It's tricky, investing in an upgrade system for your BMW. With a sea of potential upgrades leaving what should be a simple choice quite confusing. Often down a path of forum investigating where everyone's a professional installer and where information is flakey at best.
One of our options is Audison's new BMW Sound Upgrades, a fully configurable set up for all BMW's from the Mini through to the latest M3, anything with an E/F series platform from 2007 on. We've held off promoting/offering the kit until we had the first-hand experience. As with all of our products offered to our clients, we will listen and use them first, to ensure our confidence. If we sell them they've made the cut.
Audison has built a fantastic configurator for the different levels of system, we'll get to that a little later, however, the basic layout as we see it goes as such:
Level 1 System from £269.99
Door Speaker replacement - Simply a speaker upgrade from the stock OEM BMW speakers, replaced by direct fitting Audison drivers.
Level 2 System from £729.97
Full speaker replacement, including under seat 8" midbass drivers, rears (if you spec that way), front door speakers and tweeters. All of these drivers are direct replacements for the OEM speakers and require no modification. (OEM under seats may require some elbow grease to remove from enclosures).
Level 3 System from £1,429.96
Speaker and Amplifier replacement with DSP, replacing the front 8" midbass, the door midrange and tweeters in a semi-passive/active manner. Integrated to the car at a "high level" (speaker level) point.
Level 4 System from £2,029.94
Speaker and Amplifier replacement with DSP, secondary amplifier and subwoofer installation. Again all plug and play, similar to level three although with a slave amplifier such as Audison AP1D and Subwoofer APBX10. Integrated at speaker level as per system 3.
Level 5 System from £2,628.94
The same spec as system 4, although utilizing the Audison DMI module to relieve the system of its analogue input, coding the car to speak digitally to the DMI such as the HK system (HK cars WILL NOT require coding) therefore leaving us with a far more linear noise-free digital input signal. This option can be added at any stage from 3 on.
Individual product costs can be found here - Audison BMW Upgrade systems
Of course, all stages depend upon the spec of the original car. In our instance, with this M3 we have a base model stereo, we went for option 3 so we need to add the OEM H/K tweeter panels for the mirror backs at approx £50. We also used a retention loom allowing the use of the OEM cabling for a seamless installation with minimum stress on this brand new car. We're available to answer questions on which spec we should be heading for with your car here - Contact Us
With this explained we'll talk through this specific installation, our experience upon installation and it's end sound. We're long-term fans of Audison and their constant drive to push forward. It does sometimes leave a couple of questions unanswered when pioneering new products, there isn't a field of practice where this doesn't happen, however, on a whole Audisons product has impressed us time after time and when on-song they have a particularly sweet sound to their equipment regardless of price point.
Now, where we've done a large number of new M cars, this is our first F80 M3, this particular one being pre-run-in service mileage and spec'd particularly nicely. The owner anticipated this upgrade, booking it before delivery and had spec'd it without top HIFI from new.
With all the logistics sorted, penned in the diary the day came to carry out the installation. The brief was to have the system complete within the day ready to return home that evening, we were to install, tune as far as we can on new speakers and then book our standard 30-day re-tune.
We set about with the under seat installation first, two installers working left/right sides of the car.
The beady-eyed may notice a few pry marks on the OEM mounts, trust me when I say these things are particularly tricky to remove, we've seen other snap them clean in half before now!
So with these enclosures treated with skinz liner, we mounted them back in the car with the factory grill replaced.
From here we sent a loom back down the car to feed our amplifiers input, then we moved onto the doors fitting Audison's K4M 4" and tweeter component set.
We Installed BMW's OEM H/K tweeter panels, in these panels we fitted the upgrade Audison tweeters.
The door panels were refitted as per OEM and we moved through to the boot of the car. This was stripped back to gain access to the rear left quarter. In this quarter of these cars is the location of either the H/K amplifier, the HIFI amplifier or an empty space on base audio. In all cases, the Engine "active sound" module is here also, an ingenious device that ploughs engine noise into the cabin through the cars audio system, great right?
Regardless, we disconnect this in all cases, unless the car is pre its run in service, we'd rather it didn't throw a code on its first service. In which case we disconnect on the 30 day tune.
Onwards to the amp installation, this is in the position of a factory amplifier in this car. This particular car didn't have any factory amplifier given its base spec audio so we filled that gap with our amplifier, then covered it with the top panel and put the boot back together.
With this done the system was tested for switching on/off and the car was re-assembled. After reassembly we went through the prompted set up procedure for the Audison AP 8.9 BIT amplifier to assign its input/output channels and we had sound, from here it was a case of tuning some safe crossover points in, some basic alignment and EQ to pinch back a little base and the car was ready to go!
It's taken me a couple of weeks to get round to writing this post, we've since had the M3 in twice for simple tuning. The first time around was to remove the ASM and retune whilst we had no interference from this unit. Unfortunately, the 2018 software upgraded cars won't allow for the disconnection of this unit so we did some simple tuning to try and combat this issue. From here the car had the ASM coded out which made a huge difference to our original tuning, creating a far quieter environment in the car had made our tuning overly boomy/bright... So round three.
Our plan for round three, having heard the car with Audison's De-EQ, then one of our own tunes without, then without ASM it was decided we revert back to De-EQ original tune and live tune from there. So we set about reconfiguring the system back to default, ran it through the de-equalisation process again, a couple of small set up steps and then took the car out, owner at the wheel reporting back what he would like from the system whilst we were on the move.
Now, this may all sound extraordinarily long winded but it is absolutely important to have any system sounding right in its given environment and for the user. We often do an SQ tune in our workshop on one setting, then a live tune on another setting when using a DSP with a controller so the client has the best of both worlds.
This car doesn't sound like an OEM upgrade, it sounds far better than that. Whilst we do have a level of expectation when it comes to monetary value over sound, this set up has exceeded that by some margin. I'm particularly impressed with the midrange/tweeter definition and the de-equalisation process. We don't often use de-equalisation, however, in this platform it really works and has opened up the entire top end of the system. A few stand out points for us are:
- Overall Volume is vastly improved
- Midrange/top end definition is fantastic
- Hard hitting midbass
- Midbass/midrange/tweeter integration is the best we've heard at this price point
So, we're a fan. It's made its way into our stock room on our " BMW Sound Upgrades " shelf. There are so many of these kits available, all with their own fans so this is simply our ramblings and findings with this particular set up, we stock two other although based around different price points to cater for all of our clientele. This is a higher cost OEM upgrade, likely a large part of the reason our findings are as positive as they are, although we would argue that the marginal increase in cost over lesser products pales into insignificance when comparing the end sound.
They've nailed it with this setup.
Please see also our Youtube Video we've put together for this particular install
The configurator can be found here, we can help you with this should you need it just shout - Audison Sound Package Configurator
Be sure to get hold of us as we can't fit everything into a blog like this, it would become quite boring to read! Please take a look through some other images we grabbed during the day.
As always, thanks for reading about these BMW Sound Upgrades and I hope it goes some way to explaining how these BMW Sound Upgrades systems work. Sharing via Social media is always welcome!!
Carl Shakespeare - Studio Incar