com/

The install on the adapter is easy and no drilling!!!. Took about 45 minutes if I recall, it's been years. One thing to note is that if you have a CD changer it will become a paper weight.
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  #7  
Old 12-30-2012, 01:48 PM
FredoinSF FredoinSF is online now
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And if you're apprehensive about the install I can help if you get one that is plug and play in the BMW.
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  #8  
Old 12-30-2012, 03:08 PM
scarede46er scarede46er is offline
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I would say go for an aftermarket setup. Even the stock HK system is no match for something you can conjure up for about 500 dollars at Best Buy.
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  #9  
Old 12-30-2012, 07:13 PM
vandyboy vandyboy is offline
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Originally Posted by scarede46er View Post
I would say go for an aftermarket setup. Even the stock HK system is no match for something you can conjure up for about 500 dollars at Best Buy.
I know what you say is the absolute truth, but I really dislike the look of afternarket head units. I would rather keep the factory one, get the iPod interface cable from BMW and spend the rest of that $500.00 on a speaker upgrade - or my ever growing list of maintenance items.

I am not sure if FM modulators are any better than they have been. Sirius had to a develop a direct wire interface to the FM antenna to improve the horrible FM modulation in their stand alone units. The FM modulator is a pain, but until I can get my hands on a reasonably priced post 02 stereo head unit, I will keep using it.

Last edited by vandyboy; 12-30-2012 at 07:19 PM.
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  #10  
Old 12-30-2012, 08:31 PM
christopherr117 christopherr117 is offline
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I literally just had this argument with myself earlier this week. I caved and went to best buy and bought their BMW ipod interface. Thought I was about to spend $180 on just the kit, but it turns out there is a sale where the whole thing was $140 including install. (The sale price HAD to include the installation or else it would have charged me the original $180) I'd drop into your local Best Buy and see if they're running the same deal. Not a terrible price, and the steering wheel controls should still work.
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  #11  
Old 12-30-2012, 10:06 PM
scarede46er scarede46er is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vandyboy View Post
I know what you say is the absolute truth, but I really dislike the look of afternarket head units. I would rather keep the factory one, get the iPod interface cable from BMW and spend the rest of that $500.00 on a speaker upgrade - or my ever growing list of maintenance items.

I am not sure if FM modulators are any better than they have been. Sirius had to a develop a direct wire interface to the FM antenna to improve the horrible FM modulation in their stand alone units. The FM modulator is a pain, but until I can get my hands on a reasonably priced post 02 stereo head unit, I will keep using it.
Have you looked at some of the blaupunkt and alpine units? They go well with the BMW decor very well, depending on your trim style. The trouble with simply getting speakers is that the factory amps are woefully underpowered. Don't even get me started on the sucky quality of FM transmitters.
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  #12  
Old 12-31-2012, 08:16 AM
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ahull ahull is offline
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My opinion of the FM modulator is that it's troublesome and low sound quality. Note that the cheap option discussed here is probably the aux input which plugs into the headphone jack of your ipod. Sound quality is good and all it does is send the music signal to the head unit. My understanding is the more expensive one is a digital input for higher sound quality, charging(i think) and integrates the basic ipod player functions to the stereo and steering wheel controls. Search for more info.

Last edited by ahull; 12-31-2012 at 08:21 AM.
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  #13  
Old 12-31-2012, 08:41 AM
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bmw330ci04 bmw330ci04 is offline
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Mein Auto: 04 330Ci 6 Spd, 07 335Cic
also got mine from the dealer for $40 dollars, took 40 mins to put it in (because i didnt have it plugged in right the first time) and it looks like the dealer put it in, i can give you a link for good DIY intructions if you need them

i put mine on that bar with the seat heat and DSC butttons are

its that little silver circular thing
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  #14  
Old 12-31-2012, 09:40 AM
vandyboy vandyboy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scarede46er View Post
Have you looked at some of the blaupunkt and alpine units? They go well with the BMW decor very well, depending on your trim style. The trouble with simply getting speakers is that the factory amps are woefully underpowered. Don't even get me started on the sucky quality of FM transmitters.
My nephew, who is something of an audio buff, and I discussed this situation ad naseum when I got my car. He advocated scrapping the head unit. I said no. But we decided the second best option was to disconnect all of the old speakers/amp system and run better speakers off a new, much more powerful amp. All I have done so far was replace the blown back speakers with some fairly inexpensive Infinitis, which helped some.

My next move will be installing a post 2002 BMW factory head unit with the AUX mode. Then, I may indeed scrap the entire speaker system and install four top quality ones running off a new amp. FM reception in the Nashville Metro area is actually great. AM is a freaking joke; you can't even pick up either of the two 100,000 watt AM stations in Nashville.

What really chaps me is my E30's factory sound system at 26 years old sounded 10x better than the one in my E46. And, it had a weather band.

Last edited by vandyboy; 12-31-2012 at 09:45 AM.
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  #15  
Old 12-31-2012, 12:03 PM
Cheflance Cheflance is offline
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Location: Richmond, CA
 
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Mein Auto: 2004 BMW 325 Ci
I am going to have to check out my stereo and probably bring it in to Best Buy and talk to them. I would really love to just integrate the iPod/iPhone straight into the stereo with a USB input that went into the auxiliary somehow. It would be nice to be able to charge the phone or iPod while listening to it. Not have to have a lot of cables running around either.
I checked out the Bavarian Soundwerks link. That gets expensive really quick. Just adding a couple little things and choosing the vehicle got up over $300 real quick. I'll have to see how it integrates. I just started a checkout and started adding options and choosing the vehicle.

Not a bad discussion here. I tried to do a search to see if this had come up before and didn't come up with anything that sounded like the best options had been broken down. Maybe by the end of this thread we can get a concise list of best available options for people. I'm gonna do some more research. Thanks for the help and advice everybody.
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