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Discussion Starter #21
It's my understanding that all 3 USBs are the same internal connection, so I don't think there's a specific one that needs to be used for the iPod/iPhone. None of the "stock" apps on the Xtrons appear to work with the iPhone, but I'd be willing to bet there's an app in the Google Play store that would do it. I need to spend a little time researching that one, actually. Too many irons in the fire lately (I have an E30 project that is eating up garage time lol )

Yes, the mounting plates mount to the sides of the stock opening. They have little "ears" that face front and the top corners (and top corners only) of the head unit attach. It looks to me like a solid case of "Friday afternoon before a long weekend" engineering. :) I'm pretty critical of the mounting brackets, but I do need to remind myself that there's a price point to meet here and I suspect that custom-engineering a sweet mounting solution doesn't fit into that price point. For what it's worth, the Avin Avant 3 looks as though it mounts beautifully with the stock Nav carrier....

There is an issue with data transfer (sorry, don't know any details beyond that) on the Android 8 units. I believe it will be resolved with the next iBus app update, but no ETA on that as of now besides "soon".

I haven't noticed anything that's missing from the OBC, but to be honest I haven't had the stock system in this car for 3+ years, so I may be forgetting something. There are 2 current glitches on the main OBC screen:

- The conversion of fuel tank capacity to US gallons is not working (notice my 62 gallon tank in the pic below), which is supposed to be resolved in the next sw update
- The oil temp always shows "--" or "32". I'm afraid this one may never be resolved since the S62 oil temp data isn't available on the iBus network. I guess other E39s have a physical temp sensor somewhere other than the oil pan and that data is available on non-S62 cars. You do have the option of just hiding the oil temp field completely, which is what I've done since this picture was taken. I figure we have the gauge on the cluster, so I'm not overly worried about that one.

 

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Does anyone know to use the xtrons ibus app over bluetooth? I use android auto with pioneer headunit. I dont want to swap headunit now but want to occasionally control ibus.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
I don't believe that's possible. You'd have to connect to the iBus network with something that would communicate to your head unit via Bluetooth and I don't think anything like that exists
 

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I don't believe that's possible. You'd have to connect to the iBus network with something that would communicate to your head unit via Bluetooth and I don't think anything like that exists
I'm thinking of direct connection to the phone via bluetooth and not the headunit. Android auto is already using the micro-usb port of my phone.
 

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Simple question now-how do you intall the ibus app into the headunit?
Do you download it to an usb drive and just select/launch it or do you need to get another app and change settings?

I've done a bit of research and nothing specific to the ibus app has come up.

I'm presuming it's pretty simple as I've not seen any instructions.

About to fit everything in the next few days, just wondering about things..
Thanks
 

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This write up is awesome! Thank you for taking the time to lay it all out there.

I am literally pre E39 M5 ownership, picking one up on Monday. This looks like a tremendous upgrade.

I have always been a SQ focused guy. Can you shed some light on the on board quality and what connectivity options are available?

I love the ability to tap into the obc. I just want to get an idea how it integrates with a traditional system with aftermarket amps etc.

Also does it integrate with the new sound processor systems that are so common now days? And being android based can it control the processor on board with apps?

Can't wait to pick up the car and dig into which audio system it has.

Sent from my SM-N950U1 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Simple question now-how do you intall the ibus app into the headunit?

Do you download it to an usb drive and just select/launch it or do you need to get another app and change settings?



I've done a bit of research and nothing specific to the ibus app has come up.



I'm presuming it's pretty simple as I've not seen any instructions.



About to fit everything in the next few days, just wondering about things..

Thanks

It’s very simple. The head unit has a browser, you just navigate to the iBus app website and click on the link to download a zip file.

I did have to install an app from the Google Play store in order to extract the zip files, although I’m not 100% sure that was necessary. That may have been my own ignorance of Android showing.

Remember, this head unit is essentially just an android tablet, so anything you can do with a tablet you can do here.
 

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I've gotten the HU and most of the cables. Just ordered RCA cables to run to the rear - I'd rather run them now than run them later. Doesn't look like the HU has an internal amp that could be used to bypass the stock amp.

I've got an old RF Punch 60ix - and had an old punch 4040 that I left in a car. Grr... would have been a very nice setup.

It's #2 on the list (the HU and getting the wiring done). Amps would be later... I'm assuming the HU install is a full day.
 

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This write up is awesome! Thank you for taking the time to lay it all out there.

I am literally pre E39 M5 ownership, picking one up on Monday. This looks like a tremendous upgrade.

I have always been a SQ focused guy. Can you shed some light on the on board quality and what connectivity options are available?

I love the ability to tap into the obc. I just want to get an idea how it integrates with a traditional system with aftermarket amps etc.

Also does it integrate with the new sound processor systems that are so common now days? And being android based can it control the processor on board with apps?

Can't wait to pick up the car and dig into which audio system it has.

Sent from my SM-N950U1 using Tapatalk
The HU has 5 audio outputs (RCAs) - front, rear and 1 for sub. I don't know the level or quality of them, as I haven't installed yet. I'm going to run 6 RCAs to the trunk, the extra for the backup camera. I don't see any wiring for an internal amp, though the HU has a sticker that seems to list the speaker outputs for the main plug, so I'm not sure if it has some internal power which could be used to bypass the stock amp. I was going to do this initially and just run the power straight to my new 2 way component fronts, as I thought there was an internal amp, but no such luck.

I'm going to get the HU installed first with the stock amp, but pull wires and RCAs for an amp at a later time.

My guess is the ideal setup for me would be a nice set of components up front (pick your poison), and either M-audio subs or the RF 10" free air solution that many have done. Find a nice amp to either pair with the 2 channel RF punch 60ix (circa 1997) that I have (punch 100 or another punch 60 or something), or get 1 amp that can handle 3/4/5 channels (maybe old punch 4080 or something new). Seems like there are lots of options for $150-250 range - I need to look and see if the newer amps are "better" or just "different". I know they can be smaller, and the output levels are drastically larger... I just recall a 40x4 channel setup with 1x120 on a sub was plenty.

Probably leave the rears connected to the stock amp and fade to the front, unless the 5 channel amps are similar priced. The tweets right behind the drivers head really messes up the stoundstage.

I'd love to do a fancy passive crossover with the single 2 channel amp I have to power the whole system... but I don't have enough knowledge / time to really get one built and tuned up front... and a second / new amp makes life easier in case my passive crossover doesn't work.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
I’m no expert in regards to Sound Quality, but let’s just say that people tend to leave the DSP system intact simply out of convenience - not because it sounds particularly good. It’s certainly not the worst I’ve ever heard, but given the complexity and the number of speakers involved, it’s not exactly mind-blowing.

I suspect that the Chinese-built Android units will have marginal sound quality as compared to a top-tier audio manufacturer. Of course, there’s a major price difference between this and a $1200+ aftermarket HU.
 

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Thanks guys.

My last 5-6 setups have been active vs passive.

From my understanding a digital signal is a digital signal so the internal SQ should be a non issue for my needs. Does it have a digital output?

In my case I think I will put it together as you have laid out with all the extras. Giving me the obc access. Then I will run the output to an aftermarket processor (for time alignment and crossovers and EQ). Then to aftermarket amps and onto the aftermarket speakers.



Sent from my SM-N950U1 using Tapatalk
 

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Thanks guys.

My last 5-6 setups have been active vs passive.

From my understanding a digital signal is a digital signal so the internal SQ should be a non issue for my needs. Does it have a digital output?

In my case I think I will put it together as you have laid out with all the extras. Giving me the obc access. Then I will run the output to an aftermarket processor (for time alignment and crossovers and EQ). Then to aftermarket amps and onto the aftermarket speakers.



Sent from my SM-N950U1 using Tapatalk
Hi Mjay & Stickey,

If good/great SQ is a top or very important priority for you, then I suspect you'll be disappointed. The mass produced chinese 'clone' units like this 'Xtrons' use generic/basic quality components/IC's and are essentially 'cheap tablet' electronics housed in an E39 shaped chassis. There's no Digital Audio output either. I've heard quite a number of E39s including M5's where owners have installed any one of the chinese units and then installed high quality amplifiers and then speakers all in some awesome builds. They've initially been happy, and then, once the well known issues with these head units begin to show up, they've become more annoyed. It's at that point, a premium brand head unit has been swapped in and transformed the audio experience for the better! Words like 'it sounds so much more open now' and 'I can't believe how smooth and detailed it sounds' along with 'I shouldn't have wasted my money on that *chinese clone brand* unit! If you do go with this 'Xtrons' then I suspect it'll be the same for you in a relative short space of time.

There again, your unit 'might' continue to work properly longer term AND you'll be happy with the SQ - which is absolutely fine as it's your car and setup! The day you listen to a similar setup but using a higher quality head unit in an E39, remember this post once you pick your jaw up off the floor!

Ger - I haven't used the App thats' from the seller in Germany, but I'll assume a quick email into him will get you some pointers back. I suspect those pointers will be to transfer the file to the head unit and then open it to begin installing it locally - or something like that !

For those who have/will take the plunge with this unit, 'Hopefully' you'll get working units out of the box that remain fully working longer term - Good luck !!

Cheers, Dennis!
 

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I would assume you could get time alignment capabilities on this HU. I had TA on an empeg circa 2000, and we're 18 years later. Not a deal killer for me, as I'd rather have the OEM look and OBD/OBC capabilities than a top shelf HU.

My last few systems have been Acura Bose systems (2003 and 2007 TL), I've had a jeep tj with BA separates and an 8" solobaric (the empeg), a 1986 E28 with a single 10" sub and some JL components (cheap sony HU), and acura integra with a 10" sub and stock separates on amps and stock HU.

I'm not looking for an all out SQ winner - but a good HU with flexibility of inputs (BT, USB, microSD, CD/DVD drive, radio, and HD radio), and the ability to drive some good speakers properly, and get some current level of technology into an older car.

I do recall some guy who took apart B&W speakers and put them in an old 5 or 7 series BMW from way back. McIntosh (maybe?) amps, maybe tube amps, etc.... that's not what I need.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
I believe there is Time Alignment on the Xtrons (and it does appear to function with the DSP amp), based solely on my limited understanding of Time Alignment in general. :)

Its important to remember that the DSP amp is strange in its design and the functionality can be somewhat confusing. The DSP amp is based around the idea of a fixed input amplitude, and the volume/gain is adjusted internally on the amp via iBus network commands. Same for fader/balance/EQ, etc. The Xtrons has all these same functions natively, but they are essentially "layered" over the DSP amp's functionality

For example - you have an EQ on the Xtrons as you'd expect. Several presets (Jazz, Rock, pop, etc) and the ability to store a custom setting. This modifies the output of the Xtrons, prior to input on the DSP Amp. Then, the DSP amp has it's own internal EQ which is controlled via the iBus app. Set them both to Jazz and it sounds awful. Set them both to Flat and it sounds even worse. Set the Xtrons to Rock and the DSP to Memo 3 and it sounds better. I suspect theres several combinations that sound ok but the majority do not. It can be a challenge to dial in good sound simply because of the redundancy of these features.

Also, the DSP amp appears to be inconsistent as to it's start-up settings. Sometimes it's loud, sometimes it's quiet - again - it's weird. While the iBus app works great, the DSP amp itself seems to have variable start-up behavior. It seems to revolve around whether the car sat idle long enough to exceed the 16-minute standby time and really go to sleep, but I need to troubleshoot a little more. Minor annoyance, but it's there.

For best (and consistent) sound quality, I'd probably recommend ditching the DSP amp & speakers entirely. Keeping DSP is convenient and easier to install - no question. But be aware there are some sacrifices to be made in terms of the overall sound quality and functionality in general.
 

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Hi,

Stickey - 'DSP' is the electronics industry shorthand for 'Digital Signal Processing' and you'll find allsorts of audio products that use it to a greater or lesser extent, both today and from over the last 2 and a bit decades. For the E39 specific application, it was to provide 'effects' like being in a Church, Jazz Club, Stadium etc, and whilst all the rage in the mid 90's, by the end of that decade it'd fallen out of fashion for those kinds of effects. The 'clone' cheap chinese type head units with 'badges' on from Xtrons, Enon, Pumpkin, Seicane, Erisin and so on don't have Time Alignment included - remember, they're simply cheap tablet electronics housed in that car specific chassis. The audio stages are generic so not all that good in terms of audio performance and capability and the difference is substantial when directly compared to a high quality brand head unit as I mentioned above in friends cars including E39's and M5's. I'm not suggesting that you need to go for a competition level of performance either - moreover, somewhere in the 'middle' so that you get an excellent blend of Money spent Vs performance AND functionality gained. Depending on which recognized car audio brands you use for the amplifier(s) and components speakers/co-axials/sunwoofers, then assuming you go 'middle level' on those, then they'll similarly not perform to what they're capable of when using a cheap quality chinese head unit, so my point is, you'll 'most likely' be disappointed in the short/medium and longer term!

Rontgen - As above there's no Time Alignment capability on this unit and other similar priced clone units. Also, these units don't 'directly' connect with the OEM 'DSP' amp as has been discussed on many threads over the years. There's some hacks/workarounds, so those will need to be done which just adds to the installation time and complexity. The Dynavin N6/7 was the only one until a few weeks/months ago which had the capability to connect to the OEM DSP amp. Lately, the Avin Avant 3 also promises this as well.

At the CES show and SEMA 2009/2010 I spoke to representatives of Xtrons as well as a few other Chinese 'brands' of car audio who were showing BMW specific models. I did ask about components and electronics and within a few minutes I was away from them all. I did think to become a UK importer/re-seller but quashed that idea quickly afterwards. Over the last 6/7 years, various companies have tried to be 'official' sellers of various brands - Dynavin, Eonon, Hualingan etc and within a few months they all either failed or decided to stop selling them. One brand did stay around for perhaps 18 months or so - called Andrive, but they stopped/folded too. In the US, Dynavin is properly supported and given after sales care, so I'd say purchase one of those. The Avin has come out with their Avant 3 and also had a US base for support so I'd say consider that as well. For those who want to take the gamble with the other 'clone' brands off Amazon or Ebay, then like so many other threads over the years - which turned to train wrecks quite quickly, then this thread is likely to go the same way. To be balanced, then 'maybe' Xtrons do indeed have a good, reliable, consistently performing head unit here.

Here's the Xtrons site - there's no mention of Time Alignment nor support for the OEM BMW DSP amplifier - Buy BMW 5 Series E39 Android Car Stereo | Xtrons

Lastly - Good luck to those who've taken the plunge or will be. If 'Xtrons' prove to be a good unit now and have proper reliable dealer support, then I'll definitely consider them to import to the UK officially for BMW owners here.

Cheers, Dennis!
 

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Discussion Starter #36 (Edited)
Hi Dennis,



I'll admit, I have a limited understanding of Time Alignment. My understanding was it was a way of adjusting the sound timing so that all sounds arrive at a specific location within the car at the same time(I assume the driver's head would be the most common). My only experience with it was with my Dynavin N6 and it didn't even work with the DSP amp (at least in the early N6 days). If there's more to it, please feel free to add.



The screen shots below are from my Xtrons unit. The screen looks very similar to the TA screen on my N6 and the TA does appear to work, with one exception. If I choose anything in the rear seat, audio goes totally silent. I'm not sure if this is a result of something with the Xtrons, the DSP amp, and/or the fact that I have M-Audio, so I don't have any speakers in my rear doors.

*Edit*. Had some time to do some reading tonight about TA and I’m changing my tune, I agree with Dennis that this does not appear to have time alignment capability. The screen does look very similar to the Dynavin at first glance, but after comparing it does not have the individual time delay settings.



FWIW, with the Fader adjusted to the "Front" preset, it sounds very good. Much better than with it centered, actually.











 

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Discussion Starter #37 (Edited)
Hi,
Also, these units don't 'directly' connect with the OEM 'DSP' amp as has been discussed on many threads over the years. There's some hacks/workarounds, so those will need to be done which just adds to the installation time and complexity. The Dynavin N6/7 was the only one until a few weeks/months ago which had the capability to connect to the OEM DSP amp. Lately, the Avin Avant 3 also promises this as well.
Correct, none of the Android units natively connect with the DSP Amp and that includes the Avin Avant 3. Avin uses the exact same Resler interface & iBus app described earlier in this thread to achieve DSP (and OBC) integration. Also, I believe the Avant 3 uses the same PX5 mainboard as the Xtrons (the specs and connectors are identical)

In the US, Dynavin is properly supported and given after sales care, so I'd say purchase one of those. The Avin has come out with their Avant 3 and also had a US base for support so I'd say consider that as well. For those who want to take the gamble with the other 'clone' brands off Amazon or Ebay, then like so many other threads over the years - which turned to train wrecks quite quickly, then this thread is likely to go the same way. To be balanced, then 'maybe' Xtrons do indeed have a good, reliable, consistently performing head unit here.
I'm a previous customer of Jeff @ J&T and he is absolutely great to work with. Helpful, accommodating, and more than willing to go the extra mile to make things right. However, he's at Dynavin's mercy in terms of system features and functionality. Quite frankly, Dynavin has missed the boat with the N7 and their upgrade price for CarPlay/Android Auto makes the system far, far too expensive for what it is. I had an N6 for several years. It was ok, but it's worth mentioning I went through 2 of them before I got one that worked long-term. Updates from Dynavin were few and far between and there were several issues that were never quite worked out.

I purchased a OBD2 Bluetooth adapter from Xtrons and it arrived defective. I simply sent them an email, they replied very quickly, and they dropped another one in the mail to me. In contrast, I sent Dynavin 3 separate emails about system/software bugs, to which they never bothered to respond.

In the end, there's not a perfect option - it's a trade-off between price, features, SQ, reliability, and so on....
 

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Discussion Starter #38
As I mentioned earlier in this thread, the mounting brackets included with the Xtrons are a complete joke. Besides being made from really flimsy metal, they don't even fit the chassis correctly. Notice the small silver screw on the back side of the display:



When you mock up the mounting bracket, you realize that there is no recess for that screw to sit in, so the bracket never sits flush. As a result, as you tighten down the top mounting screws it kicks out the bottom and the unit never sits in the dash correctly. You can also see some the swiss cheese that remains after unsuccessfully attempting to get these things to fit right. Total junk.



Thankfully, I'm not the only E39 enthusiast that hates these brackets. One of the moderators on the German iBus Facebook group (Andreas aka "Da Ondy") evidently has a 3D printer and the skills to make replacement brackets. At 19EUR ($23) shipped from Germany, this was a no brainer.

I'm thrilled to report that these fit very nicely. Notice the recess for the mounting screw I mentioned above and the slotted screw holes for a little bit of adjustability. They also utilize a much more substantial screw to attach the Xtrons unit to the bracket rather than the stock BMW 3mm fine thread screw. I need to make a slight adjustment (to pull the top outward), but aside from that, these are going to work perfectly. Highly recommended!

Yes, I still need to put in the decorative cover plugs in the upper corners. :)













 

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The mass produced chinese 'clone' units like this 'Xtrons' use generic/basic quality components/IC's and are essentially 'cheap tablet' electronics
Sounds like oem to me. Not to say that's good though. I think everything in the DSP amp is just getting passed through so I can't imagine why there would be a difference in SQ unless I adjust the EQ on the aftermarket unit.

The DSP amp is based around the idea of a fixed input amplitude, and the volume/gain is adjusted internally on the amp via iBus network commands. Same for fader/balance/EQ, etc. The Xtrons has all these same functions natively, but they are essentially "layered" over the DSP amp's functionality.
I just set the DSP to my desired setting and pass it through the aftermarket unit and leave the aftermarket unit flat. Sounds exactly like before to me. I also never mess with the fader and balance so it's not an issue for me but it does stink.

All in all I think the benefits outweigh the negatives.

As I mentioned earlier in this thread, the mounting brackets included with the Xtrons are a complete joke. Besides being made from really flimsy metal, they don't even fit the chassis correctly.
I think all you need to do is drill out a larger hole in the aftermarket unit and maybe use a washer. There's no mounting screws at the bottom so it'll still stick out about 1 mm. It's not noticeable. I bet you can stick Velcro somewhere near the bottom to pull it in. I haven't done all this myself, just recalling from memory.
 

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Discussion Starter #40
I think all you need to do is drill out a larger hole in the aftermarket unit and maybe use a washer. There's no mounting screws at the bottom so it'll still stick out about 1 mm. It's not noticeable. I bet you can stick Velcro somewhere near the bottom to pull it in. I haven't done all this myself, just recalling from memory.

You could certainly drill a larger hole for the mounting screw and rather than a washer to space it out, you could simply drill another hole below it to act as a recessed area. While that all sounds good in theory, the problem is you still have thin sheet metal brackets which flex under the weight of the head unit.

They can be made to work, but as I admitted earlier in the thread - I’m picky about things like this. To me, $23 is a very cheap way to completely change my opinion about how this sits in the dash.
 
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