Subwoofer Reviews

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Joel Brinkley  |  Oct 17, 2004  |  0 comments

For two decades now, Danish manufacturer Dynaudio has been known for making superb speakers in small cabinets. No, such designs can't produce the robust bass that larger speakers can muster—that's a simple factor of physics, not of design. But Dynaudio's track record should intrigue anyone interested in buying a compact speaker.

Kevin Hunt  |  Dec 29, 2001  |  First Published: Dec 30, 2001  |  0 comments
Meaty, beaty, little, and bouncy.

The Earthquake SuperNova could be the world's most dangerous end table. No amount of Krazy Glue will repair the heartbreak of the unwary soul who dares place the family-heirloom Tiffany lamp or Waterford vase on this compact subwoofer. This is not a New Age sub disguised as a fine piece of furniture, a veneered life-style block

Steven Stone  |  Sep 09, 2002  |  0 comments

Boom. Thud. Crash. What would a movie be without low-frequency effects? Even non-macho films like <I>Sense and Sensibility</I> have their share of carriage-wheel rumblings and horse-hoof thuds. Without a serious subwoofer that extends down to a solid 30Hz, and preferably even lower, a home-theater system can hardly be called "high-end."

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 22, 2018  |  1 comments

Adante AS-61 Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

SUB3070 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,500/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Detailed, clean highs
Superb vocal reproduction
Bloat-free bass
Minus
Relatively low sensitivity
Limited bass extension

THE VERDICT
Elac's step-up AS-61 standmounter gets most everything right. Combined with the company's well-matched SUB3070 subwoofer, it makes for a highly appealing, high-performance speaker package.

Germany-based ELAC was well known in the 1960s and 1970s for its automatic (Miracord) turntables. The company disappeared from North America in the ensuing decades while transitioning into a major European loudspeaker brand. A few years ago, it decided that the time was right to return to the U.S. market. To produce new designs for that move they lured veteran speaker designer Andrew Jones away from his extended gig at TAD/Pioneer. The ELAC Debut line (now in its second generation) came first and seriously shook up the budget speaker sector. That was followed not long after by the pricier, but hardly pricey, Uni-Fi series.

Daniel Kumin  |  Dec 23, 2015  |  0 comments

Debut F5 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

S10EQ Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,470 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb sonics, neutral tonal balance
Decently finished, simple look
Unapproachable value
Minus
Some off-axis center-channel tonal shift
Audible thump on sub’s auto turn-off

THE VERDICT
Elac’s Debut series reintroduces a near-forgotten brand with a design by a well-known name—Andrew Jones—and a value/performance factor to be reckoned with.

As longtime S&V readers have doubtless come to understand, I believe that cheap, as Gordon Gekko definitely did not say, is good. Any $10,000 pair of loudspeakers makes me vaguely uneasy, while a $50,000 pair leaves me ready to join the Che Guevara Brigade and start lining up oligarchs. So the arrival of a new family of cheap—err, high-value—serious loudspeakers from Elac U.S., designed by tech’lebrity engineer Andrew Jones, caused a certain amount of excitement hereabouts. (For more on Elac and Jones, see “Man on a Mission”.)

Al Griffin  |  Feb 03, 2021  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $3,000 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clean, well-balanced sound
Consistent off-axis performance
Subwoofer control app with Auto-EQ
Excellent value
Minus
Basic looks; black-only finish option

THE VERDICT
Despite its low-key exterior, Elac’s 5.1 Uni-Fi 2.0 system delivers the goods for movies/music and represents an excellent value.

Germany's Elac is a brand that has greatly expanded its presence in the hi-fi and home theater worlds over the past five or so years. While the company itself has been around for considerably longer, back in 2015 it brought on former KEF, Infinity, TAD, and Pioneer chief speaker engineer Andrew Jones to develop new product lines. First out of the gate for Jones was the Debut Series, followed by the Uni-Fi series, both affordable lines designed to pull fresh recruits into the audiophile ranks. New speakers arrived in quick succession, including the upscale but still affordable Adante passive and Navis powered models.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Dec 28, 2016  |  2 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,047 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Concentric mid/tweeter
Pinpoint imaging
App-driven, room- correcting sub
Minus
Extra power required
App required for sub control

THE VERDICT
Speaker designer extraordinaire Andrew Jones continues his work for German manufacturer Elac with some of the best monitor-class speakers we’ve ever heard plus a provocative, app-driven sub.

There are a lot of ways to put together a home theater system. Small speakers—or, as I call them, monitors—are among the best foundations for a multipurpose room that isn’t cavernous in size. The audio industry used to pump out so many potentially interesting passive monitors (not to mention towers) that we could barely review a fraction of them. But with the increasing emphasis today on soundbars and powered lifestyle speakers at the lower end of the market, it’s becoming increasingly hard to put together small-speaker configurations for surround sound.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Jul 21, 2002  |  0 comments

When it comes to surround-speaker systems, good things rarely come in small packages. Microsatellites and little subwoofers typically sound thin and anemic, with poor tonal balance and low volume capabilities. Yet there are many situations (e.g., small apartments, dorm rooms, guest rooms) in which such speakers would be ideally suited, if only they produced a reasonably good sound.

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.

Al Griffin  |  Oct 28, 2020  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $8,360 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great overall sound with movies and music
Integrated Atmos Elevation speakers
Impressive clarity from center speaker
Minus
Pricey sub with limited features
Boxy design for Focal speakers

THE VERDICT
Focal's 5.1.4 Chora system delivers impressive performance for the price and is equally adept at movies and music.

Some may see France's Focal as a maker of $100,000-plus speakers and $4,000 headphones. But while the company does maintain a high profile in the high-end through products like its Utopia towers, the reality is that Focal makes speakers—and headphones—that cover a wide range of price points. It's been nearly ten years since Sound & Vision reviewed a full-scale Focal home theater speaker system—a $25,000 rig with beryllium tweeters. This time out we're looking at the company's affordable new Chora series, a lineup that notably includes speakers with upfiring drivers to handle Dolby Atmos and other immersive audio formats.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 02, 2017  |  0 comments

Dôme Flax 5.1 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Sub Air Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Flax cone woofer
Aluminum-magnesium inverted-dome tweeter
Wall-hugging sub
Minus
Limited bass from sats

THE VERDICT
Unique driver materials, overall quality of construction, and adroit voicing make the Focal Dôme Flax 5.1 one of the best-sounding compact sat/sub systems I’ve heard.

As the home theater milieu increasingly divides into Atmos and non-Atmos camps, the satellite/subwoofer category seems destined to remain part of the old guard, usually sold in a set of five little speakers and a sub or two. Is it possible for a satellite speaker to retain its merciful compactness if it’s also to include an Atmos-enabled upfiring driver? I’d love to review such a product, but right now it’s a figment of my imagination and hopes. Focal, the prodigious French speaker manufacturer, does now offer a 5.1.2-channel Atmos-capable sat/sub system that takes a different approach (see below), but you’ll be happy to know that plain ol’ 5.1 is still alive and supported by this and other fine speaker makers. Even now it remains the bedrock configuration of surround sound.

Daniel Kumin  |  Jan 03, 2018  |  0 comments

Sib Evo Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Cub Evo Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent sound quality
Great subwoofer/satellite integration
Plays louder, cleaner than some similarly sized systems
Atmos on board
Minus
Spring-loaded push connectors can be irritating
No prepackaged 5.1.4-channel option

THE VERDICT
A high-performing, moderately compact, one-carton speaker solution for serious home theater—with Atmos.

Focal, the French loudspeaker maker—the French loudspeaker maker (there are others, but really, name one)—is best known on these shores for the Utopia series of haute-highend ultra-towers, which, cresting at something like $185,000 for a pair, step well over what I think of as the Che Guevara line. (That’s the line across which, following the revolution, anyone owning a pair can count on a very long vacation at state expense in a re-education camp.)

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.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Nov 21, 2013  |  0 comments

Nucleus Micro SE Speak
Performance
Build Quality
Value
TR-1D Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,614

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Highly compact steel sphere enclosures
Transparent sound quality
Big soundstage with no restrictive sweet spot
Minus
On-wall or near-wall placement well advised
Tricky subwoofer mating
Likes a lot of power

THE VERDICT
A sub/sat system whose great strengths are its midrange clarity, wide dispersion, and décor-friendly form factor.

The interaction between speaker manufacturers and the public they serve has changed markedly since the days when I was a longhaired college kid buying my first speakers. Back then, design ideas flowed in one direction, from the top down, from the drawing board to the sales floor—and if you bought a speaker, you nearly always bought a box speaker. Now speaker-design imperatives flow in both directions. With a greater variety of beckoning form factors, speaker buyers influence the design process simply by choosing the products that fit into our lives.

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