SUBWOOFER REVIEWS

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 13, 2012 3 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
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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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 13, 2012 1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $799 At A Glance: Infrared remote control included • Optional wireless kit • Disappearing alphanumeric display behind grille

At $799, the diminutive Definitive Technology SuperCube 4000 isn’t “recycle enough aluminum cans and buy it” cheap, but it’s still in the reasonably affordable price range for a large percentage of home theater enthusiasts. Although Def Tech calls it a SuperCube, the actual dimensions are 11 inches wide x 11⅞ inches tall x 12 inches deep, which isn’t strictly a cube according to my high school geometry book. Evidently, SuperApproximatelyACube and SuperCubeLike were already trademarked, so Def Tech had to settle for the close-to-accurate SuperCube. Regardless, the compact size makes it super easy to place in a room, and fairly inconspicuous wherever you place it. Don’t let the SC4000’s small form factor fool you, though, because it’s one of the most feature-packed and easiest-to-set-up subwoofers I’ve encountered, regardless of price. It’s also surprisingly heavy (around 25 pounds) for its size.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 07, 2012 0 comments

Some home theater enthusiasts see automatic equalization as a sonic savior. They believe it guarantees great sound. But it doesn’t.

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Michael Berk Posted: Nov 11, 2011 0 comments

Over the course of this past week, our reviewers Brent Butterworth and Michael Trei examined six current subwoofer offerings, ranging from the simple to the feature packed, from Monoprice's $84 MSUB-A122 to Wisdom Audio's genre-defying $4,000 SCS, with entries from sub mainstays Velodyne, Cadence, SVS, and Sunfire along the way.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Nov 11, 2011 0 comments

Held up against the $3,499 Velodyne DD-12+ and other high-end 12-inch subwoofers that populate the CEDIA Expo, the $399 Cadence CSX-12 Mark II seems incredibly affordable.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Nov 11, 2011 0 comments

Calling a product “the best X ever” is a foolish mistake for a reviewer to make — but it’s a mistake I’ve made on more than one occasion. There was that projector that looked really great but was completely outclassed by a less-expensive model just one month later.

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Michael Trei Posted: Nov 10, 2011 0 comments

Bob Carver has always been a speaker designer who thinks outside the box, and also one who tends to ignore so-called experts when they tell him something can’t be done. As the founder of Phase Linear in the 1970s, Carver in the 1980s, and, more recently, Sunfire, Bob has been proving “experts” wrong for over 40 years.

A great example of his unconventional thinking is the Sunfire True Subwoofer, first launched some 15 years ago. Using a brute force approach, this design bent the rules that traditionally defined how much bass you could get from a given size of driver and enclosure, in the process creating what has gone on to become one of the most imitated subwoofers of all time. Now that same mindset has been applied to creating the Dynamic Series SDS-12 — a lower-cost brother for the True Subwoofer, with an asking price 75% less than the original.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Nov 09, 2011 0 comments

Check it out: 12-inch driver, 150-watt amp, and a really nice-looking curved enclosure, all for a mere $84.10 (plus $9.72 shipping and handling). If you asked me how inexpensively someone could sell a 12-inch subwoofer—and I’m talking everyday prices, not blowouts on eBay or Amazon — I’d have probably guessed $200, and that would be for something really ugly and cheap-looking.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 07, 2011 2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $879 At A Glance: Unique setup features • Sealed or ported operation • Powerful, subterranean bass

Dr. Poh Ser Hsu designed and sold his first subs around 1991. They were tall, tube-like structures, built from the forms used to pour concrete pillars. The tubes were made of relatively thin fiberboard (roughly 0.125 inches thick), and their cylindrical shape made their walls tremendously strong and resistant to flexure. More important, they were relatively light, which was ideal for Hsu’s direct-from-the-factory sales plan.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Nov 07, 2011 0 comments

In order to get the transition between your subwoofer and your main speakers close to perfect, you need measurement gear. Measurement makes your sub setup faster and more accurate. Instead of listening to bass lines to gauge the evenness of your bass response, you just run a quick measurement and get a precise result.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Nov 07, 2011 0 comments

One could argue that it’s silly to make a subwoofer look nice. Most subs get shoved into out-of-the-way places where even the most exotic wenge veneer, doused in seven coats of hand-rubbed lacquer and applied to gracefully arcing side panels, won’t really look any better than the cheapest black vinyl wrap glued over a plain rectangular box.

Those who find ugliness a virtue in subwoofers will love SVS’ new $769 PB12-NSD, which is about as plain as subwoofers get.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Nov 03, 2011 0 comments

Most subwoofers are large, roughly cube-shaped black boxes that look about as elegant as a Vietnamese potbellied pig.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Oct 16, 2011 0 comments

Romantics see Italy as a place of rich history and sophisticated culture. Not me. As a non-romantic, I can think of Italy only as the birthplace of the Fiat 128 that often left me walking instead of driving, and the location of a honeymoon in which I fought frenzied traffic and struggled to find a decent meal.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Sep 20, 2011 0 comments

The speaker world is anything but conservative. Think of the different types you can buy: good ol' cones 'n' domes, electrostatics, planar magnetics, ribbons, horns, pulsating spheres, and more, mounted in all sorts of enclosures or in no enclosures at all.

The world of custom home theater is less daring. Installers want speaker systems that sound great, play loud as hell for hours on end, place reasonable demands on amplifiers, and install easily. This is why you rarely see anything but cone 'n' dome speakers used in custom home theaters.

Of the companies catering to the custom market, BG Radia is one of the few that does things differently.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Sep 12, 2011 0 comments

From an audio standpoint, the CEDIA Expo used to be little more than a showcase for in-wall speakers and other products built mainly for multiroom systems and custom home theaters. But with the decline in home sales over the last few years, the custom market isn't so hot anymore.

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