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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been busy reworking the sound system in my 2005 BMW 330ci and thought I'd share some of the design decisions and work I've done, not that there is anything spectacular here, but maybe someone will benefit from some of my approach.

History
I ordered this car new with factory navigation and the Harmon Kardon sound system which was standard equipment on the coupes. It was decent and I lived with it for about a year before I got around to installing equipment I've had in two previous cars.

Originally I installed a/d/s/ 335is 2-way component speakers in the front doors with the tweeters in the stock midrange location (next to the door handle) and mid-bass in the stock location mounted to the door card. I had a 10" DVC sub in a sealed box in the trunk and all was powered by an a/d/s/ P840 amp. The equipment board was under the floor in the spare tire well, unvented and no cooling fans.

This system suffered from a few problems. The first was a lack of midbass in the doors. I never could get a good blend with the sub and it just sounded poor. The second problem was a lack of subbass mainly due to lack of power to the 10" sub. I had four channels of the P840 bridged to send 120w to each coil separately for a total of 240 watts... it wasn't enough. The third problem was lack of ventilation for the air coold amp. The first legthy road trip I took with the car resulted in a total amp melt-down one hour from my destiation which was 6-7 hours away from home. The return drive was tune-less, but the sweet music of the 3.0l I6 was entertaining... if not a little lacking in variety as I traversed the unteresting California I5.

Enter version 2.0
Since I fried my amp and had a few other issues to deal with I revamped the system. I used the same front components, but this time I cut a hole in the door shell behind the speaker location, fashioned baffles out of MDF and sealed the baffle to the door with non hardening modeling clay. I purchased an Image Dynamice IDQ12 D4v.2 sub, built a new box for it, and replaced the P840 amp with a DLS Ultimate A5. The midbass improved greatly as did the sub bass. This was fairly decent for a couple of years, but something changed and the front stage became harsh, shrill, and lacked midbass and midrange which made me not even want to listen to it anymore. I deduced that something had gone wrong with the tweeters after 10 years of use in three different cars. The midbass disappearance was another puzzle.

Enter Version 2.5
I decided I had to do something with my system or I was just going to rip it all out and go back to the H/K stuff. I started looking into component sets and was pretty set on DLS until I found a post by Scott Buwalda offering a sizeable discount on some demo sets of Hybrid Audio Technologies Claris and since another member at E46Fanatics had installed a set of these in his M3 (dumptyhumpty here too) I knew they would fit. I corresponded with Scott and had a demo set on the way to me at a considerable savings over the DLS system I was looking for including a full year of warranty and trade-up value assurance.

Since I was going with a 6.5" mid-bass vs a 5.25, new baffles were needed. I used solid oak and MDF to make these new baffles. The MDF was used for a 1/2" thick ring largely because I had it around and didn't have access to 1/2" oak so I improvised.

I cut the rings with a Japser jig, but it wasn't an easy thing to do (at first) mainly because when I purchased the jig I asked the guy at Woodcraft to get me a router bit that would work well on the solid oak. He recommended a spiral bit and I was off to work on the rings. I fussed with the setup to get the perfect size ring testing out on some 3/4" MDF and I wasn't getting a very smooth cut from that bit. It took me several tries before I gave up on it and went with a straight fluted bit I had from some previous projects, this worked much better.

Here you see the spiral bit result vs the fluted bit result. Both are solid oak and the front ring shows the rough cut of the spiral bit. It chewed up the oak pretty badly no matter how many passes I did, but the straight bit produced a smooth cut with just two passes.



Once I figured it out I made four rings: two were 3/4" solid oak, two were 1/2" MDF. I also cut a 1/4" thick ring out of masonite to be used to simulate the thickness of the speaker rim to help determine the thickness required to mount the driver with the proper depth. I ended up with a 2" thick baffle/ring setup and just enough space between the grille and the driver, perfect!



Making the baffle
Since I had done this before and all the hassle of aligning the baffle with the door and card was already done, I used the old baffle as a template for the new ones. The main benefit was size and position of the mounting holes which saved a lot of time.

My approach for aligning the rings worked really well. First I had to shave all the plastic from inside the door card to allow the 6.5" driver to fit properly. This required me to cut one of the mounting posts for the factory speaker completely off, then using my dremel I shaved down as much of the remaining plastic as I could.



I mounted the baffle to the door...



Assembled the rings together with blue painters tape and stuffed them into the door card with double sided tape on the baffle side...





I reinstalled the door card with the rings in place and they stuck to the baffle for perfect alignment...



I then used the rings to draw cut/alignment lines on the baffle, cut out the hole, glued everything up and the speaker mount was ready to go. I also made an additional support which I glued in place.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Deadening the door
I didn't do this before and since I was going for it, I loaded each door with RaamMat BXT II...

Original weather seal removed...



Since I demolished the weather seal I had to close up the access holes in the door. I purchased some galvanized screen, cut to fit and screwed in place with self tapping screws. To cushion the vibrations I applied deadener to the perimeter where the screen would be mounted.



I didn't want to make a mess of the window motor, so I sealed it up with heavy plastic and duct tape...



I then continued with the BXT II and covered everything up to seal the door shell.



Completed baffle mounted to the door.



This photo shows how I stuffed closed cell foam into the areas to fill the uneven surface of the door and seal the baffle to it. This provided support for more deadner to make the seal air tight.





Midbass mounted...



Door covered in Ensolite...



I decided to mount the tweeters to the sail panel using the surface mount cups that came with the speakers. They're off axis due to the natural angle of the sail panel, tho I'm not sure I'm going to keep them like this or not. I need to live with them like this for a few weeks and decide later if this will stick or not. The first change I may make is to angle them so they fire straight at each other using an angled shim behind them, but will decide later on after some heavy listening.

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Trunk Work
I interface to the factory wiring harness using an old factory amp that I dismantled and used terminal strips to make the wiring connections. I hand rolled twisted pair wires for pre-amp in and speaker out and created one massive cable of eight pairs that is fished under the equipment board to the spare tire well. Since I have a space saver spare, there is room under neath for the wiring and connections.

Why did I do it this way? My car is dual purpose. I use it for transportation, but also I participate in autocross and high performance driving events that take place at road courses around California. As such, I wanted to be able to remove the entire system from the trunk when I'm thrashing the car at driving events.

In the previous incarnation I had molex connectors and had to remove the rca plugs form the amp as well as some other stuff that made removal and reinstall easier, but not easy enough. This time I beefed up the connectors for pre-amp and speaker and used 8-pot Deutch connectors. These are really easy to work with and really easy to plug and unplug and they're very durable and heavy duty and weather tight, but that's secondary.

You crimp the contact on the wire, then stuff the contact thru the weather seal. Each contact clicks into it's position in the connector, then a retaining clip holds everything together. This allows you to take the connector apart without demolishing it like a standard molex connector would be.







Cannibalized amp, terminal strips, cable...



I made a new equipment board out of 1/2" MDF and covered it with carpet from Parts Express (item #260-767) which I think matches the trunk panels pretty well. Reviewing build logs here made me go overboard on the wiring appearance on this equipment board that no one will ever see, but it does look neat and tidy!



Well, this isn't the finished appearance... the obviously out of place cables will be routed thru the under-side access cut-outs and everything closed up. More to come...

Next steps
I have some more plans for the trunk. I purchased heavy-duty break-away power connectors to allow me to unplug the power/gnd in one step. This will make quick removal of the board easier yet. I've got to get more 4ga cable to make this work.

I need to make a new trunk floor to reposition the cooling fans now that I've resituated the amplifier.

I also need to find a solution for the remote amp control module up front. I had originally intended to mount it in the ash tray, but it's not deep enough. I also want to run wiring for an LED connected to the fans so I know when they are running.
 

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Looks great!

My first comment is that it looks like your midranges are pointed parallel to the ground or even pointed downward. You might create a standing wave in the midbass region. I've found that you need to angle the mids up a little bit.

Second is why didn't you get the ensolite? Makes a noticeable difference. I put 3 layers against the back of the outer door skin to reduce standing waves from the midbass.

Standing maves between 100-250hz will be your biggest tuning issue. Causes midrange mudiness, especially in male voices. You will want to do all that you can in your install to reduce the peak that is created.

For break away connectors, www.powerwerx.com is probably the best and cheapest place.

You can drill a hole in the frame rail to pass the power wire through. There is a shock for the rear bumper reinforcements so drill closer to the trunk opening. You can see it through the holes already there.

Just make your to protect the edges with a grommet on both sides. Then you can just ground the amp on the same side of the rail.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Thanks for your comments Jae... this is gonna be a long post I think. I'm glad you saw this cuz I need some help!

I spent a few hours this afternoon listening and messing with levels and polarity and I'm really disappointed in the midbass up front. When I researched these speakers people commented that they had gobs of it and one or two even removed their subwoofer. I am not getting that kind of midbass.

I did install ensolite on the door skin over the BXTII but only a single layer, maybe I need to put more? I also put a double layer of BXTII behind the mid-bass driver and a single layer of ensolite over that... per the instructions from RaamMat. The holes I cut in the metal are not a full 6.5" diameter, they're maybe 5.5" give or take a little. Seems adequate, but I really don't know.

I have a ring of closed cell foam between the driver and the door card that I believe seals it up. How would standing waves be generated behind the door card?

Honestly I don't know how the mid-bass driver can be angled up with the tight tolerances inside the door card. I don't think I have any room to adjust that. It's the angle of the photo that makes it look angled down. It's shooting straight across like the stock driver would have been.

I tweaked the tweeter position more and currently have them firing directly at each other, straight across. This seems to have moved the sound stage up some and I like that. The tweeters are still overpowering the midrange/bass up front though. I have them connected to the -3db setting, so they are at their lowest volume without adding more resistors.

The way I used the junk amp to connect to the harness in the trunk has me a little uneasy. The connector on the amp itself is soldered to a small circuit board which originally connected to another board with card edge pin connectors. I mapped the pins on the harness to the pin connectors on this board and made my connections to the terminal strip using solid core wire of similar gauge to the original pins.

However, there are some other components on this circuit board and I'm wondering if they are somehow filtering the frequencies sent to my midbass drivers up front. I won't know until I run a wire directly from the passive crossover to the midbass driver and try it that way. I made that cannibal amp thing a couple of years ago and didn't take any detailed photographs and my memory is not so good about those extra components. I remember them being there and I probably looked to see if they were part of the circuit. They must not be, but it's the only unknown at this point, other than some misunderstanding about how the midbass drivers are installed.

I'm just baffled by the lack of midbass up front given all the effort I put in to do the work on the doors. It's honestly not much better than the 10 year old 5.25's I took out of there.

The other issue I have is hiss. I used a test tone of 1Khz with the stereo volume at approximately 80% and adjusted the gain on the front channels until i got 18.4v output... which is what I calculated the output to be for 85 watts at 4 ohms. For the sub channel I did 31.6v, 500w at 2ohm. I have a lot of noise in the front channels with the gains that high... it's clean otherwise (no alternator whine), but hiss and track changes and other noise should not be there. It tells me the gains are too high.

With the gain set for a hiss/noise free experience the setting seems very low. The dial is at about 9 o'clock and measures about 2v at the speaker output. That just doesn't seem right... like I'm starving the speakers for power.

Thanks for the tips on drilling for the power wire. I have the powerwerx connectors waiting to be installed, thanks to a post from you in another thread. Do you by any chance have photos of where you drilled for yours? I don't want to make a mistake!

EDIT: I saw this photo at your cardomain site...



To me it looks like you drilled closer to the rear seat than the bumper, a heavy gauge blue wire a couple inches beyond the battery... towards the seat ??
 

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I spent a few hours this afternoon listening and messing with levels and polarity and I'm really disappointed in the midbass up front. When I researched these speakers people commented that they had gobs of it and one or two even removed their subwoofer. I am not getting that kind of midbass.

I did install ensolite on the door skin over the BXTII but only a single layer, maybe I need to put more? I also put a double layer of BXTII behind the mid-bass driver and a single layer of ensolite over that... per the instructions from RaamMat. The holes I cut in the metal are not a full 6.5" diameter, they're maybe 5.5" give or take a little. Seems adequate, but I really don't know.

I have a ring of closed cell foam between the driver and the door card that I believe seals it up. How would standing waves be generated behind the door card?

Honestly I don't know how the mid-bass driver can be angled up with the tight tolerances inside the door card. I don't think I have any room to adjust that. It's the angle of the photo that makes it look angled down. It's shooting straight across like the stock driver would have been.

I tweaked the tweeter position more and currently have them firing directly at each other, straight across. This seems to have moved the sound stage up some and I like that. The tweeters are still overpowering the midrange/bass up front though. I have them connected to the -3db setting, so they are at their lowest volume without adding more resistors.

The way I used the junk amp to connect to the harness in the trunk has me a little uneasy. The connector on the amp itself is soldered to a small circuit board which originally connected to another board with card edge pin connectors. I mapped the pins on the harness to the pin connectors on this board and made my connections to the terminal strip using solid core wire of similar gauge to the original pins.

However, there are some other components on this circuit board and I'm wondering if they are somehow filtering the frequencies sent to my midbass drivers up front. I won't know until I run a wire directly from the passive crossover to the midbass driver and try it that way. I made that cannibal amp thing a couple of years ago and didn't take any detailed photographs and my memory is not so good about those extra components. I remember them being there and I probably looked to see if they were part of the circuit. They must not be, but it's the only unknown at this point, other than some misunderstanding about how the midbass drivers are installed.

I'm just baffled by the lack of midbass up front given all the effort I put in to do the work on the doors. It's honestly not much better than the 10 year old 5.25's I took out of there.
I would assume that you are using the crossovers that Hybrid supplied, correct? Those shouldn't be the issue. You have a high voltage signal going through the components which minimizes interference.

I would try reversing the polarity on one midbass. If it sounds a lot better, you have a standing wave issue. It is a VERY common problem, all cars have them to some degree. In fact, its what plagues people with no midbass and muddy midrange.

Then change the polarity on one tweet. That should alleviate some of the harshness.

Your sound deadening sounds like its good to go.

The other issue I have is hiss. I used a test tone of 1Khz with the stereo volume at approximately 80% and adjusted the gain on the front channels until i got 18.4v output... which is what I calculated the output to be for 85 watts at 4 ohms. For the sub channel I did 31.6v, 500w at 2ohm. I have a lot of noise in the front channels with the gains that high... it's clean otherwise (no alternator whine), but hiss and track changes and other noise should not be there. It tells me the gains are too high.

With the gain set for a hiss/noise free experience the setting seems very low. The dial is at about 9 o'clock and measures about 2v at the speaker output. That just doesn't seem right... like I'm starving the speakers for power.
If you are getting a lot of hiss, your gains are probably too high. Are you using the OEM head unit?

To me it looks like you drilled closer to the rear seat than the bumper, a heavy gauge blue wire a couple inches beyond the battery... towards the seat ??
Yeah, forgot. There's a shock between the two holes. I found out the hard way. Why the fock isn't this drill bit going all the way through?:banghead::rofl:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks again Jae.

Yes, I'm using the factory nav/head unit, no line output converter between it and my amp. I had a SVEN4 in there a couple years ago, lots of noise. I had an Audio Control EQS to replace it as it had an active LOC, but I got it used and it had other issues so I pulled that out too. Now I'm going straight thru to the amp.

I just messed with the polarity on the front mid-bass and tweeters. I switched one mid-bass, low frequencies still barely audible when parked and engine off. When driving it's inaudible due to road noise.

I switched one tweet then both tweets, still overpowering the rest of the frequency range.

I have also noticed that my balance control on the factory head has very little control. By that I mean I put it all the way to the left or right and it doesn't cut out the opposite channel completely. One tick either way and the other channel goes nearly as loud as the opposite channel. I don't have rear speakers, those outputs are connected to my sub channel. I used to use the fader to control sub volume, but there was barely any variance with that approach so I used the supplied remote volume control unit that came with my amp.

Later today I'm going to try a direct run of wiring to the midbass and tweets and see if anything changes. That will rule out the cannibal connector questions.

I have my repaired a/d/s/ P840 amp that I can try in the car too. That would rule out an issue with my DLS A5.

dummptyhummpty and I may be able to run into each other this coming weekend. He has the Clarus 61-2 in his M3 along with a couple DLS amps. His mid-bass are installed to the door card with no hole cut. At least it would be a comparison to see if there is any difference... if my wiring test fails to resolve it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Maybe you need to play with the tweeter attenuation on the passive crossovers because your tweeters are so high up and right next to your ear.
BTDT... they are on the -3db setting which is the lowest volume with the supplied crossover. I may need to add a resistor to tone them down further... but I think the lack of volume on the mid-bass is causing the mismatch... at least at this point in time.
 

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so did you need a converter to go from the stock pre-amp outputs of the HU to your amp setup? or did you just go from the stock to RCA's? my JL Audio amps have "differential-balanced input" which they say is compatible with most OEM systems. i've got a LOC on my sub amp now and wonder if i really need it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
so did you need a converter to go from the stock pre-amp outputs of the HU to your amp setup? or did you just go from the stock to RCA's? my JL Audio amps have "differential-balanced input" which they say is compatible with most OEM systems. i've got a LOC on my sub amp now and wonder if i really need it.
Post #7 tells my story from passive LOC, to active LOC, to no LOC at all. In my experience, it either works or it doesn't.

I have had various equipment in two other BMWs, both E39's. One had no nav and I ran direct to my a/d/s/ P840 amp, no LOC needed. The other had nav and without the LOC the amp shut down the instant the system was switched on. An LOC solved that issue. That one was baffling because the factory amp in both cars was exactly the same part number, yet the system functioned differently.
 

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I think you have a wireing mixup in your front channels, sounds like you have the negative from the left channel combined with the positive from the right and vice versa, thats why your balance isnt working right and would explain the weak output, check, recheck, and recheck again your head unit to amp wires and amp to x-over connections and get back to us
 

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I didn't know you had the OEM head unit.

If you have no balance control (meaning if move the balance to the left, you can still hear the right), then something is wrong with the install. Something is crossed, probably at your LOC or coming from the amp to the xovers or the xovers to the speakers.

I'd get that fixed first which is probably the root of the harshness and no midbass issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You guys are on the right track. I was thinking the same thing and hope to have time today to pull my "cannibal connector" and double check my wiring against the diagram I used a couple years ago.

I know the woofer/tweeter connections are 100% correct as I verified those at the door, but the pre-amp signals I did not. I feel a major :facepalm: coming my way.
 

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its always the simple things that get you! You obviously spent a huge amount of time doing everything perfect and its two wires probably with opposite wire color codes or something thats screwing everything up :censor:.

:facepalm::facepalm::facepalm: indeed!

Im sure you will find your problem somewhere near that plug.
 

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you need this between your HD and Amp, CL441dsp

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=245914

"I also learned (and this is REALLY important) that the OEM head unit in our cars does not use the "standard" RCA signals prevalent in aftermarket stereos, but the much better differential output signals. This means that you "CAN'T" directly connect the outputs from the head unit into an aftermarket amp - you need a converter. There are a few recent aftermarket amps that can take the diff signal directly, but most can't (check BEFORE you get your amp). My amp is one of those that does not, but luckily for me Peripheral makes one that works perfect with my a/d/s amp, the Vendetta 4 (also called VEN4 for about $40). I am using it and I can tell you it works!"

http://mobile.jlaudio.com/products_cleansweep.php?prod_id=369
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I just finished double checking the connections and I had one issue, left and right front channels were reversed, which I knew already. However, there was no mix-up of the negatives and positives and absolutely no cross-talk between any of the pre-amp connections, i.e. no double connections or anything weird like that. Everything is clean between my cannibal and terminal strip.

Here's a pic of the under side of the circuit board in my cannibalized amp which the pin-side of the big connector housing on the amp is soldered to. To see 10mp version, click on the image.



If you look at the full resolution image you can see these tiny components I referred to earlier in the thread. They seem harmless to me, like they're just a block to join pins together that are too far apart for a clean solder joint. I don't think they have any value otherwise.

My next step is to test my RCA plugs and make sure they are doing what I expect them to do. A visual inspection shows they are wired correctly, plus to the center post, minus to the outer post. Once my DVM batteries recharge I'll get to this.

When I had my doors apart I tested the connections between the passive crossovers and the wires in the doors so I know those are all OK.

LOC: Well, I have three of them so I'll give that another try. I had a SVEN4 originally, noisy. I had an Audio Control EQS (purchased used and was a POS), other problems. I have a Soundgate from a previous project so I'll put that in and see if it helps with the balance problem.

If not, then I think my next step is to desolder the connector from my cannibalized amp and go to it directly... or figure out another way to interface to the factory harness in the trunk.

I may also just plug my iPod to the amp RCA inputs directly and try that as the source and see what that tells me.
 

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.....a question....why are you using two wires per connection on your terminal block to circuit board wireing (right and left woofers it looks like)...and why are there 16 solder points on the board for 4 sets of speaker wires? Without seeing the other side of the board it isnt clear to me what is going on there but I dont like the looks of those components either. Maybe I missed your rational for cannibalizing the amp but im almost sure your problem lies there. Since your balance isnt working you must have some cross connection somewhere between left and right channels somewhere and if you are positive it isn't in your wiring that only leaves that circuit board. My system is pretty much the same as yours minus the cannibalized amp, I have my LOC direct wired to the incoming harness right before the amp with the outputs going right into my preamp and everything is good.
 
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