Installing Front Speakers in the BMW E30 3 Series
One thing about having a nice car that has always appealed to me is having an equally as good stereo system. The BMW E30 3 Series originally came with two stereo options, the base stereo system, and in the case of my 325is, the "premium" sound package by Harman Kardon. The premium system is a fine system in it's own right, perfect for most people, however there simply isn't enough volume or bass for me. My musical tastes vary greatly, everything from classical to jazz to Scandinavian death metal, so its important to me to have a stereo that can handle just about anything I can play through it. For this reason I have chosen MB Quart Component speakers for the front in my E30.
This tech article is specific to the E30, however the procedure applies to nearly every BMW model. Keep in mind that this is the first in a series of audio upgrade tech articles for the E30. Coming soon are the head unit install, subwoofer installation and amplifier installation.
The first step in replacing the audio is removing the door panels. The reason is simple. In order to get a good quality sound out, I have to upgrade to 6 1/2 diameter speakers rather than the stock 5 1/4 inch speakers in the front kick panels. The 6 1/2 speakers will not fit in these panels, and I wouldn't settle for the decreased volume of the 5 1/4's. So, we need to remove the door panels. The first step is to remove the inner door handle surround piece. Simply slide it back towards the rear of the car and it will unlock, enabling you to remove it. Next, pry out the side mirror switch with a small screwdriver and unplug the switch from the connector. (note: if you don't have power mirrors, just remove the small cover) Once removed, you will see small Phillips head screw, remove the screw . Next, look at the armrest. Along the bottom edge of the rest, you will see two holes. Use a Phillips head screwdriver and remove these screws. Now if you have manual windows on your car, pry the plastic cover off the window crank and remove the screw holding it in place.
The next step is to pull the door panel off. Simply grab the panel by the edge and start pulling around the perimeter of the door panel. Using light force, the door panel should come free of the door. Once the lower edge and sides are free, pull up on the panel to release it from the window frame. Take a look at the mounting clips on the top of the frame. This will give you an idea of how the panel fits into the door. Now, with the door panel off, remove the lower door pocket from the backside. Two screws hold it on.
Look at the door; you will see a plastic sheet over the door openings. This sheet is used to keep moisture out of the door. From the bottom front edge, carefully peel this sheet back. Use caution, as you can rip the sheet. Now, grab a tape measure and look inside the door. We will want to measure the distance between the edges of the door to the lower arm of the window regulator. We have to get this distance right, or when you install the speakers, the window will not go down. Once you have your measurements, transfer them onto the front of the door panel. Most new speakers contain a template for cutting speaker holes. Transfer this onto the door panel and use a marker to draw the circle on the door panel, using the measurements you made before for the center point.
Now we cut the panel. I like to use a hole saw with an adjustable radius. I used a drill press to cut out the holes, however a hand drill on low speed will work as well. You don't want to use high speed here; you are cutting through a layer of vinyl, foam and fiberboard. If you use high speed, you will load up the hole saw and cause the panel to tear or worse. Take your time and cut out the hole.
Once the hole is cut out, place the speaker in the hole and note the 4 mounting holes on the outside perimeter of the speaker. Use a marker to mark the respective positions on the panel. Take the speaker out, and drill pilot holes where you made the marks. Now, take the mounting clips that came with the speaker, and slide them in to place on the door panel. Orient them so the holes in the center of the clips line up with the holes we just drilled. Now place the speaker back in the hole. Take the screws that came with the speaker and screw them through the mounting holes on the perimeter of the speaker, through the clip and door panel and out the clip on the other side. Tighten as necessary. Now put the grill on the outside of the speaker.
Now go back to the door. Look at the front edge of the door where the door check is. We will need to drill a small hole for the speaker leads. Drill the hole and apply some primer or paint to the edges to prevent rust. Now, thread the speaker wire through the hole from the outside. Now reach inside the door and pull the wire out.
You will now want to place the plastic sheet back into place and using the measurements from before, cut a hole in the sheet approx. the same size as the speaker. This will allow the speaker to fit in the door.
On the door panel, re-attach the lower door pocket by tightening the two screws on the back of the door panel. Now take the panel over to the door. Take the speaker leads and attach them to the speaker. Remember, the lead with the white stripe is always positive. Now, start re-attaching the door panel by first pushing the top edge of the panel into the window guide on top. Make sure it fits securely in all the clips. Once in place, line up the plastic clips on the backside of the panel with the respective holes in the door and push the panel onto the door. When the door panel is correctly installed, you should feel a small snap. Start on the rear upper edge of the door and work your way around the door panel to the front upper edge.
Now, re-install the arm rest, first by sliding the mounting tabs into the door pocket, then re-installing the two Phillips head screws in the bottom of the arm rest. Next, re-install the Phillips head screw securing the top of the armrest to the door. Re-connect the power window switch and push the whole switch back into the armrest. In cars without power windows, simply press the insert back in. Re-install the inner door handle surround by sliding it in from the rear and push it forward. On cars without power windows, re-install the window cranks.
And that takes care of the front door speakers. In the next article I will focus on replacing the tweeters in the small pods above the door panels, as well as wiring the whole thing up.Well, there you have it - it's really not too difficult at all. If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs. If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one. Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one. As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.