Test Report: Velodyne DD-15 Plus Subwoofer Page 3

Performance

If you’re thinking about skipping forward to read my complaints about this sub, don’t bother: I can’t find anything to complain about. The deep-bass extension was as good as I’ve heard; even the toughest deep-bass test I know of, the recording of the Saint-Säens “Organ Symphony” from the Boston Audio Society test disc, proved no challenge for the DD-15 Plus. Not only did the low notes shake my listening chair, I could feel them deep in my chest.

More important, though, was the effect of the Auto-EQ. From my listening chair, the bass sounded impressively even and smooth, with no notes emphasized and no notes lost in the acoustics of my room. Of course, this smoothness benefited the slick pop recordings I often use to test speakers — you know, Steely Dan, Toto, etc. — but it worked even better on headbanging rock tunes like “Love Removal Machine” from The Cult’s Electric CD. Anything with tight bass and kick drum sounded absolutely awesome through the DD-15 Plus when I had the Auto-EQ engaged.

Same goes for home theater stuff. The DD-15 Plus simply slammed out all my faves like the depth-charge scene from U-571 and the freeway pileup from Final Destination 2.

The only subwoofer I had around that could go cone-to-cone with the DD-15 Plus was the Hsu Research VTF-15H. Both are 15-inch subs, but there the similarity ends. The VTF-15H is larger, bulker, uglier, less powerful (350 watts RMS vs. 1,250 for the DD-15 Plus) and, at $879, vastly less expensive. The Hsu is also a ported model, while the Velodyne is a sealed box design. I compared them mostly with the Hsu’s ports plugged, which I prefer, and also with both ports open. I also compared the two with the DD-15 Plus in Defeat mode, which defeats the Auto-EQ feature, and with the Auto-EQ activated.

In terms of output, the two subs were closely matched. In my large listening room, both easily delivered all the bass I needed on every recording I played. The difference was in the sound quality. Even with Auto-EQ deactivated, the DD-15 Plus sounded a little tighter and more tuneful than the VTF-15H. With Auto-EQ activated, it wasn’t even close—the DD-15 Plus sounded much smoother. But you could always EQ the Hsu, perhaps using Velodyne’s own $499 SMS-1, which offers Digital Drive technology much like that in the DD-15 Plus.

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