Shootout: Five Mid-Price Subwoofers Page 5

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How Did It Sound? Saint-Saens The RW-12d did a reasonable job with the lower half octave and nearly handled the 16-Hz tones. The upper half octave had a reasonably balanced response, without any undue peaks. The sub's tonal quality was a little boomy, however, and it sometimes blossomed into resonance when hitting certain notes. It delivered lots of good bass but occasionally some not so good bass.

Linkin Park The RW-12d sure didn't shy away from this tough track, jumping in with loads of low bass and doing a great job at soft levels. It tackled the lowest notes and played them, not with the best fidelity, but with lots of energy. Mid and upper frequencies were more controlled, but the tonal quality was sometimes muddy. The snap in the bass line was obscured by some port noise, so the power of the note was there, but not always the enunciation. When really cranked, distortion was evident.

Superman Returns This sub is a real barn-burner. It cranked out loads of low bass and easily made the bric-a-brac rattle, handling the various rocket engines, airplane dives, and explosions with plenty of sonic power. On the other hand, that output was clean only at lower levels. At high levels, the breakup was easy to hear when I soloed the sub. With the satellites playing as well, however, much of this clutter was masked. So in real-life application (who besides a reviewer listens to a subwoofer by itself?), the faults are less apparent.

Godzilla The bass track on Godzilla is not a finesse track -- it is an all-out let's-move-air track. The RW-12d was not put off by the challenge. When the Big Guy stomps, this sub shakes. It rumbled my rafters in the underwater sequence as the submarines closed in. When pushed, it hit the wall with some serious "blatting," but up to that limit, this sub was impressive with big-time LFE material.

What's the Bottom Line? The RW-12d does a good job at moderate levels, with a healthy amount of low bass and good upper-range tonal balance. When cranked up on music, however, it overreaches and can't hold it together, yielding powerful but often muddy bass. This is passable for movies, but not for music. Thus, I liked this sub a lot for movies, where it really shook the room, but somewhat less so for music. I found the keypad and display to be a pain to use; I consistently punched the wrong buttons and longed for a couple of simple knobs.

Manufacturer Klipsch www.klipsch.com 800-554-7724

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