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Thread: BMW E39 5-series/E53 X5 (no screen shots)

  1. #1

    BMW E39 5-series/E53 X5 (no screen shots)

    This describes audio systems for the US market.

    The E39 5-series and E52 (gen 1 X5) uses speaker-level signals from the OE source unit to the OE amplifier in the trunk. (This is true for non-DSP and DSP systems. However, the DSP cars need to be de-DSP'd (see note below).The max output may be lower in DSP mode, but the same output circuits are used in either case.)

    If navigation is present, the dash houses only a screen and control panel and CD or tape drive, and the tuner/head unit module is in the rear trunk or cargo area. It uses the same Quadlock connector as the non-nav HUs do, and the same antenna connectors as well.

    The 3x3 Matrix for these cars is (from the OE source unit):Speaker-level, Flat, Full-range

    There is a remote turn on wire at the amplifier, and at the HU or tuner module


    Verified ways to interface with this signal:

    Amplifiers with balanced inputs (JL, Arc Audio, Zapco Symbilink, etc)

    Isolators before amplifiers with common-ground inputs (Iso-Max CI-2RR)


    Things you do NOT need to interface with these cars:

    ANY OE interface device! No CleanSweep, no 360.1/2, no LC6/7/8, no ReQ, nothing of that sort. No de-processing needed.

    Note 1: If there is intermittent noise with the factory system and the factory amplifier, especially when the volume is changed, you may have bad capacitors in the BMW OE source unit and you may want to have it repaired.


    Note for DSP: To de-DSP the car, unplug the OE source unit and trunk-mounted tuner module (if nav equipped). Then unplug the amplifier. After at least 5 minutes, plug back in the OE source unit and tuner module (if nav is present). The EQ for the DSP will appear on screen, but is not usable, and is grayed out (it will disappear in a few minutes and you will be left only with bass and treble controls). The rear speaker outputs from the tuner or the HU are empty pins (they can be obtained using a VW Quadlock car-side connector such as the Scosche VW03RB, inserting them gives you F and R outputs and a working fader!).

  2. #2
    Founding Member el_chupo_'s Avatar
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    Yup. I did this. Used Zapco BTL transmitters. Also used a Scosche wiring harness for the car, pulled out 4 wires, and pushed the pins into the factory harness to the outputs for F/R, used the rear for the sub so I had a fader sub control.

    This is what harness looks like. The brown/yellow/blue/brown wires are the front outputs, and the gray and white ones are what I added.
    The black fins in the upper left are the factory amp for the DSP system.

    Last edited by el_chupo_; 09-21-2010 at 11:26 PM.

  3. #3
    Matt, how was the sound?

  4. #4
    Founding Member el_chupo_'s Avatar
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    Worked well. Appeared to be true full range. With the Zapco transmitters I had no problem with volume.

    I was running single input (2 channel) for the mids/tweets, and rear inputs to the sub - I did have the gains higher on the sub, though I was running 2 of the 50wpc channels bridged to the sub, so only ~180w (rated), with the 100x2 channels to the mids, 50x2 channels to the tweets. No rears.

    I may be biased, but after my wife drove my car for 6 weeks she said she missed the sound after she gave it back. I cant tune much, so it was just time aligned, with a bit of EQ.

  5. #5
    The BTLs seem like transmitters, bur they are just attenuators. You didn't really need them - as we've discussed before, you could have run the hu output right into a hacked symbilink cable, IMO with some slightly better SQ... But maybe not.

    The BTL are used best for amp outputs... Deck power is beneath them...

  6. #6
    Founding Member el_chupo_'s Avatar
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    It has been a while since we had the conversation, and unfortunately I lost our conversation over on DIY when I canceled my supporting member status and lost 900 pm's.

    IIRC, you gave me the diagram, and we discussed it, but the BTL allowed me to not hack a symbilink, provide the output I needed, and I had them on hand from one of my amp purchases.

    In retrospect it would have been easier to hack it and run a single input, however, I now already have the car wired for the MS-8 high level inputs with 4 channels instead of 2.

    SQ may have been a bit better, but other than some alt whine when I used the negative battery post for the ground (moved to factory ground spot after) I dont think I would have noticed much difference, especially when driving.

    I did get pissed when I forgot to plug the antenna back into the radio and tore the interior out trying to get to the c-pillar antenna module, then buying the new antenna, then finding the old one unplugged...

  7. #7
    I am going to bring up something dead, but I just purchased an 2003 e39 NON DSP with Business CD 530i. I purchased a second CD player as this seems to be the actual headunit for the car, and sent it out to have RCA's installed and replace a bunch of the caps and clean up the output signal. My plan is to run the factory HU to either a PS8 or a DSP6.
    Anything I should test for out of the ordinary or should it be just like any other install?
    Does the tuner and MID section of the OEM sound system have anything to do with the sound other than controls?

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