SUBWOOFER REVIEWS

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 11, 2013 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Installer setup over IP
Options for wide, narrow, and frameless grilles
Six-band parametric EQ
Minus
Installation may be tricky for the uninitiated

THE VERDICT
Extensive tuning capabilities make for true high-end performance at an affordable price.

When it comes to architectural speakers, there are few companies I can think of that do things in a more focused, more insightful, and—most important when it comes to custom installations—more useful way than Triad. The company stands out in another way, too, in that most of Triad’s speakers are built to order in the U.S. (Portland, Oregon, to be specific) and are usually less than two weeks old by the time they arrive at the dealer’s warehouse door.

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Apr 19, 2013 0 comments
Speakers are like karate. Subwoofers are like weightlifting. The quality of a speaker is determined by subtleties: well-chosen drivers, just-right crossover points and slopes, and a perfectly tuned, solidly constructed enclosure. The quality of a subwoofer is determined mostly by its muscle: the size of the enclosure, the displacement of its driver, and the power of its amplifier.
Michael Fremer Posted: Mar 05, 2013 0 comments

Venere 2.5 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
 
REL T-7 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $5,493 At A Glance: Shapely Italian styling • Exceptional soundstaging • Surprisingly affordable

Could this sleek, lacquer-finished, curvaceous new Sonus faber Venere loudspeaker have originated anywhere other than in Italy? Well, no and yes. With its soothing, elegant curves and glossy finish, Venere whispers “Italy,” but the scant $2,498/pair price tag of this 43pound, 3.5-foot floorstander shouts “China.”

In fact, this new Sonus faber speaker is truly an international product. It was designed in-house at Sonus faber’s Arcugnano factory near Venice, Italy—a building as stylish as the designs emanating therefrom—using bespoke drivers designed by Sonus faber.

The midwoofer and woofer cone material is curv, a proprietary self-reinforcing 100-percent polypropylene composite manufactured by Germanybased Propex, while the dome tweeter is of silk over which is applied a multi-layered Sonus-spec’d coating manufactured by DKM in Germany. Final driver production is done in China.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 06, 2013 13 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $1,599 At A Glance: Outstanding value • Powerful deep bass response • Built-in parametric EQ

Since I was a little kid, I always loved going to the movie theater. I guess it started in 1977 when I watched Star Wars for the first time in Modesto, California (yeah, the place where George Lucas grew up—nice coincidence). Over the next 20 years, you’d find me at the theater at least once a week enjoying the latest blockbuster with a few friends and a bucket or two of good popcorn—the stuff that was popped in coconut oil, not the crap they sell today. Fast-forward to 1996 as I was walking through my local Circuit City and witnessed a demo of the Twister DVD on a 50-inch rear-projection television with a rudimentary surround system. Wow, was I sold in that instant! The next day, I dragged my wife to the store for the demo and informed her that we needed to start putting money away for a new TV and one of them fancy surround systems for our house.

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Kim Wilson Posted: Sep 25, 2012 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $699 At a Glance: Dedicated sub that extends dynamics and musicality of Sonos speakers • Easy setup and simple control via iOS and Android apps • Unique design and stunning high-gloss finish • One-button setup to the Sonos network

The latest addition to the Sonos family of products is the Sonos SUB, which is specifically designed to work with the company’s speakers—the Play:3 and Play:5. Either of these can be paired with another speaker of the same model to create a stereo pair for a wider soundfield.

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 28, 2012 2 comments
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $2,000 At a Glance: Extremely small form factor • Powerful, tight bass response • Impeccable build quality

Bob Carver is a legend in the A/V industry, and when he formed Sunfire in the 1990s, the company’s name became closely associated with subwoofers. In 1996, the Sunfire True Subwoofer, as it was marketed, was born, and it popularized what eventually became a whole new subcategory (so to speak) of the speaker industry. The 11.5-inch cube produced a copious amount of bass from a small enclosure by utilizing specially designed drive units and a patented Tracking Downconverter (TDC) amplifier that could dynamically adjust its power supply based on the incoming signals.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 24, 2012 4 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $12,000 as reviewed At A Glance: Industrial-grade actuators • Remarkably easy installation • Can be used for simple bass enhancement of music

There are, and have been, lots of movements in the world: political (the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street), social (abolition, women’s suffrage, and prohibition), artistic (Impressionism, Dadaism, and WTFism), and of course, bowel (but I digest…er, digress).

When it comes to subwoofers and speakers, air movement is of particular import. If you want loud, low bass, your woofers are going to have to compress a lot of air. For movies, it’s especially enjoyable when your subwoofer has enough spunk to cause the floor under your feet and the seat under your butt—and even your body’s chest cavity—to vibrate during those massive, over-the-top Hollywood explosions or through the low rumble of an earthquake. These are sensations that you feel more than hear.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 13, 2012 1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $799 At A Glance: Infrared remote control included • Optional wireless kit • Disappearing alphanumeric display behind grille

At $799, the diminutive Definitive Technology SuperCube 4000 isn’t “recycle enough aluminum cans and buy it” cheap, but it’s still in the reasonably affordable price range for a large percentage of home theater enthusiasts. Although Def Tech calls it a SuperCube, the actual dimensions are 11 inches wide x 11⅞ inches tall x 12 inches deep, which isn’t strictly a cube according to my high school geometry book. Evidently, SuperApproximatelyACube and SuperCubeLike were already trademarked, so Def Tech had to settle for the close-to-accurate SuperCube. Regardless, the compact size makes it super easy to place in a room, and fairly inconspicuous wherever you place it. Don’t let the SC4000’s small form factor fool you, though, because it’s one of the most feature-packed and easiest-to-set-up subwoofers I’ve encountered, regardless of price. It’s also surprisingly heavy (around 25 pounds) for its size.

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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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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 13, 2012 1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $6,300 At A Glance: Automatic Room Optimization (A.R.O.) with microphone • XLR output to connect one or more slave f212 subwoofers • Dual 12-inch active drivers

Unless you live in South Florida or are heavily into car audio, there’s a good chance you don’t recognize the name JL Audio. That’s because while these guys make dozens of products for automobiles and boats, they only make a few for home theaters. And the cheapest ones—the just announced 10-inch E110 and 12-inch E112, cost $1,300 and $1,600, respectively.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 07, 2011 4 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
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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