JL Audio Fathom f110v2 Subwoofer Review


Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful output for a compact model
Onboard Digital Automatic Room Optimization
Dual-sub setup option
Minus
Lacks below-20Hz extension
Gloss black finish attracts dust

THE VERDICT
The f110v2 lacks the output and extension of a larger sub, but packs quite a punch given its modest size.

According to Merriam-Webster, a fathom is a unit of length equal to six feet that's used to measure the depth of water. But for JL Audio, Fathom is a family of subwoofers that dig deep into the lower depths of the audio spectrum. The company, which has been around north of forty years, was started by Jim Birch and Lucio Proni, who started building loudspeakers during their summer break back in the 1970s and never stopped. I had the pleasure of reviewing a pair of JL Audio's entry level Dominion d110 subwoofers a few years back and loved their performance. The company's Fathom line of subwoofers are considered in home theater and hi-fi circles to be some of the best, though, so I could hardly wait to put a Fathom f110v2 through its paces when the company offered to send a pair.

The Fathom line consists of the f110v2 (10-inch driver), f112v2 (12-inch driver), f113v2 (13-inch driver), and F212v2 (dual 12-inch drivers). With an MSRP of $3,500, the Fathom f110v2 is the most expensive subwoofer I've ever reviewed. As one would expect from something in this price class, build quality is second to none. It sports a flawless gloss-black paint job and tips the scales at 69 pounds—definitely not a light- weight by any measure. While some may balk at the f110v2's price tag, it's a model that caters to a high-end audience seeking powerful bass in a highly compact package. Heck, by JL Audio standards, the Fathom f110v2 is a relative bargain compared with the company's super-premium Gotham v2 subwoofer, which checks in at $16,500.

320jl.bac The Fathom f110v2 arrives double-boxed to protect it from the rigors of ground shipping. There are instructions on the box for unpacking—a common thing with subwoofers these days. You open up the top—or, in this case, the top of two boxes—and then slip the boxes over after lifting them off the sub. This makes it easy on your back and keeps all of the packaging intact in case you ever need to ship it again.

Along with the Fathom f110v2, the box contents consist of a power cord, a calibration mic, an extremely well-written user manual in English and Spanish, and white gloves that I recommend wearing when setting the sub up in your room since its gloss black paint finish reveals every fingerprint. Yes, that gloss black looks absolutely beautiful, but it's also a major dust magnet—be prepared to dust regularly to maintain a factory fresh look.

320jl.close

As I stated above, the Fathom f110v2 weighs 69 pounds, so maneuvering it around the room is quite a workout. Its compact 12.9 x 15.6 x 17.3-inch (WxHxD) sealed enclosure is constructed of CNC-cut MDF material with extensive internal bracing. The driver, which is sourced from JL Audio's W7 design platform, boasts extensive peak-to-peak excursion capabilities and is powered by a 1,100-watt switching amplifier that employs patented feedback technology. JL Audio's stated frequency response (Anechoic) for the Fathom f110v2 is 27-111Hz.

One expects a few bells and whistles at this subwoofer price tier and JL Audio doesn't disappoint. The f110v2 employs a powerful Digital Automatic Room Optimization (D.A.R.O.) system that deploys eighteen bands of digital equalization to tame room acoustics. Furthermore, you can link two f110v2's together using a balanced XLR cable and set one as the master and the second as an extension. When doing this, the master takes control of all functions—including the room correction software—and all the controls on the extension sub are disabled.

COMPANY INFO
JL Audio
(954) 443-1100
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
brenro's picture

I use two subs in my listening room but I calibrated them separately rather than calibrate one and slave the other to the same settings. One of the main benefits of two subs is to tame the rooms peaks/nulls so why would you want the second sub calibrated to the position of the first sub? Am I missing something?

jeffhenning's picture

There are a few reasons to do two subs together if in mono (both at the same time) or do them individually if they are in a stereo setup. Both are valid, but the results will vary on the room and the calibration algorithm.

Did I miss the part about porting one subs response to another? I didn't see that.

Regardless, no, porting one subs correction curve to another will not usually be optimum.

brenro's picture

In other words why would you want the frequency response curve of one sub woofer ported to a sub in an entirely different position in the room?

jeffhenning's picture

You would not want that. The only way that might work is if the room was perfectly symmetrical and the subs' placement were mirror imaged in the room. That, then, brings up a whole 'nuther set of problems.

jeffhenning's picture

Sorry, but that is insane. It may be the best 10" sub on the planet, but that price is wack.

You could buy six Rythmik L12 subs for less and have more clean bass than you can stand at 20Hz. For room correction, spend a few extra bucks on a MiniDSP Dirac processor if it's not already in your pre/pro.

This is the much smaller brother to that monstrosity by Magico that had a 21" sub driver and cost over $20K.

Both are absurd.

drny's picture

I use three 10" sealed subs to tame my open concept family/media room. The room is 3k cubic feet, but opens in one side to the kitchen and living room (an additional 4k cf). The main reasons to use 10" seal subs are two fold, compact size and value for the dollar. At $3,500 the Fathom f110 are most likely aimed at audiophile two channel stereo music enthusiasts. REL subs rule that market. For $3,500 there is a monster called JTR Captivator S2. Two 18"woofers on one sealed cabinet enclosure. I don't have the space (the wife said so), but I would jump on those if I could afford them.

David Vaughn's picture
It should also be mentioned that $3500 is the MSRP of these subs. Street prices through your dealer may be substantially lower. As for the JTR Captivator S2, the WAF of that sub is somewhere close to zero :)
mns3dhm's picture

You could buy 2 SVS 3000 subs for this price and have a lot of money left over.

David Vaughn's picture
When you use the room correction when the subs are in "slave" mode, it measures the response of both subs in the room and creates an ideal curve with them working together. As for the price, I get what you're saying, but you're discounting the WAF with these subs. These are very small and compact subs catered to a very specific market that none of the larger subs mentioned above would ever get consideration in. Fortunately, my wife will let me have mostly what I want in my room , but that's not always the case. I know people who have been told they need to "hide" the subwoofer in the room, which means it needs to sit under an end table. Finally, the JL Audio drivers are extremely impressive and have a very distinct and clean sound (and quite powerful for their size). They sound quite a bit bigger than their size, if that makes sense.
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