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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just got a new 2021 530i and was trying to import music. I loaded a number of file types onto a USB and found that the car can playback WAV, FLAC, Apple Lossless, AAC, MP3 (but not AIF).

However when I tried to import to the internal hard drive, there was no "Music Collection" listed in Media!! It only shows USB, Radio, Bluetooth audio, and Screen Mirroring as music sources. I checked the manual inside iDrive and it says you can import 125GB of music? But again, there's no Music Collection nor any upload buttons in the USB screen (I've looked and looked).

What's going on here? Did mine ship in error without a HD? Or did BMW seriously remove the HD in favor of selling online streaming??
 

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From posts. This feature is removed on MY2021. Another feature I hear is removed is Time Shift for Sirius XM.
 

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Not sure why losing the internal HD storage is a big deal? I have a 256GB USB stick with over 10,000 songs on it. It is very small, sticks out maybe a quarter of an inch from the port. I keep it plugged into the port in the center console. No problem. When I want to add music to it, I just pop it out and plug into my Mac and copy. I use a program called "Playlist Export" which copies from my iTunes library and set up the folders and playlists perfectly. It couldn't be any easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Not sure why losing the internal HD storage is a big deal? I have a 256GB USB stick with over 10,000 songs on it. It is very small, sticks out maybe a quarter of an inch from the port. I keep it plugged into the port in the center console. No problem.
You're right. It freaked me out at first, as I had used the internal music collection previously, but I've since done what you've done and it's slick. Easier actually, one less import step, and using chunky Apple Lossless files on a 125GB drive.
 

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Not sure why losing the internal HD storage is a big deal? I have a 256GB USB stick with over 10,000 songs on it. It is very small, sticks out maybe a quarter of an inch from the port. I keep it plugged into the port in the center console. No problem. When I want to add music to it, I just pop it out and plug into my Mac and copy. I use a program called "Playlist Export" which copies from my iTunes library and set up the folders and playlists perfectly. It couldn't be any easier.
Agree - what is the advantage of using the stick, when you can just use your iPhone? I thought that wireless Carplay offered the best sound too?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I thought that wireless Carplay offered the best sound too?
I've been audio engineering for 30yrs and my two rules of good sound playback with today's tech...

1) Never MP3, and 2) never wireless.

These two things screw the sound from the beginning, and the two in series are doubly bad!!
 

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What does this do?
Allows you to pause and rewind SiriusXM while listening. For me I have it set to activate automatically so when I take a call it automatically pauses and when done picks up where it left off.
 

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Agree - what is the advantage of using the stick, when you can just use your iPhone? I thought that wireless Carplay offered the best sound too?
To me, there are a couple of advantages of the USB stick vs. using my iPhone::
  • I just like the BMW search interface better that the CarPlay interface
  • The stick works a lot better with large playlists, e.g. >500 tracks. With the iPhone, I'm not able to use the steering wheel to scroll though large playlists, it will just say "reading..." or something like that. This is a known bug in iDrive7. It works fine for small playlists or a single album, but once you get to large one, it doesn't work. The stick is fast and will display very large playlists instantly, e.g. >3000 tracks, and will re-shuffle instantly. And with the stick, the playlist will scroll with the album art, which is kind of cool.
  • I can use a 256GB stick, which only costs about $40. So I can save $100 and buy a smaller capacity iPhone next time, e.g. for an iPhone 12, the 256GB is $150 more than the 64GB.
  • The stick will start playing again as soon as you turn the car on, it someones takes a minute or two to restart with CarPlay. The only issue with the stick is that it will sometime start in a different place than where you left off, e.g. it will restart on track 3 of an album when you left off at track 12.
  • I think the sound from the USB is at least as good if not better than wireless CarPlay
 

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Allows you to pause and rewind SiriusXM while listening. For me I have it set to activate automatically so when I take a call it automatically pauses and when done picks up where it left off.
On some cars (not sure 2021?), it actually does this "replay mode" for the top-5 favorites. My 2011 and 2013 just did the station I was listening to - and it went away once I changed channels - but my other cars do it across multiple (so if you accidentally switch/change and come back, the other stations will be in replay mode - at least for a song or two starting from the beginning - and the prior channel still has some buffer in it).
This is all made possible by an internal drive (HDD/SSD/whatever), I presume...
 
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To me, there are a couple of advantages of the USB stick vs. using my iPhone::
  • I just like the BMW search interface better that the CarPlay interface
  • The stick works a lot better with large playlists, e.g. >500 tracks. With the iPhone, I'm not able to use the steering wheel to scroll though large playlists, it will just say "reading..." or something like that. This is a known bug in iDrive7. It works fine for small playlists or a single album, but once you get to large one, it doesn't work. The stick is fast and will display very large playlists instantly, e.g. >3000 tracks, and will re-shuffle instantly. And with the stick, the playlist will scroll with the album art, which is kind of cool.
  • I can use a 256GB stick, which only costs about $40. So I can save $100 and buy a smaller capacity iPhone next time, e.g. for an iPhone 12, the 256GB is $150 more than the 64GB.
  • The stick will start playing again as soon as you turn the car on, it someones takes a minute or two to restart with CarPlay. The only issue with the stick is that it will sometime start in a different place than where you left off, e.g. it will restart on track 3 of an album when you left off at track 12.
  • I think the sound from the USB is at least as good if not better than wireless CarPlay
The great thing is that BMW gives us options.
The reality is that I much prefer CarPlay, since it's the same interface across all makes/models (and limited years).
If I hate the (car) interface, I go to the phone UI when safe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Got this little Samsung FIT USB; fits nicely in front of the phone charging pad without getting in the way.

Song loading went fine except for the iDrive not recognizing album art (I found a million threads on this ongoing problem). In the end here's what worked. I created artist and song folders in the main directory. Used Apple Lossless song files. No iTunes library/playlist files were used (some people said these were needed, but I found they killed voice "Hey BMW find XYZ song" functionality). Files that were previously tagged with art using iTunes seems to inconsistently be a problem, so I re-tagged them with album art using a separate metadata app (then change the actual song file names slightly, like add a "0" in front of the name, so iDrive rescans this new file instead of calling from memory). Also, it seemed like the art files needed to be reduced to something like 600x600 200-500KB size. As long as I used this size range and re-tagged them outside of iTunes, the art worked.

Also I got the HK system sounding way better than the default flat setting. Even the wife noticed it sounded killer, and she's not exactly an audiophile. Normally I hate gimmicky surround algos, but at the lowest setting it gave just a touch of 3-dimensionality.

Equalizer: bass +2, treble +3, 500hz +1, 2khz +1. Surround: on, but set to the lowest level.

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To me, there are a couple of advantages of the USB stick vs. using my iPhone::
  • I just like the BMW search interface better that the CarPlay interface
  • The stick works a lot better with large playlists, e.g. >500 tracks. With the iPhone, I'm not able to use the steering wheel to scroll though large playlists, it will just say "reading..." or something like that. This is a known bug in iDrive7. It works fine for small playlists or a single album, but once you get to large one, it doesn't work. The stick is fast and will display very large playlists instantly, e.g. >3000 tracks, and will re-shuffle instantly. And with the stick, the playlist will scroll with the album art, which is kind of cool.
  • I can use a 256GB stick, which only costs about $40. So I can save $100 and buy a smaller capacity iPhone next time, e.g. for an iPhone 12, the 256GB is $150 more than the 64GB.
  • The stick will start playing again as soon as you turn the car on, it someones takes a minute or two to restart with CarPlay. The only issue with the stick is that it will sometime start in a different place than where you left off, e.g. it will restart on track 3 of an album when you left off at track 12.
  • I think the sound from the USB is at least as good if not better than wireless CarPlay
I get what your saying but you can’t just play back a music type with the usb, I have a lot of old blues on my usb which my wife does not care for, with the hard drive I would just set it for Rock when we drove down the shore for over an hour, now I can’t find a way to do that. Any suggestions?
 

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I get what your saying but you can’t just play back a music type with the usb, I have a lot of old blues on my usb which my wife does not care for, with the hard drive I would just set it for Rock when we drove down the shore for over an hour, now I can’t find a way to do that. Any suggestions?
There is a search selection for "Genre" when using the USB. Of course you need to make sure the metadata in you files is accurate and based on the way you want to sort it. But it works.
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I am using the internal storage because with usb, last track was never memorized, even after trying different usb keys/formats etc.
 

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On my Maserati, I had Apple Carplay (wireless), Sirius XM, USB and SD card as choices. When I first got the car I loaded up a SD Card (to keep the USB free for charging or whatever) with every song file I had going back to the Napster days. You know what? I never used it. It's the same songs that are in my Apple Music library, even the self-made MP3's of my kid's band (I subscribe to iTunes Match). To me, the sound quality of wireless Carplay was better and the interface is familiar (Apple everything in my house, iPhones, iPads, AppleTV, Watch, etc.). It just works, sounds the best and is easy to use. Sure, lossless files sound better, but streaming is good enough for me.
 
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