JL Audio Dominion d110 Subwoofer Review
AT A GLANCE
Powerful bass for a compact sub
Performs extremely well with music and movies
Lacks last half-octave of deep bass you can get from larger subs
If you’re limited on space but have adequate funding, this is the strongest-performing compact sub I’ve auditioned.
It’s another American business success story. A couple of kids, Jim Birch and Lucio Proni, begin building home loudspeakers during summer break in 1975. More than 40 years later, Jim and Lucio are still going strong, having seen JL Audio become one of the most respected consumer electronics brands in the world, branching out from the home to mobile and marine applications. I’ve experienced their products at some custom shops and have read glowing reviews of their subwoofers over the years. My favorite review was by my colleague Darryl Wilkinson, who said the company’s Fathom f212 sub could play a 20-hertz test tone loud enough to liquefy his bowels! High praise, indeed.
Needless to say, when I was asked if I wanted to review JL Audio’s new Dominion d110 subwoofer, I couldn’t hit the reply button quick enough to ensure an in-home audition. The Dominion line consists of four SKUs: 10-inch and 8-inch models with two finishes each, black gloss and black ash. JL sent me the black gloss d110 for review, which has an MSRP of $1,100. But if you don’t need the piano finish, you can save $100 and go with the painted wood look; both models should sound exactly the same.
The Dominion d110 is at the upper end of moderately priced subwoofers, but it’s also the lowest-priced offering from JL Audio. In fact, it’s downright cheap compared with the previously mentioned Fathom f212, which goes for $7,000, and especially the Gotham v2, a $15,000 bass behemoth that those of us in the 99 percent club can only dream about owning! Given JL’s rich history, could their entry-level model exceed my expectations? We’ll have to see.
Judge Me by My Size, Do You?
Unboxing a Dominion d110 is relatively easy because of its small enclosure and manageable 38.2-pound weight, which made maneuvering it around the room a breeze; I could actually pick it up. Geometrically, it’s not exactly a cube, measuring 12 inches wide x 13.4 high x 15.86 deep. The piano finish is flawless; after I had unpacked the d110 and wiped away my fingerprints, the sub was beautiful to look at. It boasts a sealed enclosure and is constructed from MDF with extensive internal bracing, in order to withstand the pounding it will take from the latest Hollywood blockbusters.
The d110 is powered by a 750-watt Class D amplifier designed to extract the most from the proprietary longexcursion driver platform. The 10-inch driver was designed using JL’s exclusive DMA (Dynamic Motor Analysis) technology, which promises to deliver higher output levels with reduced distortion. In this model, the cone is claimed to have a full 2.7 inches of peak-to-peak excursion.
On the rear panel, above a rectangular heatsink, are the subwoofer controls: volume knob, Low Pass (LP) Filter switch (turning the internal crossover on/off), LP Frequency knob, Phase knob, and Polarity switch. There’s a power indicator but no power switch since the sub kicks on when it detects an incoming signal and will automatically power down after 30 minutes without a signal.
Underneath the heatsink are both line- and speaker-level inputs, along with a wireless link connector, Grounded/Isolated switch, power connection, and fuse holder. The well-written manual explains that selecting the Grounded option can reduce hum in some systems. In my particular case, I didn’t have any hum, so I left the setting at its Isolated default.
JL Audio sells a JLink TRX system ($200), which comprises a transmitter and a receiver that allow the d110, or any other sub, to be wirelessly positioned anywhere in the room for optimum subwoofer performance—as long as you have a power outlet available in that location. The d110 includes the JLink connector; hooking up the receiver via the Ethernet interface allows it to get power from the sub, reducing wire clutter during and after installation.