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.
I can remember when there were only two companies, M&K and Velodyne, that made good subwoofers. Thanks to the explosion in Chinese manufacturing, there are now so many companies making subwoofers-and so many making good ones-that it's impossible even to be aware of them all, much less have hands-on experience with all their products.
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.
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.
Romantics see Italy as a place of rich history and sophisticated culture. Not me. As a non-romantic, I can think of Italy only as the birthplace of the Fiat 128 that often left me walking instead of driving, and the location of a honeymoon in which I fought frenzied traffic and struggled to find a decent meal.
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.
I can tell you in one paragraph how to set up a pair of small speakers, but I could write a book about setting up subwoofers. It’s the most challenging aspect of home audio because the resonances in a room tend to stress certain bass frequencies and strangle others.
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.
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.
Audiophiles know Sonus Faber as the creator of beautiful speakers handcrafted in Italy. The very name is Latin for “artisanal sound.” But as anyone who has ever visited Whole Foods Market knows, “artisanal” usually means “expensive” — and indeed, Sonus Faber speakers have always been expensive. Until now.
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.
For subwoofer designers, the laws of physics boil down to: Small box, low cost, high output — pick any two. You can always shrink the enclosure, but to get decent output from it, you’ll need a high-powered amp and a beefy driver. And if you shrink the box way down, as Sunfire did with its new Atmos subwoofer, you’ll need to go even more extreme.