Audiophile Car Audio is Impossible! Or is it?



Published
This is the story of how the audio system in my 2011 BMW 1M Coupe has evolved, and what I am currently using in it. Have a listen and decide for yourself if it was worthwhile.

This is my 2011 BMW 1M Coupe.
It came standard with BMW’s top audio system, by Harman Kardon.
I was never happy with it’s sound quality.
I tried upgrading the speakers to drivers from Bowers and Wilkins and Earthquake.
That made a decent improvement in sound quality, but I still wasn’t satisfied with the sound.
So I decided to replace the audio system with something even better.
I use an iPhone connected using a USB cable as the source for the system.
This gives me lossless digital audio to the BMW iDrive system.
BMW iDrive sees my iPhone as an iPod. It’s a 2011 model car.
I use a mObridge DA-1 interface to convert the iDrive audio to Toslink .
I lose some of the Digital resolution because Toslink has a lower bitrate.
The Toslink digital audio is fed directly into a Helix P Six DSP MkII.
The Helix P Six combines an 8ch 32bit DSP processor and a 6ch digital amplifier in the one chassis.
In the front I use Audiofrog GB10 tweeters in some aluminum eyeball mounts.
In the front doors, I use Audiofrog GB40 midrange speakers.
Audiofrog was started by Andy Wehymeyer who used to head JBL’s car audio division.
The doors and panels of the car have been treated with Soundskins damping material.
Under the seats I have a pair of Audio DevelopmentsW800Neo mid bass speakers.
The AD’s have a carbon fiber cone and neodymium magnets. It’s a shame you can’t see them.
In the rear shelf I have installed some Focal K2 components I had those laying around from previous cars.
The rear speakers are powered by a 4 channel Focal amplifier.
I’m feeding them a mono signal, and the volume of them is dialed way down.
In the trunk of the car I have a pair of Audiofrog GB12d4 subwoofers
They are powered by a Helix P One digital amplifier.
The subwoofers are mounted in custom molded fiberglass enclosures on each side of the trunk.
The subwoofer boxes are designed so they can be removed in a few seconds, And I pull them out for high performance driving events.
None of the factory wiring was used. All new power and speaker wiring was installed.
I am using Canare speaker wires from Japan, with Neutrik connectors to make removing and refitting the subwoofers easy.
For power wiring I use pure copper welding cable. It’s good and cheap(ish).
I tuned the system using the Helix DSP software and REW (Room Equalization Wizard).
I use a UMIK-1 calibrated microphone from MiniDSP for all measurements.
This level of test equipment used to cost several thousand dollars. Now it costs $79.
I have my own house curve I use as a target for objective measurements.
I spent dozens of hours fine tuning it by ear.

Was it all worth it?
Category
Audio
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