Friday, December 31, 2010

Old School Cheater Amps from the Early 90's

I recently did a video review comparing 4 Old School "cheater" amps. This is not designed cover ALL old school cheater amps, but the ones I happen to own.

Here are the amps in my overview:

1) Rockford Fosgate Punch 45HD - I consider this amp a "cheater" because it was underrated and would handle 1ohm loads even though it was not rated to do so. My Punch 45HD was birthed at 91.1 watts/ch into 2 ohm loads, although it was rated at 35 watts/ch into 2 ohms.

I purchased this amp in December 1991 and used it for years in 2 ohm mono configuration powering (2) 10" MTX Blue Thunder 4 ohm subs wired in parallel. No, I wasn't winning many SPL competitions with this setup, but it sounded surprisingly clean. I had a friend who used one of these amps powering all Rockford Series 1 speakers including; (2) 10's, (2) 6.5's, (2) 4's and (2) tweeters using a passive crossover network. Again, no SPL records broken here, but a clean and plenty loud setup with a "45 watt" amp.

Original retail price of the Punch 45HD was $279 USD, although shops in my area were known to push this price up to $299 or more as these amps were in high demand and relatively low supply in the early 90's.

2) Orion 225 HCCA (Digital Reference) - One of the most feared cheater amps of the early 90's. It was rated to handle loads as low as 1/2 ohm in stereo and 1 ohm mono. It was rated to output 200x2 or 400x1 into these loads. However, for competition's sake, it was rated at 25 watts x 2 into 4 ohms.

There were several versions of the 225 HCCA in the 1990's:

  • 1st Generation would come to be known as the "Moon and Stars" version. This version required a separate bridging module from Orion to run it in mono.
  • 2nd Generation (shown here) was the "Digital Reference" series. These amps, like the first Gen models, had a wiring harness for the speaker outputs and 8 gauge extended power and ground wires for power connection. This model had built-in bridging capability and an EQ button for boosting lows and highs while reducing mid-bass. See the video for the specifics.
  • 3rd Generation "Competition Amp / X-over" model, A.K.A. "Pop Top" version has some notable differences from earlier models. For example, a built-in crossover via SLF-1 modules and speaker/power terminal plugs for easy wiring connections. The "Pop Top" name came from the top panel which could be removed to reveal the SLF-1 and/or by-pass modules.
  • 4th Generation and later - known as the 225R, 225G4 and 225G5. I don't have many details about these amps other than I believe the 225R was the last model to be built in the USA. I'm also a little confused why the 225G4 was called the G4, when it was actually the 5th gen?
The Orion 225 HCCA originally retailed for around $600 USD. Yep, you could by 2 Punch 45HD's and still have some left over for wiring or other equipment...

3) Precision Power Pro Mos 25 - PPI's cheater amp rated at 25x2 into 4 ohms and designed to handle loads down to 1 ohm stereo or 2 ohms mono. The one I display in the video is an Art Series (white with silk-screened graphic), there were also versions in black.

The Pro Mos series was replaced in the mid 90's with the Pro Art series. Like the early Gen Orion HCCA models, the Pro Mos versions had wiring harness with plug and extended power and ground wires. My Pro Mos 25 didn't come with a wiring harness, so I had to source a re-manufactured one. Many people would just solder wires directly to the board, but I wanted to keep the amp in stock condition, especially due to the warranty seal being in tact and not wanting to break it!

I'm not certain of the original MSRP, but believe it was around $500 USD.

4) Phoenix Gold MPS-2240 - from PG's "Mobile Professional Series" line, the MPS-2240 was Phoenix Gold's least expensive MPS series amp. It was rated at 24x2 into 4 ohms and designed to handle 1/2 ohm stereo or 1 ohm mono loads where it was rated to put out 288 watts total. I don't have numbers to back it up, but this rating appears to be very conservative. I believe it was closer to 400 actual watts, maybe a little more.

As with the other cheater amps I've mentioned above, the MPS-2240 did not have any active crossover built-in. It did have nice terminal connections for speakers and power. Not to mention, the real beauty of this amp was the "guts". If you've never seen an MS or MPS series Phoenix Gold upside down and open, you've missed out! Watch the video to see what I mean!

According to the April 2006 version of Car Audio and Electronics "Directory", the MPS-2240 originally retailed for $529 USD. I recall these amps being difficult to find as Phoenix Gold had few if any authorized dealers in my area.

Again, this video is only an overview of each amp, not designed to be an extensive review. I may put each amp head to head in tests in the near stay tuned!

Click the link if you prefer to see the video in HD (720 or 1080p):


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rockford Fosgate Punch 40i DSM Amp - Sound Quality Test - 1080p

Journey back to 1993...Rockford was to replace the VERY popular Punch 45 with a newer model and new design. How could they top the power, versatility and pure popularity of the Punch 45HD? Well, the entire Punch series saw a face lift. Gone were the HD series and out with the DSM series.

Here, I'm demonstrating a model with is unique in the DSM series. The Punch 40i DSM superseded the Punch 40 DSM and preceded the Punch 40ix DSM. It was released in the 1993-1994 time frame. Why did Rockford release only the Punch 40 as an "i" series? I'm not sure if this question has ever been answered. Maybe they thought the "entry level" DSM amp didn't need a crossover like the 60ix, 100ix and 200ix. It would become obvious if this was the case the decision was quickly changed and the Punch 40ix DSM would replace the Punch 40i.

Enough with the model number mumbo-jumbo, what's so special about the Punch 40i DSM? Well, as with most "oldschool" Rockford amplifiers, this one was VERY underrated. Yes, you may notice the 20x2 watt rating into 4 ohms and say, "why would anyone pay $300 for such an amp?" Well, there are several reasons, some referencing quality and durability. Most Rockford fans knew this amp would actually output 50-75 watts per/ch RMS into 4 ohms and around 200 watts bridged at 4 ohms mono. I don't have a birthsheet to prove this output but have seen some from these amps and these are the actual numbers.

In addition to providing more power than expected, these amps also exude top quality sonics. View my video below to experience the sonic quality of these amps. For best results, use high quality headphones. Enjoy the demo!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rockford Fosgate Punch 45HD vs. Kicker 10" Solobaric S10c Subs

I've done several audio demonstrations with my old school amplifiers, but recently realized I haven't made a video of one showing off the P45HD! For this test, I hooked up a couple of old school Kicker Solobaric S10c subwoofers in parallel (4 ohms each sub, in parallel equals 2 ohms). I then bridged the P45HD using the orange for + and the brown for -. This gives an effective load on the P45HD as 2 ohms mono or 1 ohm stereo....isn't this a problem? Not at all my friends! Rockford didn't rate these amps to handle 1ohm loads, but anyone who knows these amps knows they were built to handle it without a sweat!

This particular demo shows off the ability of the P45HD to handle the "booty bass" tracks of the early 1990's. Most of the tracks are from Magic Mike and while this is not what I listen to now, it is what rocked my car back in high school.

Enough talk about the Punch 45HD, let's see it in action!

Here are also a few pics of the amp and it's beauty...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rockford Fosgate Punch 45HD - Old School Cheater Amp!

The Rockford Fosgate Punch 45HD was one of the original "cheater amps". This amp was the king of the 0-50 watt competition class in the early 90's. Other notable contenders were the Orion 225HCCA and PPI ProMos 25 (which cost nearly 2x as much). The Punch 45HD originally retailed for $279 US and was rather difficult to find in stock. Many competitors used complex passive crossover networks and several speakers (10-12 or more) all powered by the Punch 45HD. By using the "tri-mode" operation, you could bridge the channels for subwoofers while retaining stereo operation for the mids and highs.

My Punch 45HD "birth sheet" stated 91 watts/ch into 2ohm loads. I can't remember if they stated 4ohm loads back then, but it should be around 50w/ch. My birth sheet is MIA (along with the original manual), but I'm sure I'll come across it someday.

Keep tuned in for a future test comparing the 1st Gen Punch 45, Punch 45HD and the "25 to Life" Punch 45....three awesome amps ranging from the late 1980's up to 2005.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Old School Hafler MSE88tn - Rockford-built SQ amp!

Here's another gem in my collection....a Hafler MSE88tn from the early 1990's. I'm the original owner and I'm sure I have the sales slip around somewhere, but the price on the box is $329.99. I also have the owner's manual and this amp is rated at 22w x 4 into 4 ohms or 76w x 2 into 4 ohms bridged. I don't have the birthsheet and don't know the actual power output of this beauty. Like all early 1990's Rockford-built amps, it has a molex plug for the speaker outs and spade connections for power and ground. I used the amp for a very short time back in the mid-1990's and almost left it in a car I was selling. Something told me to remove it, put it back in the box and hold onto it for future enjoyment....glad I made this decision!

See the picture below and I also have a short video overviewing the amp on Youtube:

Alpine CDA-7903 Pull-Out CD Tuner

A closer look of my Alpine 7903. I bought it from the original owner back in either 1990 or 1991. I'll never forget his 1980's Trans-Am that looked like a total rust bucket, but when the guy opened the door to show me the Alpine, the interior was immaculate! He had gold plated RF amps, dual 12" Kicker C-12 subs and 6.5 separates in the doors. I can't remember exactly why he was selling the Alpine, but I do remember haggling him down from $300 to $280. Remember folks, back then, this unit cost $500 new. I used this unit for about 7 or 8 years until the CD mechanism refused to eject my CD. I decided to put it up and maybe get it repaired one day. As you can see by the picture, it is still in GREAT condition!

This goes back to when the high-end head units lacked built-in power. The 7903 has dual RCA outputs for front + rear and a very simple design. These units were not flashy, but produced excellent sound quality. See an excellent example of this Japanese-built electronics art:

Old School Sony XM-C2000 6-channel Car Amplifier

Now on to some old school Sony....the XM series. This one in particular is the XM-C2000, which is a rare, 6 x 30 amp from Sony. I got this from a buddy of mine back in the mid-1990's. He had it powering a system in his Corolla GTS and I couldn't believe it when he told me they used a Sony amp until I got in his car to hear the system. WOW, Sony made amps that ROCKED? Yessiree, they did back in the early to mid-1990's. I can tell you the two rear 30 watt channels powering (2) 10" subs in a bandpass box nearly blew me away. Not only was it LOUD, but sounded VERY clean. He had 5.25 separates in the doors and 5.25 coaxes in the rear, each powered by their own 30x2 channels.

I used the amp in my Ford Ranger for a few years powering (2) 10" MTX Blue Thunder subs and 5x7 coaxes in the doors (yeah, I know, 5x7's, call me lazy). I took the XM-C2000 out about a year ago when I thought I was going to sell my truck....well, I still have the truck and I still have the amp (no 10" Blue Thunder's though, sold them). Maybe I'll put this amp back to use one day soon....if not, I won't be getting rid of it anytime soon.

Recent comment from Forum on this item:

".... I REALLY BADLY want this amp!!! I collect o/s Sony. I have a few matching mid-late 80s amps, one from the 90s, and for home audio...a pair of 1976 SSU-1800s. All of those but the 90s amp are super rare, and all sound amazing."


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rockford Fosgate Punch 30HD - Old School aka "Peanut"

See a Rockford Punch 30HD survivor in 1080p HD! This amp is TINY and is rated at 15 watts x 2 into 4 ohms. A friend of mine had one of these in high school powering (2) 8's in one of those full range boxes (had two 8's and two horn tweeters) and it KICKED! 

The Punch 30HD was the only "Punch" amplifier at the time missing bass and treble controls. Originally priced at $179 US, the Punch 30HD was a full $100 less than the infamous Punch 45HD. The Punch 30HD was retired after a few years and replaced by the "Series 1" amps. The "Series 1" was Rockford's entry level line and also lacked bass and treble controls.

Actual dimensions of the Punch 30HD are: 6.1" Long x 7.1" Wide x 1.6" Tall

For a link to the full 1080p version of this video, go here:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rockford Fosgate Punch 45 and Punch 150 Mosfet - Old School / Vintage Overview

Enjoy a demonstration of a first generation Rockford Fosgate Punch 45 and Punch 150 in FULL 1080p! These were originally produced in the late 1980's. In 2005, Rockford re-introduced the Punch 45, 75, 150 and Power 1000 as "25 to Life" anniversary edition models. Rockford, along with Orion, Precision Power, Soundstream, and others help boost the popularity of upgraded car audio systems beginning back in the late 1980's and early 1990's.

The Rockford Fosgate Mosfet series amps eventually transformed into the "HD" or "Hybrid Design" in the early 1990's. Hybrid Design was touted as more efficient an durable because of the surface mounted components. See future videos for more information on the "HD" Series of Rockford Fosgate amplifiers.

See the embedded video below or click the link to enjoy full 1080p video of these vintage amplifiers:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rockford Fosgate Punch 45 Mosfet - Vintage Old School

This is a VERY short video showing off an original Rockford Fosgate Punch 45 mosfet power amplifier (in FULL 1080p!!). This amp was produced in the late 1980's (in the USA) and helped thrust Rockford into the top rankings of the car audio / competition area. Rockford Fosgate built a reputation of underrating their amplifiers and for years, the Punch 45 was the amp to beat in the 0-50 watt class.

There was an earlier model called the Punch 40 (aka "Slider Series"). Even earlier, there were Fosgate amplifiers, prior to Rockford. I don't have much information on these amplifiers, so anyone wanting to share information would be great!

To see this video in full 1080p, please visit the link below:

Rockford Fosgate Old School Amps - Punch 45 and More!

Below is a video displaying some examples of Rockford Fosgate's history of automobile amplifiers. See all of the Punch "HD" amps including the Punch 30HD, Punch 45HD, Punch 75HD and Punch 150HD. I also display the first generation Punch 45 and Punch 150 mosfet amplifiers along with a mint, Rockford made, Hafler MSE88tn. Finally, you'll see a Punch 45 "25 to Life" amplifier. Also, watch my other videos where I give you a closer look at each amp.

Video is also available in 1080p High Definition by visiting the YouTube page directly: