The perfect BMW sound system upgrade is not only limited to adding or replacing speakers or mounting a subwoofer in your trunk. If you are looking for a louder, cleaner/clearer and more accurate sound, an amplifier is simply a MUST.
The purpose of an amplifier is to amplify a low voltage signal (line level signal) to a high level signal suitable for “driving” a speaker or speaker set. Needless to say, a more powerful amplifier will have an easier time driving speakers with clean, distortion free power, ensuring loud and clear reproduction of your favorite music. Depending on the factory audio system in your BMW or MINI, you’ll have more or less amplifier channels powering speakers of different quality and power.
A channel in an amplifier is a single audio output stage. In BMW car audio, even in a Base stereo system (where there is no dedicated amplifier) your head unit has 4 amplifier channels built into it which directly drive the speakers.
In a HiFi system the head unit also has 4 audio outputs, but instead of driving speakers directly, these outputs are configured to supply the dedicated multi-channel amplifier with a suitable low voltage line level signal. At this point, the amplifier takes over the duty of increasing the audio signal amplitude, and it’s passed on to a specific speaker e.g. a woofer or a speaker set like a midrange+tweeter.
There are many more differences between various BMW audio systems, so we’ll go over the key points to give you a better understanding of their set-up and features.
No, not all of them. Whether your car is equipped from the factory with a dedicated amplifier or not depends on your BMW sound system. There are 4 common audio options:
If you’re not sure which BMW sound system you have, decode your VIN and we’ll send you the full vehicle specification list.
What about our BimmerTech amp? The Premium Audio System has 9 channels: 8 speaker level channels and 1 RCA line level output (this one can come in handy for connecting an additional subwoofer in a trunk should you feel like having one). Inside our amplifier designed for BMWs and MINIs the analog audio signal from the head unit gets converted into a digital one, processed and converted back to analog before being amplified and going to your speakers. The biggest advantage of our amplifier is the fact that we pre-set all kinds of advanced settings such as delay, crossovers, and EQ to dial in the sound to match your exact musical taste. Prefer stronger bass? Maybe more pronounced vocals? No problem. Such tuning requires expert knowledge, and a bit of measurement equipment and (or a good pair of ears ear). Fortunately, if you’re not experienced, we’ve saved you the trouble and offer the BimmerTech Premium Amplifier pre-loaded with a custom tuning file into its 64-bit fully adjustable DSP to give you the most from your OEM or Alpha One speakers.
That’s why getting a Premium Audio System will be especially beneficial for you if your sound system lacks an amp (such as Base), or features a BMW amplifier (like Hi-Fi) which still doesn’t have any advanced DSP or as much power as our amp does. If you combine it with our refined midranges, tweeters, beefy woofers, and a matching tune, your sound will be drastically improved. And by that we mean – a lot punchier, powerful, low reaching and detailed in its mid and high frequencies.
Furthermore, regardless if you’re upgrading from a Base, HiFi or Harman (S674A) system - with our amplifier, not only will each speaker or speaker pair have its own dedicated amplifier output channel, but also a dedicated DSP channel, thanks to which we can mold the sound of each output channel exactly the way we want it to sound. This is something OEM amplifiers can’t do, not even the Harman or B&O systems, because while they do have a graphic equalizer - it can’t be adjusted separately for each channel.
It’s very common to boast about power figures as if they are the be-all and end-all determining factor of any audio upgrade. In reality that’s not the case, not even close. But, power can’t be discounted, that's for sure.
From a technical standpoint you need clean, distortion-free power. Simply, the power capability of the amplifier needs to be able to exceed what the speakers can handle at max volume on the dial, without the amplifier ever needing to get anywhere close to its max rated specs. This means that even when you have the iDrive volume cranked “all the way up”, the amplifier should still have ample output power reserves.
BimmerTech’s amplifier exceeds these requirements by a large margin, as it can output about double the power that Base or Hifi BMW speakers can handle without ever breaking a sweat. Same with our Alpha Ones. Thanks to this, our amp sounds equally well at low playback volumes as it does at full volume, without any compression or distortion.
Importantly, when talking about power it’s pretty common for manufacturers and vendors to hype up the specs of their equipment by quoting power levels at ridiculously high distortion levels. However, such practices may be not only silly but also misleading. Especially when you connect an amplifier to a factory wiring harness that can only supply so much current to an amplifier before blowing a fuse. What you really need is an amplifier which has more than enough power at all times of normal use, without ever needing to push anywhere near the limits of what it’s capable of.
The Digital Signal Processor (DSP) is a chip which processes audio signals in the digital domain. You may ask how is this possible? The analog audio signal arriving from the iDrive head unit first gets converted from analog to digital, then enters the processor which does whatever it was programmed to do (thanks to the tuning file loaded to it), and once again the digital signal gets converted back to analog, before being passed on to the amplifier section.
A lot of audio equipment have digital processors these days but three things are crucial when in comes to DSP:
When it comes to the Premium Audio System, not only is the DSP embedded within our state of the art amplifier, but it also has some very advanced tuning software to go with it, thanks to which it can be set up to perfection by the right pair of hands and ears.
Because we set up the DSP for you, you don’t have to understand a single bit about making it sound great while being safe for your speakers. Ever since releasing the Premium Audio System, we’ve been pre-loading our amplifiers before shipping with an appropriate, optimized tuning file based on your vehicle's VIN, which we always have to know to deliver an amplifier to you.
What exactly is this tuning file? A tuning file as we call it is a small file which gets loaded to the amplifier from a laptop via a USB cable. It contains all of the various settings for the DSP which mold/adjust the sound that is coming out of your car's speakers to be as pleasant as possible, within the limits of what the speakers can handle.
Our advice – leave this job to the experts ;) Unless you’re a skilled audio specialist, it’s best for you to hand any adjustments over to professionals who are fluent in tweaking the amplifier settings. Even though BimmerTech’s baseline tuning files are already expertly optimized, we’re always more than happy to hear your needs and perfect the sound further.
As they say: variety is the spice of life, and the best possible tuning file will be different depending on the genre you listen to. The tunes will vary for someone that listens exclusively to modern, overly compressed music that was mastered to sound loud and catchy, compared to less compressed classical or instrumental music with a high dynamic range, where there is an actual differentiation in volume levels between different instruments over the period of the song.
For this simple reason a ‘one size fits all approach’ is never going to cut it, and tuning adjustments are almost inevitable.
Keeping the above in mind, we already prepared different versions of tuning files for different BMW chassis, since the same tune would sound nowhere near as good in a 2-Series as it would in an X5. But more importantly, we always make sure to tweak the tunes based on the music you're listening to and the way you like listening to it.
The key word here: VIN.
Before you lay your hands on any BMW audio system upgrade, you have to check which system your car is equipped with. Enter your VIN on this website and you’ll be shown a kit you’re compatible with, as well as your current audio package.
We’ve got tuning files for every BMW chassis, so no worries – you won’t be left out of audio personalization.
We recommend that you also read this article about BMW amplifier and speaker upgrades. You will find out when you should do just the speaker upgrade and when it is crucial for your BMW to get some powerful audio with an amplifier upgrade.
We made the amplifier upgrade one of the quickest and easiest upgrades you can do. Unless you have the most basic audio option in your BMW, installation takes no longer than an hour and doesn’t require any advanced technical knowledge. It will take longer if you have the Base option since it requires a complete installation of an amplifier and harness and not only replacing it. This makes it a perfect choice if you want to upgrade your audio without the extra hassle that comes with replacing your speakers.
Prior to installation, you should plan the wire routing to avoid any possible damage to the wire harness. The cabling should be protected against possible crushing or pinching hazards. Also, avoid routing cables close to potential noise sources or high power accessories. Once you order your audio system upgrade at BimmerTech, you will get detailed instructions for your vehicle.
To help you with a DIY install even more, we’ve created a complete kit of DIY essentials that includes every tool you need for a smooth upgrade process. Among others you’ll find there: screwdriver bits, wrench bits, a 1/4" bit adapter, a 4" extension bar and more.
Check the installation video we made for you:
Don’t have time to get your hands into a DIY project? Our installers can do the job for you! Check the nearest one.
You won’t find any other company out there that knows BMW’s electronics systems to the extent that our team at BimmerTech does. We’ve been finding ways to squeeze the most out of your BMWs for years. Apart from a fleet of various model R&D cars that stand in our offices’ parking lot, we’ve got racks of iDrive head units on our shelves always ready to be installed, tested and optimized for every existing BMW audio system to the limit.
Thanks to the fact that we eat, sleep, own and dream about BMW, day in day out, we simply know what your BMW needs through and through. When you combine that experience and knowledge with our proprietary VIN decoding tools, based on which we make recommendations – we can guarantee you’re in safe hands.
As you can see, when it comes to amplifiers, plenty of clean power combined with state of the art DSP processors and masterfully adjusted tunes are the fundamentals of a great audio amplifier upgrade.
To seal things off, you can take note of the fact that we’ve been offering our Premium Audio System for over 5 years now. It was used, tested and verified by thousands of BMW owners, who till this very day feel it hasn’t aged one bit. Many of our customers have been moving their amplifier from one BMW to the next, changing only a bracket or harness, keeping their BMW’s audio systems on the cutting edge throughout the years. This trend is going to continue. We have been supporting it to work flawlessly in 3 generations of BMW, spanning from E-Series chassis cars (some of which are already becoming collectables), through the modern F-Series cars, all the way up to early G-Series models. And, that’s not our last word, as the new BMWs equipped with iDrive 7.0 will soon also be compatible with our amp. We’re pretty sure you could call that a tried and tested, timeless design – considering today's standards of consumer electronics becoming obsolete every season.
The BMW amplifier is placed on the left hand side of your trunk, behind the wheel arch. To uncover it, you’ll have to detach a bunch of trims and clips.
Yes, it can, provided the vehicle is not in motion. Since an amplifier draws a lot of power from the battery, it will eventually drain it if the engine is off for a while, and your battery will go flat sooner than if you were just listening to music without an amp. However, given normal, regular driving, nothing will happen.
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