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  1. #1
    GeoffT's Avatar
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    RNS-E / Symphony II+ back to back comparison

    I guess this should go in the ICE section, but no-one seems to read that so I'll put it here!

    As many of you will know, I have recently retrofitted a RNS-E retrofit in place of my Symphony II+. After having to put the Symphony II+ back in due to a warranty trip to the dealers regarding a Bluetooth fault, I have now decided to stick with that, and have just sold the RNS-E. As I have just done a back to back comparison, I thought I would put down my thoughts on the pros and cons of each system while they are fresh in my mind. Hopefully this might help people if they are thinking of choosing either system.

    I have separated the RNS-E functionality into Radio/MP3 player/telephone interface to compare with the Symphony with the MFSW phone control, and the Navigation to compare to a standalone system such as a Tomtom.


    RNS-E as a radio/MP3 player/Telephone interface - pros
    • SD card MP3 playback easier to add/change tracks than burning a new CD
    • Larger screen enables more MP3 tracks in list to be displayed
    RNS-E as a radio/MP3 player/Telephone interface - cons
    • SD card 400 file limit (per card).
    • Slow starting MP3 playback on start-up.
    • Poor choice of screen colour schemes. (my pet-hate !)
    • Has no start-up volume setting.
    • MP3 display playing time covers up part of the title/artist line for the current track.
    • Radio does not default to the memory screen.
    • Screen sometimes difficult to read in sunlight. (especially low winter sun)
    • Telephone system starts in the dial number manually screen. Takes several button presses to get to phone book. No advantage that I have found over using the MFSW to access the phone.
    • (Late 2007 onwards vehicles only) Changes to vehicle aerial wiring cause ZF to ground DTC errors and a slightly poor FM signal. This can be solved but costs around 150 to do.
    Symphony II+ as radio/MP3 player & MFSW as telephone interface - pros
    • Screen is easier to read in sunlight (and is the correct Audi red colour!)
    • Can store 512 files per CD (although this would have to be at very low bitrate to get onto a 700Mb CD)
    • Gives 4.2Gb (6*700Mb) of MP3 storage with a theoretical total of 3072 files.
    • Startup volume setting.
    • Radio shows presets screen as default
    • (MFSW) One button press for access to phone book.
    Symphony II+ as radio/MP3 player & MFSW as telephone interface - cons
    • Does not show CD/MP3 disc title in CD changer screen (just displays either MP3 or CD) so you need to remember which CD is in which location.
    • In radio mode (on late 2007 models) the left roller on the MFSW does not scroll through presets, but all possible stations.
    • IN MP3 browse mode the left roller on the MFSW does not scroll through the list.
    RNS_E as navigation pros
    • Factory fit
    • Large screen
    • Secure
    • Displays info in DIS
    RNS_E as navigation cons
    • No facility to add custom POIs (ie speed cameras)
    • Without SDS is a total pain to program.
    • Even with SDS is not as easy to use as a touch screen navigation system.
    • Only supports 4 digit postcode still have to enter street name.
    Stand alone navigation (Tomtom in my case) pros
    • Extremely easy to use via touchscreen
    • Can be programmed in advance out of car.
    • Can add custom POIs such as speed cameras and give warning when approaching them.
    • Full postcode support.
    Stand alone navigation (Tomtom in my case) cons
    • Needs additional mount / wiring.
    • Security risk if left in car with mount on show (I have hidden my mount in the ashtray but that is not perfect)
    • Smaller screen
    • No info on DIS
    Summary

    If anyone ever succeeds in cracking the firmware on the RNS-E, I think it could be transformed, as most of my cons with it could be solved by a decent programmer in an afternoon. Until that happens, I just found that those little gripes continually annoyed me. It is a bit like going on a date with a gorgeous woman, only to find out she has bad breath and supports Man Utd.
    A3 Sportback Sport 2.0 TDI 140 Mauritius Blue, Black/Grey matrix, GSM prep in armrest, MFSW, 17" 16 spoke wheels, Acoustic Parking rear, Cruise, Non-smoking pack, Symphony II+

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  3. #2
    sat1983's Avatar
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    Hehe interesting read Geoff. I have just had the RNS retroffited so hope I will get on with it better than you did. I have to say either way it's miles better than the concert unit i had before.
    I have just come back from a 3000 miles round europe trip and my Tom Tom was a pain in the neck to live with. Just one of them things but it went faulty just as we left Sheffield. Couldn't keep a charge and the charger wouldn't work either, neither did the replacement i bought for it. And the real pain in the arse was to put it away everytime we stopped.
    Another thing, is wiping the suction mark off the windscreen.
    I must admit that not having a touchscreen on the RNS-E is annoying. Still, I'll get used to it!
    Ex 2006 A3 2.0 TDI owner

    2010 Polo GTI 6R

  4. #3
    GeoffT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sat1983
    Hehe interesting read Geoff. I have just had the RNS retroffited so hope I will get on with it better than you did. I have to say either way it's miles better than the concert unit i had before.
    I have just come back from a 3000 miles round europe trip and my Tom Tom was a pain in the neck to live with. Just one of them things but it went faulty just as we left Sheffield. Couldn't keep a charge and the charger wouldn't work either, neither did the replacement i bought for it. And the real pain in the arse was to put it away everytime we stopped.
    Another thing, is wiping the suction mark off the windscreen.
    I must admit that not having a touchscreen on the RNS-E is annoying. Still, I'll get used to it!
    I think that to use a Tomtom seriously you really do need a proper "active" mount so that it is held solidly and with no flying power leads. I hate those windscreen mounts (and they're a dead giveaway to thieves). I use a Tomtom every day in my company van with a brodit mount and have never had a moments trouble with it.

    In the A3, where the Nav doesn't get used as much, I have fitted a modified active mount in the ashtray (details are on here somewhere) so that it is totally hidden when not in use. It's not an ideal place to view the screen, but it's not too bad and with voice prompts it's fine, and gives warning of speed cameras which has saved me a few points.
    A3 Sportback Sport 2.0 TDI 140 Mauritius Blue, Black/Grey matrix, GSM prep in armrest, MFSW, 17" 16 spoke wheels, Acoustic Parking rear, Cruise, Non-smoking pack, Symphony II+

  5. #4
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    just out of curiosity i'm ordering a dension kit for my symphony 2 +, do you remember wehter the cd port was a 12 pin quadlock or a 20 pin ISO connection.

    Thanks

    Migzy

  6. #5
    redbutcher's Avatar
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    It'll be a quadlock fitting.
    Jon

    Now A3 less......

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    excellent i'm thinking of wacking in a ipod touch.

    thanks

    migzy

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    Quote Originally Posted by migzy
    just out of curiosity i'm ordering a dension kit for my symphony 2 +, do you remember wehter the cd port was a 12 pin quadlock or a 20 pin ISO connection.

    Thanks

    Migzy
    12 pin - the blue connector in the quadlock.

  9. #8
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    Interesting post, Geoff. Having had my RNS-E in place for a little over a year, I understand a lot of the shortcomings you mentioned - it's far from perfect. I read a car review last year featuring the B7 A4 against its rivals and the testers criticised the RNS-E fitted to the test car, saying it was difficult to use against the competition.

    However, I'm made up with mine. The extra features it has over the Symphony II that was replaced make it worthwhile; the TMC feature alone of the RNS-E makes it worth having in my view as it's saved some nightmare journeys again and again. The MP3/SD card setup works well too - word is that the latest software release 0650 has removed the 512 file limit - and the way it integrates into the car, both in terms of looks and automatic hook-up with DIS is fab. And while not necessarily adding anything in value to the car, the RNS-E will make it much easier to sell because it's a desirable option, plus it's gonna be there when I come back to it each day: the number of portable sat nav thefts these days puts me right off buying one.

    We can only hope those bods on http://www.navplus.us get the firmware cracked to allow some improvements!
    2004 A3 Sportback 2.0TDI SE, RNS-E Sat Nav SW0650 TMC, 17" Star Alloys, Xenons, DIS, Rear Mats & Sunblind, Alu trim, Ebony Black pearlescent
    2006 Honda Accord EX i-CTDI, Arctic Blue, Leather, Sat Nav, XCarLink

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by benw123
    word is that the latest software release 0650 has removed the 512 file limit
    Do you know if this is correct? Would you happen to know what the new file limit is?
    A6 3.0 TDI.

  11. #10
    think that to use a Tomtom seriously you really do need a proper "active" mount so that it is held solidly and with no flying power leads. I hate those windscreen mounts (and they're a dead giveaway to thieves). I use a Tomtom every day in my company van with a brodit mount and have never had a moments trouble with it.
    I use Sat/Nav software loaded on my PDA. It's held in a hardwired Brodit mount fitted to the dashboard. My PDA always goes with me when I leave the car. The GPS is a CF card slot mounted unit which I also take with me. Sometimes I even use the software in pedestrian mode to find a location if I have to park someway away.

    I can also set up a location, POI or route on the PDA at my desk in the house the day before I leave for a journey. The GPS works just as well inside the house as in the car.
    Dave R (h5djr)
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A3 8V 2.0 TDI-184 Sportback Sport s-tronic quattro - Silver + lots of options - my 9th A3

  12. #11
    benw123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Issac Hunt
    Do you know if this is correct? Would you happen to know what the new file limit is?
    Check out this post on navplus. There's more details of the software changes in this thread.
    2004 A3 Sportback 2.0TDI SE, RNS-E Sat Nav SW0650 TMC, 17" Star Alloys, Xenons, DIS, Rear Mats & Sunblind, Alu trim, Ebony Black pearlescent
    2006 Honda Accord EX i-CTDI, Arctic Blue, Leather, Sat Nav, XCarLink

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    Quote Originally Posted by benw123
    Check out this post on navplus. There's more details of the software changes in this thread.
    Cheers Ben, No definitive answer that I could find with regards to the file limit though I'm afraid.

    I will load up one of my 4G cards over the weekend to try and find out if anything has changed with 0650.
    A6 3.0 TDI.

  14. #13
    GeoffT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Issac Hunt
    Do you know if this is correct? Would you happen to know what the new file limit is?
    I thought someone on Navplus had tested 0650 and the 400 file limit still exists.
    A3 Sportback Sport 2.0 TDI 140 Mauritius Blue, Black/Grey matrix, GSM prep in armrest, MFSW, 17" 16 spoke wheels, Acoustic Parking rear, Cruise, Non-smoking pack, Symphony II+

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffT
    I thought someone on Navplus had tested 0650 and the 400 file limit still exists.
    File limit was 512 previous to 0650 so I'll be most annoyed if it has gone down!
    A6 3.0 TDI.

  16. #15
    consilio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffT
    It is a bit like going on a date with a gorgeous woman, only to find out she has bad breath and supports Man Utd.
    But if she looks good and goes like a train, you'd still shag her right?


    RNS-E all the way!
    March 2011 - B8 Audi S4, Ibis White, S-Tronic, Leather / Alcantera Super Sports Seats, Heated Front Seats, Advanced Key, Tech Pack High, Electrically folding and auto dimming mirrors

    SOLD - 8P Audi S3. Brilliant Black, FBMF wheel, Bose, RNS-E, Auto lights/wipers, Cruise control, Tyre pressure monitor, Parking sensors, Interior light pack, GSM phone prep, Armrest, Privacy glass, Electrically folding mirrors.

  17. #16
    GeoffT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Issac Hunt
    File limit was 512 previous to 0650 so I'll be most annoyed if it has gone down!
    Are you sure? The navplus guys seem to think it was, and still is 400. I was going to test it but didn't get that far.


    Quote Originally Posted by consilio
    But if she looks good and goes like a train, you'd still shag her right?


    RNS-E all the way!
    Well I could forgive the bad breath - but not the Man U supporting!

    Seriously, I am happier with Symphony II+ and Tomtom than the RNS-E (and 500 better off)
    A3 Sportback Sport 2.0 TDI 140 Mauritius Blue, Black/Grey matrix, GSM prep in armrest, MFSW, 17" 16 spoke wheels, Acoustic Parking rear, Cruise, Non-smoking pack, Symphony II+

  18. #17
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    Forgive bad breath?

    I dumped a hotty because her feet were out of proportion, i just couldnt get my head round it. though i really wanted to, she was a diamond!

  19. #18
    Kontraband's Avatar
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    freaky feet, man! freaky feet!

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffT
    Are you sure? The navplus guys seem to think it was, and still is 400. I was going to test it but didn't get that far.
    100% sure. I have somewhere around 490 files on each of my SD cards. Further investigation seems to indicate that the limit of 400 could apply to files within the root folder itself not the total number of objects on the SD card. Or it could depend on the HW version of the unit as some people think, Mine is HW73 as is a friend of mine's. Both our units can handle 512 files in total per card. My mate read on a German forum that the 512 limit has not increased with SW0650.

    Looks like its back to the Kufatec IMA project to fully integrate the controls for Zune MP3 player instead.
    A6 3.0 TDI.

  21. #20
    PetrolDave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Issac Hunt
    100% sure. I have somewhere around 490 files on each of my SD cards. Further investigation seems to indicate that the limit of 400 could apply to files within the root folder itself not the total number of objects on the SD card. Or it could depend on the HW version of the unit as some people think, Mine is HW73 as is a friend of mine's. Both our units can handle 512 files in total per card. My mate read on a German forum that the 512 limit has not increased with SW0650.
    My RNS-E also takes 512 files, but some guys are totally sure theirs will only take 400.

    Like you I think the limit is 400 in the root folder, and 512 on the card as a whole.

    It's almost certainly not a HW version dependent thing.

    It's true that the limit has NOT increased with SW0650.
    2006 RS4 Avant (Phantom Black), RNS-E (2010 version inc SDS, HW 070, SW 0220) with AMI (250GB hard disk), Bluetooth + iPhone 5

  22. #21
    sat1983's Avatar
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    I have spent all evening putting songs on the SD card for the RNS-E to tell me that the data is corrupted. What am I doing wrong?
    Ex 2006 A3 2.0 TDI owner

    2010 Polo GTI 6R

  23. #22
    PetrolDave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sat1983
    I have spent all evening putting songs on the SD card for the RNS-E to tell me that the data is corrupted. What am I doing wrong?
    1) Are you sure they are MP3 files? - they are the ONLY ones that work.

    2) Did you FAT32 format the SD card first?
    2006 RS4 Avant (Phantom Black), RNS-E (2010 version inc SDS, HW 070, SW 0220) with AMI (250GB hard disk), Bluetooth + iPhone 5

  24. #23
    sat1983's Avatar
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    Right have fixed it. Or thought I had. They are Mp3's and are formatted FAT32.
    Some songs will play fully some will only play less than a minute, what's happening!!
    Ex 2006 A3 2.0 TDI owner

    2010 Polo GTI 6R

  25. #24
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    Pioneer HD3-BT is the way to go.
    8P2 3.2 S Line S tronic

  26. #25
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    Hello guys,

    I am trying to get all the information to retrofit an OEM Bluetooth module in my Sept 2007 A3 8P. My car came with the MFSW, the FIS, and the Concert II+ radio. All the retrofit details I found were for previous versions of the radio (Concert/Symphony I, Concert/Symphony II..). Could someone help out with the exact part#s I need to order and how to connect them to my Concert II+. What are the VAG COM codes I need to change? Finally, if I am using a US bluetooth module (like the 8P0 862 335 G), what difference will that make for the VAG COM coding?

    Thanks for your help guys!

  27. #26
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    You'll probably get a more detailed response on navplus, there is a probably a guide on there!
    A6 3.0 TDI.

  28. #27
    Matt's Avatar
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    So the 1500 factory fit (or how ever much it is) RNS-E doesn't even have full postcode input?!
    Sold: A3 2.0 TDI 170 S-line | Full leather | BOSE | Phantom Black | Bluefin
    Now: Mini John Cooper Works

  29. #28
    GeoffT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt View Post
    So the 1500 factory fit (or how ever much it is) RNS-E doesn't even have full postcode input?!
    Nope! just for example "CV3 5" then a list of street name to pick from. Compared to a modern sat-nav it's very poor. It looks good, that's about all it's got going for it IMO.
    A3 Sportback Sport 2.0 TDI 140 Mauritius Blue, Black/Grey matrix, GSM prep in armrest, MFSW, 17" 16 spoke wheels, Acoustic Parking rear, Cruise, Non-smoking pack, Symphony II+

  30. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffT View Post
    Nope! just for example "CV3 5" then a list of street name to pick from. Compared to a modern sat-nav it's very poor. It looks good, that's about all it's got going for it IMO.
    Plus it won't get nicked like a TomTom!
    2004 A3 Sportback 2.0TDI SE, RNS-E Sat Nav SW0650 TMC, 17" Star Alloys, Xenons, DIS, Rear Mats & Sunblind, Alu trim, Ebony Black pearlescent
    2006 Honda Accord EX i-CTDI, Arctic Blue, Leather, Sat Nav, XCarLink

  31. #30
    GeoffT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benw123 View Post
    Plus it won't get nicked like a TomTom!
    I woudn't be so sure - where do all the RNS-Es on Ebay come from?

    Anyway never had a TomTom nicked in 5 years. Helped keep my licence clean too.
    A3 Sportback Sport 2.0 TDI 140 Mauritius Blue, Black/Grey matrix, GSM prep in armrest, MFSW, 17" 16 spoke wheels, Acoustic Parking rear, Cruise, Non-smoking pack, Symphony II+

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    Hi Isaac, I couldn't find this guide yet on Navplus. I'll keep searching and asking

 

 

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