If ever there was an audio company truly describable as omnipresent it would be American-born Rockford Fosgate. During its half century tenure producing some of the most recognisable products on the planet, Rockford Fosgate, or simply Rockford in local vernacular, has been there and done it all. This includes the marine element too, and history will record that Rockford dominated this fundamental corner of the market long before many of its competitors even considered its relevance.
One trend you’ll notice when browsing company marine stables (should that be aquariums?) is that the products number far less than that of car audio. This is not simply because there’s less boats but also because marine vessels tend to not adhere too strictly to standard size components, especially where head units are concerned. In a perfect world every boat would allow for either 1-DIN (50mm) or 2-DIN (100mm) in size. Sadly though this is anything but a perfect world, and the number of times I’ve seen boats with 1.5DIN-faced (75mm) receivers is substantial. True, many hail from the USA but in fairness it’s not restricted exclusively to that part of the world. We’re now seeing a lot more European watercraft joining this trend and for good reason. Most boats featuring single-DIN head units have free real estate around the receiver’s face. Not quite enough to allow the fitment of a 2-DIN receiver, but space enough to fit a 1.5-DIN face in while still retaining the 1-DIN back-end. Strangely though, the 1.5-DIN market remains almost untapped. Rockford though has strategically targeted this market, developing a new worldclass head unit called the PMX-5 specifically designed for those boats able to accept a 1.5DIN source unit.
Designed as an all in one digital receiver, the PMX-5 successfully blends motley features, clean lines, marine grade materials, robust components, and boasts numerous ancillary aspects unique to marine audio such as being ISO8846/SAE J1171 ignition protection certified and holding a IPX6 waterproof rating. It’s somewhat of a departure from standard receivers, omitting primary items such as a disc mechanism and navigation, but in this technically savvy day and age these things are redundant anyway. Don’t let the lack of disc mechanism cool you off either, because the positives of having no mech are multi-tiered, starting with the most obvious in that it allows the price tag to stay lower. There are, however, other ancillary bonuses that by enlarge remain unnoticed, such as less moving parts equating to less chance of breakdowns, not to mention that no mechanism also means more space for RAM – ergo the PMX-5 operates somewhat faster than its competition too.
Moving along to the features and starting with input methodology; getting music into the PMX-5 is simple enough, achieved primarily via your smart device and the full speed version 2.0 USB plug located on the back. As a secondary source you can use the version 3.0 + EDR Bluetooth chipset installed, not only for telephonic duties but also for A2DP and AVRCP wireless streaming. Stable Android aside, I might mention it’s also compatible with the latest iPhone 6 and 6s running iOS 8 software. You can also use the USB to operate all manner of storage devices provided they’re formatted and stored within the standard FAT 12/16/32 file structure, with primary file types supported being MP3 and WMA.
The unit also supports Pandora, a highly popular internet radio application which allows you to select the genre/song/album/artist you prefer and it will automatically select and play others along a similar vein, with you approving or disapproving tracks as it plays them, allowing the system to build a comprehensive and accurate database of songs you’ll enjoy. You simply open the Pandora app on your smartphone and away you go. If you prefer to remain within the analogue realm the PMX-5 also offers analogue audio inputs on the rear, along with an analogue radio tuner featuring 18 presets for FM and 12 for AM. For external control there’s an analogue direct steering wheel input, plus a digital control port which