This High-End Audio Brand Is Tricking Out Cars, Boats & Bikes With Booming Stereo Systems

Crank it up to 11 with Rockford Fosgate’s jacked-up audio enhancements.

(Rockford Fosgate)

If seeing is believing, then hearing is its own form of belief. And the difference between a standard audio system, and the audio systems being precisely crafted by Rockford Fosgate, showcase that difference in impressive fashion.

Founded by inventor and engineer Jim Fosgate in Arizona in 1973, Fosgate’s initial PR-7000 amplifier adjusted for acoustical frequencies between the human ear and musical sound waves, the result of inspired tinkering, invention and experimentation.

(Brian Edstrom/Courtesy of Rockford Fosgate)

Rockford Fosgate sound systems eventually made their way into a range of rugged and dependable vehicles, and one might say the rest is history. Yet, a peek behind the curtain during an exclusive winter tour at Rockford Fosgate unveils a deep, rich and sonically pleasing story.

Music and a rigorous commitment to world-class audio drives the company to this day, said Zach Luke, managing director of the brand.

(Brian Edstrom/Courtesy of Rockford Fosgate)

“Our purpose-built products meet our customers where they are, enhancing their moment with a powerful experience through music,” he declared.

The company, operating out of a sprawling Tempe, Az. facility, now outfits everything from the Polaris Slingshot to an impressive range of cars, boats and Harley-Davidson motorcycles with crystal-clear, bold and wildly impressive sound systems.

(Brian Edstrom/Courtesy of Rockford Fosgate)

There’s an intoxicating blend of science, precision and good old-fashioned, hard-rocking audio at play across the Rockford Fosgate facility.

Rigorous rounds of testing, down to the smallest detail and sound wave, take Rockford Fosgate gear through its paces: Parts of the facility feel akin to a recording studio, all the better to ensure a premium audio experience.

Car amplifiers and specific Jeep kits, among other motorsport audio systems, nod to the brand’s roots. 2018-2023 Jeep Wrangler models can get the Rockford Fosgate audio treatment with a special kit, and a new Jeep Gladiator system is compatible with models from 2020 onward (both are priced at $5,499).

The company has also developed a Polaris Ranger Roof Audio System (its loudest all-in-one system, one that also boasts plug-and-play installation).

Your average car sound system, this is not: The Jeep systems boast 1,800-watt perfection and the brand’s signature “ElementReady” design protect the sound system from water, dirt and UV rays, and it’s as if the brand says, “If you can dream it, we can build it.”

(Brian Edstrom/Courtesy of Rockford Fosgate)

A new ride certainly meets the audio system in perfect form, as Maxim found out during a ride-along showcasing the Rockford Fosgate’s signature booming sound.

Subwoofers, amplifiers and speakers across three different distinct product lines (known as Power, Punch and Prime) deliver plentiful, stylish and high-performing options for mobile audio.

(Brian Edstrom/Courtesy of Rockford Fosgate)

Even when a motorcycle is fired up to test out a Rockford Fosgate audio system, the sound quality shines through.

It’s bold rather than overly loud, it’s well-balanced rather than ear-splitting, and it adds a further touch of badass appeal to a motorcycle, among other compatible vehicles.

The same holds true as one cruises across a sunny Arizona lake on a boat outfitted with a Rockford Fosgate marine audio system.

(Brian Edstrom/Courtesy of Rockford Fosgate)

There’s a pleasing, almost luxurious feel to the listening experience, with sound cresting easily over a boat motor.

Back at the Rockford Fosgate facility, the approach to testing new audio equipment feels more like a fun science experiment than one might expect, and performance in the lab lends itself to performance in the field.

The process starts on paper before molds are developed and then eventually fabricated, not unlike the way a new car might come to life.

(Rockford Fosgate)

And from Nissan to Polaris, Harley-Davidson and Can-Am vehicles, Rockford Fosgate also develops OEM, or factory-installed, audio systems, which are integrated seamlessly into the vehicle itself.

The preference, between an audio system that ships with a vehicle and one that’s installed by a consumer or an auto pro, is as personal as one’s favorite food or drink, the company notes.

For its utility task vehicle systems in particular, there are also “plug-and-play” designs that can be installed by DIY-centric consumers.

(Brian Edstrom/Courtesy of Rockford Fosgate)

Back in the lab, Rockford Fosgate has a dedicated testing playlist covering every genre imaginable, all the better to see how all sorts of music play on its audio systems — long before they make their way into vehicles.

Of course, there’s also the chance to hear the real thing at work, including in a van on company property outfitted with a positively stacked array of Rockford Fosgate speakers.

(Brian Edstrom/Courtesy of Rockford Fosgate)

That experience is so loud, in fact, that over-ear protection needs to be worn for even simple testing of about a minute.

It’s tough to pinpoint in which vehicle Rockford Fosgate speakers deliver the best sound: Is it on a steady highway riding along in a Jeep, or going off-road through the Arizona desert in a Polaris blasting AC/DC? Or else cruising on a lake? The answer might be that it has to be heard to be believed.

Although its focus on audio quality is intensive and at times obsessive (in a way only true audiophiles can understand), Rockford Fosgate takes plenty of inspiration from companies outside the audio space, its managing director said.

Brands like FOX, for its high-performance suspension technology and an eye for what consumers want, are of particular inspiration, along with gear and equipment brands like Dewalt.

But perhaps more surprisingly, the company also admires iconic streetwear companies like STUSSY for its fresh, relevant designs and a focus on sustainability.

(Rockford Fosgate)

Authentic, classically minded companies like Pendleton and Harley-Davidson also help spur Rockford Fosgate forward, Luke said.

“There is no compromise. Rockford Fosgate product is expected to be sonically class-leading and perform in every environment it is designed for,” Luke said, noting that it “must be reliable and impervious to the conditions … while standing the test of time. Without reliability, there is no performance, and without performance, there is no point.”

(Rockford Fosgate)

Rugged performance in the field is bolstered by a “measure twice, cut once,” approach back at HQ, so to speak, and Rockford Fosgate is always looking to further adapt in the on-the-go audio world.

“Our objective is to continue pushing, delivering the best possible audio solutions for every lifestyle,” Luke said. “Wherever that takes us, we go where our customers go.”