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      10-24-2012, 11:20 AM   #1
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DAB retrofit

Not entirely sure why but I omitted to include DAB radio (654) in my list of options. Enquired with my local dealer last week and they were really helpful, said they were fitting the official 'BMW DAB Retrofit' kit to an F20 and would let me know. Got a call today to say I could pop down for a demo.

They'd fitted it to a new 118d with Business Nav and while they haven't done an F30 yet, they said they'd just got the required parts and the OK from BMW to do F30's now.

The kit comprises a small windscreen aerial, some wiring, a black box and a wireless remote about the size of the key fob. When fitted all you see is the aerial and you can either attach the remote with a double-sided sticky pad wherever you like or just pop it in a cubby somewhere out the way.

The DAB unit works by occupying one of your FM presets, so you simply switch to the appropriate FM station in iDrive (you could even associate the DAB slot with one of the "1-8" pre-set buttons) and bingo, you're listening to DAB. The black box is wired to the Nav unit but not sure if the signal between the DAB receiver and iDrive is over-wire or over-air? Also a coding tweak they do to the car allows whatever information the station is transmitting (e.g. 'Now playing' etc.) to be shown/scrolled on the iDrive screen itself, although you can turn that feature off if you want. Another nice feature is that the DAB unit 'talks' so it announces what station you're tuned to for example, as well as displaying the station name in iDrive.

Listened to a few radio stations at the dealership and the reception was good and clear, although that would obviously change when on the move.

Disadvantages over the factory fit option? Well on the face of it there's obviously the aerial which is affixed to the edge of the windscreen rather than being hidden away in the sharkfin, that said it's not really noticeable - just a thin metal strip about 3mm wide by about 80mm long. Also the initial station scanning has to be done through the remote, as does changing DAB stations, whereas with the factory fit it's done entirely through iDrive, plus you can't store individual DAB stations in iDrive although you can store them in the remote.

Price fully fitted/tested is 299 inc VAT and a 2yr warranty and they have the car for a day. Doesn't sound like too bad a deal to me so will probably go ahead. Not sure how this compares to offerings from audio specialists.

PS - also asked about the Mobile Apps (6NR) retrofit while I was there. They said no news 'yet' but it is available for the E9x and they get updates each month so fingers crossed it's in the pipeline.
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      10-24-2012, 12:14 PM   #2
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I have had this on my last three new BMW's Rob, the price quoted is not bad TBH, I would go for it mate.
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      10-24-2012, 12:18 PM   #3
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What is DAB?
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      10-24-2012, 01:06 PM   #4
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Digital Audio Broadcast

Like Sirius Satellite radio without the satellite.
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      10-24-2012, 01:08 PM   #5
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Rob that's sounds like an great price. I think it was about 600 to retrofit to Mercedes.

DAB is digital radio.
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      10-24-2012, 02:12 PM   #6
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We call it HD radio in the US..
basically hidden radio stations but you need the HD receiver to get them
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      10-24-2012, 02:19 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by john08135i View Post
We call it HD radio in the US..
basically hidden radio stations but you need the HD receiver to get them
Never understand why they can't just call things the same everywhere, cell phones/mobile phones, DAB/HD, lol
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      10-24-2012, 03:24 PM   #8
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In the X5 I had last year the DAB reception was so bad I gave up on it and just listened to FM which sounded just as clear. I got fed up with the constant cutting out.

The Mercedes I have now is much better but non-BBC stations still cut out even on the M25 and it isn't any clearer than FM, just a wider choice of stations. It seems to really depend on the quality of aerial and DAB/FM receiver.
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      10-24-2012, 03:44 PM   #9
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Rob, I would go for this if I were you. Assuming the functionality is on a par with the factory fit, you won't regret it.

DAB coverage is good for me - up and down M6 & M1 but mainly in Lancashire & Cumbria & up to Scotland.

There is a 5 second dead spot just off J36 M6 on the Kendal bypass. The only downside I've noticed.

However, I used to totally lose FM signal going through the hills when driving to Scotland (in every car I have had for years). With DAB it doesn't give a kick, so much better.

If you listen to stations like Talksport or 5live(?) it is just faultless on DAB. None of that horrid white noise.

Just do it mate.
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      10-24-2012, 05:04 PM   #10
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I agree if you listen to any AM station extensively its a no brainer. I've never had any reception problems down South, in either my previous VW/Audi's
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      10-24-2012, 05:41 PM   #11
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Yep, think I'm going to call them tomorrow and book it in

Did a bit more digging. Looks like the kit comes from a company called Connects2. Found a news article here about the BMW deal, and details of the kit here.
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      10-24-2012, 06:01 PM   #12
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Could you not buy a DAB modulator for around 50 and play it through an FM freq like an iPod player?
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      10-25-2012, 12:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rb79 View Post
Could you not buy a DAB modulator for around 50 and play it through an FM freq like an iPod player?
Good point, but the main problem is that I want something that's all but invisible when fitted, so that rules out things like the 70 Pure Highway that requires windscreen or dashboard mounts and leaves you with trailing wires. The other thing is the iDrive integration. The BMW kit, while not as good as the factory option, does have reasonable integration by pushing station data (station name, now playing etc.) to the iDrive unit, whereas that's a bit of an unknown with other solutions.

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      10-25-2012, 12:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobUK
Yep, think I'm going to call them tomorrow and book it in

Did a bit more digging. Looks like the kit comes from a company called Connects2. Found a news article here about the BMW deal, and details of the kit here.
Rob I'm not sure what options you do have and it depends on what phone contract you have but have you thought about streaming these channels off interweb?

I have an 'all you can eat' plan with 3 I just plug the phone in ( current Audi) select the channel on my iDrive and off you go. I was expecting lots of drop outs surprisingly I get far less than when using DAB and the good thing is if you do get a drop out it acts like its just been paused so when it comes back online ( few seconds normally) it picks up where it left off.
Plus the are many more channels not just the DAB ones

Mostly up and down the A1 and country roads of Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire
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      10-25-2012, 01:14 AM   #15
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Interesting idea - I did actually toy with the Mobile Apps (6NR) option which is supposed to make this sort of thing easy (another thing I regret not spec'ing now and am waiting for news of a retrofit from the dealer!).

That said, I'm up for giving it a go. Got an iPhone 4S and am with giffgaff on an unlimited data plan for 10 a month. Just need to get my head round how I'd set this up, e.g. if I want to listen to Planet Rock do I install the app and stream over bluetooth to the car?
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      10-25-2012, 01:37 AM   #16
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You don't need to bother with the BMW apps just download the Tunein Radio app - just checked mine and Planet rock is on there.

Haven't played in a Bm yet but in my Audi I just plug it in and off it goes. I'm guessing you have enhanced BT so that should make it easier just to launch the App and I would have thought you can control from there.

Even if you can't it won't be any worse than controlling the DAB through an additional unit.

Give it a go, would be interested in your feedback as I don't have my new car till Monday!
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      10-25-2012, 11:56 AM   #17
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Ok had a play with internet radio + bluetooth streaming today.

Pros: Dead easy to set up - already have an iPhone 4S with TuneIn Radio and the Planet Rock app installed. Simply a case of launching the app when you get in the car and then choosing bluetooth from the iDrive media menu. Set off from an area with a 5-bar 3G signal and it started playing straight away. Also, depending on the app you're using the playlist is stored on the phone (given you don't get any info sent to the iDrive) so you can check it when you get home.

No-so-pros: Trip #1 - Travelled from Brighton to Shoreham then up through the South Downs to Horsham (about a 45min). Steady reception until I turned north up the A283 thru the South Downs. Phone reception dropped to 1 bar and the music cut out. It returned after about 20mins when I was nearing Horsham. Trip #2 - When I came to leave Horsham it wouldn't play at all. Turned out the problem was that the audio feature of bluetooth has switched itself off in iDrive for some reason!? Re-enabled it. Travelled along the A264 then down the A23. Signal cut out for about 3-4 mins around Handcross/Bolney plus I got what sounded like clipping around Pyecombe otherwise good. Audio quality - not great if I'm honest. Ok I only have the stock BMW audio but compared to playing MP3s or decent FM reception I'd have to say it wasn't as good. Don't know if HK would help or just exaggerate any 'source quality' issues. Also, the volume on the phone was around 65% and I had to crank the volume in the car way up to hear anything. When I got to where I was going and stuck the car in reverse, the parking sensor bleep was so loud I nearly jumped out my skin!! Chewed thru the battery on the phone - so best have it plugged into a power source (not the audio USB socket) if you're on a long trip. Changing channels - well that would involve fiddling with the phone and the implications that go with that unfortunately so probably better to pick a channel as you set out and stick with it.

Overall not bad but room for improvement, although others may have better luck. All down to expectations in some ways - go back 5/6 years and this setup would have been magical, but today I guess we've come to expect so much more
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      10-25-2012, 12:42 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobUK View Post
Ok had a play with internet radio + bluetooth streaming today.

Overall not bad but room for improvement, although others may have better luck. All down to expectations in some ways - go back 5/6 years and this setup would have been magical, but today I guess we've come to expect so much more
Totally with you on the expectation. The technology available on the F30 is frightening. Audi and Mercs are so far behind. Are you going for the full retrofit? I've spec'd DAB but how good is the coverage on the move?
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      10-25-2012, 12:52 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobUK View Post
Ok had a play with internet radio + bluetooth streaming today.

Pros: Dead easy to set up - already have an iPhone 4S with TuneIn Radio and the Planet Rock app installed. Simply a case of launching the app when you get in the car and then choosing bluetooth from the iDrive media menu. Set off from an area with a 5-bar 3G signal and it started playing straight away. Also, depending on the app you're using the playlist is stored on the phone (given you don't get any info sent to the iDrive) so you can check it when you get home.

No-so-pros: Trip #1 - Travelled from Brighton to Shoreham then up through the South Downs to Horsham (about a 45min). Steady reception until I turned north up the A283 thru the South Downs. Phone reception dropped to 1 bar and the music cut out. It returned after about 20mins when I was nearing Horsham. Trip #2 - When I came to leave Horsham it wouldn't play at all. Turned out the problem was that the audio feature of bluetooth has switched itself off in iDrive for some reason!? Re-enabled it. Travelled along the A264 then down the A23. Signal cut out for about 3-4 mins around Handcross/Bolney plus I got what sounded like clipping around Pyecombe otherwise good. Audio quality - not great if I'm honest. Ok I only have the stock BMW audio but compared to playing MP3s or decent FM reception I'd have to say it wasn't as good. Don't know if HK would help or just exaggerate any 'source quality' issues. Also, the volume on the phone was around 65% and I had to crank the volume in the car way up to hear anything. When I got to where I was going and stuck the car in reverse, the parking sensor bleep was so loud I nearly jumped out my skin!! Chewed thru the battery on the phone - so best have it plugged into a power source (not the audio USB socket) if you're on a long trip. Changing channels - well that would involve fiddling with the phone and the implications that go with that unfortunately so probably better to pick a channel as you set out and stick with it.

Overall not bad but room for improvement, although others may have better luck. All down to expectations in some ways - go back 5/6 years and this setup would have been magical, but today I guess we've come to expect so much more
That's a shame Rob guess i have just been lucky on my normal route just get a 3-5 second drop out as i dip down into a village. Looks like its the retro fit for you
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      10-25-2012, 03:12 PM   #20
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You buy an expensive car, save a few quid by not ordering DAB and then indulge in a messy retro-fit.
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      10-25-2012, 05:26 PM   #21
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Not so much 'save a few quid' as just getting to a point where I didn't want to spend any more at the time I was ordering the car. Scary thing is if you push the boat out on an F30 you can spend over 50K

Still, people change their minds and half the fun of having a car is doing a few tweaks. Besides, the BMW DAB kit isn't exactly 'messy'
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      10-25-2012, 05:44 PM   #22
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There are lots of options I wish I could have gone for!
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