In order to get the transition between your subwoofer and your main speakers close to perfect, you need measurement gear. Measurement makes your sub setup faster and more accurate. Instead of listening to bass lines to gauge the evenness of your bass response, you just run a quick measurement and get a precise result.
When it released its Digital Drive subwoofers back in the mid-2000s, Velodyne got the jump on all of its competitors. The Digital Drive circuitry and software let you tweak a sub’s sound — manually or automatically — to perfection, and also provided several preset EQ modes to suit different types of material.
A home theater enthusiast might look at Paradigm’s 13-inch-high Monitor SUB 10 and ask, “Why would I buy that when I can get a 15-inch sub for the same price?” Well, you wouldn’t buy it. Paradigm builds the SUB 10 for design-oriented buyers who want decent bass but don’t want a subwoofer that takes up a lot of floor space.
Bob Carver has always been a speaker designer who thinks outside the box, and also one who tends to ignore so-called experts when they tell him something can’t be done. As the founder of Phase Linear in the 1970s, Carver in the 1980s, and, more recently, Sunfire, Bob has been proving “experts” wrong for over 40 years.
A great example of his unconventional thinking is the Sunfire True Subwoofer, first launched some 15 years ago. Using a brute force approach, this design bent the rules that traditionally defined how much bass you could get from a given size of driver and enclosure, in the process creating what has gone on to become one of the most imitated subwoofers of all time. Now that same mindset has been applied to creating the Dynamic Series SDS-12 — a lower-cost brother for the True Subwoofer, with an asking price 75% less than the original.
On Monday, when I reviewed the NXG NX-BAS-500 subwoofer, I recallled a time 20+ years ago when the only companies that made really good subwoofers were M&K and Velodyne. The "K" in M&K stood for Kreisel-Ken Kreisel, to be specific.
Over the course of this past week, our reviewers Brent Butterworth and Michael Trei examined six current subwoofer offerings, ranging from the simple to the feature packed, from Monoprice's $84 MSUB-A122 to Wisdom Audio's genre-defying $4,000 SCS, with entries from sub mainstays Velodyne, Cadence, SVS, and Sunfire along the way.
Televisions, receivers, and speakers are important to the home theater experience, but the subwoofer is the only component that regularly gets pushed to its limits — or beyond. The laws of physics dictate that producing clean, powerful, deep bass requires drivers that displace lots of air, and amps powerful enough to push them.
From an audio standpoint, the CEDIA Expo used to be little more than a showcase for in-wall speakers and other products built mainly for multiroom systems and custom home theaters. But with the decline in home sales over the last few years, the custom market isn't so hot anymore.
The Power Sound Audio XV15’s sole concession to design is that, besides the stock satin-black finish, you can get the sub in your choice of five wood finishes for an extra $150. Otherwise, it’s a big, ugly box, standing 23 inches high and weighing 75 pounds. It packs a 15-inch woofer — the biggest of any sub in this test — powered by a BASH amp rated at 500 watts RMS, 1,000 watts peak.
One could argue that it’s silly to make a subwoofer look nice. Most subs get shoved into out-of-the-way places where even the most exotic wenge veneer, doused in seven coats of hand-rubbed lacquer and applied to gracefully arcing side panels, won’t really look any better than the cheapest black vinyl wrap glued over a plain rectangular box.
Those who find ugliness a virtue in subwoofers will love SVS’ new $769 PB12-NSD, which is about as plain as subwoofers get.