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      04-20-2018, 10:16 PM   #1
Chadmoe1
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Review of BimmerTech Speaker Upgrade for BMWs

After I purchasing my 2015 435i Gran Coupe with OEM amplifier and speakers (HIFI speaker package), I was disappointed in the sound and quickly realized that upgrading the audio was a priority. After spending time researching options, I came across recommendations on upgrading the speakers, the amplifier, or both. After purchasing an upgraded amp/DSP from BimmerTech (a system based on the Audiotec Fischer Match PP86DSP), I had the chance to test out the Alpha One speakers from BimmerTech. Details on the speakers can be found here: https://www.bimmer-tech.net/speakers...ifier-for-bmw/
I want to give my impression of the installation and sound differences over the OEM setup, as well as give some insights into the speaker vs. amp vs. both question that others may be facing. I attached some images of the OEM vs. Alpha One speakers, as well as some images of the installation (yes -- I added captions; I hate images without captions).

Full Disclosure: I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review, but I did receive the Alpha One speakers to evaluate. I have no affiliation with BimmerTech, and the views expressed in the review are entirely my own.

Presentation:
Aesthetically, the Alpha One speakers were appealing compared to the OEM speakers – polished aluminum phase plugs/dust covers with the BimmerTech name etched on them were a nice look. Cable receptacles were similar to OEM which was reassuring that installation would be less complex. The gauge of wire used in the harnesses was larger than OEM – a small detail that added to the quality.


Fitment/Installation:
Overall, the Alpha One speakers installed easily and were a near-perfect replacement to OEM. Installation time was quick and required only standard tools (torx bits, socket wrench, plastic trim removal tools). The subwoofers had identical cable receptacles as OEM, and the other speakers utilized y-harnesses (included) that connected to the OEM cabling without issue. The door mid speakers had slots in the basket frames that enabled cable routing without sandwiching the wires between the basket and door frame – this was not initially obvious and required reinstalling the first door speaker. In my car, I didn’t have a center tweeter (which was included in the Alpha One speakers), so I had to borrow a screw from the center mid until I could purchase replacement screws – others may end up needing two additional screws as well.

Sound Assessment:
My assessment was based on upgrading the front door speakers, front door tweeters, front center speaker, and front under-seat subwoofers from OEM to the Alpha One speaker; note that this added a center tweeter. I evaluated the sound both with the OEM amp and the BimmerTech amp/DSP. The testing was performed using the same head unit (OEM) and using the same song list. To start from OEM, I listened to the songs with OEM speakers and the OEM amp before installing the Alpha One speakers. With the Alpha One speakers, I used both the OEM and BimmerTech amp/DSP.

Obviously, an audio evaluation is as subjective as the song list, but I wanted to pick songs that spanned different musical styles I enjoy, across vocal and instrumental ranges and dynamics, and from some artists that I’ve seen live. The list included:

Little Sadie (Crooked Still)
Billie Jean (Winterplay)
Yahweh (The Brilliance)
Tamala (Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate)
Weird Flashes (Noordpool Orchestra)
Home (Jamestown Revival)
My Type (Saint Motel)
Bright Lights Bigger City (CeeLo Green)
Get Lucky (Daft Punk)
Sin Fronteras (Brooklyn Gypsies)
The Hills (The Weeknd)
Take the Power Back (Rage Against the Machine)
The Holly and the Ivy / While Shepherds Watched (Andrew Peterson)
Passerby (Dispatch)

BimmerTech Amp/DSP and Alpha One Speakers:
Over the OEM speakers and amp, an immediate improvement in the low-end sound was observed – the subwoofers provided a substantial enhancement in sound. Muddiness in the low-end was gone, and bass lines were exceptionally articulated. Clarity in the mid-range was evident which improved the quality of vocals. In particular, some songs took on such a quality as to sound live: clarity of the instruments/vocal, presence/depth of the sound, and replication of the overall music was impressive. Higher frequencies were not harsh/tingy. The subwoofers seemed to pack more power with better articulation in staccato and punchy bass lines, which may have contributed to the improved low-end midrange sounds. Volume was improved – with the OEM setup, the volume level was often set at 75% or more, but with the Alpha One speakers and BimmerTech amp, volume was reduced to less than 50% to achieve the same loudness. Songs like Little Sadie, Billie Jean, and Home were exceptionally clear and felt live. The dynamics in Yahweh, Weird Flashes, and Sin Fronteras were well expressed, and the sound range in Bright Lights (heavy bass + CeeLo Green) and Take the Power Back was exceptionally clear. The horns in My Type and instrumentals in Tamala were prominent without being harsh.

OEM Amp and Alpha One Speakers:
As with the Alpha One speakers and BimmerTech amp/DSP, an immediate improvement in the low-end sound was observed over the OEM speakers, though the bass was very strong (higher gain perhaps in the OEM amp?); the volume was turned down and the simple two band tone EQ was adjusted to lower the bass a little. Bass lines were very nicely articulated and clear with muddiness in the low-end sound completely gone. Vocals were very clear, and although not as pronounced as with the BimmerTech amp, depth and presence of some of the songs created a live feel: Little Sadie, Billie Jean, and Home still sounded great but lost a little of the presence that made it feel as if they were on stage in front of me. The dynamics in Yahweh, Weird Flashes, and Sin Fronteras were decent – certainly more pronounced that the OEM setup. The higher frequencies in My Type and Tamala were not harsh, but additional tone adjustments were necessary. Compared to the OEM speakers, the improved sound quality provided a substantial upgrade, notably in the stronger bass/low end and clarity of vocals. A speaker-only upgrade will likely provide a worthwhile sound improvement for folks, though upgrading the amp/DSP will greatly enhance the overall sound and customization available to the user.

Overall:

PROS: Easy installation with a big improvement in sound (even with the OEM amplifier). The power and clarity in the bass, the less harsh higher frequencies (especially in cymbals), and the overall presence of the sound is greatly improved. I was most impressed with how “live” some of the songs seemed. Upgrading the speakers took ~1-1.5 hours. Upgrading the amp took about 10 minutes.

CONS: Very minor, but pay attention to the door mid wire routing – look for the hole in the basket instead of running the wires between the speaker and the door frame. Without an OEM center tweeter, installation of the Alpha One center tweeter will require two screws. The extra wire length in the center speakers can be someone troublesome to fit into the tight cavity.
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Last edited by Chadmoe1; 04-24-2018 at 07:07 PM..
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      04-20-2018, 11:56 PM   #2
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Nice review - thanks for posting!
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      04-23-2018, 09:21 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chadmoe1 View Post
After I purchasing my 2015 435i Gran Coupe with OEM amplifier and speakers (HIFI speaker package), I was disappointed in the sound and quickly realized that upgrading the audio was a priority. After spending time researching options, I came across recommendations on upgrading the speakers, the amplifier, or both. After purchasing an upgraded amp/DSP from BimmerTech (a system based on the Audiotec Fischer Match PP86DSP), I had the chance to test out the Alpha One speakers from BimmerTech. Details on the speakers can be found here: https://www.bimmer-tech.net/speakers...ifier-for-bmw/
I want to give my impression of the installation and sound differences over the OEM setup, as well as give some insights into the speaker vs. amp vs. both question that others may be facing. I attached some images of the OEM vs. Alpha One speakers, as well as some images of the installation (yes -- I added captions; I hate images without captions).

Full Disclosure: I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review, but I did receive the Alpha One speakers to evaluate. I have no affiliation with BimmerTech, and the views expressed in the review are entirely my own.

Presentation:
Aesthetically, the Alpha One speakers were appealing compared to the OEM speakers – polished aluminum phase plugs/dust covers with the BimmerTech name etched on them were a nice look. Cable receptacles were similar to OEM which was reassuring that installation would be less complex. The gauge of wire used in the harnesses was larger than OEM – a small detail that added to the quality.


Fitment/Installation:
Overall, the Alpha One speakers installed easily and were a near-perfect replacement to OEM. Installation time was quick and required only standard tools (torx bits, socket wrench, plastic trim removal tools). The subwoofers had identical cable receptacles as OEM, and the other speakers utilized y-harnesses (included) that connected to the OEM cabling without issue. The door mid speakers had slots in the basket frames that enabled cable routing without sandwiching the wires between the basket and door frame – this was not initially obvious and required reinstalling the first door speaker. In my car, I didn’t have a center tweeter (which was included in the Alpha One speakers), so I had to borrow a screw from the center mid until I could purchase replacement screws – others may end up needing two additional screws as well.

Sound Assessment:
My assessment was based on upgrading the front door speakers, front door tweeters, front center speaker, and front under-seat subwoofers from OEM to the Alpha One speaker; note that this added a center tweeter. I evaluated the sound both with the OEM amp and the BimmerTech amp/DSP. The testing was performed using the same head unit (OEM) and using the same song list. To start from OEM, I listened to the songs with OEM speakers and the OEM amp before installing the Alpha One speakers. With the Alpha One speakers, I used both the OEM and BimmerTech amp/DSP.

Obviously, an audio evaluation is as subjective as the song list, but I wanted to pick songs that spanned different musical styles I enjoy, across vocal and instrumental ranges and dynamics, and from some artists that I’ve seen live. The list included:

Little Sadie (Crooked Still)
Billie Jean (Winterplay)
Yahweh (The Brilliance)
Tamala (Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate)
Weird Flashes (Noordpool Orchestra)
Home (Jamestown Revival)
My Type (Saint Motel)
Bright Lights Bigger City (CeeLo Green)
Get Lucky (Daft Punk)
Sin Fronteras (Brooklyn Gypsies)
The Hills (The Weeknd)
Take the Power Back (Rage Against the Machine)
The Holly and the Ivy / While Shepherds Watched (Andrew Peterson)
Passerby (Dispatch)

BimmerTech Amp/DSP and Alpha One Speakers:
Over the OEM speakers and amp, an immediate improvement in the low-end sound was observed – the subwoofers provided a substantial enhancement in sound. Muddiness in the low-end was gone, and bass lines were exceptionally articulated. Clarity in the mid-range was evident which improved the quality of vocals. In particular, some songs took on such a quality as to sound live: clarity of the instruments/vocal, presence/depth of the sound, and replication of the overall music was impressive. Higher frequencies were not harsh/tingy. The subwoofers seemed to pack more power with better articulation in staccato and punchy bass lines, which may have contributed to the improved low-end midrange sounds. Volume was improved – with the OEM setup, the volume level was often set at 75% or more, but with the Alpha One speakers and BimmerTech amp, volume was reduced to less than 50% to achieve the same loudness. Songs like Little Sadie, Billie Jean, and Home were exceptionally clear and felt live. The dynamics in Yahweh, Weird Flashes, and Sin Fronteras were well expressed, and the sound range in Bright Lights (heavy bass + CeeLo Green) and Take the Power Back was exceptionally clear. The horns in My Type and instrumentals in Tamala were prominent without being harsh.

OEM Amp and Alpha One Speakers:
As with the Alpha One speakers and BimmerTech amp/DSP, an immediate improvement in the low-end sound was observed over the OEM speakers, though the bass was very strong (higher gain perhaps in the OEM amp?); the volume was turned down and the simple two band tone EQ was adjusted to lower the bass a little. Bass lines were very nicely articulated and clear with muddiness in the low-end sound completely gone. Vocals were very clear, and although not as pronounced as with the BimmerTech amp, depth and presence of some of the songs created a live feel: Little Sadie, Billie Jean, and Home still sounded great but lost a little of the presence that made it feel as if they were on stage in front of me. The dynamics in Yahweh, Weird Flashes, and Sin Fronteras were decent – certainly more pronounced that the OEM setup. The higher frequencies in My Type and Tamala were not harsh, but additional tone adjustments were necessary. Compared to the OEM speakers, the improved sound quality provided a substantial upgrade, notably in the stronger bass/low end and clarity of vocals. A speaker-only upgrade will likely provide a worthwhile sound improvement for folks, though upgrading the amp/DSP will greatly enhance the overall sound and customization available to the user.

Overall:

PROS: Easy installation with a big improvement in sound (even with the OEM amplifier). The power and clarity in the bass, the less harsh higher frequencies (especially in cymbals), and the overall presence of the sound is greatly improved. I was most impressed with how “live” some of the songs seemed. Upgrading the speakers took ~1-1.5 hours. Upgrading the amp took about 10 minutes.

CONS: Very minor, but pay attention to the door mid wire routing – look for the hole in the basket instead of running the wires between the speaker and the door frame. Without an OEM center tweeter, installation of the Alpha One center tweeter will require two screws. The extra wire length in the center speakers can be someone troublesome to fit into the tight cavity.
Wow, great review! You did a heck of a job with this!

Bryan
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      04-27-2018, 03:52 AM   #4
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Thank you Chad.

I'm very happy you like our speakers. I have to agree they are amazing!

The only thing you missed is the packaging that we did not have ready when we shipped your kit, but don't worry everyone, we know a premium product deserves premium packaging
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      05-24-2018, 05:23 PM   #5
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My Alpha One Speakers we’re installed In my 2014 F30 328 with High Fi system today....
I am no Audiophile but the sound quality is miles above the stock speakers.....my dealer had actually ordered me a set of BavSound but he got these and installed them instead I a thrilled with hem! Special thanks to Kevin and the folks at Activ Automotive in Gaithersburg Md,
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      06-07-2018, 11:47 PM   #6
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With the amp and speakers, is it a very dramatic difference in sound vs the oem hifi system?

Considering doing both but I'm a little hesitant about spending ~$2000 unless it's a big change.
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      06-08-2018, 12:15 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewc89 View Post
With the amp and speakers, is it a very dramatic difference in sound vs the oem hifi system?

Considering doing both but I'm a little hesitant about spending ~$2000 unless it's a big change.
Actually they were a little over 1300 installed I am ordering the Amp next week...which is another 900....I have never spent anything like this on a sound system....but very happy with it so yes.....worth it for me...
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      06-09-2018, 04:28 PM   #8
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If you haven't already, I would suggest listening to your speakers without the center channel. I have found the stereo soundstage to be significantly better without the center and with the fader moved slightly forward.

I'm confused on what you are saying about the mid wires, wouldn't' you just bring them back to the front of the door through the stock foam. I'm not sure why you would bring them through the speaker opening at all. Maybe it looked like they should come through the speaker hole?

I'm curious to see some comparison reviews on these compared to the Bavsound product.
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      06-10-2018, 06:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewc89 View Post
With the amp and speakers, is it a very dramatic difference in sound vs the oem hifi system?

Considering doing both but I'm a little hesitant about spending ~$2000 unless it's a big change.
I was in a similar situation, which resulted in my first upgrade of the amp followed by the speakers (and ultimately my review). The amp is a very quick upgrade that gives solid improvements. It took me about 5-10 minutes to install, and then I began playing with the tuning file. The sound difference was drastic, plus the upgrade gives a pretty wide range of control to tailor the sound. Ultimately though, this has a limit based on the speakers. The speaker upgrade was a little more involved (~1-1.5 hours of work), but it boosted the sound quality quite a bit. I'm happy I spent the money (and upset that I wasted the money on a screen upgrade from Avin, which has been a very different experience and a story for another post).

Honestly, you will see a big improvement with either upgrade. You could always go my initial route -- upgrade the amp, evaluate the sound, then make the call on the speaker upgrade -- or do everything in one swoop. If I had to do it over again, I'd do everything at once to be done with it.

Good luck!
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      06-10-2018, 06:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry77 View Post
If you haven't already, I would suggest listening to your speakers without the center channel. I have found the stereo soundstage to be significantly better without the center and with the fader moved slightly forward.

I'm confused on what you are saying about the mid wires, wouldn't' you just bring them back to the front of the door through the stock foam. I'm not sure why you would bring them through the speaker opening at all. Maybe it looked like they should come through the speaker hole?

I'm curious to see some comparison reviews on these compared to the Bavsound product.
I totally agree on the center channel. I spent significant time playing with the amp tuning files to get the center channel working -- I like having the sound project in front of me for certain music like live recordings/acoustic sets, so I worked to keep it. I'm still messing with it.

I did a poor job explaining the mid wiring. On the OEM speakers, the connector is on the side of the speaker, which then sits inside of the door frame (the space between the door frame and the exterior of the door). There is no opportunity for the wire to get pinched. When I first installed the Alpha Ones, I noticed that the connector is on the backside of the speaker basket which sits inside the door frame (between the door frame and the exterior of the car) and would be pinched to route it back to connect to the amp wire and tweeter. Upon further inspection, I realized there is an opening in the basket that allows one to route the wire from the back of the speaker, through the basket opening, and to the y adapter (connecting the amp wire and tweeter), preventing the wire from getting pinched by the basket when mounted to the frame. As I'm writing this, I realize it sounds more confusing than it is.

I have no experience with the Bavsound speakers. When I was looking at amp upgrades, I noticed that Bavsound resells the Bimmertech amp, so I opted to go with Bimmertech directly for the amp. I stuck with the same company for the speakers.
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      06-11-2018, 07:39 AM   #11
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Just an FYI for others looking Technic PNP will make you a wiring harness for literally any amp you want to use. So we're not stuck with just Bimmertech / Bavsound. The only added wrinkle is Elias's harness won't do power (at least last I checked) so you would need to connect to battery for that.
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