Rockford Fosgate Punch Amplifier Series Review

Introduction

This is the 2nd instalment in our 3 part Rockford Fosgate Amplifier review series. We previously looked at the Rockford Fosgate Prime range; We round things off with a look at the Rockford Fosgate Punch range of amps.

If you are new to audio technology, expensive systems likely scare you. Fortunately, as you become more proficient in the various technologies used with higher end systems, you start realizing what the price tag means, even appreciating the fact that costlier processes are used. In this article, we would be taking a look at a range of amplifiers fitting these criteria, the Rockford Fosgate Punch range.

If you are like us and like shopping around, you would have seen that these amplifiers are priced slightly higher than the Prime range. Why is this so, you may ask? For starters, the casing it is mounted in has a better design, allowing for more efficient heat dissipation. Heat is the enemy here, so the more we can remove the better.

Another great reason to look into these amplifiers is found in the components used. Instead of using standard, off-the-shelf, components like in the Prime range, the Rockford Fosgate Punch range are using proprietary components purpose-designed for a specific function. This may make the amplifier that much harder to fix if it ever breaks down, but the sound quality truly trumps this aspect. Besides, if you stay within the amplifiers design specifications it will not break down for a very,very long time anyways.

In the Prime range, construction quality has been second to none. In the Punch range, Rockford managed to step up their game even more. Ceramic pads under the MOSFET’s (for those of you who do not know, these components put the amp in amplifier) allows for better heat dissipation.

So enough of us talking about the range as a whole, let us take a look at what you can expect to find within the Rockford Fosgate Punch range.

Comparison Table

AMPLIFIER

DESIGN

POWER

PRICE
(APPROX)

OUR RATING

Subwoofer (Mono) Amp

300 W

$140

Subwoofer (Mono) Amp

300 W

$140

Subwoofer (Mono) Amp

400 W

$180

Subwoofer (Mono) Amp

500 W

$220

Subwoofer (Mono) Amp

500 W

$160

Subwoofer (Mono) Amp

1000 W

$340

Stereo (2-ch) Amp

300 W

$150

Stereo (2-ch) Amp

300 W

$150

Stereo (2-ch) Amp

400 W

$205

Stereo (2-ch) Amp

500 W

$235

Stereo (2-ch) Amp

1000 W

$350

Multi-Channel Amp

300 W

$150

Multi-Channel Amp

400 W

$200

Multi-Channel Amp

600 W

$270

Multi-Channel Amp

1000 W

$390

Full Review of Rockford Fosgate Punch Amplifier Series:

Rockford Fosgate Punch PBR300X1 / PBR300X2 / PBR300X4

​A great sub-range of amplifiers, compact and powerful. Now if you are like us, you will likely not need a compact amplifier. If we go out to buy groceries, we cannot take more than one passenger. Why is this? Simply because our backseats are dedicated to storage because the trunk can simply take no more. Filled with giant capacitors, subwoofers, amps and a special hideaway for stuff we are not at liberty to discuss, there is simply no space for anything. But people differ, and so does their needs.

This amplifier caters for the enthusiast who still wants great sound, in the smallest package they can find. This amplifier lends itself excellently to these situations, making it ideal for fitment in motorcycles, boats and RV’s. Just a word of caution though, these amps are not waterproof, so you should consider your installation carefully if you plan on doing this. A splash here and there will likely not kill it, but we cannot vouch for water as it has a mind of its own.

​On the topic of amplifier destruction, we have learned something this weekend. It seems that all electronics in this world functions with smoke. The reason why we say this is, once the smoke exits the unit, it does not work anymore. Therefore we concluded smoke is paramount to the correct functioning of said unit.

​Taken into consideration it's intended usage, Rockford has opted to use a Molex plug to connect the speakers, in fact all of the wiring, instead of the usual screw terminals. This allows you to easily disconnect the amplifier when not needed, or for something like high pressure washing.

​All the amplifiers in this subrange support a minimum speaker impedance of 2 ohms, ensuring that you can enjoy optimal performance. It also uses a special arrangement of capacitors that ensures the amp never goes underpowered. Rockford calls this Boosted Rail (PBR) technology, and fundamentally it is the same technique used by professionals, only in a smaller package.

​As a unit, this amplifier can support a maximum of 300W. The monoblock obviously delivers this wattage directly to a single speaker, while the two and four channel versions need to divide the power between all of the speakers. Saving on space, the input audio is selectable as either a high or a low input level, with the high level input being adjustable for catering to different systems found across the big range of vehicles it was designed for. It does not have all the bells and whistles you would normally find in the Rockford Punch range, but we deemed it sufficient for its intended purpose. Fortunately Rockford did include the Remote Punch connector, which we have come to love.

But let’s be honest, you did not come here for all our witty sayings, you came here to see if this amp will suit your needs. So let us present you with the good, bad and ugly.​

Pros

  • Small package makes this unit ideally suited for installations where space is limited, such as motorcycles and boats.
  • Considering its small frame it still employs Remote Punch connector for adjusting bass boost.

Cons

  • Internal construction not up to the specifications of other amplifiers in the Punch range, but taking its small from into consideration, this is understandable.

All and all this is a great system if you have limited space available and still want a good quality amplifier for your system.

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

Rockford Fosgate Punch P300X1 / P300X2

Having reviewed the PBR range, we gladly present you with a true car audio amplifier, the Rockford Fosgate Punch P300 range. This amplifier comes served in the standard Punch casing. It has been designed and engineered to allow for better heat dissipation, keeping the electronics inside cool and ensuring you get the quality sound that you have come to expect from Rockford Fosgate. Not only is the casing designed for great cooling, it also looks great. The top mounted controls are still present, but are now nicely hidden from view with a cover, making this unit aesthetically pleasing to even our eyes. Keep in mind that we don’t mind for looks all that much, we mind what is coming to our ears, but we deemed it fair to say that this range looks beautiful.

Unboxing the amplifier will lead you to also finding a CD inside. This is used to set up the CLEAN feature of this amplifier. Actually any audio CD can be used, this just makes it easier. What the new CLEAN technology does is that it helps you to set up your audio input levels to match it with your gain settings on your new amplifier. You only need to turn your radio’s volume up all the way (which will likely result in clipping) and turn down the gain setting until you see the blue CLEAN LED light up. This tells you that your system is now clip free, hence minimal distortion will result from here onwards. Keep in mind that not all audio CD’s are recorded at the same level, hence it may take some time to get to a good general setting across your collection. Fortunately, with most enthusiasts using MP3 these days, the situation is easily rectified.

Some more things you will find are the excellently designed cast aluminium heat sink incorporated into the unit. As in the Prime range, pass through connections and a high level input comes as standard. The unit also features a 12 dB/ octave Butterworth crossover and on-board Punch equalizer allowing you to set the boost around 45 Hz to about 18 dB more. It supports a minimum load of 2 ohms on the P300X1, with the P300X2 supporting two channels at 2 ohms each, which can also be bridged powering a 4 ohms load.​

Pros

  • Excellent internal and external construction allow for better heat transfer, allowing your amp to function optimally.
  • RCA pass-thru connections allow you to connect a series of amplifiers from one source.

Cons

  • Location of controls makes it difficult to set.

This is an ideal midrange amplifier for someone that does not mind to pay extra for quality. The amplifier may fortunately still be in the price range of enthusiasts starting out, so if this is your first system, this may be the ideal amplifier for you.

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

Rockford Fosgate Punch P400X1 / P400X2 / P400X4

Now, if you are anything like us, small amplifiers are ideally suited for the breakfast table, not our cars. Rockford Fosgate also seem to have realized this, hence this version was launched. Slightly more powerful than the P300 range, this amplifier gets us going down the street in some style. For someone that has performance in mind, while still keeping an eye on cost, this is it. The system also lends itself well to scalability. Ideally one would purchase the Rockford Fosgate P400X4 and set it up as a stereo system, adding a subwoofer by means of bridging the remaining two channels. Now we realize that not everyone in this world do things this way. Therefore, we will also take a look at the P400X1 and P400X2. These two amplifiers can run either a singular speaker or, in the case of the P400X2, two separate speakers. What sets the X1 apart is the minimum load it can run a subwoofer at. Comparing the X1 and X2 you will realize that bridging out the X2 would result in a minimum load of 4 ohms where as the X1 can support 400W at 2 ohms. Essentially, this is the only difference between the two. Internally, different components are used, since more channels are made available, but usually, none of this matters to the end user.

This subrange of amplifiers supports the usual, great, features that we have come to expect from Rockford Fosgate. Pass-thru technology makes upgrading a breeze. Setting up your amplifier is also a breeze with CLEAN. This technology simply allows you to set up your sitting for clean, clipping free audio. While reviewing the P300 range, we discussed this technology in detail, so feel free to refer back to it if needed. High level input, Butterworth crossovers and a cast aluminium heat sink are all part of the package. It also has the option of connecting a Remote Punch Equalizer to control the level of amplification for the bass frequencies.

Something that we had not mentioned before is a great cabling accessory from Rockford allowing you to effortlessly connect speaker wiring into a module, which then convert it to RCA inputs which the amplifier can accept. Yes we know most of you already know how to terminate an RCA connecter, but still it is nice to know that Rockford thought about this.

So if you are in the market for a new system or simply upgrading an existing system, you probably want to know what we think of this amplifier range. Here is the lowdown.​

Pros

  • Excellent design allows for optimal heat transfer.
  • RCA pass-thru connections make adding extra units a breeze.

Cons

  • Location of the controls, fortunately they are mostly set and forget.

For someone wanting a great midrange system covering stereo speakers and a subwoofer the Rockford Fosgate P400X4 is an excellent choice. For someone looking to upgrade specific parts of their system the other amplifiers in this range offers ample power at a good price.​

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

Rockford Fosgate Punch P500X1bd / P500X2

Slowly we are starting to move into a category we like to call raw power. But something strange popped up. The P500X1bd. Rockford Fosgate likes to be leaders in their field and with this specific amplifier they have proven yet again that they are on the forefront of development. BD is a hybrid between a class B and a class D amplifier. Class B amplifiers are terrible on their own, with crossover being a very real problem, even audible at low power. But they tend to have some other great characteristics. Class D on the other hand are super efficient but lack sound quality. When combining the two, it is then possible to eliminate the crossover, giving this class of amplifier a truly amazing bass. What better could you want for your subwoofer? The lower powered amplifiers support a minimum of 2 ohms, and only 4 ohms when bridged. This amplifier however, supports a minimum of 1 ohm giving you more power and clarity.

Taking a look at the P500X2 it is simply a more powerful version of the other X2’s. It supports up to 250W per channel and can support a 500W, 4 ohms load in bridge mode. Internally it has fewer components than the 400W. This is a strange move from Rockford as one would think they would simply at more MOSFET’s to increase the gain. What Rockford did though was to redesign the components to be more efficient and powerful so less could be used. This in turn helps to keep cost down a little and also assisted with the heating issue. At 500W, this becomes a very real problem if not managed properly. Remember, heat and electronics do not mix.

Close the deal on this amplifier if you are looking to upgrade a system. These amplifiers are starting to move into the realm of component based systems and out of all-in-one’s. So what did we think about these amplifiers? We loved them and here is what we thought of them.​

Pros

  • Excellent system to move you into a component based system
  • RCA pass-thru connections make adding extra units a breeze

Cons

  • Achieving workable results through a component based system starts getting pricey at this level

For someone already achieving great results and are set on achieving something better, these amplifiers make a great add-on to any system. Still beginner friendly, this system offers something for everyone.

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

If you are someone that likes to start pushing limits, this is the ideal amplifier for you. It may not come cheaply, but for what you get it is well worth the price. Just as a note of caution, this is an amplifier that can and will put out some serious power. If you still want to hear your partner tell you how much she loves you in 10 years, protect your ears and don’t listen at high volumes for extended periods. The amplifier will happily bump along, your ears not so much. But you already know this, don’t you? What you came here for is our view on this lovely amplifier, right?

Well here it is, a four channel amplifier capable of 600W of total power output. A real beast, we must say. Used in normal mode this amplifier can support a 2 ohms load on each channel at 150W. The two channel groups can also be bridged. Now by this time you should be able to make your own calculation on this one. High level inputs and Butterworth crossover comes as a standard. Internal construction quality is outstanding, something we have come to love, and expect from Rockford Fosgate.

As these amplifiers get ever larger, we start to find more advance components inside. You would think that larger amplifiers will only have more components, but on the contrary, this subrange contain fewer components, making thermal management that much easier. Yes the amplifier still gets warm under continuous strain, but not nearly as hot as we would have expected. This only goes to show that Rockford has yet again outdone themselves by realising an amplifier of this size, and still keeping everything inside cool and happy.

Taking a long hard look at the amp, we really had a tuff time to say something negative about it, apart from the fact that we are now short of one kidney. Yes dear readers, these people don’t just send us stuff so that we can say good things about them, we buy our own gear to review so that we can have an objective stance.​

Pros

  • Four channel and two channel capable, this amplifier lends itself ideally to an excellent upgrade path.

Cons

  • That price tag. But then again, you get what you pay for.

If we would get the opportunity to do it all over again, this amp would definitely have had a nice long stay in our trunk. Not only because it has such great specifications, but also because it is so versatile. Want to start with fewer speakers, no problem, you can always bridge the channels and upgrade to more speakers later.​

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

And here we are again at Boosted Rail technology. As you can remember from earlier in the article, we took a closer look at this technology living in the 300W amplifiers from Rockford Fosgate. Basically, the boosted rail just ensures that the system does not starve itself while delivering punchy notes. This can be especially true on a system of this wattage. Having a good capacitor in your system sure helps, but these PBR amplifiers can also work without one.

As this is only a monoblock, it is of course ideally suited to subwoofers. And of course, this is what most people buy them for. Something else you would probably remember from the other PBR amplifiers is it small size and quick disconnect features. Well the PBR500X1 is no different. The website blurb says we can install it in our motorcycle, but we are no entirely convinced that we really need to do this. But our boat, now that is a whole different game. You see, when we say we are going fishing, what we really mean is that we would be sitting on a boat with an assigned skipper, drink lots of bear and listen to music. If we catch a fish, great, but then again, we actually have to bait our hooks to catch something. Sorry to say, but I hate the smell of bait sticking to my fingers. I rely on the curiosity of the fish to bite on my shiny hook without barb. I’d hate having to hurt them.

Internal design looks more or less the same as in the PBR300 range, only that much more powerful. How Rockford managed to fit this beast into such a small package is still beyond as, but what we can say is that it works beautifully. It comes equipped with only high level inputs, but fortunately, one can set the input level to match the system.​

Pros

  • Small size makes fitment anywhere easy.

Cons

  • We would have like to see CLEAN technology on an amplifier this powerful.

Would we buy it? Short answer, no. Why so? Because we can simply plug out the motorcycle amp and put it in the boat, no hassles. Do we want it? O yes. This is no FOMO friends, this is only a logical progression. For those of you that went all funny-faced about FOMO, it just means fear of missing out. This is something many vaping enthusiasts suffer from, hence the reason for all their purchases. We like their style.

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

Rockford Fosgate Punch P1000X1bd / P1000X2 / P1000X5

Fortunately, we got this amplifier as a loan unit. We would have likely not headed our own advice for volume control when using this amplifier all the time and would likely already be deaf. We loved this beast. True power and clarity. True cost too, but luckily we could get away on this one without spending a penny. Do you need it? Maybe. Do we want you to have it? Oh yes. This range of amplifiers has it all. If we can take liberties here and recommend something for you, the P1000X1bd would be it. The other amps are great, but this one stood out. With the bd range being suited ideally to subwoofers, it makes using it so much more fun. Don’t get us wrong, the others are great too, but we find them a little too powerful. Not that it is a problem, we just don’t see the need.

But if you are in the market for a complete system, we would just like to say one thing. Rockford Fosgate P1000X5. It comes as the best all in one solution money can buy in its class. Dedicated subwoofer and speaker channels make building a crystal clear system a breeze. Setting it all up is also child’s play because of the incorporated CLEAN feature.​

Pros

  • All you can ever want, fitted in one box. No more “but honey I need to upgrade ….”.

Cons

  • If your significant other sees your monthly statement, you’re a dead man.

Features

Performance

Value

Overall Rating:

Summary

​The Rockford Fosgate Punch range is truly an electronic masterpiece. Build quality in general is very good and heat management excellent. This result in an amplifier that will last for years to to come and produce crystal clear sound on every drum and whistle.

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