SUBWOOFER REVIEWS

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Daniel Kumin  |  Nov 20, 2012  |  0 comments

Here are two words I never thought I’d use together in a sentence: audiophile soundbar. Yet MartinLogan’s new Motion Vision model indisputably qualifies.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Nov 15, 2012  |  7 comments

SP-BS22-LR Speakers
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SW-8MK2 Subwoofer
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Price: $450 At A Glance: Affordable designer speakers • Second gen with improved parts • Clearer, meatier sound

Looking for a great sounding set of home theater speakers but on a tight budget? Read on and find out why Pioneer's newest speakers might be just what the doctor ordered and learn how gifted designer Andrew Jones met the challenge of building a high-performance speaker ensemble that can be had for only $500. Even he can't believe it.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Oct 19, 2012  |  0 comments

DX-1 HCP Speaker
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DX-1 subwoofer
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Price: $799 At A Glance: Sweet but detailed mids • High-gloss finish • Great sats, OK sub

One of your best friends calls up to announce that she is about to wed someone rich and powerful. He owns a shipyard that manufactures exceptionally luxurious yachts. You’re happy for her, but you worry, too. Would living with such a strong personality, a guy with all that money and all that power, be good for her? Would it make her stronger or weaker? A few years later you run into her, and after a few hours of conversation, you conclude that she’s in great shape internally as well as externally. There’s a serenity beneath the tan. Her husband is affectionate and faithful, a child is on the way, and she’s never been happier.

Brent Butterworth  |  Oct 16, 2012  |  1 comments

Tube-shaped subs are popular with DIY-ers because they’re easy to construct. Just grab a cylindrical concrete form at Home Depot, slap some ends?on it, and you’ve got a nice subwoofer enclosure. But SVS features tube-shaped subs in its line not because they’re easy to build; it’s because the form factor makes them perfect for certain rooms. At 16.6 inches in diameter, the company’s PC-13 Ultra takes up less than half the floor space of its comparable box-shaped sub, the PB-13 Ultra. A PC-13 Ultra can slip almost unnoticed into a corner, while the PB-13 Ultra can slip unnoticed into... well, maybe an aircraft hangar.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Oct 12, 2012  |  0 comments

PSB Imagine T2 Speaker System
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PSB SubSeries 300 Subwoofer
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Price: $7,140 (updated 3/10/15)
At A Glance: Independent ported chambers for each woofer • Dual five-way gold-plated binding posts for biwiring or biamping • Five-way transitional design

Paul Barton is a nutcase. Oh, sure, he’s soft-spoken, ultra-smart, and intensely passionate about sound. (In the late 1960s, 11-year-old Barton started building speakers with his dad in their workshop because other speakers “didn’t sound natural.”) But that’s just a cover. I don’t know how else to explain the fact that Mr. Barton (the “P” and “B” of PSB Speakers—with his wife, Sue, providing the “S”) has spent so much of his life locked away in the anechoic chamber and testing/listening labs of Canada’s federally funded National Research Council (NRC) in Ottawa, Ontario. In fact, according to PSB, although folks from other speaker companies (such as Paradigm, Energy, Mirage, Snell, and Aperion, to name a few) have traipsed through the NRC’s Acoustics and Signal Processing Department’s doors, since the late 1970s, Barton “has spent far longer in the chamber and lab than any other speaker designer.” So rather than skiing, hunting, fishing, playing hockey, and/or drinking beer all day like real Canadians do, Barton chose to play in an anechoic chamber. As I said, he’s a nutcase.

Kim Wilson  |  Sep 25, 2012  |  0 comments

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Price: $699 At a Glance: Dedicated sub that extends dynamics and musicality of Sonos speakers • Easy setup and simple control via iOS and Android apps • Unique design and stunning high-gloss finish • One-button setup to the Sonos network

The latest addition to the Sonos family of products is the Sonos SUB, which is specifically designed to work with the company’s speakers—the Play:3 and Play:5. Either of these can be paired with another speaker of the same model to create a stereo pair for a wider soundfield.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Sep 20, 2012  |  0 comments
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Price: $3,499 At A Glance: Automatic speaker discovery and channel assignment • Uncompressed 24-bit wireless digital audio • No AVR needed

Not long ago, FedEx deposited a 7.1channel HTIB from Aperion Audio outside my door. It’s not really fair to call it a home theater in a box because the system actually comes in seven boxes and sells for $3,499. But since it includes source switching and amplification, it technically qualifies as an HTIB, albeit a rather unusual one. Aperion Audio prefers the term preconfigured home theater system. Normally, setting up this sort of home theater package would entail speaker wires crisscrossing the floor accompanied by the requisite grumbling, stripping of wires, and fumbling with speaker terminals. In this case, though, the Aperion speakers—a pair of towers, a center channel, a subwoofer, and two pair of satellite speakers—come out of their boxes, get placed in their appropriate spots in the room, have each one’s power cord plugged into the nearest AC outlet…and that’s it.

David Vaughn  |  Aug 28, 2012  |  2 comments
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Price: $2,000 At a Glance: Extremely small form factor • Powerful, tight bass response • Impeccable build quality

Bob Carver is a legend in the A/V industry, and when he formed Sunfire in the 1990s, the company’s name became closely associated with subwoofers. In 1996, the Sunfire True Subwoofer, as it was marketed, was born, and it popularized what eventually became a whole new subcategory (so to speak) of the speaker industry. The 11.5-inch cube produced a copious amount of bass from a small enclosure by utilizing specially designed drive units and a patented Tracking Downconverter (TDC) amplifier that could dynamically adjust its power supply based on the incoming signals.

Brent Butterworth  |  Aug 23, 2012  |  0 comments

For subwoofer designers, the laws of physics boil down to: Small box, low cost, high output — pick any two. You can always shrink the enclosure, but to get decent output from it, you’ll need a high-powered amp and a beefy driver. And if you shrink the box way down, as Sunfire did with its new Atmos subwoofer, you’ll need to go even more extreme.

Brent Butterworth  |  Jun 20, 2012  |  0 comments

Since my first lengthy experience with Sonos products, I've been recommending them as a simpler, lower-cost alternative to traditional multiroom audio systems. It's just so much easier. Plug in a Sonos component, go through a simple config, and you have great-sounding music and Internet radio in any room (or many rooms) in a matter of minutes, all controlled by your smartphone or computer.

But there's one thing a Sonos system doesn't deliver: bass. Now that's fixed.

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 30, 2012  |  2 comments

LSiM707 Surround Speaker System
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DSWmicroPRO3000 subwoofer
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Price: $9,900 (updated 3/10/15)
At A Glance: Excellent dynamic range • Solid imaging and depth • Could use more top-end air

Polk Audio has a proud history stretching back to the early 1970s. Its products have leaned more to the familiar and affordable rather than to the expensive and esoteric, but there have been exceptions. The SRT series, introduced in 1995, was a surround system with seven separate speakers encompassing 35 active drivers, including two subwoofers said to be capable of 120 decibels at 30 hertz. It corralled its fair share of buyers willing to pony up the $10,000 asking price.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  May 24, 2012  |  4 comments

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Price: $12,000 as reviewed At A Glance: Industrial-grade actuators • Remarkably easy installation • Can be used for simple bass enhancement of music

There are, and have been, lots of movements in the world: political (the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street), social (abolition, women’s suffrage, and prohibition), artistic (Impressionism, Dadaism, and WTFism), and of course, bowel (but I digest…er, digress).

When it comes to subwoofers and speakers, air movement is of particular import. If you want loud, low bass, your woofers are going to have to compress a lot of air. For movies, it’s especially enjoyable when your subwoofer has enough spunk to cause the floor under your feet and the seat under your butt—and even your body’s chest cavity—to vibrate during those massive, over-the-top Hollywood explosions or through the low rumble of an earthquake. These are sensations that you feel more than hear.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  May 16, 2012  |  4 comments

StudioMonitor 55 Speakers
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SuperCube 6000 subwoofer
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Price: $2,494 At A Glance: Top-mounted, passive radiator • Dual binding posts • Enhanced phase plug

Whether you think a decade is a long or a short period of time depends on your perspective. If you’re discussing cosmology with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the word “decade” probably won’t even make it into the conversation. If you’re Apple, you crank out more than 300 million iPods in that period of time. If you’re a momma elephant with a particularly frisky elephant husband who likes to party, you might be able to birth five elephant progeny. (Although the stretch marks will simply be impossible to get rid of after that third one, no matter what exercise club you sign up with.) At the Glenmorangie distillery in the Scottish Highlands, you’re trying to decide whether or not to bottle the batch of single-malt scotch that’s been aging in the barrels for the last decade or to wait another eight years and ship out cases of Glenmorangie 18 Years Old instead. But if you’re Definitive Technology, you take your sweet time and eventually come out with…wait for it…three (as in one more than two) totally redesigned monitor speakers.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Mar 13, 2012  |  1 comments

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Price: $6,300 At A Glance: Automatic Room Optimization (A.R.O.) with microphone • XLR output to connect one or more slave f212 subwoofers • Dual 12-inch active drivers

Unless you live in South Florida or are heavily into car audio, there’s a good chance you don’t recognize the name JL Audio. That’s because while these guys make dozens of products for automobiles and boats, they only make a few for home theaters. And the cheapest ones—the just announced 10-inch E110 and 12-inch E112, cost $1,300 and $1,600, respectively.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Mar 13, 2012  |  3 comments

Performance
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Price: $1,799 At A Glance: Front-firing active driver with down-firing passive radiator • Independent volume controls for simultaneous use of high- and low-level inputs

So, who the hell is REL Acoustics? That’s a question you might be asking yourself if your favorite places to shop for the latest in A/V gear happen to be Sears, RadioShack, or Big Jim’s Family Pawn & Gun Shop. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those establishments (well, Big Jim’s might be a little iffy), but REL’s subwoofers are not a cash-and-carry kind of thing. As a matter of fact, REL—a British company that makes only subwoofers—claims its products “are not traditional subwoofers, but true sub-bass systems.” Starting with this slightly different concept of what a subwoofer should be, it’s no wonder that REL subs require a somewhat out-of-the-ordinary setup and that the company recommends parameter settings that are a bit unusual. As a result, REL subwoofers are found only at retailers that have silk-robed salespeople who have been trained by mystical, shoeless REL Zen Bass Masters to be highly skilled in the ancient acoustical arts of transducental bass reproduction.

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