BMW E46 Total CD53 Radio Upgrade to Sirius MP3 Aux & iPod Pictorial DIY 2nd Edition by delmarco

By diyauto
( 3 )

18 minute read

BMW E46 Total CD53 Radio Upgrade to Sirius MP3 Aux & iPod Pictorial DIY 2nd Edition

Compliments of delmarco @


Alpine BMW Business CD53 Radio Total Upgrade w/ Sirius MP3 Aux & iPod Pictorial DIY

First of I would like to give tremendous thanks to SNA77 (Steve), Steve325i (Steve), Solid Jake, SycE46 and countless others from various forums who helped me understand what I was doing and develop this Upgrade DIY. Until this thread there has been a random scattering of information concerning the OEM upgrade of the early years 98 - 9/2001 E46 BMW 3 Series Radio units. The main goal of this DIY thread is to centralize everything one needs to know about upgrading their head unit in any year E46 BMW to have full data capabilities (Sirius Satellite Radio, iPod Data, Aux, and MP3 Data Disc Playback).

This DIY shows you how to add the full OEM potential of in car entertainment (I.C.E) to your 1998 to 2005 BMW 3 series. MP3 Data disc playback, Sirius Satellite Radio, iPod Data Connection, and Aux Input can easily be added to any year E46 BMW for a fairly low cost.

The main turn offs for wanting to upgrade to an Alpine BMW Business CD53 Head Unit with BMW Integrated Sirius & iPod Data Link have been the potentially high costs, the copious amount of seemingly endless parts and cables you need to buy as well as the tedious DIY time to not only install it but getting everything to work in unison. Getting an aftermarket unit for a fraction of the cost has worked out for some folks on a budget. And indeed they have gotten all these capabilities in one head unit but it is not OEM and does not look and feel as good as OEM. 

With my DIY you will be surprised how cheap the OEM upgrade can be after all is said and done. Read on...

The cost of this upgrade to the newer OEM parts can vary BUT can be easily offset by selling your old parts you are replacing as they are still worth something to someone somewhere else. (IE. I sold my old 2001 Blaupunkt CD53 Radio on eBay for $185 and used that money to fund the purchase of a brand new condition Jan 2006 Alpine CD53 MP3 Radio which I got off eBay for $200 as that seller was also upgrading to an aftermarket Nav Unit and no longer wanted that Alpine CD53 Unit in his 2007 M3). 

You can also opt out of not having to buy the Antenna Adapter at the dealership as my local dealership wanted almost $60 for the part and even online it's still about $30. In the end I substituted in an $8.00 Metra Adapter to do same task that the OEM adapter does. 

Next, I swapped my old 1998-9/2001Antenna Amplifier and paid $40 to an awesome eBay BMW Parts seller (germanonly: Mike Zahra is the contact and a really great guy to get parts from) to get the new 2002 Antenna amplifier that would have cost me $100-$365 at the dealership or online. 

Total money spent for the upgrade was $68 ($180 - $200 + $8 + $40). How cool is that?

The Parts List is not as endless as it may seem.

You ONLY need:

1.Alpine BMW Business CD53 Radio (2004-2007 Production Date). If you want MP3 Data CD Playback then you will want to get one these three parts number 65.12-6 943 429 or 65.12-6 943 430 or 65.12-6 961 215. If your Radio doesn't come with a Radio Support Pin you may also want to pick one up from the dealership for about 95 cents.

2.Antenna Adapter for 1998 – 9/2001 BMW E46 Car to Alpine BMW Business CD53 Radios: Again the OEM Adapter ranges from $30 to $60 but the Metra Adapters will do the same thing for only $8.00 or less on eBay. The Metra 40-VW10 and the Metra 40-EU20 are what you need. You need both of them and then you connect the two to bridge the newer Alpine Radio to your pre-9/2001 E46 BMW.

3.315 Mhz or 433 Mhz Antenna Amplifier for 9/2001 – 2006 E46 BMW. You need BMW Part No. 65256906075 for 315 Mhz or 65256906074 for 433 Mhz. You must replace it based on what was already in your car. If your older Antenna Amplifier said 315 Mhz you have to replace it with a new one that says 315 Mhz. 

The DIY for this is at this link: or you can follow my pictorial DIY for doing it down below.

4.If you want to add Sirius and iPod (as I suspect you may want to do) all you need are two more things.  

One of the four Sirius Receiver Unit that work with our E46 cars(these you can find on eBay, Craigslist or the forums classified sections-they are not for sale at the dealership anymore)

  • Parts No. 84110141981 1st generation requires Y antenna adapter (84110392102) for units without OEM Navigation
  • Parts No. 84110153365 1st generation requires Y antenna adapter (84110392102) for units with OEM Navigation
  • Parts No. 65120398140 2nd generation
  • Parts No. 65120416377 3rd generation sold only with 1 year subscription

5.For iPod Data Connection you will need either the DICE Silverline kit or the USA-SPEC PA-12. Both these kits are the top two leading kits in terms of performance (USA-Spec) and popularity (DICE) and both cost just under $150 (cheaper on eBay). The Dealership also sells their own spartan iPod retrofit kits priced at around $185 to $200 and performs more similarly to USA-Spec than the DICE. 

The cables for these kits around $29 and you have the choice of cable you will get based on what you want to do:

  • The CD Changer Extension/Slave Cable BMW Parts No. 84110150526 that will allow your iPod Data Device to connect to the Radio via the Sirius Unit. So the iPod Data Unit will slave off the Sirius connection to the Radio. This can limit your iPod to being in the trunk as these Slave cables aren't long. So unless your iPod Data Unit comes with a long extension cable that will allow you to run it into the car and connect the iPod there you will be limited to keeping it in the trunk with the iPod.

    However this is good for those that want to use the 2nd Data Link Port for an Auxiliary input to the Radio via BMW Parts No. (don't know it for the aux kit).

  • NOTE: I previously thought and was corrected for thinking I had the option for buying the Data Link CD Changer Cable BMW Parts No. 61128374683 to allow the iPod Data Unit to be connect directly on its own to the 2nd open Data Link port on the back of Alpine BMW Business CD53 Radio.

    This DOES NOT WORK as BMW relegated the 2nd Data Link Port with the menial task of AUX-input only.

    No worries and this is not an issue of any measure because the USA-Spec Data Cable can be slaved off the BMW Sirius Receiver or BMW CD Changer OR even connected directly to the CD Changer Pre-Wired cable if you dont have the Sirius or CD Changer using it.

    In this case I discovered that the USA-Spec Data Cable was long enough to run from the trunk area to the glove box area where I eventually stored my USA-Spec Module. This a better option for those that want to keep their iPod Data Unit, be it a Dice or USA-Spec nearby behind the glove box area or under the dash. The USA-Spec has Aux inputs on the Unit itself and I plan on keeping my Unit nearby in the glove box area so that I can easily access it for the Aux-In port.

    This way I do not have to buy BMW's Data AUX Cable that can cost up to $79.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: Here in the diagram below is the correct Pin Out Code Sheet specific for the BMW Business CD53 Alpine Radio All years.

    Note that ONLY CD53 Alpine units made after production date 01/2003 will have fully working AUX-input on their Data Port #2 or B as shown below. Before that date units were shipped with the 2nd Port present on the back of the units but these units were not programmed to engage Auxiliary Input. So you NEED to get a 2003 or newer Alpine CD53 unit to get AUX-in feature.

    Here are specific links for iPod Data Unit DIYs:

    USA-Spec kit

    BMW Retrofit kit

    DICE and DICE Silverline Pro kits

And that is all!

Total DIY time:

Varies depending on how long it takes you to get the parts

  • The CD53 Radio swap out/installation takes about 20 - 30 minutes.
  • The Antenna Amplifier upgrade takes about 20 - 30 minutes.
  • The Sirius Receiver kit and iPod Data Unit kit placement and connections takes about 30 minutes to an hour for each one. Give more time for the iPod Data as planning and placement of the Module in the cabin of the car may take a longer time.

Tools needed: 

  • Basic Screw Driver and a dull clean Butter Knife for the CD53 Radio installation.
  • Torx T20 screwdriver and a flat slim profile ratchet (if you have one) for replacing the Antenna Amplifier.
  • A hefty Pliers for the Radio Support Pin
  • Needle nose pliers for removing the anchor plugs holding down the trunk wall mat lining.
  • Electrical tape

PART ONE: Replacing the old Head Unit with the new one

PART TWO: Adding Radio Support Pin and completing Head Unit Installation

PART THREE: Calibrating your Radio. 

If you are like me and your unit came calibrated for another region or certain features like AM/FM, Scan, RDS, PTY don't exist or work as they should you will need to do this...

PART FOUR: Updating the Antenna Amplifier 

In order to get AM and FM reception you will have to also replace the old 12v powered Antenna Amplifier on your 1998 to 9/2001 E46 with the newer self powered Antenna Amplifier. This MUST be done because the newer Alpine BMW Business CD53 units do not have the capacity to power the old Amplifier Antenna (only the previous Blaupunkt BMW Business CD53 units have the power lead output for the old style Antenna Amplifier). Without this upgrade you will not have very little, if any, AM/FM reception.

PART SIX: Adding the BMW Sirius Receiver to your car

PART SEVEN: Adding an iPod Data Integration unit. 

Now this part will complete your DIY project and pretty much put a nice cherry on the cake since iPod integration is a MUST HAVE for those of us with iPods and iPhones.

For folks that do not have a BMW Sirius Receiver, and do not have a BMW Factory CD Changer in the trunk you can breeze thru this part and connect your DICE or USA-SPEC or other Data Unit to the pre-wired CD Changer cables that are in your in the trunk as shown in PART SIX ( the felt wrapped cables that I'm seen unwrapping to connect to my Sirius Receiver).

If your BMW E46 did not come with any prewiring for the CD Changer you will need to buy the Data Link Cable BMW Part# 61128374683 which costs around $40 to $60 at the dealership and install it yourself from the Data Link Port #1 to your iPod Data Unit. Those doing it this way will have the advantage of leaving everything inside the cabin of the car since you can opt to keep everything behind the dash area.

Those who are using a Sirius Receiver or a CD Changer already in the trunk will have to get the Slave Data Connector OEM Part #84110150526 and use it to connect the iPod Data Unit directly to the Sirius/CD Changer which will in turn connect the iPod Data Unit to the car. So when MODE is selected after SIRIUS you will access your iPod as if it is a CD Changer.

Picture of Slave Cable below borrowed from SNA77.

I previously planned on using Data Port #2 on back of the business CD53 Radio to support the iPod Data in the identical way that Data Port #1 supports the CD Changer/Sirius but I was wrong. 

Port #2 will NOT WORK on its own for Data Input support. You can add your iPod Data or 2nd Data Source (IE. CD Changer slaved to Sirius) with a Slave Data Extension Cable branching off the Sirius Receiver/CD Changer. In this case the BMW system gives hierarchy to Sirius as master always and the Data iPod or CD Changer Slaved off of it. If Sirius isn't present but a CD Changer is then the CD Changer must be the Master to Data iPod.

That said you most likely CANNOT have ALL THREE (iPod/Sirius/CD Changer) in your car at once using just the normal Data Link Pre Wiring Cable and Slave Data Cable.

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE: There is a DIY-mentioning from last year where a member at e46fanatics BMWAudio32 from Columbia, SC discovered, while trying to remedy the DICE/Sirius ghost feedback/alternator background noise, that you can actually splice the trunk bound ends of the main Data Link Pre-wire Cable and create two sets or multiple sets of Data Link ends off the main cable leaving the Data Link Port #1 on the back of the CD53 head unit. Then with placement of a homemade toggle switch along the junction where the separate branches meet BMWAudio32 was able to choose from multiple Data Sources (whether it be iPod, Sirius or CD Changer) in his car by flipping the homemade switch between the branches when the SIRIUS/CD CHANGER MODE was selected. This method successfully "fooled" the head unit into thinking there was one only data source when they were actually multiple. The only downside is the DIY time and skill required as well as the non-OEM look of the homemade switch placed in the cabin. Other than that it allowed for multiple Data sources that did not interfere with each other at all and eventually created the best solution for dealing with DICE/Sirius/CD Changer interference noise and issues when slaving various Data Sources.

Read More About that here:

That brings me to my choice in the USA-Spec which was very well reviewed and introduced to the e46 community by Steve325i from e46fanatics. As a less popular unit than the DICE, The USA-Spec is cheaper and has all the features of the DICE including an RCA Aux In Port. The only reported disadvantage of the Spec to the DICE is you are only allowed access to up to 5 User-Set Playlists (Or the option to just Play ALL SONGS on iPod) while the iPod is in fully integrated mode.

The DICE allows for access to more or all the Playlists on your iPod and text display is given for the Playlist. The USA-Spec was fine for me since with Sirius, AM/FM, 100s of songs on my MP3 Data CDs, and AUX input in my car I already have unlimited access to hours upon hours of fresh music. Accessing only 5 Playlists off my iPod would not kill me or be a deal breaker. Albeit the 5 User-set Playlist can have unlimited amount of music in each playlist with respect to the size of your iPod.

So you CANNOT argue that the Spec gives you access to "less" music than the DICE would. It just gives you access to less playlists than the DICE would. 

Said and done my install, after a few Darwinian/Homer Simpson moments, ended beautifully. The USA-Spec, when done properly, installs and works smoothly without any of the reported issues you get from the DICE.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: You MUST fully unplug your CD53 Radio and unplug your car's battery before connecting the iPod Data Module to the car. I forgot to do this on my first attempt and my Odometer/OBC and Radio Display fizzled and pop and the text display went all Klingon on me.

I quickly disconnected everything immediately and was lucky enough to not damage anything.

After the second install attempt went smoothly I opted to run the Spec's long Data Cable into the cabin from the trunk to the USA-Spec Module in the glove box area. The Spec also comes with a lengthy iPod Cable, though not as durable as the burly Data Cable, which I snaked under the centre console/arm rest area.

Unlike others that did this before me I did not drill holes or cut and splice cables to squeeze my iPod into the E46 Armrest's tight lid pocket. Nor did I want my iPod out in the open and in the way.

I wanted to get in the car plug the iPod in and lock it away in such a place that it would be fairly immune to theft (IE. Not in the glove box or ashtray), not taking up visual space in the dash/console area yet still be easy and quick to access.

The best place I found was under my Euro Tray. There the iPod Touch could fit, be out of the way and accessible in seconds by pulling up the Euro Tray (or cup holders if that is what you have). 
NOTE: the coin holder that rotates/flips up (it usually comes standard behind the cup holder on the USA E46 cars) will not give enough space for a large size iPod (like a Touch). You will need to replace it with some version a Euro Tray or the flat storage tray that sits behind the cup holders/or short Euro Tray and replaces the coin holder. In the picture below the Red X denotes what NOT to get. The other segments are fine for storing your iPod under. (Also there is a very rare segment that is a small flat open holder tray) not shown here that directly replaces the coin holder in the rear space behind the either the USA cup holder or short euro tray that will also work.


That is pretty much the entirety of this upgrade DIY. Now your car will retain it's 100% OEM look and value whiles giving you the modern Media/Premium Sound Package that can cost up to $3000 on current BMW models.

In all I don't think I spent more than $400 when I consider that I also sold the older parts I replaced. (IE. My 02/2006 Alpine BMW Business CD53 w/ MP3 and Data cost me $200 even and I sold my 06/2001 Blaupunk BMW Business CD53 for $185)

At any rate, best of luck to those that try this DIY. It was a fun and VERY rewarding project that started last November 1st, 2009 and just reached completion this weekend preceding Feb 1st 2010.

Most of the time was spent trolling on eBay waiting for parts to come up for cheap and looking for bargains elsewhere (not that I'm cheap or poor, but when you share a budget with a significant other you can't just walk into the BMW Of Manhattan Dealership and swipe your Amex for these parts without the risk of sleeping on the couch). 

The Sirius Receiver alone, due to it's rarity and discontinued production, on eBay can sell from anywhere in the $100s (for a poorly listed, poorly described, under exposed auction) to almost $1,000 for later gen ones that worked with Nav units from the BMW E39. )
Needless to say I was extremely lucky to get one for cheap.

Overall eBay, Forum Classified and even suprisingly Craigslist were great places to find parts.

Over the course of three months, I went from a car that only entertained scratchy reception AM/FM and CDs to one that provided me with Bluetooth, rich AM/FM, unlimited Sirius, MP3 Data CDs, Aux-In, Integrated iPod and a factory fresh look and feel.

My Marmot gloves for ice climbing.

you can see them better in this video

It was pitch black dead of night and cold out there (19 - 21 F degrees) with like 5 F degree wind chill, but when you are determined to finish something you started 3 months ago I guess weather doesn't matter.

I'm suffering for it today because my finger tips and toes are still numb.

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