Xkalibar Modified BM54 Review:

Discussion in 'Carphonics' started by ccfj1, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. 28 Feb 2012 at 6:04 PM #1
    ccfj1

    ccfj1 Staff Member Moderator

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    Modified BM54 Review:

    This is a small review for the Modded BM54 as supplied by xkalibar (Baris).

    Device: Faulty BM54, 2003 made by alpine, 40pin Quadlock.

    History:
    I had an old bm54 radio module that had a fault (high pitched squeal) I’d tried to fix it by doing the RCA mod on it, however this did not fix it so I just left it to gather dust and was going to bin it.

    I had a word with Baris and asked him if it were possible to fix it and he said he’d have a look (but no promises).

    So I sent him off the unit and thought there goes nothing, lol.

    He got back to me a few days later explain what the problem was and that he could fix it and that it would be back with me a few days, he said he’d done the amps and tried a firmware patch (that we had been talking about ages ago).

    So, it turns up and I do a quick visual check, all good, have a quick look inside (I’m nosey like that), and talk about impressed, my soldering can be good, but this was very neat and tidy, the amps and heatsink are all nicely presented, the cable runs are lovely and it all fits inside very nicely indeed, so far so good, well impressed, soldering to the main board can be tricky but its all been done to a high standard, as OEM.

    Went to the car and took my working BM54 out and installed the “new” one, as you would expect it all fits as OEM, and is plug and play.

    I powered the car up and selected the radio, did the auto scan (for all radio stations), and this took a few goes, but eventually it found all the station, The sounds did not sound all the different on the radio as the source is not great (FM is not full range).

    I then setup the TMC and RDS, double checked the radio service menu and saw that it was running the latest version of firmware.

    To test this I selected the cd changer (now my IV and ipod) and saw TR instead of CD, so the firmware is indeed updated, this will allow audiotext on screen for OEM (2005) mp3 cd changer s and allow TMC Dynamic Routing, which is a very nice feature to have (no more dicking around in the TMC menu), it just pops up on screen now, even when not being routed.

    Now Sound wise, I have a upgraded system of Rainbow comps up front, Alpine 3 way rears, Alpine 4 channel amp with Sub out and a Kenwood Sub system, so it was pretty good before.

    However, the change in the system is very good indeed, it’s quite hard to explain, there is just more quality to the sound, more bass, more mids, crystal clear highs and a shed load of depth, a richer fuller sound all round, and no more need for max bass settings (in the tone menu).

    It’s like a loudness button being pressed and giving you more…

    I’ve loaded up a playlist of tracks that really do sound sweet (with loads of variation) to see how it performs and I have to say it really does sound very good indeed even from low volumes, and no distortion at all, even at the top end of the volume (I blew the 30amp fuse on the alpine amp!!! while testing the upper volume range).

    Price:
    I won’t put the price up but let’s just say it was cheaper than buying another BM54 of ebay (and taking a chance).

    Conclusion:
    If you like your sounds, I’d recommend the amp upgrade, it’s worth the money, the firmware update is a nice touch too.

    Also, If you have a faulty BM54, then in all honesty it’s a no brainer.

    It's so good, I'm getting my new spare done as well (as a backup).

    --

    BTW, I don't work for Baris or have any business dealings with him other than normal buying/selling stuff.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2012
  2. 28 Feb 2012 at 6:19 PM #2
    Keith

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    I'm glad you did this review John, as I was going to do one myself... I too have recently had my unit repaired and upgraded with the new amps, just last week by Baris.

    Your description is spot on. I don't think people should expect a miracle - but like most audiophile listeners will agree, the true upgrade in the quality is in the subtleties. :thumbsup:

    What you will get is a cleaner, crisper sound, with a richer output and increased tonal quality. This is likely due to the fact these higher output amps have less work to do - and it sounds it: The music at higher volumes sounds less 'stressed' than before and more effortless. It suits the speakers well.

    For the price Baris asks, this is simply a 'no brainer' as John says. The value for money is simply excellent, and Baris' service is faultless - I sent him 2 x faultly BM54 units on Monday, to be both upgraded AND repaired, and I had them both back Thursday luchtime.

    And absolute pleasure to deal with, and I'm a very satisfied customer - so thank you Baris, top man :thumbsup:
     
  3. 28 Feb 2012 at 7:31 PM #3
    ccfj1

    ccfj1 Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes mate that's spot on, better than my ramblings, lol.

    Indeed, very quick turnaround, did you get the firmware upgrade too?

    Agreed.
     
  4. 28 Feb 2012 at 8:12 PM #4
    nellyb

    nellyb On the path

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    +1 to all of the above. Had mine done a few weeks ago and am just as pleased.
    Baris is a top bloke to deal with to boot :thumbsup:
     
  5. 28 Feb 2012 at 9:46 PM #5
    XKaLiBaR

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    Wow, fantastic review John and Keith.

    I actually cant wait to listen to Johns sound system, what he has done is fantastic. I went the easy route, and bought a race exhaust :muttley:

    And I cant be adding external amps and subs, as I like my car light as possible! With this upgrade, I have decent sound for once, without the extra weight and cables.


    So, as John has pointed out, the high pitch, squeel and just odd sounds coming from the speakers, which can also vary with volume or tone selection, is caused by a chip that gets corrupt.
    Both John and Keith(and his mates) had this problem in their bm54 units. They are becoming more and more common with these units.

    The other common problem with these units, are the when 1 more speaker channels stops working. This is repaired by cutting certain traces off the board, to eliminate the old amps, and new amps placed on a large heat sink, attached to the side, inside the unit.

    By having a larger heatsink, well lets say, having a heat sink at all, as the oem one is pathetic, more powerful amps can be used. As John and Keith have described the sound output, has pretty much nailed it.

    Thank you again for John for writing up his review and starting this topic :thumbsup:


    I try to get units repaired/upgraded the day I recieve them, and sent back out to you for next day delivery. That way you are only without sound for 1 and a half days, depending on when you took out of your car, and put it back in :D
     
  6. 29 Feb 2012 at 12:14 AM #6
    BenGismo

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    Baris is the man for this!!

    The amp mod is something that I think all BM54's need regardless of whether you have a separate amp or not. The difference can be brilliant and just takes the quality to the next level. Its not an easy mod though as I found out.

    I put Focal speakers as well as some rainbow IQ265 and wanted them to sound good. The additional amp kit does this, seems to make the whole sound so much better.

    I didnt know you could upgrade the firmware as well as add the BM54 amp kit???:eek: Whats the price for the firmware upgarde alone??

    So.... you can, in theory, take a 01/2004 radio and upgrade firmware it so that it can be used with a OEM MP3 changer and it will display folders correctly??? Awesome!
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2012
  7. 29 Feb 2012 at 1:04 AM #7
    XKaLiBaR

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    The firmware is very recent thing I do. I did it on Johns unit, he confirmed it worked. So, yes, that is now also available, I have just been working on a quicker and easier method, as its a big job.
    I want to keep the costs down as much as possible, as its only a firmware upgrade.
    Also, I would like to test it on a few more units, to make sure everything is 100% working :)
     
  8. 29 Feb 2012 at 9:54 AM #8
    ccfj1

    ccfj1 Staff Member Moderator

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    No problem mate, glad to.

    Anytime mate, I should have that DSP in soon. and the race sorst is cheating.lol

    Indeed.

    You're welcome mate.

    Speedy Gonzales mate.

    Yes, I'm pretty sure it will, it basically took my bm54 and pushed it to a radio build after Sep 2005. (latest and last firmware for the bm54).

    So, It took my alpine/beker unit from 2002 to 2005.

    The biggest clue is the cd changer track ID, its gone from CD to TR, this does work, I dont have a 2005 cd changer to test it with, so can't say 100%.

    As for the dynamic routing, I haven't had a chance to see this in operation as I've not had an issues on the roads i travel on (yet), I will confirm it as and when it does happen.

    Lol, it's something we were both looking at at the same time (without knowing the other was doing the same thing), :) I'd semi given up, but he carried on with it (bless him) and looks like he's managed to get it working.

    Well, your wish is my command, you have a couple of units coming you way mate :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2012
  9. 29 Feb 2012 at 10:40 AM #9
    Keith

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    Pleasure Baris, I felt it well worth creating a thread which can act as a reference for people who are considering the work by you, John got there first so I just added my thoughts :thumbsup:

    I don't think so... But if I find a later 2005 CD changer, it'll be going back to have it done! :)
     
  10. 29 Feb 2012 at 10:44 AM #10
    ccfj1

    ccfj1 Staff Member Moderator

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    Good luck with that mate, very rare indeed.

    Better off with the IV and ipod or an IV and Alpine mp3 changer.

    :thumbsup:
     
  11. 29 Feb 2012 at 11:10 AM #11
    XKaLiBaR

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    It is? I have one some where in my cupboard :D Need to dig it up, and change the last on it, as it works randomly.
     
  12. 29 Feb 2012 at 11:19 AM #12
    ccfj1

    ccfj1 Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes mate, very, lol.

    Why does that not surprise me....
     
  13. 1 Mar 2012 at 12:16 PM #13
    BenGismo

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    Ive got an OEM MP3 changer in the car. I play the Ipod via the aux input too.

    My BM54 is an early 2004 model though so it just sees a cd changer with large numbers of tracks. It plays the MP3 files fine but it doesnt allow navigation of music folders or anything advanced like that. It just displays CD number and a track number - thats all. Id like to get it showing track names as well as the numbers and maybe even able to play folders. All the above sounds really promising.

    Thanks to Baris for all his help and answers via PM. Top bloke:thumbsup:
     
  14. 2 Mar 2012 at 6:03 PM #14
    cricmcn

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    Sent my BM54 unit off to Baris on Monday to be repaired. Arrived back with me on Tuesday around 12pm. Very Good service.

    I had issues with the speakers on low volume, Baris sorted this, plus had the AMP upgrade done while he was at it.

    The difference in sound is very noticeable, and I would highly recommend Baris and his service.

    Thanks again mate, very much appreciated.

    Chris.
     
  15. 3 Mar 2012 at 2:18 PM #15
    M3ok

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    As everyone has already said above.

    My HK sounded good to be fair, but now with the bm54 upgrade the sound is so crisp/clear and I no longer need the bass right up (I do love a bit of bass). A big thank you to John (ccfj1) for sorting this out for me, I drove home with a big smile on my face as the music kicked out. Worth every penny in my opinion.

    Cheers John, cheers Baris. :cool:
     
  16. 3 Mar 2012 at 2:34 PM #16
    XKaLiBaR

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    I have to say, the Dynamic Routing is a must! I never realised that most bm54s never did not have this. Now, I am confident to do anyone else's units, as I have done quite a few, all with 100% success.

    No problem :thumbsup:

    I wonder if the alarm system caused a power surge, to cause the problem on your unit?

    Glad you enjoying your music again :thumbsup:

    I do also enjoy listening to music now. :D
     
  17. 4 Mar 2012 at 1:31 AM #17
    bildo

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    Complete newbie to the audio aspect of these cars, I have a 2004 model with a HK stereo, I've noticed the squeal people speak of when playing certain songs at a loud volume.

    Now, bit confused, is the BM54 people speak of also in the HK system? If so, how hard is it to remove to get it sent off to get it fixed/updated?

    Secondly, if the above are both correct, could I have a price for correction please?

    Much appreciated!
     
  18. 4 Mar 2012 at 12:30 PM #18
    ccfj1

    ccfj1 Staff Member Moderator

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    OK, The HK system fitted to all e46 coupes have the same basic components.

    Upgraded speakers, HK amp, HK mono sub amp, sub speakers and sub on/off effect field button (in the console).

    The system takes is sound input from the radio module, either the upfront HU or the Navigation radio module (the BM54).

    So, the HK system is in effect an add-on (Sound on top) amp system that has built in crossovers and then pipes the sounds to the correct speakers.

    It takes the speaker out from the radio module and then amps it and sorts the hi lo filtering and passes the sounds to the speakers, if you press the button you get the sub and a Spacial sound field effect (NOT DSP), this provides extra bass and is in effect a loudness button.

    As you can see, the amp will only amp what it receives from the radio, and the OEM radio amps (both HU and Nav radio module) are crap, so the HK does it's best with the signal, but if you put crap in you get amp'd crap out.

    If you have a normal radio HU up front then there is not much you can do (ask Baris about this though), if you have OEM Nav then there is.

    The BM54 is upgradeable and what Baris does is remove the crap 15w amps and then replace them with better 50W (I think) amps, he used the pure line out as the audio source and then mods the main board to accept the new amps, he does a lot more, but thats the gist of it.

    The result is that the sound is (IMHO) dramatically improved, the HK system sounds like what it should (but does not), it's fuller, richer and ha more range and scope.

    IMHO the HK speakers are not that much better then the OEM speaker (ie crap), but the amp upgrade does make them sound a lot better than stock.


    For upgrade, the nav system could not be similar, remove the radio module and ship it off, when it come back replace it and thats it.

    As for prices, PM Baris.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2012
  19. 4 Mar 2012 at 2:41 PM #19
    XKaLiBaR

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    Cheaper to replace an OEM HU, then to try and repair it. Bildo has Sat Nav, so its a straight job with the BM54 repair.

    PM sent.
     
  20. 7 Mar 2012 at 4:37 AM #20
    The Axeman

    The Axeman On the path

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    This sounds like what i need, right rear channel has a mind of it's own!
    I will whip out my bm54 and send it to you baris i think, if this is ok?

    By the way what does dynamic routing mean?
     

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