Review: NXG NX-BAS-500 subwoofer

I can remember when there were only two companies, M&K and Velodyne, that made good subwoofers. Thanks to the explosion in Chinese manufacturing, there are now so many companies making subwoofers-and so many making good ones-that it's impossible even to be aware of them all, much less have hands-on experience with all their products.

One that I just found out about is NXG Technology. The company says it's been around 10+ years, a claim you'll believe when you see the look of its website.

NXG's products look mostly standard-issue; the company's "thing" is the "rose-gold injection-molded metallic-anodized" woofer cone used on its higher-priced speakers. Based on the way the material feels, I'd guess it's polypropylene with a metallic finish applied. Looks cool, though.

With its rose-gold diaphragm, extra-beefy rubber surround, and reasonable $399 price, the top-of-the-line NX-BAS-500 subwoofer seemed worth checking out. The 12-inch woofer is powered by an amp rated at 500 watts-but that's the notoriously ill-defined dynamic power, not RMS power, which means they should probably have put quotation marks around "watts."

Let's listen.

Performance

My spirits sunk as I lifted the NX-BAS-500 out of the box. It's light for its size, and its apparently thin MDF walls yielded a loud, resonant "thunk," accompanied by a slight high-pitched rattle/vibration sound, when I rapped my knuckle against them. A flimsy subwoofer cabinet tends to create unwanted resonances and an awful, annoying, boomy sound. Considering the lightweight construction and the generic look of the matte-black vinyl wrap, I was getting the impression the NX-BAS-500 was one of those Chinese-sourced audio products that the branding company never even bothers to evaluate before they start selling it. (Yep, it happens. A lot.)

"Let's just get this over with," I thought to myself as I loaded the Terminator: Salvation Blu-ray. I figured the NX-BAS-500 would choke on this movie's super-dynamic soundtrack, especially in the scene involving the attack of giant robot, then robo-motorcycles chasing a jumbo tow truck, then a couple of A-10s attacking a robo-hovercraft. I calibrated my system (Sunfire CRM-2 left, center, and right speakers with CRM-2BIP surrounds) then turned up the sub an additional +2 dB.

But the NX-BAS-500 not only didn't choke, it sounded great. Even when I pushed the volume up to the limits of my 150-watt-per-channel AudioControl Savoy amp, I heard no distortion, no compression, and no port noise from the NX-BAS-500.

"OK, let's take it up a notch," I thought, loading Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones. The opening scene is one of the toughest bass tests in moviedom, beginning with loads of bottom-octave (20-40 Hz) energy from a passing spaceship, then intense second-octave (40-80 Hz) energy when the ship explodes. No problem for the NX-BAS-500. Although it didn't have the floor-shaking power of monster subs like the Hsu Research VTF-15H, the NX-BAS-500 reproduced even the deepest notes without distortion.

Same thing happened when I put on the recording of Saint-Säens' "Organ Symphony" from the Boston Audio Society test discs. Again, the NX-BAS-500 didn't shake the floor, but it also didn't distort, even when the organ hit the music's 16-Hz deepest note.

Playing other musical selections from my test disc, I was impressed at how even and well-defined the NX-BAS-500 sounded through the bottom two octaves of bass. I've heard punchier-sounding subs, but most of those deliver an exaggerated sense of punch-a fun thrill ride for those who want a fun thrill ride, but I prefer a neutral and natural sound. This is definitely not one of those "home theater only" subs with all power and no finesse; it's a very good music sub, too.

Because my Sunfires are pretty small, I set the crossover in my Denon receiver to 100 Hz. This revealed what I consider the NX-BAS-500s only real flaw-it seems to de-emphasize the region around 70 to 100 Hz a bit. Melodic bass lines like the ones Ron Carter plays on jazz guitarist Steve Khan's Let's Call This didn't have quite the growl and dynamics I'd like to hear. So I recommend using the NX-BAS-500 with larger satellites that can be crossed over at 80 Hz, such as the better models in our recent minispeaker roundup.

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