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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello Board Members,

Many members on this board have probably considered upgrading their audio systems at some point during their ownership experience but were maybe hesitant in altering the original aesthetics and functionality of their vehicle's audio system. I recently decided I wanted to upgrade the stereo head unit in my E39 540i to something that had more of the modern conveniences. I was using a small FM transmitter to play music through bluetooth and to charge my phone via USB but lots of static and intermittent pauses led me to want to pursue a better setup. I wanted bluetooth, a direct USB connection for charging, and the OEM look. I created this post so that others can learn of the option I went with, in case they are looking for options.

I initially wanted to install a XTRONS head unit (a cheap chinese android head unit) because it ticked all the boxes. It's also compatible with the stock DSP amplifier and has a bluetooth OBD2 connector you can purchase separately to read codes on the display. The problem was, every single local car audio shop refused to install it out of fear of liability, due to the cheap quality of these units. Sure many have had good experiences, I'm sure, but these shops warned me that if and when the unit fails, they are not responsible. After more research, I discovered that many people have had defective units and that the company offers poor customer support. I reached out to XTRONS and was not impressed with their responses, so I was stuck figuring out what the next best thing was. I posted on this forum to hear feedback, get some input, and hopefully discover something new.

A member of this board, Dennis Cooper, introduced me to a new product he engineered called the Innovadrive NXG-39. I learned that it would be compatible with high quality head units and would address many the functionalities I sought. He had created a genuinely high quality fascia/fitting kit. It looked identical to the OEM 16:9 Navigation head unit offered with the higher-spec E39s. The overall aesthetics looked Genuine BMW, like it came from the BMW Factory in Germany. Dennis shared with me that this fitting kit is compatible with several new and high quality head units available on the market and provided me with an abundance of information and examples of successful installations. I went ahead and got the NXG-39, an Alpine iLX-W650 and an Alpine 4-channel Amp. I also got the steering wheel adapters and additional parts needed to integrate the head unit.

I wanted to change the trim for while from the Euro-Spec Matte Chrome to a Glossy "Piano" Black trim so I bought Oracal Wrap and Wrapped the Trim myself. I did this at the same time.

Some Before and After photos:

Before:

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After:

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A quick overview is that the installer must first affix the head unit to the NXG-39. Steps are below:

1) Mount the chosen head unit into the NXG-39 by drilling mounting holes to match the head unit's mounting screw holes.

2) You'd then drop the lower dashboard.

3) Remove the OEM audio and cage. Once the OEM cage is removed, there's nothing to cut. If/when you need to sell the car, you can reverse the install procedure, refit the OEM stuff and bring it back to stock. Please note I had a non-nav unit from the factory (CD not cassette) and that some non-nav units (the cassette units) have mounting holes inside the dash. I am a little unsure of which units do and do not - if anybody has more info on this, please share.

4) Drill 4 mounting holes in the NXG-39's outer side panels to match the OEM screw holes and secure in place.

5) Connect the wiring and then refit the lower dash piece.

6) The buttons are pressable, back lit & dimmable, with the PCB which has a connector in order to be able to attach wiring to. They are purely for aesthetics (the volume knobs too). Dimmable backlighting when connected to the cars loom is integrated along with a close resemblance to the car's original dash backlight color.

The installation of the Kit with the headhunt is straight forward. You drill 4 holes on each side, 2 holes on the inner part and 2 on the outer part - of both sides - and then affix the head unit inside with bolts, nuts, and washers. The material is not flimsy or weak, it's sturdy and very durable so no need to worry about cracking this fitting kit. I didn't drill holes yet here but this gives you a visual understanding.

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I didn't get a photo of the fitting kit with the drilled holes but this photo from Dennis illustrates what it looks like before fitting the head unit:

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Once the Head unit is in place and fits inside the kit, you can plug the appropriate wiring and slide the unit in snugly. The fit is so exact that it just slides in firmly and sits very tightly in place. Here is the head unit being placed inside the dash:

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And of course the final result:

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Overall, this route offers higher quality audio and parts, the OEM look, and all the functionalities one would need for their new setup. I am more than happy with the final results and hope this post was helpful.

If you're interested in having a fascia/fitting kit like the NXG-39, feel free to find Dennis Cooper on this board and he is happy to help you out.

Thanks for reading!

- Alan
 

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Very interested to see this, especially as Dennis is here in the UK and I've heard a lot about his stuff.

Please could you look at the permissions on your pictures, though, as they don't seem to be visible?

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Very interested to see this, especially as Dennis is here in the UK and I've heard a lot about his stuff.

Please could you look at the permissions on your pictures, though, as they don't seem to be visible?

Cheers
I can see the photos while logged in and viewing the post but if I am logged out and view it on mobile or desktop, I can't see the photos. I went to profile settings and cannot find permissions....

I deleted and uploaded them, seems to work on my end, viewed when logged out
 

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Hi,

The Phantom - Thank you very much for the writeup, the pictures and the overview for DIY fitment or to discuss with a chosen installer! I'm glad you're very happy with the iLX-W650 & NXG-39 combination and the overall aesthetic improvement to your interior ! As you've mentioned, I wanted a very high quality build and finish to the NXG-39 to match the excellent OEM quality BMW designed for our cars - anything less just wouldn't suffice !

YellowGixxer - I hope it's good thing's you've heard !! Yes, I'm over by the Heathrow/Slough area and will be back to attending regular meets and events in my Touring now that it's back with me after an extensive overhaul/respray etc. If we're both at an event, pop over and say hi !

For everyone else, be they USA, Canada based or from anywhere else globally, if you are flying into Heathrow/the UK and fancy a drink & bite, just let me know !

Cheers, Dennis!
 

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I can see the photos while logged in and viewing the post but if I am logged out and view it on mobile or desktop, I can't see the photos. I went to profile settings and cannot find permissions....

I deleted and uploaded them, seems to work on my end, viewed when logged out
Whatever you did, it works now. Thanks.
 

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@DennisCooper if I were looking to do this in the UK, what head unit would you recommend?

My requirements are:

(Must have) DAB, Bluetooth, Nav (or (wireless) CarPlay), OEM look or compatability with Innodrive, video input to accept feed from OEM reversing camera, compatability with OEM steering wheel controls.

(Would like to have) i-Bus integration to get vehicle info and also (ideally) do things like fold mirrors on lock and run DRL like the Intravee I currently have.

I'm not an audiophile so the stock sound quality is fine. My hearing is shot from years of motorbikes, helicopters, guns and rock concerts anyway. Plus nothing will ever sound better than an S62 on song so the stereo is more for heavy traffic and long journeys.

Asking on here (as opposed to WhatsApp) as the info may be useful for others. Mr Phantom, please forgive the slight thread hijack...

YG
 

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Hi,

YG - I understand your questions and requirements ! I'll go through them with my responses;

Ideally, you'd choose one of the shallow depth head units which means no cutting/modifying of the cabin airbox is needed so makes installation much easier. In the USA, Alpine released the iLX-W650 you see above in Phantom's car and a few others who've used it with the NXG-39. This unit didn't get a UK release, however, a number of my customers have imported one in to use here in the UK. The unit doesn't have DAB as the USA doesn't use that broadcast standard and the built in FM band has the USA stepping divisions when tuning which is different to the UK stepping divisions. From your 'Must Have' list, then this unit won't provide DAB or good FM reception. However, you could use a free app on your Phone called 'Tune In' and all the UK's major radio stations broadcast via the Internet. Choose the station you want and then Bluetooth Audio stream to the iLX-W650 and all your Radio requirements are covered. I've personally been doing this for the last 6/7+ years - no extra boxes to install, no extra wiring nor having to fit/install a good DAB antenna either. With Phone data plans now inclusive of big amounts of data, you'll most likely not use more than perhaps 1-2 GB per month? With UK release head units from Alpine, Kenwood, Sony, JVC, then those with DAB will have UK FM stepping frequencies. Even so, personally to save on the faff, I'd still recommend using Tune In and BT audio streaming.

Moving on; No premium brand after market head unit will connect to the OEM camera, the camera's from their ranges that of course do work are much better performing too. Each brand also produces a Steering wheel Control interface unit and you'd need one of these in order to use the buttons on the steering wheel. Aftermarket brands like Connects2, PAC and Paser offer SWC interfaces too, so this aspect is easily covered. No premium brand head unit directly supports/connects to the cars iBus protocol. As you have an Intravee, you could use that separately to access the various iBus functions its capable of. The iBus app which can work via the Resler Interface and used on some of the Chinese replacement head units, has been made for 'Android'. I did ask the developer if it's 'Android Auto' compatible but he didn't know or seem to understand my question. I'm not sure that a USB port on any of the premium brand head units can be used with a Resler interface - something to test on each potential head unit ?!

I'll Cut/Paste some of the other potential shallow depth head units you could install from the BMW5 forum NXG-39 product page;

Hi,

I'll list model numbers here for the ones I know fit directly & others where slight/minimal modification is required , one unit for instance is 1mm too 'tall'

Direct Fitment head units;

Parrot Asteroid Smart (Discontinued. New old stock is still available from retailers from £375 and used units from around £175)
Alpine iLX-700 (Discontinued. New old stock is still available from retailers from £310 and used units from around £200)
Alpine iLX-W650 (Current model. USA model & needs to be imported in if outside the USA and costs around £310 inclusive of all taxes/VAT/Shipping)
Kenwood DMX7018DABS (Current Model. Typical discount retailer pricing is around £350+)
Kenwood eXcelon DMX706s (Current model. USA model & needs to be imported if outside the USA and costs around £330 inclusive of all taxes/VAT/Shipping)

The above head units are all Shallow depth physically meaning no requirement to cut/modify the cabin Airbox and also have been fitted by owners using the NXG-39.

Head units that require minimal modification of the NXG-39

Kenwood DMX125DAB - This unit is 1mm too tall to fit into the NXG-39's aperture for the 'nose' of the head unit to fit through. Filing/cutting down by 1mm will allow the unit to fit. Current model and typical UK Retail pricing is around £180. ( I have one of these I'm just about to fit into an NXG-39 by filing down by 1mm for test fitting & pictures)

Other shallow depth, fully features Double DIN head units

Sony XAV-AX3005DB - This unit has an 'L' shaped, single DIN full depth rear chassis but crucially, the chassis body sits above where the E39 cabin airbox is. Typical UK discounted retail price is around £300+
JVC KW-M745DBT - Shallow Depth double DIN. Typical UK discounted retail price is around £340+
JVC KW-M741BT - Shallow Depth double DIN. Typical UK discounted retail price is around £299+
Pioneer SPH-EVO62DAB-UNI - A new style of unit with a screen section mounted to a single DIN full depth chassis or, seems it's can be connected via a lead to have the chassis mounted elsewhere. I've not had a chance to get this unit physically in my hands to test as yet and currently seems to be the only unit from Pioneer UK that could work. Their other potential head units aren't shallow enough for clearing the E39 cabin air box.

-----

In addition to the above, I'm soon due to meet with a specialist to evaluate a solution for having a premium brand head unit and having the OBC functionality without using a Resler Interface & iBus app. If it turns out some premium brand units can use the Resler Interface and run the iBus app as is or a specific version for Android Auto / Apple CarPlay is developed, then either of the two could be chosen (pending my idea will/can work!)

Phantom - I'm sure you don't mind the minor thread hijack do you ?!!

Cheers, Dennis!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
@DennisCooper if I were looking to do this in the UK, what head unit would you recommend?

My requirements are:

(Must have) DAB, Bluetooth, Nav (or (wireless) CarPlay), OEM look or compatability with Innodrive, video input to accept feed from OEM reversing camera, compatability with OEM steering wheel controls.

(Would like to have) i-Bus integration to get vehicle info and also (ideally) do things like fold mirrors on lock and run DRL like the Intravee I currently have.

I'm not an audiophile so the stock sound quality is fine. My hearing is shot from years of motorbikes, helicopters, guns and rock concerts anyway. Plus nothing will ever sound better than an S62 on song so the stereo is more for heavy traffic and long journeys.

Asking on here (as opposed to WhatsApp) as the info may be useful for others. Mr Phantom, please forgive the slight thread hijack...

YG
No worries at all, that's what this thread is for - questions!
 

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Thanks Dennis, that was really useful.

So if I kept with Intravee for the iBus connection (I can do that) would I still be able to control it through any of the head units? At present when it's selected as a source (it connects to the old CD changer plug) then its menu dispalys on the OEM satnav, allowing things like mirror folding, DRL, trip log (very handy when you've left your car somewhere like a valet parking place and the trip meter has mysteriously zeroed when you get it back) and so on.

The OEM camera probably just needs a different (ie RCA) connector fitted. I can do that - it integrates so well, using a replacement boot handle, that I really wouldn't want to change it if I could get it to work.

I don't really want to use the phone as a radio receiver, though I get that it may be a perfectly adequate solution. It just feels a bit half-arsed, if you know what I mean? I want everything integrated... I've already got a decent DAB antenna fitted because the car already has the Alpine DAB, so while I understand the reasoning, in my case that isn't a problem.

Cheers,

YG
 

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Hi YG!

I'll go through your updated questions here;

1. Negative. No aftermarket head units directly work with the Intravee, keep in mind the Intravee is a bespoke to the BMW iBus solution and was conceived to be controlled via a laptop & connection and the OEM BMW audio modules. The chinese replacements run on Android and via the Resler interface and the iBus app, those who've gone that route get the functions the Intravee does, so it's not needed. So, if an owner only wants the OEM audio modules and nothing else, they'll go for the Intravee to access those functions. Those who go with the chinese replacements that can work with the Resler Interface/iBus app, will go for that option. I don't know if the Resler/Ibus app work on high quality brand head units that run genuine Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. I am working on a way of having the OBC when an owner chooses to go with a premium brand head unit and at early stages on this!

2. Have a look around this forum and BMW5 as there's more owners who've kept the OEM setup and added a camera. You can then check to see if indeed there's a simple(r) way to connect it to an aftermarket head unit. If it turns out it can't be used, I think there's E39 specific fit boot handle located cameras available and worst case scenario, perhaps you could swap out the old camera in that housing with a new one that works with the head unit you get.

3. As you've already added a DAB antenna, then yes, you could route that to the new DAB equipped head unit and you'd not feel it was a half arse solution ! The Alpine DAB unit is very rare to find, so I'm sure another owner with the OEM setup and wants to keep it that way will purchase from you - the last one I sold was a few years ago and was around £300/350, just the TUA-T100DAB. The last one I saw for sale sold after a few months at around £220 I think it was.

I understand you do want everything integrated including perhaps other aspects of the OEM audio setup. Each potential route to upgrade/improve the OEM setup unfortunately doesn't provide everything, there's advantages and disadvantages with each. My preference is and always will be high quality and reliable aftermarket electronics and products, hence me designing and manufacturing the NXG-39. I know other owners like/go with the other routes for different reasons. Whilst I can completely upgrade the OEM audio electronics, retain all features and have the latest features and functionality all housed within the OEM modules physically so it's 100% OEM looks, the cost would be £3000+ !

If you, or anyone reading this have more questions, I'll help as best I can !

Cheers, Dennis!
 

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Hi Dennis, I have an earlier production e39 M5 Will your unit work with that. I'm an electronic nitwit so I would have to have a local shop install it. Mine is a Production date 3/2000 (US). Thanks!
 

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Hi Peter,

The NXG-39 can and will fit all E39's regardless of model year & build date :)

Cheers, Dennis!
 

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Thanks Dennis,

How do I order your unit once I speak to an installer who can handle my job.

Thanks,

PS, after receiving your earlier response I went back and read the Phantom's write up more carefully, (Thank you Phantom)! Can you elaborate on item 6

"6) The buttons are pressable, back lit & dimmable, with the PCB which has a connector in order to be able to attach wiring to. They are purely for aesthetics (the volume knobs too). Dimmable backlighting when connected to the cars loom is integrated along with a close resemblance to the car's original dash backlight color"
 

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Hi Peter,

To answer your question and for reference for others to read, have a look at these pictures;

Rear of the PCB;



Front of the PCB;



On the 'front' the LED's are laid out in the middle of the buttons to give an even spread of light. When the 12V lead is connected to the wire in the loom of the car where the heater controls lighting is, then the brightness can be adjusted in conjunction with the dimming function controlled by the thumbwheel.

On the 'rear' of the PCB in the picture and on the left edge, there's a Port that I've incorporated. When a button is pressed, it's detectable and when wires are fixed to the connector that fits into the port, those wires can be connected to another product/accessory, such as heated or massaging seat controllers, Air Ride controllers, TPMS systems etc etc. I've provided this option via the Port so that customers can choose what and when they'd like to have something connected up. I'm able to laser etch any symbols/characters on the NXG-39 buttons, so a custom one to match the function needed and connected to can be done as an option.

Cheers, Dennis!
 
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