Back in 2011, I took ownership of what is now shaping to be a BMW classic: the 1 Series M Coupe. While the compact two-door M Coupe came with an attractive base price ($47,030), the options and packages were a series of bundles that quickly added to the MSRP.
So in an honest move to both save money and get a stock and raw car, I decided to go with the basic 1M with manual seats and zero options/packages. While I’ve never really regretted my decision and I enjoy my 1M now more than ever, there are a couple of things that I wish my “baby-M” had: the Park Distance Control feature and the premium Harman Kardon Stereo.
The first option is not retrofittable, but the latter is. Before I even starting to look at aftermarket options, the folks over at BavSound reached out to us for a potential audio project on my 1M. The California-based audio shop manufactures subwoofer systems and speakers just for BMW cars. With over 70 years combined experience between three co-founders, the company is often labeled as one of the best in business.
To put this to test, we opted for the Stage One Premium Speaker Upgrade Kit, a $547 package including 2 BAVSOUND 100mm Offset Mount 3-Leg Midrange, 2 BAVSOUND 25mm Silk Tweeter, 2 BAVSOUND 100mm 3-Leg Midrange and 2 BAVSOUND 25mm Silk Tweeter with Oval Mount.
The speakers came with beautiful packaging somewhat resembling the boxes you would find for Apple products. The package also included Plug & Play Connectors and installation hardware, along with a Step-By-Step Installation Guide / Video.
BavSound top engineer and co-founder, Jason Seaver, says the installation can be usually completed by most customers without the need of an audio installer. The installation video and guide is extremely detailed providing step-by-step instructions and tools needed to complete the job. Since my 1M was heading to the dealer for a side window seal replacement, I decided to let the savvy techs at Laurel BMW of Westmont to handle the installation process while I had the chance to observe.
Less than two hours later and all the new speakers were in and now it was time to test if the upgrade is noticeable over the stock system.
Firstly, I reset all the previous audio settings and flatten everything back to default, including the bass, tremble and fader. According to BavSound, its speakers kit work best at those levels and with the volume turned up they respond better to sound distortion.
Secondly, I fired up Spotify and selected some of the cheesiest, yet best songs to test the audio quality: “Don’t know why” – Norah Jones, “Hotel California” – Eagles and “Boom Boom Pow” – The Black Eyed Peas. The streaming quality was set at the highest level – 320kbps – to ensure proper and reliable testing.
Full disclosure: I don’t claim to be an audiophile nor a sound engineer, so the following impressions are based on my basic knowledge as a music lover and having experienced different audio systems in BMW cars.
The speakers take a bit of use to be fully broken-in, but after about 3-5 hours of listening to music, I noticed a flatter response throughout the volume range, along with a smoother delivery of the sound coming from the tweeters. Listening to the songs listed above, the mids also appear smoother. The sound comes through with more clarity, louder and punchier throughout different volume ranges. The bass is also deeper without raising the stock level of the audio system.
In my opinion, the BavSound speakers really shine at high volumes where there is no distortion and the highs sound better than before. I played around with the fader by shifting the sound through different speakers and compared to the stock system, the overall feeling is that they feel less muted an clearer. If you listen to the radio, you might not noticed a huge difference in sound quality, but playing a CD or connecting your phone to the car will deliver better audio. As it always should.
Over the next few months, I plan to run more detailed tests with a couple BMW 1Ms equipped with the stock system and the upgraded Harmon Kardon audio, so stay tuned for a few comparison points.
Disclaimer: BavSound provided us the audio speakers kit at no-cost