this may be an interesting topic to talk about in regards to exhaust systems for not just any car, but in specific on my 2011 BMW E92 M3. I'd like to give a foundation to this article before I get too into detail about my thoughts on Valvetronic, the company itself and the products they've made for my car over the last year.
So roughly one year ago I was approached by Valvetronic, a company owned by Austin who had followed me on social media for sometime from what I can remember. We had spoke back and forth about his ideas and what he'd like to do with my marketing. Most companies will approach me with something along the lines of "trade of services" or "heavily discounted product" in exchange for a video review, written review, photos, etc.
I own a marketing agency in Irvine, CA where we focus primarily on social media marketing, so I kind of know what I expect from most companies if I do a review + provide marketing and content for them. I will write out a full proposal on what I will do and we come to an agreement of exchange of services + affiliate sales. I always do my best to be VERY honest when it comes to my reviews since I feel as if a lot of people look for my word on products. So when they shipped my the V1 Valvetronic exhaust system for my E92 M3, I was ready to throw it on and see what it was all about.
Valvetronic shipped out a setup for my car which I was super excited to put on my M3 since I just purchased the car about a month before. I put the exhaust on and filmed the entire process of showing how to hook up the electronic box that opens and closes the valves + the hoses/wires that you have to use in order for it to work. You can either plug it into your cigarette lighter or you can wire it, I had my shop Precision Dynamics wire it in so it's cleaner. Here's what the install and final result sounded like!
This was the V1 Valvetronic exhaust system which was pretty decent for the price. I've had IPE F1 before and you can see a few different designs from exhaust to another, along with weight, quality and the welds. This one also has electronic butterfly valves that open and close, so you can open the exhaust to be very loud, or you can cloys them to be quiet when you leave in the morning, or maybe if you see a cop. Overall the design was simple, the fitment was fine and I stoked to now have a open/close feature on my car.
I lived in a family area so I usually kept it closed most of the time. Then when I got to the open road I would press a button and it would open up. The remote was simple with 3 buttons, and if you watch the video you can see they close VERY fast...
I had the chance to drive the car for a few months with this setup. Keep in mind I was only running the axle back exhaust, so I still had stock X-Pipe and primary cats in the car, so it wasn't very loud, it just had a deep V8 rumble to it that helped wake up the sound. I noticed a tiny bit of power increase, but nothing that was extreme. It could have just been the sound was louder so it sounded faster, but it did sound fantastic. It was tame, but enough to be classy loud and hear that S65 a bit more.
These V8's deserve to be opened up x100, but not all the time. That's why I like this system due to the fact that it's quiet when you need it to be, but also insanely loud... but not everybody likes that, so there has to be a happy medium. This is where I started having some issues.
As you can see below, this is what it looked like after about 7 months of driving with just the axle back. I ended up switching to the matte black exhaust tips, which I didn't like to be 100% honest. I thought the tips needed to be single wall, not dual wall, which means it's a thinner exhaust tip, these were thick. It definitely helped by adding the aggressiveness I was going for, but I didn't love it, I just thought it was ok. I wasn't a huge fan of the big logo either, it just stood out too much for my taste.
As time went on, I was ready to make it louder. I moved to Florida just for a few months, but while I was there I realized there's really no laws, lol. So I started talking to Austin, the owner of Valvetronic to see if he can make me an X-Pipe + test pipes, which removes both of the primary cats and the secondary cats.
So I drove to Florida and had Euromotive Performance do the install. Austin surprised me with a custom etching of my name which I made me realize why I enjoy working with smaller or growing companies.
I wanted to really see the dyno results before & after, so I went to a shop out in Florida and put down some numbers. I was definitely expecting some low numbers since these Mustang Dynos are known for being the "heart breaker", but at the end of the day I'm not going for huge power, I just wanted a louder car, which this setup did just that, but too much.
You can see the difference between OEM and Valvetronic's system. We had a dual resonator setup with primary cat delete and secondary cat delete, so this just meant it was about to be stupid loud, my reaction kind of says it all.
We put it on the dyno and man, the before and after sound was just insanity. It had the scariest whiplash sound between downshifts, and on full throttle you could just feel the car was much more violent. I noticed a HUGE power increase at mid-range and top range. It was such a good feeling having a bit more horsepower. You could feel how much more airflow was moving and the engine felt stronger.
Here's the final video showing the before and after power and the sound. I wish I had outside clips but the video does a decent job at showing the sound, not the "loudness". It was WAY too loud, it was almost embarrassing rolling around town trying to not make anybody mad. It was too much for me. Really cool for videos or flexing, but it felt immature to me.
So after a few car shows and a few videos, I had to go back to my previous setup. I noticed the first thing was is that at stop lights I was almost about to pass out, the SMELL of cat-less exhausts are so bad that you get light headed. This girl I would hang out with a lot too would complain that her hair would smell like exhaust fumes after we go to a car show, lol. I noticed when I get home my shirt and my clothes would smell so bad, it was just way too loud and way too smelly.
Here's a video of me talking about why I went back and just how it was too much for me.
I was happy to be back with this simple setup, but the car felt VERY slow which I hated, but I knew it was because I had primary cats back in the car. I was on the quest to make the car louder, but not as loud. So the good thing about working with a company that is a smaller team is that you can give suggestions, revisions, ideas, feedback etc. I definitely had my patience tested as we tried multiple things, but we sorted out the issues.
SO, I ended up moving back to California and back at my shop Precision Dynamics. During this time Valvetronic created the V2 version of the valved exhaust for my E92 M3. They sent me one to do a full install/review on. It was cool because I felt as if my testing and suggestions went into this design as well, so I felt like I was more of a part of it.
I unboxed the entire exhaust, looked through all the parts and I was pretty excited to test it out. This time I had them do high flow cats inside the X-Pipe, so I was definitely looking forward to actually seeing how much of a difference this made in the tone and the "loudness" levels on the car. Being back in California I wanted to be careful because cops here are strict. I had gotten a state ref in 2018 which I was not happy with, so I wasn't down for round two.
The V2 system features a new style of module. This is what the website says in detail if you'd like to get a better idea.
"Welcome to version 2 of the Valvetronic Designs E9x M3 exhaust system. Version 2 brings on new improvements that push us past the competition. First is a return to Vacuum valves. These valves have proven to be far more reliable than electronic ones. We have also improved the sound quality to give a more pure driving experience to make this system the best on the market for the E9x platform. These systems are fully mandrel bent for maximum flow and are constructed out of T304 stainless steel, the highest quality material on the market. Our dream is to offer the BMW community an incredible valved exhaust without charging the dreaded "M tax" and that dream has come true. For far too long these systems have been out of reach for most people, but no longer. This system comes with everything you need to have your E9x M3 sound like a beast on your favorite backroad, or cruise to the shops without alerting the authorities. Your time to take control of your E9X M3 sound is now.
You now have the option to pair your Valved rear section with the best sounding mid pipe all in one place.
Welcome to the Valvetronic Designs E9x M3 midpipe. This midpipe is quite different than most, featuring a freeflow x merge right after the transmission tunnel. This design helps allow for maximum exhaust scavenging and power gains throughout the rev range. At the rear of the midpipe we have two 12-inch resonators to smooth the exhaust sound and provide noise mitigation. We also offer a catted version of the X-pipe for those who do not want to go fully catless. This X pipe is designed for those who want maximum sound and maximum Horsepower gains, it is not for the weak of heart.
For those who choose the catted version you are in for a treat. Moving the cats downstream and after the x pipe keeps that familiar high pitched F1 scream but allows for less overall volume and smell reduction. This Xpipe is perfect for those who want more power and more sound but who want to keep the smell down.
The details - https://valvetronic.com/?ref=vqU-0N2b
Fully Mandrel bend for maximum flow
Precision tig welds for high strength
Built from T304 Stainless Steel
Beautiful tips to match your M3 look
Vacuum actuated valves
10.1 lbs. Lighter than factory exhaust
100% REVERSABLE, always able to go back to stock at any time
FREE SHIPPING ANYWHERE IN THE CONTINENTAL US!!!"
This was the new style button for the V2 as well, I wasn't a big fan of this. I ended up having my shop take out the surrounding of the button and we double-side taped it to my radio area, right next to my volume button. It's cool, it's unique but it's not my style.
I went with the new HUGE gloss black single-wall exhaust tips. I was pretty stoked at first, but I started to realize these tips were too big, lol. I was cool with it for the first month, but if you follow me on social media I'm trying to change up the look of my car, so these tips aren't going to be on for long. They're SICK for that insane, aggressive look and suit the loudness well, but it's not me at my current phase of the car. They're h u g e.
This was the full length video of unboxing the exhaust and showing in detail what each piece looked like fresh out of the box.
The new X-Pipe features 200 cell high flow cats, which isn't very restrictive, but also doesn't make a huge difference in the loudness. But it does give the car a very "exotic' sound. The V8 in these cars are amazing and it's crazy to hear so many different setups, but this setup definitely gives it a deep V8 rumble, but also a tiny bit of exotic Ferrari 458 type of tone.
I went over to Precision Dynamics as usual to do my install. I took off my last setup which I ended up selling right away. The demand for these is pretty crazy, which is definitely a good thing but at the same time I want people to know what they're getting, which we will get to in the end of this article.
Here's the final result.
Did the new X-Pipe help make it quieter?
Kind of. It helped quiet it down a bit, but it was still so, extremely loud for my taste. If you're going for STUPID loud, go for the straight pipe setup, but if you want somewhat of a quieter sound, the 200 cell cats aren't going to make a huge difference, but it does help a tad. I noticed a little bit of power difference too, it felt like I had more back pressure if that makes any sense compared to being straight through.
Now, it was pretty awesome. It sounded beyond violent, the power increase was so much fun since the throttle response was better and the car felt like it woke up again, especially after running primary cats. But once again, too loud. So... back to OEM primary cats with OEM X-pipe... once again. But to be honest,
This setup was just so smelly again. It DEFINITELY wasn't as smelly, but it was smelly at stop lights. It was bearable, but my shirt would smell and my seats actually started to absorb the smell of cat-less fumes. I just realized that being this loud and smelly in California wasn't going to work for me being my daily driver. Maybe if this was my weekend car, but not for a car I drive often and people could possibly complain around my neighborhood or office area.
So what's my final thought on Valvetronic exhaust systems?
So, my honest opinion about this company that I've been working with for about one year now. To this day (June 20th, 2020), I still run the Valvetronic rear section that opens and closes. I think that having that function is beyond fantastic and positive. It makes me happy to know I can be quiet and louder when needed. With the valves open it sounds pretty good. I just know that I need to sort out the issue of the smell/loudness if I want to enjoy the car with more power.
BUT! I do have a solution.
I plan on running Evolve test pipes which cut out the primaries on the OEM setup, and run the OEM X-Pipe which features a dual resonator setup with secondary cats. People say that his helps get rid of the smell and keeps it at a reasonable sound level. So that will be one of my next videos soon is doing the test pipes + the tune on my car.
As far as Valvetronic, is it worth it? I think so. If you're looking to get extremely loud, this is the system for you. If you want an absolute violent setup that makes the car SUPER fast, sound extreme and turn heads everywhere you go, yes, this is the exhaust 100%. I laughed so hard when I got on the freeway for the first time after doing the straight pipes, and even with the high flow cat setup it was so much fun. It made me laugh and smile every time I down shifted, but if you're in California, you need to be a bit careful.
As I get older I realize I don't need to be that guy who's crazy loud, but for some it's what they love. But my overall opinion on Valvetronic is that Austin, the owner is learning as a business owner what people want, what people don't and he's definitely been more than corporative with me on my ideas. I will definitely be running the rear section of his muffler setup on my car with my next few mods, but as far as the X-Pipe and test pipes, I won't be running those just due to living in California and the laws here. It also depends on the person you are and what you what you build to be, but everybody has different taste.
Valvetronic is definitely a budget friendly setup compared to many others. They tend to get a lot of heat because of how people think that they're set up, but really Austin takes the time to help make changes towards improving his systems and making sure his customers are happy. I think they have a lot of potential as an exhaust company to keep growing. I think they do have some learning to do, but what company doesn't?
There's other exhausts out there like Akraprovic, IPE, etc that cost $5-6 sometimes even $8k, but they charge that price because they have put years of research and quality control behind each product, not to mention even being contracted with OEM factory production vehicles, motorsport racing, etc... You're going to get what you pay for and that's how it goes for almost everything in life to be honest.
Personally, I don't think it's Valvetronic's fault that it smells. Cat-less in general tends to smell pretty bad. My friend owns an E46 M3 with no cats and it's BAD, it smells rough. Every time I've ran no cats on my M3 it's the same, it just reeks of fumes. But anytime I put my OEM setup back on with the rear section, it didn't smell. So it's really just a base of a few questions.
How often do you drive your car? Just the weekends? It's probably not an issue if it smells if you go with the cat-less setup.
How loud do you want to be? Any car with no cats is probably going to be crazy loud.
How big do you want the tips to be? You can honestly hook up any tips to these exhaust systems that you want. Valvetronic offers a solid amount of choices.
Do you want name brand stuff or just the sound/performance? Some people prefer to go for the name brand to have that quality that you know you're going to get.. But if you want just the quick performance and sound, sure this will work. You can do the OEM mod, you can do a primary delete, or you can just grab an exhaust like this.
But if you're just looking for a simple way to make your car louder, faster, and somewhat budget friendly, I'd say give Valvetronic a shot.
Thanks for reading.