Subwoofer Reviews

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David Vaughn  |  Jun 18, 2014  |  5 comments

S300 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

X12 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $17,700

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Realistic, dynamic sound
Outstanding build quality
Carries on the fine M&K tradition
Minus
Expensive

THE VERDICT
M&K’s system is perfect for the movie lover and extremely capable for the discerning audiophile.

It was in February 2000 when I was in a hi-fi store looking at some new electronics and stumbled upon a salesman giving a speaker demonstration to a married couple. I decided to listen in to see if anything piqued my interest. The salesman went through a number of different speakers, and I didn’t hear anything remarkable until his last demo: M&K Sound S150s coupled with an MK350 subwoofer. I don’t recall the exact track he played, but my jaw dropped when I heard the sound emanating from the speakers. It was as if the entire wall came alive, and I couldn’t pinpoint which speakers were active. Much like the wand picking the wizard in Harry Potter, these speakers picked me, and I knew I’d have to own them.

Sadly, it took me three years to convince She Who Must Not Be Crossed to give her blessing, but I’ve been in audio bliss for over 10 years now with a trio of S150s across the front soundstage and four SS150s across the rear of my home theater.

David Vaughn  |  Mar 19, 2014  |  9 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $3,200

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful, deep, and taut bass response
Outstanding build quality
Sealed push-pull design
Minus
No built-in parametric equalizer
Pricey

THE VERDICT
M&K Sound calls the X12 the subwoofer, and I can’t disagree with them. This is one of the best subwoofers I’ve ever heard in my room.

M&K Sound got started when Walter Becker of Steely Dan commissioned Ken Kreisel to design a studio reference subwoofer and monitoring system for the Pretzel Logic mixing sessions. Partnering with a high-end audio dealer, Jonas Miller, Kreisel developed a revolutionary subwoofer that led to the creation of M&K. As time passed, word of mouth spread throughout the music and movie industries, and M&K would go on to create systems for leading studios and in-home installations for producers, actors, and recording artists.

Wes Phillips  |  Mar 03, 1997  |  0 comments

In the summer of 1996, <I>SGHT</I> editor Lawrence Ullman made me an offer I couldn't refuse: "Wes," he asked, "how would you like to review M&K's new THX speaker package?"

Clint Walker  |  Mar 28, 2000  |  First Published: Mar 29, 2000  |  0 comments
M&K reaches new heights in audio engineering.

It's not uncommon for a company to come along and make the claim that they've reinvented the wheel in audio or video. In fact, every year at the Consumer Electronics Show, I chuckle when some yahoo representing one of these companies comes up to me and begins to peddle their wares. Sure, there have been several advancements in audio engineering over the last few decades, but let's face it—no one has truly reinvented the wheel.

David Vaughn  |  May 18, 2022  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Deep bass response with extremely high output
Impeccable build quality
THX Dominus Certification
Minus
No built-in parametric EQ or room correction
No control app or handset

THE VERDICT
The performance of M&K Sound’s THX Dominus Certified X15+ is over the top. Highly recommended if you demand bass that can go extremely deep and loud even in the largest of rooms.

Let me state from the outset that I'm a fan of M&K Sound speakers. I have owned an M&K S-150 surround system for the past 18-plus years and have zero desire to change it out anytime soon. The first time I auditioned it in a Magnolia Hi-Fi store back in 2002 made me an instant admirer of the brand, and it took me two years of saving up to be able to afford a full 7.1 speaker package. I fully bought into M&K's—and THX's—principle that using a subwoofer/satellite configuration to separate and optimize the reproduction of low frequencies improves midrange purity and accuracy.

Daniel Kumin  |  Nov 20, 2012  |  0 comments

Here are two words I never thought I’d use together in a sentence: audiophile soundbar. Yet MartinLogan’s new Motion Vision model indisputably qualifies.

Fred Manteghian  |  Mar 12, 2003  |  0 comments

The adage goes something like this: "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all." I'm guessing Gayle Sanders, president of MartinLogan, heard that one a lot while growing up. As the leading manufacturer of hybrid electrostatic speakers, MartinLogan's product line has been largely silent on the subject of subwoofers, with the notable exception of the two imposing subwoofer stacks packaged with their flagship Statement system. But their dealers have said plenty, recommending third-party subs that satisfy the primal urges of home-theater natives.

Michael Trei  |  Dec 26, 2018  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,099.95

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Versatile configuration options
Excellent iOS/Android control app
Music and movie optimization modes
Minus
Wireless module costs extra
Only available in black finish

THE VERDICT
The Dynamo 1100X subwoofer's impressive performance is enhanced by room correction, flexible setup options, and an excellent control app.

When I was a kid, the closest thing my family had to a remote control was me. As the youngest child, it was my job to get up off my butt and turn the knob if someone wanted to watch a different TV channel. Today, it seems that just about any device that plugs in can be remotely operated with a clicker from the comfort of your chair, but a subwoofer? Isn't that the kind of set-and-forget product that completely takes care of itself? As it turns out, remote control adjustment, a key feature of MartinLogan's revamped Dynamo line, can be a really handy feature in a subwoofer, but we'll talk more on that in a bit.

Al Griffin  |  Apr 12, 2017  |  2 comments

ElectroMotion ESL X Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Dynamo 1500X Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $11,395 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent performance with music and movies
Perfect Bass Kit for sub eases setup
Compact electrostatic center speaker
Minus
Some timbral shift between center channel and towers
Towers and center require AC power

THE VERDICT
MartinLogan’s ESL X tower speakers deliver delicacy and detail—along with serious dynamics when paired with the Dynamo 1500X subwoofer. A new, more compact electrostatic center speaker sweetens the deal.

As a member of Generation X, I sometimes get paranoid about being target-marketed when I see a product name appended with an “X”—for instance, MartinLogan’s new ElectroMotion ESL X speaker. I, for one, would be an easy target: An eX-MartinLogan owner, I’m very familiar with the detailed, almost eerily present sound that the company’s hybrid electrostatic speakers deliver. Consider me a fan.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Feb 12, 2013  |  7 comments

MartinLogan Motion 40 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
 

Dynamo 1000 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $4,550 (updated 3/10/15)
At A Glance: Folded Motion tweeters • Dual 6.5-inch aluminum cone woofers • Custom five-way bi-wire tool-less binding posts

A couple of years ago, I took a tour of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Waterbury, Vermont. Whilst there, I heard the tour guide refer to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream as super-premium. I was intrigued because: 1) I’m thinking about using it as a nickname for myself; 2) I’d never heard the term used in reference to ice cream before; and 3) I wondered if there were additional levels of premium-ness. (Ultra-super premium? Super-duper premium? Maximum-ultra-super-duper premium?) I was disappointed to discover that, although the FDA sets standards for the use of nutrient descriptors. Less air and more butter fat promotes higher premium-ness—all the way up, I assume, to the heart-valve-clogging, airless, 100-percent pure, frozen-block-of-butter-fat variety.

In the case of loudspeakers, it’s the opposite. More air and less fat—no one likes tubby bass—results in super-smooth, premium sound.

Michael Trei  |  Apr 15, 2020  |  4 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $8,000 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Refined sound
Powerful, feature-rich subwoofer
Minus
Tweeter on 60XTi tower sits high off the ground
60XTi tower requires careful placement

THE VERDICT
Upgrades in style and performance take MartinLogan's Motion series speakers to the next level, while its Dynamo 1600X subwoofer is a feature-packed beast.

Ask a car guy to identify any classic American car from the 1950s or 1960s, and most would be able to pin it down to the exact year of production. Back then, the auto companies would change up styling every year, even if the mechanical stuff under the sheet metal remained essentially unchanged. The problem with that approach is that tooling up to build new models every year gets really expensive, so these days most cars have a life cycle of a few years before an all-new generation is introduced. To keep these longer-lasting designs looking fresh, at some point in the life cycle they'll give the car what's known as a facelift, replacing a few key parts like the grille, taillights, and trim to lend it a new look.

Michael Trei  |  Oct 22, 2015  |  4 comments

Motion 60XT Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Dynamo 1500X Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $6,695 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful, punchy sound
Excellent sonic match among speakers
Fine upper-octave detail
Minus
Clunky interface for Perfect Bass Kit
Marketing not withstanding, they can’t image like ML’s dipole speakers

THE VERDICT
While they don’t have much in common with MartinLogan’s electrostatic offerings, the Motion XT speakers let you keep a foot in both the music and home theater camps with little compromise.

Coming up with a good slogan for your company can be tricky. You want something that tells people what you do, but you don’t want it to tie your hands as the company evolves. For years, Burger King ran commercials using the catchphrase “Have It Your Way,” but they had to drop it when they wanted to reduce the bottlenecks being caused at restaurant counters by custom orders. Now they’re back to being the “Home of the Whopper.” Of course, you could simply ignore the historical inaccuracy of your catchphrase, as the H.J. Heinz Company has done; after all, they probably have 5,700 varieties today, not just 57.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 08, 2004  |  0 comments

Until the introduction of the Mirage M-1 a decade or so ago, all audiophiles knew what dipolar radiation meant. It was an inherent characteristic of flat, planar, enclosure-free speakers in which the rear radiation was 180&#176; out of phase with the front, producing a null at the sides. This null made the spacing from the sidewalls less critical. Beyond this, open-baffle dipole designs attracted a strong following for their unique spatial characteristics and a sound free of cabinet colorations.

Dennis Burger  |  Dec 03, 2013  |  0 comments

MASS 5.1 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
MASS W200 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Unique design
Beautiful imaging
Surprising dynamic capability
Minus
Tight binding posts won’t accommodate some connectors
Horizontal Centre speaker best used upright

THE VERDICT
Big, bold, bombastic sound from a relatively small and quite affordable package

I love double irony, that wonderfully weird phenomenon whereby a seeming incongruity loops right back around and becomes all too apt. Take the guy who names his Chihuahua Killer, for example, which seems like fun and giggles at first glance, until the little bugger tries to eat the face right off of your skull for want of a Snausage. Take also Monitor Audio’s compact MASS (spelled just like that, in all capital letters), a 5.1-channel home theater speaker system that continues the company’s trend of delivering complete home theater speaker systems in increasingly small, though typically traditionally shaped, packages. (Search the monitoraudiousa.com domain for the word diminutive, and you’ll see what I mean.) At first glance, you can’t help but think that whoever decided to hang such a MASSive moniker on a delicately tapered, lantern-like satellite speaker this small certainly had some chutzpah. And lifting one of the dainty 3.64-pound satellites does nothing to abate that initial urge to chuckle, no matter how solidly built and sturdy it may be.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 23, 2014  |  First Published: Jul 22, 2014  |  1 comments

Monitor Audio Silver 10 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Monitor Audio W-12 Subwoofer
Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,925 ($6,600 as shown in gloss black)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp, open sound
Superb imaging
First-rate fit and finish
Minus
Two-way center channel
Limited subwoofer output

THE VERDICT
The center speaker suffers the usual off-axis quirks of a two-way design, and the small sub came up short for the deepest movie bass, but Monitor’s Silver series is a triumph, a treat to hear, and well worth seeking out for a serious audition.

Monitor Audio offers an exceptionally wide range of speakers, from the decidedly expensive (but not nosebleed high-end) to the modestly priced. In 2010, I reviewed the company’s relatively affordable Silver RX system. That line has now been completely redesigned, losing its RX moniker and morphing into the Silver series. Like the RXs before them, the Silvers were designed at Monitor’s U.K. headquarters and are built in a company-owned plant in China. For this review, we’ve selected the largest of the floorstanders, the Silver 10, along with the Silver Centre, the Silver W-12 subwoofer, and, instead of the Silver FX dedicated surround speakers, a pair of Silver 2s to serve the surround channels.

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