SUBWOOFER REVIEWS

Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Chris Lewis  |  Jun 11, 2002  |  First Published: Jun 12, 2002  |  0 comments
Energy's updated Veritas line lives up to its legacy

It was a question I hadn't considered until I stepped into the listening room on that gloomy Monday morning to greet my Canadian guests. Then it hit me like a slap shot to the forehead. Could I be the unbiased, emotionally unruffled reviewer that I know I am on this day, or was my bitterness simply too strong to give these visitors their fair shake? For you see, it was less than 24 hours earlier that one of the most important games in North American hockey history—the gold-medal final between the United States and Canada—had ended in utter disappointment for the Stars and Stripes. And now, these Canadian speakers were staring me right in the face—their phase plugs pointing at me in ridicule, their ports directing a sly, triumphant wink my way, and their cabinets standing a little taller and straighter after 50 years of Olympic-hockey frustration. My doubts quickly passed, though, as my foreign guests began expertly filling the room with the soothing sounds of the Mississippi delta and Virginia mountains, bringing an undeniable calm over me—even a hint of resignation. As much as I love hockey, it's their game, after all. If Canada starts beating us in football or baseball, I'll know the sports gods have really turned their backs on the good old U.S. of A.

Clint Walker  |  Aug 27, 2000  |  First Published: Aug 28, 2000  |  0 comments
A trio of subwoofers under $1,000 go head to head. See who's left standing.

Last month's Home Theater featured an in-depth look at subwoofers. I hope that you were left with a feeling of understanding rather than confusion. If I hit my mark, you should not only be a more-knowledgeable consumer, but you should enjoy the inner workings of your theater more.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 20, 2005  |  0 comments

Focal-JMlab has been manufacturing speaker drivers and systems from its home base in Saint-Etienne, France, since 1980. They first became known to audiophiles in the US for their range of Focal drive units, particularly their inverted-dome tweeters. The latter were used by a number of makers of speaker systems. One of them, Wilson Audio Specialties, has likely been Focal's most loyal customer over the years, having used various Focal drivers in most of its models since the original Wilson Audio Tiny Tot, aka the WATT, was produced in the mid-1980s.

Steven Stone  |  May 09, 2004  |  0 comments

The history of high-end audio and video is littered with companies who made fine products but failed. Kloss Audio/Video, California Audio Labs, and Dunlavy Audio are but a few of the illustrious firms that did not survive. Genesis almost joined these ranks. Founded in 1991 by Arnie Nudell, Paul McGowan, and Mark Shifter, Genesis quickly made its mark with outstanding speakers and digital electronics. Yet in December 2001, Genesis closed its doors.

David Vaughn  |  Jan 16, 2015  |  4 comments

VTF-15H MK2
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value

VTF-3 MK5 HP
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $899, $799

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Tremendous bass output
Excellent value proposition
Highly flexible setup controls
Minus
Won’t win any beauty contests
Heavy!

THE VERDICT
Both subs have plenty of bass per dollar and offer lots of adjustments to fine-tune the performance to fit your room.

Robert Southey was an English poet and author whose version of the fabulous children’s story “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” was the first one published, in 1837. While the tale has entertained kids for 177 years, little did Southey realize that his story is a fitting metaphor for modern subwoofers. Like the three bears’ porridge, chairs, and beds, subwoofers come in all shapes and sizes, and finding the one that’s “just right” for your particular room can sometimes require sampling different subs and room positions in order to get the best bass response.

Robert Deutsch  |  Dec 28, 2002  |  0 comments

Doing one thing well is an effective strategy for success in business, and one that appears to have been followed by Hsu Research. Headed by Singapore-born, MIT-trained (Ph.D. in civil engineering) Poh Ser Hsu, Hsu Research has been in business for more than 10 years now, and has not wavered from its single-minded mission of offering high-quality, low-cost subwoofers to the public. Hsu produces subwoofers and only subwoofers, resisting the temptation to come out with a line of speakers, cables, amplifiers, digital processors, etc. They have also stuck to the principle of offering products that the average audiophile can afford, selling factory-direct with prices staying below $1000.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 07, 2011  |  3 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $879 At A Glance: Unique setup features • Sealed or ported operation • Powerful, subterranean bass

Dr. Poh Ser Hsu designed and sold his first subs around 1991. They were tall, tube-like structures, built from the forms used to pour concrete pillars. The tubes were made of relatively thin fiberboard (roughly 0.125 inches thick), and their cylindrical shape made their walls tremendously strong and resistant to flexure. More important, they were relatively light, which was ideal for Hsu’s direct-from-the-factory sales plan.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 14, 2005  |  0 comments

Who do you think benefits most from corporate investments in technological research and development: so-called "early adopters" or average consumers? After I reviewed Infinity's top-of-the-line, high-performance Prelude MTS speakers a few years ago for <I>Stereophile</I> (Joel Brinkley reviewed the 5.1 version in <I>The Stereophile Guide to Home Theater</I>), I would have concluded "early adopters." But after spending a few months with the relatively inexpensive Beta ensemble, which is based on the driver technology developed for the Prelude MTS, I think mainstream consumers gain the most and they get it at near Wal-Mart prices.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Jun 24, 2002  |  0 comments

It's an article of faith among audiophiles that you can "hear" materials. It just stands to reason that, if a loudspeaker cone has a certain sound when tapped with a fingernail, then everything it reproduces will be colored by that sound. This is why an audiophile will tap the exposed cones of an unfamiliar loudspeaker to see what they sound like. But not every material has a characteristic sound; some aren't stiff enough to vibrate. A wet dishrag, for example, has no sonic "signature." Only if you hit something with it does it make any sound at all, and then it just goes splat. But any material stiff enough to push air without wilting is likely to have some kind of resonant mode that we can hear, so you just know that a metal loudspeaker diaphragm is going to sound metallic.

David Vaughn  |  Feb 16, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,100 each; $2,200 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful bass for a compact sub
Performs extremely well with music and movies
Minus
Lacks last half-octave of deep bass you can get from larger subs

THE VERDICT
If you’re limited on space but have adequate funding, this is the strongest-performing compact sub I’ve auditioned.

It’s another American business success story. A couple of kids, Jim Birch and Lucio Proni, begin building home loudspeakers during summer break in 1975. More than 40 years later, Jim and Lucio are still going strong, having seen JL Audio become one of the most respected consumer electronics brands in the world, branching out from the home to mobile and marine applications. I’ve experienced their products at some custom shops and have read glowing reviews of their subwoofers over the years. My favorite review was by my colleague Darryl Wilkinson, who said the company’s Fathom f212 sub could play a 20-hertz test tone loud enough to liquefy his bowels! High praise, indeed.

Daniel Kumin  |  Feb 21, 2014  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful, deep bass from a compact 10-inch box Elegant visual design Flexible, fully implemented two-way crossover
Minus
Expensive

THE VERDICT
A small, or at least smaller, subwoofer that goes truly low, loud, and clean—and looks sharp doing it.

What can you say about a subwoofer? It goes this low, that loud. It has these jacks, knobs, and features and is yea big and costs yon dollars. And really, that’s about it; almost all other discussion is so much verbiage.

Response “flatness” from a speaker covering barely two octaves is of little consideration unless a sub is horribly peaky (a few are), especially since room effects invariably dwarf such variations anyway.

Mark Fleischmann  |  May 21, 2007  |  First Published: Apr 21, 2007  |  0 comments
Brains, brawn, and bombast.

"Eventually," one of my musical idols once told me in an interview, "everything you said you'd never do, you do. If you're lucky, you get to shake hands with Arnold Schwarzenegger." Those words of Robyn Hitchcock came back to me as I wrestled the JL Audio Fathom f113 subwoofer out of its carton. (The Governator himself couldn't weigh much more.) I've told other manufacturers that I just couldn't see myself working up a thousand-plus-word lather about a sub. What was it about this one that made me change my mind?

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 12, 2007  |  0 comments

JL Audio is best known for its car audio products. But when it first showed its line of home subwoofers at a CEDIA Expo a couple of years back everyone was blown away&mdash;in more ways than one.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Mar 13, 2012  |  1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $6,300 At A Glance: Automatic Room Optimization (A.R.O.) with microphone • XLR output to connect one or more slave f212 subwoofers • Dual 12-inch active drivers

Unless you live in South Florida or are heavily into car audio, there’s a good chance you don’t recognize the name JL Audio. That’s because while these guys make dozens of products for automobiles and boats, they only make a few for home theaters. And the cheapest ones—the just announced 10-inch E110 and 12-inch E112, cost $1,300 and $1,600, respectively.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jul 05, 2017  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $4,500 (plus installation)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Enclosure designed for walls with standard 2 x 4 construction
13.5-inch low-profile driver
1,000-watt external amp with Automatic Room Optimization
Minus
Retrofit install can be difficult
Expensive

THE VERDICT
This subwoofer system does the seemingly impossible in an impossibly seeming way by hiding an amazingly shallow, high-excursion 13.5-inch woofer, along with the 70-inch-tall cabinet it requires, inside a wall having standard 2 x 4 construction, with only a driver-hiding grille screen as evidence—and it does this surprising feat without causing excessive wall vibrations. Even better, it does all that while performing like a top-end in-room sub.

If I needed additional proof of how much Rob Sabin, our esteemed editor-in-chief (and part-time male stripper for the visually impaired) dislikes me, this would be it. He asks me the other day if I’d want to review another JL Audio subwoofer, one similar to the company’s ginormous Fathom f212, which I reviewed in 2012. I have fond memories of, bruises from, and a partial hernia caused by that 220-pound behemoth.

Pages

X