Stealth M5

Check out our approach for working with the BMW iDrive system in this M5 sedan!

At first glance, you may not recognise this BMW F10 5-series as an M5. While we've become accustomed to the M3's flared wheel arches, shouty exhausts and lairy colours, the M5 remains stealthy and unassuming. With a twin-turbocharged V8 and rear wheel drive, we're sure it's anything but subtle in its speed. The svelte interior continues this theme with every surface you can reach wrapped in either charcoal leather or suede; an absolute treat for the fingertips.

The design brief for this M5 would come as no surprise then. Integrate the highest quality sound system possible with no visible or permanent modification to the interior, while working with the factory "CIC" BMW iDrive system and display. While the BMW iDrive system is highly featured and well integrated with the car, it's not the ideal player for high-fidelity music. So along with integrating the BMW iDrive system for sound, we were also asked to integrate a solution for playing high-resolution files independently of the car's OEM electronics.

High-End Equipment

Hybrid Audio Legatia L1 Pro R2 ring radiator tweeter

The Legatia L1 Pro R2 is a flagship tweeter in Hybrid Audio's well-developed lineup of high quality loudspeakers. The ring radiator design offers exceptionally low distortion, great off-axis response, and quite a low crossover capability for a tweeter. These characteristics give them great potential as a high sound quality tweeter, but also lend themselves well to being installed in the factory sail panel locations in the doors. The tweeter's off-axis location with a slightly down-firing angle is something we can work around to an extent with the off-axis response of the L1 Pro R2.

Hybrid AudioΒ  Legatia L4 Pro Special Edition midrange

The L4 Pro SE midrange, resplendent in carbon fibre with a copper back plate, oozes build quality and is capable of impressive midrange presence and output. Once again, they're friendly to an OEM installation with a compact double-roll surround and shallow mounting depth. We machined solid HDPE mounts to fit them to the factory door locations.

Gladen Audio BMW 201 Extreme under-seat woofers

These 8" woofers are engineered specifically to fit in BMW's under-seat locations. These spots can be great for midbass, rather than true sub-bass, with some work. The plastic housings certainly require some sound deadening to work as well as possible, so that's exactly what we did.

Hybrid Audio Clarus 12" subwoofer

The Clarus 12" subwoofer pairs well with Hybrid's Legatia components, with an extended, smooth bottom end and very clean output. We constructed a sealed enclosure on the larger side of Hybrid's specifications to make the most of that bottom-end extension. The woofer fires into the cabin through the M5's rear arm rest in order to fit with our stealth brief. Β It also maximises bass transfer into the cabin without the peakiness that the boot space contributes in a rear-firing configuration.

Mosconi 8to12 Pro Digital Signal Processor
Gladen One 70.6 Amplifier
Gladen One 1000.1D Amplifier

This trio is responsible for the control and power delivered to the speaker system. Power is nothing without control, and the 8to12 Pro is capable of advanced tuning of the sound system, including correcting the frequency response from the BMW iDrive system. This ensures the amplifiers are sending the optimal frequency range to each speaker, and calibrating each speaker's frequency and time response to the driver's listening position. The pair of Gladen amplifiers deliver a total of 1,080 watts to the speaker system as configured, with each speaker being afforded its own amplifier channel for the ultimate sound system configuration. The equipment is supported by Stinger 6000 series RCA interconnects and power hardware.

Bluetooth Streaming

To satisfy the requirement for high fidelity music playback, we integrated a Bluetooth APTx 4.0 music receiver to the Mosconi DSP's optical input, allowing high-resolution music playback directly from a smartphone. This works alongside the system's functionality with the iDrive system's sound, so the driver can easily choose the desired source simply by playing it.

Listening Impressions

This sound system configuration pushes the boundaries of fidelity in factory locations with aplomb. The Hybrid Audio Technologies combination delivers great output capability while remaining clean, un-dramatic and with exceptionally low distortion. Some brands overshoot dynamics and detail at the high end, resulting in dynamic but inaccurate sound. They often lose more subtle staging and imaging cues especially once road noise is present. The Hybrid speakers remain more faithful to the source material, resulting in exceptional critical listening.

Safety and BMW iDrive Convenience

While we were working on the additions to the BMW iDrive system we also added a safety upgrade. Blackvue's DR750S-2CH dash camera was fitted, supported by the Power Magic Ultra battery pack for parking recording. A standalone battery pack for the dash cam is a practical requirement for parking recording on BMWs and offers longer recording time when parked. A HDMI mirroring interface was also integrated, allowing the driver to mirror their smartphone on the factory 10.25" display. As opposed to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, mirroring allows for display of literally any app from the phone, allowing for the full range of phone apps to be displayed on-screen.

We have the specialised products and techniques to achieve hifi sound rarely heard in-car. If you're after the specialist approach to music in your car, talk to us today.

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