JL Audio Gotham g213 Powered Subwoofer

Everyone knows that subwoofers are an essential part of just about any home theater in order to rattle your bones with explosions, rocket launches, and dinosaur roars. But they must also be capable of reproducing—and differentiating—the lowest musical notes in the movie's score. Among the most well-regarded practitioners of both tasks is JL Audio, especially its flagship Gotham g213.

The g213 starts with twin 13.5-inch drivers loaded with proprietary technology in the motor, surround, suspension, and cone material. They are mounted in a sealed, curved cabinet and driven by a class-D amp capable of delivering up to 3800 watts of short-term power. The result is a specified frequency response from 19 to 200Hz.

To tame the inevitable low-frequency room modes, JL Audio has incorporated its Automatic Room Optimization (ARO) technology into the g213. Simply connect the included calibration microphone to the sub, place it at the listening position, and press a button on the front panel—after a few minutes of test tones, ARO calculates the best filter profile to compensate for any acoustic anomalies at that position.

Unlike many subs, the g213's controls are all accessible from the front under a separate grille. Signal-processing features include a lowpass filter with a selectable slope of 12 or 24dB/octave and a cutoff frequency that can be set from 30 to 130Hz; of course, you can also disable it altogether if you use the crossover in your AVR or pre/pro. The amp gain can be fixed or variable up to +15dB over reference gain, and an ELF (extreme low frequency) trim control lets you adjust the relative level around 25Hz from –12 to +3dB.

At $12,000, the g213 is one of the most expensive subs I know of, and it has garnered high praise from the audiophile press. This monster can clearly put out a lot of decibels, so use caution when integrating it into your system. After all, you don't want your house sliding off its foundation!