How to upgrade MINI Cooper sound system – Speakers & Amplifier

Bianka Rommel
Mar 1, 2021

When it comes to the musical experience, MINI Cooper’s basic factory sound system leaves a lot to be desired. And if you’re an audiophile, driving with that stereo on a daily basis will be like listening to your TV’s built-in speakers – not a very satisfactory prospect, is it?  

In this guide you’ll see how to change it with our sound system upgrades for MINIs and BMWs. 

BimmerTech’s Alpha One Speaker Upgrade and Premium Audio System will give your F-Series MINI very powerful, well-balanced and clear sound many would hope for. And! It won’t demand any modification to the interior of your car whatsoever. The speakers fit like factory ones, to be a perfect match for your MINIs components, and require only a simple plug & play installation (4 hours on average). Everything is fully reversible! 

Keep in mind that although this blog concerns speaker and amp upgrades strictly for F-Series MINIs (F54/F55/F56/F60) we do also offer speakers for some R-Series (R58/R59/R60/R61).

Now let’s take an in-depth look at the third-generation MINI Cooper sound systems and how to upgrade them to achieve a rich, top-notch sound. Dig in! 

MINI Cooper Sound System

What speakers and amplifiers does MINI Cooper use?

To start with, there are 2 standard MINI Cooper sound systems. They are:

  • Base (Stereo) – the low-end MINI sound system that’s featured in all F-Series MINIs without added audio options. It has 6 speakers:
    - 2x Front Door Midrange
    - 2x Rear Door Midrange
    - 2x Underseat Woofer (4 Ohm)

They are all powered by the iDrive head unit, and no additional amplifier. Because of the low-quality components, lack of tweeters or an amplifier, it’s an underpowered, poor high-frequency response and fairly high distortion system. Definitely not something you’ll be showing off to your friends with a smile on your face. It does play music to an extent and you can make Bluetooth calls and hear PDC chimes so that’s a win.

  • Harman Kardon (S674A) – the better of the two available MINI sound systems which exists in F-Series MINIs with the ‘674’ option. It has 12 Harman Kardon speakers:
    - 2x Front Door Midrange + 2x Front Door Tweeter
    - 2x Rear Door Midrange + 2x Rear Door Tweeter
    - 1x Dashboard Midrange + 1x Dashboard Tweeter
    - 2x Underseat Woofer (2 Ohm)

It’s worth noting that the Harman Kardon option 674 audio system found in MINI, 2-Series and i3 BMWs differs greatly from the Harman Kardon system listed under option 688. If you've experienced what the 688 system sounds like in the big BMW sedans or SUVs, and compare that to the 674 system thinking they’ll be more or less the same – you've most likely already figured out they’re quite dissimilar. The amplifier used in 674 Harman Kardon vehicles is more like the one used in option 676 Hifi BMWs, with much less power than the 688 Harman Kardon counterpart. It features an 8-channel amplifier connected to the head unit (located in the trunk area), however, only 7 of the 8 channels are used.  We can imagine the main reason why BMW created such a system was due to space constraints – the big, powerful, digital 10-channel amplifier would simply not fit in the smaller chassis cars. But this is only a speculation.

Learn more about the differences between MINI sound systems.

Before you search for any MINI audio upgrades, first you’ll have to check which system your car comes featured with. To do so, decode your VIN and we’ll send you an email with vehicle specification. 

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How many speakers are in MINI?

The number of MINI speakers will differ depending on the sound system you’ve got in your vehicle. These are the amounts of speakers in our Alpha One upgrades for MINI.

  Amplifier Alpha One Midrange speakers Alpha One Tweeters Alpha One Underseat woofers


Upgrades for Base system (Stereo)

Stock version consists of 6 speakers


Premium Audio System +

amplifier bracket + full wiring kit

4 2 (To install tweeters in your MINI you must additionally purchase tweeter mounting trim at your dealer or online) 2


Upgrades for Harman Kardon system

Stock version consists of 12 speakers and a 8-channel amplifier

Premium Audio System +

Plug and Play Harness

5 5 2

MINI Cooper speaker sizes

To allow for a flexible swap between speakers from different systems, all MINI Cooper speaker dimensions were made to be exactly the same in each factory option. Hence, every speaker has a set size of cavity in the internal bodywork and all mounting points placed alike. 

BimmerTech also didn’t omit those specifications and designed the MINI Cooper speaker upgrades to match the existing cavity and mounting points. Here are all speaker dimensions:

  • A90 Underseat Woofer – 255 mm (9”)
  • A45 Midrange speaker – 100 mm (4”)
  • A40 Midrange speaker – 100 mm (4”)
  • A10R Tweeter – 25 mm (1”)
  • A10F Tweeter 25mm (1”)

How to improve MINI Cooper sound system

It’s difficult to discuss tastes. While some MINI Cooper owners find their factory stereo to be just fine despite its lack of high tones and a poor bass response, others demand much more from their audio experience.

BimmerTech’s Alpha One Speaker Upgrade and Premium Audio System are here for the picky ones ;) Whether you’re not satisfied with your bass, annoyed with little sound accuracy or just hope for a clearer sound with rich high and mids, our MINI Cooper stereo upgrades will deliver it for you. 

And yes – specifically for YOU. The BimmerTech Premium Audio System amplifier always arrives at your doorstep with a customized DSP tuning file pre-loaded before shipping, which has been optimized to sound as good as possible right off the bat.  All made with helping you obtain perfect sound parameters that would fit your vehicle dimensions and your musical taste in mind.   

MINI Cooper speaker upgrade - studio quality sound

Our MINI Cooper speaker replacements consist of tweeters, midranges and underseat woofers, which depending on your needs, can come as a whole kit or as single parts. They’ll fit both the BimmerTech amp as well as factory audio systems. Now, what exactly are they responsible for? In short – tweeters are the ones that give you very high, crisp tones, midranges handle the accuracy of the middle tones and underseat woofers take care of the extra low sounds making them a lot punchier, and more importantly are capable of reproducing deeper bass.

To gather some more specs for you, we’ve made a table presenting the most important characteristics.

Tweeters Midranges Woofers

Dome material

Aluminum

Cone material

Aluminum

Cone material

Paper

Impedance

4 Ώ

Impedance

4 Ώ

Impedance

2/4 Ώ

Sensitivity @ 1W/1m

85 dB

Sensitivity @ 1W/1m

88 dB

Sensitivity @ 1W/1m

89 dB

Voice coil diameter

25.5 mm

Voice coil diameter

25.5 mm

Voice coil diameter

38.55 mm

Magnet

Neodymium Alloy

Magnet

Neodymium Alloy

Magnet

Neodymium Alloy

Starting with the speaker cone, its job is to essentially turn the vibrations from the speaker's voice coil into audible, pleasurable sounds – they should be as accurate and contain as little distortion as possible. That’s why for the materials it is required to be both durable and rigid but also light and quick in response to the change of vibrations. Aluminium cones are, without a doubt, long-lasting, while also delivering very detailed sound. What’s more, they’re known for their ability to start and stop vibrations very quickly. When it comes to paper, it offers a very rich palette of tones, making the sound open and powerful. 

So what’s up with the woofer impedance having either 2 or 4 Ohms impedance? The nominal speaker impedance is the average resistance of a speaker to electrical signals. MINIs with base stereo systems come with 4 Ohm woofers as the factory head unit can’t handle lower impedance speakers. MINIs equipped with the Harman system have 2 Ohm woofers because the Harman amplifier is capable of supplying them with enough power at a lower impedance. As a rule of thumb, amplifiers have a harder time supplying power to lower impedance speakers.

If you only plan on upgrading the speakers in your base stereo MINI keeping them powered by your factory head unit – by all means you’ll need 4 Ohm woofers. However, if you plan on retrofitting an amplifier and upgrading your speakers – in such a case you’ll be much better off with 2 Ohm woofers. This way you’ll be reaping the highest possible benefit from retrofitting an amplifier. If your MINI already has the Harman system - in such a case you’ll always be getting 2 Ohm woofers.  

Coming to the cherry on top – neodymium alloy. The material of a magnet is essential for the speaker to deliver as accurate a sound as it can. Neodymium alloy is one of the most powerful magnets used in speaker production. It’s also the most expensive, and much lighter than a ferrite magnet of the same power. It helps to move the voice coil quickly and precisely making the sound come out very natural and accurate. Undeniably, Neodymium magnets are the most expensive ones because they’re simply better than their run of the mill ferrite counterparts.

BMW Amplifier or Speaker Upgrade - what to buy first?

The answer depends on which system you have from the factory.

Upgrading a Harman Kardon 674 MINI

If you have the 674 Harman Kardon system in your MINI from the factory, you should definitely start off by upgrading the amplifier first. Why? The Harman Kardon speakers are already decent, but the amplifier could use some work. By upgrading to the Premium Audio System amplifier you’ll reap the benefits of more power, and more importantly the DSP processor.  

Thanks to the DSP, we are able to preload your MINI amplifier before shipping with an optimized tuning file adjusted specifically towards your listening pleasure. We’ll tweak the settings, like time alignment, crossovers and an advanced equalizer – all of which are not available for adjustment on the factory amplifier. Harman speakers are very well suited for equalizing. With the amp you will get the best bang for your buck out of your factory speakers. And, once you’re ready for the Alpha Ones, they will further elevate your system with even deeper bass that kicks like a horse and an inherently more balanced sound to begin with.

Talking of installation – if you’re lucky enough to own a MINI with the Harman Kardon 674 system, then your upgrade process can be much more flexible. The installation process will also be simpler compared to retrofitting an amplifier into an originally base stereo MINI. You can easily split the upgrade process into two parts, starting off by replacing the amplifier in around an hour and later on progressing to upgrading the speakers for optimal performance. 

Upgrading a Base Stereo MINI

If you have a base stereo MINI that doesn’t have tweeters or an amplifier, the honest truth is upgrading both the speakers and amplifier all at the same time is your best bet. 

While starting off with upgrading the amplifier first is always our recommendation, replacing the amplifier alone without upgrading the speakers at the same time will not be of much benefit because:

  1. Base stereo cars don’t have tweeters to begin with, so they roll off at around 12kHz while a good audio system should go all the way to 20kHz.
  2. The factory base woofers can only produce thin sounding bass, so no matter how much you equalize them, the sound won’t turn out deep and rich.

In some cases, installing our amplifier into the base stereo system may not be possible. If this is the case in your MINI, then upgrading your speakers to our Alpha One’s with no additional amplifier will be your only option. They will be a bit underpowered with only the iDrive system head unit driving them, but we’re also prepared for such a scenario. 

When supplying speakers for a base system that will only be powered by the original iDrive head unit, you’ll receive woofers that can be driven by the head unit. The difference between woofers made for cars with an amplifier and without one lies in their impedance. Weaker power sources (like the iDrive head unit compared to the 674 Harman amplifier in the case of MINIs) are not capable of driving lower impedance woofers. That’s why BMW opted to use 4 Ohm woofers in all of its base stereo cars, while Hifi 676 and Harman 674 systems have been designed to use 2 Ohm woofers – since the amplifiers present in these systems are capable of handling bigger loads. Our Premium Audio system amplifier also works best with 2 Ohm woofers, nonetheless it is also fully capable of driving 4 Ohm woofers too thanks to its ample power reserves.

MINI Cooper speakers

MINI Cooper speakers installation

The installation of a MINI Cooper speakers replacement is very similar to any other speaker installation procedure. It’s all about disconnecting and removing your factory components, and putting in the new ones – no dark magic there ;) Everything’s plug & play and can take 4 hours on average. Upgrading the speakers is mostly the same for base and Hifi cars when it comes to the installation, with the main difference being the need to order and install trim pieces with tweeter holders for base stereo vehicles.

While this is just a brief overview of how it looks on F-Series MINIs (F54/F55/F56/F60), we will send you a vehicle specific Alpha One Speakers installation guide after purchase.

To begin with, here are your kit components and tools you might want to use during the install:

Alpha One Premium Speaker Kit

  • A90 Underseat Woofers
  • A45 Midrange speakers
  • A40 Midrange speaker
  • A10 Tweeters
  • Crossover filters

Recommended and useful tools

NOTE: Before you begin any work on your MINI Cooper sound system, remember to disconnect the negative battery terminal to avoid the risk of damaging any electrical components on your car. When you do so, tie a rag under your trunk latch to prevent the trunk from closing.

To replace your MINI Cooper speakers in F60, you’re gonna have to add them to the front doors and under your passenger and driver seats.

Front door speakers replacement in F60 MINI Cooper

In your MINI F60’s front doors, you’ll use 2x A45 Midrange speakers and 2x A10 Tweeters. This procedure applies to both doors.

MIDRANGE SPEAKERS REPLACEMENT

  1. Take the door panel off:
    • Remove the door handle cover and unscrew the screws holding the panel.
    • Pop the door panel off.
    • Disconnect a series of clips.
    • Put your door panel on the ground.
  2. Take your current midrange speaker off:
    • Unscrew the 3 screws holding the speaker.
    • Take the speaker out.  
    • Disconnect the plug connection. 
  3. Using the 2-pin plug, connect the A45 Midrange speaker to the speaker wire.
  4. Insert the A45 Midrange speaker into the speaker socket.

TWEETERS REPLACEMENT

  1. Remove the triangle trim from the clip under your door's weather stripping.
  2. Unlock the latch mechanisms.
  3. Remove the tweeter from the trim.  
  4. Pull the current tweeter out with its wires.
  5. In their place, fit in the A10 Tweeter wire.
  6. Clip the A10 Tweeter into place.
  7. Pop the triangle trim back in.
  8. Connect the remaining wire with a 2-pin plug to the tweeter wire.

PUTTING THE DOOR PANEL BACK ON

  1. Tie up the midrange and tweeter wires to keep everything secure and neat. 
  2. Reconnect all the door panel wires you disconnected in step 1).
  3. Put your door panel back on.
  4. Put your door handle cover back on. 

Underseat woofer upgrade replacement in F60 MINI Cooper 

The current MINI Cooper woofers placed under your driver and passenger seats will be replaced by A90 Underseat Woofers

  1. Take out the bolts on the rails holding your seat in position.
    • Push your seat forward to gain good access to the back bolts of the seat.
    • Remove the two back bolts.
    • Push your seat backwards to gain good access to the front bolts.
    • Remove the two front bolts.
  2. Tilt the seat backwards to uncover the plastic woofer cover.
  3. Unfasten the 4 screws holding the woofer cover.
  4. Remove the screws holding the woofer and pull it out.
  5. In its place fit the BimmerTech A90 underseat woofer.
  6. Plug in your speaker wire.
  7. Once everything is set, screw the woofer bolts back in.
  8. Cover the woofer with its cover and screw it in.
  9. Put all rail bolts back in their place.

MINI Cooper amplifier installation

When installing your MINI Cooper amp, you’ll have to disassemble various areas of your car, so it would be best to take your time and be gentle with each screw and clip. 

Additionally,  for those of you who have ASD, we suggest installing our ASD deactivation harness so that our amp doesn’t have to amplify the fake engine noises along with your music – believe us, it sounds horrible and deleting the ASD module is a very valuable upgrade.

Here are the kit components and tools you might want to use during the install:

Premium Audio System kit for Harman Kardon 674 option MINIs:

  • BimmerTech Amplifier with Mounting Bracket
  • PnP Harness 
  • USB Cable
  • ASD Deactivation Harness (Highly recommended for vehicles with the ASD module)
     

Recommended and useful tools:

How to remove the factory amplifier in MINI Cooper F60?

  1. In your trunk, release the left and right retaining straps.
  2. Pull out and set aside the trim panel for the storage shelf from the guides.
  3. Remove the luggage compartment floor trim panel.
  4. Release the tailgate seal in the repair area.
  5. Open the expanding rivets of the loaded edge trim.
  6. Remove the 4 clips that secure the rear plastic trim in place and remove it.
  7. Loosen the expanding rivet on the left side of the trunk.
  8. Slide the seat bench forward and fold down the left rear seat backrest.
  9. Feed out the luggage compartment wheel arch trim panel from the tailgate seal.
  10. Feed out the luggage compartment wheel arch trim panel from the capping and the cover of the bottom C-pillar.
  11. Gently remove the luggage compartment wheel arch trim panel.
  12. Unlock the plug connection of the amplifier and disconnect it.
  13. Loosen the nuts holding the amplifier bracket.
  14. Pull the amp with the bracket out.

How to connect an amplifier to a car? 

  1. Connect the BimmerTech harness to the BimmerTech amplifier.
  2. Slide the BimmerTech amplifier into the bracket and tighten it with a bolt.
  3. Connect the BimmerTech harness to the factory harness.
  4. Put the amp with the bracket back in its place and tighten it with a nut.
  5. Tuck all cables off to the side.
  6. Put the amp cover back in its place along with all the trunk lining.
  7. Put all plastic clips back in.
  8. Slide the rear plastic trim into place and tighten it with plastic clips.
  9. Put the luggage compartment floor trim panel in place and fasten it with the clips.
  10. Put the trim panel for the storage shelf back on.
  11. Uncover your trunk latch.
  12. Reconnect the negative battery terminal.

How to install the ASD deactivation harness?

The ASD module is located alongside the Harman Kardon amplifier, so if you've already accessed the amp – you also have access to the ASD module.

  1. Unplug the connector from the ASD module. 
  2. Swap the outer connector housing (grey) from the original connector with the outer connector housing on the BimmerTech ASD deactivation Harness (Black connector).
  3. After the swap, plug the original connector into the socket on the ASD delete harness and plug its other end into the ASD module.
     

And you’re all set!

Summary

Upgrading your MINI Cooper sound system is more than replacing your factory speakers. To achieve spectacular sound, you’ll also need the help of a customizable amplifier allowing you to tweak a bunch of advanced audio settings. If you’re interested in getting to know more about MINI sound upgrades that’ll fit your specific needs, check out this blog post.

Up for a DIY installation? Our support team is ready to help you out. Don’t hesitate to contact us at any stage of the installation. If you prefer a professional to handle the procedure for you, use our network of installers.

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