How to Upgrade Your BMW Sound System

Sound system upgrades for your BMW can create a more satisfying listening experience, but may also raise your insurance premiums.
Written by Abbey Orzech
Reviewed by Claire Beaney
The most basic level of BMW sound system comes with four mid-range speakers and two under-seat subwoofers, but you can upgrade your stereo by replacing the factory speakers and installing an amplifier. 
BMW exists in the picture of luxury and quality. Comfortable interiors, dynamic driving, powerful but smooth performance, and sometimes, a really awesome sound system. But if your BMW just has the basic audio system level, you might find that your music listening experience falls a bit short of luxury. 
Happily, there are ways to upgrade your BMW sound system! If you’re tired of sub-par listening and muddy music quality, consider adding aftermarket speakers, subwoofers, or an amplifier to your stereo. And to help you get started,
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What kind of sound system does a BMW have?

The type of sound system rocking (or not) in your BMW depends on the level of audio enhancement chosen at purchase: 
  • Base sound system (before 2012 in North America): Four mid-range speakers and two under-seat subwoofers 
  • HiFi sound system (basic in North America after 2012): Five mid-range speakers, two tweeters, and an amplifier
  • Harman Kardon sound system: Between 12 and 18 speakers surround sound and some with additional subwoofers 
  • Bowers & Wilkins sound system: Diamond Surround Sound System
As can be expected, each new level of audio enhancement tacks onto the vehicle’s price, but each can be installed on all M, X, and I trim levels. However, it is important to note that the Base sound system is no longer offered in North America, having been replaced with HiFi as the most basic sound system. 
So BMW buyers choose their level of the speaker system and they can experience tons of media connectivity through Bluetooth, auxiliary ports, USB ports, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and more. If you’ve already opted for the Bowers & Wilkins level of audio experience, you’re likely pretty happy with the sound output. If not, well, there’s always room for improvement—and we have some killer upgrade options for you here!

How to upgrade a BMW sound system

How many upgrades and with what technology your BMW sound system will need depends on the sound system already in place. Some systems already include subwoofers and amplifiers, and some of them only have speakers. But in general, upgrades will happen with new speakers, subwoofers, and an amplifier.

Start with speaker upgrades

Upgrading your BMW’s speakers will be the first pit stop in your quest for aural additions. The factory speakers can serve their purpose for a time, but they’re likely to wear out and muddy up your sound over time
It’s worth mentioning that a new set of car speakers can cost a pretty penny. Not to mention modern vehicle sound systems are quite complex, so you may also need to hire a professional for the installation. Some older BMW models may have a simpler wiring rig, but it’s a whole new world when dealing with the 18-speaker setup of a BMW iX trim with Harman Kardon equipment. 
The cost of your speaker upgrade will also depend on the type of upgrade you want to do—that is, do you want to swap out just the front speakers or the entire stereo system? Here are popular speaker upgrades for BMW vehicles:

Pump up the bass with a subwoofer

Subwoofers can do a lot to improve the volume and clarity of a vehicle’s audio. Typically, a subwoofer is installed in the trunk or under the rear seat. You’ll notice a clearer sound when the sub’s cone is facing up or towards the trunk, and more bass-heavy quality if the cone of the subwoofer is facing down. 
Depending on the level of the sound system present in your BMW, you may already have a subwoofer or two. Several of the Harman Kardon sound systems have subwoofers included in the set and even the base systems have woofers included! But if you’re looking for something that packs an extra punch without the grain and fuzz of some of those woofers once they wear out, check out the
Infinity Basslink SM2
. This setup comes with a subwoofer, amplifier, and enclosure all in one! 

What’s the difference between a 4-ohm subwoofer and a 2-ohm sub? 

During your search for the perfect subwoofer, you’ll likely run into values that specify a “4-ohm” or a “2-ohm” sub and may wonder which you should get. This is actually a matter of preference as both deliver a different quality of sound. 2-ohm subs will give you more volume and a 4-ohm sub will increase the clarity and depth of sound. 

Boost the power with an amplifier

A properly installed and high-quality amplifier can take your listening experience to the next level. Essentially, an amplifier puts more power behind your audio system to deliver a more booming sound. Pair a high-quality amp with a high-quality subwoofer and you may just be surprised at the audio difference! 
Try out the popular
BimmerTech Premium Audio System
for a better, more powerful listening experience.

How to protect your BMW sound system—and save on insurance!

Upgrading your BMW sound system can make your car feel brand new! Unfortunately, it can also raise your
car insurance
rates like it’s brand new, too. Most insurance policies won’t cover aftermarket equipment like a new stereo system—but that shouldn’t mean that you’re stuck paying out-of-this-world insurance premiums! 
If you want to save money on car insurance, the
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BMW has been using Harmon Kardon sound systems for over 30 years.
Depending on the level of the audio system a BMW has, it could have between six and eighteen speakers.
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