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Old 09-07-2006, 11:59 AM   #1
Technic
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Rockford Fosgate 3Sixty.2 -Long- Review

Recently, I upgraded the HK audio system on my 2004 M3 with all new CDT component speakers and Upstage system, an AudioControl EQS and a JBL GTO755.6ii 6-Ch 560 Watts amp; photos and review are here: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=392755

This combo was an excellent improvement over the OEM audio system in all areas, sound quality, volume, definition, adjustability. However, this improvement at the same time increased my desire to go even higher in certain audio areas that the analog EQS is technically limited to accomplish, like DSP and individual time delay. After reading several so-so reviews of the JL Cleansweep I decided to take a look at other OEM DSP integration processors currently available –AudioControl DQXS- or in the future -like the JBL Fix8 and the Alpine PXE-H650- to find out which one can give me the best set of audio features that I really want over the EQS.

The Rockford Fosgate 3Sixty.2 was the one that really have all the features that I was looking for –OEM signal DSP “conditioning”, time delay, built in crossovers and EQ and remote control. That it is the only one currently available for sale with the full specs made the decision easier too.

Features: The 3Sixty is actually two models, the .1 and the .2. The main difference is the number of bands of EQ and of crossovers, which pretty much determines the price to pay. Street price of these processors is between $250.00 (.1) to $450 (.2).

Installation: Because the main wiring and speaker upgrade was already done, this was an almost plug 'n play installation. The 3Sixty.2 is a six channel processor, with front/rear/mono sub/mono center with RCA (low level) and speaker wire (low level) inputs sections. It also accept differential/balanced inputs into the low level port straight (this is not stated in the owner's manual but confirmed before purchasing by RF engineers), perfect for our E46's OEM tuners. No separate LOCs are required or needed. Output level is 5Vrms, more than enough for the use of the OEM Tuner volume control without any negative sound effects instead of the separate volume control included.

In my installation, the EQS was removed, all the OEM tuner outputs RCA plugs (6) were cut and now connected to the 3Sixty.2, then just power, ground and remote wires were connected. That's it.

Setup: The 3Sixty.2 requires a Palm PDA with Bluetooth to be remotely controlled and adjusted; I'm using a Palm Tungsten E2 and it works flawlessly. A special CD with two tracks (pulses and whitenoise) is included; the CD is played and the instructions in the PDA followed for the initial setup. There are two initial setups, the OEM and the New Setup.

In OEM, the 3Sixty takes the OEM output and normalize it, removing any equalization and any peaks; basically it flatlines the sucker's amplitude all across the full bandwidth (20-20,000hz) and modifies whatever peaks and valleys the original signal has to compensate for the specific vehicle acoustics. The cool feature is that once this setup is finished the PDA will show you in the screen the before and after graph of this normalization. The JL Cleansweep supposedly does this kind of normalization also, but most of its reviews that I have read stated that it is not that noticeable once you hear the process completed.

In the 3Sixty you can really hear and see the improvement; the graph shows a very good OEM curve –the “before”- at around the 3 db level all across but with some emphasis in the lows (50Hz - 300Hz) and a slight roll off around 3 kHz. The "after" curve is pretty much flat across the bandwidth at 0db with some 1 db variances in the low to mid (50Hz-800hz) and really flat in the highs (>3KHz).

In New Setup, because it is for aftermarket tuners applications there is no signal normalization at all, just manual selection of number of inputs thru the PDA. This can be used as a factory “reflash” of the processor if anything is not working right after OEM set up. I already used that “feature”…

Sound: Each speaker (front or back) have their own EQ and time delay set up, so you can actually have an EQ curve of the front left speaker different from the front right, and then change the time delay between them in inches or in feet if you want. If you don’t want individual speaker adjustment then you can link pair of speakers in EQ and crossover settings (whatever you adjust for the left speaker will be applied to the right). You can set a frequency curve in your PDA screen for the EQ like it is a drawing by one stroke of the stylus. Output levels to the amp can also be set by speaker or by pair of speakers.

Once all the personal preferences with the EQ, crossovers and output levels are set, you will find that this 3Sixty.2 is no joke. IMO, this is in another, very different level over the analog EQS. First, right out of the OEM initial setup, without any adjustment of EQ (153 bands) or crossovers (AP, LP, HP, BP), any song that is played –be in the CD player, radio, iPod, Sirius, even a telephone conversation thru the OEM Bluetooth- will have a very subtle 3-D effect. Something like the person singing or speaking is separate from whatever is in the background; very, very nice DSP effect. Then each music source of the song sounds like it is better defined from the next one. This was very evident by playing FourPlay's Max-O-Man and Jeff Lorber's Ain't Nobody. All together makes the music –especially coming from the OEM Sirius, which sounded like crap most of the time before- just nicer, richer, better.

There is absolutely no induced or radiated noise whatsoever, be the car on and the tuner off (that’s the best opportunity to check for hiss caused by incorrect input level matching), or driving (no alternator noise). Each speaker sounds now like it is really getting a new, louder and cleaner by a lot signal (crossovers are set at 24db slope). The front stage is better defined than the one provided by the EQS by much, just because of the increased adjustability of the EQ, crossovers and time delay. The subs hit is perfect for a pair of 8” free air drivers, there is no other word to describe it; I’m using the Center speaker output as my right subwoofer and the Sub output is the right subwoofer, both at 150Hz low pass crossover.

Conclusion: This is it. This unit has all the DSP power and adjustability that anybody will want with a radical sound quality improvement over stock that is worth its price. It is a really excellent DSP processor all around.
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Old 09-16-2006, 08:33 PM   #2
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this is a really nice unit. I install car stereo at a shop in Charleston, SC and we have been using these alot. The bluetooth feature for PDA's is really nice, and it is the best way to make a great sounding stereo sound better
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Old 10-03-2006, 07:32 PM   #3
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It also accept differential/balanced inputs into the low level port straight (this is not stated in the owner's manual but confirmed before purchasing by RF engineers), perfect for our E46's OEM tuners.
After almost a month and two different 3Sixty.2 units my conclusion is that this unit does not accept balanced/differential signals, notwithstanding what Rockford Fosgate stated.

Right after this review, the first 3Sixty.2 unit started malfunctioning, lowering its output voltage by itself at any time, sometimes overnight after sounding great during the day before. The sound quality was gone, no bass, dull music. Resetting the unit worked for a couple of days until no longer responded anymore to the reset. Exchanged the unit with a brand new one, connected again the OEM Nav tuner output wires to the high input port of the 3Sixty.2 and still the problem was there: low output voltage in all six output channels. It seems to me like the 3Sixty.2 unit was going into some kind of "limp mode" for protection, like it did not like whatever was input to it for long.

Thus, instead of using the high input port of the 3Sixty.2, I got an SVEN4/SVEN2, converted the balanced outputs of the OEM Nav Tuner to unbalanced/RCA (three pairs) and used the low input port of the 3Sixty.2 to see if there was a difference. And it was indeed, that was almost two weeks ago and still is sounding much better than before, completely stable, nice bass, much brighter, better defined music.

However, I'm still not completely satisfied, not so much with the 3Sixty.2 itself but with the way the SVEN works as a LOC with the 3Sixty.2. Music is not as bright and defined as I remember from the first 3Sixty.2, and I think that it has to do more with the way the passive LOC is doing the convertion than what the 3Sixty is doing with the input. Only when I raise the volume considerably is that the music start sounding great. I feel that a line driver could be better than a passive LOC for my application; after all, the higher and cleaner the input signal into the 3Sixty.2, the better is for the DSP processor to do its job. So I ordered an AudioControl Matrix line driver to replace the SVEN4 and SVEN2 that I'm currently using.

This sound upgrade bug is a serious crap...
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Old 10-08-2006, 03:23 PM   #4
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Installed the AudioControl Matrix line driver 3 days ago... and it completely fixed all the problems with my OEM tuner and the 3Sixty.2. By isolating and increasing the signal to noise ratio of the OEM tuner balanced signals before being input to the 3Sixty.2, the definition, brightness and clarity, even what I called the "ambience" effect, experienced with the first 3Sixty.2 came back in full swing. I did not think that any simple Line Output Converter (passive or active) was going to fix this, this was a matter of input voltage level.

The set up was simple: increase the output level of the Matrix to 5 volts on each of the 6 channels and set the 3Sixty.2 to absolute minimum gain thru the RCA port. That did it, no hiss, no alternator whine, just definition and brightness from low volume to high volume.

This development further clarifies my previous statement regarding the 3Sixty.2 and BMW OEM balanced signals: the RCA low input section of the 3Sixty.2 does in fact accept balanced signals (the Matrix ground output configuration can be set to Ground or Isolated, either one provides the same high quality result in the 3Sixty.2; right now it is set to isolated), however there is an electrical non-compatibility between the OEM tuner outputs as is and the high input section of the 3Sixty.2 that renders the processor unstable. I do not have the equipment required to prove this, but definitely the Matrix is performing the function of fixing this non-compatibility that the 3Sixty.2 is uncapable of doing with stability thru its high port.

Excellent sound, the 3Sixty.2 fixed all the issues that I had with the AudioControl EQS and then some.
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Old 10-08-2006, 03:35 PM   #5
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Wow, amazingly detailed review. THIS is exactly the kind of information I like to keep adding this forums the "Links" thread.
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Old 11-11-2006, 06:52 PM   #6
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This is the "before"...



... and the "after":



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Old 11-11-2006, 07:25 PM   #7
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Do u still have the spare and what about weight?
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Old 11-11-2006, 07:41 PM   #8
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Do u still have the spare and what about weight?
No spare in the M3... and I'm not overweight.
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Old 11-16-2006, 10:17 AM   #9
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Technical question. I have read the RF 3sixty manual. I dont see balanced differential input mentioned anywhere ( I could have missed it) There are only RCA and Speaker level inputs. The balanced differential input has higher voltage than the RCA but is not a speaker level input. I see you have your Matrix connected to the RCA input of the 3sixty. (as expected) When you had the 3Sixty connected directly how did you connect it? RCA or high level

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Old 11-16-2006, 11:28 AM   #10
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Technical question. I have read the RF 3sixty manual. I dont see balanced differential input mentioned anywhere ( I could have missed it) There are only RCA and Speaker level inputs. The balanced differential input has higher voltage than the RCA but is not a speaker level input. I see you have your Matrix connected to the RCA input of the 3sixty. (as expected) When you had the 3Sixty connected directly how did you connect it? RCA or high level

Thanks
Hi

That was my first question to the RF people a week before buying this unit, they told me that in fact it does accept balanced/differential inputs. However, my assumption was that it did not matter which input port was used with this kind of topology.

I do tried both connections initially, before getting the Matrix: OEM Tuner speaker wire outputs in RCA plugs connected to the low input (RCA) section of the 3Sixty.2, and OEM Tuner speaker wire outputs straight to the high input (wired) section of the 3Sixty.2.

The RCA connection worked for maybe 30 minutes and then the 3Sixty.2 just locked, no sound whatsoever. After a couple of hours undisturbed then the sound came back but some of the crossover option did not work. Because the 3Sixty.2 installation/user manual made a strong point in using OEM speakers wires connected to the high section only, then I cut the RCA plugs and connected the wires straight to the high port just in case.

That's the configuration that the review above, and the next posts/updates, are based upon. What I find out was that the high input section of the 3Sixty.2 have some stability issues with my tuner, which I believe have to do with the differential signals or the voltage levels or a combination of both. Because it took maybe a day for the first 3Sixty.2 to really get out of whack and then come back, and the second 3Sixty.2 got out of whack within hours, and it never came back in full.

The Matrix solved that stability issue by probably absorbing whatever changes to the signaling the OEM Tuner was producing that the 3Sixty.2 did not like at the high port. The low input port of the 3Sixty.2 so far does not seem to care if the input signaling is differential or not from the Matrix.
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Old 11-16-2006, 02:10 PM   #11
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Thanks for the reply. Looks like I might get a Matrix befor i put it in.

Thanks
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Old 11-16-2006, 02:20 PM   #12
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I find it interesting that the fact you needed to use another piece from Audio Control to make the Rockford piece work is acceptable to everyone.
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Old 11-16-2006, 08:57 PM   #13
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I find it interesting that the fact you needed to use another piece from Audio Control to make the Rockford piece work is acceptable to everyone.
That's the whole purpose of this thread...
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Old 02-01-2007, 03:18 AM   #14
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Technic,

How is the setup working so far? Any issues or ist alles klar?

Danke,

ViDD
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Old 02-01-2007, 10:36 AM   #15
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Is there a jumper setting or something?
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Old 02-01-2007, 11:55 AM   #16
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Technic,

How is the setup working so far? Any issues or ist alles klar?

Danke,

ViDD
This is the whole story: http://www.rockfordfosgate.com/forum...TOPIC_ID=25933

I'm right now in the third 3SIXTY.2... it sounds great but as you can see in this post and in that forum, it only sounds great with a Matrix and only thru the low level inputs. I tried all possible combinations and it seems to me that the OEM tuner output voltage, in combination perhaps of the speed-variable volume feature, is just not compatible with this processor or at least is not providing the right bias to drive it.

One thing, though... it does not have anything to do -as I thought initially- with the balanced/differential signaling outputs of the OEM tuner, because the Matrix output is set to differential without any processor issues. Even after resolving this voltage level issue, setting the 3SIXTY.2 is tricky in my set up. It got to a point that I know by ear if there is some stuck signal convertion processing state every time that I have to initially set the processor thru the factory steps. Only after running the initial set up several times is that I can "clear" some distortion in the sound.

Each 3SIXTY.2 has reacted differently to its OEM Set Up and the New Set Up modes. The first one sounded perfect using the OEM Set Up, less than great using New Set Up, then virtually it went to some limp mode and never sounded even decent. The second never sounded good no matter the setting until I added the Matrix, and then only the New Set Up can get the sound right as before. The third one only sounds great again in New Set Up, using OEM Set Up it takes clarity and brightness off the highs.

The only reason that I am sticking with this processor after so much dissappointment is that, when I finally get it set, it really sounds great. No hiss, great vocals, excellent sub- and mid-bass, clear highs. It improves even the OEM Sirius sound quality considerably.

Now, if you ask me, I would not hesitate in saying that I would not recommend this processor to anybody with a BMW E46 and a stock system. It should not be necessary to add anything to this processor to make it work with our OEM radios.
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Old 02-01-2007, 07:17 PM   #17
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An interesting item I might consider using if I swap out my JL 500/5 would be the PPI DCX-730 processor. They were great bargains about 2 months ago at around $200-300. I was initially very interested in the RF unit but I have to thank Technic for his full disclosure and posting his experience.
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Old 02-02-2007, 04:43 AM   #18
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Interesting...but maybe RF didn't do their homework so it is taking some time to work out the bugs. I find it hard to believe that RF would put out an OEM adaptor that didn't adapt to OEM head units. But then again...RF is on the downward slope these days.
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Old 02-02-2007, 10:56 AM   #19
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It works perfect with the AVIC N1.
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Old 02-09-2007, 04:12 AM   #20
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Do you have screenshots of the before and after eq curves on the 3sixty.2?
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