I picked up my new DD-12+ tonight on the way home. Once I have more time to play with it I'm going to write a blog post about it, but I figured I'd post some first impressions here in case anyone was interested. These are just some rough notes I took as I was setting it up and listening a bit afterward.
Note: this thing can pull 12 amps at 120v. I noticed this in the specs when I was ordering it, so yesterday I crawled under the house and wired in a new outlet so I can spread the home theater components across two circuits. At 12A for the sub, ~6A for my 58" plasma, ~6A for my Denon AVR, plus a computer, a PS3, and a couple of lamps, one circuit in the living room just wasn't going to cut it anymore. (I doubt the sub or amp will draw that much current during normal use, but I don't want to tempt fate....) My old sub only had a 300W amp in it, so it wasn't an issue.
A lot of what follows probably isn't news to anyone who's owned a Velodyne before, especially one of the digital ones. But it's my first one, so I'm noticing all this stuff for the first time.
The DD-12+ has incredibly good packaging: outer box, cardboard spacers, inner box, big hunks o' styrofoam, thick plastic bag, and synthetic fabric bag. And it's the first piece of a/v equipment I've owned that comes with a pair of white gloves.
The mic stand is a bit weird: it comes with two heads you can swap. I think the second one is for mounting on a tripod, but I didn't try it. The mic cord is plenty long enough for my ~14x20ft room. The mic feels very solid and professional; much better than the consumer-level Audyssey calibration mics. But I'm mostly basing that on how big and heavy it is; I have no idea what's inside either one of them.
The sub is very heavy and feels very, very solid. It doesn't have any flex in the cabinet or make much noise when you're moving it around. And it weighs a freaking ton.
The "ebony gloss" finish is black gloss for all practical purposes, unless you're looking really closely or have it under bright light. There are faint brown stripes but they're much less noticeable than in any real ebony wood I've ever seen. It fits in well with my gloss black speakers and black components. I'm not sure why they bothered with the "ebony" bit. Just to be different?
The PC software and test tone CDs weren't mass-produced: it looks like they burned them onto blanks and then stuck printed labels on them.
The PC installer program pops up a DOS shell before running, apparently to install a USB virtual serial port driver. It's an odd way to do it. It would be nice if they had a Mac version too on such a high-end product, especially given how popular Macs seem to be among musicians. Fortunately my HTPC runs Windows (for gaming) so I could use it for the setup. A USB / mini-USB cable is included. (It had better be at this price. :-)
A printed manual is *not* included, however, just a quick-start guide. Maybe it's still changing and they didn't want to waste trees / money? It's on the CD and the web site. It's well written and fairly complete; it even includes the RS232 commands to control the sub remotely. The info on how to run the EQ setup is in a separate "User Interface" manual, which seems silly. Why two manuals?
The first time I installed the software, the "virtual com port driver" didn't install correctly. I uninstalled, then manually did "run as administrator" on the setup program and this time it installed correctly. This is on Windows 7, FWIW.
I ran the "self eq" first, as suggested. It did a decent job coming up with a fairly flat response. Just from the test tones I can tell this sub goes way lower than my old one; the lowest frequencies around 15Hz aren't audible (to me) but I can feel the room shaking. My room seemed to have a strong resonance mode at 20 hz; self-eq put in a -13dB filter at 20 Hz (with a Q of 4.3). In hindsight, I'm guessing most of this peak was because I forgot to turn off Audyssey MultiEQ in my receiver, and my old sub was weak below 25 Hz so Audyssey was probably boosting those frequencies. Which means now Audyssey is probably still boosting them (though not as much) and then the new sub is un-boosting them.
I'll need to re-run both equalizer setups again over the weekend, with Audyssey turned off while doing the sub setup. Live and learn. I would have needed to run Audyssey again anyway because I need to move my front wide speakers after building some stands for them in a day or two.
After the AutoEQ I went into ManualEQ mode and raised the crossover frequency to 120 Hz, since I want my AVR to handle the crossover. I probably should set it all the way up to 199 Hz (or turn it off if that's possible) when I re-do the setup. Everything else looked reasonable (Phase 0, Polarity +) so I left the rest alone.
After all the time I spent on setup I didn't have much time to actually listen to music tonight. :-/ But what I have listened to so far (mostly a few bass-heavy tracks) sounds extremely good on the "jazz" preset. It's much less "boomy" than my old sub. Some of the tracks I tried:
- "Legacy", the first track from "Electronic Realizations for Rock Orchestra" by Synergy, an old electronica/prog band. (Or probably just one guy with a lot of synthesizers.) The really deep bass melody starting around 6:10 in is one of my favorite subwoofer music tests.
- "Dance on a Volcano" from "Trick of the Tail" by Genesis.
- "Money" from Pink Floyd. I'm very familiar with this track. Both the kick drum and Roger Waters' bass sound much tighter than I'm used to.
- "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac. The kick drum at the beginning sounds just like the real thing - you can hear the reverberations decay after the initial kick. And the bass guitar sounds good too.
- "Limelight" from Rush. The bassist is the front-man and the drummer uses lots of kick drum on this track, so there's lots of bass. I hadn't listened to it since upgrading all my speakers. Very nice.
There's no time to try any movies tonight, since I have to work tomorrow, but I figure if it can handle music this well it will do fine on movies. I'll try some over the weekend. I've spent a huge amount of money (and time) upgrading all the audio gear in my media/living room, so now it's time to enjoy them.