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Stereo Ideas, Anyone?

Discussion in 'E30 (1984-1993)' started by Elkoholic, Jun 14, 2008.

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    Elkoholic

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    Hey everyone--glad to be part of a wonderful E30 community such as this! I was just wondering how many people, if any, have replaced the stock BMW head unit in their ride.

    I have an '87 cabrio, as you may be able to see in the pic, and while the premium system is not entirely disappointing, I think the stereo could be better. I'm quite the audiophile, and I'm tired of accessing my iPod's library through an FM transmitter or a [now defunct] cassette adapter.

    I've been looking at some Pioneer head units and matching 5.25-inch speakers...but I'm a bit peeved that they don't have any head units with red illumination--just rice-rocket blue that would clash oh-so-badly with the interior panel lighting. :D

    Keep in mind--iPod compatibility, preferably a CD player, and red illumination. Trying to avoid a gimmicky and expensive touch-screen...looking to spend no more than $250...

    Any suggestions? :confused:
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    az3579

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    YES, there IS a head unit that has red illumination! While the LCD has white text, the buttons and everything else is illuminated in red, so it matches the vehicles interior more. This was one of the key factors that led me to buy what I did, and that is an Alpine iDA-X300. The only other unit that I think had (partial) red illumination was a Sony unit, but it was considerably more expensive and had more rice than I was willing to accept.

    I never use CD's. They're horrible to carry around, they're too fragile, and they're too limited in how much they can store. Instead, I use my iPod. So, the iDA-X300 fits me perfectly. It has no CD player; instead it's an all digital head unit that supports iPod, USB devices, HD radio, bluetooth, and I think satellite radio as well, though I'm not sure on that one.

    And, it cost me about $130 with shipping on eBay. Stores (only a few will carry it) will have it for about $200 if I remember correctly.
    • Member

    Elkoholic

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    Awesome! I'll look into that...thanks for the info!

    How has your experience with it been so far? Pretty user-friendly? Also, does it allow you to control the iPod through the iPod while connected?
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    az3579

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    Well, control of the iPod through the iPod itself while connected isn't allowed; the "iPod accessory attached" message shows up. You can control the music-searching features through the head unit, but not through the iPod. I find this to be a bit annoying but a lot safer. The last thing I want is to be holding my iPod in my right hand while driving; not fun in a manual car. I don't know if this does it for all model iPods, but it does this with my iPod Touch.

    Also, to be able to effectively route the iPod cable, I had to punch out one of my switches so I could bring the cable through. It's not quite pretty, but it's an easy solution. Since all four switches were present, I took out the one that's most useless to me, the rear window defroster switch, as it takes years for it to actually defrost anyway, so I left it in the on position and took it out so I could pull out the iPod cable through its port.

    I wouldn't mind using the head unit to control the iPod if it didn't take FOREVER for it to scroll long names across the screen. I have multiple albums that are of a series and have the same first part of the name but with a different number at the very end to distinguish them from the others. So, as a result, there's this HUUUUUUUGE portion of the albums list that has the same album name beginning so I never know which one it is until it scrolls the entire album name through. It takes a long time for it to start scrolling and it scrolls rather slowly. There are no options you can set that controls this.


    Quality-wise, I am satisfied. The sound quality is a little bit improved over my old one, mostly because the old one was a cheapo tape unit by Pioneer (installed probably when the car was only a few years old). I only changed out the unit because the contacts were loose; every time I hit a bump, the radio would switch off and come back on again after a second. This was annoying me to the point beyond belief, so I swapped the unit. Install took me two hours, mostly because I've never installed a radio into a car before in my life.

    It does look attractive (to me) when installed, and I have the comfort of knowing thieves don't want it. When my car was busted into, the GPS went missing but my radio stayed, for which I was extremely grateful. No music = misery. :)



    Overall, for the price, I don't think there's much that could beat it. I originally wanted a touch-screen retractable-head unit, but those were waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out of my price range. I appreciate the fact that it doesn't have a CD player mostly because I'm against using CD's for music, but the main reason is because it just takes up space and would otherwise make all the other buttons small and compact to fit it all. This unit has large buttons, good for people like me who hate their cell phones because our fingers are a bit wider than most peoples'. I like the easy upgradability as well. It doesn't come with HD radio tuner out of the box (but it does support it), for example, but you could easily buy an add-on for it and it would work plug-n-play. Same goes for bluetooth, so us E30'ers could have the SAME bluetooth experience as these showoff E90 buyers. ;)
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    Elkoholic

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    Hahaha! I know what you mean...Aunt Susie never fails to tell me she's calling from her new 328...

    It all sounds good. I too have been graced with oversized gorilla grips, and find it necessary to be able to operate my comparatively cartoonishly small nano in an alternative manner, and safely in between shifts...lest I need to pay for a new tranny, too...:rolleyes:

    Thanks so much for all your wisdom! I'm glad to have at least one comprehensive testimonial from a fellow Bimmer E30 enthusiast and audiophile! ;) Can't motor without the tunes...
    • Member

    az3579

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    I forgot to mention, there is a workaround for this album scrolling problem. What you could do is before you start driving, you could select the song or album on the iPod, plug it in, and the unit will play it automatically when it starts up (assuming you left it in iPod mod last time it was turned off). So, I come home, left the unit in iPod mode, turned off the car, took the iPod, returned the next morning, plugged it in and it played automatically when I turned the car on. Nifty feature instead of having to reselect the album again.


    By no means am I an audiophile, just really picky in what I buy. I have found the iPod nano to be impossible to use because it's just so small. The iPod touch is the only one I can use comfortably because it has no buttons per se (other than menu and power) so my fat fingers can easily just touch the screen for whatever I need. The clickwheel on the other iPods just annoy the crap out of me and I would much rather wait for the text to scroll on the head unit than use the click wheel. In fact, I'd rather run out in front of a moving car travelling at high speeds than use the click wheel. Maybe I'd even drink my own use oil. :rolleyes:



    And next time Aunt Susie brags about her new 328, you could tell her that she has nothing to brag about; you've got a classic and it can do bluetooth as well. Eat that, Aunt Susie. :D
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    I'd tell aunt Susie that she shouldn't be making calls and talking on the cell phone while driving... (this only works, however, if you're NOT driving at the same time...!) She might find it interesting to learn that parts of the brain that you use while manipulating and talking on a cell phone are the same parts your brain uses for processing the tasks associated with driving.

    Talking on a cell phone while driving actually reduces your driving capacities, and there has been at least one study showing the accident rate for drivers using cell phones is about the same as drunk drivers.

    Of course, don't forget to tell dear Aunt Susie that you love her, too. ;)
    • Member

    Elkoholic

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    HAHAHA!!! LOL, you guys!!! She means well...

    But interesting trick with the iPod function...sounds downright convenient to me...
    • Member

    az3579

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    I keep remembering tidbits AFTER I post... sheesh...


    This tidbit is that I remember shopping around earlier in stores and have found that pretty much none of the units for sale had direct iPod support. Lots of them were "supported" via the USB connector, but I don't think they of them had an iPod cable. This comes with an iPod cable directly and a cable to plug in your USB device simultaneously.
    • Member

    Elkoholic

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    You know what they say...hindsight is 20/20! ;)

    Gotcha. I'll keep that in mind, too.

    jmalter guest

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    Well, I'm a bit of a music-lover/audiophiliac/valve-amps kinda guy, I don't do that iPod/MP3 thing, & when my OEM radio/casette finally rusted shut, I replaced it w/ the cheapest-possible Crutchfield Blaupunkt radio/casette head, $99 + S&H. 'Cos there's just no way that a high-dollar car-interior sound-system was gonna be of much use to me.

    Lately, though, my co-worker's been on about MP3s to the aux-input, it sounds great to have bulk choices for tunes easily available w/o having to fiddle one-handed w/ tapes & CD jewel-cases.

    I'm also reminded of a certain Sunday afternoon at Nelsons Ledges, where a buddy timed my laps - I was driving faster w/ Vivaldi than w/ Van Halen.
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    Elkoholic

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    Big ups to Vivaldi...I'm a violist in my spare time...lol.

    jmalter guest

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    sweet - I recall some great kammer-musik trio on the back-straight at Watkins Glen, the year b/4 they intruduced that chicane, I was in the middle 'tween a VW gti on my left & an M5 on my right, so, three-wide into the brake-zone for that high-speed right-hander, we all switched from line-abreast to line-ahead, just like we'd all read the same fleet-maneuver handbook - we all braked-down & down-shifted just like we'd practiced the maneuver for years, even tho' I'd never met either driver before. I remember I was doin' 115+ mph, & thinkin', "no prob, ramp up the Vivaldi!".

    afterwards, I thought that it was prob'ly a high-point in my driving-school memories, that all 3 of us knew automatically how to react, thanks to high-speed experience in BMW CCA schools, & decent advice we'd each received from BMW CCA instructors, that each of us knew what to do & how to react to the situation. all 3 of us were 'A-group' & solo, goin' hell-for-leather to the very end of the back-straight, as the yard-markers clicked down, yet each of us 3 knew exactly how to act as we merged-lane to the left & set up for the high-speed downhill right-hander. I don't know the driver's names that I was caught up in-between, but I do know that their skills were learned in BMW CCA events - which means that I trusted them (as they trusted me) to drive properly thru the best time of my life, damn, it was fun.
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    Elkoholic

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    I think I just got chills...

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