Well, my aftermarket audio system is now complete. Or what I like to think of as a good starting point, since I'm sure I will be making tweaks, upgrades, and adjustments over the months and years.
In my previous thread I explained what I was planning to do and why; if you haven't read it check it out here:
The total cost turned out to be $9500. The changes that were made from the system described there are thusly:
1. Decided to go with two 12's instead of three 10's for deeper bass. The subs are Arc 12D2's.
2. Decided to ditch the Soundgate parts for an Audiocontrol LC6, a high-end LOC.
3. Decided we had to cut the rear doors as well as the front doors in order to fit all the woofers.
With the base E60 audio I had, there are two amps, one in the front for the speakers, and one in the trunk for the subs. They took the speaker-level output of the front amp and ran it to the trunk into the LC6. I'm not sure if they used the subwoofer amp output or increased the low frequency gain on the front amp output, which is high-passed. Whatever they did it worked, as the subs sound great.
Anyways, here are a few pictures. The full set is in my gallery at:
These are the amps:
This is the iPod holder on my dash, from ProClip. The wire is from a Belkin iPod power adapter:
This is it with the iPod (the bright white of the iPod confused the flash a bit):
This is where the Belkin and the V1 power adapters plug in. (I ran my V1 wires along the side of the trim as described in an excellent post on this board). You can also see that the Belkin has a line audio out, which I connect to my aux input:
Here is the aux input:
Here is the port cut in the back of the rear console pulldown for the subs (this picture is at 90 degrees):
Here is the subwoofer volume control they put near my shifter:
Here is a picture of the woofer in the driver's door:
This is the woofer in the right rear door (other two doors not shown):
The system sounds incredible. The bass hits like a nuclear bomb when the rear console is down, and when it's up, it's very muted, so when I'm carrying rear passengers and want to play music I'm not also making them deaf. The trunk is built like a tank - very little bass leaks outside the car, so I'm going to be waking up any neighbors. Some sound leaks out of the passenger compartment, but not a whole lot. (Unlike subterFUSE, I don't care if people at a stoplight can hear me
The sound from the Morels is crystal clear even up past the point where my eardrums would implode. But the real benefit of this much power is not to make your eardrums implode, but to be able to play music with large dynamic range (like a lot of acoustic music) at a good volume without distortion. This sytem can do everything well - rap, techno, jazz, classical, you name it.
The quality of the aux input is great. I've normalized my MP3s to 94 db (audiophiles please don't argue over whether 89db is better, I'm deeply knowledgeable of the pros and cons) and am using the iPod line output as extracted by the Belkin, so there is no problem with insufficient gain.
The biggest concern I had was whether we would be able to get the sound quality we wanted out of the factory amp. I'm happy to say we did. Very little noise is noticeable on anything - substantially less than in my Lexus that had the head unit replaced. Factory head unit EQ seems to be minimal, so I don't think I'll be needing the Cleansweep.
However, I'm considering getting an equalizer installed nonetheless so I can continue to fine-tune things. Test disks indicate that frequency response is good across the board, but perhaps I could tweak the mid-bass up a bit to make the big Morel woofers kick a bit more. To do this they would install an Arc Audio DXE equalizer in the trunk, with a remote control in that useless little cubbyhole under the CD player. This baby is expensive at close to $1600, so before I decide I may RTA the system myself with a laptop, a mic, and the TrueRTA software (can anyone recommend a good mic for this purpose?) to see if EQ is really needed. Maybe there is also a way to customize the EQ presets on the iPod.
I want to plug Kurtis Harville at AMS Car Stereo in Santa Clara (408-248-1111), they did a spectacular job, and were brutally honest about what could and could not be done. If you want to do the same to your E60, give him a call (but please don't take up his time with how-to questions on the phone if you're too far away to use them for the install, they spent two weeks learning this car and aren't about to give away the information for free).
I really, truly implore anyone who's never heard a decent aftermarket system to run to their nearest high-end car audio shop ASAP. You ARE going to have to spend lots of money to install something on a car like the E60, but you already threw down at least $65 grand anyways. If you love music, get it done right.