Nebulizer II is sponsored by Volkswagen of America and VAD Mobile
You can get by in life without a vehicle diagnostic tool, so long as you have a buddy nearby
who can help reset faults and or diagnose codes... but if you can afford it, it's super handy
to have with you at all times. That's probably the single reason that I like the VAD Mobile
concept over the VAG-COM version that requires a computer. With a simple (and cheap)
Palm Pilot purchased from eBay, I am able to get OBD-II information immediately when I
need it. Compared to the VAG, it is admittedly missing the simpler "long coding" features and
the ability to sample at a super-high rate, but those features in my opinion are outweighed by
the convenience afforded by the portable Palm Pilot based VAD. The bluetooth connection
is a plus for me, however I originally only upgraded because my previous cable version is
not compatible with the MKV's CAN system. That said, I must admit that I am enjoying
the faster connection speed and convenience of a wireless system. The only downside is
that the wired version used to keep my Palm fully charged at all times, but I now remedy
that by charging the Palm in the car on the way to the track.
I especially enjoy the ability to monitor real-time information when out on a track day. When
I had my MKIV R32 with the HPA turbo kit, I always monitored coolant temps at the track
along with intake air temps (IAT) because the car's built in coolant gauge is worthless since
it only moves once temps are way passed normal operating temps. Keeping an eye on
IAT versus ambient temps is also cool to note the efficiency of the intercooler, and this is
especially true on HPA turbo'd cars since they relocate the IAT sensor from the MAF to the
intake manifold, so it's reading after the turbo and intercooler.
With the MKV, since we have an OEM oil temp sender, I now monitor oil temps on the track
and even in my current NA form, was able to see that my oil temps hit a unsafe high of
286 degrees at WSIR in 96 degree ambient temperatures. This informs me that the car
is not built for tough track abuse at the factory and as a result, I've started work on putting
the pieces together for an oil cooler kit that is optimized for track use.
First of all... the MFD2 Navigation system that came with the R32 is horrible. I had the
same system in my 2006 Passat and was very disappointed when I found out that the
OEM Navigation system in my 2008 R32 was the same. I'll just ramble on about why the
MFD2 is so bad... no MP3 CD/DVD support, iPod integration is unusable, entering addresses
via a turn-knob is the worst, no support for searching within a zip code so if you enter in
Los Angeles when it should be West Los Angeles you will never get the right address, when
you make a wrong turn the system is so slow to recalculate I've actually pulled over and
waited for it to find a new route, the graphics are similar to an Atari 2600, sound quality is
marginal at best, it has a huge screen but it's not touch-enabled, and so on and so forth.
Thankfully (and I'm still shocked)... VWoA created an amazing product with the RNS-510.
I hereby declare that the VW RNS-510 is hands down, the absolute best headunit (OEM
or Aftermarket) available today! In fact, I think that if VWoA packaged the RNS-510
as a double-din unit with basic RCA outputs, it would quickly become one of the hottest
selling aftermarket headunits out there. The only shortcoming is that the audio output
is probably not as pure as the higher end aftermarket stereos, but for me and my needs
in a car (horrible audio environment), features totally outweigh audiophile-ness.
My friends at VWoA were kind enough to jump on-board "Project Halo" by supplying me with
a RNS-510 headunit for Project Halo. This unit is absolutely amazing. Hard to describe why
it is so good without a live demo, but it far surpasses any OEM or even aftermarket unit
that I've seen on all fronts. Even the fancy Pioneer D3, Z3 or similar units that were very
popular in the MKIV world do not compare to the RNS-510... and to top it all off, it has an
OEM fit and finish that looks fantastic in our dashboard.
Features and functions of the RNS-510
- Full integration into the MFD display for all functions (Audio, Nav, Bluetooth, etc)
- Full support of steering wheel function buttons
- AM/FM/SIRIUS and HD-RADIO all built into the headunit itself. HD-RADIO is awesome!
- MP3/WAV/WMV support via internal hard drive (14GB of 30GB available to music)
- MP3/WAV/WMV support via SD card slot (only supports SD cards up to 2GB)
- MP3/WAV/WMV support via CD or DVD disk, easy to copy from CD/DVD to hard disk drive
- 3D and 2D map options with very high resolution graphics on the touch-screen
- Amazing navigation system with entry by zip code and a massive database of destinations
- Optional integrated traffic notification on Navigation from Sirius if you subscribe
- Optional FISCON bluetooth integration
Overall, the feature list combined with great integration and design is why I love my RNS-510
so much. I'm thankful that VWoA provided me this unit as part of my project build, but I
can say that without a doubt, I would purchase one if required. The price is a bit steep at
around $2000, but it really is that good. For those who, like me, think that an aftermarket
radio looks horrible in our oddly shaped OEM radio openings... but want more features and
an up-to-date stereo system... I strongly suggest the RNS-510.
Now... there is one thing missing from the OEM RNS-510 and that is a quality line level
output for feeding an aftermarket amplifier. While the RNS-510 did improve the sound
quality a bit on the stock amp/speakers... they were nowhere near the quality level that
I wanted in a car that I spend quite a bit of time in on a daily basis. But, OEM integration
and looks were a higher priority for me than quality low-level RCA outputs, so I turned to
a JL Audio Cleansweep as a 2nd best option. The JL Audio Cleansweep takes your high
level outputs (speaker outputs) and converts it to a clean RCA low level signal... just like
any basic $25 "LOC" would do. But... the Cleansweep automatically flattens the output of
the signal since most OEM units have built-in equalization to make the crappy speakers
sound better. The RNS-510 seems fairly flat, but I doubt it's a completely flat signal so I
went with the Cleansweep. Of all the stereo parts used in this overhaul upgrade, I think
that this is probably the most unnecessary, but for $250, it was worth the added benefit of
knowing that my signal was as "good as can be" without going overboard for what I was
trying to accomplish.
The JL Audio Cleansweep then feeds into an Alpine PDX-4.150 amplifier that is running in
three-channel bridged mode... sending 150Wx2 to the front door speakers (see below) and
300W to the subwoofer. I haven't been keeping up on car stereo and I was blown away at
the size, quality and price for such a fine amplifier. The amp is about the size of a small
book and fit very easily into the foam in the rear trunk. Power is readily available right in
the trunk and the amp tucks away nicely out of sight. The audio quality of this Alpine
digital amp is fantastic and the output is clean and loud, a great value amplifier.
For the subwoofer, I used a JL Audio 10W3v3 subwoofer in a custom fiberglass enclosure
made by fellow Vortexer MK3SERGE who lives in New Jersey. I saw a thread where he
created a custom enclosure for his MKV GTI and after sending him an IM, he kindly agreed
to make me a box for my R32. Turn around time was super quick and I love the final
product. He charged me $250 shipped but admitted that it was probably a bit cheap and
will be charging a bit more for future orders. Hit him up if you need a custom box... it fits
perfectly and I'm very happy with the sound output.
I opted against a JL Audio Stealthbox due to cost and the fact that it uses a much more
power hungry subwoofer that would have required a dedicated subwoofer amp. The 300W
coming out the bridged and crossed-over subwoofer output from the Alpine PDX-4.150 is
the perfect amount of power for the lower end 10W3 versus the 10W7 that is used in the
overpriced JL Stealthbox. My custom setup provided more than enough bass for my needs
and that bass is tight, controlled and of very good audio quality. I especially like how songs
that have a ton of bass (rap, hip/hop) boom as they should, but rock songs just play out
their tight and clean bass lines. I hate systems that make every song sound like some
sort of gangsta rap "boom boom" song.
For the front door speakers, I chose CDT HD-642[/url] component speakers. I wasn't familiar
with CDT before the purchase but they came strongly recommended by a friend and after
some research online, I decided to give them a try. Oh yeah, and the close-out pricing for
these 3-way components at $399 was a no brainer as well, considering they were the high
end CDT series that normally cost well over $700. The 6.5" woofer fit into the factory
location, and actually mounted to the existing plastic spacer ring. The tweeter was easily
glued into place in the factory location. The 4" midrange however was very deep with a
huge magnet, and so it required some door cutting/modifications to get it to fit properly.
With the components installed and the crossovers mounted on the door next to the woofer,
the sound system really comes to life. The sound of the CDTs is super clean and doesn't
have any sort of harshness at all. The silk tweeters deliver ultra-clean highs that are crisp
but still very soft in their approach. From rock to jazz to R&B... everything sounds good
coming out of the CDTs... even NPR!
Overall... I'm totally happy with the audio upgrades added to Project Halo. The car now has
a top-notch sound system that looks completely OEM from the outside. It is the perfect
combination of OEM goodness and aftermarket badassedness. I gave a lot of sound
system demos at Fastivus to anyone that was interested and I think that most walked away
both impressed with the RNS-510 feature set and with the sound quality coming out of what
is really a fairly basic audio system setup. I hope you've enjoyed my review and would love
Special thanks to MK3serge once again for the custom subwoofer encloser and for those who
are in the SoCal area that need some great work done, I'd recommend contacting fellow
MKIV R32 owner crnacnac and getting on his busy schedule. If you were at Fastivus, he had
the blue MKIV R32 with the crazy stereo setup. Jon is super cool and I highly recommend.
WOW, that was long!
Modified by nebuchadnezzar at 8:43 AM 7-21-2009