I don't have an audiophile's ear. That said, here're my thoughts on the 18.1.
When I removed the sub from the packaging my first thought was, "Damn, what a pig!" The packaging says it weighs 92 pounds. This thing is big, dark, and unapologetic. I feel like I could use this thing as an anvil. It's covered in rugged black armor. The driver is massive. I love the appearance! I've never been one for frilly shiny finishes; my bike is flat black by choice. The 18.1 is here to do work. It has the ultimate masculine appearance with its thick and strong features.
Despite its weight and apparent sturdiness, UPS managed to press a 1" groove into the top-rear edge and break all pegs off the grille (of course I've filed a claim). These blemishes are why I haven't posted any pictures. Though the sub is a beast, its packaging was not. The box the sub came in is just slightly larger and there is only additional protection on 8 of the 12 of the sub's edges. Coincidentally, it was one of those 4 unprotected edges that was damaged on my subwoofer during shipping. Functionally, the sub doesn't seem to be damaged. Since the grille is damaged, I've been letting the woofer "get some air", as they say, and I actually prefer the look. Who needs accessories with beautiful boldness like this!
Unfortunately, I can only put the sub in one spot in a corner of the room. I don't have the luxury of a dedicated home theater room, which as it turns out is both a blessing and a pain. The pains are obvious. The blessing is that I get to use the 18.1 nearly all day! It sits behind and to my right as I type this. It's sending its rich, full waves through the room. In this manner, I've spent a lot of time with the 18.1 over the last couple days. I couldn't even bring myself to dial it in until half way through day two because I was so busy enjoying it.
Good lord this guy can belt out some bass! Sometimes you buy something, and it just makes you smile every time it does its thing. Ever since the 18.1 got here, I've been listening to everything at -15.0 or higher whereas I usually kept it at -25.0 or so. The CraigSub is just fun!
Quick equipment run down:
Room: 11'x15' closed
Onkyo TX-NR807 receiving
PS3 for Blu-ray
Home built server severing up music, movies, etc.
Energy RC-10's in front, CC-10 in the middle, and CR-10's for surrounds
The 18.1 of course
Velodyne SMS-1 to equalize the sub
To introduce us to each other, I fired up Terminator Salvation. This movie has an unreasonable amount of LFE; much of it seems to just be there for the hell of it. If you want to determine the pure output capacity of your sub, I think there is no better movie. The helicopter and gas station scenes are especially brutal. I invited my roommate for a listen. He was shocked when the compression waves started tickling his leg hair. I just had a giant smile! I had to straighten the beer signs on my walls after.
I pretty much expected TS to be impressive on the 18.1, so I wanted to see what it would do with a much more reasonably mixed movie. So, I threw The World's Fastest Indian on. The 18.1 was subtle and gentle, that all ended when the Indian revved up. I've been around a lot of straight-piped engines and, as you probably know, it's a violent event when they rev up. I'm happy to report that the 18.1 can be extremely gentle one moment, and then suddenly turn violent when it's asked to be. The cylinder impacts were discernable, not in your ears, but in your jaw. The violence of each explosion ripped through the room giving what was an extremely convincing experience. Screw theaters, they don't have anything on the CraigSub! I feel sorry for friends who think they picked up a real sub at Fry's.
Of course I listened to much more over the next day-and-a-half, but I'm going to skip ahead to the calibration.
First I fired up Audessy and had it do its thing. Since I'll be using the SMS-1 to calibrate the sub's gain, I neutralized the -15.0dB given to the sub. Then I got the SMS-1 going. I've attached before and after images of the frequency sweep. Crossover is set at 70Hz. As I mentioned earlier, I wasn't able to find the ideal room position, so it's very likely that I could do much better than this. I know it looks like I'm running the highs way too low, but I set them to about 76dB before with the sub muted, there's just a null at 200Hz or so. Ultimately, after a couple hours toying with it, this is the best I could do (if I have to listen to another sweep I'll kill myself). I think the low frequency is killing me here as I'm in a small room and the sub was designed, I think, for a larger room.
Anyway, I'm not one to dwell too much on whether the sweep comes out perfectly flat or not, I much prefer the actual experience. So, did the adjustments make any noticeable difference? Hell yeah they did! As I sit here, I am comparing the before and after images for the first time and it's giving me something to help me explain what I'm hearing. That giant peak at 65Hz before calibration seems to correlate to a sound that just seems cleaner when doing comparisons of the un-equalized and equalized sound. For music, I think I'm going to add a slight boost to this area. The boost I made to the low end makes the sub much more tactile (obviously). I thought the 18.1 was powerful before, now it's ridiculous! The details really come out now. When a door slams on screen, it feels like a door slammed in the room.
On to music! As I said, for me, a flat frequency response is not preferable for music. The bass seems much clearer with a little boost around 60Hz. With this bump included, the 18.1 comes alive with music! Anywhere it seemed muddy before, it comes through clean now. I listen to a wide range of music, including some stuff that most of you probably don't. I'm 22 and just graduated college, and I am a product of my generation. I listen to Iconic stuff like Thin Lizzy, classics like Buddy Holly, literal classics like Bach, dark mother****ers like Carl Orff, rockin' Van Halen, blues from guys like BB King, everything. I also listen to newer stuff like Foo Fighters, Metallica, hip-hop like DJ Zeph or 2Pac, and even pop music like Lady Gaga and 50 Cent.
Of all the tracks I listened to (Bad to the Bone was awesome), Metallica's Enter Sandman was probably the most impressive to me. This is a song that holds some special value. It was my favorite song when I was a kid and it's the only song I can play on guitar because I sat and practiced it repeatedly until I got it through brute force memorization. To say I've heard it a lot would be a gross understatement. I've never heard it like this! I mentioned violence earlier, and I still think it's a really key word here. The violence of this song really rips through the room every time the kick drum hits or Jason Newsted gets aggressive on the bass. I listened to the whole album again with a bit of water in my eyes. The Unforgiven was glorious.
Bottom line: the 18.1 can be subtle one moment, extraordinarily violent the next. It's big, dark, and unapologetic for its raw masculinity. It's caused me to go back a listen to some of my favorite material with a tear in my eye.
Sorry for the wall of text. I think D.T.Mike said pretty much what I wanted to get at in his review of the 18.2.
I can truly say this is the sub I have been looking for It has unbelievable slam, sounds fantastic for music, has the impact of a sledge hammer but will totally disappear in my room. For lack of terminology it does not have that muddy tone, slow decay time if that makes any sense.
I will have to watch all of my favorite movies again there are sounds that have never been heard or felt like this before by me even at low volume settings. For example in WOTW during the pod emergence when the street is breaking up I used to get a constant "rumble" tone that stayed the same. Now the rumble is there big time but at the same time while that is playing there are other bass tones present like heavy things falling with a felt in the chest thud mixed in with the rumble.