Today I took some time to do some extensive testing of the new STi firmware which incorporates the new ramp-up fix.
-- I tested my STi alongside the SML 2008 STi and found that the SML 2008 STi is still just a hair more sensitive to K band, and that my STi is still just a hair more sensitive to X band. Thus my STi's radar performance is exactly the same as it was before it was flashed with this latest firmware. For these tests, I drove to my favorite X and K band door openers which I have used in the past. I also parked in specific locations where I new that the detection of the door openers would be just at the limit of my STi's sensitivity based on numerous past tests.
-- The new firmware no longer has the old 8 second long hold time for intermittent weak alerts. The hold time now seems to be 2 to 4 seconds for weakly detected intermittent signals. Sometimes the hold time is just two seconds, yet at other times a final audio beep may sound within 4 seconds. This may be what is throwing people off and causing them to think that their STi's with the new audio ramp-up fix is less sensitive on K band.
AutoScan and City Modes
-- My STi still performs the same in these modes as it did before it was flashed with this latest firmware. I've used my STi for over a year now. City mode really needs to reduce K band sensitivity by 8dBm, preferably by simply squelching very weak K band signals. An 8dBm reduction in K band sensitivity while in City mode would be just about perfect in my opinion, and would provide good K band detection with reduced K band false alerts from more distant K band door openers.
-- I've had a few encounters during the past year with two cops in the same area running K band. AutoScan mode very weakly filters multiple K band signals with a clip of maybe 3dBm. For a while I wished that Bel would increase this threshold, but now I think that they should leave AutoScan mode exactly the way it is. Squelching multiple K band signals in AutoScan mode any further would be just too risky.
-- My STi now repeatedly responds to 1/4 second X band instant-on bursts! Not only that, the alert now quickly dies away within 2 seconds. I noted similar performance for K band except that 1/4 second instant-on K band bursts were detected only 90% of the time. This may have to do with filtering. All tests were done in Highway mode. Anyway, now STi owners with this latest firmware at last have reliable instant-on detection combined with a very quick dying away of the alert. Now there is no way that you won't recognize an instant-on alert for what it is -- even if it is a fairly distant instant-on alert.
-- The flash rate of both the STi's alert lamp (LEDs which light up the Volume/Mute button) and the Smartcord's alert LED are now directly tied to the audio alert rate, except when the audio alert rate becomes a nearly continuous tone. When the audio alert rate is at maximum or nearly a continuous tone, the alert LEDs instead will flash at a very fast rate, yet at not so fast of a rate that it would appear that these LEDs are continuously lit. Thats good, since the rather fast LED flash rate for a full alert isn't so fast that it wouldn't get your attention when viewed from your peripheral vision.
Visual Alert Profile
-- The visual ramp-up has not changed. It is still very linear with regards to distance from the radar source.
Audio Alert Profile
-- The audio ramp-up is not linear but instead appears to be exponential. The user gets continuously variable audio alert rates for weak to mid strength signals. The audio alert rate then strongly exponentially increases for visual signal strengths greater than 6 on a 1 to 9 scale. Some people may wish that the audio ramp-up was linear just like the visual ramp-up. If that is your desire then get an incredibly chatty V1! Yet after driving around town this afternoon with my STi in Highway mode and after doing some passes against several microwave door openers, I think that Bel has hit the nail on the head in terms of providing a very useful audio ramp-up profile which doesn't incessantly annoy the driver.
So, there you have it! These are my quick yet more in-depth observations regarding the features of Bel's new ramp-up fix firmware for the STi. If I had an extra hand then I would give it 3 thumbs up.