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Head unit help

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I know this has topic been covered to death but I am still very confused and need some help. 

I have a 2001 m sport vert and I have replaced the standard single din business unit with a single din Alpine that I had. Now the the unit does what I want it to do but looks like an aftermarket item. 

What I want is a head unit that looks standard like these android units do but I don't Need all the features that these units have. All I want is for it look like an Oem fit but just to have radio and Iphone connection (I use my iPhone 6s as an iPod). I'm not worried about sat nav, or Bluetooth or any of the other features and I just want a reliable unit that will start straight away with the ignition and doesn't suffer the freezing, rebooting etc that I'm reading so much about  

Is there a unit out there that will do this?

thanks in advance. 

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Whats your budget?

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In that case, just get an Android one, despite all the extra features, they are about £260.

 

From what I know, I don't believe Sony, B & O or anyone made an OEM looking head unit just for one specific make of car :( 

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2 hours ago, Mugs said:

I would say up to approx £350. 

I totally agree with Suf - I've got a high end Kenwood which is awesome but doesn't look OEM so just get a Chinese eBay job for a few hundred and use the elements of it that you need.. they'll do everything you want/need and look like factory kit.

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the problem is that everything i read about these cheap Chinese units tells me to steer clear as they are awful and wont last long as they are poorly built and over complicated that's why i was looking for something that wasn't an android unit.

i think i might have to go the other route, forget about oem looks and go for a decent thin body double din.

anyone got experience of these?

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I got a non android xtron unit in mine, had it a year so far and its been good as gold. I wanted a simple full screen headunit that looked oem and would connect to my phone as well as dab too. Sure its not the quickest thing in the world but for £200 its brought the interior upto date, connects my phone and has improved the sound quality.

Edited by R11CH

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5 hours ago, Mugs said:

the problem is that everything i read about these cheap Chinese units tells me to steer clear as they are awful and wont last long as they are poorly built and over complicated that's why i was looking for something that wasn't an android unit.

i think i might have to go the other route, forget about oem looks and go for a decent thin body double din.

anyone got experience of these?

You want OEM looks but just for an aux connection? Just keep the business unit and add aux / cd changer iPod adaptor?

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13 hours ago, dontpannic said:

You want OEM looks but just for an aux connection? Just keep the business unit and add aux / cd changer iPod adaptor?

I tried that but It just kept playing up hence the reason I put in the single din Alpine. The sound quality of the business unit is shocking too. 

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15 hours ago, R11CH said:

I got a non android xtron unit in mine, had it a year so far and its been good as gold. I wanted a simple full screen headunit that looked oem and would connect to my phone as well as dab too. Sure its not the quickest thing in the world but for £200 its brought the interior upto date, connects my phone and has improved the sound quality.

Sounds like it could be an option. All the things I have read seem to be about the android units hence me wanting to stay clear of them. What model do I need to look for?

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My cheapy (unknown model) doesn't have android, and is ready within about 10-20 seconds of starting the ignition. I think it's an xtronics or xtron unit (maybe), and due to the lack of andriod/features should be quite cheap. I suspect it's the same as Rich's? @R11CH, is yours using WinCE maps with a slightly ubuntu-y look to the fonts/pop up boxes in the settings menus?

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On 12/9/2016 at 04:45, Mugs said:

the problem is that everything i read about these cheap Chinese units tells me to steer clear as they are awful and wont last long as they are poorly built and over complicated that's why i was looking for something that wasn't an android unit.

Where? I've had mine for almost 18 months, the buttons, knobs and screen still feel the same and the functions are fine.

http://www.e46zone.com/forum/topic/61103-330ci-with-ess-vt1-supercharger/?do=findComment&comment=893140

Edited by govich

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I had just googled 'e46 aftermarket head unit reviews' and read a lot of reviews from around the world. I have to admit that the USA seems to give the worst reviews though. 

I trust people's reviews on here more than other places so if you tell me there's no real issues then I could be persuaded. 

Is there any make that seems to be better than others? (bearing in mind my budget as if we are looking at £450+ then I'll go for a slim double din Alpine)

the same applies to sellers - any to avoid etc?

thanks again for all the replies, it's a nice place to visit with to all the friendly people willing to help someone out. 

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Hi Mugs,

There's nothing which has decent OEM aesthetics and that's reliable available off the shelf to put into your car. With all of the chinese replacement units, their reliability, quality, after sales backup and support are all low, but they have a pseudo OEM look about them. The buttons don't look OEM at all though. The high quality, reliable, well made and sounding with excellent after sales care and support, well recognized and established brand units don't have the pseudo OEM looks. 

If you look over all the BMW forums about the chinese units and those 'brands' which did sponsor various forums etc, then it's not long before you see the pattern of failures, unhappiness from those who purchased and removal/kicked off status of those 'brands' from the forums. You'll see a similar pattern for the UK businesses who tried to sell these units as most no longer exist. There are a 'relative' few who have got unit's which fully worked out of the box and crucially, have remained working fully longer term. I'd say the balance would be for every one happy purchaser, there's 8 or 9 other's who have had issues/problems with their units.

So the summary is, if you do decide to go for a Chinese unit, then I wish you good luck in that you get a unit which works out of the box fully, and crucially, remains working fully longer term. 

If your budget is around £450, then I'd say definitely go for the Alpine iLX-700. Over time, you could then supplement with a similar brand and quality amplifier and upgraded speakers and a 8/10/12 inch subwoofer and the resulting sound quality would be leagues ahead of a similar setup with a chinese head unit would be. 

Cheers, Dennis!

 

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21 hours ago, DennisCooper said:

I'd say the balance would be for every one happy purchaser, there's 8 or 9 other's who have had issues/problems with their units.

How so?

Surely if you're basing your information from Google searches and forums you know as well as anyone that the balance of opinion is tipped quite substantially toward negativity on forums rather than positivity. 

It's the age-old adage that people are far more likely to write online about problems rather than good experiences.

Anyway, to add to the balance, I'm up to 12 months with my Android unit, still working absolutely fine, and compliments the Harman Kardon system rather well.

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21 hours ago, DennisCooper said:

Hi Mugs,

There's nothing which has decent OEM aesthetics and that's reliable available off the shelf to put into your car. With all of the chinese replacement units, their reliability, quality, after sales backup and support are all low, but they have a pseudo OEM look about them. The buttons don't look OEM at all though. The high quality, reliable, well made and sounding with excellent after sales care and support, well recognized and established brand units don't have the pseudo OEM looks. 

If you look over all the BMW forums about the chinese units and those 'brands' which did sponsor various forums etc, then it's not long before you see the pattern of failures, unhappiness from those who purchased and removal/kicked off status of those 'brands' from the forums. You'll see a similar pattern for the UK businesses who tried to sell these units as most no longer exist. There are a 'relative' few who have got unit's which fully worked out of the box and crucially, have remained working fully longer term. I'd say the balance would be for every one happy purchaser, there's 8 or 9 other's who have had issues/problems with their units.

So the summary is, if you do decide to go for a Chinese unit, then I wish you good luck in that you get a unit which works out of the box fully, and crucially, remains working fully longer term. 

If your budget is around £450, then I'd say definitely go for the Alpine iLX-700. Over time, you could then supplement with a similar brand and quality amplifier and upgraded speakers and a 8/10/12 inch subwoofer and the resulting sound quality would be leagues ahead of a similar setup with a chinese head unit would be. 

Cheers, Dennis!

 

Thanks Dennis, 

 

that has has confirmed what I was thinking after reading the reviews.

i think I will go with the double din option as it doesn't look a million miles away from being Oem due to the relocation of the heater panel. I think my problem with the single din is the heater panel and the head unit sharing the same space which makes the head unit look more of an add on rather than factory and I would rather pay once and have reliability rather than rely on luck.

 

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22 hours ago, DennisCooper said:

The buttons don't look OEM at all though.

Not sure I entirely agree with this? They certainly look more BMW OEM than anything in Alpine's catalogue.

IMG-1440099512980-V_resized_zpsdcv2jqdm.

dontpannic made the other point I immediately thought of, people will predominantly create forum threads to ask for help or share a negative experience. I'm not going to argue about aftersales support etc., as far as I'm concerned, I was buying into zero manufacturer support and having to figure it out with others online. As a bonus, I haven't had to bother at all, it's just worked.

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I would buy an Android unit carefully, there are several common bugs:

- Poor overall sound quality - some have a better sound processor though. Mine, a year old Eonon GA5150F I would give a score of 6/10 for sound as it has quite a cheap sound processor. I am going to try an app. called Viper4android which supposedly improves the sound a lot.

- Poor FM sound quality - the hardware is built with a wrong resistor or something that cuts off high frequencies. You can mod them to work better. The very newest models might be okay. I've got a DAB box so am not bothered about FM.

- Many of them have really bad hands free call quality even with an external microphone. There is a mod to the circuit board that fixes this. Again the newest models might be okay for this.

Despite the above issues (I've fixed the thrid one now), I'm very happy with my Eonon, it has many great features now (dash cam, Freeview TV, DAB radio, Waze navigation, mp3 playing, to name a few) however, I would be aware of the potential for the above issues to occur.

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12 hours ago, Tim-Ci said:

I would buy an Android unit carefully, there are several common bugs:

- Poor overall sound quality - some have a better sound processor though. Mine, a year old Eonon GA5150F I would give a score of 6/10 for sound as it has quite a cheap sound processor. I am going to try an app. called Viper4android which supposedly improves the sound a lot.

- Poor FM sound quality - the hardware is built with a wrong resistor or something that cuts off high frequencies. You can mod them to work better. The very newest models might be okay. I've got a DAB box so am not bothered about FM.

- Many of them have really bad hands free call quality even with an external microphone. There is a mod to the circuit board that fixes this. Again the newest models might be okay for this.

Despite the above issues (I've fixed the thrid one now), I'm very happy with my Eonon, it has many great features now (dash cam, Freeview TV, DAB radio, Waze navigation, mp3 playing, to name a few) however, I would be aware of the potential for the above issues to occur.

Tim-Ci, do you have any links to the poor-FM and hands-free call quality fixes?

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Here's the guide I followed to fizx the hands free: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?p=16987581#post16987581

Instead of removing the resistor mentioned I cut the two legs of the bluetooth card using a stanley knife to saw away at the metal (carefully). I used the existing external microphone jack, cut it off, extended the wire, fed it through a small hole in the rear, and wired it to the bluetooth card. My bluetooth card wasn't labelled with what each pin did, but it had the same number of pins, so I consulted the pictures in the thread above to know which pins to cut. I also put some heat shrink tubing on the wire inside the case, then sealed in place behind the hole in the case the cable passes through, this is to avoid the wires inside the unit being stressed and pulled off from the bluetooth card if the connector out back gets a good tug at any time.

I have this mic fitted: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00X3VZ57Q/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1 The cable is long enough to feed from the stereo up past the dash and behind the windscreen pillar, the final spot I chose for the mic is inside the interior light unit, behind the grille that is designed for a mic to go. I split the case on that mic and removed the small microphone unit itself, and used trim tape to hold it behind the grile.

The microphone quality is so good now, I don't think I've ever heard a hands free setup that is so good.

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Also here a link to a thread showing how one guy has modded the unit to improve the FM sound to let the high frequencies through: http://forum.xda-developers.com/android-auto/mtcb-hardware-development/mod-radio-frequencies-filter-fix-kgl4-t3279439

It looks like the hardware varies a bit with different models, so I suggest trying to read up a bit before attempting the mod and work out which components would need changing on yours.

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Hi,

Dontpannic - Basing statements on 'just' internet forum responses isn't good enough as it's only 'one' viewpoint. I've previously mentioned on this forum and others, that I'm within the automotive electronics industry and cover various sub sectors in order to gain my knowledge, experience, industry level insight and evaluations. I've spoken extensively in the past to Chinese factories and their representatives, 'middleman' brand representatives, various distributors in the UK and abroad, UK based businesses who've imported the units from China, actual customers who have them in their cars in order to get a more accurate picture. I've seen some of the above and their actual unit sold Vs units with issues/unhappy customers figures, seen figures to buy and distribute in order to have some factory backing and support etc. Although I can't give you 100% accurate figures, I'd still say that overall, the ratio to happy purchasers where their unit arrived working and continues to work longer term would be around 10-15%. The remainder would be the range of small niggles on arrival to issues that get worse over time to completely dead. When I find a chinese replacement unit, that has better quality internals and build and where the manufacturer provides a solid after sales warranty channel where I as a importer/seller can rely on all at a price that reflects better what the item is, I'll feel much more confident in selling and providing a guarantee to E46 owners throughout the UK. All that have tried so far in the UK over the last 6+ years or so aren't around anymore. 

Govich - That 'style' unit you show is a bit better than others which have the rectangle 'block' type buttons. Even so, the unit you show shows four buttons each side of the screen panel and the OEM has 6 and 5 are the same shape and one is a completely different shape. Many purchasers got units that had problems out of the box, some were small niggles, others were more annoying. Some where showstopping and yet more were the fact their unit's arrived completely dead. The lack of aftercare support for those who had more serious issues was what made many post up their experiences. This also tallied with my own research and knowledge I've gained that I mention above. Eonon have been removed from other forums (or kicked off?) due to many members experiencing issues and getting rubbish to nil support and many either just sold off the units where they could or junked them into the bin and lost their money. You've been one of the luckier ones with your unit :)

Mugs - which double DIN do you think you'll go for? I agree, when spending £200-500 or so on a unit, I'd want it to work as best as possible and reliably. If in the case of issues, I'd want a smooth and easy warranty service where I know the chances of a favourable resolution is much higher. 

Cheers, Dennis!

 

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Dennis I don't want to antagonise you as you have some strong opinions on this, but I will try and bring my perspective to this discussion, Eonon have been very helpful with trying to solve my Wifi issue, in the end it didn't fix it though and I didn't fancy sending the unit back. They have also sold another E46 owner I know of an accessory lead for the reverse camera in input, as he bought the car with a Eonon already fitted but the lead needed wasn't present, which is good service.

I think companies like Eonon have to sell what they get made in the factory so some of the bugs can't be fixed by them.

I forsee that in the next 12 months most units will have the bluetooth microphone, FM quality, poor-marginal sound quality bugs all solved, if not already. The Wifi bug I have got is very rare, I think it's just my hardware combination that suffers from it.

People need to be aware of these issues and do their homework to make sure they have been solved or can live with them,

If I had not tinkered with mine I would be slightly dissatisfied with it, but for all the other features it has I wouldn't be too unhappy.

However, in my opinion buyers need to do their homework regarding the bugs I mention above to ensure they don't buy a unit with those, or can live with them, so yes so buying an Android unit is not always hassle free, I think most people would be broadly happy with them though.

Would I buy another, yes, and make sure the bluetooth mic. issue is fixed on the one I get, it has a decent sound chip, and no other relability gremlins reported by users. Next time I want an Octa core one for a bit more speed, and the higher resolution screen too. After having all the features and and cheap upgradability available with an Android unit, I would be reluctant to go back to a more standard head unit type now.

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Hi Tim-Ci,

I'm not antagonised at all, this is a discussion forum! I know opinions and thoughts can and often do get heated when it's typing up on a computer screen etc but I always look for as best, accurate and knowledgeable information as possible. Everyone has their own view of course and I do know that there are purchasers of Chinese units who are and continue to be happy with their units. 

Perhaps in the last few years, since being removed or kicked off forums, Eonon have greatly improved their after sales care? it's certainly possible. Their website description in search engine results states 'car dvd manufacturer' in which case I'd say they market themselves as the 'manufacturer' of their units and therefore should have consistently reliable units. As of now, that's not the case. In your earlier post, you mention you've 'fixed the 3rd one now' - do you mean the 3rd 'issue' in the list? or the 3rd 'actual' unit you've had sent to you from Eonon? - I think the brand needs to open a 'proper' UK presence ( I do laugh at their website saying they despatch from the UK yet their telephone help line is open from 1.30 to 10.30 am UK time!) and maybe then their improved customer service/support will be much more evident and thus, more customers posting on this and other forums to report that !

Cheers, Dennis!

 

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Hi Dennis,

Glad it's all in good spirit!

Yes it was the 3rd issue in the list I've fixed, I've only had one Android unit. I accept the limitations that Eonon are based in the far East and talked to them using email as a result, and always had a prompt response. Overall they are cheap and cheerful units that offer a lot of goodies for the low price, and with a bit of care over what exact model is bought, can offer a satisfying purchase in my opinion. I think them describing themselves as a manufacturer might be ambitious.

For me, I can't get another 7" screen unit anywhere near the price that offers all the features mine has, looks fairly OEM, doesn't require cutting the heater box or have a pop out screen (I had one of those and it looks poor). To retrofit a BMW nav system will be expensive, time consuming and offer less features, although perhaps would give better sound and be more bulletproof.

So for me the Android unit is a good purchase, but they're not without their issues of course, generally speaking.

There are risks of course though with some of the Chinese variants, so I will do my homework accordingly in future to ensure I get a good one when I want to upgrade.

For the OP who just wants a fit and forget solution then I can't offer a recommendation for a bulletproof Android head unit, although I'm fairly sure there will be some hardware combinations that are spot on for sound quality, FM quality and phonecall quality as delivered, I just don't know which ones are the good ones to be honest.

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