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BMW 3-Series and 4-Series Forum (F30 / F32) | F30POST > Technical Forums > Navigation, iDrive, Audio, Video, Bluetooth, Phone, Cameras, Electronics > Mini Review - HRT iStreamer + iPod Classic in non-nav, non-bmw assist F30
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      02-25-2013, 08:15 PM   #1
PrazVT
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Mini Review - HRT iStreamer + iPod Classic in non-nav, non-bmw assist F30

I thought I'd mention an interesting option for those looking to improve the SQ in their F30s (frankly, I suspect this is a better option than even having the 'enhanced' (read: normal) USB.

Patryk & Aleks did attempt a combox retrofit on my car, but it looks like I need a different HU. So while Patryk does some research on all that, I decided to try something else to improve the SQ in my car. I have the HK system in my car, but no BMW Assist.

So I picked up an HRT iStreamer 12V DAC & some mid grade Audioquest ICs & digital cables. The iStreamer connects directly to your iPod/iPhone/iPad and allows you to bypass that device's DAC w/ its own high quality DAC, then outputs to analog RCA. From my experience with home HiFi, I know DACs make a HUGE improvement, so I was hopeful that this interesting device would help things.

I hooked it up to my iPod Classic 160GB (only Apple Lossless files on it), and plugged it into the Aux port. My first reaction when I played a song was 'WHOA!!'. I honestly think that the stock iPod DAC y-cable was sending a weak ass signal to the HU, because with the iStreamer the improvement was akin to a more power amp or something. The speakers and subs have come alive - it's insane, and it's across the board. Clarity and detail is much improved, with a blacker background. Mid-range is fuller and the bass finally doesn't sound weak and boomy. I've actually reset all the EQ and tone controls back to defaults for now because I'm not finding any significant faults.

The Audioquest iPod data cable and usb charging cable haven't arrived yet, but I suspect those will provide some improvement as well.

The downside of course is that you can't control the iPod from the iDrive interface ..but at least for me, that is minor compared to the SQ improvement. Also, the '12v' version comes with a car power adapter.

Anyway, thought I'd share my thoughts on the iStreamer in case anyone else is interested in something like this.

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      02-26-2013, 06:57 PM   #2
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I definitely want to try this out. Is there any way to get the controls back to the iDrive interface while using the iStreamer? I'd hate to have to fumble around with my iPhone while driving to control music. Can you at least control volume from the steering wheel/vol knob on the head unit?
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      02-26-2013, 08:20 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ///KM View Post
I definitely want to try this out. Is there any way to get the controls back to the iDrive interface while using the iStreamer? I'd hate to have to fumble around with my iPhone while driving to control music. Can you at least control volume from the steering wheel/vol knob on the head unit?
I thought about the control aspect as well. The way USB works, I don't think you can split out the data signal from the iPod/iPhone/iPad simultaneously to 2 different devices. I was thinking I'd connect the output of the iPod to the host side of a small USB hub and then connect a USB cable to the iStreamer and then the BMW USB port - but I don't know if that would work. I may try it once I figure out if it would fry something For now, I can live with it considering how good everything sounds.

The volume control on the steering works fine. The aux port in the BMW is getting a constant line level signal like it was getting with the y adapter. On an iPhone or iPad, the volume is locked (b/c it's the iStreamer controlling it), so you would only use the steering wheel or HU volume control anyway. On the iPod w/ the click wheel, there is a volume control on the iPod side, but again it's actually the iStreamer's volume.

I just set the volume at max and reduced the aux volume to minimum in iDrive to ensure it's not getting a distorted signal (not that I heard any, when the volume was at its default level).

Here are some pics...





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      02-27-2013, 04:33 PM   #4
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I called HRT and asked them about using a USB splitter for the iDrive controls, and apparently it's not possible. This is due to the iStreamer using a proprietary 30-pin dock connector with a slightly different pin arrangement from OEM.

However, they said that they've heard reports that the OEM Apple Lightning Connector works 100% without having to use the proprietary cable. If that's the case, my next question was if the only reason the 30-pin dock connector splitter wouldn't work was due to the pin arrangement, using a splitter off the Lightning may work for iDrive controls. HRT was really curious as to if this might work.

Do you have a friend with an iPhone 5 / iPad 4 / iPad Mini that could test this out?
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      02-27-2013, 06:11 PM   #5
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Hmm, I read they used a proprietary 30pin cable too, but the Audioquest cable I've been using the last 2 days has worked perfectly. Not sure what exactly is different between the pin arrangements.

My sister has an iPhone 5 so I could test it out w/ hers. Again, I'm not sure if USB splitters work like audio cable splitters ..but it's worth a try I guess. I'll pick up a hub sometime this week and experiment and let you know ok?

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      02-27-2013, 07:28 PM   #6
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Awesome, thanks Praz!
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      03-03-2013, 05:31 PM   #7
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Just an update - as expected, using a USB hub to split the ipod out signal didn't work. I figured as much since that's now how USB works. Plus, on the non BMW Assist cars, if you plug your ipod / iphone into the USB w/ the Apple cable, the car doesn't even recognize it.

So anyway, looks like no iDrive control if we're using the iStreamer. Considering the sound quality improvement, I think I can live with it for now.
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