055-058 Rockford 360 DIY.indd

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055-058 Rockford 360 DIY.indd
DIY
OVER THE PAST HALF A DOZEN
YEARS THE HUMBLE ‘BLACK BOX’
SIGNAL PROCESSOR HAS ALL
BUT DISAPPEARED AS OUTBOARD
CROSSOVERS, EQUALIZERS AND
OTHER SUCH TUNING DEVICES HAVE
BEEN INTEGRATED INTO SOURCE
UNITS AND AMPLIFIERS. BUT
OUTBOARD SIGNAL PROCESSORS
ARE MAKING A COMEBACK,
WITH A NEW AGE TWIST.
ROCKFORD
FOSGATE
3SIXTY.2
RRP: $999 – CONTACT: WWW.AZTRADING.COM.AU
F
or a long period it made perfect sense to integrate signal processors
into sources and amplifiers since this minimizes the chances of induced noise and made installation much easier. But today things have
changed, and thanks to OEM sources being too difficult, flat out impossible,
or just plain undesirable to remove from your car the world needs a new
little black box to step in and save the day. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the
coolest car audio product we’ve ever come across – the Rockford Fosgate
3Sixty.2.
FEATURES
The basic concept of the 3Sixty.2 (RRP $999) was for it to act as a speaker
level converter to be placed after your OEM source unit and allow conversion to line level so that you could use external amplifiers in your ride.
While the more basic 3Sixty.1 version (RRP $499) does exactly this, once
Rockford’s engineers began exploring the possibilities of new technologies and had created a wish list of ideal features and functions the more
advanced 3Sixty.2 was developed to become something altogether more
useful to the sound quality aficionados.
Now when it comes to factory sources we all know they have severe
limitations, and even the ‘premium’ sound system options you get slugged
heavily for at a car dealer are utter rubbish in realistic terms, especially
when it comes to tuning the car to your liking. What real tuning power
requires is excellent crossover control, comprehensive individual channel
multi-band equalization, time correction for all channels, and high voltage
RCA line outputs to feed to external amplifiers. The 3Sixty.2 gives you all of
this and more, and then it ups the ante by allowing all of this to be tuned in
real time via a Palm PC using Bluetooth. Oh yes!
The 3Sixty.2 itself is actually very compact, offering a footprint about the
size of a DVD case and only a few centimeters tall, so it tucks easily behind
the dashboard out of sight. To connect it you have a row is neat insert
terminals to feed the speaker level signals from your OEM source, then you
have RCA pre outs for each channel. Inputs include front, rear, subwoofer
and centre channel if your OEM source has all of these, with corresponding
RCA outputs, and if your source only has one pair of inputs to work with the
3Sixty.2 will automatically sum them to provide full output from all channels. You also get a remote level controller that can either act as a master
volume control or dedicated subwoofer level control depending on your
preference. A key feature, however, is that you also have the option of RCA
inputs for each channel, which makes the 3Sixty.2 an ideal signal processor upgrade for aftermarket system’s as well. That’s right; you can take
advantage of the 3Sixty.2 with any kind of source!
Reading through the options offered by the 3Sixty.2 reveals some very
impressive stats. Each main output has a choice of 12 or 24dB per octave
filter slopes variable from 50Hz to 10kHz in 62 steps, giving you the choice
of high, low or even band pass filters for all main channels. The subwoofer
output also has 12 or 24dB per octave low pass filter slopes with up to
200Hz as a cut off point.
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INSTALLATION
We took our test vehicle (a new Suzuki Swift) to the Lifestyle store in Parramatta, who are an authorized RF dealer, and had them perform the installation for us as they’d already fitted a dozen of these processors before
and had a Palm PC on hand for tuning duties. Note that to do any tuning on
the 3Sixty.2 you’ll need a Palm PC, but models like the Zire PalmOne that
Lifestyle used can be bought for as little $100 on Ebay.
TUNING
Anyway, the OEM source’s speaker level signals were diverted into the
3Sixty.2’s inputs and new RCAs were run to an Alpine V-Power series 4channel amplifier to power the Swift’s stock speakers in the front and rear
doors. We also had Lifestyle install a new Alpine PLV-7 powered subwoofer
enclosure (see review elsewhere in this issue) which sat in the hatch area
to provide bass. Meanwhile, the remote level controller was mounted into a
blank plug in the centre console and set for sub level control. Once completed you would never know that the 3Sixty.2 was part of the car’s installation,
leaving the interior looking completely factory standard and retaining the
steering wheel volume and track/station up/down controls in full function.
When installing the 3Sixty.2 yourself you first need to load the Palm PC
with software via a home PC or laptop using the supplied software CD.
Once done the next task is to synch the Palm PC to the 3Sixty.2 and run the
system through a basic calibration test using same software CD that also
contains test tones. Guided by prompts on the Palm PC the test CD will
run through a calibration phase that takes a few minutes to conclude, after
which the 3Sixty.2 will have looked at the frequency response of the OEM
source’s output and will likely have made some small corrections to ensure
ruler flat response from its outputs. It also asks for a reference output level
to be set from the OEM source and for you to set a small input potentiometer using some clip indicator LEDs on it case, after which you will
then have the maximum unclipped output level feeding to your amplifiers.
Impressively, the 3Sixty.2 is specified for 10Hz to 21kHz frequency response
while providing up to 5VRMS of signal output and with 100dB of A-weighted
Signal to Noise Ratio.
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to be used. Sure, the beginner is going to get a bit lost in the complexity of
tuning on offer, but the 3Sixty.2 was never designed for novices to toy with.
Yet it still remains completely intuitive for a first time user, and the GUI is
virtually flawless. Heck, even the more basic 3Sixty.1 version without the
signal processing (and no need for Palm PC) will be useful to many at just
$499RRP.
As an OEM upgrade device the 3Sixty.2 a revelation, and even if you don’t
know what it does technically, so long as you care about great sound quality this device is going to blow you away. Importantly, even if you don’t want
to integrate the 3Sixty.2 into an OEM system we reckon it will work equally
as well for anyone who has an aftermarket source that lacks decent signal
processing. We simply can’t overemphasize how awesome the 3Sixty.2 is
for virtually anyone who wants great audio.
RT
FEATURES CHSAixty.2
Now the real fun begins. Via the Palm PC you have a menu through
which to alter every facet of the signal processing held within. From the
main menu screen you can select the tuning mode and key into any channel
to vary filter slopes or cut off points in real time, then flick into equalization
modes and adjust the response using any or all of the 31-bands available
for the front and centre channels, 27-bands for the rear channels, or 10bands for the subwoofer channel. Relative level outputs for all channels
can be set, while you get the option of setting channels independently or
simultaneously to make tuning easier. All this happens in real time, and
after a short moment’s pause while the changes update through Bluetooth
the adjustments can be heard while you listen to music for virtually immediate audible results.
Finally, pre sets allow you to store numerous curves for later recalling
and even allow your professional installer to load tuning curves they’ve
done on other customer’s cars if they are similar to yours. We could have
spent hours playing with the 3Sixty.2 and when more time permits we will
do so with the aid of our Real Time Analyzer to see what kind of results
we can ultimately achieve, but all in all we came away
excited by the prospects of the sheer power we were
able to unleash so easily. Yet even with limited
tuning time we were able to achieve a far more
impressive sound quality result from the factory
source and speakers than we ever thought were
possible. This, of course, was aided by the fact
that the speakers were now powered by a larger
amplifier and the system bolstered by a subwoofer, but all of this was only possible thanks to
the 3Sixty.2.
Fosgate 3
Model: Rockford
vel: 20VRMS
le
t
u
p
in
m
u
im
x
Ma
level: 5VRMS
t
u
tp
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o
m
u
im
Max
z
se: 10Hz-21kH
n
o
sp
re
cy
n
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u
Freq
Ratio: 100dB
Signal to Noise
: 10k Ohms
Input impedance
e: 12/24dB/oct.
Crossover slop
: AP/HP/BP/LP
eps
Crossover type
– 10kHz 62 st
z
H
0
5
s:
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ci
n
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u
Crossover freq
B/oct.
– 35Hz 12/24d
0
2
r:
e
lt
fi
ic
n
Subso
nt: 31-bands
Graphic EQ fro
ntre; 31-bands
Graphic EQ ce
ar: 27-bands
Graphic EQ re
b: 10-bands
Graphic EQ su
0dB
4.25”
Boost/cut: +/- 1
): 1.75”x7.25”x
D
x
W
x
(H
s
n
o
Dimensi
VERDICT
In a word – amazing! We were simply blown away
by the sheer vastness of the Rockford Fosgate
3Sixty.2’s signal processing power and magnificent
user interface via the Palm PC. It is joyous to use a
device that has obviously been designed and engineered by
people who actually know how such a complex device is going
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