Subwoofer Reviews

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Fred Manteghian  |  Nov 05, 2004  |  0 comments

Canadian speaker manufacturer Paradigm Electronics is but a 90-minute drive from Niagara Falls, New York, home of the classic heart-shaped-tub honeymoon suite. The few months I spent with the Paradigms were a honeymoon of sorts. An Armenian and a sextet of Canadians—and they said it wouldn't last! Now, after two months, the honeymoon may be over—but will the magic go on?

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 11, 2022  |  0 comments

R5t Tower
Performance
Build Quality
Value

D15s Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $7,000/pair (R5t tower), $5,000 (D15s subwoofer)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clean, uncolored sound (R5t)
Surprisingly powerful bass (R5t)
Excellent build quality (R5t)
Stunningly dynamic performance (D15s)
Excellent build quality (D15s)
Minus
Pricey (both)
Not the best option for very large rooms (R5t)

THE VERDICT
Perlisten Audio's R5t towers and D15s subwoofer offer stunning performance and good looks, but in this case the great sound and build quality will cost you.

Even the most veteran A/V enthusiast is unlikely to have heard of Perlisten (short for Perceptual Listening) Audio, but that situation should soon change. Founded by a group of audio industry veterans, the company was formally launched in 2021. For a new speaker outfit, the number of Perlisten models is astonishingly long and encompasses towers, standmounts, center and surround speakers, in-walls, and subwoofers, all of them engineered in the U.S. and manufactured in China.

Fred Manteghian  |  Jul 12, 2002  |  0 comments

In my fantastical and factional stretch of planet, "PC" usually stands for "politically correct," as in "Don't even think about saying that." Or it could simply refer to that bane of all society—or, at least, the bane of the unfortunates who support those who use them—the Personal Computer. But when Phase Technology Corp. uses "PC," they mean their Premier Collection, which represents not only the pinnacle of their current line, but an excellent value as well.

Mark Fleischmann  |  May 20, 2013  |  1 comments

V52 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Power FL-10 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $1,880 At A Glance: Innately musical monitors • Bipole/dipole surrounds • Powerful subwoofer

Phase Technology is one of the great American loudspeaker makers. The man behind that achievement was Bill Hecht, a genuine first-generation audio pioneer. This review can’t begin without noting his passing last fall at age 89, the end of a life devoted to bringing movies and music into both the public and private realms.

Hecht began his career as an expert in Cinemascope Stereophonic Sound, installing systems at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and other pleasure palaces. His company United Speaker Systems (USS) launched in 1955 as he hand-built speakers, including drive units, in his garage. USS got a boost when Avery Fisher offered a commission to build the first Fisher loudspeakers. Hecht earned several patents, most notably for developing the soft-dome tweeter. He also patented a self-damping woofer voice coil, a manufacturing process for flat piston drivers, silicon-injected drivers for resonance damping, and a basketless midrange/woofer mounting system.

Kevin Hunt  |  Mar 31, 2001  |  First Published: Apr 01, 2001  |  0 comments
The Search Is Over: Pinnacle's AC Sub 100 subwoofer is the perfect fit for many systems, not just budget ones.

Get a load of those feet. Someone slipped a set of solid-brass isolation cones on Pinnacle's AC Sub 100, a working-class $350 subwoofer dressed humbly in black vinyl. So what's with the magic slippers? Another Cinderella story perhaps? Or is it merely a Mr. Blackwell- caliber fashion faux pas, like matching Prada with Wrangler? Well, the AC Sub 100 isn't a thing of beauty, but you can take it to the ball—or put it in your entry-level home theater—without embarrassment. This 13-inch cube can dance a bit. The AC Sub 100 resides at the low end of Pinnacle's subwoofer line, and its feet are hand-me-downs from the company's more-exotic designs. They're standard equipment on, among others, Pinnacle's $1,200 Digital Sub 600. Is there another manufacturer that fits such fancy footwear on its nickel-and-dime subwoofers?

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 30, 2014  |  1 comments

Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,996

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Sweet dedicated midrange
Solidly musical bass
Multilayer lacquer finish
Minus
Sub is merely average

THE VERDICT
The Pinnacle Black Diamonds are stellar performers with a winning personality, delivering consistently pleasing sound.

Even in our industrial twilight, the USA still has a cornucopia of great loudspeaker brands, and Pinnacle Speakers is one of them. Since the company’s founding in 1976, it has always been a family-owned business—and if there’s one kind of outfit you don’t want to mess with, it’s a family outfit. I haven’t reviewed a Pinnacle product in eight years, but just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

A limousine screeched to a halt outside my building, and two bulky guys in Men’s Wearhouse suits got out. They didn’t leave me much choice: I was blindfolded and driven around for hours and hours until I had no idea where I was. At one point, I thought I smelled Secaucus, New Jersey. Another time, the blindfold slipped, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Satriale’s Pork Store.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Nov 15, 2012  |  5 comments

SP-BS22-LR Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
 
SW-8MK2 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $450 At A Glance: Affordable designer speakers • Second gen with improved parts • Clearer, meatier sound

Looking for a great sounding set of home theater speakers but on a tight budget? Read on and find out why Pioneer's newest speakers might be just what the doctor ordered and learn how gifted designer Andrew Jones met the challenge of building a high-performance speaker ensemble that can be had for only $500. Even he can't believe it.

Michael Trei  |  Feb 25, 2016  |  0 comments

T50 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
PSW108 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $690 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Big sound, small price
Efficient and easy to drive
Proper surround sound at a soundbar price
Minus
Black vinyl is the only finish

THE VERDICT
Polk’s T50 system is all about value with a capital V— delivering a real 5.1 experience including a powered subwoofer and floorstanding tower speakers at a soundbar price.

“What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar.”—Thomas R. Marshall

American vice presidents aren’t usually remembered for much, but Woodrow Wilson’s VP Thomas R. Marshall will always be remembered for saying that America needed good cheap cigars. If you figure in a hundred years of inflation, Marshall’s five-cent cigar would still be well under a buck today, so clearly he was a man who wanted real value for the money. With that in mind, I reckon that if Marshall were alive today, he would be a huge fan of the Polk T Series speaker system.

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 30, 2012  |  2 comments

LSiM707 Surround Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
 
DSWmicroPRO3000 subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $9,900 (updated 3/10/15)
At A Glance: Excellent dynamic range • Solid imaging and depth • Could use more top-end air

Polk Audio has a proud history stretching back to the early 1970s. Its products have leaned more to the familiar and affordable rather than to the expensive and esoteric, but there have been exceptions. The SRT series, introduced in 1995, was a surround system with seven separate speakers encompassing 35 active drivers, including two subwoofers said to be capable of 120 decibels at 30 hertz. It corralled its fair share of buyers willing to pony up the $10,000 asking price.

Daniel Kumin  |  Jun 16, 2017  |  0 comments

Signature S60 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

PSW125 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,600 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent range and tonal balance
Dramatic looks
Good blend from unusually low-profile center
Minus
Sub doesn’t add much to the towers alone

THE VERDICT
With the Signature Series, Polk successfully practices its long-held ethos of delivering high performance at affordable cost in a new, smartly designed lineup.

Of the three or four speaker brands that pumped the vast majority of air throughout the hi-fi boom of the 1970s, only one—Polk Audio—is still doing what they’ve always done (design and make loudspeakers), where they’ve always done it (more or less), and with very much the same ethos (value/performance, with value in italics). OK, so Polks, like virtually all other mass-market speakers sold in the U.S. are now actually manufactured overseas. But they’re still conceived here according to the old Polk standards—industrially designed in San Diego out of the corporate headquarters and engineered in Polk’s original hometown in greater Baltimore.

Brent Butterworth  |  Aug 31, 2013  |  1 comments

The Power Sound Audio XV15’s sole concession to design is that, besides the stock satin-black finish, you can get the sub in your choice of five wood finishes for an extra $150. Otherwise, it’s a big, ugly box, standing 23 inches high and weighing 75 pounds. It packs a 15-inch woofer — the biggest of any sub in this test — powered by a BASH amp rated at 500 watts RMS, 1,000 watts peak.

Michael Trei  |  Apr 03, 2019  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,800 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Neutral balance
Close timbral matching between models
Excellent value
Minus
Pedestrian styling
Basic finish options

THE VERDICT
PSB's long-running Alpha Series has been a value leader for more than 25 years. Now in their third generation, these speakers sound equally good with music and movies, and the value quotient is stronger than ever.

I think of PSB's entry-level Alpha Series speakers as being the loudspeaker equivalent of the Toyota Corolla. The Alphas may not be the sexiest speakers around, but they do offer solid engineering, long-term reliability, and excellent performance at a very reasonable price. Speakers from PSB's now sadly discontinued flagship Synchrony line have served as my personal home theater reference for over a decade, so you could call me a bit of a fanboy. As you might expect, that means I'm also interested in seeing what the company can deliver when keeping costs down is part of the equation.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Dec 15, 2004  |  0 comments

When Paul Barton was a youngster, he showed great promise as a violinist—so much promise that his father spent an entire year building him a violin based on one of Antonio Stradivari's most thoroughly studied instruments. Barton still has that violin, and still plays music regularly, but he long ago decided that the musician's life was not for him as a primary vocation. Instead, Barton decided to design speakers.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Oct 12, 2012  |  0 comments

PSB Imagine T2 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
 
PSB SubSeries 300 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $7,140 (updated 3/10/15)
At A Glance: Independent ported chambers for each woofer • Dual five-way gold-plated binding posts for biwiring or biamping • Five-way transitional design

Paul Barton is a nutcase. Oh, sure, he’s soft-spoken, ultra-smart, and intensely passionate about sound. (In the late 1960s, 11-year-old Barton started building speakers with his dad in their workshop because other speakers “didn’t sound natural.”) But that’s just a cover. I don’t know how else to explain the fact that Mr. Barton (the “P” and “B” of PSB Speakers—with his wife, Sue, providing the “S”) has spent so much of his life locked away in the anechoic chamber and testing/listening labs of Canada’s federally funded National Research Council (NRC) in Ottawa, Ontario. In fact, according to PSB, although folks from other speaker companies (such as Paradigm, Energy, Mirage, Snell, and Aperion, to name a few) have traipsed through the NRC’s Acoustics and Signal Processing Department’s doors, since the late 1970s, Barton “has spent far longer in the chamber and lab than any other speaker designer.” So rather than skiing, hunting, fishing, playing hockey, and/or drinking beer all day like real Canadians do, Barton chose to play in an anechoic chamber. As I said, he’s a nutcase.

Daniel Kumin  |  Sep 22, 2016  |  1 comments

Imagine X Speaker
Performance
Build Quality
Value

SubSeries 200 Sub
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $3,443 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Brilliant octave-to-octave balance for musical playback
Exceptional center-channel timbral match
Effective and adaptable Atmos module design
Minus
Short towers may require tilt/angle manipulation
Limited subwoofer extension
A bit expensive relative to some recent debuts

THE VERDICT
Though it’s got some stiff competition at and even below its price, the Imagine X series trickles the magic of PSB’s near-perfect tonal balance down to a more attainable price while adding the option of object-based surround sound.

It’s a fact that good loudspeakers sound more alike than different. After all, they’re trying to accomplish the same task: reproduce the recording presented to their inputs with as little change, whether reduction or addition, as possible.

PSB speakers are good loudspeakers. Thus, thanks to the transitive property we all learned in middle school, one PSB model should sound very much like another PSB model, with allowances made for size, price, and range. It follows that PSB’s new mini-tower in their Imagine X series, the X1T, should sound like the full-sized and vastly more expensive Imagine T3 (Sound & Vision, September 2015, and soundandvision.com).

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