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      11-21-2013, 11:11 PM   #1
squishy
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Focal IFBMW-S Speaker Upgrade (REVIEW)

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EDIT: See post 16 below for my review on them after I had them installed.

Hi all,

Looking into the Focal IFBMW-S speaker upgrade for my '13 X1 non-HK. As I am aware, they are a direct replacement to the factory parts.

Link: http://www.crutchfield.com/p_091IFBM...c#overview-tab

I have two questions:

1. I am not looking for more speaker power, just better sound quality. I believe the stock unit is actually not that bad in terms of producing enough power, but the sound is just too pedestrian. So, this Focal set up should be a good replacement for what I am after? I know Focal makes some the best quality speakers, and the price is right for me.

2. I did search, but didn't really find much information on the improved quality of sound with the Focals vs. the stock set up. Has anyone done this? If so, could you offer a quick review?

Thanks!

Last edited by squishy; 12-12-2013 at 12:51 PM.
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      11-22-2013, 06:48 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squishy View Post
Hi all,

Looking into the Focal IFBMW-S speaker upgrade for my '13 X1 non-HK. As I am aware, they are a direct replacement to the factory parts.

Link: http://www.crutchfield.com/p_091IFBM...c#overview-tab

I have two questions:

1. I am not looking for more speaker power, just better sound quality. I believe the stock unit is actually not that bad in terms of producing enough power, but the sound is just too pedestrian. So, this Focal set up should be a good replacement for what I am after? I know Focal makes some the best quality speakers, and the price is right for me.

2. I did search, but didn't really find much information on the improved quality of sound with the Focals vs. the stock set up. Has anyone done this? If so, could you offer a quick review?

Thanks!
Hey there!
I'm a big believer in upgrading speakers for the best possible sound followed by a good amp. Focal's are GREAT speakers. BSW (www.bavsound.com) are supposed to be making a kit for the X1 as well. I think you'll be fine with either kit and more importantly, they will fit right in with NO cutting of the vehicle and sound MUCH better than stock. (I LOVE this) Plenty of folks have swapped out the stock units for aftermarket ones with some modification to the car, sound is MUCH better.
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      11-24-2013, 07:18 AM   #3
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Focal IFBMW-S Speaker Upgrade

I'm also waiting for reviews of these. Best price seems Amazon.

My current system is base for Europe which I think is even lower spec than USA stock system - I have the Business head unit and not even any tweeters.

Does anyone know if adding this speaker kit to a car without tweeters means the car would need recoding, or does the 'crossover' wiring just send the correct frequencies to the tweeters. The Focal website mentions nothing about recoding.

Thanks.
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      11-24-2013, 03:41 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nigelm View Post
I'm also waiting for reviews of these. Best price seems Amazon.

My current system is base for Europe which I think is even lower spec than USA stock system - I have the Business head unit and not even any tweeters.

Does anyone know if adding this speaker kit to a car without tweeters means the car would need recoding, or does the 'crossover' wiring just send the correct frequencies to the tweeters. The Focal website mentions nothing about recoding.

Thanks.
nigelm
nigelm:
Since there are supplied crossovers with these speakers I would safely assume that no recoding is necessary. You would need to use the enclosed tweeter pods for the tweets which go in the same location in the top corners of the windows. Again, Focal is a TOP NOTCH speaker, if you are going to use them I would invest in some extra sound door deadening like Dynamat or V-Block or something along the lines. The quieter the car, the better sound you'll get.
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      11-24-2013, 05:34 PM   #5
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Many thanks Yarvis.

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      11-24-2013, 09:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yarvis View Post
Hey there!
I'm a big believer in upgrading speakers for the best possible sound followed by a good amp. Focal's are GREAT speakers. BSW (www.bavsound.com) are supposed to be making a kit for the X1 as well. I think you'll be fine with either kit and more importantly, they will fit right in with NO cutting of the vehicle and sound MUCH better than stock. (I LOVE this) Plenty of folks have swapped out the stock units for aftermarket ones with some modification to the car, sound is MUCH better.
Thank you for the advice sir!
I just ordered them (didn't order from Amazon, rather from Crutchfield -- had great experiences from them before) and hopefully will have my local audio shop install them. Will ask them to upgrade the amp as well. Or add one? Not sure, will check with them. Now I'm also looking into having the shop also build some kind of mount/holder for an iPad on the passenger side!
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      11-26-2013, 04:11 PM   #7
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Got the speakers this afternoon. Will install next week and post review.

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      11-26-2013, 07:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squishy View Post
Got the speakers this afternoon. Will install next week and post review.


Ooooh, I'm jealous!!! Congrats on the purchase. You Tube has a video of these speakers being installed in a 1 series, have you seen it? They seem so easy to install oneself. I'm going to wait anxiously for the BSW speakers to come out and maybe see if someone uses them before I make up my mind on brand. Besides, I have to wait a little bit, our car only has about 2500 miles on the odometer, wifey says I need to wait a bit longer before I can upgrade. See if your shop will allow you to take some pics while the swap is being made, I would personally like to see what is involved in removing the door panel's on the X1.
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Last edited by Yarvis; 11-26-2013 at 07:33 PM.
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      12-01-2013, 08:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yarvis View Post
Hey there!
I'm a big believer in upgrading speakers for the best possible sound followed by a good amp. Focal's are GREAT speakers. BSW (www.bavsound.com) are supposed to be making a kit for the X1 as well. I think you'll be fine with either kit and more importantly, they will fit right in with NO cutting of the vehicle and sound MUCH better than stock. (I LOVE this) Plenty of folks have swapped out the stock units for aftermarket ones with some modification to the car, sound is MUCH better.
They sell a 'stage 1 audio upgrade'. Or is this more recent than your post? http://www.bavsound.com/product/709/...BMW-X1-10-E84/
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      12-01-2013, 08:25 PM   #10
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They sell a 'stage 1 audio upgrade'. Or is this more recent than your post? http://www.bavsound.com/product/709/...BMW-X1-10-E84/
Jeff:
Stage one kit is still in developement, so not ready just yet.
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      12-01-2013, 11:09 PM   #11
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Jeff:
Stage one kit is still in developement, so not ready just yet.
Ah...missed the fine print.
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      12-03-2013, 06:45 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Got the speakers this afternoon. Will install next week and post review.
Be sure to let us know how long the install took, how difficult it was, etc.

Thanks!
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      12-03-2013, 12:53 PM   #13
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Be sure to let us know how long the install took, how difficult it was, etc.

Thanks!
Will do! In fear of messing something up, I'm having my local shop install it. I know it will be simple, but I'd rather have a professional take care of it. I will stand by and take pictures.

Have an appointment with them this Friday morning.
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      12-03-2013, 02:55 PM   #14
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Really interested in how difficult it is to take the door panels off. In fact I don't see how in my car.
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      12-05-2013, 12:09 PM   #15
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ifbmw-s

I have a 2011 bmw 3 series, and recently installed the ifbmw-s.

I purchased the speakers online. I don't consider myself a handyman, but decided to save some cash by installing the speakers myself. I completed the task and replaced the door panels in a little over 2 hours. Prior to this, my experience was limited to setting up a rudimentary home theater.

Focal created a video that makes the installation look too easy. For those interested in performing their own installation, I suggest watching some of the videos created by Bavsound, readily available on Youtube. Bavsound does a better job of reassuring you that this is not brain surgery. More importantly, you will learn that the door panels are not identical, and that there is an extra screw on the passenger side.

Unless you have hands made of iron, I would not use the torx tool that comes with the speakers. I used a screwdriver with a torx head to loosen the screws on the door panel. After the door panel came loose and I disconnected the speaker wire, I realized that there was plenty of room to work without having to disconnect the wiring to the door locks, window, and light. To free up my hands, I just rested the panel on a chair, and replaced the front speaker in a matter of minutes.

Replacing the tweeters was a little bit trickier. Focal suggests removing the old tweeter from the plastic casing, and re-using the casing for the new tweeter. Their video does not show how this is done, and from watching the video, I don't think they followed their own suggestion. I simply inserted the new tweeter directly into the grill, and it seems to stay in place.

I noticed a definite improvement in sound clarity. Bass is much more authoritative, and not just a dull background sound. My 12 year old daughter thinks there's more surround sound.

Now that I've done it, I can say that removing the door panel is relatively easy. Brute force is not required.
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      12-06-2013, 11:39 AM   #16
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Installed!

Got them installed an hour ago, and tested them out. First impressions: WOW!

^Jingo56 is exactly correct in his post.

Regarding removing the door panel, the shop used their own torx tool. The one that comes with the kit seems flimsy. The removal of all the components is really straight forward. There are provided directions on how to install them, and I advise going by those directions. You will remove the trim on the door panel, handle, and another piece I don't exactly recall; everything is stated on the directions, it is really simple.

To be quite honest, I didn't want to make the guys at the shop uncomfortable by hovering above their shoulder watching everything, so I watched from a bit of a distance. No joke, they swapped out BOTH speakers in 21 minutes, start to finish, including getting the door panels off and back on. Of course it's because they are professionals, but this install did not seem intimidating at all. If I could go back in time, I would have installed it myself and save a hundred bucks.

The shop left out the silver plastic casting with "Focal" written on it for the tweeters. Would have looked pretty cool inside the tweeter panel, but oh well. They said there would be a problem with the tweeters sitting properly if they left them on. Didn't want to take a risk of having something rattle or have other issues arise. Also, to prevent any rattles or issues in the future, make sure you tie up the wires with the included zip-tie nicely into the door, as the video (LINK) suggests.

Regarding the actual sound, there is a significant improvement in not only sound quality, but bass as well. Jingo described it very well in that his daughter thought that there's more surround sound. This is the exact same feeling I get.

Think of it like this: If you crank the music up high, with the stock non-Harman-Kardon speakers, it feels like you're sitting outside in the park with a couple of speakers sitting at your feet and a subwoofer sitting a hundred feet from you, in the open. You can hear background noise rather well, and it sounds like there is just too much vocal, and a muffled bass. With these Focal speakers, on the same volume, it feels as if you are sitting in a cave with speakers installed in the walls of the cave, and a subwoofer sitting at your feet. The texture of the tone, if that makes any sense, sounds so full and pure, compared with before where it felt like you had on Apple headphones. Bass is, without a doubt, much improved. The shop turned up the volume and it really sounded like there was a subwoofer installed in my car. Much more punchier and clearer.

This factor affirms my opinion about too much vocal with the stock speakers: when you first install the speakers, it feels like the treble is turned down all the way. You would need to adjust it to just a tad higher than 3/4 way for a mixed balance of sound-type. When you do, you'll recognize the fuller sound and clearer bass. The bass really hits your chest hard if turned up all the way.

So...would I recommend this Focal kit? To be completely honest, yes and no.

YES if you can't stand the stock non Harman-Kardon OEM speakers. Personally, it wasn't that I could stand the stock speakers, it's just that I wanted better sound. If you can justify spending anywhere around $650-700 for top of the notch sound quality, go for it. You will not be disappointed. An absolute yes if you listen to music that is heavy in bass and you don't want to add a subwoofer.

NO if you feel the stock speakers are just fine, or you listen to music that is heavy in vocals and don't care too much for bass. If you don't listen to music often enough and when you do, don't turn it up too high, one simply cannot justify dropping so much money for replacement speakers. No be honest, BMW's OEM non-HK speakers are really not that bad, vocal-wise, relative to the Focal speakers. Bass-wise, they could be significantly better.

Personally, I nitpick the little things, and something just felt missing in the sound. These Focal speakers give me what was missing: clearer, more "open" sound, heavier bass, and the ability to listen to any kind of music and enjoy it, where the stock speakers were limited in what sounded good (vocal heavy music) and what did not (bass focused, deeper music).

All in all, if you're like me and are willing to spend to improve the sound, you will NOT be disappointed. The install seems rather easy after observing the shop perform the installation. I would recommend you save $75-100 and install it yourself. Focal speakers are the best in the market, and that is an understatement.
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      12-06-2013, 11:52 AM   #17
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Excellent write up and observations. I'm going to attempt the install once I make up my mind on which brand I'm going with , Focal or BSW. I'm confused though, in my car it says I have 8 speakers. I thought that meant I had two in each door up front for a total of four, two subs under each seat for six and two more in the rear for a total of 8. Am I missing something or not?
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      12-06-2013, 01:47 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yarvis View Post
Excellent write up and observations. I'm going to attempt the install once I make up my mind on which brand I'm going with , Focal or BSW. I'm confused though, in my car it says I have 8 speakers. I thought that meant I had two in each door up front for a total of four, two subs under each seat for six and two more in the rear for a total of 8. Am I missing something or not?
I'd go with Focal, but the decision is yours. For one, we have no idea when the BSW Stage 1 will be available. It may be sooner rather than later, but delays may occur. Second, I really wanted to go with a reputable company, and luckily, Focal made a direct fit for our X1. While BSW also produces quality speakers, I would rather have the peace of mind knowing my speakers won't run into any unexpected issues down the road, and I am confident Focal's speakers won't. Either way, can't go wrong with Focal or BSW.

And good question, I have no idea how many speakers we have. Hopefully someone can chime in though.
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      12-06-2013, 02:22 PM   #19
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When I competed in my car audio competitions in the late 90's Focal had just gotten into the car audio bug. They made a 6 and a half inch subwoofer that was pretty good for that time. I agree with you, they are a GREAT speaker and that they make a direct fit for our car, makes it all the more attractive.
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      12-12-2013, 05:16 AM   #20
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How much improvement does this give? SQ? thanks
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      12-12-2013, 12:45 PM   #21
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How much improvement does this give? SQ? thanks
Hmm, did you see the above post, post #16?

Hahah not sure how I could be any more clearer in my review of them.

Let me know if there's anything specific you're looking for.
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      12-18-2013, 06:57 AM   #22
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And good question, I have no idea how many speakers we have. Hopefully someone can chime in though.
Thanks for the write up. There are 2 more speakers mounted behind the rear seats just below the windows, which makes it 8 in total, including the 2 "subs" under the front seats.
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