Rockford Fosgate Prime Amplifier

Rockford Fosgate Prime Amplifier Series Review

Introduction

This is the first of a 3 part look into the Rockford Fosgate Amplifier series of amplifiers. We follow up with reviews of the Rockford Fosgate Punch and Rockford Fosgate Power range of amps.

Buying a new amp for your car audio system could be a daunting experience.

Maybe this is your first time and you have no idea what to look out for. It could very well also be true that you are a seasoned enthusiast looking to replace or upgrade one of the most important components in your system.

Today we will be looking into Rockford Fostgate’s line of amplifiers - more specifically the Prime. The Rockford Fostgate Prime is only one range in the Rockford range, but if you’d ask to compare it to the other two ranges in the line, the Power range and the Punch range, we would likely choose the Prime.

We fully agree that the Power and Punch range are great amplifiers, but to our ears the Prime is just music, no pun intended. Why do we say that? Because we like good quality amplifiers, but we also like our wallets.

Compared to the Class D topology used in the Prime, the Punch and Power use higher end topologies like class A/B. The Power, true to its name also uses high quality, powerful components.

So putting a Prime and a Power of the same output specification to the test will have the Prime working out like a beast, while the Power will just break a little sweat. This is simply due to the components installed.

If you really think about it, who really puts their amplifiers through a workout each time they are turned on? Not us, since we would still like to avoid needing to learn sign language later in life.

So, now that you have the long and short, lets take a look at some of the amplifiers within our favorite range.

Comparison Table

AMPLIFIER

DESIGN

POWER

PRICE
(APPROX)

OUR RATING

Mono (Subwoofer) Amp

250 W

$100

Mono (Subwoofer) Amp

500 W

$120

Mono (Subwoofer) Amp

750 W

$205

Mono (Subwoofer) Amp

1200 W

$250

Stereo (2-ch) Amp

150 W

$80

Multi-Channel Amp

250 W

$105

Multi-Channel Amp

300 W

$140

Multi-Channel Amp

400 W

$160

Multi-Channel Amp

600 W

$225

Full Review of Rockford Fosgate Prime Amplifier Series:

Mono (Subwoofer) Amplifiers

Rockford Fosgate Prime R250X1

We begin with a look at the Prime Mono / single channel Amp range, and specifically, with the R250X1 - this is one of Prime series' most affordable amplifiers, and whilst it is not as powerful as other amplifiers in the range, it uses a topology that may appeal to more people. Where amps such as the R750-1D use a Class D layout, often erroneously referred to as a digital topology, the R250X1 is using a class A/B layout.

Why not only either A or B, you may ask. If you study the different topologies, you will quickly realize that, although class A amplifiers are the best, they also tend to run the least efficient, and therefore the hottest.  So, to some, a multi-amplifier setup just works better. Keeping this in mind, remember that this amplifier is a pure A/B mono block and cannot be used to run multiple speakers.

Pure class B amplifiers are a rare find. They are very susceptible to crossover distortion, which in sufficient amounts can become audible and interfere with the audio quality. This led to the birth of the A/B amplifier, trading of some of the great and negative aspects of both, bringing you an amplifier worthy of praise.

With our trained ears we could hear the difference between this amplifier and a class D amplifier. But blind tests had proven a number of people wrong in this regard throughout the years. One must remember that sound is a matter of perception and not necessarily an exact science. Yes it does produce better sound, but to what extent will be determined by ear training. By this we do not mean developing tinnitus, we simple mean that you should run the various classes side by side, listening for differences.

But let’s get down to business, rating this great amplifier:

Pros

  • Contains both high and low level inputs.
  • Utilizes class A/B technology, which sounds better than class D to our trained ear.

Cons

  • This amplifier is only suited for powering one speaker, likely a subwoofer.

We love component based systems. It allows upgrading and replacement of different parts of the system and repairs are often less costly. This is the type of amplifier we would be looking to install in our car should we start over again at a budget. Not only because it is A/B, but because it offers excellent value for money.

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

Rockford Fosgate Prime R500X1D

Back in the introduction, we touched on the differences between the various topologies. Looking at this amplifier, one can easily tell that it belongs squarely in the D family. D for drums and doom, doom. But D can also stand for distress, so please, protect your ears from prolonged exposure to loud noise like jackhammers, aircrafts and yes, subwoofers.  Collectively our team has loved loud noise for 70 years now, and by throwing caution in the wind, you will not be able to hear anything 30 years from now.

In other news, this is a great amplifier. We have our gripes with class D, but for the price, this system is hard to beat. Like all the other X1’s, you should have realized by now it too will be a monoblock. Stating our love yet again for component based systems will be, well, an understatement.

The amplifier comes standard with the bells and whistles you would expect to find on a Rockford monoblock like separate inputs, phase switching capability and off course pass through. When using component based systems, the pass through feature offers a great alternative to wiring everything directly from the source. This is serious sound, we don’t twist wires together and hope for the best, we pass it through.

Yes, this amplifier is rated at 500W. What you cannot deduce from the name though, is that it can handle loads up to 2 ohm. This means you should get ready for some serious power and enjoyment. Since bigger subwoofers often come with selectable voice coil arrangements, we would like to state yet again that due diligence is needed when connecting up this system. But if connected up properly, there are not many low power bass amplifiers that can beat this system.

But let’s get to the lowdown shall we?​

Pros

  • Uses class D technology so cost is lower, while output can be higher.

Cons

  • Apart from us preferring A/B the only gripe we can testify to, are those dreaded controls. We don’t like were they are mounted, never have and never will.

A powerful monoblock that will fill your car with bass. Need we say more? Although it may be underpowered for large subwoofers, standard subwoofers will work beautifully with this system.

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

Rockford Fosgate Prime R750-1D

As you have likely noticed from the model name on this beautiful class D amp, it’s only a 750W. This does not sound like much, but if you think about all the engineering to still allow excellent heat dissipation when installed upside down, it actually is.

Everything found in the R1200-1D is also found in the R750-1D with the only difference is it being of a lower power rating. It retails at about 87% the price of the R1200-1D but quality is not compromised at all.

The only thing we can fault this amp on, along with it's larger counterpart is the top mounted controls. What is wrong with these people?

That aside, for audio enthusiasts with smaller cars,or those who still want to have some ear left after setup, this may be the ideal choice. Besides, not everybody wished to drive giant voice coils, for some a simple dual 8” woofer setup works wonders.

Pros

  • Ideal system to effectively handle all your smaller subwoofer needs.
  • Pass- through capability makes wiring easier in certain systems.
  • Slightly smaller frame could save some critical space.

Cons

  • Akwardly positioned top mounted controls.

Even if we are nit-picking about the small detail, if we consider the quality of the build and total value for money, we would definitely recommend this amp.

Some people on a budget would likely opt for this, just remember to match your speaker requirements and amp specifications, otherwise you may be in for some awful sound.

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

Rockford Fosgate Prime R1200-1D

What you get?  A great amplifier optimized for driving your subwoofers. This amplifier can support two subs, eachwith a voice coil of a minimum of 2 ohms. The two sets of nickel plated set-screws are paralleled internally to enable the amplifier to deliver maximum efficiency.

We truly can say, that for a system able to handle a 1 ohm load at 1200W, this amplifier does a great job. It comes pre-installed with a 12 dB/octave Butterworth crossover and a infrasonic filter to protect your subwoofers from damage.

Like all good amplifiers, it is equipped with RCA connectors for the input signals and muted power-on, ensuring that you don’t damage your speakers. Equipped with a Mosfet power supply, it can handle anything you throw its way, all day.

Something we did not see the need for though, had been the pass-through connectors for the input audio. It could come in handy for certain configurations like normal stereo systems, but our system already had separate wires running for each channel.

Pros

  • Ideal system to effectively handle all your subwoofer needs.
  • Pass-through capability makes wiring easier in certain systems.

Cons

  • Top mounted controls. Keep in mind that most people, especially hatchback drivers, installamps upside down against the speaker panel to save space. Rear mounted controls wouldhave worked better, but looked out of place in this beautiful design.

To each his own, but judging by what we have seen, and heard, this amplifier will definitely be athome in your speaker-setup whether you are just starting out, or taking your audio seriously.

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

Multi-Channel Amplifiers

Rockford Fosgate Prime R150X2

Nobody enjoys a system with high quality subwoofers and substandard mids and tweeters. Buying a quality amp is the first step to ensure that your sound clarity of the rest of your system matches thatof your subwoofers.

The R150-X2 fits this bill perfectly. You still remember the 1D’s pass-through capability? This is where it comes in handy. No need to run extra wiring through your car interior, just patch it to connect the R150-X2.

Should you really feel that you need more, you can even patch down further, although it should be noted that at some stage you might run into a problem with power requirements.

Real estate in your trunk is also only that much, but fortunately, if setup correctly, this amplifier paired with one of the mono blocks, will be more than enough to satisfy.

A great feature of this amp, designed to handle a stereo setup with a voice coil impedance of 2 ohm per channel, is the fact that it can be bridged to function as a monoblock. This comes in handy if you feel the need to add speakers that exceeds the current requirements of the channel.  So instead of buying a larger, more expensive amplifier, you can opt to only buy another R150-X2 for the second channel.

Feature wise, it is also equipped with a 12dB/octave Butterworth crossover and employs the same construction and layout.  It is also equipped with high level inputs, allowing you to use the stereo that, most often than not, came pre-installed in your vehicle. This pre-installed system already does amplification, so instead of clipping your brand new voice coils, it gracefully handles any audio input source.

Pros

  • Contains both high and low level inputs.
  • Allows you to manually set crossover and gain settings.

Cons

  • Those dreaded top mounted controls; we are starting to think we should buy a new car.

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

Rockford Fosgate Prime R250X4

Like the R150-X2, this is an outstanding amp, only better. Car audio had been slow to catch up but in the last year or two, as more and more manufacturers started to realize that even music is starting to move into the surround sound realm. Granted, your average artist does not really bother with this, but some electronic music started to take advantage of this feature.

Most car audio enthusiasts are not worried about this feature though, only wanting the simplest system possible. Herein lies the beauty of this amplifier - it caters for both of these groups. For the surround sound fanatic, it offers the capability to have four channels, constituting of a frontal group and another in the rear. For the person wanting the best value for money, with the most basic system possible, it offers an amplifier that can power both a small subwoofer, and a set of speakers.

This may not be the ideal system for the true perfectionists, but it gets the job done well, for a price hard to beat. Both channel groups can be operated in bridge mode separately, allowing for either two small subwoofers, or, like mentioned before, a standard speaker/sub setup.

Like other amplifiers in this range it also features top mounted controls to our dismay, although there could be persons that prefer these. Butterworth crossovers, low inputs and high inputs come as standard. The controls allow you to do the general settings, leaving fine tuning of the two groups to the radio, which in our mind is better, since we like to fiddle with these a lot.

Our regular gripe is starting to get old, so we had to think long and hard to fault this system somehow. What we came up with, may be unique to our situation. Since we tend to play around with various amplifiers, having them mounted for extended periods, we mount them as if this would have been a permanent installation. Considering this, it would have been nice if the entire range of amplifiers had their mounting holes in exactly the same place.

Pros

  • Apart from the obvious advantages of the Rockford range, the fact that both channel groups can be bridged separately allows for users on a budget to have one amplifier servicing their needs perfectly.

Cons

  • Our regular gripe is starting to get old, so we had to think long and hard to fault this system somehow. What we came up with, may be unique to our situation. Since we tend to play around with various amplifiers, having them mounted for extended periods, we mount them as if this would have been a permanent installation. Considering this, it would have been nice if the entire range of amplifiers had their mounting holes in exactly the same place.-Only supports a minimum 4 ohm load.
  • Only supports a minimum 4 ohm load.

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

Rockford Fosgate Prime R300X4

This is the ideal system for the die-hard all-in-one person. Ideally this amp would have been set up powering both a frontal group and a rear group, but everyone that likes audio likes bass right?

Herein lies the beauty of this system. Instead of having this amp powering four different speaker, it can also be used to power a stereo setup together with a subwoofer. Our thinking leads us to believe that is the way that most of you will be using it.

The Rockford R300X4 supports a minimum resistance of 2 ohms per channel. Bridging two channels for a subwoofer will then leave you with a 4ohms compatible system. With a lot of subwoofer voice coils supporting multiple voice coil configurations, care should be taken here as you can easily wire your subwoofer as a 2 ohm load.

The amplifier does have great protection features build in, but why set up a system in such a way that will likely damage it in the long run. But believe us when we say, even with a 4 ohm subwoofer connected, our system sounds great.

The Rockford Fosgate R300X4 includes all the features you would expect from a premium amp. High level input and basic level adjustments comes as standard. It comes standard with 12dB / octave Butterworth crossovers and also allows you to set the level of bass boost.  All and all a great system,we would say.

While testing out this specific amplifier we managed to get our hands on a remote punch level module and to be honest it works great. It allows for easy adjustment on bass on the fly and,although not particularly keen on something like this ourselves, we can see how someone could fall in love with this feature. But lets get down to what everyone wants, the verdict.

Pros

  • Can be set up for both four channel listening or a normal two channel setuptogether with a subwoofer.
  • Chassis offers excellent cooling considering the power rating of the amplifier.

Cons

  • When bridging a channel, a minimum load of 4 ohms can be powered. Considering the internal electrical layout, this is understandable though.

If all-in-one setups are your thing, the Rockford Fosgate R300X4 is definitely a great amplifier toconsider for your system. Easy to set up, this amplifier offers loads of power to maximize your listening experience.

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

Rockford Fosgate Prime R400-4D

A beautiful amp at a price to match. And by saying this we don’t mean expensive. The Rockford R400-4D is excellently priced for what it can deliver. Great value for money for someone looking for a more integrated system.

Offering a 2 ohm minimum per speaker or a 4 ohm in bridged mode, this powerful D-class amplifier will likely suit most audio enthusiast on a budget. It offers the normal bells and whistles that comes standard in the Rockford Prime range, adding to this the benefit of powering a surround sound system, just as the other X4’s would.  The only difference you will find between the X4’s and the 4D is the fact that it will be lighter and likely run cooler. This is due to the efficiency offered by the class D amplification.

Sound quality may not be 100% on par with other 4 channel amplifiers in the Prime range, but at this price, it offers excellent bang for your buck. Looking at longevity, this amplifier would be the ideal choose, since it will be much easier and cost effective to buy a mono block amplifier to add onto your system, should you ever feel the urge to install a larger subwoofer. This will still leave you with a 4 channel amp powerful enough to drive the rest of your system with power and clarity.

Rating the amp was a little difficult, since audiophiles tend to be a little biased against class D amplifiers, but none the less, we think it is a great system, at an even better price.

Pros

  • Class D topology means that weight and price are kept down.

Cons

  • Only supports a minimum 4 ohm load in bridged mode, which is understandable since it is aimed more at the budget enthusiast than the audiophile.

The Rockford Fosgate R400-4D lends itself to longevity. It offers you the opportunity to start out as an integrated system, later upgrading it to a modular, component based system as you grow more experienced and learn what you really want from your system.

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

Rockford Fosgate Prime R600X5

When purchasing an amplifier, some really specific forces are battling it out in your head. Cost, features and longevity. Balancing these three elements into something that will satisfy you is a fine art. Unfortunately, a sliding scale relation exists between these two elements. This specific amplifier pushes this sliding scale all the way to the right, loaded with features that will likely keep you happy for the rest of your life.

This comes at a price though. If cost is your main concern, do not read any further, you will only be left wanting. For those of you wanting maximum performance, while still having some consideration for your budget, this is what you have been searching for. There are the lucky ones that should not even be looking at the Prime range, but instead look at the Rockford Power range. Unfortunately, this is beyond even our own budget.

This amplifier has it all. Four channels, allowing you to have a separate channel for both the frontal and rear groups, comes as standard. These channels support a load of up to 4 ohms at 75W each, allowing you to drive a great selection of voice coils. The excellent part of this amplifier is that it also has a fifth channel. No, we will not be replacing your rear view mirror with a center speaker. We know it gives you a headache since it is vibrating all the time, but the law says we have to leave it there. What we will be using it for, is to power a separate subwoofer. This channel can drive a subwoofer up to a maximum of 2 ohms and 300W. This channel is powerful enough to power fairly large subwoofers, ensuring maximum bass and optimal satisfaction for you and your passengers. Well we hope your passengers like it, because sitting at the rear they will likely experience the maximum effect. Could we not modify a car to drive from the rear seat?

Priced reasonable, this system ensures maximum longevity. Judging by the performance we experienced, you will likely not need another amplifier soon. If you keep to the specification and not end up frying the electronics, that is. Fortunately this amp has more than enough power, so this should not be the case.​

Pros

  • A dedicated subwoofer channels allows you to maximize your system’s effectiveness by negating the need to bridge out channels.

Cons

  • Pricing on this unit could put in out of reach for some.

The Rockford Fosgate R600X5 is the ultimate system to own. No worrying about later upgrading your system. No more if’s, only one but: But honey...

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

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