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      06-02-2012, 05:23 AM   #1
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Post Review: The Infamous BMW Y Cable

The Infamous BMW Y Cable



What is it?
The BMW Y cable is for those who did not opt for the Enhanced Bluetooth facility- which for some reason enables the user to plug a standard iPod / iPhone cable directly into the USB port of their car. Without this feature, BMW force you to purchase an over priced (but well built I will add) 'Y' cable. It is called a Y cable, as it splits from an iPod connector to USB and Aux (3.5mm stereo jack)- thus using both ports in your arm rest.

The downsides
The Y cable has a couple of downsides to it. The first being that it requires both inputs in your armrest- preventing anything else from being attached. You might be thinking; why does it need both ports? And even though I will explain why right now, you will still be wondering why they did this, when less expensive manufactures offer the feature for free. It actually feels like BMW went out of their way to build a system which involved the end users who didn't opt for the more expensive features, to spend more money anyway.

Why does it need both ports?
You need both ports because, the USB port allows the iDrive to read the music and display it to you on the screen. The interface is pretty good, allowing you to browse just as when using a USB stick. It is not, however, 100% compatible with iTunes match. Any music you have previously played, or chosen to download via your iPod app will be available to play, but nothing else will be. I also experianced this limitation on gym equipment, so believe its more an apple problem, not offering the correct APIs to let older equipment work in a seamless way.

The Aux input comes into play once you find a song to play, and click play- which is when the music is streamed, over analog, through the aux input. Pretty crude, but it works.

Sound quality
The sound quality that comes out of the Aux input is an area of debate. The same song file being played via USB and iPhone sounds Undoubtedly better when being played via the USB stick. The why could be because of a number of things:
  • The USB stick is playing via Digital output, while the iPod / iPhone is outputting via Analog
  • The USB stick has a high quality MP3, where the iPhone has downloaded what could be (unkown to us) a lower quality M4A, optimised for streamed download via iTunes match.

Spotify
I gave Spotify a go, which needs a Spotify Premium account, which you can get a 30 day trial from here http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct...FmpAViWwncdeww. My results found the following:
  • You can play music using spotify
  • Artist and Album are displayed on the iDrive screen
  • Track is not displayed, instead a 'Please Wait..' is displayed indefinitely
  • Using the scroll on the steering wheel results in some random tracks being displayed from your iPod- which upon selection will switch back to iPod play
  • You cannot browse for music using the iDrive

The conclusion on spotify is that it's useful, if you have hands on access to the device. I think spotify could probably do more in getting the track information out, and Apple provide better 3rd party support for apps.

Conclusion
Where the iPhone offers convenience of having all your tracks available to you, the USB stick has better quality music. I think I'll keep the Y cable, and route it to my dashboard dock for use with spotify- but only for those new tunes, which you just want to quickly play- for dub step, it has to be USB every time.

How can i buy one?
You should only buy one from your BMW dealer, or if you are 100% sure you are buying an original from eBay or Amazon or similar. This is due to BMW's fantastic idea to put a chip in the split on the cable, ensuring that it will only work properly with an OEM cable.

I got 12.5% discount on the item, which resulted in it costing me 37. Make sure you ask nicely
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      06-02-2012, 05:54 AM   #2
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I got it for free . I complained to my dealer that they misinformed about Connected drive. I did not order the Enhanced Buetooth as they said it was not necessary....
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      06-02-2012, 07:38 AM   #3
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I already bought one from eBay
http://www.ebay.com/itm/130646716520...ht_1147wt_1002
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      06-02-2012, 08:28 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eseminario
Glad it worked out for you
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      06-02-2012, 08:29 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doubleyou
I got it for free . I complained to my dealer that they misinformed about Connected drive. I did not order the Enhanced Buetooth as they said it was not necessary....
My dealer didn't know- so they wouldn't throw it in because they didn't misinform me- they simply told me they didn't know
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      06-02-2012, 10:23 AM   #6
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Great writeup

This should go along way to help confused BMW buyers, which included myself before you helped ibeech.

Thanks.
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      06-02-2012, 10:38 AM   #7
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Great review, i had to google for several hours to get this info :P
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      06-03-2012, 03:56 AM   #8
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Great review, i had to google for several hours to get this info :P
happy to have helped!
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      06-04-2012, 10:30 AM   #9
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Hi all,

Just to add, it all comes down to where the Digital/Analogue conversion takes place. By using the Y-cable, the conversion is done by the iPod/iPhone. This is notoriously bad. A lot of people use the Apple iPod docks to listen to music on their hifi, which again is awful quality. What you need is an Onkyo style dock which allows you to output the digital signal direct to your Amp or seperate DAC.

Buy plugging a digital device directly into the USB device (be it a USB stick or an iPod) the Digital/Analogue conversion is done by the head unit. The BMW head units seem to do a fairly good job of this.

I do have the Y-cable, but only use it to listen to audiobooks/podcasts from my iPod. I use a 32Gb USB stick to listen to my music files (which sound quite reasonable).

The question is, why can you use the USB direct with the advanced bluetooth option, and more to the point, why can't they explain this properly so that we would have ordered this option?
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      06-04-2012, 03:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilC View Post
Hi all,

Just to add, it all comes down to where the Digital/Analogue conversion takes place. By using the Y-cable, the conversion is done by the iPod/iPhone. This is notoriously bad. A lot of people use the Apple iPod docks to listen to music on their hifi, which again is awful quality. What you need is an Onkyo style dock which allows you to output the digital signal direct to your Amp or seperate DAC.

Buy plugging a digital device directly into the USB device (be it a USB stick or an iPod) the Digital/Analogue conversion is done by the head unit. The BMW head units seem to do a fairly good job of this.

I do have the Y-cable, but only use it to listen to audiobooks/podcasts from my iPod. I use a 32Gb USB stick to listen to my music files (which sound quite reasonable).

The question is, why can you use the USB direct with the advanced bluetooth option, and more to the point, why can't they explain this properly so that we would have ordered this option?
because they are money makers- and our dealers dont understand the tech
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      06-08-2012, 04:07 PM   #11
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Thanks for the article, very interesting as I have wasted enough time wondering how to get my iPhone 4 to play tracks in my new car!

So as I understand it, you can use a usb stick or the Y cable. Are these after market Y cables ok? Has anyone had any problems?

Cheers
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      06-09-2012, 03:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spitfire Sir?
Thanks for the article, very interesting as I have wasted enough time wondering how to get my iPhone 4 to play tracks in my new car!

So as I understand it, you can use a usb stick or the Y cable. Are these after market Y cables ok? Has anyone had any problems?

Cheers
That's right- USB stick or y cable.

Some aftermarket y cables work- some don't. It's because of the chip which sits in the splitter on the Y cable. Some have it, some don't.

Check out amazon and read the reviews for assistance in picking one
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      06-09-2012, 09:38 AM   #13
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Thanks! Ordered one off ebay today, hopefully it will be ok. Tried an old usb stick and it played a few tunes, however some weren't recognised, good quality though
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      06-10-2012, 02:54 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spitfire Sir? View Post
Thanks! Ordered one off ebay today, hopefully it will be ok. Tried an old usb stick and it played a few tunes, however some weren't recognised, good quality though
some wernt recognised probably because the bitrate was too high. I use dbPoweramp to convert it to high quality MP3- which retains the quality, but enables the idrive to play it
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      06-11-2012, 08:07 AM   #15
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Support from Apple
BMW iPod Adapter FAQ - http://support.apple.com/kb/TA27749#17

Software update with BMW ConnectedDrive (ME-7.0.75, TE-7.0.75) - http://www.bmw.com/com/en/owners/nav...update_vin.jsp

See attach file for release notes.
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File Type: pdf Readme_UPD03002_ENG.pdf (40.8 KB, 1259 views)
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Last edited by topplus; 06-11-2012 at 10:07 AM.
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      06-12-2012, 10:39 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by topplus View Post
Support from Apple
BMW iPod Adapter FAQ - http://support.apple.com/kb/TA27749#17

Software update with BMW ConnectedDrive (ME-7.0.75, TE-7.0.75) - http://www.bmw.com/com/en/owners/nav...update_vin.jsp

See attach file for release notes.
I had a software update 2 weeks ago and mine says:
Multimedia: MX-003.004.031
Phone: TX-003.004.031

These numbers don't seem to match. Could it have something to do with the region you are in? I have a Belgian car.
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      06-12-2012, 10:44 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eseminario View Post
Did this one work?
I bought one of eBay as well, but that does not give me the possibility to manage my music on iDrive.
I only get to play my tracks by choosing my music on the iPhone itself.

Anyone else advice on how to choose which cable to buy?
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      06-12-2012, 10:46 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firedrop View Post
Did this one work?
I bought one of eBay as well, but that does not give me the possibility to manage my music on iDrive.
I only get to play my tracks by choosing my music on the iPhone itself.

Anyone else advice on how to choose which cable to buy?
I didn't receive it yet. I'll get my 116i tomorrow afternoon and I hope my Y cable arrives soon too. As soon as I receive it I'll let you know
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      06-12-2012, 11:36 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firedrop View Post
I had a software update 2 weeks ago and mine says:
Multimedia: MX-003.004.031
Phone: TX-003.004.031

These numbers don't seem to match. Could it have something to do with the region you are in? I have a Belgian car.
But what kind of update ? If it was a general update (ECU) it must be independent.

I got my car last week and came with MX6.0, TX6.0. I did the update to the 7.0 no problem, anyway you have an option to restore the original version. The update file from Bmw.com and from my contry Bmw.pt are identical.

I order this one:http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B...ls_o00_s00_i00 hope it works.
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      06-12-2012, 01:04 PM   #20
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Quote:
some wernt recognised probably because the bitrate was too high. I use dbPoweramp to convert it to high quality MP3- which retains the quality, but enables the idrive to play it
Great tip!

Got the Y cable today, works a treat 12.99 off ebay!

Now for some detailing I think!

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      06-12-2012, 01:16 PM   #21
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My Y cable is here. I'll see tomorrow if everything works fine and I'll post.
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      06-13-2012, 02:13 AM   #22
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I have the genuine BMW cable, and it works fine. The only slight problem is that the sound quality is sh*t!!

I use a USB stick for music, and the iPod for podcasts/audiobooks. I am amazed BMW can't sort this and allow iPod control and playback through a USB port. Every other car manufacturer seems to be able to manage it (including my old Audi).

On a side note, has anyone noticed that when you select the random option, it plays the songs in the same random order each time (depending on which song you select to listen to first). I have 3000 songs on my USB stick, and when I plug it in it plays the first alphabetical song. If I switch on random at this point, it then plays songs in a non alphabetical order, but always the same songs. If I plug it in and select song 2 from the alphabetical list and then go random, it plays different songs, but always in the same order.

It is a pity that USB doesn't support playlists.
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