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I'm new, but posted on a different thread so won't bore everyone with my background. I am waiting on a 335i sedan w/ M-sport and premium package, but did not add the HK sound system. I have it in my current car and for some reason didn't think I needed it when I ordered it. The problem is, I have no idea how different it is than the stock system because I have no basis for comparison. I like to listen to music when I drive, but wouldn't say I'm a hardcore technical guy, especially when it comes to my music. I was a pretty hardcore music guy before I became a boring 37-year old with a wife and three kids, so I do appreciate a good sound.

So my question is, is there anything I can do about this? What are the odds they could add this at the VPC? If not, is the difference really noticeable? I really don't feel like adding a bunch of aftermarket speakers, so I don't consider that an option. Thoughts?
 

· Swedish Murder Machine
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The stock stereo is already upgraded from the system that is considered the "base" system offered in most markets. I believe it's called the business or executive audio package. It is a decent stereo that includes something like 8 speakers as well as subs under the front seats.

It's not "amazing" compared to higher end systems (I have not listened to the HK but I'm sure it's an improvement) but it is VERY VERY good for a stock system.

You don't want to deal with upgrading the stereo. The VDC cannot install the HK as an "add on" and the idea of installing aftermarket gear in your new BMW should scare the hell out of you.
 

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I would think you could install an amp, replace the speakers. Don't think you can install a new head unit with these stereos integrated into i-drive, no?
 

· Swedish Murder Machine
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Even installing speakers can be difficult... for example, with the Bose system in my A4, the speakers are low resistance bi-amplified speakers, you can't just swap the drivers out with whatever you want.

Not to mention, I used to work at a place that installed stereo gear in cars. You don't want those idiots touching your car. Want loose door panels with stripped screws? Want screws and other parts rattling around in your doors? Unless you're going to do the work yourself or sit there in a lawn chair watching the guy do the work you are potentially going to get your brand new car back in worse shape than it was in when you handed it to them.
 

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I'm new, but posted on a different thread so won't bore everyone with my background. I am waiting on a 335i sedan w/ M-sport and premium package, but did not add the HK sound system. I have it in my current car and for some reason didn't think I needed it when I ordered it. The problem is, I have no idea how different it is than the stock system because I have no basis for comparison. I like to listen to music when I drive, but wouldn't say I'm a hardcore technical guy, especially when it comes to my music. I was a pretty hardcore music guy before I became a boring 37-year old with a wife and three kids, so I do appreciate a good sound.

So my question is, is there anything I can do about this? What are the odds they could add this at the VPC? If not, is the difference really noticeable? I really don't feel like adding a bunch of aftermarket speakers, so I don't consider that an option. Thoughts?
I don't have HK; when I first got my F30 I was a little bit disappointed with the sound quality. However after a few weeks I quickly got used to it and now it doesn't bother me at all. Not sure I would order the HK in my next one..actually that is a lie I'm going to get everything including 6-cyl!!! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The stock stereo is already upgraded from the system that is considered the "base" system offered in most markets. I believe it's called the business or executive audio package. It is a decent stereo that includes something like 8 speakers as well as subs under the front seats.

It's not "amazing" compared to higher end systems (I have not listened to the HK but I'm sure it's an improvement) but it is VERY VERY good for a stock system.

You don't want to deal with upgrading the stereo. The VDC cannot install the HK as an "add on" and the idea of installing aftermarket gear in your new BMW should scare the hell out of you.
Thanks for the feedback. I think I'll stick with what I have based on this. I have a strange thing about putting aftermarket stuff on my cars. I like for everything to be just as it came from the factory. I had to replace the stereo in my current car after my little boy shoved a bunch of nickels in the CD player and shorted the whole thing out. Replacing that thing was a HUGE pain, but I eventually found an exact match and didn't have to put some funky aftermarket thing in. Plus, doing that would have been even more painful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
However painful you think it is, multiply it by 10X with this i-drive setup. :)
That makes sense. Add to it the fact that as much as technology has advanced, to your other point, the skill level of aftermarket installers does not seem to have kept pace.
 

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even installing speakers can be difficult... For example, with the bose system in my a4, the speakers are low resistance bi-amplified speakers, you can't just swap the drivers out with whatever you want.

Not to mention, i used to work at a place that installed stereo gear in cars. You don't want those idiots touching your car. Want loose door panels with stripped screws? Want screws and other parts rattling around in your doors? Unless you're going to do the work yourself or sit there in a lawn chair watching the guy do the work you are potentially going to get your brand new car back in worse shape than it was in when you handed it to them.
+1
 

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The F30 standard system sounded just fine to me during my test drive. I did not test drive an F30 with the HK system. The automobile interior is not the ideal environment for high fidelity listening. The placement of the speakers is not ideal, the presence of windows and other hard surfaces provides plenty opportunity for sound reflections. Add to that road and wind noise at speed. The HK system no doubt is tuned to address these inteferences but i don't know if the end result is $950 better than the standard system.

Edit: You can also see what Bavarian Soundwerks comes up with as a speaker upgrade for the F30. Check out their subforum, seems like they produce pretty good packages for the DIYer, all plug and play.
 

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However painful you think it is, multiply it by 10X with this i-drive setup. :)
That's a myth that should have a quick and painful death.

The iDrive has never been any more complex to add aftermarket amps/processors than any aftermarket headunit. Not the F30 iDrive (be the Professional Radio or the CIC Nav unit), not the E90, E60 or any other iDrive since 2002.

All iDrive units can either output analog high/low level balanced or digital audio signals. The easiest signal to work with aftermarket is analog (Stereo, HiFi), obviously. The digital signals (Logic7, Individual Audio, Harman Kardon, Premium systems), can be bypassed by either OEM amp analog outputs, replacing the OEM amp with a MOST converter, or simply by coding the unit to output analog. This can be done without cutting any OEM wires.

In the particular case of the OP, there is no OEM retrofit of the HK system. However, a Logic7 processor can be added to the F30 HiFi system by replacing the OEM amp with a JBL MS-8 directly. No OEM wires to cut, splice or tap, just unplug the OEM amp and then plug the MS-8 instead. The OEM speakers do not need to be replaced, and the F30 in particular has a center speaker from factory so the Logic7 processing will fit right in without any other modifications. This is 100% OEM reversible.

So yes, any aftermarket audio device can be integrated to the iDrive without permanent modifications if the installer knows what to do. It is that simple.
 

· Swedish Murder Machine
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That's a myth that should have a quick and painful death.

The iDrive has never been any more complex to add aftermarket amps/processors than any aftermarket headunit. Not the F30 iDrive (be the Professional Radio or the CIC Nav unit), not the E90, E60 or any other iDrive since 2002.

All iDrive units can either output analog high/low level balanced or digital audio signals. The easiest signal to work with aftermarket is analog (Stereo, HiFi), obviously. The digital signals (Logic7, Individual Audio, Harman Kardon, Premium systems), can be bypassed by either OEM amp analog outputs, replacing the OEM amp with a MOST converter, or simply by coding the unit to output analog. This can be done without cutting any OEM wires.

In the particular case of the OP, there is no OEM retrofit of the HK system. However, a Logic7 processor can be added to the F30 HiFi system by replacing the OEM amp with a JBL MS-8 directly. No OEM wires to cut, splice or tap, just unplug the OEM amp and then plug the MS-8 instead. The OEM speakers do not need to be replaced, and the F30 in particular has a center speaker from factory so the Logic7 processing will fit right in without any other modifications. This is 100% OEM reversible.

So yes, any aftermarket audio device can be integrated to the iDrive without permanent modifications if the installer knows what to do. It is that simple.
Technic,

Thanks for clearing up the FUD that I was helping to feed. However, I think you hit it on the head with the comment that the installer needs to do what they are doing. The overwhelming majority do NOT.

In fact, the CD changer cable (factory part) that I added to my last car was installed by the dealer, who still managed to screw things up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
That's a myth that should have a quick and painful death.

The iDrive has never been any more complex to add aftermarket amps/processors than any aftermarket headunit. Not the F30 iDrive (be the Professional Radio or the CIC Nav unit), not the E90, E60 or any other iDrive since 2002.

All iDrive units can either output analog high/low level balanced or digital audio signals. The easiest signal to work with aftermarket is analog (Stereo, HiFi), obviously. The digital signals (Logic7, Individual Audio, Harman Kardon, Premium systems), can be bypassed by either OEM amp analog outputs, replacing the OEM amp with a MOST converter, or simply by coding the unit to output analog. This can be done without cutting any OEM wires.

In the particular case of the OP, there is no OEM retrofit of the HK system. However, a Logic7 processor can be added to the F30 HiFi system by replacing the OEM amp with a JBL MS-8 directly. No OEM wires to cut, splice or tap, just unplug the OEM amp and then plug the MS-8 instead. The OEM speakers do not need to be replaced, and the F30 in particular has a center speaker from factory so the Logic7 processing will fit right in without any other modifications. This is 100% OEM reversible.

So yes, any aftermarket audio device can be integrated to the iDrive without permanent modifications if the installer knows what to do. It is that simple.
Holy [email protected] You know some stuff about car stereos...and stuff.

In all seriousness, thank you for the post. It is very helpful. I'm glad to know I have options if I don't end up liking the stock system. The only trick will be finding someone that can execute on the steps you described. Regardless of how simply they seem, I suspect it will be a challenge.
 

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I'm new, but posted on a different thread so won't bore everyone with my background. I am waiting on a 335i sedan w/ M-sport and premium package, but did not add the HK sound system. I have it in my current car and for some reason didn't think I needed it when I ordered it. The problem is, I have no idea how different it is than the stock system because I have no basis for comparison. I like to listen to music when I drive, but wouldn't say I'm a hardcore technical guy, especially when it comes to my music. I was a pretty hardcore music guy before I became a boring 37-year old with a wife and three kids, so I do appreciate a good sound.

So my question is, is there anything I can do about this? What are the odds they could add this at the VPC? If not, is the difference really noticeable? I really don't feel like adding a bunch of aftermarket speakers, so I don't consider that an option. Thoughts?
Mighta missed it - did you mention your source?

128khz sampling for instance won't sound hi-fi. 256 will.

Assumed you have HD - correct? Should pull pretty good radio....?
 

· just copacetic!!!
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Skydog...is your car already in production or on it's way? If it hasn't started production, you CA might be able to add it to the build options.

Edit: sorry, just saw your prior post and see that your car has been built and on it's way home! Congratulations...driving the car will still give you the SAG even without the HK!!! :D
 

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Hk

The 335i I test-drove months ago had the HK - it boomed like a silly boom-box over-subbed parody of a Shaft film. I had just spent 3 years in a leased 135i with the stock system, and thought that while not a B&W listening room, at least it was balanced. Good point above; the best sound I also have access to is the living room and I only need quality balance on the road. After 2.5 months on the road with the stock sound, it's totally fine - more than fine (after that test-drive I specifically ordered the car with the stock system). The only thing I want to notice from a car system is the material I'm listening to, not what's silly about whoever thought I needed a boom-box in a BMW. The stock sound's bass response is perfectly acceptable - and I'd rather listen to the music the car is making anyway
 

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Looks to me like HK is a $1600 option, at least on the 135i, since it requires BMW Assist w/ Bluetooth, which I have no interest in. I wouldn't pay that for a marginally better stereo. BMW should ditch HK and get a better OEM.

Our new Subaru Outback has a much better stereo than the HK in my 330i.
 

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My first post. yay. :) Excuse me if I ramble for a moment...

I'm fortunate to have a top-notch pro in town that takes care of this for me. In my 2010 328i I had them add a 600 watt 6 channel amp, a sub and replace the speakers with Hertz speakers. The car was only a couple months old so I told them I wanted it to appear as if it came from the factory. They did a fantastic job, you would never know it had been done other than the sound. My BMW dealer actually recomends them as well but I already knew about them anyway. They have been around almost 30 years.

I now have a F30 335i sport line with the HK (ya again). I can say that for a factory installed system, the HK is quite impressive. 16-18 speakers + a 9 channel 650 amp in the trunk by the fusebox; subs under each front seat, full surround sound with surround DVDs and the L7 mode that performs pseudo surround that claims each person in the car experiences similar stereo imaging IIRC :) I'll still likely upgrade the amp and speakers in this car though simply because I spent so many years in the audio/music world, its one of my hobbies; that also allows me to know if the guy I hire knows what he is talking about.

If the non-HK system has an external amp there is the advantage of the radio having a dedicated line out. In my 2010 328 with the base 4-speaker system, there was no line out. We had to use a pricey converter to properly reduce an already amplified signal back down to a useable clean line level.

The disadvantage of upgrading an external amp (at least with the 2012 HK and maybe the stock?) is that some of its functions are likely controlled by the radio unit such as the L7 setting) etc. The amp is somewhat custom purposed so there is the slight chance of not finding an aftermarket amp to meet all the specs without losing functionality or a chance that there is a proprietary link between iDrive and the amp. Not sure if I can find a 1200 watt 9 channel amp either. I think its possible to swap out the amp but someone is going to have to be good enough to figure out what functions are what and mate that to the new amp. So yes, could be complicated but possible in the right hands. Let me iterate that I feel quite lucky to have someone who can do this work this well, they are like the west coast customs of car audio in my town. If it can be done, they will know.

A few things I have learned about the HK:

As noted above the L7 surround setting sounds incredible with a great DVD that is surround sound encoded. It also modifies 2 channel stereo signals to provide a similar experience regardless of seating position and it also makes voice/vocals more intelligible. I'm pretty sure some of this is achieved by running a summed mono version to the center speaker and some other tricks.

If you spend most of your time listening to regular ole stereo (CDs, MP3s, Satellite Radio) you might occassionaly turn the L7 surround on or off depending on the material. L7 adds quite a bit of lower midrange and pushes center content hard center. Some stereo content sounds great with L7 on other songs sound much better with it off. I switch between the two often (I have button 7 set to Tone Settings). I noticed there are threads with some EQ curves that vastly improve the sound of the system. Be aware of which mode you are using when adjusting EQ, if you are reducing low mids that are there due to L7 being on, you'd likely be better to just turn L7 off.

The system is good enough to expose bad mixing and mastering. This means one CD or MP3 may sound unbelievably good and another horrible in comparison. I have about 1000 high quality MP3s on USB and CDs with music from the 70s thru the present and their sonic quality varies wildly. This isn't the system, it isn't the medium its bad recording and production. Satellite is hit and miss by the way, if you want to experience how good the HK sounds use a CD or high quality MP3. Satellite, just doesn't do it justice.

The subs under the seats appear to be bolted to the frame, there is a metal grill in the carpet so they are flush under the floor. I assume there is some protection for a spilled liquid because it sorta looks like a drain.

Minor annoyance... The entire media portion of iDrive follows the volume button for the most part. For example if you insert a DVD and the volume is all the way down it is effectively paused. The screen will go blank as if it were going to play but you'll sit there for 5 minutes waiting and thinking its broken. Just remember to turn the volume up and it should play as normal.

Lastly, I think the HK's bass response is at its best around 95-125 hz. Its real punchy in a good way but would be nice if it extended (or rolled off less) in the 60-80 hz range. I've heard it reproduce in that range, but I think it could use just a few dB more there. Highs could be a tad better above 8k but I'm splitting hairs here because overall you can tell it is a well tuned system, its not hyped but well tuned if that makes sense.

It will be another month or so before I see "my guy" on the difficulty of an upgrade, I'll post back with the verdict. No, I'm not normally this long-winded, its basically one big HK brain dump.
 
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