BG Radia BGX-4850 In-Wall Subwoofer System Page 3

As Levitsky explained, if you’re a single, action-movie junkie with no prospects of romantic involvement any time soon, put your subwoofers in one corner of the room. This will generate the maximum amount of bass and the most complaints from the neighbors. Unfortunately, this setup will typically be annoyingly inconsistent in terms of output from seating position to seating position. Equalization can help smooth out the response curve, but only for one specific listening location in the room.

Thanks to research done by Floyd Toole and others, one simple solution to the problem of uneven bass throughout a room is to use multiple subwoofers positioned on opposite walls (if possible). While two is good, four (although more expensive) is even better—thus the choice of four modules for the BGX-4850. In addition to being able to produce the amount of output required for a large room, properly installing the modules on opposite walls provides a smoother overall frequency response and greatly reduces variations in output from seat to seat.

The locations where I could install in-wall subwoofers in my theater weren’t ideal, but after we finished dialing in the system, the BGX-4850’s performance was about as ideal as you could want. To prove the point about the value of multiple sub locations, Levitsky captured the response curves in the room with one, two, and then all four subwoofers in action. We didn’t need to see the graph because we could hear the differences. It was especially interesting to see the results on paper. There’s no doubt of the benefit from having four woofers.

But how do you know where the best locations in your room are? In theory, you’d place one sub in the center of each wall, or one in each corner. Since the BGX- 4850 modules are acoustically self-contained, you can easily move the modules to different places in your room and listen to the system in order to find the best spots. Unfortunately, you can’t do this if you’re building a new home and the modules need to be installed before the drywall goes up. Then it’s best to rely on theory and your custom A/V designer’s judgment.

What a Blast
Earlier this year, my wife and I were lucky enough to be at Cape Canaveral for a launch of the Space Shuttle. Even from our vantage point five miles away, the sound of the fury of the launch was damn impressive—at one point, it even elicited a stunned “Whoa!” from most of the assembled geeky types on the crowded beach. Of course, having seen and heard the real thing, and being prompted from the hoopla surroundng the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing, I decided I needed to find out how well the BGX-4850 could handle Hollywood’s version of a launch in Apollo 13.

I have to admit that I always get a lump in my throat when I watch Apollo 13. It’s partly because I’m old enough to barely remember it happening and partly because it was such a tremendous human achievement. When I watched the launch sequence, the lump in my throat was joined by quivering in the rest of my body as those 48 little woofers in the BGX-4850 flooded the room. Eager for more, I dug out my three-disc set of actual Saturn V launch footage taken by NASA cameras, some of which were located right on the launch pad. Visually, the real thing isn’t as spiffy as the theatrical version (although I think it’s more awe- inspiring); but hearing the actual audio, including a bird or two in the background before all hell breaks loose, is almost frightening. The BGX-4850 system was superb in its reproduction of the sonic fury. However, at one point, while I had the volume up a bit past the point of comfort, the system’s limiters kicked in. But I only know this because I happened to be looking at the amp’s display when it happened. Audibly, the limiter circuit’s action was imperceptible.

Other than the time I crashed an Apache helicopter in an Army training simulator, I have very little experience with real military helicopters. I feel I have the experience, though—and the emphasis is on the word feel—after watching numerous helicopter-happy scenes in Transformers. A lesser sub would certainly be able to pressurize the room with each pass of the rotors. But the BGX- 4850 is cleaner and tighter, so you get the sense of blades slicing through the air rather than the heavy slaps you’d usually hear.

Normally, I’d spend the rest of the day marveling at the plot twists and turns in Transformers, but as it happens, sometimes I like to listen to music. As with flying helicopters, I’m no expert on playing the bass guitar—my kids won’t even let me hold our PS3 Rock Band bass guitar controller—but I think I’m on pretty solid ground when I say that the three bass players who make up S.M.V., Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, and Victor Wooten, are pretty good. (That ought to qualify as the understatement of the year, if not the decade.) As I listened to the long-awaited Thunder disc, I quickly realized that the BGX-4850 is as musical and nuanced as it is powerful. With nothing else in the recording to overshadow the textures of the two bass guitars in the hands of Wooten and Miller jamming on “Classical Thump (Jam),” for example, I heard each hand slap, as well as the way the sub comfortably and cleanly reproduced the power of the initial release of the guitar strings. Reviewers often use the term effortless to describe speakers, and the word applies here, except that it doesn’t go far enough. It’s not so much that the sub’s performance gives a sense of ease as much as a sense of “is.” It’s hard to think about the sub as being separate from the music. It’s just as apparent with music a little more outrageous, such as Flight of the Cosmic Hippo (which included Wooten as part of Béla Fleck & the Flecktones). Despite the extension and duration of some of the low bass notes, the BGX-4850’s output always seemed natural. Cuts from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s Live recording jumped with the same enthusiasm.

Conclusion
I shouldn’t have praised the BGX- 4850 as much as I have, as it has one seriously large drawback. The BGX-4850’s $6,995 price tag means that I can’t afford it. A lot of you probably can’t afford it, either. (If you can afford it, did I mention that I hate you?) It’s terribly sad because there’s no doubt in my mind that the system is well worth the money. It’s not only the best in-wall subwoofer I’ve reviewed, it’s one of the best subwoofers of any configuration that I’ve heard. Knowing that the BGX-4850 is out there will always make me look at my current subwoofer and muse on how amazing things could be if we didn’t have kids, tuition, a mortgage, and all the other things that suck the money out of our bank account. Curses on you, Levitsky and Fincham! You’ve ruined just about any system I’ll ever own. I think I’ll open that bottle of vodka now.

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