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SUBWOOFER REVIEWS

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 13, 2012 3 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $1,799 At A Glance: Front-firing active driver with down-firing passive radiator • Independent volume controls for simultaneous use of high- and low-level inputs

So, who the hell is REL Acoustics? That’s a question you might be asking yourself if your favorite places to shop for the latest in A/V gear happen to be Sears, RadioShack, or Big Jim’s Family Pawn & Gun Shop. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those establishments (well, Big Jim’s might be a little iffy), but REL’s subwoofers are not a cash-and-carry kind of thing. As a matter of fact, REL—a British company that makes only subwoofers—claims its products “are not traditional subwoofers, but true sub-bass systems.” Starting with this slightly different concept of what a subwoofer should be, it’s no wonder that REL subs require a somewhat out-of-the-ordinary setup and that the company recommends parameter settings that are a bit unusual. As a result, REL subwoofers are found only at retailers that have silk-robed salespeople who have been trained by mystical, shoeless REL Zen Bass Masters to be highly skilled in the ancient acoustical arts of transducental bass reproduction.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 07, 2011 2 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $879 At A Glance: Unique setup features • Sealed or ported operation • Powerful, subterranean bass

Dr. Poh Ser Hsu designed and sold his first subs around 1991. They were tall, tube-like structures, built from the forms used to pour concrete pillars. The tubes were made of relatively thin fiberboard (roughly 0.125 inches thick), and their cylindrical shape made their walls tremendously strong and resistant to flexure. More important, they were relatively light, which was ideal for Hsu’s direct-from-the-factory sales plan.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jun 20, 2011 1 comments
Price: $599 At A Glance: Compact cube houses 8-inch long-throw woofer • 125-watt class A/B amplifier • Simultaneous high-level and LFE inputs with independent level controls

Small Acorn, Big Tree

In a 1970s television commercial, storm clouds brewed and thunder rolled ominously after an embarrassed Mother Nature tasted Chiffon margarine and pronounced it butter. “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature,” admonished the announcer, Mason (“with a name like Smucker’s”) Adams.

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Shane Buettner Posted: May 23, 2011 0 comments
Price: $9,000 At A Glance: Room- and house-threatening LFE bass for movies • Surprising rhythm, pacing, and articulation for music • Relatively small footprint for a behemoth sub

Because You Can

So, I’m wheeling this ginormous 230-pound Paradigm subwoofer down and around the side of my house, to the double-door, daylight basement that serves as my home theater room. Being impatient, I’m doing this by myself and hoping like hell I don’t tip the thing over and watch it roll end over end down the slope in my backyard. About this time, it occurs to me to wonder, “Why am I even reviewing something this big?” The answer that came to mind is probably the same reason people will buy this $9,000 powder keg of bass. Because I can.

Of course, there’s more to it than that. At CES 2010, the best home theater demo I saw and heard was in the Anthem room, with Anthem’s electronics and sister brand Paradigm’s speakers and subwoofers. The bass was sensational, thunderous, and room shaking, and yet it was strikingly refined. That was the first time I saw the SUB 2, a 4,500-watt subwoofer (rated RMS, and never mind if you can actually get that out of your wall), with six 10-inch woofers arrayed in pairs, firing out of three sides of the cabinet. You read that right. I was every bit as awestruck as you probably are now. Why would Paradigm design and build such a thing? Because they can. In home theater and in life, it’s my firm belief that anything worth doing is worth overdoing. If that’s your philosophy too, read on, because the SUB 2 is a helluva ride.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 19, 2008 Published: Feb 20, 2008 0 comments
Depth charged.

Last year, my family and I moved from our little house near a noisy city airport to a more pastoral setting where, aside from a nearby neighbor who likes to bulldoze anything with leaves on it, the loudest thing is an old four-wheel-drive F250 pickup we bought for hauling things (including our butts) around the farm. Although it's in surprisingly good shape, some things don't always work, like the original factory radio, for instance.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 19, 2008 Published: Jan 20, 2008 0 comments
Don't underestimate the little guy. Guys.

One of the annual highlights of my career as an audio/video scribe is the Home Entertainment Show. The 2007 edition took place at the Grand Hyatt in New York, practically on top of the gorgeously renovated Grand Central Terminal. It was there that I became interested in Silverline, a California-based speaker maker that was displaying both their Minuet mini-monitor (say that ten times fast) and the slender, floorstanding Prelude. The temptation to try five Minuets in a surround system proved to be overwhelming.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 15, 2007 Published: Oct 15, 2007 0 comments
Is everything else suddenly "just home theater"?

I don't know anyone who has actually admitted boredom with the traditional home theater experience, but perhaps that's because not all buffs realize just how many gear options are out there. A few years ago, I traveled up to Canada to demo a D-BOX Quest Chair, a sophisticated piece of furniture that adds realistic motion effects that are synchronized to the action and sound of particular movies. The result is akin to living the adventures of your favorite cinematic heroes, which is why the D-BOX-supported movies tend to be more car-chasey and less talky-talky.

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uavGary Altunian Posted: Oct 14, 2007 0 comments

<I>Sunfire SubRosa: A Stealthy Alternative to Boxy Subwoofers</I>

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 12, 2007 0 comments

JL Audio is best known for its car audio products. But when it first showed its line of home subwoofers at a CEDIA Expo a couple of years back everyone was blown away&mdash;in more ways than one.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 21, 2007 Published: Apr 21, 2007 0 comments
Brains, brawn, and bombast.

"Eventually," one of my musical idols once told me in an interview, "everything you said you'd never do, you do. If you're lucky, you get to shake hands with Arnold Schwarzenegger." Those words of Robyn Hitchcock came back to me as I wrestled the JL Audio Fathom f113 subwoofer out of its carton. (The Governator himself couldn't weigh much more.) I've told other manufacturers that I just couldn't see myself working up a thousand-plus-word lather about a sub. What was it about this one that made me change my mind?

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 31, 2006 0 comments
2.1-channel home theater is more than mere reductionism.

Home theater is the union of big-screen television and surround sound. Those are the two bedrock principles on which this magazine was founded. So, it may seem heretical to even consider modifying that second requirement. After all, the whole notion of home theater has matured in tandem with advances in both video and surround technology.

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Shane Buettner Posted: Sep 13, 2006 0 comments
  • $1,550/ea.
  • 10" powered subwoofer with 1,250-Watt Tracking Downconverter amplifier, self-diagnostic EQ, single-ended and balanced line level inputs
Bob's latest subwoofer uses a single front-firing 10" driver and over a thousands watts of power to deliver su-20Hz bass in an enclosure that's basically an 11" cube on all sides. It ships with self-diagnostic EQ and microphone to tailor itself to your room, and accepts balanced and single-ended line level inputs and includes continuously adjustable phase and a passive 70Hz high pass filter for use with satellite speakers.
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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Oct 08, 2004 Published: Sep 08, 2006 0 comments
From the car next to you at the stoplight to the rattle of your neighbor's dishes on movie night, bass is everywhere.
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Aug 17, 2006 0 comments
The audiophile and the ecstasy.

Bowers & Wilkins offers an impressive range of speakers in nearly every size and price category, but they're best known for models that demonstrate the company's continuing pursuit of the state of the art. Just last year, the diamond-tweeter-equipped Nautilus 800 Series speakers made a big splash in audiophile magazines all over the world. Those one-plus ultra models all come with breathtaking MSRPs, but you'll find traces of the 800 Series' inspired engineering throughout B&W's new, considerably more affordable XT Series designs. The XT4 tower's gleaming extruded-aluminum cabinetry is fresh, but the déjà-vu curves, yellow Kevlar midrange driver, and bulging topside tweeter pod leave no doubt—it's a B&W.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 20, 2006 0 comments
Woof smarter, not harder.

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