Wall Flower: REL Acoustics Habitat1 On-Wall Wireless Subwoofer

The Welsh company REL Acoustics has been specializing in subwoofers for more than two decades and likes to do things a bit differently. In particular, REL believes a subwoofer must be connected to the main amplifier’s high-level inputs to make sure it receives the same signal as the main speakers—the company even provides a special cable to make the high-level connection. (See Darryl Wilkinson’s April 2012 review of REL’s R-328 for more on the hookup.)

In a bold departure from the conventional boxy subwoofer, the Habitat1 is designed for inconspicuously mounting on a wall or, as designer John Hunter puts it, “to bridge the gap between the highperformance enthusiast and the customer who simply wants great performance without having to sacrifice style or even space.” To ensure a clean installation with only a hard-wired power connection, the subwoofer incorporates a proprietary wireless transmission system REL calls Longbow. Connect a small transmitter to your audio system, and it sends uncom- pressed audio signals to the subwoofer with “almost zero delay.” The transmitter has a high-level Neutrik socket to con- nect the supplied 2-meter cable to the main front amplifier’s speaker terminals, a low-level input (which REL recom- mends using only if the high-level input cannot be used), and an LFE input for reproducing the “.1” sub-bass channel in movie soundtracks.

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Inside the slender 25 x 16 x 4.5–inch cabinet, a 200-watt Class D amplifier drives a pair of front-firing 6.5-inch drivers, which are bolstered by a rear-firing 10-inch passive radiator. Don’t worry: The mounting brackets position the cabinet away from the wall to give the driver room to woof. The control panel has knobs for high-/low-level and LFE gain, a variable crossover control, and a two-position (0 or 180 degrees) phase switch. The transmitter connections are duplicated on the back panel for those who prefer a hard-wire connection.

REL says response down to 29 hertz (–6 decibels) is possible with proper setup. Like the idea of a svelte subwoofer but don’t really want to break out the drill to mount it on the wall? No problem. An optional stand is available to support the 28-pound enclosure. Price: $1,995 in high-gloss white lacquer.

REL Acoustics • (510) 843-4500 • sumikoaudio.netrel.net

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