Velodyne EQ-Max 12 Subwoofer

When it released its Digital Drive subwoofers back in the mid-2000s, Velodyne got the jump on all of its competitors. The Digital Drive circuitry and software let you tweak a sub’s sound — manually or automatically — to perfection, and also provided several preset EQ modes to suit different types
of material.

The digital circuitry in the EQ-Max subs is a lot simpler. Its auto EQ function uses an included microphone and internal test tones to adjust the sound within a small, ±3-dB range at 40, 50, 63, 80, and 100 Hz. So it can do a little to fix your room’s acoustical problems, but not a lot. It also provides EQ presets for Movies, Jazz/Classical (the “flat” setting), Games, and Rock/R&B, accessible through the sub’s remote control.

An amp rated at 225 watts RMS and 450 watts peak powers the sub’s 12-inch driver. The back panel provides the most versatile connections of any sub tested here: speaker- and line-level inputs and outputs, with fixed high-pass filters at 120 Hz on the line outputs and 80 Hz on the speaker outputs. This means you can use the EQ-Max 12 in a stereo system that lacks a subwoofer crossover, although the 120-Hz crossover frequency is suited only for small mini-monitors.

Panel Comments

Will loved the sound of the EQ-Max 12, ranking it his favorite of the six subwoofers he heard. Why’d he like it better than the bigger models? “It sounded the tightest, yet it was always full-bodied. It had the perfect high-pass function [referring to the rolloff of low frequencies] to suit this room; it didn’t overwhelm me with low bass, as some of the others did.”

I’ve written many times about my listening room’s broad, 40-Hz boost, which with most material and subwoofers actually improves the sound subjectively — for me and for the manufacturers who’ve set up systems in my room, anyway. Surprisingly, the EQ-Max 12 seemed to accentuate, rather than attenuate, this boost. That’s not to say it sounded bad, though. It dug deep on heavy-bass tunes like Olive’s “Falling.” It pressurized the room well with ultra-low tones from the Organ Symphony and from when the spaceship passes over in the opening of Attack of the Clones. The subsequent explosion in Attack hit me hard in the chest; not bad for a sub measuring 18 inches on its largest side.

While we stuck with the Jazz/Classical EQ setting for most of our listening, I tried the other ones, too. For my taste, the Games and Rock/R&B settings sounded artificially pumped-up, closer to bad car-sound bass, but I liked the modest, useful boost the Movies setting provided.

Velodyne EQ-Max 12 ($799)

Best for: Those who want a little of everything

Worst for: Those seeking max boom for the buck

The Verdict

Will’s fave sub “sounded great with all the genres of music I played: pop, hip-hop, electronic, jazz, everything.” But for me and Geoff, the EQ-Max 12 couldn’t quite match the satisfying upper-bass punch and growl that the NHT B-12d offered. And from a measurement standpoint, it barely delivered more output than the smaller B-12d.

Test Bench

27 to 104 Hz, ±3 dB

Low bass (40-63 Hz) average: 118.3 dB

Ultra-low bass (20-31.5 Hz) average: 106.1 dB