Finally iPod free!

2003 - 2009, roadster, coupe, facelift
Mangozac
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Finally iPod free!

Post by Mangozac » Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:08 pm

So a few weeks back I decided that I was sick of my iPod and having the iTunes software on my computer. I had been using the iPod in my Zed, however it was through the aux input via a Griffin Autopilot which actually fits nicely into the cigarette lighter and allowed play/pause/skip control of the iPod.

Anyway I had decided that it was stupid to leave the iPod permanently in the car when I could have a more appropriate solution in the form of a USB flash drive with all of my songs on it. So I started searching around to see what was available. There are the DICE modules, but so many people complain about issues with them I decided to give it a miss. There are also a heap of other cheapo iPod/aux/USB interfaces available for European cars but again many of them had sketchy reviews.

FYI, mine is a September 2003 Z4 2.5i without DSP or CD changer. I have the grey coloured head unit which does not play MP3s. I was concerned that this would be a problem displaying text, however after discussion with Pawnsacrifice he confirmed that he has text working with the Gateway 300 on the same head unit as I have.

Then I stumbled across the Dension Gateway 300. Unlike the many other competing products I did not find anybody complaining about the Dension units. I found the cheapest place to buy one including shipping to Australia was iPod Car Kits Direct.com and picked one up (without the iPod cable).

The unit didn't take too long to arrive and pretty soon I had a GW33BM4 package in my hands.

Installation was a breeze, particularly since I was familiar with the head unit access procedure from installing my aux-in cable. The pack came with a simple plug and play adaptor which connects between the stereo harness and the stereo itself. I mounted the Gateway unit itself underneath the head unit (in the same spot BMW recommends placement of the OEM iPod interface). The USB extension lead into which you plug the flash drive I routed into the glovebox via the hole in the top of the glovebox where that strut looking piece is. Here's some photos of the glovebox after the install:

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The installation is VERY tidy which makes me happy. Even better is the fact that I didn't even have to drill any holes!

After confirming that the Gateway was functioning I put everything back together. At this point I worked out basic navigation of the USB drive but I couldn't work out how to get text display. Although earlier versions of the Gateway 300 required you to load a special file which enabled text on BMWs, the newer units have this functionality built in. I had found descriptions of the button presses required for the text enable procedure online but still had no luck with them. So I emailed Dension technical support. I was extremely surprised to receive a reply within an hour during the weekend! They directed me to this page: http://www.dension.com/knowledge-base/i ... ware-versi which describes the same procedure as I'd read about elsewhere, but note the line which says:
Some vehicles support more than one display/screen. The following instructions allow you to choose where Song information (text) is displayed:
It turns out that on the Z4 the stereo display is not the default! In order to get text to show you have to select track 4 rather than track 2 when in text enable mode.

The text mode works really well! I was afraid that it might be a little laggy, but while it isn't instantaneous, the lag between pressing a button and the new text is really not noticeable. It scrolls when the track name is too long also.

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Raspberry Jam Delta-V - anyone else a Satriani fan?

All in all I'm VERY happy with this solution. So far it has worked flawlessly and with such a clean install one could be forgiven for thinking it was OEM. Highly recommended! :thumbsup:
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imp75
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Re: Finally iPod free!

Post by imp75 » Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:19 pm

Great write up, nice install. I'm not tech minded so I might be totally off the mark, but in summary is it a case of connect the dension to the head unit, a usb cable to the dension, and the a memory stick to the usb cable? Then access the music off the memory stick? If so I'm gonna follow your example! :thumbsup:
GONE - 2.0, sapphire black, alu trim, mods: msport seat transplant, 30mm drop, clear headlights, ZHP, OTH, strut brace, tinted tail lamps, carbon wrapped grilles and stubby

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Re: Finally iPod free!

Post by Mangozac » Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:38 pm

It's exactly that. Piece of cake!

Oh and I should mention that there's no reason that this wouldn't be a great option as an iPod interface either, including text display. Remember it can do both simultaneously. So you can usually just run it from the flash drive but if for some reason you wanted to listen to music that's on the iPod you could just plug it in and switch the source to iPod.
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Re: Finally iPod free!

Post by imp75 » Tue Jul 26, 2011 2:36 pm

Cool! One more question then; How do you skip between albums and tracks? Is this possible or do you just have to skip one after other after another to get to one you want? Like I said I'm a bit rubbish when it comes to tech, I just can't see how you can jump forward 9 albums for example..........
GONE - 2.0, sapphire black, alu trim, mods: msport seat transplant, 30mm drop, clear headlights, ZHP, OTH, strut brace, tinted tail lamps, carbon wrapped grilles and stubby

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Re: Finally iPod free!

Post by ZED_NOT_ZEE » Tue Jul 26, 2011 2:37 pm

With how cheap USB drives are now, and the ugly iPod installs I see everywhere... I will buy this for sure. Thanks for the write-up! I wonder how it'll work with Navigation screens. I will have to try using an USB extension cable and possibly mounting the USB stick in the cubby hole between the seats.

Also note, the slight lag between pressing the text button and retrieving the data is very likely due to the speed of the USB stick. Most generic and even some entry-level brand name (like Patriot and Kingston) USB sticks have slow seek times (to find a file on the drive), especially if data is being read from another part of the USB stick (i.e. playing an MP3 while trying to access another file or data somewhere else within the file such as the ID3 tag). If you have some other USB sticks laying around, try them out to see if there's much difference.

After reading up on it on the denison website I thought I'd mention a few other things for anyone else who is interested in this:
1 - steering wheel controls work with the device
2 - music can be grouped in folders on the stick and you can skip folders (albumns, or grouped by genre)
3 - The Gateway Blue model allows you to play music via bluetooth (i.e. from a cellphone) and still use the steering wheel controls.
4 - The bluetooth option will also enable handsfree calling from your Z4, according to the pictures on the site it uses the stock bluetooth buttons / commands to control your cellphone. (i.e. steering wheel phonebook, answer/hangup buttons, etc.)
Z4 3.0i SMG - Sport/Prem/Nav. Gray on Red (year-round beater)
e46 M3 SMG II - Cold/Heat/Lux. Black on Black (summer beater)
e36 M3 5-Speed - Cold/Lux. Black on Black (winter beater)
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Re: Finally iPod free!

Post by Mangozac » Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:18 pm

imp75 wrote:Cool! One more question then; How do you skip between albums and tracks? Is this possible or do you just have to skip one after other after another to get to one you want? Like I said I'm a bit rubbish when it comes to tech, I just can't see how you can jump forward 9 albums for example..........
Each of the 6 CD buttons on the head unit represents a different menu:

CD1: Playlists and folders
CD2: Artists (in alphabetical order)
CD3: Albums (in alphabetical order)
CD4: Playback options, including play all songs (this is what I usually prefer, with it set to random)
CD5: Current track information/fast forward/rewind/skip
CD6: source selection: USB/iPod/aux in (the Gateway 300 has it's own aux input as well)

I will admit that it can feel slightly clunky at first, but honestly I don't think it's possible to do much better without having a full nav style screen. Once you get used to it it's fine.
ZED_NOT_ZEE wrote:I will have to try using an USB extension cable and possibly mounting the USB stick in the cubby hole between the seats.
My original plans were to do this but I decided against it for three reasons:
  1. I had heard that the USB connection can become sensitive to electrical noise when used with a longer extension than that supplied. This may be down to the quality of the extension cable though - I would ensure that you get one which is well shielded.
  2. It requires drilling holes to get the connectors through into the cubby hole (although Dension do supply a kind of snap together gland intended to fit a 20mm diameter hole).
  3. Honestly for the price of an 8GB USB drive I'm happy to take the risk of leaving it in the unlocked glovebox with the roof down (the glovebox does not lock with the car and instead requires a key).
ZED_NOT_ZEE wrote:Also note, the slight lag between pressing the text button and retrieving the data is very likely due to the speed of the USB stick. Most generic and even some entry-level brand name (like Patriot and Kingston) USB sticks have slow seek times (to find a file on the drive), especially if data is being read from another part of the USB stick (i.e. playing an MP3 while trying to access another file or data somewhere else within the file such as the ID3 tag). If you have some other USB sticks laying around, try them out to see if there's much difference.
Funny you should mention this - I have just purchased a Sandisk 8GB drive to use dedicated for the Zed music collection. I read that Sandisk are up there with the high quality flash drives. It should arrive today so it will be interesting to see the results. I also forgot to mention that there is around a 10 second delay between turning on the ignition and the music beginning to play, which Dension technical support suggested could be caused by the quality of flash drive also, so it will be interesting to see if there's any difference there.

I shall report back!
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Re: Finally iPod free!

Post by Hotride » Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:44 pm

nice work. I got DSP & NAV. I got the Parrot mki9200 which has the same functions, and I have a USB/ipod input cable in glovebox same way as you! I think the USB is the best way to keep your media library in the car. No doubt you will love it.

I cant use the OEM buttons for mine tho, mine uses its own remote. But this option is very OEM, I would be looking at it if I didn't have the parrot! Very nice :thumbsup:

Just want to say tho - anyone who has DSP should check with Dension that it will work with DSP before buying! a lot of products don't!

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Re: Finally iPod free!

Post by wiseguy » Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:48 pm

Looks like a nice setup!

I would have considered it, but I have DSP, and they still have not made a Denison unit that is compatible with Z4 head units having DSP. BOOOOO!

For those considering this option, check the Denison website chart before ordering, to ensure it works with your car. I've ordered a Dice Mediabridge 1500 (Iphone charging, USB flash drive connection, Sirius connection, steering wheel controls, bluetooth, text display), and await its delivery.

*Edit- Dang, Hotride beat me to it!
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Re: Finally iPod free!

Post by Mangozac » Wed Jul 27, 2011 1:29 am

Yeah it's unfortunate that it's not compatible with DSP. Hotride I didn't realise that you had Nav too you lucky bugger!
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Re: Finally iPod free!

Post by Hotride » Wed Jul 27, 2011 1:54 am

Hotride I didn't realise that you had Nav too you lucky bugger!
Someone hasn't read my sig! :P I think my car had every option from factory except MFSW and Bluetooth - both of which I have retrofitted! probably saved alot of money buying a car with Sat Nav lol

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Re: Finally iPod free!

Post by Mangozac » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:13 pm

Well it's been a week with the Gateway 300 and so far so good! I do have two main discoveries:

1. Make sure you use a quality flash drive. You would think that they're all the same, but I picked up a Sandisk Cruzer drive to dedicate to the Gateway and it made quite a difference. With the old generic brand flash drive I was using it would take about 15-20 seconds between starting the car and the music resuming (the Gateway unit would scan as if it was hunting for an input source) however with the Cruzer it's only one or two seconds. The lag between pressing a button and the new text displaying may have improved, but it wasn't exactly noticeable to begin with.

2. The BMW business CD does not lock in random mode! I generally like to have my music playing on random, which works nicely by pressing the RND button on the head unit after selecting play all (under the Track 4 GW300 menu). The problem is that after the system is turned off (i.e. when leaving the car) the head unit cancels the random function. So although the GW300 will resume playing from the spot in the track where it left off, once that track is finished it will simply play the next track in that album rather than picking a new one at random. If you want to have it continue playing at random you have to remember to hit the RND button again before the sing ends.

I've emailed Dension tech support about it but from what I've read this is simply a limitation of the BMW Business CD head unit...

Overall I'm still very happy with the unit, and the text display is still putting a smile on my face :thumbsup:
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Re: Finally iPod free!

Post by malibudave » Sun Dec 04, 2011 10:36 am

Probably a silly question, my have the 10 speaker upgrade, does that mean I have DSP?
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Re: Finally iPod free!

Post by srhutch » Sun Dec 04, 2011 10:46 am

malibudave wrote:Probably a silly question, my have the 10 speaker upgrade, does that mean I have DSP?
there are two 10 speaker setups, one has dsp. If you have Nav then dsp will be a menu option. IIRC you can't have dsp without Nav (seem to recall reading this recently)
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Re: Finally iPod free!

Post by brawnyblue » Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:13 am

srhutch wrote:
malibudave wrote:Probably a silly question, my have the 10 speaker upgrade, does that mean I have DSP?
there are two 10 speaker setups, one has dsp. If you have Nav then dsp will be a menu option. IIRC you can't have dsp without Nav (seem to recall reading this recently)
I've seen a 04 with DSP but without Nav. So you can definately have DSP without the Nav

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Re: Finally iPod free!

Post by cj_eds » Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:21 am

That's a very nice setup, off to google and scour ebay for Densions...... :D

Would be nice if it worked with the NAV screen (not that I have one).

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