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MINI Digital Power SoundModul Reviewed

Written by MF reader Randy Fedor (aka njpaguy)

DPSM: The JCW kit for your MINI’s sound system

It’s possibly the best kept secret among all MINI options for the now retired MINI Cooper and Cooper S models. The impact of this relatively simple add-on will make your driving experience no less than breathtaking. And it has absolutely nothing to do with your car’s power train.

Developed in co-operation with the HiFi specialist AUDIO MOBIL, the Digital Power SoundModul (DPSM) provides yet another reason to never leave the seat of your car.

Literature included with the DPSM mentions all components of the audio system were developed during a series of test and measurements covering more than 10,000 kilometres, thus ensuring the DPSM is perfectly matched to the interior acoustics of your MINI. All this is confirmed once you hit the “on” button.

The DPSM works with the MINI’s stock head unit. (Sorry, but it can’t be added to cars with the HK sound system option.) Everything you need to convert your MINI to the DPSM is included in the kit. All speakers are replaced throughout the car, sound absorption panels are applied at specific locations, plus the DPSM amp must be installed under the right rear panel in the hatch.

This, of course, requires a great portion of the interior of the car to be removed. And that brings us to the second decision regarding the DPSM: install it yourself -or- let your motoring specialists at a MINI dealer do it for you?

Keep in mind, many dealers have NEVER sold this system let alone installed it. So quotes for installation may vary widely. With installation time taking roughly around 5 hours, expect to pay around $500.

On the other hand, instructions included with the DPSM are very easy to follow. If you’re not all thumbs, have some experience working on your MINI (and have 5+ hours to spare!), you can probably do it yourself.

For those of you who have either the 6-disc CD changer or Sirius radio tuner installed in your car, an additional cable needs to be purchased to relocate the unit to the left rear. For convertibles, DPSM speaker grilles are an extra for the rear mounts.

How does it sound, you ask? In a word: astonishing! In three words: kicks major ass!

The clarity of the DPSM is almost beyond words. From the lowest listening levels to volumes that will convince you your MINI is actually going faster on the highway, the DPSM delivers aural utopia.

For those of you fortunate enough to possess any Mobile Fidelity UltraDisc CDs, you’ll find you CAN’T stop listening once you start the music. The detail, the depth, the range, the imaging – phenomenal! While the DPSM packs more than 540 watts (sine) and can serve up a total acoustic pressure level of 128 db, this isn’t about loud. It’s about quality.

In the late 70’s, The Who tour stop in Philadelphia’s Spectrum boasted sound in the 125 db range. But the sound was perfectly balanced for the arena. No headache and no ringing ears for days on end. A few weeks later, Black Sabbath came to town. That’s right, they were loud. Painfully so.

That’s the difference between the DPSM and some aftermarket systems boasting mind-boggling wattage and subwoofers the size of most SUV wheels. Tight bass, smooth mid range, bright but not shrill highs. The DPSM sounds phenomenal with any type of music: classical, jazz, The Who, Black Sabbath-even Raffi!

Some have scoffed at the $1650 MSRP for the DPSM, instead opting for less expensive aftermarket gear. Consider this: the DPSM is designed and engineered specifically for your MINI. All components fit in the car without modification and without occupying any additional space. Aftermarket installers that don’t know modern automotive electronics can creative nightmares for car owners just by tapping a hot line at the wrong place in the wiring harness. But (for some) the best feature about the DPSM: it’s covered by your MINI’s factory warranty.

With the Holidays upon us and the end of production for the cars we currently own and love, I’m sure dealers may be interested in moving the DPSM units they have in stock (HINT: discount!!!), especially since it will not work in the redesigned 2007 models.

I’m feeling like a little Stevie Ray for the ride this morning.

Written By: MF Reader

  • Aniawn

    Kudos to Randy for mentioning Raffi :p. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find my Raffi tapes and take a trip down memory lane. Baby Beluga in the deep blue sea…

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Great review Randy. As someone who has heard the DPSM in action, I can second everything you said above. It is truly one of the best sound systems I’ve ever heard, and it just happens to be in a car.

  • R50

    Is there any way to see a pdf of the instructions? That helps determine if it is DIY. Thanks

  • http://www.electricpixel.org Amit

    Where can I buy it?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Where can I buy it?

    Any MINI dealer.

  • Mike

    Out of curiosity, why does it not work with the HK system?

  • Edge

    The DPSM is phenomenal, and anyone who pans it in favor of aftermarket, without actually hearing it first, has no basis for comparison.

    Consider the benefits:

    • VERY loud if you want it to be
    • VERY clear sound
    • 100% OEM appearance – no theft concerns
    • Does not take up ANY additional interior space

    Once I heard it, I have yearned to have DPSM in my MINI… unfortunately I opted for the H/K from the factory, so getting it installed would be crazy expensive (apparently the wiring is completely different between H/K and Boost).

    I had heard of DPSM before I ordered my MINI in December 2004, thanks to MotoringFile… but there was no sign that it would ever show up in the USA, so I “played it safe” and opted for H/K. I wish I could go back and change that, just so I could have DPSM today.

    I did get one dealer who had done a DPSM install to estimate the expense of ripping out the H/K and replacing it with the Boost/DPSM combo… 55 labor hours! CRAZY! I think I need to ask a few more dealers. :D

  • MINI Fireman

    A damn shame it can’t be added to an HK head unit. Nice review!

  • njpaguy

    My DPSM unit was purchased from Morristown MINI in Morristown, NJ. They also did the install. I live midway between three MINI dealers; M-town had the best prices, but that didn’t mean any sacrifice in quality of work or customer service.

    Fred Gallo is the Service Manager – he can give you a price quote on the install for your MINI.

    The DPSM unit was shown with a discounted price on M-town’s website Look under “accessories” rather than “parts” for pricing. E-mail them with a mention of motoringfile.com to get their lowest price for the DPSM.

    If memory serves me correctly, the motoringfile.com archives has an article or two on the DPSM system when it was announced with a link to the install instructions. (Can you help me with this one Gabe?)

    Why can’t you replace the H/K system with the DPSM? The wiring harness for the car is different. 55 hours to replace the wiring? Doubt it, but it sure sounds like that dealer was seriously trying to convince you NOT to do it!

  • FrankInMiami

    A fellow member of our local MINI club has the digital power SoundModul in her ’05 MCS hardtop and it sounds phenomenal (When it works…)

    But…

    She has had a plethora of problems with her SoundModul requiring multiple trips back to the dealer. Can’t remember all the details now, but suffice to say that her dealer has been extremely helpful in her ordeal to get the SoundModul to work reliably than MINIUSA has been in handling the case.

    I believe the main problem she was having is that the SoundModul would suddenly “cut” killing the radio and everything else related to the audio system. Imagine paying $2K+ for the “ultimate” MINI OEM sound package and have it die on you 5-10 minutes after you turn it on, time and time again!!!

    Since I have the factory H/K, the SoundModul is not even an option for me, but if you are able to install it and are considering, I suggest researching it further to determine if the system is truly reliable out of the box.

    PS: Gabe, the “old” MC and MCS are not fully retired, yet. The hardtops are discontinued but the R/50-53 will live for another 2 years in the form of MCC/MCSC R52 cabrios until the R56 based Cabrio is released in ’09.

  • FrankInMiami

    Also to clarify, the SoundModul will still work on non-HK equipped 2007 MINI cabrios, which are essentially the same exact cars, minus the hardtops.

    But yes, this is not an option in the R56 hardtop (Yet).

  • rkw
    The impact of this relatively simple add-on
    This, of course, requires a great portion of the interior of the car to be removed.

    I guess it’s all relative.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    PS: Gabe, the “old” MC and MCS are not fully retired, yet. The hardtops are discontinued but the R/50-53 will live for another 2 years in the form of MCC/MCSC R52 cabrios until the R56 based Cabrio is released in ’09.

    Right – we’ve been reporting this for years now. In fact I’m pretty sure MF is the place that broke all of this information over the years.

  • http://bravo5.org/ blalor

    If memory serves me correctly, the motoringfile.com archives has an article or two on the DPSM system when it was announced with a link to the install instructions. (Can you help me with this one Gabe?)

    I’m not Gabe, but the PDF is here: More Official DPSM Information from MINI

    Additional articles (that reference “dpsm”) can be found using this search.

  • FrankInMiami

    Gabe, I understand that the R56 hardtop’s intro tends to overshadow the ongoing R52 Cabrio model. But then again, when the Cabrio was introduced just 2 years ago, the R/50-53 hardtops became “yesterday news”, at least for that moment in time.

    So if any prospect buyers still prefer the “Old” design and the Supercharged engine over the R56 and are willing to forgo a solid roof top, then the R52 will still be available for another couple of years.

    And, of course, MF is the “defacto” source for all things MINI.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    So if any prospect buyers still prefer the “Old” design and the Supercharged engine over the R56 and are willing to forgo a solid roof top, then the R52 will still be available for another couple of years.

    So your comment has nothing to do with this review then right? You may be better served to post this where there’s already a conversation about the model change-over.

    I’m not Gabe, but the PDF is here: More Official DPSM Information from MINI

    God bless you for using the search feature Brian Lalor. You are a gentleman and a scholar.

  • FrankInMiami

    Sure it has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Just a “side bar” to clarify, that’s all. :)

  • Andy Richard

    Would be interesting if it weren’t for all the darn rattles in my mini that would be heard over the music.

  • http://bravo5.org/ blalor

    God bless you for using the search feature Brian Lalor. You are a gentleman and a scholar.

    As an MFer, I take my MFing duties seriously!

  • njpaguy

    As for the DPSM system with the problem, the digital power amp is designed to cut out when temperatures exceed a designated number to prevent amp and speaker damage. It will automatically reset after a fixed amount of time (sorry, don’t have the manual with me at the moment so I don’t have exact numbers).

    That’s not to say the unit mentioned does not have other issues.

    rkw- Of course it’s all relative. For some, self-serve gas is a chore!

    Sorry if I caused some confusion about current/retired/soon-to-be-retired/new MINIs. I’m a 04 MCS owner. Didn’t have cabrios on my mind. My bad. I guess that makes me a poor MFer…

  • Chad

    I take any audio review that mentions Mobile Fidelity UltraDisc CDs with a grain of salt. Some people are easily impressed with that which they don’t understand.

  • GZ

    FrankinMiami. Additional sidebar. R56 convertible in 2009? My understanding is 2008. Please don’t break my heart by telling me I have to wait another year! Gabe, clarification?

  • FrankInMiami

    GZ, the current Cabrio was introduced 2 years ago (2004), so if MINI follows the same life cycle as it did with the hardtops, we should be seeing a R56 based convertible at the tail end of 2008. Product cycle appears to be 4 years.

    Right now BMW is concentrating their development efforts on the R55 Clubman wagon set to debut early 2008.

  • Beewee

    Does anyone know if I could somehow get this to fit in my 2006 GP? I know they covered up the rear speaker holes, but I saw a picture of the red rear panels removed and the speaker cutouts are in the metal where they normally go in a standard R53, so….. ???

  • GZ

    Thanks Frank. Gabe, your opinion on arrival of the next MCSC?

  • FrankInMiami

    GZ, I was looking at an older post from Gabe here at MF and he says the R57 convertible appears to be scheduled for a Spring 2009 debut.

    Sorry, that’s 2 and a half years away :(

  • robble

    “Andy Richard Would be interesting if it weren’t for all the darn rattles in my mini that would be heard over the music.”

    That’s the best reason for the upgrade. I’ve heard this system and you’d ahve to have some very mean rattles to hear it over this while turned up!

  • http://calabashcattery.com pbraun

    Hmmmmmmmm can I fit it in my GP?

  • Rich Denney

    But will it work with a non-HK head unit in a pre-10/03 build Cooper S? The earlier article from October 2004 states, “the DPSM will only work with cars produced after 10/03.” Mine is an early 09/02 build. And if not, why?

  • Edge

    Gabe, could you please move all non-DPSM-related comments over to the other news story? (and delete this one) This of course assumes that WordPress allows you to move comments. :)

  • Daniel Chow

    I guess it would not fit the GP…:(

  • ssallykat

    “How does it sound, you ask? In a word: astonishing! In three words: kicks major ass!”

    I love that quote, and they are right!! I’ve actually used those exact words when describing the DPSM to other people.

    I had the DPSM installed in my 06 JCW and I love it! After hearing it in the MINI belonging to a good friend, I had to have it. The clarity and volume are amazing.

    I actually havent been able to listen to it for almost three weeks now, My MINI had an accident. BOY, do I miss my MINI and the DPSM.

  • Husni

    will the R56 getting any sound system like the DPSM… and if so, will it be as good or…

  • Brian

    Is the fact that it can not be used with the HK only an after market issue. I used the new configurator to build my 2007 MINI Cabrio and I was able to add the Premium (that comes with HK) and also add Sirius and the DPSM with a price tag of 1939.00

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Is the fact that it can not be used with the HK only an after market issue.

    No – the DPSM is only installed at MINI dealers so it would appear that the configurator is not correct.

  • Edge

    To further expand on Gabe’s response, and clarify for Brian and anyone else…

    The MINIUSA configurator consists of 5 steps. Steps 1 through 4 are for factory-installed options ONLY… step 5 is for dealer-installed options ONLY.

    It’s that simple. This is why I recommend that people speccing out their new MINI ignore step 5. It’s interesting to see what options are there, and what their part prices are – but you can get those options installed at any time before or after taking delivery of the MINI. The factory options are the meat of the matter, where you only get one shot at picking your choices!

    (yes, there are a few factory options can also be installed by the dealer, but usually at higher cost due to added labor)

  • goonery

    The DPSM system can be added to an HK car, but the HK components will be removed/junked , the Boost HU can be retained and will drive DPSM, but without the HK amp , soundscape options and speakers. The HK stuff could be sold to someone who wants an upgrade , theres a PDF for that as well somewhere

  • http://calabashcattery.com pbraun

    Well, hold on now, maybe if the rear speakers were repositioned, the DPSM could in fact be fitted into a GP!

  • GZ

    OWCH! The truth hurts Frank! I’m chomping at the bit for a R57 JCW! I hope they at least do some upgrades at that point like they did in 2005(+5 HP/new transmission. A small consolation if any at all.

  • KevinR

    I was all set to order the DPSM for my ’04 MCS, when the car wound up on the wrong end of a Dodge Dakota. At least my plan to upgrade the audio appears to be solid, even if I ended up being unable to execute it.

    Oh well…

  • Edge

    goonery – your comments are very fascinating… care to help locate the PDF you speak of? I am VERY interested in information on an HK -> DPSM upgrade… even if it is international instructions, not official MINIUSA-sanctioned ones.

  • Richard

    Edge, I think goonery is simply saying that after you rip out your HK components, you could sell them to someone who can use these instructions to upgrade their non-HK system.

  • Edge

    I was not aware of that HK retrofit document! Hmmm… maybe I can show that to the dealer, and ask if they can perform the reverse procedure on my MINI, THEN do the DPSM upgrade!

    Thanks Richard – that’s a valuable resource!

  • Kai

    hey, I´m a german guy who will buy the new mini (version 2007) next week! I want to have the DPSM! The Seller told me a new DPSM is on the way next month! Is this correct?? Their are no more informations buy the seller or other Mini-car-shops!!

    Please help!!! thx

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  • http://calabashcattery.com pbraun

    I installed the DPSM in my GP, and it is absolutely awesome! Clarity to the max! Great range of frequency! Outstanding volume! No distortion, tremendous duplication of original sound. All types of music and voice come through fabulously! If you like audio – there is no doubt this is the top of the line system for a MINI!~ get sound deadening and put it everywhere – doors, side panels, floor, inside hatch cover, and don’t forget the under ceiling liner, on the inside of the roof! You won’t regret it – that improves the sound a lot !!!!!!!!! Just do it.

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