Subwoofer Reviews

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Al Griffin  |  Mar 18, 2020  |  4 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,975 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp, detailed sound
High-performance center speaker
Subwoofer with room correction
Minus
Subwoofer pricey compared with competition

THE VERDICT
Monitor Audio's revamped mid-range Silver system brings notable improvements with no notable increase in price.

In 2020 many of us will get to witness the summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan—on TV at least. Why do I mention that in the first line of a speaker review? Because, like the medals handed out to Olympian champs, speaker lines from Monitor Audio tend to come with names

Daniel Kumin  |  Apr 20, 2022  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,700

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Reference-level extension and output
Exceptionally flat, controlled response through crossover octaves
THX Ultra Certified
Minus
No auto-EQ/correction or remote control
Very big and heavy
No pass-through outputs

THE VERDICT
Monolith by Monoprice's 13THX is huge, heavy, and lacks the convenience of app-controlled on-board automated EQ and curve-selection. But if you have more-than-generous space and budget, it's all the subwoofer you or anyone else will ever need.

Got bass? I do. Boy, do I ever: Monolith by Monoprice's newest THX Ultra Certified 13-inch behemoth. You might think that a "13-inch" sub would be just a bit bigger than a typical 12-inch job, maybe 15 or 16 inches wide, and perhaps as heavy as 70 or 80 pounds. Think again.

David Vaughn  |  May 10, 2018  |  22 comments

Monolith 15"
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value

Monolith 12"
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $800, $1,300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clean, copious, and articulate bass
Outstanding build quality
Five-year replacement warranty
Minus
No parametric equalizer
No app control
Extremely heavy

THE VERDICT
Entry into the crowded internet-direct subwoofer market is a bold move from Monoprice, but the performance of these subs will surely make some waves and breed some fierce competition.

Reproducing a movie soundtrack in a home environment isn’t an easy task. At your local cinema, the theater will hopefully have sound dampening so you don’t hear outside noise. And if you’re lucky, the system will be calibrated properly and provide enough headroom so there’s no clipping or distortion during the dynamic portions of the soundtrack.

Michael Trei  |  Sep 11, 2019  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,900 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Lively and dynamic sound
Optimized for movies
Outstanding value for money
Minus
Awkward form factor
Drab cosmetic

THE VERDICT
By combining the benefits of both THX certification and Dolby Atmos, this superb high-value home theater speaker package from Monoprice knocks it out of the park.

What's in a name? If visions of $10 HDMI and iPhone Lightning cables pop into your head when you hear the name Monoprice, you should know that the company introduced the premium Monolith brand a few years back to move beyond its image as an online peddler of low-cost cables. Think of Monolith as being a bit like Genesis is to Hyundai: a fresh name free of the parent brand's bargain basement associations.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Mar 24, 2015  |  0 comments

SoundSpot MT-3 Speaker System
Performance
Features
Value
SUB-8X Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $3,000 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
1mm-thick steel sphere Concentric drivers Superb imaging, soundfield
Minus
Predictably modest bass Satellites pricey

THE VERDICT
Morel’s MT-3 Music Theatre combines steel truncated-sphere enclosures, concentric drivers, and a unique grille pattern to create a visually striking and high-performing compact sat/sub set.

The advent of Dolby Atmos casts a shadow over existing 5.1- and 7.1-channel surround systems. Some home theater buffs want the new technology and want it now, while others may decide not to go all in. In between are those wondering whether to leave the door open for Atmos. And that brings us to the Morel MT-3 satellite/subwoofer set. The 5.1-channel configuration reviewed here does not support Atmos; at least, these satellites lack the up-firing drivers that constitute an “Atmos-enabled” speaker system. However, their base provides for wall-, ceiling-, or tabletop positioning with no additional hardware, and surface-mounting an extra pair (or two) of satellites on a ceiling would indeed bring this speaker system into Atmos territory with a 5.1.2 (or, better yet, 5.1.4) configuration.

Brent Butterworth  |  Aug 31, 2013  |  0 comments

NHT was the first speaker company I ever wrote about, way back in 1989. The company has changed hands several times since then, but its current product offerings are strikingly similar to the originals. It still focuses on compact, well-engineered speakers with gloss-black finishes.

Al Griffin  |  Apr 14, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $179

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Inexpensive
Compact form factor
Good extension and output
Minus
Limited features
No wireless option

THE VERDICT
There’s nothing fancy about OSD Audio’s Nero TubeBass 10, but if you’re looking to get decent bass performance in smaller-size room without a paying a premium, it’s well worth a listen.

As someone who appreciates the benefit deep bass brings to music and movie soundtracks, I've come to accept that having a box the size of a small refrigerator in my living room is a reality of life I need to contend with. That box, of course, is a subwoofer, and welcoming one into your space is the deal you must strike in order to get deep bass. Some cleverly engineered models use innovative DSP-driven solutions, along with serious amplifier power, to coax extended bass from compact boxes— certain subs we've reviewed from JL Audio and KEF come to mind. And while such models definitely make a better fit with non-mancave-like interior spaces, you'll pay handsomely for the tech wizardry that brings about the bass miniaturization.

Al Griffin  |  Jan 26, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Deep bass from a compact design
DSP and app control
Minus
Control app not user-friendly
Unreliable Auto On/Off function
No wireless connection option

THE VERDICT
OSD Audio’s powerhouse Trevoce 12 delivers deep bass from a compact cube. And with onboard DSP and app-based control, users can tune the sub’s output for best performance in their listening space.

OSD Audio is a maker of many audio-related things, its extensive product line covering most bases for custom residential and commercial installations. But the company also has a fair number of consumer offerings, including a sizeable range of subwoofers. Last year I reviewed its Nero TubeBass 10, a cylinder-shaped model that provided a decent wallop of bass given its compact size and $179 price. Now, for this review I'm stepping up to the Trevoce 12 EQ DSP, a flagship subwoofer from the company's swanky Black Series that still tops out at a reasonable $600. (OSD Audio also plans to launch a 15-inch model in the near future with a $799 price.)

Tom Norton  |  Oct 16, 2013  |  3 comments

Monitor 11 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Monitor SUB 12 Subwoofer
Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $3,895 (updated 3/10/15)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp, powerful bass
Superior speaker-to-speaker timbre match
Excellent value
Minus
Slightly tipped-up highs

THE VERDICT
An immensely satisfying speaker system with both music and movies.

Canadian speaker manufacturer Paradigm makes a bewildering variety of loudspeakers. Its offerings top out at around $9,000 for a two-channel pair of Signature S8s—remarkably sensible considering the recent and alarming inflation in high-end audio prices. But while the speakers that make up the Paradigm’s Monitor Series 7, latest version of the company’s long-lived, bread-and-butter line, are far less expensive, they’re anything but an afterthought.

Al Griffin  |  May 08, 2019  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,144 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive performance for price
Surround speakers provide flexible installation options
Subwoofer with app control and room correction
Minus
Basic build quality and looks

THE VERDICT
This entry-level Paradigm speaker package delivers performance reminiscent of the company's higher end models, along with a few sophisticated and well-considered features.

Canada's Paradigm offers a truly impressive range of speakers for audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts alike. The company makes so many speakers, in fact, that I sometimes have trouble keeping track of what's what in the Paradigm lineup. With luscious, hand-lacquered cabinets and Beryllium drivers, the Persona line is the flagship offering, one that Sound & Vision reviewed in a 5.1-channel configuration in our September 2017 issue. While we found plenty to like about that Persona rig, at $31,000 it clearly represented a luxury purchase. Fortunately, the Paradigm family also includes speakers aimed at budget-conscious listeners, such as the Monitor SE series.

Brent Butterworth  |  Aug 31, 2013  |  0 comments

A home theater enthusiast might look at Paradigm’s 13-inch-high Monitor SUB 10 and ask, “Why would I buy that when I can get a 15-inch sub for the same price?” Well, you wouldn’t buy it. Paradigm builds the SUB 10 for design-oriented buyers who want decent bass but don’t want a subwoofer that takes up a lot of floor space.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jul 28, 2017  |  9 comments

Persona 3F Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Persona SUB Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $31,000 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Beryllium tweeter and midrange drivers
Hand-polished, high-gloss finish
Slender, curved cabinets
Minus
Expensive
Heavy

THE VERDICT
Paradigm set out to create the best, state-of-the-Paradigm-art speakers the company has ever produced, bringing together top-notch cabinet construction and finishing capabilities and advanced driver technologies in hopes of achieving something greater than the sum of its already great parts. They’ve succeeded.

Paradigm, the Canadian loudspeaker company founded in 1982, has a long and respectable history of building excellent-sounding, great-looking speakers at relatively affordable prices—not outrageously expensive but not stupidly cheap, either. Somewhere along the way, though, somebody at Paradigm accidentally said out loud at a company meeting: “What if cost were, well, not no object, but at least less of an object? What if we combined all our best technologies and maybe threw in a bit of new stuff, too? Just how awesome of a speaker could we make? We should try that someday.” And thus the company’s latest and greatest-ever series of speakers was born.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 31, 2019  |  6 comments

Premier 700F Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Defiance X-12 subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $4,700 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp detail
Big, powerful sound
Minus
Tower unstable on thick carpet
Poorly designed grilles

THE VERDICT
The Premier range is far from the most expensive in Paradigm's speaker lineup, but the performance and build quality that it offers lets it compete with speakers twice the price.

The other day a friend who's neither a videophile nor an audiophile dropped by my home to watch a movie. A pair of loudspeakers I had just finished reviewing for Stereophile, our sister publication, were sitting in a corner, waiting to be packed up. When I told him their price—$6,000/pair—he appeared shocked. Even Paradigm's affordable new 700F speakers, then as now serving as the left/right channels in my system, are pricier than he would like were he to invest in a system of his own (unlikely!).

Mark Fleischmann  |  May 14, 2015  |  8 comments

Prestige 15B Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Seismic 110 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $6,145

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Advanced driver designs
Fine-grained, transparent, dynamic playback
Compact but powerful subwoofer
Minus
Boxy, non-curved enclosures

THE VERDICT
Paradigm’s Prestige series speakers and Seismic 110 sub employ unusual driver design to achieve remarkable transparency and punch.

As I sat down to write this review of the Paradigm Prestige speaker system, I couldn’t get a seemingly unrelated subject—the Pono hate—out of my head. No joke, folks: I sat at the keyboard for hours mulling it over. What chance did I have to convince readers that a $6,145 speaker system is worth hearing when a $400 music player is greeted with language like “don’t buy” and “snake oil”?

OK, I know I’m preaching to the converted. You probably wouldn’t be reading Sound & Vision if you weren’t open to the idea that a well-designed speaker system has the power to bring you closer to music. That’s what the Paradigms did for me when I informally played a few recent additions to my high-resolution music library (more on them later). I felt as if a curtain had been lifted and music was in the room with me—not just recorded music, but music.

Shane Buettner  |  May 23, 2011  |  0 comments
Price: $9,000 At A Glance: Room- and house-threatening LFE bass for movies • Surprising rhythm, pacing, and articulation for music • Relatively small footprint for a behemoth sub

Because You Can

So, I’m wheeling this ginormous 230-pound Paradigm subwoofer down and around the side of my house, to the double-door, daylight basement that serves as my home theater room. Being impatient, I’m doing this by myself and hoping like hell I don’t tip the thing over and watch it roll end over end down the slope in my backyard. About this time, it occurs to me to wonder, “Why am I even reviewing something this big?” The answer that came to mind is probably the same reason people will buy this $9,000 powder keg of bass. Because I can.

Of course, there’s more to it than that. At CES 2010, the best home theater demo I saw and heard was in the Anthem room, with Anthem’s electronics and sister brand Paradigm’s speakers and subwoofers. The bass was sensational, thunderous, and room shaking, and yet it was strikingly refined. That was the first time I saw the SUB 2, a 4,500-watt subwoofer (rated RMS, and never mind if you can actually get that out of your wall), with six 10-inch woofers arrayed in pairs, firing out of three sides of the cabinet. You read that right. I was every bit as awestruck as you probably are now. Why would Paradigm design and build such a thing? Because they can. In home theater and in life, it’s my firm belief that anything worth doing is worth overdoing. If that’s your philosophy too, read on, because the SUB 2 is a helluva ride.

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