SUBWOOFER REVIEWS

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 28, 2012 2 comments
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
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.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: 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.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: 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.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 24, 2012 4 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
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.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 13, 2012 1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
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.

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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 6 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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