Face Off: Sub-$1,000 Subwoofers The Forum part 2

Round Two: Movies
Up to this point, all of the subs were comparable, and yet all seemed to reveal distinct characteristics that either did or did not appeal to our individual sensibilities. Now it was time for the real test. I began the cinema evaluation with the M&K V-1250THX. During the Armageddon sequence, we all noted that the M&K had flat, decent low-frequency extension but lacked excitement. Compared with its two-channel performance, I found the woofer disappointing. Mike, however, thought the V-1250THX kept pace with the soundtrack and blended well; it was neither over- nor underpronounced.

The pod-race scene from The Phantom Menace, on the other hand, was a whole different story. Here, the V-1250THX seemed to renew its former values. I noted incredible bass and low-frequency extension and a very tight performance overall. Mike was particularly impressed with the growl of the pod engines as they were ignited. Chris also liked the M&K here but didn't think it delivered as much punch during this scene as the other two woofers did.

We auditioned the Velodyne CT-150 next. Going back to Armageddon after the pod race was like going from a CD to a cassette tape (remember those?). I noticed that this sub had a flat response and a touch more excitement than the M&K. Mike felt the Velodyne's response wasn't quite as defined as the M&K's but admitted that the difference was subtle.

I then switched back to the Phantom Menace track, and I was amazed with the results. Performances like this clearly define how Velodyne got their name. It's difficult to read my notes— my writing is shaky, and there are exclamation points all over the page. From what I can make out, I listed very smooth, solid bass. Add in impressive and gut-wrenching, as well. Mike agreed, commenting that the camel-like creature's fart and the engine start-up had excellent force. Chris felt this unit had the best physical impact of the three and noted that it came the closest to his idea of a true movie subwoofer. I, too, think the CT-150 is a much better performer on cinema than music.

Last but not least, we plugged in the Cerwin-Vega CVT-300S. I had high expectations for the Cerwin-Vega after its fantastic two-channel performance, and I thought it was the best of the three on the Armageddon track. Again, I believe this is because of the added extension the Cerwin offers on every type of media. For Mike, the Cerwin was a bit much, making the soundtrack rather boomy. Chris noted that it attacked well during this scene but didn't finish off as neatly as the Velodyne did.

When the pod race opened up, I slid my chair back from underneath the large Runco projector overhead, fearing it might shake free. The Cerwin-Vega hit so damned hard, I couldn't think straight. This sub rattled my inner child and retaught me my ABCs. I felt it had, by far, the best low-frequency extension on this track, but it was not nearly as tight- or solid-sounding as the Velodyne. Mike didn't entirely agree. Although he felt the 300S had considerably more bass than the others, he also noticed that it didn't play quite as low on this track as the Velodyne and didn't have nearly the definition of the M&K. He did admit, however, that it's a fun sub to listen to. Chris agreed, stating that, for pure shock value, the Cerwin is the way to go. Ultimately, though, he preferred the pinpoint attack and definition of the Velodyne throughout the full range of the low-end frequencies.

CVT-300S $700
(805) 584-9332
Dealer Locator Code CWV

V-1250THX $850
Miller & Kreisel Sound
(310) 204-2854
Dealer Locator Code M&K

CT-150 $799
Velodyne Acoustics
Dealer Locator Code VEL