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Thread: Upgraded Stereo.....(post a bit long)

  1. #1
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    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Upgraded Stereo.....(post a bit long) head unit has been out of commision for 6 months now. Over the past 2 years (my Z8 is a 2001) the unit has been working off and on.....but over the past 6 months...totally off! So I'm ready for an upgrade. I've read all the posts on this subject. There are several camps
    1.) there are those who agree the stereo sucks and are looking for an acceptable alternative to the whole system;
    2.) there are those who have upgraded....but only amps and speakers..keeping the head unit;
    3.) those who think the stereo is acceptable as it is and don't really care how good the radio is as they are more interested in the sounds of the car itself.

    I have been unsuccessful in getting any info from anyone who has actually replaced the head unit....heard that some Euros have replaced with an Alpine unit...but nothing definitive. So, I figure I have a few alternatives:
    1.) I can order a new OEM unit from my local BMW dealership...get a "re-made" unit that may or may not work (as I understand thet BMW cannot guarantee the "new" unit will not malfunction) for about $1,1oo;
    2.) I can simply forget about listening to the radio and listen to my Eisenmann Race exhaust (not an option per my significant other)
    3.) take the plunge and get a top end replacement unit with accessories.

    Now I've read all kinds of stuff about the dangers of replacing the head unit. It could mess with the electronics of the car....(but I've replaced many stock heads over the past 20 years and had NO interference with electonics of the cars I've owned....why would the Z8 be different? I've read the manuals for the Z8..what runs through the radio????..the temp gauge??? As for the argument about decreasing the value of the car....that's fine, I'll keep the crappy OEM head unit and when I'm done enjoying the car with the new stereo, I'll replace at that time (hopefully I'll be dead).

    So with this in mind I may have found the perfect unit for our beloved Z8s. I spoke to my friends at Freeman's Stereo Video here in North Carolina and found what may be an awesome solution to our Z8 head problem. I may have found a solution that includes a 7" monitor w/ DVD system (as many of you know, most monitors will not work with our Z8s due to the unique position of the head unit in the dash), and a hideaway nav. system for use on the monitor. The system will include replacement of the the front tweeters, front kickers, and replacementment of 6.5" subwoofers under each seat. The system will include a 6 channel 75w amp, sirius connectivity and IPOD interface. Total cost all-in...~$5,000. That's assuming the 7" monitor works. It is a unit that allows for slide AND angle adjustments. It may clear the head cover and the dash as it slides out quite far before releasing the display, then actually moves back in towards the dash and has angle adjustment. You might not be able to get a 90' angle on the display....but you probably can get something like 100' or 110' not know yet. Anyway, I'm interested in any opinions, one way or the other, about making this upgrade. If I decide to do it I'll post pictures, etc. as I told the "high-end" car tech I would supply a camera for pics...he told me not to worry as he has his own and just finished an AM DB9 that he imaged.

  2. #2
    Z8 Novice BostonZ's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006

    OK I'll bite ...

    what's it cost to find out the brand and model number of the unit you are spying?
    John from Weston, MA
    2001 Silver/Black

  3. #3
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    This sounds like the 1DIN Pioneer unit. It has all of the features that mention, but I wouldn't think it cost that much for the upgrade, including speakers. Then again, truly professional installation to match the quality of the car is certainly valuable.

    I've always wondered about the clearance on a retractable screen system since the radio is not flush with, but rather, recessed under its cover. I didn't realize that they allowed for adjustment of the screen angle - nifty.

    BTW - I fall into group 3. The Nav is about useless, but the audio is 'okay'. Since two of our four vehicles are without Nav, I've been contemplating a portable Nav unit, especially since one of them is a bike.
    Last edited by thegunguy; October 17th 2006 at 23:11.

  4. #4

    Certainly sounds like an interesting option...

    and please do post some shots if you do take the plunge. I think it would be wonderful to find an excellent Z8 compatible stereo upgrade that could be as 'de rigueur' as the CDV & Dinan Swaybars.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  5. #5
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    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Here are the particulars......

    Kenwood KVT717DVD 1299.95
    Kenwood Nav KNAG510 799.95
    JL Audio VR650CSI 6.5" Comp System 299.95
    2 JL Audio 6W04 6.5" subwoofers (4 ohm) 299.95
    JL Audio A6450 75W x 6 Amp 399.95
    Kenwood Ipod Interface 99.95
    Kenwood Sirius Connectivity 99.95
    Dynamat (39 sq. ft) Excessive IMHO 169.95
    "Special Labor" 750.00
    Other Misc (Harness, Cables, taxes) 576.06

    All prices are retail (on-line prices show about a 30%-40% discount). In addition, the measurements were so close that the tech will not know if the screen will work until he actually puts it in the car. If it will not work, I'll get a ~$500 1 DIN head w/out screen and lose the nav system (a $1,600 savings).

  6. #6
    I dont think the price is bad for the labor and the parts (without being up to date on the latest/ greatest) seem priced fairly.

    Some questions and comments:

    I bet you can make it work if you are willing to forgo the Z8 OEM radio hideaway door; if not it might be more tricky but possible.

    Will the amp- seems like you are allocating 75wpc be enough to drive 2 4ohm subs? In my home audio experience this is not enough. My worry is you will be distorting at the moderate/louder volumes you will want for top down enjoyment.

    Where are the crossovers? Included in the system?

    Its great that you get sirius connectivity, but do you get actual sirius?

    Dynamat seems needless as thats a quieting material and driving the Z8 is not really a quiet experience. IMHO save the ~170.

    What kind of equalization options does the kenwood head unit have/ do you want more "tunability" than it offers? You might want to see if they offer an eq.

    Will the shop equalize/ tune the unit for you for the price quoted? Some shops will do it for an extra fee.

    Just some misc ramblings. Please keep us updated.

  7. #7
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    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Stereo Install Complete

    I completed my stereo upgrade and am absolutely delighted. My only regret is that I waited so long to do it. For you audiophiles out there, not walk, to your nearest quality stereo installation shop. My new system sounds infinitely better with the top down at 80 mph than the OEM system did with the hard top on sitting still (and I even have the Eisenmann Sport exhaust to contend with). Why?....quality and power....that simple. For those who are hesitant to do an expensive upgrade because you think you cannot get good quality sound with a top down roadser should really reconsider. In fact, that is exactly why you should pay for the best most powerful equipment you can afford.

    My original intention was to get a foldout monitor with navigation and I looked long and hard to find a unit I thought would fit (as you know the OEM head unit is quite recessed into the dash). With Phil's help at Freeman's Audio Video here in North Carolina, we selected a unit we THOUGHT would fit....looked like it would have the clearance. Long story, short.....we tested every fold out head unit they had in dice, the dash was always in the way. So I decided on a standard DIN unit. I ended up saving $ which was a good thing. In retrospect, I drive my Z8 95% with the top down, I'm guessing it would be difficult, if not impossible to read the screen during daylight, which is most of when I drive. As for losing the OEM nav. ability, I never used the system as I and considered it quite useless.....especially in light of the current models that are available.

    Equipment List:
    Pioneer CD/MP3/WMA/WAV head unit DEHP780MP 419.95
    Pioneer XM Digital Sat. Tuner GEXP920XM 99.95
    Pioneer IPOD Interface Adapter CDIB100II 50.00
    JL Audio 6.5"" Subfoofer 6W08 179.90
    JL Audio 6.5" Comp System VR650CSI 299.95
    JL Audio 75W X 6 Channel Amp A6450 399.95
    Special Labor 750.00
    Other 539.60
    All In 2,739.30

    I attached some pics of the install. The 6-disc changer now houses the XM sat nav tuner. My Ipod connects where the phone used to. The XM antenna has been discreetly connected above the Z8 logo on the back plastic panel. The amp is attached in the trunk and takes up very little space. I, of course, have retained all the original equipment and if I ever want to go back to the stock set-up, I can.