Power Sound Audio XV15 Subwoofer
The Power Sound Audio XV15’s sole concession to design is that, besides the stock satin-black finish, you can get the sub in your choice of five wood finishes for an extra $150. Otherwise, it’s a big, ugly box, standing 23 inches high and weighing 75 pounds. It packs a 15-inch woofer — the biggest of any sub in this test — powered by a BASH amp rated at 500 watts RMS, 1,000 watts peak. Clearly, this is a subwoofer intended for hardcore home theater enthusiasts. This comes as no surprise, considering
that Power Sound Audio is run by Tom Vodhanel, formerly the “V” in SVS.
True to its apparent audience, the XV15 has no special inputs or controls — just the usual level, phase, and crossover-frequency knobs, with a stereo line input. But home theater guys don’t need any special inputs because they use their receiver or surround-sound processor to do the subwoofer crossover.
I can’t print what Geoff yelled when he played the L.A. River chase scene from Terminator 2 through the XV15, but it sounded like something the Adam West-era Batman would have exclaimed if he were from Sopranos-era New Jersey. “With this one,” Geoff said, “you can feel the bass in your chest and bones.”
I’ve spent many hours in $200,000+ custom home theaters packed with four or six or 10 subwoofers, and my experience with the XV15 was similar to those situations. The bass was nothing less than brutal. When I played the 16-Hz low notes from the Organ Symphony, the XV15 whupped the other subs easily. The whole room pulsated, almost as if some sort of monster had plucked my home off the slab and begun shaking it like a toy. Even when I pushed the volume way up, to where the XV15 hit 115-dB peaks measured from my listening chair, I couldn’t hear a trace of distortion in the opening of Attack of the Clones.
My measurements then confirmed that the XV15’s average maximum output from 40 to 63 Hz was within half a decibel of the most powerful sub I’ve measured, the SVS PC13-Ultra. The XV15’s average output from 20 to 31.5 Hz was also impressive, although its 20-Hz output was –4.2 dB below that of the PC13-Ultra.
That’s not to say the XV15 delivers nothing but muscle. While the bass didn’t sound balanced enough for Will to dig the XV15’s sound with music, Geoff and I thought it was decent. When we played our favorite music test tracks, we both preferred the tight sound of the Hsu VTF-15H (which I was using with both ports plugged, the way I prefer it). But we felt the XV15 sounded satisfying with music, and just as tuneful as the SVS PC12-NSD. I found that the difference in moving either sub a couple of feet was greater than the difference between the two subs.Power Sound Audio XV15 ($799)
Best for: Home theater enthusiasts
Worst for: People who abhor big, ugly boxes
As Geoff said, the XV15 boasts “a ton of bass. This is a real bass-lover’s sub.”
21 to 268 Hz, ±3 dB
Low bass (40-63 Hz) average: 125.5 dB
Ultra-low bass (20-31.5 Hz) average: 116.2 dBpowersoundaudio.com