An audio novice here...
My stereo is badly handicapped now. The display doesnt work most of the time, the volume knob finicky, and my speakers seem to be going as well, ie, when the volume goes up, you get that nasty fizzle that makes you cringe.
I am by no means an audiophile, I just need my music/whatever to play normally, reliably. I guess the only thing I want is a USB port so I can easily just add some music to a flash drive and plug in... I do not use i-anything (I'm Android) and no mpw3 players either.
I saw this thing on sale, and someone told me its a POS, although it looked cool:
If it does suck, then I guess you cant go wrong with Crutchfield, is that correct? Something like
That even includes all the accessories and the super duper "manual."
My main concern was, for any stereo you buy, how do you KNOW it is compatible with your car? Are stereos that universal, where a simple adapter pretty much makes an stereo compatible with any car?
1997 328i, 4dr, Sports package, 5-speed manual
I know how you feel about he fizzling crackling sound. That usually means a speaker is malfunctioning. I have to replace the drivers speakers in the kick panel for that reason.
As for speakers most are designed to be compatible with factory stereos. If your replacing your head unit you will probably need a new harness so it plugs into the factory system. Are you having it installed professionally? I have heard that when you replace the factory radio that the 6 disk CD changer in the trunk will not function properly as it was only designed to work with the factory system. If you want to be certain it will fit in your car ask a certified installer. Most vehicles need a harness or mounting kit for aftermarket devices.
I personally like Alpine head units the best. They are a little expensive but they are worth it. Most now feature Blutooth compatibility as well as a jack for an iPod and USB drive. Are you thinking of replacing all your speakers at once?
You mean the Alpines are more expensive right? The ones from Crutchfield come with some detailed manual that is supposed to make it simpler to self install and they say phone support is pretty good. I dont care about BT, I just need a USB for a flash drive.
I am not sure about replacing the speakers yet... someone told me his crackling problem was solved by replacing the stereo, so I will do that first, and then if the problems persists, go for the speakers, which really sucks considering I dont care that much about music and I dont know how much longer I want to keep this car... then again, its an awesome car and I dont mind adding to the resale value, or not detracting from it.
I will be trashing the 6CD changer, which prevents me from putting my full set of golf clubs in there! So that is not a concern, I just want simple, quick, and operable with a USB port.
Crutchfield is your best bet if you have not done a lot of stereos before. I was able to get the head unit and adapter plugs from Amazon for a little less, but not significantly less. The hole is fairly deep so a lot of single DIN (traditional height and width) stereos will fit this car, but if you get it from Crutchfield, you know it will fit and the adapters will work.
I put a JVC in my daughter's '97 328 because she insisted that the orange in the stereo exactly match the orange of her other dash lights. The color of the display is almost perfect, but I don't much care for the head unit. They cram so much text into the tiny display that you can't read it, day or night, and the symbols on the buttons are microspcopic. Also, the bluetooth cell phone adapter is easy to use but sounds awful to the person you are talking to. Although the orange lettering matches, the super shiny black and chrome face stands out like a sore thumb and clearly does not belong in the dash.
Your door speakers are likely failed. Here are pictures of the problem but this suggested fix lasted less than a year
I replaced all the door speakers with Bavariansoundwerks speakers. They sound better than failed speakers but are not the amazing sound improvement that is claimed. I recommend them only because they are made to fit your factory speaker housings so they look stock.
You did not mention whether your speaker system is Harmon-Karmon. If so, you have a crappy HK amplifier under the trunk lining ahead of the left rear wheel well. The only good news is that it takes speaker-level signal inputs from your head unit so you can connect any head unit as though the amp were not there. The bad news is that HK amps tend to fail after 12-14 years, and they are custom made for this set of speakers with multiple crossover circuits inside. No other amp will replace them, and if you just bypass them with the signal from your head unit, you have to add $200+ worth of crossover circuits or disconnect half your speakers to keep from sending frequencies to your wolfers and tweeters that the speakers cannot handle. Also, the wires from the head unit to the amp are not really heavy enough to carry speaker load from the head unit if you bypass a failed HK amp. So far, however, it does not sound like your amp is failing so you don't need to worry about that yet. I would not suggest investing in new wolfers and tweeters, though, since there is a chance you will be disconnecting them at some point if you bypass a failed HK amp. I would buy only the door midrange speakers that have failed.
How are you not able to fit your clubs in the trunk with the CD changer? I can fit two sets of clubs in my trunk. It barely clears the disc changer but they fit in fine. You gotta kinda angle it a bit when you put em in I found. I don't think you'll detract from it by putting in a new head unit. Most people like to buy a car with a working stereo so by not getting it fixed I would think that would detract from the future resale value.
I forgot to add -
The radio display is an easy fix if you want to do it. I posted a pictorial here:
The volume control is tougher. Tuner cleaner won't help. I think that this may be optical/digital rather than a conventional potentiometer. I tried a couple of times to fix mine and was unsuccessful.
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