OSD Audio Nero TubeBass 10 Subwoofer Review Page 2

As part of my setup, I first ran test tones to fine-tune the sub's placement and determine the best setting for its phase switch. Sweep tones confirmed usable output down to the 30-35Hz range—not exactly infrasonic bass, but good enough low- frequency extension that I could expect to hear the solid wham of a kick drum, as well as the impact of an explosion plus the low rumble following it. Calibration of the system using Dirac Live revealed the sub's highest output in the 60-70Hz range, after which it tapered off somewhat (see graph for pre- /-post-correction results).


In-room measurement of sub taken at seated ear-height position using Dirac Live. (Graph includes pre- and post-correction traces.)

Listening with Dirac Live enabled, I first played one of my regular test tracks, Bill Frisell's "Blues Dream" from the CD With Dave Holland and Elvin Jones. The TubeBass 10 did a good job filling out the low end of Dave Holland's standup bass. It added a definite sense of warmth and fullness, making the sound well-balanced. Comparing the performance of the same system with Elac's own SUB3030, a big-box subwoofer with a 12-inch driver and 12-inch passive radiator that the TubeBass 10 temporarily displaced, the Elac delivered notably better extension, weight, and "grip." Still, I was impressed with how much bass OSD Audio's cylinder sub was actually generating in my room.

Giving a listen to another bass reference track, Roxy Music's "The Space Between" from Avalon (multichannel SACD), the bass guitar and kick drum both had a tight sound and good impact. Here again, there was a limit to the extension, but the TubeBass 10 managed to lay down the rhythm section's groove and get me involved in the music. Same thing went for Aphex Twin's "Produk 29" from the album Syro (16-bit/44.1Hz FLAC, Tidal). The synthesized bass on this track is unusually punishing and seems expressly created to make speakers and smaller subs cry, but I didn't hear any distortion, doubling, or other woofer-related complaints, with or without Dirac Live enabled.


Shifting gears to movie-viewing, I cued up the scene from director Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim where Mako is having flashbacks to her childhood encounter with a Kaiju, a creature of Godzillian scale. The sense of slam resonating from the Kaiju's footfalls conveyed its fearsomeness and destructive intent. And while the subsonic rumbling that usually accompanies this scene was missing, the bass had a fullness and punch that I found impressive for a $179 subwoofer.

How did the TubeBass 10 fare in the Caverns of Isengard, you might be wondering? This scene, from The Fellowship of the Ring, the first chapter in director Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, has orcs ruled by Saruman forging weapons with hammers as kettle drums are furiously pounded in the soundtrack's score. The OSD Audio sub delivered sufficient oomph here to drive the action, and to capture the guttural sound of the growls coming from a creature being "born" to serve in Saruman's army.

We are living in a golden age of subwoofers, with a bunch of manufacturers offering high- performance models designed to deliver deep bass from compact boxes, ultra-deep bass and very high output from big boxes, and everything in between. Some of these have built-in auto EQ to adapt the sub's frequency response to the listening room, while others provide app control to tweak settings using a phone from a comfortable seat on your sofa.


While there's a lot to be said for the current range of high-tech subwoofer options, sometimes you just want something that's going to get the job done, and to do it at a low cost. At $179, OSD Audio's Nero TubeBass 10 fits that description to a tee. While I found its extension and output limited compared with the subs sporting 12-inch drivers I've had circulate through my system, I was impressed with what it did offer bass-wise for the money, and also appreciated its compact form factor and nice, not-cheap look. And with most A/V receivers offering some form of auto room correction, any room-related issues that you aren't able to tame by carefully moving the TubeBass 10 around can be addressed with the AVR's built-in processing. With compact and capable subwoofers available at a price this low, there's really no good reason why your listening space should lack bass.

[Editor's note: OSD Audio is now bundling the Nero TubeBass 10 with its iDSP EQ Room Tuning Kit, an external room EQ and digital signal processor that brings app-based tuning and DSP control to its powered subwoofer, for $199. Check out the combo on OSD Audio's website]..

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