Almost two years ago, I bought a 2004 BMW 3 series (or E46 for the bimmers out there). I picked it up through the CPO program and couldn’t be happier. It’s a great little car and fun to drive. When I went to contract on it, I asked the dealer to install the BMW OEM iPod adapter. The car didn’t have a CD changer in the trunk so there was an input open on the ‘Business CD’ head unit. The iPod lived in the glove box and things were good. A couple of months later, I decided to have the OEM Sirius box installed. Then the problems started.
The BMW Sirius unit lives in the trunk and needs to use the head unit input that my iPod adapter was using. The wiring harness was already run from the trunk to the head unit so the final connections for the Sirius unit was simple. The sound from the Sirius was very clean. Now my OEM iPod adapter is useless. After doing some research, I came across a product from Dension called the iceLink+ which would plug into the port on the Sirius unit so I could have my iPod and Sirius. It was fairly inexpensive at about $170 or so. Well I got what I paid for. The engine whine that came through the iPod was awful. The vendor swapped out the module with no improvement. The vendor suggested I cut a noise filter into the wiring harness. I did that and still no improvement. Not surprisingly, the unit was soon discontinued in the USA.
The successor to the IceLink comes from DICE Electronics. So I rolled the dice (pun intended) again and installed the DICE BMW adapter. At $150 or so, not too expensive. Again, you get what you pay for. The sound quality is marginally better but there’s still whine (with a new wiring harness and without the noise filter) with or without (!) the iPod connected. Another ‘feature’ is the DICE re-initializes when I disconnect the iPod from the system. Perhaps the designers forgot the iPod is a portable device. The nicest feature of the DICE is that it allows you to use the iPod itself to control the output. Most car solutions require you to use the head unit to control the iPod. The head unit interface is very rarely as responsive or intuitive as the iPod’s direct interface. However, my 3G iPod always has to be rebooted before the DICE will allow me to use the iPod interface. Not very convenient.
I could use an aux input for the iPod but I’d lose the nice charging feature that dock based adapters provide. I guess I can’t have my cake and eat it quite yet.