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Rockford Fosgate Prime System Review

by The Review CrewSeptember 27, 2010

With the economy being what it is now, everyone’s looking for a bargain, for value. That’s the reason why a person would buy a Toyota Camry. It’s not exactly an exciting ride, but it’s relatively inexpensive, reliable and not without some aesthetic appeal—"some" being the key word there. After a while, this oh-so-average car can start to wear on the soul though. That’s why we decided to turn this into our project vehicle for a budget system/install.

So what do you do with an ’06 Toyota Camry to give it new life? You add an aftermarket audio system of course. It’s still a Camry, but it doesn’t sound like one with the audio system at high volume. In this case, we added all new speakers, woofers and amps from Rockford Fosgate, utilizing their Prime line of products. The total cost of the components was a little under $1,000 (we went for a little extra bass, but you can save a lot if you go with a single woofer and one monoblock—around $720 total). Add the expense for the box materials, a basic CD player, an amp wiring kit and you’re right around $1,200 for our configuration. With some basic install skills you can make this a DIY project. If not, it still wouldn’t be too pricey to have this installed at a shop. Either way, it’s not too shabby for a full system that packs a lot of power, and completely revitalizes your car and your daily commute.

R250-1 Mono Amplifier ($179.99)
Amplification in the Camry starts with a pair of Rockford Fosgate Prime R250-1’s. These mono amps feature a footprint that’s as small as a ream of paper (2.40 x 7.67 x 11.54 inches). Still, they have enough power to run a few small subs in parallel or feed the center channel of a surround sound system. Rated power at 4 ohms comes to 150 Watts (66.1 percent efficiency) and 250 Watts (58 percent efficiency) at 2 Ohms. The dynamic power stacks up to 285 Watts.

For rich bass, Rockford Fosgate bundles the Prime 250-1 with a Remote Punch Level Control which corrects for the inevitable acoustic anomalies found in a vehicle. It’s connected to the gain control when on. Crossover controls let you fine tune in the 40Hz-130Hz range and the Punch Bass can be adjusted from 0dB to +12dB at 45Hz. Overall frequency range is from 20Hz to 130Hz +/-1dB.

R300-4 Four-channel Amplifier ($229.99)
To accompany the dual monoblocks, the system packs a single 4-channel amp, the Prime R300-4. This versatile piece of equipment has a 2/4 channel switch depending on the setup you want to run. True to the model name, all four channels’ rated power adds up to 300 watts, with 50 watts x 4 at 4 ohms, 75 Watts x 4 at 2 ohms and 150 Watts x 2 when bridged at 4 ohms. Average efficiency measures 59 percent at 4 ohms and 49 percent at two.

The R300-4 has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz +/-1dB. Crossover controls include High-Pass at 80Hz @ 12dB/octave Butterworth and Low-Pass at 50Hz-250Hz @ 12dB/octave Butterworth. As with the mono amps in the system, tone control can also be tinkered with. The R300-4 does take up a bit more room measuring in at 2.40 x 7.67 x 17.09 inches.

R1S412 4-ohm SVC Subwoofer ($99.99)
Matching up to the amplifiers, the Prime 12" subwoofers provide a great value. Upon inspection, the solid stamped steel frame and Parabolic polypropylene cone are immediately noticeable. Optimized for sealed enclosures, the R1S412 has a mounting depth of 5 inches and a displacement of 0.101 ft3.

The anodized aluminum voice coil former provides excellent heat dissipation (up to 100 degrees at full power levels), serving as a heat sink and keeping the sub cool even during high SPL conditions. Other features include 12-gauge quick release compression terminals. The speaker can handle up to 300 watts of power with 150 watts RMS.

R1693 6×9 Full-Range Speakers ($89.99)
Ideal for replacing factory speakers, these 6x9s found a home in the Project Camry thanks to their great sound quality and even greater value! Mica injected polypropylene cones in a foam surround and a Mylar balanced dome tweeter are cradled in a stamped steel basket.

This 3-way speaker has a frequency response of 48Hz – 22kHz and a power handling of 60 watts RMS (with 120 Watts max) and boasts a sensitivity of 89dB. With a depth of only 2.89 inches it’s an easy fit either as a factory swap or an addition to a custom install.

R1652-S Components ($119.99)
Rounding out the system are the Prime 2-way components. Also ideal as a factory swap, these 2-ways still provide great sound. Like the R1693, these components sport the Mica injected polypropylene cones and half-inch Mylar balanced dome tweeters. The tweeter’s in-line crossover (6dB high-pass) makes installation simple as does the numerous mounting options.

The stamped steel basket brings the midrange diameter to 6.5 inches while the depth reaches down to a mere 2.17 inches. The R1652-S comes with all the hardware you’d need for the install and the handsome grille is a given. More specs include the frequency response of 55Hz to 20kHz, sensitivity of 89dB and a power handling of 40 watts RMS with 80 max. See the pics in the gallery for a comparison of the factory 6x9s in the door next to this woofer. The factory speaker weighed next to nothing. The Rockford component is not a high-end speaker but it’s far superior to the stock counterpart.

Amplifier Install
The Prime amplifiers install very easily; they have four legs that allow the amplifiers to be secured down to a flat surface. Although it may be a very simple mounting method, the legs are very sturdy and allow plenty of support for the amplifiers no matter what position they are installed in. The terminals on the amplifiers are typical to those found on less expensive amplifiers; however, if used correctly they can provide a solid connection. When wiring up the amplifiers, I soldered spades on each of the wires and then screwed the spades down into the amplifier blocks.

Subwoofers
The 12" Prime subwoofers have great terminals that allow for up to a 12 gauge wire to be inserted. I was very happy with these terminals. Being a budget subwoofer I was expecting something inferior which can be a pain to use when installing. The subwoofers mount easily with eight screws. Note: there is no trim ring to go over the mounting holes leaving the screws exposed when installed.

Coaxial Speakers
The Prime 6x9s fit snug into the factory Camry locations and did not require any cutting or modification to the rear deck. Be aware that the terminals are not very solid and bend easily if you are not careful when installing them. I decided to solder the wires directly onto the terminals for a very secure connection instead of using quick disconnects.

Component Speakers
The front doors in the Camry used 6x9s also, so in order to install them I cut out MDF baffles for the components to screw onto. I screwed the baffle into the door and sealed it off using some non-hardening clay to avoid the baffle from rattling against the door. The components have a built-in crossover which makes for an easier installation because you don’t have to deal with the extra work of finding room for the crossover (and then have to worry about securing it). Even though the built-in crossover is a great idea for saving space, I did not like that they were not adjustable. Most crossovers have the feature to attenuate the output level on the tweeter; these did not have this feature making it difficult to help integrate the tweeter to the mid bass driver. However, this is a budget system/install. You may have to trade features for price, depending on your level as a car audio enthusiast.

Sound
The big question though is how does it sound. Well, first we’ll give you an assessment of the factory audio system and then contrast with the Prime system: The factory Camry stereo consisted of two pairs of 6x9s, one pair in the front doors and the other pair in the rear deck. The speakers had plenty of cone area; however,
they did not pack much of a punch due to the fact they have a very low power-handling rating, and were constructed of a cheap paper cone and a plastic basket. When metered inside the car, the factory system peaked out around 90 decibels and had a decent frequency response considering the quality of the components. The overall sound was really weak and undermined any recording that has a big dynamic range. The factory system rolled off after 8khz , had some peaks around 1khz and obviously had very poor sub bass due to not having a dedicated subwoofer. If I had to score the system for output and SQ it would be a score of 4/10.

The Rockford Prime speakers we used in the rear deck were the same size as the factory speakers while up front in the doors we decided to go with 6.5" components with a .5" tweeter. With a power handling of 40 watts RMS they naturally packed much more a punch then the weak factory speakers. In addition to the speakers, the pair of 12" subwoofers we added made a dramatic difference in the low-end output of the car. The Rockford Prime system obviously metered much better than the factory stereo did, with a maximum SPL of over 120dB and a frequency response without any major peaks or dips after some tuning. If I had to score the system for output and SQ in contrast to the factory system it would be a score of 8/10. It was night and day. If you’re looking to improve on your factory audio, then Rockford’s Prime line is an inexpensive solution that will definitely provide new life to your tired daily driver.

 

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The Review Crew
The Review Crew is a group of beat editors, writers, and consultants that have been working together for years. They know just about everything about everything collectively and have published their collective work under the Review Crew brand moniker for almost 20 years.

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