2011 Kansas City Subwoofer Meet Results - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 553 Old 05-14-2011, 07:37 PM - Thread Starter
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AVSForum Members,

A true thanks for sharing your perspectives, interest, and knowledge about audio/visual equipment. I've learned a ton on these forums and hope our event will give back to the community. The event was an absolute blast and an eye opener to peek in and see just how deep the rabbit hole goes! For me, was one of those experiences where you thought you had begun to understand what is out there in the subwoofer market, but I found I was exposed to something totally beyond what I knew -- at which point I just admit I'm still a novice. Despite owning a lot of different subs over the years, I've never been exposed to subs of the quality that we heard during the meet.

Each person who attended the meet has been asked to write up their subjective impressions of each of the subs, I hope each will take advantage to share their experience demoing a few community favorite subs side by side - it's a cool experience very few people have! Unfortunately not all our attendees could be present all day long - some had other responsibilities that they had to step in and step out for. The collective ranking scores will reflect this, as there will be some subs with more scores than others ---yet despite the distractions I do believe we have valuable information and impressions to share for the subwoofer enthusiast community!

The attendees were:
•echaot - Jenson MS500
•Archaea - Jamo D7 and Yamaha CW218V (The Yamaha was powered by an external American DJ V3000 amp)
•Chirpie - SVS PB-12 +
•counsil - Epik Empire
•Luke Kamp - HSU VTF-15H
•Randy Bessinger - Seaton Submersive
•carp - JTR Captivator
•Jeff Permanian - JTR Speaker's owner - made a special trip down to Kansas City and brought down a Captivator to its new owner, carp, so it could be present for the testing. Jeff did NOT participate in the voting nor measuring. He was solely there to watch and did not influence ratings nor audition in any manner!

Note: A couple of these subs/amps combos may not be final revisions. For instance the new SVS PB-Plus currently sold by SVS is an entirely new sub than what we tested. The new PB-Blus is a new amp, new driver, new box design, and our testing obviously only is valid for the ~5ish year old design that Chirpie owns. If there are other examples of this then people should let me know. I believe the Captivator was using the 4000 watt amp that Jeff sells as a kit, and the Seaton was using the newest Amp and DSP for the testing as well.

Here is our planning thread -
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1328798

Day of the Meet!
We met at 10AM on Saturday Mary 14, the first step was just staging all the subs, in my room. With the exception of the Jamo, none of these subs were small. Nearly all weighed over 100lbs, and were all big boxes. My ~3500 cubic foot room quickly became quite cozy with eight extra subs, and all the extra equipment!
We decided as a group to state our expectations by actually giving the subs a "pre-audition" ranking. By that we intended to rank all the subs estimated final outcome. Good or bad? The hope was that this will help quell any idea of biases being hidden. It's all laid out there, up front. We didn't have the time to do a blind test as our event went until 10PM as it was!!! But the preconceived notions and expectations loosed up front will hopefully make the whole testing a bit more transparent to the reader. We also ordered the sub testing list in our expected ranking order. This order would ensure we didn't listen to an amazing sub first and then be absolutely bored to tears on a potentially lesser sub, thus giving less than our best attention to detail during the testing. Each person sat in the same chair for every demo making sure the comparison was as fair to each sub as possible. Here is a quick video of the room used for this sub shootout taken a few months back.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSNz7tj1BVs&NR=1
Chirpie took some additional pics and perhaps video that should show the room a bit better - see his post.

Here is the seating chart:

- Left Main -- Projector/sub -- Right Main -

----------------~10 foot-----------------

--- Randy - Echaot - Luke - Archaea ---

----------------~2 foot-----------------

--------Chirpie -- Jeff -- counsil ---------

----------------~10 foot-----------------

Randy and carp alternated in the front left seat as they both couldn't attend the full day session.


Equipment settings:
For all tests:
•Electrical outlets the subs were hooked to were 20 amp dedicated circuits
•Onkyo TX-NR1007 receiver was used - Audessey, THX, and EQ settings were all disabled.
•Crossovers were set at 120hz across the board for both subs and speakers on the Onkyo. Main Speakers used were my modest Wharfedale Sapphire 89 towers.
•The Onkyo's built in level calibration test tone was used to match each subs gain to 75dB (matched to the mains) for the music tests using counsil's analogue spl meter. Winamp was used to play the individual mp3 clips that were trimmed using a free tool called mptrim. mptrim does not alter the mp3 at all except to trim out a section of a song. This is the track list exported into a single file - http://kiwi6.com/file/28ub13rh6w The receiver was set at -10dB on the volume dial for the music tests. This should be approximately -10dB from reference. For the music tests were were looking to see how the subs all sounded on a level playing field as far as volume. We graded them on Smoothness, Accuracy, Pleasure/Fun, and the ability to hit deep notes! The individual scores were totaled and averaged to determine a winner. For movie testing we increased the sub by +6 dB in the receiver settings (from -2.5 to +3.5) and left the gain on the sub alone (with the exclusion of the Yamaha, the Submersive and the Captivator. In these instances the gain on the subs was increased as well to show capability) Each sub owner was allowed to control the volume of his own sub so as to put the potential for damage by pushing limits in their own hands. In this section each of a series of movie clips was rated 1-5. The total scores were averaged to determine the winner. Obviously the groups selected winner in both music, and movies does not represent each person's unique individual opinion on the matter. There was some fun dialogue occurring after the Submersive and Captivator demos played for instance where there were advocates in both camps for which was "clearly" the better sub! People's opinions vary as you'll see in the individual score card posts!
•counsil, took the REW measurements at ground plane and seating position for each sub before each sub's music audition. In most cases nearly everyone left the room for these tests. It was a cold, windy day and on a few occasions a person or two would just stay inside and be quiet. Tune to his posts in this thread for details there on this process.
•counsil took spl measurements during all movie scenes and listed the max spl obtained (under the sub owners own tolerance for distortion or potential for damage)

Initial Subjective Rankings
Each person had one vote in this section. We ranked each sub from 1-8 in each category and we totaled the votes to come up with each sections winners. The higher the individual score the better the sub in that category. From the individual scores we came up with a "total" score. From the total score we established the overall ranking! Note the medal colors for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each category based on total votes.

Here are the individual results, total score, and then the calculated rankings:


PreAudition Ranking: our unauditioned collective expectation of final rank
1. JTR Captivator
2. Seaton Submersive
3. HSU VTF-15H
4. Yamaha CW218V
5. Epik Empire
6. SVS PB-12+
7. Jamo D7
8. Jenson MS500

Scorecard

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cosmetics/Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF) Ranking: (fit, finish, size)
1. SVS PB-12 +
2. HSU VTF-15H
3. Epik Empire
4. Seaton Submersive
5. JTR Captivator
6. Jamo D7
7. Yamaha CW218V
8. Jenson MS500

Scorecard

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Build Quality Ranking: (inert, heavy, durable, construction quality)
1. JTR Captivator
2. SVS PB-12 +
3. HSU VTF-15H
4. Seaton Submersive
5. Epik Empire
6. Yamaha CW218V
7. Jamo D7sub
8. Jenson MS500

Scorecard

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Music List
The music demo list consisted of a short clip of each of the following songs. The original clips were played using winamp because it has a nice crossfading effect. Using winamp the playback has smooth transitions and continous music representing many different genres. I can provide the actual trimmed MP3's and the playlist in zipped format for anyone interested. Just PM me with your e-mail. If someone would host the clips for easy access that would be ideal. Here is a non crossfaded winamp output of the mp3's for someone just casually interested in the music we used to test these subs. http://kiwi6.com/file/28ub13rh6w
  1. Realm of Excursion - 100Hz to 20Hz Sine Sweep
  2. Rockapella - Shambala
  3. Diana Krall - Peel Me a Grape
  4. Rascal Flatts - What Hurts The Most
  5. Cake - Sad Songs And Waltzes
  6. Van Halen - Hot For Teacher
  7. Counting Crows - Hanging Around
  8. Creed - One
  9. Linkin Park - Frgt
  10. Janet Jackson - Go Deep
  11. Michael Jackson - Thriller
  12. Britney Spears - Breathe On Me
  13. Snoop Doggy Dogg - Who Am I (Whats My Name)
  14. Dr. Dre feat. Xzibit & Eminem - Whats The Difference Between Me and You
  15. Mya - Getto Superstar
  16. Eminem - Business
  17. Nelly - Country Grammar
  18. Lil Jon - Get Low
  19. Lupe Fiasco - The Show Goes On
  20. Nine Inch Nails - The Four of Us are Dying
  21. Flux Pavilion - Got 2 Know
  22. Example - Kickstarts (Bar 9 Remix)

FINAL MUSIC RANKING:
The collective individual scores recorded and averaged during our testing revealed the subs ranked into the following order for finest overall music reproduction ability:
1. Seaton Submersive
2. JTR Captivator
3. HSU VTF-15H
4. Epik Empire
5. SVS PB-12+
6. Yamaha CW218V
7. Jamo D7sub
8. Jenson MS500




Movie Test Material
The demo disk created by scubasteve2365 was used during our subwoofer testing. The War of the World DVD was used in a repeating loop as well for those subs that really didn't get enough torture in the first tests. Energyfun compiled it for me and mailed it for the meet. Thanks to both for their contribution -
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1243227
  • War of the Worlds - pod emergence scene
  • Knowing - plane crash scene
  • Master & Commander - ship battle in fog
  • John Mayer - live recording of concert
  • Ironman - suiting up and sonic boom
  • Orphanage - erie house creaking
  • THX Amazing Life clip
  • Kung Fu Panda - skadoosh scene
  • Tron - first enters the digital word and the club entrace scene

FINAL MOVIE RANKING:
The collective individual scores recorded and averaged during our testing revealed the subs ranked into the following order for finest overall movie watching enjoyment:
1. JTR Captivator
2. Seaton Submersive
3. Epik Empire
4. Yamaha CW218V
5. HSU VTF-15H
6. SVS PB-12+
7. Jenson MS500
8. Jamo D7sub



My subjective opinions were left out of this first informational post, they are contained in a post later down the page.

"Without subs it's just background music - with subs it's the main event!"

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post #2 of 553 Old 05-14-2011, 07:38 PM
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This will be long but I hope informative for some.

First off thanks goes out to Archaea for having and organizing a fun event and allowing me to be a part of it. It went about as smoothly as I think possible, and I think everyone had fun and took away something they didn't know or hadn't listened to before. We had a great turnout, not just in subs but people as well. I enjoyed the company of all who attended and really had a blast. Anyone in attendance is more than welcome to swing by my place for a demo or movie anytime!

I was really excited when I heard Jeff was coming. He is a really laid back guy and fellow enthusiast who I hope I didn't pester too much with my questions! Don't worry I got more and hope we can get together later this summer as I travel to Chicago to attend a wedding. It was a pleasure to meet him and it was great to have a knowledge "bass" like his on hand.

Big thanks to counsil for taking the reigns with REW measurements and additional measurements. After a couple he had it down and we moved right along quickly.

My background:

Been a car audio enthusiast for over 15 years and know what 145+ db is. I have always had speakers/subs in my car and where I have lived that long as well. Me and a few buddies would build sub boxes and do all of our car audio intalls together in high school.

Managed at 20 house theater with IMAX for 3 years. Learned a lot talking with techs, projectionists... that came into contact with on a day to day basis. I miss late night movies with couple co-workers and volume contol in the IMAX/theaters.

Bachelor of Science Biology University of Missouri degree and have many graduate hours... I like science and to learn.

I am a THX certified video calibration and have been fiddling around with displays from time to time for over year and a half. I have worked on many family and friends a/v equipment. Home Theater is a hobby of mine first and foremost, but I do some side jobs for fun and a few bucks now and again. I enjoy to see others equipment/rooms and talk with others in person who have a common interest and enthusiasm and want to learn more/increase their performance (per wife dork it up!). I have a spectro, colorimeter, signal generator, omnimic and a few other goodies.

I have owned a home for one and a half years after many of the condo life. My HT is a work in progress that I doubt will ever be done. I research the net and this forum more than I care to admit, as sometimes I feel I spend too much time goofing around with my hobby, but I enjoy it and will continue to hang around as long as its still fun. Always looking for the next buy/upgrade, but try to space them out to not get too carried away. I am a researcher and a get what you need shopper in all fields of life.

It turned out to be an all day event and we did what we could with the amount of subs and time available. We tried to set up in best manner possible to do what we could in the amount of time available, and for it to be fun first and foremost. Listening to them in a set order made it tough to make comparisons of subs spread out in the order. All that follows is in my opinion and may differ from what you or others attending may feel. I sat front row, to seat just to the right of the middle.

My take on music listening:
It is extremely difficult to have audio memory between subs period! It was really tough for me to tell large differences between many of the subs, especially listening to multiple songs back to back with a down period between subs. After I got past a sub, it was impossible to try and compare subs spread apart in listening. It was a great way to get to hear some different types of songs on some great subs. I planned to do many a/b testing... after we wrapped up, but only so much time in a day. Blind testing would have been optimal, especially if we had 2 or 3 subs.

My take on movie watching:
This is what I was most interested in for the day. This is where the room let us know who was boss. Just for easy reference for those still not convinced on room affects and bass. On my sub I hit 114db in my room on Tron entering the grid. I hit 102.8 at his place and the seaton which shined, hit 107.5. There were a few times we played a scene twice, but with time available it was a guess at volume levels to choose with remote. I am positive some of the numbers would have been different if we ran multiple times to find best volume level for each sub (audio quality and spl numbers). Not knowing how the dynamic scene would kick in, left some numbers lacking. In trying to get the numbers, we distorted and clanked many a driver and pushed to limits over the edge, and at times seeing what scene had done to previous sub, maybe dropped levels more than what would have given best number. Also in trying to get the spl ("what volume did you have it on, I will do 5 more") probably hurt quick peaks (as amps spent with large dynamic change), as well as intoduced audible distortion. This should be considered with spl numbers and movie watching. I didn't like the fact that the yamaha, submersive, and captivator had gains turned up more than the other subs that were left at same level as music listening, with receiver bass turned up +6

Jenson MS500

I admit I have never heard of this sub and have yet to research it. I was interested to see it had a sunfire amp after it was pointed out and it appeared to me to have a pro driver.

Music
I was actually pretty surprised with its music performace as I didn't have much for expectations (car audio). It played some songs pretty good, but was a bit boomy at times and it was apparent that it was outclassed in the competition.

Movies
When turned up anything below ~35hz was a fart. I think its possible higher level listening could be improved with proper hpf integration. May have performed ok in a smaller area, but the room ate it like a pre-meal salad.

Jamo D7

I had heard them when Archaea had a pair, and we had done some comparisons with my HSU at my place before.

Music
I felt it performed well with music. It was articulate and felt it had little to no overhang. It was hard for me to put correct numbers down, as I knew what competition was to follow, I probably would have scored it higher with a/b testing.

Movies
It started out pretty decent, it seemed stressed at times, but the servo tech in it kept it from overly stressing. However I don't think it liked to be stressed for much time at all, as the amp broke down just like the other one he use to have. I felt bad. The room now had its appetizer.

SVS Pb-12+

This was the old model that is downfiring. I believe it had the piano gloss finish and it was gorgeous. My favorite looking sub of the day/WAF by far.

Music
After hearing a similar svs pb downfiring sub that was having some problems, and reading how a few people found some of the older SVS subs not as musical as others, was pleasantly surprised at music capabilities. You could tell it was a ported sub, but I would have no problem using it for music myself.

Movies
With it coming up after the Jenson and the Jamo's quick death, it was the one that really got the HT demo's going. It had some great impact on some of the scenes and was a solid performer all around. It did not let you know it was getting close to limit much until KLUNK. It bottomed several times and any knock really takes me out of a movie faster than I can grab a remote. If kept within limits, a fine subwoofer.

Epik Empire

My first encounter with Epik, and I liked the look of the subwoofer and am a fan of the dual opposed driver design. Makes for an inert box easily passable as stand beside couch or holding plants in the corner.

Music
It was the more musical than any sub to come before. I didn't find anything that stuck out as not right, but as I said before with our setup, the subjective differences between subs spread apart is not my forte.

Movies
This is when I noticed the soft bottom driver design. Counsil and I discussed this about our subs beforehand, and I think we both overdrove them even though they were not overly stressing. I did sense some slight stress/compression at parts, but nothing that would send me running for the remote. I felt that the sub began to compress some of the lower stuff, while still rising in mid-bass output when turned up. Overall it performed well and I like this subwoofer.

Yamaha CW218V
My first time with this Yamaha, although I have been to many live shows and have friends in and out of bands over the years and not new to the design.

Music
This is what this sub is made for, and it showed. Even at same listening levels, it seemed to me the dual 18 had more overall feel during the music. You could definitely tell it had a serious drop off with the low bass.

Movies
Not what I would get this sub for. Its lack of the low-end just didn't cut the mustard for me, too unbalanced for this application. Did shine at parts, failed at others. Archaea said to have 30hz hpf engaged on his amp, but we hit inappropriate distortion a few times.

HSU VTF-15H

This is the one I brought to the meet. I wasn't to thrilled going in between a dual 18" pro sub and the seaton submersive in testings. I did some testing of my room with old sub and spl meter prior to making purchase decision and wanted to get a sub for $1000 and add another later. It works amazing in my room, and the second is on the way!

Music
Sealed, EQ1, Q.3 was what it was run in for music, and what the REW measurements are taken on. Part of my desire for this sub is the tunablility that takes a whole 5 seconds. It is good for music ported, but I like most music better sealed. I liked it but it is my sub so thats that.

Movies
I changed the tuning and eq switch a couple times during testing. Q was always at .3. I started out 1 plug in eq1, and flipped it to eq2 max headroom mode after a bit. After watching Knowing scene, I pulled both plugs and turned it up like 5 db, and actually lost a couple db. The compression and loss of extra juice by running it so hard probably hurt numbers. I then put plug back in for rest of tests. On Iron Man break sound barrier scene, I had it turned up to reference and sub channel was +6 (I was being pretty silly) and it was so worn out when it happened, not anything left for dynamic swing. I was so dissapointed at what I was getting out of it, I ran it too hot. Not a good movie performance, but it was probably as much me being greedy as anything else. I love a "soft bottom" design, but there is a downside as hard to tell when going too hard at times, especially in this bass eating basement monster. Archaea's room has quite the appetite.

Seaton Submersive

I had a short listening session to one a few years ago, but nothing there to compare it with. Jeff brought and installed the latest HP amp.

Music
My favorite. I thought the sub sounded great for music. Nothing bad to say here. You guys know what excellent sound quality is and I feel no descriptives needed.

Movies
It was my favorite for movies as well. I heard some compression and distortion a few times. Jeff was playing along after following me and I think ran it a little hot. Whenever he would turn it down a few to find sweet spot between sq and output, it shined like no other. Extension was tremendous and if I was spending that kind of cash on sub/subs, this would be my choice.

JTR Captivator

Just a beast of a sub and looks intimidating as hell in person. I am not sure how much time Jeff had to put this driver in and get on the road, he stated once that the hpf may need to be higher frequency I believe. Jeff pulled amp to give it to Carp, and I got to look in and check it out. If I hit box with my car, the box would win. If I got a running start and a good swing, I could knock out an elephant with the magnet.

Music
Puts the large ported 18" don't have good sq to rest (I use to hate people arguing this with me in car audio days). It was very very good with music and a close second to SubM IMO.

Movies
Well now the room was getting pretty full eating bass all day, and threw up all over me! That driver was moving some serious air. Air shot out at me like I was on an the Indiana Jones amusement ride getting shot at with air darts. Now just like several of us, Jeff pushed it a bit too hard most of the time I felt. Driver hit limits more than once, and port noise was noticeable several times. This subwoofer with his powerful amp is a no joke ported sub, and even it has its limits. I feel that this passive subwoofer and adding your own amp and hpf to have an amp limited subwoofer is the best buy ported subwoofer offering available at this time. I liked it very much for movies and the air moving, but loved the extension of the SubM, so gave the Captivator a close second in movies for this meet.

Counsil thought my HSU performed better, I thought his Empire performed better. We both agreed that they both have their strengths and weaknesses, and that we both made the right choices for our situation and our rooms at home.
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post #3 of 553 Old 05-14-2011, 07:39 PM
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I took 5 REW measurements of each sub. I took 1 measurement in each of the 4 main seats, and 1 indoor ground plane measurement.

Jenson - 4 main seats averaged



Jamo - 4 main seats averaged



SVS - 4 main seats averaged



Epik - 4 main seats averaged



Yamaha - 4 main seats averaged



Hsu - 4 main seats averaged



Seaton - 4 main seats averaged



Captivator - 4 main seats averaged



Jenson - indoor ground plane



Jamo - indoor ground plane



SVS - indoor ground plane



Epik - indoor ground plane



Yamaha - indoor ground plane



Hsu - indoor ground plane



Seaton - indoor ground plane



Captivator - indoor ground plane



Link to download the raw REW measurement and jpeg files... 2011KCareaSubMeet.zip
Go 3/4 of the way down the page and click on the pic that looks like this

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post #4 of 553 Old 05-14-2011, 07:39 PM
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Wow, that was fun.

Unfortunately I had to miss much of the day due to a track meet (coaching, not participation those days are long gone). I arrived at 6:30pm and the day ended at 10:00pm and I have to say the 3+ hours felt more like half an hour.

Subs I heard:

Empire
Yamaha
HSU
Submersive
Captivator

They were midway through the Empire when I got there. I though it sounded ok but I was by no means blown away by it. It didn't do a whole lot with the THX demo or KFP. Much better on Master and Commander and WOTW though. I didn't realize at this point at how much the room was playing a factor so my not that impressed reaction was not fair to the Empire. Also I didn't hear the Empire with music and the guys were saying it really shined on music.

Next was the Yamaha. Big improvement on the overall volume. For the first time (of many) I got the involuntary smile with this sub on the John Mayer clip and the club music scene from Tron. On WOTW there was not much there, same with Knowing. Definitely not what you would want for movies but sounded fantastic on music.

Next up was a sub I am familiar with, the HSU. It was tough not to be too mean on the scoring of the sub because my expectations were far higher for this sub than what is delivered. I have heard Luke's HSU in my 3100 cubic foot room and Archea's room is probably around 3600 cubic feet so I was expecting a similar experience to my room. In my room the HSU really beat me up. It sounded full, beefy, never boomy, punchy, impactful, etc. In Luke's smaller room it had all of this just more of it. Last night it was like it was a completely different sub. It was not that impressive at all. It sounded a lot like the Empire did, so I then realized that the Empire must be a much better sub than how it sounded to me because I know that is the case for the HSU.

I can't emphasize this enought - the room was killing the bass. I was surprised because the room isn't that much bigger than mine. I guess that's what made the next 2 competitors even more impressive.

Next up was the Submersive. OK, wow. Involuntary smiles all over the place for me. On Knowing with the other subs not much was happening on the instant the plane explodes so I thought maybe that's just how the scene is. With the Submersive the explosion was accompanied by a wave of bass crashing through me, now I see why this scene was used. For the first time I was completely impressed with the THX demo, and WOTW and Master and Commander were also amazing much better than the Empire and HSU. However the most impressive clip to me was the John Mayer concert clip. I couldn't help but nod my head because the bass was so clean, tight, yet full. That was the best bass for music I have ever heard in my life. Wow.

Finally it was time for the Captivator. Involuntary smiles became involuntary laughter. You have to be kidding me. Who turned on the fan? In the winter time you would have a wind chill in this room on bass heavy movies. Rediculous. I don't want to get too carried away here, the difference between the Cap and the Submersive was MUCH closer than the difference between the 2 of them and the Empire and HSU. For me the biggest seperator scene between the Cap and Sumbersive was the plane crash on Knowing, but I did feel that the Cap was better on all the movie scenes.

HOWEVER, for music I was more impressed with the Submersive. It just sounded more lively, and tighter. Both John Mayer and the club music in Tron sounded just a touch better on the Submersive. There wasn't a very big difference but it was there. I am slightly bummed about that since my priority is music but I have a feeling I'll be able to eq the Cap with my SMS-1 to make me completely happy.

Which would I take if I could have taken home either the Submersive or the Captivator? Well, I would have gone with the sub that I actually did take home - the Captivator. Yes music is my priority, but to be fair I hadn't experienced that kind of bass feel with movies before and I REALLY liked it. What really excites me is that the Cap was quite a bit better in the "chew up the bass and forget to spit it out" room than the HSU was in my room and there was even a bigger difference between the HSU in my room compared to Archea's room (did you follow all that?). In theory that should mean that the Cap will abolutely crush me in my room.

It was really cool to meet all the guys (already know Luke) and it was also great to meet Jeff from JTR. Thanks so much Jeff for making the drive down, how cool to hear my new sub in a shootout and then take it home from there. I just wish it weren't so early in the morning right now or I would fire it up (couldn't sleep in this morning, like a kid on Christmas).

BTW, the Captivator is so intimidating in person. The pictures of the driver don't really do it justice. In person it looks scary. I drug it down to my basement last night and it's looking great in my room. Pictures and impressions of how it's doing in my room to come.

Thanks Archea for hosting, I had a great time.

Oh, I almost forgot. For me the spl numbers did not correlate to my impressions at all. I don't know why that is but there were so many times that the scene/sub I was most impressed with didn't have the highest spl. To me the spl numbers became irrelevant.


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post #5 of 553 Old 05-14-2011, 08:50 PM
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Jensen: Performed fairly well during the music test for a lower end comparison sub. The Jensen bottomed out quickly during the movie tests with the lower frequencies encountered.
Jamo: Did great for the music test but unfortunately had a short run during the movie tests before failing.
SVS: Similar to the Jamo during music testing.
Epic & HSU: Very impressive during movie testing for the clarity and spl achieved especially considering the price point of the competition that followed afterwards. These two seemed fairly balanced in comparison during the movie testing; both traded places in terms of how high of spl achieved during the movie testing and sounded clean.
Yamaha: Great during the music testing. Did hear some distortion during WOTW but one of the most impressive subs during the John Mayer clip.
Seaton: Sounded very smooth and never bottomed out during testing. Probably the most challenging clips for the subs were the WOTW and THX selections and it breezed right through both.
JTR: Highest wow factor in terms of chest thump and effect. The THX clip was very impressive (loudest and smoothest sounding at the end as more of the low end gets tested). The ports were blasting lots of air forward (evidenced by luke's cap being blown towards the couch from resting near the port on the floor).
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post #6 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 09:37 AM
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-first section added-

First off, thanks again Archaea for putting on the show.

Second off, my opinions have an incomplete picture from the entire day, so keep that in mind when reading my thoughts.

I showed up right after 10, had to leave around 2, came back at 4:30, had to leave around 6. So even though I was there for 5 1/2 hours, most of that was set up time, and thusly I only heard the Jensen, Jamo, and SVS for music and movies. So anyone looking for comparison opinions, you're gonna have to bother someone else. ^_^ I'll offer what insights I can.

It needs to be said as often as it can be repeated, the #1 thing that effects the sound is the room. This room was a good torture test to try to fill will even agreeable levels of bass. I think everyone was surprised just how differently their subs behaved in a room other than their own. The room's sound characteristics was definitely on the live side of things due to being in the basement with tile. No cheating for the subs to be able to shake the floor underneath you.

It seemed to me a bass wave in the room had a long decay time so any bass with quick "attack" didn't have as much snap to it as I was used to. Also, people should be aware we set the crossover point to the subs at 120hz. Not a normal best practice, but I think it was a good decision to take the main speaker's bass characteristics out of the picture. Since the subs were being positioned centered along the screen wall, there weren't any sub localization issues. Some of these SPL numbers you see may have been higher if the subs had been corner loaded.

My seat was a chair positioned behind the main seating on the far left. It made sense to leave a "prime" spot for people who knew they could stay there all day.

-second section added-

MUSIC:

For the music section, all the subs basically coasted through the selections with varying degrees of articulation.

- JENSEN The Jensen really didn't fair badly. It filled out the bottom end, wasn't too boomy, and on certain cuts was actually admirable.

- JAMO The Jamo was quite similar but had a slightly lower dig into certain notes.

- SVS The SVS felt nearly identical to the Jamo for me in most respects.

MOVIES:

This was way more telling. For the movie section, the remote was handed to each sub's owner, and they pushed their sub to a comfortable volume.

- JENSEN The Jensen's weaknesses in the lowest regions really showed up here. On clips like War of the Worlds the volume just got pushed lower and lower.

- JAMO Better! The lower end showed up for the first time that day at this point. When within it's limits, it wasn't bad. Buuuut… the limits were actually hit quite soon, and left the volume in the room pretty quiet for it's operating range. All it took was a little too much John M. and then... poof. It gave out. I still say the drums were mixed hot on the beginning of that track and backed off a little as it played through.

- SVS I think I was the most irresponsible owner ^_^; and bottomed my SVS on a couple of the tests we ran through. For that reason, the SPL numbers for the SVS are most likely all you're ever going to get out of it. That Iron Man SPL number for example was one of the tests it bottomed on. A step up from the Jensen, but I still wasn't impressed. If I had never heard this sub before I would've never bought it based off this experience. Luckily it treats me pretty good back home. For anyone who cares, we had it tuned to 20hz.

- third section -

A few other notes:

- I like Jeff. Really stand up guy. He did his darnedest to keep his opinions neutral in every aspect and of course declined to participate in the rankings and observations.

- I didn't want to make it sound like it was the size of the room that was the issue for the gobbling up of bass, only that something about the room was attributing to it. I've heard a few SVS subs in rooms this large and they filled the space rather well. Without going over the room with some measurements, I can't even hazard a guess on what was up. (Was it a huge null in the room in the seating position? That kind of stuff...)

- The pizza ordered after lunch was Papa John's. :-P

- For sh*ts and giggles, I hooked my sub back up again here at home tonight, left the gain where it was at during the meet, calibrated it to 6db hot, and replayed the scenes. I was seeing a +10db difference on the same scenes and nothing bottoming out to get it there. Craziness! ^_^

- I really think Danley Sound Labs should invent a sub called "The Archaea Room Killer"

- Photos section -

I'm sorry to everyone I didn't get more proper pics. Right as they were lining up the subs to go through everything was when I had to start making my exit. And it was to watch my 3 yr old hop up and down in a tutu. Talk about manly opposites. The room was a tricky fish for photos, really dark in the front (it's supposed to be this way of course!), light pouring in in the back. So I shot raw, low F stop, and post processed the raws to get some exposure going. (Black subs in a black room = washed out with flash, or disappears under normal conditions)


The staging area. Plug 'em in, run some signals, see that it's working, onto the next.



This is the submersive. It's the older amp plate, before it was swapped out later in the day.



This is the Cap amp plate.



Up next, the Epik.




The HSU




The SVS




The Jamo




And the Jensen.




Here's the swap out of the Submersive




The Jensen in place with the milk jug for reference. There were no small subs at this meet. Jamo was the smallest, and even then I wouldn't consider it small.



This man isn't happy to see me snooping around.



The area directly behind the seating. Frankly, for all the knocks on the room, having the sliding doors at ground level to take subs in and out was pretty nice.




Game faces on.




Jamo in place.




The Cap. No matter what the angle, it was the most intimidating sub there. (Yeah, even more than the Yamaha. I think it's the height that does it.)




I totally recommend a couple of these, way easier to shuffle a sub around on them. Usually 30 bucks at Wal-mart.



Sad that I'm already forgetting names to faces, but I could never forget Olive the cat. :-P




The webcam was mounted to the left of that speaker in the pic for the live stream. Nice touch for the day.




The crew for the day, minus one individual who hadn't showed yet. I had fun guys, thanks again!


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post #7 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 10:19 AM
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No one's probably interested in the SPL numbers , but here they are anyway.


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post #8 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 10:29 AM
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Music
Jenson - The Jenson sounded a little boomy and/or flabby at times, but sounded good at others. For example, the Jenson was a tad boomy when playing Rascal Flatts, but sounded good during Flux Pavilion.
Jamo - The Jamo sounded a little boomy and/or flabby at times as well. During Dr. Dre I did get the hit in the chest feeling for the first time though.
SVS - The SVS sounded good throughout the entire music audition. The SVS did exhibit a unique ported sound, but that isn't necessarily a good or bad thing.
Epik - The Epik sounded tighter and quicker than the first 3 subs. Only during Nelly did I sense any boominess.
Yahama - The Yahama did a great job at music. During Lincoln Park the bass was tight and articulate. During Snoop Dogg I felt the Yamaha was lacking in the bass department though compared to the previous subs.
Hsu - I found no flaws with the Hsu sub.
Seaton - I found no flaws with the Seaton sub. This sub is very hard hitting, articulate, and clean. I didn't get the feeling of wanting to turn up the volume to achieve lower extension either. You sense the low end even at moderate volumes. This was unique only to the Seaton.
Captivator - I found no flaws with this sub. It too was hard hitting, articulate, and clean. It didn't exhibit the unique ported sound of the SVS.
Overall - Each sub held their own when listening to music at moderate listening levels (-10 MV). I thought the music selection was great and allowed each sub to be fully rated. No sub really shined or took the show, although the Seaton was the clear winner to me, IMHO.

HT
Jenson - This sub couldn't hold it's own at all. It failed pretty miserably on each movie clip.
Jamo - It started out strong, but died too quickly into its audition.
SVS - I sat behind the HT seating. This was the only sub that flapped my pant legs. I attribute this to its down firing sub design, which pushed air under the seating to where I sat. This sub did bottom out several times during the day and during the King Kong clip so the volume as lowered to save this sub. Unfortunately it wasn't lowered enough to prevent it from being horribly bottomed out during the Ironman supersonic clip. After that the owner decided to win/lose with headroom, which was a good decision IMO.
Epik - The Epik, like the Hsu and Seaton, has a 'soft overload' driver design. The Epik never made a bad sound or went into distortion from what I could tell. The Epik really shined during the John Mayer clip, which was surprising because every sub before it bottomed out during that clip even at moderate SPLs. Again, like the Hsu, the Epik was turned up to reference (or near reference) during most of the clips. Luke and I were trying to bottom our subs and neither of us could do so. Unfortunately I feel we actually hurt our scores, or the impression of our subs, because we were constantly pushing our subs to their limits.
Yamaha - The Yamaha could have really shined during the WOTW and Knowing scenes but it was pushed into distortion. The Yamaha put out some impressive SPLs though, that is until it came to the scenes that had content below the Yamaha's tuning point. At this point the owner decided to stop pushing it so much, which again, was a good decision IMO.
Hsu - The Hsu, like the Seaton and Epik, has a 'soft overload' driver design. The Hsu extended a bit lower than the Epik and the Epik had a bit more midbass than the Hsu. Overall I think I liked the Hsu better, most especially because of WAF. I think the Hsu would have performed better than the Epik if it hadn't been constantly pushed to its limits. I think the built-in protection kept the Hsu from really shining over the Epik. I could be wrong I'm not 100% certain but I think the built-in protection of the Hsu was a bit too aggressive/conservative.
Seaton - The Seaton took the show in all aspects. It definitely shined over all the other subs. Enough said.
Captivator - When I was told that the Captivator had a 4000 watt amp in it I had to ask for clarification three times. I immediately knew that the sub was going to bottom out, but I didn't say anything. I wanted to give the sub the benefit of the doubt. Unsurprisingly, in the beginning the captivator was immediately driven into distortion and/or bottomed out. After the volume was turned down the Captivator began to shine. Unfortunately for me I sat behind everyone else so I didn't feel any air coming from the sub, which I think added to everyone else's excitement over the sub. I felt the room pressurize, but IMO the Seaton pressurized the room a lot more. I was very disappointed with the Captivator and I feel using the 4000 watt amp with it was a not a good decision. Again, once the volume was relaxed the Captivator sounded fantastic.
Overall - The Seaton is twice the sub the Epik and Hsu will ever be. The Seaton does come with a higher price tag, but rightfully so. The Captivator is right behind the Seaton and with the right amp/settings/etc it MIGHT just equal it.

I should also add that before the meet I knew almost nothing about the Jenson, Jamo, Yamaha, or Captivator. I knew very little about the Hsu before the meet... but at least I had seen a picture of it.

Edit...

Looking over my notes again, I failed to mention above that the Seaton did in fact distort during the WOTW clip (which was the first scene for the Seaton). Once Jeff lowered the volume the Seaton never made another bad sound.

Something else I forgot to mention wasthat the Captivator exhibited large amounts of loud port noise throughout its HT audition.

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post #9 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
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To start I'll reference my background in home theatre subwoofer ownership -- limited as it is - it likely similar, or even a bit beyond the typical casual audio enthusiast.

• AIWA Home theatre in box powered subwoofer (MSRP - $100)
• 15" JBL PSW-D115 - 350 watt home theatre subwoofer (MSRP - $500)
• A pair of 15" Infinity HPS-1000 - 1000 watt home theatre subwoofer (MSRP - $1800 each)
• Several different (mostly failed) DIY attempts with various car audio subs of various sizes, 10" 12", and finally in 2003 (my last effort) a custom ottoman with four cheap MA audio 15" drivers that I was proud of, and it was loud, but totally a one note midbass wonder. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oxqIPFRJL0 I used car audio subs for my DIY projects because they are cheap and I didn't really know any better. I typically built boxes based on the standard internal volume specs listed in the sub manual and they've been hit or miss --- honestly mostly misses. On my four 15" box help me thread, one knowledgeable guy responded to my plea for help, that both my box and my subs were junk (though he did post later that they at least looked nice) and I'd need a 10cubic foot box per sub to make them sound flat to 20hz. 40 cubic foot box? Yeah, I gave up DIY after that. You gotta know when to fold. I still have my custom ottoman enclosure in my garage. It's waiting for a new owner, one with a LOT of space to make that perfect box. But hey -- I'll let it go cheap.
My favorite sounding car sub was not one of my DIY jobs, but an Infinity Kappa Perfect 10.1 inside an Infinity manufactured bandpass box. In my Acura Integra hatchback that sub was just fantastic powered by my Rockford Fosgate Power 800a2 amp. Why do I tell you this? Well it is safe to assume I'm always chasing that elusive feel of a good car sub setup. I'll admit I'm willing to forgo a bit of clarity for some hard hitting bass, but I'm becoming more refined in my tastes as I get older and I can certainly recognize clean bass when I hear it --- just don't take away all the tactile sensation that's my favorite part! DO keep this filter on as you read my subjective impressions of our event!
• My most recent failed acquisition - a pair of 15" Jamo D7subs - 400 watt servo controlled - THX Ultra home theatre subwoofers (MSRP - $2000 each) I thought they were great ... at least for the money I paid. Less than two months later they are both dead. A certain Hee Haw song comes to mind
Where, where, are you tonight?
Why did you leave me here all alone?
I searched the world over and I thought I'd found true love.
You met another and PTHHP! you was gone.

• A Yamaha CW218V folded horn sub setup. Hey they are cheap and I always wanted to hear what PA subs sounded like in a home theatre room! Remember I enjoy loud!

Get to the Point
No not yet -
My first eye opening experience with a home theatre subwoofer was a Luke Kamps house. He has a ~1500 cubic foot theater room with a HSU VTF-15H. I've said it before in multiple threads and I'll say it again. In his room the HSU VTF-15H will make you involuntarily grin through any bass filled scene. You feel that low frequency effect through your whole body!!! EXACTLY what I love! In the 2008 movie "The Incredible Hulk", when the hulk screams you feel his breath on your face --- how's that for adding realism? After hearing that sub I really wanted to know just what was out there. I know from past experience that just asking total strangers through the PMs to hear their treasured setups never pans out. Well I got lucky in contacting Luke, but every other person has ignored me ---including counsil, (I forgive you man, you were pretty cool at the meet!) Hence I saw that my best chance to hear some amazing subs was to attend, or organize an event like this! Hey bonus, I got to host, so now I know EXACTLY what each of these subs will sound like in my own home! Sadly, apparently my room is like the Bermuda triangle for subwoofers and equipment doesn't work correctly in here. I don't understand how my room can be worse than an open measurement taken outside, but apparently mine is so.

Temper all of my reviews with the notion that my room is a black hole for bass, and any of these subs would probably sound better in your room than mine. Also note: in the section previous (right after you quit reading) I mentioned that I love deep, loud, tactile bass, and am willing to forgo a bit of clarity to get it.

Begin at the End:
My personal ranking of the subs demoed is
1. JTR Captivator
2. Seaton Submersive
3. SVS PB-12 +
4. HSU VTF-15H
5. Epik Empire
6. Jamo D7sub
7. Yamaha CW218V
8. Jensen MS500
You might not agree, great, nobody else probably had reviews that lined up 100% at the meet either, that's why it's awesome to have so many perspectives. My friend Stephen, echaot, told me afterwards that he thought the Epik Empire was the best of the bunch all things considered, I placed it in the bottom half. Each person has different traits they value in a sub. That's why you should read everyone's review and match up what kind of values you have with what they value.

Why Did I Rank What Where?

Gold Medal First Prize - Winner by TKO - JTR Captivator
That Captivator moved air about 10 feet to the listening position with the strength of a box fan! I kid you not. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCR9iCsVWCM Just watch the video! This is a sub for men who like to eat their steaks rare. Sure it wasn't perfect, it had port chuffing that was audible, it bottomed out a few times, it wasn't as smooth as the Seaton for music but it was so darn impressive in movies I couldn't help but absolutely fall in love with it. I've never felt bass like that in my entire life. PERIOD. Jeff pushed it harder than he needed to and the fact that he wasn't worried about damaging it means to me that's it's built like a gosh darn tank! On the ScubaSteve2365 demo disk there was one particular LFE video that never made sense to me why it was there. Jeff let us listen to some of the other demos on the captivator sub and I finally understood why the Book of Eli scene is in that section. No other sub I've watched that movie with did it justice. The Captivator brought that scene to life. AMAZING gun blast reproduction! Obviously the Master and Commander scene was amazing and the War of the Worlds scene was absolutely ridiculous. It didn't fail at music either. The Linkin Park and Janet Jackson tracks sounded better on the Captivator than the Submersive. The Captivator moved my wall on the Mia - Ghetto Superstar song like no other sub. It literrally made every one feel like their eyes were bouncing, because the wall my projector screen was mounted to was vibrating so much. The Captivator is just a raw savage beast on tactile output -- expensive!!!, but my favorite if money is no object!

19 out of 20 for music for me - lost a point on the smooth category when the 100hz to 20hz sweep didn't sound 100% smooth like the Jamo D7, Epik Empire, HSU VTF-15H, and Seaton Submersive did)
44.5 out of 45 on movies for me - lost a 1/2 point on the Orphanage scene (SVS and Seaton scored five on that scene for my rating)


Second Place - Seaton Submersive
The Seaton was the sweetest sounding sub I've ever heard, it was like a lullaby during the music tests. Perfect in every way, except that I didn't perceive from my listening position that it hit quite as low as the Captivator or SVS. The graphs show otherwise, but I'm going with my ears on this one, because this is the subjective section and that's what I heard. It's an amazing piece of work. It is the only sub that after the music demonstration I just wanted to stay seated and listen to it again!!! (keep in mind this was the seventh time we'd heard that clip of music and the upteenth zillionth time I'd personally heard the clip because I made the clips and spent a lot of time getting them pinpointed on the exact right frame for each song so there wouldn't be weird noises coming in or existing each of the clips causing unecessary sub distortion)(I'm going to say clips one more time just for fun) The music was buttery smooth and I can't imagine any better sound. The Van Halen drum solo was one of, if not the best on this sub. Why didn't it get first? Do you remember that hat blowing trick? I could stop my explanation there. I didn't get that with the submersive and that tactile, wind and dust in your eyes sensation where you actually see cat hair and debris flying through the air like a wind storm adds to whatever catastrophe is occurring onscreen in a way that is impossible to describe - it must be experienced! If you watch closely in that video you notice some of said debris. I would have no problem owning this sub if money wasn't an issue. If money was an issue and I wanted a similar sound I'd buy the Epik Empire. It was along the same lines, but not nearly as heavy a hitter.

19.5 out of 20 for music for me - lost 1/2 point to the SVS and Captivator on Deep Notes reproduction. I make no apologies. The graphs show I'm lying and the Seaton had better deep notes. I don't care. The ported subs sound better on the deep notes I can hear. I can hear test tones at 17hz, at 16hz I hear nothing. I don't care much about what goes on below that because I don't hear it. I like to feel it, and I felt more with the SVS and Captivator for music.
43.5 out of 45 for movies. The Seaton lost .5 points on three movie scenes, War of the Worlds (Captivator was the only sub I rated as a five), John Mayer (Emire and the Captivator both scored a five), and Ironman(Captivator was the only sub I rated as a five)

Third Place - SVS PC-12 +
The SVS, HSU, and Epik were all in the same playing field. I liked the SVS the best because in my room, in my seating position, it gave me the best low end feel, third best of the night in my estimation. I did notice it wasn't as accurate as the Epik, nor HSU, in fact I rated the SVS a 3 on accuracy and the Epik and HSU both a 5. But I felt the music more and definitely felt it more in the movies. Some of the songs had noteworthy reproduction on the SVS. The Diana Krall track Peel me a Grape sounded awesome on the SVS. The SVS was the only sub of all of them that reproduced this one particular note perfectly on the rascall flatts song. It's like the other subs didn't even put a note there?!?! And no Chirpie it wasn't a clank. One of any of these three subs is not enough for my tastes in my room, but two of any of them would probably be great for the volume I like. I do NOT like the fact that Chirpie clunked that thing like somebody hit a piece of rebar as thick as a circus tent peg with a sledge hammer. It happened MORE than once. I thought for sure it was toast after just one of those particuarly bad ones, but that sub just wouldn't quit. It continued to sound awesome(in between clanks). I agree with Luke that a clank in the middle of a scene sucks - it spoils the mood, it ruins the scene and we'll all agree on that. But to that point that SVS did a fantastic job. Chirpie admitted that he bottoms out his driver frequently. HUH? How is that driver still working? SVS has a reputation for making an exceptionally sturdy, nay indestructible??? driver. Perhaps there is some merit to that claim, I don't have any experience, but if that sound happens a lot, then somethings made well. At any rate. I'll overlook the clank and give this sub 3rd place, assuming you don't push it to it's limits -it fits my liking well! This choice may raise some ire, but my ears are the judge in this section. I like loud and I found I most prefer ported and deep sounds at this meet! The SVS delivered. This sub and the Epik Empire sounded dramatically different to me. The SVS had a bit of a negative overhang, but plenty of depth, the Epik had accuracy, and smoothness, the HSU was a mix between the two perhaps? I think for the type of music I most prefer, and definitely for the movies --- I'll take a little extra depth --- wait my hand is still up, I want loud too, so I'd probably consider the SVS PB13 Ultra or PC13 Ultra instead because counsil says he has never bottomed his out. I also will note that every single person gave this SVS sub an eight on sex appeal. It is flashy, beautiful, and classy all at the same time!!! I can appreciate that -- and that plays a bit into my rating.
The scores here don't really matter because it didn't tally to be in third place for music or movies if I add up my points. But when it wasn't clanking around I liked it's sound better than the HSU, Empire, or my now deceased Jamo, and did I mention it was a sexy beast?

Fourth Place - HSU VTF-15H
This is a very tough one for me. Like carp, I've heard this HSU in Luke's room. It's PHENOMINAL, borderline like the Captivator was in my room, (okay slightly less impressive (and painful the next day)), but on that order of magnitude. If I had Luke's room I'd buy this sub in an instance and never look back. I love the HSU for his room!!! In my room it didn't hold up to the SVS in the depth department . It was more accurate by two points than the SVS on my grading scale and it was smoother by a point as well, but it lost 1.5 points in deep notes, and for movies it wasn't quite as impressive either (mind you I am completely and probably ignorantly ignoring the clanking that was occurring on the SVS). I would have preferred Luke use a low tune for both music and movies. That probably would have made his sub 3rd place on my list. And had Luke not been pushing the sub to the absolute limit in the SPL war and getting some compression distortion, I might have enjoyed it a bit more too. These subs were all pretty equal on output - tis for tat type pull ahead/fall behinds, so I've got to give the nod to the sub that goes lower, because that's my personal favorite sound. YET --- The HSU is a master of all trades at its pricepoint with the multiple tunes it will accept. I will also note that it did sound the best of all the subs on the Lupe Fiasco song. I still have NO problem recommending this subwoofer. Just in my room, from my listening position, during this meet, ?with the tune/EQ Luke chose? I've got to give the nod to the SVS. The HSU is a beautiful sub, perhaps the second best looking of the bunch, a great performer, and by my own numbers it should have taken third place, but I just preferred the unique sound of the SVS -- when it wasn't bottoming out.

Fifth Place - Epik Empire
Great sub, just wasn't deep enough for me. It sounded amazing on the music, I kept thinking it's so graceful, it needs to be turned up so it'll be deeper --- it's screaming to be played louder!!!! I turned to counsil and told him that and he said it's already at max dB --- that's all she's got in your room. It was my favorite of the night for the John Mayer scene. Can you believe it sounded better on the kick drums than my dual 18" folded horn Yamahas during that scene? From my vantage it did! Absolutely amazing for that scene. Sounded actually like I was at the concert. A+ Bravo, Excellent - WOW! Oh Yeah and add an extra 10 points because it was the only sub of the day that in my opinion never sounded like it was distorting, compressing, bottoming out, or efforting, in any way! Now where are the deep notes? Oh..... Fifth place then.

Six Place - Jamo D7
I think I'd rate this sub higher overal than the Epik, if it, and it's mate didn't die in less than two months of ownership. I did rate it higher than the Epik in music on the scorecard, I gave it a 18 of 20, which was third place overall on my music list. I think people jipped this sub on the reviews. I heard a couple people say it sounds great, but I can't give it too high a score because I know what's coming next. Well that's not entirely fair, if it sounds great give it a five in what it sounds great in, and punish it where it has shortcomings. I knew it would not be very impressive against the others in the movie playbacks, but I expected very high marks in music, and I think it deserves them. It is a sealed servo controlled 15" woofer and because of that it sounds DARN clean. Before the meet it was the best sounding musical sub I'd ever heard -- remember I'm not even a musical sub kinda guy!!!! The only two that beat it musically in my opinion where the Submersive (pleasure/fun) and the Captivator (low notes) I have some bones to pick with the group on this one. It is a THX Ultra II sub, meaning it is designed to be run using the THX Ultra subwoofer setting on the receiver. Even without the THX setting enabled, to me it bested the HSU by .5 points on music and the Epik by 1.5 points on music, and the SVS by 1.5 on music. I say this sub is smooth and accurate! The THX setting, from what I've read, is made to match a THX Ultra certified sub and receiver to allow for better dynamic contrast within the limitations of each certified product. From the limited info I could find it basically increases the voltage output dynamics to the subwoofer offering greater dynamic range from the source. It's a toggle on my receiver to enable through a menu, and then a specified gain setting on the sub that turns on a green THX light. I asked the group if they would allow that setting to be enabled on my sub for the demos, and they said no, because it could be an advantage, that may or may not be compatible with the other subs and we should leave the receiver settings alone for all subs. Well to point I agree, and I didn't argue, and I'm not that upset about it, but the door didn't really swing both ways. For instance I didn't tell Jeff and carp the Captivator couldn't use a $2000 amp, while my Yamahas were using a $300 one. I didn't tell Luke he couldn't use a different EQ setting for music and movies on his HSU. It's a built in, basically null configuration "advantage" to the Jamo, just like the other two units I just used as an example had their advantages, yet the THX Ultra option wasn't used, and it just may have cost the Jamo it's life, because I've played that sub at those levels many times before without any distortion like we saw during the meet. I've owned that Jamo for two months and I listened to it darn near every day, in the exact same location we demoed it in. It sounded better than that normally(heck I prepared all the clips listening to it and know full well what it sounds like) and even not represented as well as it should have been it still, in my opinion, outclassed the other comparable subs in the music dept. If you consider it as a $2000 sub like its MSRP - it's a big fat dud, but if you consider I paid only $500 shipped for it on closeout - it was an outstanding deal! ALAS it died in the movie section, the amp on this unit and the other unit died out. Luke thinks it might be servo electronics related, I've really no idea. It's really nothing to write home about in movies anyway and didn't have any surprises to pull out of that bag. The servo mechanism limits any distortion, overhang, reverb etc, and sometimes in an explosion, you want those things. When my Jamo pulls back, sometimes you just want more. I never claimed it was any wonder for movie watching, but I'll stand by it for music listening and fight for its reputation, even as a guy who doesn't particularly think that type of sub is his favorite!!!! Heck I kept it when I could have sent it back for a full refund after the first one died. Why did I keep it? As you may have read in my other Jamo thread - I kept it because it sounds awesome for music. Obviously this is just one man's opinion.

Seventh Place - Yamah CW218V
This one didn't do as well as I expected. I got the sub on Thursday night and started playing with it a bit, I watched a couple movie scenes and listed to some of the clips I'd been working on for the music test and listened to with the Jamo. It has thunderous midbass, but not much of anything below 30hz. During the music testing it wasn't really too exciting to me because it was soooo quite compared to what I'd listen to before and without that extra volume to cover up the fact it doesn't go deep...meh. For the movie section, as you know we turned the receiver up +6 db. I also turned the gain on my amp up from about 1/4 to 3/4 straight away, because I'd listened to it on 2/3 amp gain before and it was LOUD, golly come post on avsforum loud, and call my friend Luke loud --- and I hadn't heard any distortion at that time. Well we did find distortion at the meet, we even found a couple clipping sounds, the amp wasn't registering that it was working hard, no clip indicator light and only 2 -3 of four lights (the fifth light being the clipping light), but we hit several points were I heard some distortion or ill effects and so after the first few scenes I backed off of it, no point in damaging my new toy before I even know what they are capable of?!?! The time I watched the knowing scene, Thursday night before the meet, it gave me chills, unlike when I'd watched it anytime before because the explosion was so just ridiculously loud, but with the gain so high on the amp and receiver during the meet it just didn't really allow me to push it as high as I needed to, to show it off so that people could overlook the missing low hz. I've not yet messed around with it yet to see what I need to do to make it sound better, cause my ears are still ringing from yesterday - it's still a new product to me, less than two days old at the time of the meet and I'm not familiar with it. It's inadequacy could be completely my fault. On musicians friend there are 12 reviews for it, all five stars. One guy says in an auditorium of 500 people it could control your heartbeat, one guy says he overdrives its 2400 watt peak by 1000 watts with no distortion - yet I let it get beat handidly on the John Mayer kick drum scene in which it should have owned the house. ha. well, the coins fell. My cheaper American DJ V3000 amp might not have been doing it any favors either. I'd have been curious to hear how it sounded on the Captivator amp, but that wasn't my place to ask Jeff, and he obviously had no real reason to offer it, and the tuning would have been completely wrong to just swap the amp in anyway. I have 30 days to play with it. It has potential, but it might end up being shipped back for a return. I don't mind the sound, and I don't even mind not having the super lows, IF I can have the chest thumping volume --- but it has got to be loud, and if I'm not getting any louder than the other subs and I'm losing my treasured deep hz tactile sensation --- then why bother.

Eight Place - Jensen MS500
Sounded way better than anyone expected on music. Perhaps we were all a bit nervous at first. I was especially surprised because I had invited Stephen, an old grade school buddy of mine up from Tulsa with the hefty promise that he would hear subwoofer bass unlike anything he'd ever heard before, and that anything there would put his 10 year old Jensen 15" to utter shame. Did a dark horse enter the race? Later, in the movies section, we figured out it wasn't a dark horse, it was a dark stain --- In the movie section it crapped its pants and got sent home early. The thing people need to keep in mind is that most people who buy subs from retail stores have subs worse than this. If are reading this and you haven't heard of the likes of HSU, Epik, SVS, Seaton, Danley, JTR, Chase, etc and you have a little 10" slickdeals.net subwoofer special, then your sub is probably far worse than this sub. It wasn't an abysmal sub, it just couldn't handle the LFE in the movie selections we chose to specifically torture test these subs. echaot had his sub at -20 on the receiver and that poor sub was clicking, and clacking like a old railroad track. We were constantly bantering with each other about what reference level each sub should be played at before the start of the next scene to help protect the subs or goad each other on. At one point in echaot's demo I just said, Steve, for this next clip you should just turn the receiver off.


Parting Thought...
Since each of us sat in the same position for every demo -- How much did each individual seat's listening position play into each of our overall subjective rankings? Would my evaluation have been different if I sat on the other side of the room in Randy's spot for instance? Impossible to know without repeating the tests enough times for each person to listen to the demo material in the same seat. We did the best we could with the time alloted, and I enjoyed every moment of that day!

"Without subs it's just background music - with subs it's the main event!"

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post #10 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 12:47 PM
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I will be brief. First a word about the Submersive, it was installed with the newest amp so it is a current model I believe.

Music

Seaton and Captivator pretty much a tie on music with maybe a slight edge to the Seaton
Hsu and Epic were the next best IMO on music both being smooth and to me fairly accurate. Hsu seemed to go lower to me.
SVS next being very close to the HSU and Epic with more extension but not quite as smooth. SVS seem to go almost as low as the HSU
Jamo was next up on my list and was actually smoother than the SVS but did not seem to hit the really low notes.
Yamaha was not quite as smooth as the above mentioned subs but had great extension.
Jensen was a surprise in that I was not expecting much but it exceeded my expectations on music but did not hit the low notes.

Moives

I was called away on family duties so I only got to audition three subs for movies. The Jensen and the Jaimoe sort of crapped out on the movies and I don't really have a ranking for them. The SVS did ok with movies until a couple scenes when it badly bottomed out.

Overall for me, I thought the Seaton was the best for music. Since I did not hear all of the subs for movies I won't say which is the best overall sub.

My thanks go out to Archaea for hosting a great sub event that was quite a lot of fun and it was great to meet everyone!
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post #12 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 03:24 PM
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FYI, you still have PC in there for the SVS when it should say PB.


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Sounds like it was the older model PB-12 Plus from Counsil's post that it is a downfiring ported box?

What mode were the subs placed in when they were measured/tested? I.e., the HSU and PB12 Plus have various tuning modes (not sure about the JTR)?

 

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J Dunlavy:.. if you stop to think about it, no loudspeaker can sound more accurate than it measures.

 

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post #14 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by counsil View Post

I put a link to the raw REW measurement files in post 3 of the results thread. Feel free to download it, run waterfalls, averages, overlays, etc. This is the exact reason why I measured each sub the exact same way (and each in their own file) so folks could tinker with them til their hearts are content.

Just so you know, the SPL was measured with an analog Radio Shack spl meter. I didn't take the time to use my calibrated Galaxy SPL meter to get the SPLs exactly 75dB. Therefore when you overlay the graphs you must offset the graphs accordingly or you will overstate/understate the graphs.

Thanks Counsil, in your files, is it safe to assume the first measurement for each sub is from the same seat? I.e., you have what appears to be 4 or 5 measurements per sub, then an average. Was trying to plot the averages on the same graph, then wanted to pick a seat and plot that for each sub on the same graph.

 

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post #15 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by pbc View Post

Thanks Counsil, in your files, is it safe to assume the first measurement for each sub is from the same seat? I.e., you have what appears to be 4 or 5 measurements per sub, then an average. Was trying to plot the averages on the same graph, then wanted to pick a seat and plot that for each sub on the same graph.

I measured in the exact same order each time. The first 4 measurements are in the main listening seats. The 5th is the indoor ground plane measurement. The 6th is the average.

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post #16 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 05:26 PM
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...and yes. The first measurement was always in the same seat. same for the next 3.

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post #17 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 05:27 PM
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Haven't got a chance to read any of the reviews yet but I did just watch the moving cap video. Its a cool trick, but that's a lot of air moving through that port. That seems like it would be well into the audible range. I've built quite a few subs for cars and the home and have made my ports too small. I don't know much about the captivator but I'm guessing that during music there was little air movement but with the low freq movie stuff that's when it really got going? I'll have to go look up the specs for that sub. The closest I've built to something like that was an eD 19ov.2 18" llt. 13 cubic feet with an 8" port tuned to 15 hz. With a port that size and being pushed by an ep2500 bridged I never got any port noise no matter how loud I ran it.


Guess I'll spend a few reading the comments now and see how everything played.


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post #18 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 05:41 PM
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A little concerned with my 2010 captivator cabinet taking the 2011 woofer aftrer reading some of this...

The 15hz tune (vs the 20hz in this version) means the port will be even smaller. Also I'll only be using an ep4000 (1500w maybe or less at 8ohm)...

Oh well... Jeff has blown me away every time and even his 12" cap was a BEAST.
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post #19 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 05:47 PM
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The natural ports open 15hz tune works great. I never hear any port noise with mine.
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post #20 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 05:50 PM
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I wonder if I am better off with the Behringer amp? What do you think Counsil?

Music is sounding pretty sweet right now, but I am having an issue with the amp. If I turn on the amp before the rest of the system the clip light stays on and the sub won't play anything. If I turn on the rest of the system first and there is little or no bass the same thing happens. If I turn on the rest of the system first and there is some bass and then I turn on the amp it comes on fine, no clip light. Anybody know what's going on here?


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post #21 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 05:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mojomike View Post

The natural ports open 15hz tune works great. I never hear any port noise with mine.

hmmm sounds good...

Just wondering, did you have the issues with the PR on the 2010 that I had (SERIOUS flapping and distortion on some mid/upper bass)?
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post #22 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 05:54 PM
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I never had the passive radiator model. The very early 2011 units came in natural 15hz tuning. Quite frankly, I think Jeff should have stuck with this early design.
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post #23 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 06:07 PM
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Yeah was this the old PB12 Plus or the newest Sledge amp one? I'm pretty sure the Sledge one would give a significant upgrade in SPL numbers. Just wondering, though.
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post #24 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carp View Post

I wonder if I am better off with the Behringer amp? What do you think Counsil?

Jon's room is an acoustical nightmare. It eats bass like candy. If I had that basement I would seal it off and lay some carpet (or least put down some area rugs).

But to answer your question, from what you said last night about how Luke's Hsu performed in your room, I don't think you'll run into any problems.

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post #25 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by dimetera413 View Post

Yeah was this the old PB12 Plus or the newest Sledge amp one? I'm pretty sure the Sledge one would give a significant upgrade in SPL numbers. Just wondering, though.

It was the original PB-12 Plus model... the down-firing one. Chirpie said he has owned it for over 5 years.

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post #26 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pbc View Post

Sounds like it was the older model PB-12 Plus from Counsil's post that it is a downfiring ported box?

That's my understanding. Please read my post above.

Quote:


What mode were the subs placed in when they were measured/tested? I.e., the HSU and PB12 Plus have various tuning modes (not sure about the JTR)?

Luke plugged both the ports for music and switched back and forth between 0 and 1 being plugged during the HT portion.

From my understanding the PB-12 Plus didn't have any ports plugged.

The Seaton had the newest HP amp in it. From my understanding the Seaton had two settings. I'm not sure which was used.

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post #27 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 07:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by counsil View Post

That's my understanding. Please read my post above.



Luke plugged both the ports for music and switched back and forth between 0 and 1 being plugged during the HT portion.

From my understanding the PB-12 Plus didn't have any ports plugged.

The Seaton had the newest HP amp in it. From my understanding the Seaton had two settings. I'm not sure which was used.

Counsil, which mode was the Cap in 15hz or 20?
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post #28 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 07:11 PM
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Counsil, which mode was the Cap in 15hz or 20?

I don't know very much about the Captivator but from my understanding it was in its native 15Hz tune. It had no ports plugged. I do know that.

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post #29 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by counsil View Post

I don't know very much about the Captivator but from my understanding it was in its native 15Hz tune. It had no ports plugged cause. I do know that.

Umm, I believe the native (no port plug) is the 20Hz tune on all of the new Captivators.

BTW, nice work guys ... good stuff


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post #30 of 553 Old 05-15-2011, 07:19 PM
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The current Captivators are built in native 20hz tune with both ports open. A few early 2011 models built in early December 2010 like mine are in native 15hz tune.
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