BMW E36 Blog

BMW Harmon Kardon Audio System

29th April 2008

BMW Harmon Kardon Audio System

posted in Audio, Technical Info, Tips & Tricks, Uncategorized |

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Hi Guys,

I presented some Great BMW E36 Internal Lights photos in a post couple days ago. One of the things that I didn’t even know they existed in BMW E36 cars is the Harmon Kardon audio system. The cars with this optional audio system has a switch that is labeled "HIFI". In that post, I asked you about this switch and if anyone has it, so I got a reply from Seth and he was so kind to provide extra information about this option. You can read the description in his words below:

First off, it has 10 speakers (supposedly) although I have only seen 8 discussed in the forum I belong to. Maybe I was wrong about the subwoofer, because no one had mentioned it. It sure sounds like there’s one, though! (Tony: Valery, can you help?) The only major difference I remember from my first M3 without the upgrade, is the speakers in the front kick panels (granted it’s been 2 and a half years since that car, but I don’t remember any speakers down there), the HIFI switch that turns on an amplifier located in the left side of the trunk, next to the shock tower, and the different speakers with Harmon Kardon (HK) on the speaker shield.

The biggest problem with them is that the mid-range speakers in the front doors are prone to self-destruction at relatively low volume levels. The largest contributing factor is the automatic volume adjustment as the car gains speed (Tony: Wow! that’s a cool feature, isn’t it?). I blew my own that way! Adjust the volume level in the driveway, make it onto the freeway, and KA-POP!

BTW, if you have that annoying feature, I just learned how to fix it while I was researching the Harmon Kardon (HK) stereo. First, you start with the stereo off. Turn it on, and hold the "m" button for approx. 10 sec. The serial # of the radio should appear on the screen. Once it does, use the + and – buttons until you see GAL 1-6 . Then use the < and > buttons to adjust it up or down. 1 is the lowest change, and 6 vice versa. I believe that should also work on British BMW’s as well, even though it was explained for an American M3.

These are some photos of the Harmon Kardon audio system:


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There are currently 6 responses to “BMW Harmon Kardon Audio System”

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  1. 1 On April 30th, 2008, Ashman said:

    Gee you guys are lucky. I am from South Africa and we were not treated to options such as an HK sound system in our E36 cars. But we did get them as an option on all E46 vehicles. I recall my brothers E36 M3 having those two speakers on the door but not HarmonKardon!! Oh well…thanks for the info. (I hate Chris Bangle)

  2. 2 On May 3rd, 2008, ricky said:

    The automatic volume control is a function of the head unit. most aftermarket units do not have speed-sensitive volume so you have to leave the speed input wire disconnected. It was nice to have it quiet down when I stopped, but the Alpine is so much nicer 😉

    New midranges can be had from Bavarian Soundwerks in the US but their installation has you glue them into the old speaker’s mountings. Nice speakers but my hot glue joints keep coming undone.

    10 speakers – High, mid, low on front left and right; rear shelf has two on each side for low and mid/high – they are behind the same grille.

  3. 3 On May 7th, 2008, Miss May 2008 . . . Fabulous Interior | BMW E36 Blog said:

    […] Take a look and please pay special attention to the vader seats, airbags on both doors and the Harmon Kardon audio system. Please feel free to let me know what you all […]

  4. 4 On June 17th, 2008, BMW E36 Features You Don’t Know About | BMW E36 Blog said:

    […] Speed Sensitive Volume (Harmon Kardon Audio System). 2. Speed Sensitive Wipers:- In the rain, the wipers will change their speed according to the car […]

  5. 5 On June 30th, 2008, Harmon Kardon Speakers | BMW E36 Blog said:

    […] wrote about the BMW E36 Harmon Kardon Audio System and it seems there is a lot of confusion about the number and locations of the speakers in that […]

  6. 6 On September 23rd, 2008, MParallel said:

    Just for the record of correctness, the HiFi Switch is not an amp on/off switch. The amp is always on when the head unit it turned on. The Hi-Fi switch act like a “spatial” switch. In my vert, in which I recently retrofitted the H/K system + non-vert specific HiFi switch you can clearly here teh soundstage getting more rear-biased with the switch set to the “High” position.

    For speed-sensitive volume, the “hidden” menu ask mentioned here, I thought that was only available on the later CD43 unit. Anyways, on that same unit, Speed Sensitive Volume is (also) a normal option as it’s the last menu item from the Bass/Treble/Balance/Fader menu.

    Or disconnect the white/black wire that is the speed signal wire (this on also goes to the OBC where on secret menu #8 will give you a digital speed readout in KM/H.