SUBWOOFER REVIEWS

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Michael Fremer  |  Mar 05, 2013  |  0 comments

Venere 2.5 Speaker System
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REL T-7 Subwoofer
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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.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Feb 12, 2013  |  7 comments

MartinLogan Motion 40 Speaker System
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Dynamo 1000 Subwoofer
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Price: $4,550 (updated 3/10/15)
At A Glance: Folded Motion tweeters • Dual 6.5-inch aluminum cone woofers • Custom five-way bi-wire tool-less binding posts

A couple of years ago, I took a tour of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Waterbury, Vermont. Whilst there, I heard the tour guide refer to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream as super-premium. I was intrigued because: 1) I’m thinking about using it as a nickname for myself; 2) I’d never heard the term used in reference to ice cream before; and 3) I wondered if there were additional levels of premium-ness. (Ultra-super premium? Super-duper premium? Maximum-ultra-super-duper premium?) I was disappointed to discover that, although the FDA sets standards for the use of nutrient descriptors. Less air and more butter fat promotes higher premium-ness—all the way up, I assume, to the heart-valve-clogging, airless, 100-percent pure, frozen-block-of-butter-fat variety.

In the case of loudspeakers, it’s the opposite. More air and less fat—no one likes tubby bass—results in super-smooth, premium sound.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 25, 2013  |  0 comments
CL-2 Speaker System
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CLS-10 Subwoofer
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Price: $2,888 At A Glance: 180-degree cylindrical tweeter • Stable, wide-open sound • Tilted sub driver

Shape is destiny for Anthony Gallo Acoustics. The company is best known for its spherical and cylindrical speaker enclosures, made of metal and tough as tanks. But the Classico Series is the first Gallo product to use a plain rectan-gular box—for consumers, the company says, who prefer a more traditional look. Though not as curvaceous as other Gallo lines, the Classico is still available in a beautiful Cherry veneer finish, along with the more staid Black Ash veneer of our review samples. Note that the speakers are sold only through the Gallo Website: roundsound.com. The more conventional construction and factory-direct approach make the Classico models among the most affordable Gallo speakers ever.

David Vaughn  |  Jan 06, 2013  |  12 comments

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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.

Brent Butterworth  |  Dec 25, 2012  |  0 comments

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.

Daniel Kumin  |  Nov 20, 2012  |  0 comments

Here are two words I never thought I’d use together in a sentence: audiophile soundbar. Yet MartinLogan’s new Motion Vision model indisputably qualifies.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Nov 15, 2012  |  7 comments

SP-BS22-LR Speakers
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SW-8MK2 Subwoofer
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Price: $450 At A Glance: Affordable designer speakers • Second gen with improved parts • Clearer, meatier sound

Looking for a great sounding set of home theater speakers but on a tight budget? Read on and find out why Pioneer's newest speakers might be just what the doctor ordered and learn how gifted designer Andrew Jones met the challenge of building a high-performance speaker ensemble that can be had for only $500. Even he can't believe it.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Oct 19, 2012  |  0 comments

DX-1 HCP Speaker
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DX-1 subwoofer
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Price: $799 At A Glance: Sweet but detailed mids • High-gloss finish • Great sats, OK sub

One of your best friends calls up to announce that she is about to wed someone rich and powerful. He owns a shipyard that manufactures exceptionally luxurious yachts. You’re happy for her, but you worry, too. Would living with such a strong personality, a guy with all that money and all that power, be good for her? Would it make her stronger or weaker? A few years later you run into her, and after a few hours of conversation, you conclude that she’s in great shape internally as well as externally. There’s a serenity beneath the tan. Her husband is affectionate and faithful, a child is on the way, and she’s never been happier.

Brent Butterworth  |  Oct 16, 2012  |  1 comments

Tube-shaped subs are popular with DIY-ers because they’re easy to construct. Just grab a cylindrical concrete form at Home Depot, slap some ends?on it, and you’ve got a nice subwoofer enclosure. But SVS features tube-shaped subs in its line not because they’re easy to build; it’s because the form factor makes them perfect for certain rooms. At 16.6 inches in diameter, the company’s PC-13 Ultra takes up less than half the floor space of its comparable box-shaped sub, the PB-13 Ultra. A PC-13 Ultra can slip almost unnoticed into a corner, while the PB-13 Ultra can slip unnoticed into... well, maybe an aircraft hangar.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Oct 12, 2012  |  0 comments

PSB Imagine T2 Speaker System
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PSB SubSeries 300 Subwoofer
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Price: $7,140 (updated 3/10/15)
At A Glance: Independent ported chambers for each woofer • Dual five-way gold-plated binding posts for biwiring or biamping • Five-way transitional design

Paul Barton is a nutcase. Oh, sure, he’s soft-spoken, ultra-smart, and intensely passionate about sound. (In the late 1960s, 11-year-old Barton started building speakers with his dad in their workshop because other speakers “didn’t sound natural.”) But that’s just a cover. I don’t know how else to explain the fact that Mr. Barton (the “P” and “B” of PSB Speakers—with his wife, Sue, providing the “S”) has spent so much of his life locked away in the anechoic chamber and testing/listening labs of Canada’s federally funded National Research Council (NRC) in Ottawa, Ontario. In fact, according to PSB, although folks from other speaker companies (such as Paradigm, Energy, Mirage, Snell, and Aperion, to name a few) have traipsed through the NRC’s Acoustics and Signal Processing Department’s doors, since the late 1970s, Barton “has spent far longer in the chamber and lab than any other speaker designer.” So rather than skiing, hunting, fishing, playing hockey, and/or drinking beer all day like real Canadians do, Barton chose to play in an anechoic chamber. As I said, he’s a nutcase.

Kim Wilson  |  Sep 25, 2012  |  0 comments

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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.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Sep 20, 2012  |  0 comments
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Price: $3,499 At A Glance: Automatic speaker discovery and channel assignment • Uncompressed 24-bit wireless digital audio • No AVR needed

Not long ago, FedEx deposited a 7.1channel HTIB from Aperion Audio outside my door. It’s not really fair to call it a home theater in a box because the system actually comes in seven boxes and sells for $3,499. But since it includes source switching and amplification, it technically qualifies as an HTIB, albeit a rather unusual one. Aperion Audio prefers the term preconfigured home theater system. Normally, setting up this sort of home theater package would entail speaker wires crisscrossing the floor accompanied by the requisite grumbling, stripping of wires, and fumbling with speaker terminals. In this case, though, the Aperion speakers—a pair of towers, a center channel, a subwoofer, and two pair of satellite speakers—come out of their boxes, get placed in their appropriate spots in the room, have each one’s power cord plugged into the nearest AC outlet…and that’s it.

David Vaughn  |  Aug 28, 2012  |  2 comments
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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.

Brent Butterworth  |  Aug 23, 2012  |  0 comments

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.

Brent Butterworth  |  Jun 20, 2012  |  0 comments

Since my first lengthy experience with Sonos products, I’ve been recommending them as a simpler, lower-cost alternative to traditional multiroom audio systems. It’s just so much easier. Plug in a Sonos component, go through a simple config, and you have great-sounding music and Internet radio in any room (or many rooms) in a matter of minutes, all controlled by your smartphone or computer.

But there’s one thing a Sonos system doesn’t deliver: bass. Now that’s fixed.

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