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      04-07-2011, 09:11 PM   #1
DavidZ
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Zapco DC650.6, REF650.6 or JL HD900/5?

Hi there. I just joined the forum but I've been reading a lot of threads about audio upgrade options for my '11.5 E90 M3 with base "HiFi" audio. I'm fairly well versed in the car audio world having done several installs myself but I'm totally new to BMW. I'd like to replace the stock amp with a 5 or 6 channel one powering all new speakers in the stock locations. I've decided on Earthquake SWS 8s. Front doors will probably be Focal K2 Power 100KRS for ease of installation unless someone can convince me that the Morels are an easy install. I've read that the Morels require that the speaker grill tabs be cut and the grill be stuck to the speaker with Dynamat or whatever and, well, I like things to be fastened a little better than that. Is that only on the coupe though? Are the Morel's a "drop in" install on the sedan? What about the tweeters? Rear speakers are not a concern right now.

So anyways like the title says my question is really about what amp to choose. I definitely want one that will accept the balanced differential inputs from the HiFi system, but I'm not sure if I want an amp with internal sound processing or not. I could save a bit of money by getting a DC650.6 now vs. getting a REF650.6 or JL HD900/5 and an external processor later (to tune for a flat frequency response). Problems I see with the Zapcos are size and availability. Only problem with the JL is no equalization and I prefer class AB to class D. If I did go with a straight amp, if I found the sound did need equalization, not sure which processor to get. Which accept balanced differential inputs? I'd rather not use any kind of line converter. I think I read the Audison Bit One can't accept the BMW's output? Or was that for the EP or L7 system? I don't really like the JBL system as I have no use for its 8 channel amp and I dislike unnecessary features. Does anyone with similar setups even need equalization? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
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      04-07-2011, 09:46 PM   #2
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Since you have an E90, the Morels will fit with just the adapter. The BitOne can accept balanced diff inputs. It could not handle the speaker level outputs of the EPS amp so an intermediate LOC had to be used. From what I understand, the Morel tweeters can be installed in the OEM tweeter location without modifcation.
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      04-08-2011, 05:06 AM   #3
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VP Electricity sells system kits using Zapco DC amps and Rainbow or Morel component speakers. AFAIK, the amp will come pre-loaded with digital processing for your specific speakers and vehicle.
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      04-08-2011, 05:13 AM   #4
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1. Your system is the HiFi therefore the OEM HU output signals are balanced, low level, flat and high voltage. No need for LOC, line drivers or processing as long as you use balanced signals-compatible amps/EQ.
2. Your E90 front doors accept speakers or up to 54mm deep. The Morel are 50mm deep.
3. The bit one.1 accept balanced signals directly into its RCA sockets.
4. You could start with an amp upgrade, new speakers and see if you like the sond without any DSP. But you will need at least a 5-channel amp if you replace the OEM amp (6-channels output), with the SWS-8 connected in Mono.
5. I sell a HiFi harness kit with the OEM amp and all speaker OEM connectors so no OEM wires would be cut, spliced or tapped to replace the OEM amp and the speakers. PM for details.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidZ View Post
Hi there. I just joined the forum but I've been reading a lot of threads about audio upgrade options for my '11.5 E90 M3 with base "HiFi" audio. I'm fairly well versed in the car audio world having done several installs myself but I'm totally new to BMW. I'd like to replace the stock amp with a 5 or 6 channel one powering all new speakers in the stock locations. I've decided on Earthquake SWS 8s. Front doors will probably be Focal K2 Power 100KRS for ease of installation unless someone can convince me that the Morels are an easy install. I've read that the Morels require that the speaker grill tabs be cut and the grill be stuck to the speaker with Dynamat or whatever and, well, I like things to be fastened a little better than that. Is that only on the coupe though? Are the Morel's a "drop in" install on the sedan? What about the tweeters? Rear speakers are not a concern right now.

So anyways like the title says my question is really about what amp to choose. I definitely want one that will accept the balanced differential inputs from the HiFi system, but I'm not sure if I want an amp with internal sound processing or not. I could save a bit of money by getting a DC650.6 now vs. getting a REF650.6 or JL HD900/5 and an external processor later (to tune for a flat frequency response). Problems I see with the Zapcos are size and availability. Only problem with the JL is no equalization and I prefer class AB to class D. If I did go with a straight amp, if I found the sound did need equalization, not sure which processor to get. Which accept balanced differential inputs? I'd rather not use any kind of line converter. I think I read the Audison Bit One can't accept the BMW's output? Or was that for the EP or L7 system? I don't really like the JBL system as I have no use for its 8 channel amp and I dislike unnecessary features. Does anyone with similar setups even need equalization? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
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      04-08-2011, 08:07 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. I have found that this install Technic did is now the exact setup I want.

front: Morel Hybrid Ovation II components
rear: Morel Integra Ovation XO coaxial
underseat: SWS-8
amp: JL MHD900/5 or Zapco DC650.6 or REF650

Technic, has the owner found any need for equalization? Or in your opinion did it need any (although I'd guess the 'vert and sedan do differ)? Are you a vendor? I need a few more posts to enable PMs. If not, I'll contact VP Electricity for some quotes. I also don't think I saw a picture or description of the final amp install. Did it fit in the stock location? If so did it require the CD changer trunk trim? Thanks again.
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      04-08-2011, 01:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Technic View Post
1. Your E90 front doors accept speakers or up to 54mm deep. The Morel are 50mm deep.
I always wondered if a 54mm would fit. Have you actually fitted one that deep? Was it a Hybrid L4? When I looked at that particular speaker I thought it might have enough room depth wise but the phase plug looked like it stuck out too far and would hit the OEM grill.
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      04-08-2011, 03:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 808MGuy View Post
I always wondered if a 54mm would fit. Have you actually fitted one that deep? Was it a Hybrid L4? When I looked at that particular speaker I thought it might have enough room depth wise but the phase plug looked like it stuck out too far and would hit the OEM grill.
VP Electricity did...
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      04-08-2011, 08:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 808MGuy View Post
I always wondered if a 54mm would fit. Have you actually fitted one that deep? Was it a Hybrid L4? When I looked at that particular speaker I thought it might have enough room depth wise but the phase plug looked like it stuck out too far and would hit the OEM grill.
I remember seeing a post where HA L4's were installed, but like you said the phase plug prevented the use of the OEM grille. I went with the L3 SE, since they can play down to 160Hz, but haven't installed them yet.
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      04-08-2011, 08:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidZ View Post
Thanks for the replies. I have found that this install Technic did is now the exact setup I want.

front: Morel Hybrid Ovation II components
rear: Morel Integra Ovation XO coaxial
underseat: SWS-8
amp: JL MHD900/5 or Zapco DC650.6 or REF650

Technic, has the owner found any need for equalization? Or in your opinion did it need any (although I'd guess the 'vert and sedan do differ)? Are you a vendor? I need a few more posts to enable PMs. If not, I'll contact VP Electricity for some quotes. I also don't think I saw a picture or description of the final amp install. Did it fit in the stock location? If so did it require the CD changer trunk trim? Thanks again.
If you go with a high-end set-up like that, you cannot get around installing a digital signal processor, IMO.
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      04-08-2011, 08:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidZ View Post
Thanks for the replies. I have found that this install Technic did is now the exact setup I want.

front: Morel Hybrid Ovation II components
rear: Morel Integra Ovation XO coaxial
underseat: SWS-8
amp: JL MHD900/5 or Zapco DC650.6 or REF650

Technic, has the owner found any need for equalization? Or in your opinion did it need any (although I'd guess the 'vert and sedan do differ)? Are you a vendor? I need a few more posts to enable PMs. If not, I'll contact VP Electricity for some quotes. I also don't think I saw a picture or description of the final amp install. Did it fit in the stock location? If so did it require the CD changer trunk trim? Thanks again.
DavidZ
I would like to copy your setup for my 2011 convertible

I am also new user that can't PM. Can you please build a complete list of adapter plates, harness etc. with price estimates and post? The system seems to fit in in my 2-3k budget. I have the standard stereo with no Nav.

My understanding, is that my car also has speakers in the foot wells (will get delivery in 2 months). If that is the case, what fits?

Thank you
mariano
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      04-09-2011, 03:27 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wavesofsilver View Post
DavidZ
I would like to copy your setup for my 2011 convertible

I am also new user that can't PM. Can you please build a complete list of adapter plates, harness etc. with price estimates and post? The system seems to fit in in my 2-3k budget. I have the standard stereo with no Nav.

My understanding, is that my car also has speakers in the foot wells (will get delivery in 2 months). If that is the case, what fits?

Thank you
mariano
Not in the foot wells, but there are 8" "subwoofers" under the front seats. The Earthquake SWS-8 fit but after speaking to VP Electricity of musicar northwest he recommends Jehnert XE 200 (which also fit) for my musical tastes (mostly alternative rock). The Earthquakes apparently have more low frequency bass output and are cheaper though, so I still might go for them. He also recommended I run the subs in stereo, for at the crossover frequencies that are commonly used, stereo separation in the bass channels is desired, or something. That ruled out the JL HD900/5. For the other locations, Musicar sells their speakers with adapter places so they bolt right in. I believe they also have a harness made by member Technic that allows one to tap into the factory head unit outputs and speaker inputs by the factory amp in the trunk without needing to cut wiring.

So my new selection is:

Front: Morel Hybrid Ovation II components
Rear: Morel Integra Ovation XO coaxial
Underseat: Earthquake SWS-8 or Jehnert XE 200
Amp: Zapco DC650.6 or Ark Audio KS900.6

I'm so happy I didn't get the Enhanced Premium system or iDrive/navigation. I felt that the EP system is a $4,000 option because it requires iDrive/navigation and and I didn't want navigation because I hate the way the dash looks with the display and no "head unit" and I love my phone's navigation. I don't have a quote yet, but this system should be well under 4K (I'm guessing anywhere between 2-3 depending on the amp or subs I choose) and should absolutely kill the EP system.
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      04-09-2011, 10:04 AM   #12
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I know I may be stepping on VP's toes by saying this, but IMO you should get an MS-8. Three reasons:
1. If you go with the Zapco amp, it has built-in processing, BUT it is large and dissipates a lot of heat so the install location will be a problem. Also, its processing capabilities are somewhat limited, and it does not auto eq. If you go with the Arc amp, you have virtually no digital processing whatsoever.
2. If you go with the MS-8, you can use a small digital amplifier and tuck everything away behind the trunk panels without compromising looks, space, and cooling.
3. The MS-8 allows you to implement and power a center speaker which greatly enhances both imaging and tonality of the front stage.

The street price for the MS-8 is around $600 and a you can get a good digital 6-channel amp for under $400 (JL XD600/6). With the MS-8 and Logic 7, you do NOT need high quality speakers in the rear of the vehicle, so you can save the price of those Morel coaxials and just leave in the stock HiFi speakers.

Just my $.02. Ken, don't flame me...
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      04-09-2011, 04:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaigoss69 View Post
I know I may be stepping on VP's toes by saying this, but IMO you should get an MS-8. Three reasons:
1. If you go with the Zapco amp, it has built-in processing, BUT it is large and dissipates a lot of heat so the install location will be a problem. Also, its processing capabilities are somewhat limited, and it does not auto eq. If you go with the Arc amp, you have virtually no digital processing whatsoever.
2. If you go with the MS-8, you can use a small digital amplifier and tuck everything away behind the trunk panels without compromising looks, space, and cooling.
3. The MS-8 allows you to implement and power a center speaker which greatly enhances both imaging and tonality of the front stage.

The street price for the MS-8 is around $600 and a you can get a good digital 6-channel amp for under $400 (JL XD600/6). With the MS-8 and Logic 7, you do NOT need high quality speakers in the rear of the vehicle, so you can save the price of those Morel coaxials and just leave in the stock HiFi speakers.

Just my $.02. Ken, don't flame me...
Thanks for the input. Ken may have mentioned the MS-8 but if he did it went in one ear and out the other for a few reasons. I have no use for its 8 channel amp and I dislike unnecessary features (for example I've never purchased a head unit with internal amps, they've all been preamp only). I'm overly anal about not buying equipment with features I'm not going to use - even if it means saving money. I'm not going to use the amps for a center channel or tweeters (I've always preferred to use the crossovers that come with components) and I'm not going to use its surround processing (I always listen to stereo music in stereo). As for a small class D amp, I'd rather class AB and don't mind the size/heat at all. If I don't get the Zapco I'll see how I like it without equalization and if I feel I do need it later I'll probably go with the BitOne.1.
Oh yeah, as for the rear speakers, Ken tried to get me to skimp on those too, but I have passengers back there a lot, and I want them to be treated to good sound Of course when I'm by myself I set the fader for the best soundstage.
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      04-09-2011, 04:40 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaigoss69 View Post
I know I may be stepping on VP's toes by saying this, but IMO you should get an MS-8. Three reasons:
1. If you go with the Zapco amp, it has built-in processing, BUT it is large and dissipates a lot of heat so the install location will be a problem. Also, its processing capabilities are somewhat limited, and it does not auto eq. If you go with the Arc amp, you have virtually no digital processing whatsoever.
2. If you go with the MS-8, you can use a small digital amplifier and tuck everything away behind the trunk panels without compromising looks, space, and cooling.
3. The MS-8 allows you to implement and power a center speaker which greatly enhances both imaging and tonality of the front stage.

The street price for the MS-8 is around $600 and a you can get a good digital 6-channel amp for under $400 (JL XD600/6). With the MS-8 and Logic 7, you do NOT need high quality speakers in the rear of the vehicle, so you can save the price of those Morel coaxials and just leave in the stock HiFi speakers.

Just my $.02. Ken, don't flame me...
I think the MS-8 has a purpose in the market but being that the OP has installation experience and seems to be quite familiar with tuning, I would say he doesn't quite fit into the target market of the MS-8. The MS-8 was meant to automate the tuning process but it is not very friendly to manual adjustment. The Zapco DPN software is much more powerful that the MS-8 when it is used to its full potential due to the parametric EQs. Yes it doesn't have auto-tune and you won't get a center channel without adding another amp but I myself never cared for a center channel type setup for 2 channel material. I would say the Zapco DC or another setup using a BitOne would be more appropriate in this particular application.
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      04-10-2011, 09:42 AM   #15
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Well I suppose there are those who like to tweak and those who don't. I don't. I used to have the bitone and no matter what I did I could not get it to sound the way I wanted. And then there was always the desire to tweak something just because I could and then it would end up sounding worse instead of better. Anyway, how do you know what you are aiming for when you have no baseline? I mean unless you have spent hours upon hours listening to a competition grade system, and you were somehow able to store that sound perfectly in your brain, how do you know how to set your crossover points, slopes, levels, phases, and eq exactly such that it sounded just like that competition system you once heard?

With the MS-8 it is different because the unit was programmed by audiophiles to take all of the tweaking and guessing and second guessing out of the equation and to give you in 5 minutes the best possible sound your system is capable of reproducing.
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      04-10-2011, 11:54 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaigoss69 View Post
Well I suppose there are those who like to tweak and those who don't. I don't. I used to have the bitone and no matter what I did I could not get it to sound the way I wanted. And then there was always the desire to tweak something just because I could and then it would end up sounding worse instead of better. Anyway, how do you know what you are aiming for when you have no baseline? I mean unless you have spent hours upon hours listening to a competition grade system, and you were somehow able to store that sound perfectly in your brain, how do you know how to set your crossover points, slopes, levels, phases, and eq exactly such that it sounded just like that competition system you once heard?

With the MS-8 it is different because the unit was programmed by audiophiles to take all of the tweaking and guessing and second guessing out of the equation and to give you in 5 minutes the best possible sound your system is capable of reproducing.
I like the solution of the MS-8:

So probably my configuration will be:
Front: Morel Hybrid Ovation II components
Rear: OEM, and if I do not like how it sounds, upgrade to Morel Integra Ovation XO coaxial
Underseat: Earthquake SWS-8
MS-8 plus JL XD600/6

I prefer to leave the guess work to people with more experience than me and just enjoy it.

David Z, let me know what you get quote for labor.

Anyone has a recommendation on an installer in Austin?

Thank you everyone for the input
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      04-11-2011, 06:47 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wavesofsilver View Post
I like the solution of the MS-8:

So probably my configuration will be:
Front: Morel Hybrid Ovation II components
Rear: OEM, and if I do not like how it sounds, upgrade to Morel Integra Ovation XO coaxial
Underseat: Earthquake SWS-8
MS-8 plus JL XD600/6

I prefer to leave the guess work to people with more experience than me and just enjoy it.

David Z, let me know what you get quote for labor.

Anyone has a recommendation on an installer in Austin?

Thank you everyone for the input
mariano
Well, I'll be installing this system myself so I have no idea how much labor is (Ken aka VP Electricity is in Oregon and I'm in Maryland). My system has changed a bit so the quote for my components would be different for yours.

My final system:

Front: Morel Hybrid Ovation II components
Rear: Morel Integra Ovation XO coaxial
Underseat: Jehnert XE 200
Amp: 2x Ark Audio KS 125.4 (the KS 900.6 says "differential inputs" but doesn't accept balanced inputs)

No equalization for now but should sound pretty sweet. There are a few reasons I shouldn't post the price publicly. Make a couple more posts so I can PM you or better yet contact VP Electricity of musicar northwest.
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      11-25-2011, 11:18 AM   #18
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How did the install turn out?

This is exactly what I am thinking about for an e90 sedan. But I have Logic 7 system. No i-drive.

The ms-8 processor/amp is also a great solution for me, but I hear that if creates an echo on bluetooth phone usage?

Is there any reason to add a sub in the trunk for classic rock if you upgrade the underseat speakers?

Recommend keeping the center channel speaker and the rears?

Front: Morel
Underseat Jehnart
Amp: ? JL or Zapco or ... ?
Processor: ms-8 or bit-one?
Rear sub: none or ?

Last edited by freestone; 11-25-2011 at 11:25 AM.
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      11-25-2011, 02:06 PM   #19
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Quote:
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How did the install turn out?
Install came out great, you can see it here. I highly recommend each and every component.

Quote:
Originally Posted by freestone View Post
This is exactly what I am thinking about for an e90 sedan. But I have Logic 7 system. No i-drive.

The ms-8 processor/amp is also a great solution for me, but I hear that if creates an echo on bluetooth phone usage?
I'm not too familiar with the MS-8 and upgrades to L7 systems, but I think I've read the MS-8 works great without needing line output converters... I think you can plug all your L7 amp speaker outputs in the MS-8. Not sure about the Bluetooth echo, but I'm sure if you search MS-8 you'll get all the answers you need.

Quote:
Originally Posted by freestone View Post
Is there any reason to add a sub in the trunk for classic rock if you upgrade the underseat speakers?
I would just upgrade the underseat woofers and see if thatís enough bass for you. I think the Jehnerts do amazingly well with rock and even music with a lot of low bass like techno. Iíd skip a trunk sub for now and see if you like the sound without a sub. If you ever had a decent sub though, youíll probably miss that extra kick. I did, so Iím upgrading with an Audison Bit One.1, Arc Audio KS500.1 mini and Musicar NWís trunk sub.


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Originally Posted by freestone View Post
Recommend keeping the center channel speaker and the rears?
You'll get a lot of different opinions on this. I've always been an old-fashioned 2 channel stereo person, so I've never used a center channel, although i always use rear speakers to keep back seat listeners entertained. Supposedly a center channel can raise the sound stage up; I've already installed the Bit One.1 and with the time delay settings tweaked it sounds like vocals are coming from right in front of me. The MS-8 probably does even better with its auto tuning.

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Originally Posted by freestone View Post
Front: Morel
Underseat Jehnart
Amp: ? JL or Zapco or ... ?
Processor: ms-8 or bit-one?
Rear sub: none or ?
Morels and Jehnerts all the way. Iíve read the SW-8 underseat drivers do better with low bass at the expense of upper bass. For amps I went with 2 Arc Audio KS125.4 minis (4x75 into 4 ohms for front and rear and 2x250 bridged into 4 ohms for underseat) and 1 KS500.1 (500x1 at 4 ohms for sub).
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      11-26-2011, 01:05 AM   #20
JerryK73
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I would recommend using a center channel speaker to help with imaging. Since the path lengths are unequal to the ear the imaging will not be centered. The only time the use of a center channel (IMHO) is not needed is when using kick panels, since the placement of the speakers is more equal then having them in the doors.
Plus adding a center channel will pull the sound towards the windshield thereby creating a soundstage that appears to come from your dash. When you go to a concert do you sit on the stage or in front of it?
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      11-27-2011, 02:05 PM   #21
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The problem I am having is running out of room for the amps without adding a subfloor in back which I don't really want to do...

If you keep the center, and the rears, and add a trunk sub then you are out of amp space given you have to have the Logic7 box too.

Better to keep the rears and forgo the trunk sub (upgrading the under seats) or add the trunk and forget the rears...

I have tried running with fader shutting off rears to see who it surrounds but I do prefer a bit of backfill I think, though I am not sure if that changes when one has actually mid range bass.
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      12-07-2011, 12:54 AM   #22
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If you use an MS-8 it has an amp built in that you could use to run the center channel and/or rear speakers. You would then need a 6-channel amp to run the door speakers and under seat subs.
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