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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi there. I have a 2003 E39 with a standard radio (no screen, Business). I've used it for the two years I've owned this car with good luck and an aftermarket AUX connected all the time. Maybe half a year ago, a problem started manifesting itself in most curious ways.

I'll connect my phone and start listening. After a few seconds of driving or maybe minutes, the sound dramatically changes. It's not like us sound enthusiasts know when one channel just goes out. Both channels are active! It just gets so shallow. Loses most bass and mid-range frequencies, and seems to condense like it's not from six speakers anymore but a tiny laptop speaker somewhere far inside the dashboard. It's SO weird. Sometimes (recently only) there's a crackle with it, or even a noise like when a mic is put up to a hard drive (some kind of interruptions).

I can usually fix it by removing the aux cable half-way out of the phone and clicking it really fast in again, so fast that the music doesn't stop but instead the sound system makes a POP sound and then all is normal again. For a few minutes. I thought it was my old iPhone but then I bought a new one and it did go away, but has returned now with great fervor.

Tonight it manifested itself in yet another strange way. I was departing a store parking lot, and it had rained a lot so there was some condensation inside. I put the heater on full-power defog and turned on the rear electric defogger. As soon as I did that, the radio just went white noise. I was listening to a radio station before with no issues and crisp sound - then it just turned to white noise. I turned the defogger off, the sound came back loud and clear. Now, I've built a radio, and this problem looks to me like something is lacking ground. No ground means a lot of noise, usually always, but maybe the ground is rubbing up to something. What the hell!
Has anyone had this before? I hope someone has, and found the solution:eek:

My ideas are:
1. ground
2. the AUX cable has come apart or something
3. the main cable for the radio is improperly in place
I should note the following aftermarket equipment is installed:
1. radar detector with internal wiring and remote
2. Nokia bluetooth unit
3. extra 12V sockets (2)
 

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My guess is a dying amp.
 

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Does the sound get fixed if you wiggle or tug on the cable a bit?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Does the sound get fixed if you wiggle or tug on the cable a bit?
Well, sometimes it does, yes. But it's not of the nature you would expect if the aux cable was malfunctioning. It's pretty tightly wedged between two plastic parts in the glovebox.
Does it seem familiar with this information?
 

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On North American cars, the amp is in the boot.
 

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Substitute a known good one.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Today I did some very primitive testing and have found that the rear window defogger causing the radio to scramble has nothing to do with the alternator or any belts. That's all very quiet and there's no flicker on the lights with everything on. The bad amp theory is good but the rear window defogger affecting it keeps me up at night. I think that points to a ground issue. But I don't know anything about car electrics, just electrics in general.
I'm going to test if the sound is affected with a CD playing and the rear window defogger on. Will report.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
How would a dying amp be fixed by removing and rapidly plugging in the aux cord?

My guess is the aftermarket aux is the issue. Install a BMW aux cable. You have an 03 so it will work.
Good point. But what about the rear window defogger? I think the two must be related.
 

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Guarantee something with the aftermarket aux is shorted out or grounding out on something. What brand is the aux setup?

If you want an OE Bimmer aux cable I have an extra I will let go for 20 shipped.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Guarantee something with the aftermarket aux is shorted out or grounding out on something. What brand is the aux setup?

If you want an OE Bimmer aux cable I have an extra I will let go for 20 shipped.
The aftermarket aux is a no-name from China, but it has the BMW connector. No modification was required to plug it in, other than to route it through the glovebox. Thank you for the offer...will let you know if I take you up on it.
 
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