Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Boombox Using Old School Rockford Fosgate AUDIOPhile Speakers

Custom Old School Boombox using Rockford Fosgate AUDIOphile Speakers (est. 1995)

Now, here's a project I've thought about putting together for around 20 years...a portable stereo (aka "Boombox") made from car stereo gear. In this instance, I'm using all Rockford Fosgate gear from 1995 or earlier. A single Punch 45 amplifier will power the entire system, including 4" AUDIOphile component speakers with a 1" silk-dome tweeter and bass notes will be handled by an 8" AUDIOphile subwoofer. This subwoofer should work quite nice as it is designed for a very small 0.33cu/ft sealed enclosure. The "brain" of the system will be another Rockford piece, the PA-1 pre-amp. This unit will control 2 different inputs and provide overall volume, bass, mid and treble controls.

Here is the proposed gear (subject to change):

  1. Military-Style Waterproof ABS Plastic Case
  2. Rockford Fosgate PA-1 Pre-Amp (est. 1987)
  3. Rockford Fosgate Punch 45 Amplifier (est. 1989)
  4. Rockford Fosgate RFA-414 4" AUDIOphile component system (est. 1995)
  5. Rockford Fosgate RFA-408 8" AUDIOphile subwoofer (est. 1995)
  6. (2) 8Ah Sealed Lead Acid Batteries
  7. Integrated iPod dock / AUX jack / USB port
  8. 12V Battery Gauge
  9. 12V Trickle Charger
  10. 12V 25A Lighted Switch
  11. ....more to come

I've worked on the boombox since the video below and found the case is going to be very limited in size for all of the proposed components. I may need to substitute a Punch 30 and use only one battery. Once I get the subwoofer enclosure completed (making sure to hit the optimal 0.33cu/ft internal air space), I'll have a better idea how much space I'll have for the other components. I could also use a PA-1HD or PA-2 as they are 1/2 DIN as compared to the PA-1's full DIN size, but the PA-1 just looks cooler to me!

I show off the power source(s), dual 8Ah sealed lead-acid batteries in the video. These batteries are around 4lbs each and should give us 2-3 hours of very loud playback. I'll test the playback time in an upcoming video. Again, due to space limitations, I may need to scale down to one battery.

Stay tuned for upcoming updates, the build process and the final result of my "OldSchool Boombox"

Make sure to Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to stay updated of my latest videos. You can also follow me on Twitter @oldschoolstereo.

See the video on YouTube in 1080p HD or embedded below:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Vintage Rockford Fosgate Collection of OldSchoolStereo.com

Some of the Older Fosgate and Rockford Fosgate Amps in the OldSchoolStereo collection

We at OldSchoolStereo.com are Rockford Fosgate fanatics! I myself, started off with a late 80's Punch 45 and still have the amp to this day (and it still works great!). I decided to put together a video slideshow of much of our old school collection of Fosgate and Rockford Fosgate gear.

The slideshow was put together to show off models ranging from a 1978 PR-250 to the 2005 "25 To Life" Anniversary models of the Punch 45, 75 and 150. Enjoy the slideshow showing off models such as:

  • Fosgate (Pre-Rockford) Amps including the PR-220 and PR-250
  • 1st Generation Punch 45, 75, 150 and several Perfect Interface chrome and gold amp shrouds
  • 2nd Generation and HD series Punch 45, 75 and 150
  • Old School Power series amps including the Power 100HD, Power 300, Power 360, Power 650 and Power 1000 Mosfet model
  • A MASSIVE collection of the 1992-1996 DSM series amps including; Punch 40, 60, 100, 200 (plus the ix models) and a few of the 4 channel models; 4020, 160x4 and 400x4. I also show off a MINT Punch Power 500M in the original box!
  • Speakers including the "Punch Classic" subwoofers and AUDIOphile mids/tweets and subs from the mid-1990's
  • And MUCH more! Enjoy the 5 minute video!
I also created both music tracks on my iPad using GarageBand. I'm no expert making music, but have fun doing it. Let me know what you think of my beats and such.

Rockford Fosgate DSM Heaven!

Make sure to Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to stay updated of my latest videos. You can also follow me on Twitter @oldschoolstereo.

See the video on YouTube in 1080p HD or embedded below:



Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lepai LP-168HA Mini Amp Tested and Reviewed

Lepai LP-168HA "Super Bass" 2.1 Mini Power Amplifier

The Chinese mini amp invasion continues! This time we will show off the Lepai LP-168HA, a 2.1 channel mini amp. It is called a 2.1 amp, because it offers 2 stereo channels as well as a single "bass" channel. Sounds very promising at the rated 40x2, plus 68x1 power output. Now, as we've seen before, the manufacturer's ratings for these amps means nothing...Actual RMS output means everything!

The Lepai LP-168HA offers 3 inputs, all in parallel (non switchable). On the front, there is a 3.5mm stereo input jack, while the back offers left and right RCA input jacks as well as a USB port. The USB port will play back MP3 files on a compatible thumb drive, MP3 player, cell phone, etc. This feature wasn't tested other than for charging and it failed on 2 out of 3 devices tested. The 1st generation iPod Nano was the only device accepting a charge from the LP-168HA...neither the iPhone 3G nor the iPhone 4 would receive charge from the USB port.

Lepai LP-168HA's Rear Connections

The LP-168HA also offers a separate volume (and TINY knob) for the bass channel as well as the stereo channels. Unlike most amps offering a bass channel, there is no "master" volume controlling all outputs. You must adjust the bass channel and stereo channels independently. What a horrible design! Furthermore, the bass channel reaches full power at just a slight turn of the bass volume adjustment. There is no input gain control for the channels, just the volume knobs.

Speaking of input gain, there is a VERY important note here...I was unable to drive the front channels to clipping with an iPod Nano 1st gen or iPhone 4. It appears the LP-168HA wants an input of around 2-3V to reach max volume, and most portable devices don't have enough juice! I had to use my Yamaha home theater receiver with approx. 3V pre-outs to drive the LP-168HA to it's maximum volume. I didn't mention this in the video review, but feel it is a BIG deal.

Another area of interest is the crossover for the bass channel. I just verified my tests in the video using a 2nd example of this LP-168HA and both exhibit the same issue. The bass channel's crossover is cutting out some of the highs, but not fully until 2kHz or higher. I tested using a 1kHz test tone and was still able to hear it quite clear, even setting the crossover at 50Hz! Needless to say, you'll want to add a passive choke to keep your "subwoofer" from getting frequencies too high. Speaking of this, I'm not sure which "subwoofer" you'd use with this amp, but it better be a small and efficient one!

Lepai LP-168HA Controls

Watch as I verify RMS power output using the Velleman HPS50 and SMD DD-1 Distortion Detector. How close can we get to the manufacturers claim of 40x2 and 68x1? Well, you're gonna have to watch and see....

If you haven't seen the intro article to the "Chinese Mini Amp Invasion" check it out now. Also, I've made a video playlist of all the mini amps I've tested, see it HERE.

Make sure to Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to stay updated of my latest videos. You can also follow me on Twitter @oldschoolstereo.

See the Lepai LP-168HA in HD on YouTube

or embedded below:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Alpine 7288 Cassette Radio/CD Changer Controller - Vintage, Old School!

Alpine 7288 Cassette Radio / CD Changer Controller - Pull Out, same Era as 7909

Take a journey back to 1989 with this Alpine 7288 Cassette Radio / CD Changer Controller with Pull Out functionality for security. This was not Alpine's top of the line unit, but at $500US MSRP, it was still a very pricey tape deck. The 7289 was Alpine's most expensive Cassette Radio at the time, $550 (with internal amplification), while the 7390 was the top end Cassette Tuner (no built-in amp) and would set you back a mere $600US. These high-end Alpine head units could control the 5952 and 5959 CD Changers.

So, why would one pay $500 for a Cassette Radio when the Alpine 7904 CD Tuner could be obtained for the same price? Well, you must recall, at the time (1989/1990), most people had cassette collections, but only a few CD's. Alpine was betting most people would opt for a nice cassette radio up front, then add a CD Changer when the funds became available. The 5952 CD Changer was a mere $650, so adding one was a big purchase for most folks. Now, if you had mad cash, you could just trash your cassettes, buy an Alpine 7909 CD Tuner for $1200, then add a 5952 CD Changer for many hours of listening pleasure!

Ok, sorry, back to reality. We are talking about the 7288 Cassette Radio, so I'll try to stay on topic. Let's see some of the technical specifications of the 7288:

  • MSRP: $500US
  • Pull-Out for security
  • 4 RCA Pre-Amp Outputs for adding external amplifiers
  • 16W + 16W Built-in amplifier
  • GR Full Lock Tape Mechanism
  • Auto Reverse
  • Tape Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Dolby B Noise Reduction
  • CD Changer Controller
  • 12FM and 6AM Radio Presets
  • Dimensions: 7in x 2in x 6in

Click HERE to See FULL Size picture

I recently picked up a MINT Alpine 7288 and thought it was important to write an article and create a demo video showing off the unit. Click HERE to see the full specifications.

Although I was able to test the unit for functionality, I did not do a full test. The tape mechanism sounded rather loud to me, it may have always been this way, but I didn't want to stress it out. It most likely needs a new belt for the tape drive, but I don't know for sure. I was extremely impressed all features appeared to work properly and the FM tuner was working even without an antenna plugged in...now that's a sensitive tuner!! Unfortunately, I didn't have a 5952 or 5959 CD Changer to test out the controller functionality, but hopefully I'll come across one soon.

See more up close and personal pictures below:

Alpine 7288 Left Front Side

Alpine 7288 Front Right Side - Classic "chicklets"

As you can see in the pictures, the display is bright and clear. The buttons show very little wear, even less than my near mint Alpine 7903 CD Tuner. I used a soft brush to remove the dust, you may be able to see I missed some....dang those DSLR's!

One last picture I'll show before the video is the DIN plug and RCA Pre-Amp outputs. See below:

Alpine 7288's DIN Plug for CD Changer and RCA Output Jacks

Alright, so we all know a picture is worth 1000 words, so how much is a video worth? Well, for me, it all depends on the quality. The video below was captured in 1080/24P using my Canon 7D. I was planning on recording audio using an external device, but decided the internal mic would suffice for the tape sounds and output sounds. As I note in the video, I was using a small 4" dual-cone speaker, so don't expect any impressive sounds from the Tuner and Tape playback tests. Enjoy the video!

Make sure to Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to stay updated of my latest videos. You can also follow me on Twitter @oldschoolstereo.

See the video on YouTube in 720p HD or embedded below: