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1983 300SD 169k miles
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I'm in the last leg of my restoration and need to do something about audio. I'm leaning toward getting a rebuilt original Becker unit with bluetooth. Something like this - Becker Auto Sound LLC Mercedes-Benz 1981 - 1999 Saddle Brook

My concern is that the sound quality will be awful since it will be original 1980s equipment. It's been a long time since I heard the sound quality of a Becker radio in a 1983 300SD. Has anyone had experience with getting one of these refurbished with bluetooth and can speak to what the sound quality is like?

EDIT:

Looking at that website it just occurred to me that a BE 780 (1988-1989 models) looks basically the same as the BE 612 (1981-1985). Would it be worth going for that to get a little better sound quality?
 

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1991 560 SEC, 2005 E500, 1988 300SEL
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Another option is the Kienzle:

 

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'90 560SEL Blauschwarz/Black
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I had my head unit and amplifiers rebuilt by Becker Autosound and had them upgrade the head with bluetooth. Sound is great and I would prove it if I could figure out how to link a short .mov video to the post.
 

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1983 300SD 169k miles
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Awesome! Thanks guys. I was actually logging in right now to update and ask about the Continental, came across it last night. Any thoughts on sound quality of the Kienzle vs Continental? Looks wise I'm split on those. The Kienzle looks more sleek (looks fantastic in some of the older Porsches I'm seeing via Google), looks great in the black interior and does feel a little more "Bruno". I'm not sure if it would look as good in my blue interior though and the Continental does seem like it might fit a little better.

@ProgMuscle, do you have any feel for how the Becker Autosound rebuilt is compared to a modern head unit?

It might be worth noting, currently I'm sticking with the 4 4x6s. Eventually I'll be putting in Gen 2 door cards and rear speaker pods. Assuming at that point I'll need an amp and something to split the signal between more than four speakers. But at the moment my sound quality is going to be limited by the speakers anyway.
 

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1989 300SE 240k miles
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IMO, if you plan on upgrading the entire system, I would skip all these options and buy the HU you’d like. Unless the kienzle or Continental have the number of outputs you think you’d like. Otherwise you’re just wasting money. Which you can do. But I always have other things to put that money toward on my car 😉

If you’d like feedback on the Continental, pop into the r129 forum. And the 90’s e-class forum. That’s where they’re most common. Their wiring harness is literally for that e-class. And flipping the power and constant power pins make the harness fit the r129.
 

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1983 300SD 169k miles
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
But I always have other things to put that money toward on my car
This is no joke my friend, lol.

I'm in f*** it mode with the Benz as I just decided to farm out the last bit of the restoration to a shop. With all the little niceties I'm going to ask for I'm mentally prepared for that to cost 10k and trying to just not think about it. Plus I really need to erect some more covered storage for the cars in my backyard lest Colorado hail eventually catch up to me. I'd like to eventually actually drive the car rather than just look at it though so I figure I gotta do what I gotta do. All in all, car collections will bleed you dry.

Slightly veering off topic, but do you know if Gen 2s retain the front dash speakers? The only possible difference between what I'll ultimately have and stock Gen 2 is that I'll keep the two on the dash. So I feel like I could just get whatever would work for that application?
 

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1989 300SE 240k miles
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Gen II have the speakers in the dash. In my car, I have full range speakers in the dash, front doors, and rear deck. I have a 4-channel amp for the cabin. I’m running the front door and front dash speakers in parallel off the amp’s front speakers output. And the rear deck speakers off the amp’s rear speaker outputs. I also have a separate mono-block amp and 12” subwoofer in the trunk.

And all my repairs are in a $200 per month budget. $10k and my car would be pristine 😂
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If you're making due with four channels it sounds like the Conti or Kienzle would both probably do the trick. I'm not planning on a sub or anything. My goal with the car is as close to showroom as feasible so I'll sacrifice having ultra high end sound for looking more period correct. Plus, my other goal is to relive the memories of when the car was my daily and the sound was garbage then anyway.

Yeah, TBH 10k is pretty out of budget but I figure it's better to do what I want with the forever car before kids come along and start eating my bachelor dollars. Hopefully it'll be less. The only thing that really bugs me is the car is basically worthless, so if I'm ultimately into it for $40k it's kind of throwing that money away. At the same time, the car was $109k new adjusted for inflation so maybe that's a bargain. And meanwhile my daily is now almost worth more than I bought it for 3 years ago due to the semi-conductor chip shortage... what a world.
 
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Yeah. Like me, @fanboy is running the six speakers off a 4-channel amp. So the HU may be enough for you.


Cars are more scarce here that housing. I have patients that are selling their extra cars because the prices are so high.
 

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'90 560SEL Blauschwarz/Black
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@ProgMuscle, do you have any feel for how the Becker Autosound rebuilt is compared to a modern head unit?
OK, here is where we get into my feelings on the differences between '70-80's stereos and more recent designs. The older tech was designed for analog inputs and the newer use digital. To me, the older stuff sounds warmer and closer to the source sound that was originally made, at least the stuff that I listen to. The newer sounds ok, but I think of it as more harsh sounding. That being said the environment IS just a car, not a living room.

I use Sansui receivers (770 and 9090db (DID have a G-22000 that was stolen by a restorer named Noah Schumacher)) and a Pioneer turntable to play my records with. The power output of the larger receivers is measured differently between the two generations as well, I'm not sure about the output in a car head unit.

In 2006 or so I bought an '87 300SDL from a friend (since sold) which had an Alpine with SiriusXM which sounded OK, but I never really listened to anything other than talk radio during that time. I also own a 2005 Excursion with a 6.0L diesel and I had to replace the factory stereo with a Pioneer unit which sounds OK too. Both of these units had/have to overcome diesel engine noise whereas my newest car, Selene, is the first gasser that I've purchased in over 20 years and she's QUIET.

I had my Becker BE-1480 rebuilt along with both amps (only one needed real repair) and then put it back in my car. I didn't have to muck around with any of the wiring and the speakers were left alone (they MAY need to be replaced soon as the cones are too old to really push). All in all pretty easy... I think the biggest challenge for us will be the actual speaker replacements when they become necessary, but that is mostly because the coverings/housings are not something I would just cavalierly assume could be R&R'd without serious care and more than a few prayers.

Overall, I prefer the sound and looks of the original unit in my car and I feel that Becker Auto Sound did a great job restoring the units.
 

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I just had a local shop put the Continental CD/Radio unit in my 500 SEC and it sounds better than the rebuilt Becker I was using (it had an Aux in, not bluetooth). My Gen I SEC only has 4 speakers and at 36 years of age they are less than ideal, but for now they will do. The primary concern was hands free phone use. I no longer wanted to drive without it.

What's odd is that when I start the car the radio turns on and the antenna goes up. The shop cannot figure out a way to stop that. They had thought that if the radio had been on AUX or CD the antenna would not pop up, but it does. The Becker did not turn on when you gave power to the car and therefore the antenna did not pop up. I should mention my SEC does not have the antenna button seen in all Gen II cars up to 1990.

Also to be mentioned that the Continental has the switched 12v and constant 12v backwards. The shop corrected that today, but the antenna still goes up.

Now I will need to swap out the replacement Eclipse CD unit in my 350 SDL (also no antenna button) for the Continental (or something else). The SDL is now my primary vehicle and I need Bluetooth for my phone. Unfortunately it looks like the shop that installed that CD back in the 2000's made a huge mess of the wiring. Lord only knows how messed up it is.

The SDL has 6 speakers and sounds terrific. Perhaps it has amps behind the rear seats? Possibly.

I do like the look of the Kienzle CR1225DAB+ unit. It has very distinctive buttons for phone use and an audio Aux-in. Having an audio aux-in would allow me to use my iPhone 4 that acts as an iPod. Checking online there is very little information about how good the Kienzle performs or sounds.
 

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1979 450SL
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Awesome! Thanks guys. I was actually logging in right now to update and ask about the Continental, came across it last night. Any thoughts on sound quality of the Kienzle vs Continental? Looks wise I'm split on those. The Kienzle looks more sleek (looks fantastic in some of the older Porsches I'm seeing via Google), looks great in the black interior and does feel a little more "Bruno". I'm not sure if it would look as good in my blue interior though and the Continental does seem like it might fit a little better.

@ProgMuscle, do you have any feel for how the Becker Autosound rebuilt is compared to a modern head unit?

It might be worth noting, currently I'm sticking with the 4 4x6s. Eventually I'll be putting in Gen 2 door cards and rear speaker pods. Assuming at that point I'll need an amp and something to split the signal between more than four speakers. But at the moment my sound quality is going to be limited by the speakers anyway.
I had them do my Becker Mex last year with Bluetooth and plan on using their replacement speakers at some point but mine sounds great for what it is…I have a GL 450 and a GMC 2500 duramax both with Boise systems and I know there is a big difference but these 60 year old contractor ears can’t tell much difference so I suppose the need might depend on the condition of your ears
Additionally for me I love the look of the period radios and that look is a significant factor for me as well and I would be willing to spend more and sacrifice sound quality for the “look”
So I suppose it boils down to what u want and like but the Jersey boys do a good job
Good luck and let us know how it works out!
 

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1990 300SEL
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Continental looks good, though I've seen very negative comments about its build quality and sound quality.

The nice thing about Alpine head units is the modern ones look pretty similar to the "period correct" ones of the 1980s and 1990s. They've kept a lot of the look. I started with a somewhat period-correct Nakamichi CD400. That lasted two years before the laser died. Then I got an old Alpine (from the early 2000s), and that lasted only about a year before the electronics went crazy. Then I got the Alpine UTE-73BT new from Crutchfield for $119 and not only is it cheaper than the previous used "vintage" head units, it works much better, and it doesn't look offensively out-of-place. (I haven't yet figured out whether I can make the bright blue display dimmer or change the color -- definitely an option on the higher end Alpines, but this one is a cheapo.)

I am running two front Alpine tweeters powered by the head unit, and four Infinity speakers powered by a ~$200 MTX amplifier. This is the right place on the price-performance curve for me. Real audiophiles may complain that the MTX amp is noisy (s/n is only about 85 db), and they'd be right. Bass kids would complain that the bass output is lacking, and the'd be right. I got past "boom boom" audio when I was 12, but no disrespect to those into it -- just not the thing for me.

The real interesting question, of course, is the choice of period-correct music...
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Not sold in the US. Quite a hassle, especially if you want to have any hopes of a warranty. Also, the shiny metal volume knob looks terrible to me.
Yeah, I'm just seeing them on eBay from Germany. Do you know if the Kiezle is in English?

Sent from my Pixel 4 using Tapatalk
 

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My cheaper model Kienzle has some screen messages in German. The knobs are in English I think.
 
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