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Becker Mexico Sound Quality / Amp Upgrade

Started by Alex, 07 June 2024, 10:51 AM

Alex

Evening, morning and noon,
I've been considering my options for a while now, and I am stumped as to what is best for an audio upgrade in my 77 280se. To sum up, I am stuck between either upgrading my audio system through one of two methods.
I need a hand figuring out which is better.

(1) - Bypass existing radio system, keep the existing Becker and speakers fully functional, but put in a second amp, head unit and speakers in front and rear, which run independently to the Becker.
Pros:
Good sound quality and easier to do wiring, no retrofitting old wires.
Option for a subby.
Cons:
Requires making lots of room for new speakers alongside old ones. (and a place for head unit).
Expensive?

(2) - Continue to use the existing radio, but attach a bluetooth adapter such as https://shorturl.at/3HTVM (or make my own following Koan's steps but adapting them for bluetooth, or hijacking the din port), then replace the original amp with a new one to boost sound quality and power, then replace existing speakers for new ones in the same locations.
Pros:
Clean looks, seemless and works with original control interface.
Cons:
The BT adapter is ridiculously expensive.
Amplifier requires some finessing to mingle nicely with existing cable.

TLDR:
(1) - Put new radio alongside old one, with bluetooth, more power, easy, but expensive and requires twice as many speakers.
(2) - Replace just the input for bluetooth, replace amplifier and cones for sound quality.

My main query: Will replacing the amplifier for a modern unit improve quality- or am I still limited by the analog system of the Becker? (If so, not really worth it eh, then opt (1) is better)

Kind regards,
77' 280SE Classic White (198,000km)

raueda1

Maybe you can elaborate on your priorities a little:  (1) Keeping original/OE look or (2) Creating a system with modern sound quality and features or (3) something else? 

As far as speakers go, the OE units are dreadful.  IMO just replace them all with something more modern (as I did).  I'm not sure it matters much what, almost anything will be an improvement.  Easiest and probably cheapest would be to just pull the Becker and substitute s modern head unit.  Need more power?  Install an amp in the trunk (which I also did).  Hang on to the old stuff so it can be swapped back if you sell the car.  Obviously this path ignores the originality issue.

Others here have gone the route of custom upgraded OE gear, e.g., Beck with new guts so it looks OE but isn't.  That's maybe best but $$$$.

I went 1 step further and installed a free-space subwoofer in the med kit cutout.  The whole thing sounds great!  Hope this helps....?  Cheers,
-Dave
Now:  1976 6.9 Euro, 2015 GL550
Before that:  1966 230S, 1964 220SE coupe, 1977 Carrera 3.0

Alex

Quote from: raueda1 on 07 June 2024, 11:16 AMMaybe you can elaborate on your priorities a little:  (1) Keeping original/OE look or (2) Creating a system with modern sound quality and features or (3) something else? 

As far as speakers go, the OE units are dreadful.  IMO just replace them all with something more modern (as I did).  I'm not sure it matters much what, almost anything will be an improvement.  Easiest and probably cheapest would be to just pull the Becker and substitute s modern head unit.  Need more power?  Install an amp in the trunk (which I also did).  Hang on to the old stuff so it can be swapped back if you sell the car.  Obviously this path ignores the originality issue.

Others here have gone the route of custom upgraded OE gear, e.g., Beck with new guts so it looks OE but isn't.  That's maybe best but $$$$.

I went 1 step further and installed a free-space subwoofer in the med kit cutout.  The whole thing sounds great!  Hope this helps....?  Cheers,

Definitely helps, I'll clarify myself a bit.

I love the look of the Becker Mexico, and I particularly like that my unit works perfectly. (That's seriously awesome).
I would like to keep it functional and installed.

I'd be happy to compromise and install a second unit beneath the Becker in the ash tray somehow, or modify the ashtray to accommodate this. But I don't want to gut an original Becker.

I really need nicer sound haha, as a musician it deeply angers me. I could go with an adapter of sorts to modify the becker to take bluetooth, + a new amp and speakers. But would this make it sound any decent? My fear is that the Becker's cabling and whatnot will make it sound poo regardless of the amp. (Amplifying garbage doesn't make it better, only louder right? 0 * 5 is still 0).

That's why I considered the second system idea. Don't touch the original whatsoever, and just put additional speakers, perhaps at the rear it may be necessary to disconnect the original. But then I now get the issue of needing a second control interface with knobs and buttons and a place to put a second set of speakers.

Hmm, maybe I am a bit too attached to the Becker. I do really like it, and I'd hate to get rid of it, something authentic about it that gets on my heart strings.

Thoughts?
77' 280SE Classic White (198,000km)

raueda1

#3
Quote from: Alex on 07 June 2024, 08:40 PMDefinitely helps, I'll clarify myself a bit.

I love the look of the Becker Mexico, and I particularly like that my unit works perfectly. (That's seriously awesome).
I would like to keep it functional and installed.

I'd be happy to compromise and (1) install a second unit beneath the Becker in the ash tray somehow, or modify the ashtray to accommodate this. But I don't want to gut an original Becker.

I really need nicer sound haha, as a musician it deeply angers me. I could go with an adapter of sorts to modify the becker to take bluetooth, + a new amp and speakers. But would this make it sound any decent? My fear is that the Becker's cabling and whatnot will make it sound poo regardless of the amp. (Amplifying garbage doesn't make it better, only louder right? 0 * 5 is still 0).

That's why I considered the second system idea. Don't touch the original whatsoever, and just put additional speakers, perhaps at the rear it may be necessary to disconnect the original. But then I now get the issue of needing a second control interface with knobs and buttons and a place to put a second set of speakers.

Hmm, maybe I am a bit too attached to the Becker. I do really like it, and I'd hate to get rid of it, something authentic about it that gets on my heart strings.

Thoughts?
OK, you're attached to the Becker look, but not the sound.  But...  you're willing to install another unit with the Becker in place? And mount additional speakers just to leave the originals? It seems like you're trying to keep originality by carving up the car.  FWIW, my preference is towards new electronics over adapters or exotic mods.  I've never had any kind of audio adapter that didn't eventually go sideways.  Anyway, there would still seem to be an upgrade path moving from easiest to most involved:

  • Just go ahead and replace all the damn speakers!  There's nothing sacred about the OE speakers.  Use the same mounting hole.  Don't cut stuff up, there's no need.  You might even be able to reuse the same OE covers.  If you don't like it then you can go back (but I'm quite sure you won't).  Leave the wires.  Yes, they aren't wonderful but you can eventually change them if you want.  Yes, they are a weak link, but nowhere as weak as the speakers, so leave them for the time being.  See what it sounds like with the Becker. I'd be amazed if it wasn't a significant improvement.  Of course you won't have Bluetooth, streaming etc, but it's still an easy starting point.
  •   2.A.  Is step 1 not enough?  Put a new head unit in the glove box.  Better to carve that up than trying to stuff something into the ash tray.  Your view of the Becker won't be marred by some flashy alien new thing right under it.  Tap into existing speaker wires from there.
  •   2.B.  Alternative to 2.A. Do the expensive Becker upgrade (I'm not sure about how this works with the external amp.  Others may know or start googling.)
  • Still not enough? Then bite the bullet.  New head unit per above, modern amp in trunk, new wires.

Since sound quality matters, I'd guess that sooner or later you're going to get to (4).  But this way you can get there incrementally.  I was fortunate in a way.  The original radio in my car had already been replaced when I got it.  Speakers were OE.  It all sucked so I just started over.  Good luck and cheers, 

------------------
"You can't turn a pig into a race horse, but you can get a very fast pig!"
-Dave
Now:  1976 6.9 Euro, 2015 GL550
Before that:  1966 230S, 1964 220SE coupe, 1977 Carrera 3.0

nathan

ive posted this one before Alex,

this is my 6.9 with the Becker basically acting as the power source. you turn on the Becker, it turns on the hidden unit.  then the infrared repeater is located behind the Becker face so lights up when you click the remote.  so using a new deck you have bluetooth music, phone, radio and whatever else the new one has.  all it required was an infrared repeater from a hobby shop and a days work.

https://youtu.be/iSOtJ-sal5E?si=bomvWRuss43xsF6-
1979 116 6.9 #6436
2018 213 e63
2011 212 e63
2011 463 g55
2007 211 e500 wagen
1995 124 e320 cabriolet
1983 460 300gd
1981 123 280te

raueda1

Quote from: nathan on 09 June 2024, 02:52 AMive posted this one before Alex,

this is my 6.9 with the Becker basically acting as the power source. you turn on the Becker, it turns on the hidden unit.  then the infrared repeater is located behind the Becker face so lights up when you click the remote.  so using a new deck you have bluetooth music, phone, radio and whatever else the new one has.  all it required was an infrared repeater from a hobby shop and a days work.

https://youtu.be/iSOtJ-sal5E?si=bomvWRuss43xsF6-
VERY slick!  That's what I'm talking about!
-Dave
Now:  1976 6.9 Euro, 2015 GL550
Before that:  1966 230S, 1964 220SE coupe, 1977 Carrera 3.0

nathan

This system still works well Dave, the only change I made since it went in 10+ years ago was change the alpine deck to a newer one which was easier as same generic alpine harness just clicks into old one.  I agree with you about the speakers, no originality loss in changing them out as the original ones are pretty darn shabby
1979 116 6.9 #6436
2018 213 e63
2011 212 e63
2011 463 g55
2007 211 e500 wagen
1995 124 e320 cabriolet
1983 460 300gd
1981 123 280te

Alex

Quote from: nathan on 09 June 2024, 02:52 AMive posted this one before Alex,

this is my 6.9 with the Becker basically acting as the power source. you turn on the Becker, it turns on the hidden unit.  then the infrared repeater is located behind the Becker face so lights up when you click the remote.  so using a new deck you have bluetooth music, phone, radio and whatever else the new one has.  all it required was an infrared repeater from a hobby shop and a days work.

https://youtu.be/iSOtJ-sal5E?si=bomvWRuss43xsF6-

Yes, I do recall sorry.

As much as I like this setup, I dislike the modifications to the Becker, and (assumption here) how you cannot use the Becker for casette and normal am/fm playback anymore.

For me at least, this setup may not suffice.
Currently I am leaning towards upgrading the original speakers, seeing how much that helps, and finding a way to interface bluetooth audio into the unit on the cheap.

If somebody has a wiring diagram for the rear DIN port that would be majorly helpful.
Perhaps a small bluetooth receiver board with a relay may be all I need to make this work.
77' 280SE Classic White (198,000km)

ptashek

Check here, maybe that's the diagram you need?
https://forum.w116.org/mechanicals/becker-mexico-cassette-vollstereo-diagram/

There's a site called the Radio Museum, they should have what you need.

The Becker is 1970s tech and whatever you do, the sound coming out of it will not get any better. You can go modern, and still keep it classic looking, which is what I did.

- details: https://forum.w116.org/mechanicals/the-semi-non-destructive-rear-speaker-installation/
- sound check: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6JpbDmlCAg
1993 "Pearl Blue" W124 280TE
1988 "Arctic White" W124 200T
1979 "Icon Gold" W116 450SE

UTn_boy

You'll be surprised at how the original paper coned speakers sound.  They're unlike any modern speakers sound.  Yes, modern examples exist, but the original paper coned speakers will far surpass anything that is available today.  Bear in mind that the acoustics in a W116 are not conducive to high end sounds.   The best thing that you can do is buy new paper coned speakers from places such as Konigs.com.   Modern speakers are more or less a piss in the wind.   
1966 250se coupe`,black/dark green leather
1970 600 midnight blue/parchment leather
1971 300sel 6.3,papyrus white/dark red leather
1975 450se, pine green metallic/green leather
1973 300sel 4.5,silver blue metallic/blue leather
1979 450sel 516 red/bamboo

raueda1

Quote from: UTn_boy on 10 June 2024, 02:22 AMYou'll be surprised at how the original paper coned speakers sound.  They're unlike any modern speakers sound.  Yes, modern examples exist, but the original paper coned speakers will far surpass anything that is available today.  Bear in mind that the acoustics in a W116 are not conducive to high end sounds.  The best thing that you can do is buy new paper coned speakers from places such as Konigs.com.  Modern speakers are more or less a piss in the wind. 
That's true, but not in a good way IMHO.  While I tend to be an originalist, I have to respectfully differ on this one.  To be clear, my car is on the older end of the W116 range and had the teeny front speakers on the lower part of the dashboard.  Maybe MB upgraded at some point thereafter. In any case, I think it's a safe bet that most folks would prefer more contemporary speakers.  Speakers are also an easily reversible upgrade in case it turns out not be an upgrade after all.   Cheers,
-Dave
Now:  1976 6.9 Euro, 2015 GL550
Before that:  1966 230S, 1964 220SE coupe, 1977 Carrera 3.0

Alex

Quote from: UTn_boy on 10 June 2024, 02:22 AMYou'll be surprised at how the original paper coned speakers sound.  They're unlike any modern speakers sound.  Yes, modern examples exist, but the original paper coned speakers will far surpass anything that is available today.  Bear in mind that the acoustics in a W116 are not conducive to high end sounds.   The best thing that you can do is buy new paper coned speakers from places such as Konigs.com.   Modern speakers are more or less a piss in the wind.   
That may explain my rear speakers, they are completely fucked. Just blown, no good sound out of them, pure crumple.

My front ones are mediocre but fine for now.

Quote from: raueda1 on 10 June 2024, 11:59 AM
Quote from: UTn_boy on 10 June 2024, 02:22 AMYou'll be surprised at how the original paper coned speakers sound.  They're unlike any modern speakers sound.  Yes, modern examples exist, but the original paper coned speakers will far surpass anything that is available today.  Bear in mind that the acoustics in a W116 are not conducive to high end sounds.  The best thing that you can do is buy new paper coned speakers from places such as Konigs.com.  Modern speakers are more or less a piss in the wind. 
That's true, but not in a good way IMHO.  While I tend to be an originalist, I have to respectfully differ on this one.  To be clear, my car is on the older end of the W116 range and had the teeny front speakers on the lower part of the dashboard.  Maybe MB upgraded at some point thereafter. In any case, I think it's a safe bet that most folks would prefer more contemporary speakers.  Speakers are also an easily reversible upgrade in case it turns out not be an upgrade after all.   Cheers,

I'm not too versed on when the speakers changed, but mine is a 77 and shes got the little dinky dash speakers. They are an odd size too...

_________________________________________

Perhaps my best option would be to replace the rear speakers and see how the sound is with a decent FM transmitter or cassette adapter.

Maybe I can live with the original amp for a bit, then later consider upgrading just the AMP, a modern AMP hopefully should make a decent difference.
77' 280SE Classic White (198,000km)

raueda1

QuoteI'm not too versed on when the speakers changed, but mine is a 77 and shes got the little dinky dash speakers.

Perhaps my best option would be to replace the rear speakers and see how the sound is with a decent FM transmitter or cassette adapter.

Maybe I can live with the original amp for a bit, then later consider upgrading just the AMP, a modern AMP hopefully should make a decent difference.
Same as me.  My car is also 77 (Nov 1976 build).  The front shape and mounts are bizzare.  It wasn't easy to find substitutes and I couldn't really get them mounted as well as I wanted.  But still light years ahead of what was there.
-Dave
Now:  1976 6.9 Euro, 2015 GL550
Before that:  1966 230S, 1964 220SE coupe, 1977 Carrera 3.0

Alex

Quote from: raueda1 on 11 June 2024, 07:17 AM
QuoteI'm not too versed on when the speakers changed, but mine is a 77 and shes got the little dinky dash speakers.

Perhaps my best option would be to replace the rear speakers and see how the sound is with a decent FM transmitter or cassette adapter.

Maybe I can live with the original amp for a bit, then later consider upgrading just the AMP, a modern AMP hopefully should make a decent difference.
Same as me.  My car is also 77 (Nov 1976 build).  The front shape and mounts are bizzare.  It wasn't easy to find substitutes and I couldn't really get them mounted as well as I wanted.  But still light years ahead of what was there.

What are the sizes for front and back?
77' 280SE Classic White (198,000km)

raueda1

It was 6 or 7 years ago so sadly I can't recall.  I just removed them and measured.  It wasn't hard to match up the rears.  However, if I remember right the fronts were quite odd.  I recall just 2 mounting ears.  I had to try a couple speakers before finding something that fit and could be secured.  Wish i could be of more help.   ???
-Dave
Now:  1976 6.9 Euro, 2015 GL550
Before that:  1966 230S, 1964 220SE coupe, 1977 Carrera 3.0