SUBWOOFER REVIEWS

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Fred Manteghian Posted: Mar 12, 2003 0 comments

The adage goes something like this: "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all." I'm guessing Gayle Sanders, president of MartinLogan, heard that one a lot while growing up. As the leading manufacturer of hybrid electrostatic speakers, MartinLogan's product line has been largely silent on the subject of subwoofers, with the notable exception of the two imposing subwoofer stacks packaged with their flagship Statement system. But their dealers have said plenty, recommending third-party subs that satisfy the primal urges of home-theater natives.

Steven Stone Posted: Mar 03, 2003 0 comments

Vienna Acoustics likes to name their speakers after composers and classical musical forms. So far, they've covered Bach, Beethoven, Berg, Brahms, Haydn, Mahler, Mozart, Schoenberg, and Waltz. The Strauss, Oratorio, and Waltz are Vienna's three most recent additions to this distinguished list, and they form the heart of a new home-theater and surround-music system designed for folks who demand great sound without completely gutting their 401(k)s. Batons ready? And ah-one and ah-two . . .

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Chris Lewis Posted: Feb 24, 2003 Published: Feb 25, 2003 0 comments
Nice little sub, nice little price.

It's funny when I think back now about how long I resisted getting a cell phone. Maybe it had something to do with living in Los Angeles and watching people in their spotless, scratch-free SUVs: latte in one hand, cell phone in the other, chattering away to someone they want us to think is their agent but is more likely their dog's therapist—or no one at all. Now that I have one, though, I don't know how I lived without it. The same

Robert Deutsch Posted: Dec 28, 2002 0 comments

Doing one thing well is an effective strategy for success in business, and one that appears to have been followed by Hsu Research. Headed by Singapore-born, MIT-trained (Ph.D. in civil engineering) Poh Ser Hsu, Hsu Research has been in business for more than 10 years now, and has not wavered from its single-minded mission of offering high-quality, low-cost subwoofers to the public. Hsu produces subwoofers and only subwoofers, resisting the temptation to come out with a line of speakers, cables, amplifiers, digital processors, etc. They have also stuck to the principle of offering products that the average audiophile can afford, selling factory-direct with prices staying below $1000.

Michael Fremer Posted: Sep 30, 2002 0 comments

RBH Sound has been around for 25 years, but don't think you're out of the loop if you haven't heard of the Layton, Utah company. My introduction came only a few years ago, and I've been in the loop a long time. RBH built speakers for other brands for many years, but began concentrating on establishing its own brand name about six years ago, when the home-theater boom began. Today their products are sold through 400 dealers and custom installers. After spending a few months with one of RBH's top-performing, most expensive systems, I can tell you that finding one of these dealers will be well worth your while.

Steven Stone Posted: Sep 09, 2002 0 comments

Boom. Thud. Crash. What would a movie be without low-frequency effects? Even non-macho films like <I>Sense and Sensibility</I> have their share of carriage-wheel rumblings and horse-hoof thuds. Without a serious subwoofer that extends down to a solid 30Hz, and preferably even lower, a home-theater system can hardly be called "high-end."

Scott Wilkinson Posted: Jul 21, 2002 0 comments

When it comes to surround-speaker systems, good things rarely come in small packages. Microsatellites and little subwoofers typically sound thin and anemic, with poor tonal balance and low volume capabilities. Yet there are many situations (e.g., small apartments, dorm rooms, guest rooms) in which such speakers would be ideally suited, if only they produced a reasonably good sound.

Fred Manteghian Posted: Jul 12, 2002 0 comments

In my fantastical and factional stretch of planet, "PC" usually stands for "politically correct," as in "Don't even think about saying that." Or it could simply refer to that bane of all society&mdash;or, at least, the bane of the unfortunates who support those who use them&mdash;the Personal Computer. But when Phase Technology Corp. uses "PC," they mean their Premier Collection, which represents not only the pinnacle of their current line, but an excellent value as well.

J. Gordon Holt Posted: Jun 24, 2002 0 comments

It's an article of faith among audiophiles that you can "hear" materials. It just stands to reason that, if a loudspeaker cone has a certain sound when tapped with a fingernail, then everything it reproduces will be colored by that sound. This is why an audiophile will tap the exposed cones of an unfamiliar loudspeaker to see what they sound like. But not every material has a characteristic sound; some aren't stiff enough to vibrate. A wet dishrag, for example, has no sonic "signature." Only if you hit something with it does it make any sound at all, and then it just goes splat. But any material stiff enough to push air without wilting is likely to have some kind of resonant mode that we can hear, so you just know that a metal loudspeaker diaphragm is going to sound metallic.

Chris Lewis Posted: Jun 11, 2002 Published: Jun 12, 2002 0 comments
Energy's updated Veritas line lives up to its legacy

It was a question I hadn't considered until I stepped into the listening room on that gloomy Monday morning to greet my Canadian guests. Then it hit me like a slap shot to the forehead. Could I be the unbiased, emotionally unruffled reviewer that I know I am on this day, or was my bitterness simply too strong to give these visitors their fair shake? For you see, it was less than 24 hours earlier that one of the most important games in North American hockey history—the gold-medal final between the United States and Canada—had ended in utter disappointment for the Stars and Stripes. And now, these Canadian speakers were staring me right in the face—their phase plugs pointing at me in ridicule, their ports directing a sly, triumphant wink my way, and their cabinets standing a little taller and straighter after 50 years of Olympic-hockey frustration. My doubts quickly passed, though, as my foreign guests began expertly filling the room with the soothing sounds of the Mississippi delta and Virginia mountains, bringing an undeniable calm over me—even a hint of resignation. As much as I love hockey, it's their game, after all. If Canada starts beating us in football or baseball, I'll know the sports gods have really turned their backs on the good old U.S. of A.

John J. Gannon Posted: Feb 24, 2002 0 comments

Wharfedale is a name that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue of the average American audiophile. It should. This British firm's long, distinguished history dates back to the early 1930s and includes a good number of industry firsts, including the use of ceramic magnets. Once one of the most popular brands of British loudspeakers on this side of the Atlantic, Wharfedale has enjoyed only limited exposure in North America in the past 20 years. By introducing cutting-edge designs at affordable prices, they're now obviously aiming to change that.

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Kevin Hunt Posted: Dec 29, 2001 Published: Dec 30, 2001 0 comments
Meaty, beaty, little, and bouncy.

The Earthquake SuperNova could be the world's most dangerous end table. No amount of Krazy Glue will repair the heartbreak of the unwary soul who dares place the family-heirloom Tiffany lamp or Waterford vase on this compact subwoofer. This is not a New Age sub disguised as a fine piece of furniture, a veneered life-style block

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 15, 2001 0 comments

When I reviewed the Revel Ultima loudspeaker system in SGHT's July/August 1998 issue, it was a challenge to come up with adequate superlatives&mdash;so the Ultima Gems, Voice, Embrace, and LE-1 subwoofer became our first Class AAA-rated speaker system. The Gems and Voice have been a frequent fixture in my reference home-theater system ever since, moved aside only when other speakers are being reviewed. The Revel Ultima surrounds and subwoofer were displaced for logistical reasons, not because of their performance, which was&mdash;and is&mdash;of reference quality. (Both&mdash;particularly the subwoofer, with its heavy, separate amplifier&mdash;were cumbersome to move in and out of position, a consideration important to a reviewer.)

Clint Walker Posted: May 02, 2001 Published: May 03, 2001 0 comments
A commanding performance from a well-disciplined pupil.

Over thirty years ago, B&W Loudspeakers set out to build a speaker that would set the standard in sound and build quality, a speaker that other companies would strive for years to keep up with. Today, there is little doubt that B&W's goal was achieved. In fact, the designs of yesterday were so successful that 80 percent of all classical recordings are monitored using B&W loudspeakers.

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Kevin Hunt Posted: Mar 31, 2001 Published: Apr 01, 2001 0 comments
The Search Is Over: Pinnacle's AC Sub 100 subwoofer is the perfect fit for many systems, not just budget ones.

Get a load of those feet. Someone slipped a set of solid-brass isolation cones on Pinnacle's AC Sub 100, a working-class $350 subwoofer dressed humbly in black vinyl. So what's with the magic slippers? Another Cinderella story perhaps? Or is it merely a Mr. Blackwell- caliber fashion faux pas, like matching Prada with Wrangler? Well, the AC Sub 100 isn't a thing of beauty, but you can take it to the ball—or put it in your entry-level home theater—without embarrassment. This 13-inch cube can dance a bit. The AC Sub 100 resides at the low end of Pinnacle's subwoofer line, and its feet are hand-me-downs from the company's more-exotic designs. They're standard equipment on, among others, Pinnacle's $1,200 Digital Sub 600. Is there another manufacturer that fits such fancy footwear on its nickel-and-dime subwoofers?

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