Shootout: Five Mid-Price Subwoofers Page 9

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How Did It Sound? Saint-Saens This little cube couldn't reach down as far as the longest organ pipes can, but it did make a valiant effort. It played the octave at 32 Hz cleanly and at relatively loud levels. When the organ hit the bottom half-octave at high playback levels, the cone started fluttering and the sub's limiter wisely kicked in to protect against self-destruction. I thought the SB12-Plus's tone was quite musical, and in its power band, it did a good job.

Linkin Park This is a very difficult track for a small sub, but the SB12-Plus delivered nicely. At moderate levels, it followed the bass line quite well, with good musical tone across the middle and upper frequency range. It even managed to play the lowest notes fairly cleanly, albeit at an attenuated level. As level increased, it started to show the stress -- the lowest notes buzzed, and the upper notes were strained and lacked the recorded warmth. Within limits, the subwoofer was very competent.

Superman Returns The bottom half octave in this movie is a real test for giant subwoofers, never mind small subs such as this one. Nonetheless, the SB12-Plus delivered soft and medium levels of ambient rumble cleanly. Louder levels provoked "blatting" and other cabinet resonances, but compared to some speakers, their content was more constrained to lower frequencies. Thus, even though distortion was much higher, it tended to blend in better with the low-frequency content itself. Though not a substitute for clean bass, this sort of low-frequency distortion isn't all that bad.

Godzilla When Godzilla runs, your room should shake. The SB12-Plus was able to produce this effect, even in my modestly large room. The thud of individual footsteps was nicely articulated, followed by a nice rumble. But this is a small subwoofer, which limits its sonic output. At loud playback levels, the ambient rumble was good, but the peaks of the footsteps and explosions began to max out the cone excursion (and amplifier power), generating distortion. At low and medium levels, though, the SVS was very impressive.

What's the Bottom Line? The SB12-Plus was the smallest sub in the group and had somewhat less bass output. But I greatly appreciated that it didn't try to overreach and instead did a good job within its constraints, playing cleanly and relatively loudly. Its mechanical solidity contained much of its distortion at high playback levels to low frequencies, making it somewhat less obvious and thus relatively more acceptable. I also appreciated the full complement of controls, including the parametric EQ and room-size compensation. This array will help you dial in the best possible sound and get the most from this tiny titan.

Manufacturer SVS www.svsound.com 703-845-1472

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