Subwoofer Reviews

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Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 25, 2013  |  0 comments
CL-2 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
 

CLS-10 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $2,888 At A Glance: 180-degree cylindrical tweeter • Stable, wide-open sound • Tilted sub driver

Shape is destiny for Anthony Gallo Acoustics. The company is best known for its spherical and cylindrical speaker enclosures, made of metal and tough as tanks. But the Classico Series is the first Gallo product to use a plain rectan-gular box—for consumers, the company says, who prefer a more traditional look. Though not as curvaceous as other Gallo lines, the Classico is still available in a beautiful Cherry veneer finish, along with the more staid Black Ash veneer of our review samples. Note that the speakers are sold only through the Gallo Website: roundsound.com. The more conventional construction and factory-direct approach make the Classico models among the most affordable Gallo speakers ever.

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.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Apr 18, 2013  |  2 comments

Aon 2 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

ForceField 5 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $3,000 At A Glance: Broad dispersion • Good power handling • Powerful subwoofer

A review is more interesting when it tells a story. How should the story of the GoldenEar Aon 2 begin? There’s the technology angle: The Aon 2 is among the few speakers on the market with an unusual pleated tweeter design that uses a squeezing motion (as opposed to a piston motion) to generate the changes in air pressure that we hear as sound waves. Because the benefits—wide horizontal dispersion and vivid imaging—are easy to describe, that would be a good way to begin. And then there’s the human interest angle: GoldenEar is the third brand to be cofounded by Baltimore-based loudspeaker impresario Sandy Gross, whose genuine love for audio is balanced by his love for gourmet food, Expressionist canvases, and ancient statuary. The only thing wrong with these angles is that reviewers hither and yon have used them so often in the past. That leaves the musical angle. Here I believe I have a variant that might qualify as an exclusive.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Apr 26, 2018  |  1 comments

In-Wall Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

SuperSub X Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $7,250 (10-piece system as reviewed)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Rotatable pleated tweeter for horizontal orientation
2½-way design
High performance-to-cost ratio
Minus
Horizontal installation requires modification of wall stud

THE VERDICT
With the Invisa Signature Point Source in-wall speakers, GoldenEar Technology has introduced an in-wall speaker with a performance-to-price ratio that rivals in-room competitors.

Just as not everyone prefers to eat turkey on Thanksgiving, there are some people who don’t like to have tower speakers standing at attention (and drawing attention) in their family’s living room. At our family’s traditional Thanksgiving chow-down (at Christmas, we have a ho-ho-hoedown), we serve baked ham as an alternative to the delicious, funny-looking bird the rest of us enjoy. (Those who don’t like either choice get bread and water.)

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Oct 24, 2013  |  3 comments

Triton Seven Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

ForceField 5 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE 3,594

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Deep bass extension from dual passive radiators Remarkably full midrange Rearward rake with non-parallel front and rear baffles
Minus
You’ll need to find a new home for your current speakers

THE VERDICT
The Triton Sevens provide rock-solid high-end performance for a mid-fi price.

It begins with a fairy tale (of sorts). Once upon a time (say, around 2013), a little company named GoldenEar made three bears—no, sorry, three tower speakers. The first speaker was tall and big with a deep, deep voice. But it was too big and too expensive for a hungry little girl roaming the forest—no, I mean, for some of the people shopping through a forest of tower speakers at the A/V store. The second tower was shorter and a bit smaller. Its voice was deep, too, but not quite as much as the papa tower’s voice. Sadly, it was also too big to fit comfortably in some people’s rooms, and still too big for some of their budgets. Then GoldenEar made a third tower speaker, even shorter and less expensive, and this speaker was… Well, that’s what we’re here to find out, isn’t it?

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.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 13, 2015  |  0 comments

Infinity Reference R162 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Infinity Reference SUB R12 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,100

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Detailed high frequencies
Proprietary drivers
Curved enclosure
Minus
Can be too revealing
More finishes needed

THE VERDICT
The new Infinity Reference series has superb top-end transient detail and a commendably subtle sub, turning even familiar material into a fresh experience.

“Attention to detail.” That was my mantra when I hired and trained people to write product descriptions for an e-commerce site. It’s a pretty good rule to live by in general, and I try my imperfect best to practice it myself, both personally and professionally. It came back to me when I pulled the grille off the Infinity R162, part of the big brand’s new Reference series. When I saw a tweeter waveguide unlike any I’d previously seen, I knew I was communing with a kindred spirit, a lover of detail—though one with access to far greater resources than I command as a mere reviewer. Infinity’s parent corporation, Harman International Industries, has the kind of facilities and personnel that many speaker companies can only dream of. Harman pays a whole lot of talented people to attend to detail.

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.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Nov 14, 2014  |  3 comments

Studio 230 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Studio SUB 250P Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,630

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Efficient, high output
Vocal clarity and defined soundfield
Affordable price
Minus
Thin, accentuated top end
Best at low-to-moderate volumes

THE VERDICT
Although their bright voicing may not be for everyone, the JBL Studio 2 speakers combine high efficiency with excellent detail retrieval.

What if the solution to room-interaction problems resided in your loudspeakers? Wouldn’t that be a great alternative to the ills of receiver-based room correction systems? Those are some potentially interesting questions posed by JBL’s Studio 2 series.

For starters, who needs room correction anyway? Well, when it’s hard to catch the dialogue, and imaging smears all over the place, the room correction program in your A/V receiver can mitigate those problems (depending on the receiver and the room). But quite often, it also introduces new artifacts and errors. For my own part, in my own room, I find that many room correction systems thin out the overall tonal balance and induce fatigue. That’s why some audiophiles shun room correction and choose to live with the acoustic character of their room, for better or worse—usually both.

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.

David Vaughn  |  Mar 11, 2020  |  5 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful output for a compact model
Onboard Digital Automatic Room Optimization
Dual-sub setup option
Minus
Lacks below-20Hz extension
Gloss black finish attracts dust

THE VERDICT
The f110v2 lacks the output and extension of a larger sub, but packs quite a punch given its modest size.

According to Merriam-Webster, a fathom is a unit of length equal to six feet that's used to measure the depth of water. But for JL Audio, Fathom is a family of subwoofers that dig deep into the lower depths of the audio spectrum. The company, which has been around north of forty years, was started by Jim Birch and Lucio Proni, who started building loudspeakers during their summer break back in the 1970s and never stopped.

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