The Official Theater Solutions Owners Thread - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 10-02-2011, 10:07 AM - Thread Starter
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While doing research for my Budget Subwoofers thread I decided to buy one, just so I could see for myself how good or bad they were. Going over the list of manufacturers lead me to the determination I could eliminate a few right off the bat, simply because a lot of people already owned them (examples include BIC, Premier Acoustics, Outlaw Audio and Lava). Acoustic Audio has a pretty big following over at the blu-ray.com forum, so I bypassed them as well. I came very close to pulling the trigger on an NXG sub, but ultimately decided Theater Solutions (TS) was going to be the chosen one.

Several factors played into the decision, but the most prominent of them was the fact there's no information about this company. I can't find anyone who's even heard of them before, let alone owns something from them. "White van" special? Perhaps, but I decided to take one for the team anyway and find out myself. Who knows, maybe I've just uncovered the next Rythmik or SVS. Ok, maybe not.

Theater Solutions website indicates the company is more into custom HT installations then actual manufacturing, which doesn't bode well for me. All of their subwoofers are sold exclusively through a single on-line distributor called OnlyFactoryDirect (OFD). It's interesting -- or a warning, depending upon how you look at it -- but TS does not list any of the subwoofers that OFD sells, nor does OFD list any of the subwoofers TS shows on their website. That's a head-scratcher. At least OFD's ebay store shows the same items as their website does, which is where I got my Sub12D from.

The models currently available from Theater Solutions are:
* Sub8D
* Sub8F
* Sub10D
* Sub10F
* Sub12D
* Sub12F

As you can see by the fairly lucid model names they sell units with 8", 10" and 12" drivers, configured as down-firing or front-firing. That means anyone who isn't looking for a subwoofer with a 15" or 18" driver should be able to find something (if you're looking for inexpensive subwoofers you aren't looking for those sizes anyway, so I understand why TS did that).

One anomaly that immediately jumped out at me while looking at the spec's was the FR is identical for everything they sell; 25Hz - 150Hz. That means a sub with an 8" driver performs the exact same as one with a 12" driver. Must be some type of magical components they use. Acoustic Audio (AA) does that too, but they say the lower extension is 20Hz, even for the 8" driver. Obviously, AA is way overstating what they're subs can do. At least in the case of the Sub12D and Sub12F they might possibly be able to approach the 25Hz TS claims.

The cabinets are supposed to be black, according to the text description on the website anyway. The photo's of them sure don't look black to me though. I'll be able to verify that when mine comes. I did notice a few positives as well:
  • As previously mentioned, the quoted FR has a lower extension of 25Hz. On my ebay receipt there's a lengthy description of the subwoofer and it even says +-2dB, so it appears maybe they actually did measure it.
  • There's a 30 day no questions asked money back guarantee, that even includes free return shipping! I found that considerably generous, given the price of the unit.
  • You have a full 60 days to send in your warranty card (not the paltry 10 days competitors like AA give you). That enables you to actually decide if you're going to keep the subwoofer before you send in the warranty info.
  • And speaking about warranty... it's for the life of the subwoofer! OnlyFactoryDirect gives you a lifetime warranty on defects in material and workmanship. I find that astonishing for something in this price class.

According to the UPS Tracking information mine will be delivered at the end of this week, so I won't be able to know much until then. Another "huh?" I just noticed is the shipping weight is listed as 25lbs, but the product specifications state it weighs 27lbs. Wonder how they managed that.

More to come...

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post #2 of 25 Old 10-02-2011, 10:07 AM - Thread Starter
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After running my Sub12D for over 15 hours now I think it's about as broken in as it will probably ever be. Under normal circumstances I wouldn't even consider doing a review so early, but this isn't normal circumstances I'm afraid. You'll understand why a bit later. Let me start at the beginning though...

The unit came double boxed. The subwoofer had styrofoam between itself and all 6 sides; the top and bottom were of the molded, form-fitting variety, while the 4 vertical sides were sheets dropped into the box. The unit was sealed in a plastic bag too. The owners "manual" was a single laminated sheet of thick paper which contained the installation instructions. An accessories bag was included, which had a male-to-dual female RCA adapter, as well as a twin RCA cable with 90 degree bends on one end. I didn't use any of the accessories however, because they're a little on the cheap side. But it was nice they were included.

Once unboxed the subwoofer weighed in at 25 pounds, so it's definitely on the light side. For a unit with a 12" driver it's very compact. The cabinet is made from .5" MDF, which probably goes a long way towards explaining why it's so light. Peering into the port slot on the bottom reveals a rather well done glue job, not at all sloppy like some budget subs. Every single screw -- on the amp, driver and feet -- was properly tightened. Not one of them was stripped either.

The website says the finish is black, but the pictures they have make it look more tan to me. It's mostly black in real life, but it has a silvery hue to it in various parts of the grain. It's odd and unique at the same time. There's what appears to be a smattering of left-over glue right next to the name plate on the front panel, as though they put the plate in the wrong spot initially and had to move it. There are some tiny impressions and imperfections in the finish, but I really had to look hard in order to find them. Overall the exterior seems good.

So how does it work/sound? Not that impressive, quite frankly. Remember earlier when I indicated 15 hours was enough? From what I can tell it's as good as it's going to get, which is not very good unfortunately.

To start with, the lower extension is weak. I keep thinking words like 'thin' and 'gutless'. I'm upgrading from an Orb Audio Super8 and it has deeper bass then the Sub12D does, and that only has an 8" driver compared to this ones 12" driver. I find this terribly disappointing for a unit with a 350 watt RMS amp. The Sub12D can play far louder then the Super8 though.

Right now I have it's gain set to 75%, and my AVR has been jacked up to +10dB, yet the extension is still anemic. That just seems awfully hot for the (lack of) response I'm getting. The auto-on function doesn't appear to work either, or at least I can't get it to work. Since it's been running the amp has only gotten slightly warm, and I've had it playing at an elevated level for a few hours now.

I was in contact with OFD's Customer Service before I got the sub, and Technical Support afterwards, just to see how they performed. Everything was done via email. Most times they answered quickly -- within 1 hour on several occasions -- but other times messages were never returned. They always seemed helpful on the emails I did get.

Technical Support provided more detailed responses then Customer Service did. I worked with one of their tech's a few times to try and get some more bass output from the Sub12D, but he wasn't able to suggest anything that I hadn't already done (adjust gain, channel level, crossover, move the sub to different locations, etc). Sadly, it appears like there just isn't anything left to get.

One interesting side note I uncovered; it seems that the Theater Solutions Sub8D, Sub10D and Sub12D are the exact same units Acoustic Audio sells as the RWSUB 8, RWSUB 10 and RWSUB 12 respectively. I was able to find pictures of each that clearly showed there were no differences. Every component -- cabinet, driver, amp, attached power cable, feet -- were identical. Even the name plate affixed to the front was the same (well, except for the name on the plate). The Acoustic Audio subs have slowly been disappearing from their website, and they aren't being replaced it seems, so Theater Solutions may end up being the only one selling these particular models sooner then later. But it does infer it's just a generic, mass produced subwoofer, and not something designed to anyone's unique specifications.

I'm going to leave it hooked up for a few more days, just in case it gets better somehow, but I'm not encouraged. If it doesn't improve then I'll avail myself of OFD's 30 day, no questions asked, free shipping, money back guarantee. For a sub in this class I still think that's fantastic (along with the lifetime warranty, of course).

Since everyone's experience can vary you may still wish to give Theater Solutions a shot. YMMV, after all. It's painless to try, and with no cost to you whatsoever, it's something that might be worth considering.


Update 10/26/11
As you've probably already surmised I returned the subwoofer for a refund. OFD was excellent in that regard; they provided an RMA number without question or hesitation, gave me a pre-paid shipping label to return it and refunded my money in full once they got the subwoofer back. All-in-all, a very good company to work with.

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post #3 of 25 Old 10-07-2011, 07:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Here are some pictures of what the Sub12D really looks like.
LL
LL
LL

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post #4 of 25 Old 10-08-2011, 02:39 PM
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"it seems that the Theater Solutions Sub8D, Sub10D and Sub12D are the exact same units Acoustic Audio sells as the RWSUB 8, RWSUB 10 and RWSUB 12"

I also noticed that before.

Thank for that review, it was very informative. Though I never had intentions of ordering any, I always find myself browsing and asking myself "what if". Well now I know
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post #5 of 25 Old 10-08-2011, 04:04 PM
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Interesting review with lots of helpfull information. Good work!

Would you consider trying out Monoprice's 12" sub as a replacement?
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post #6 of 25 Old 10-08-2011, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kesando View Post

Interesting review with lots of helpfull information. Good work!

Would you consider trying out Monoprice's 12" sub as a replacement?

Yes please!! Now these, I was considering at one point but solely on Monoprice's reputation.
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post #7 of 25 Old 10-08-2011, 07:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Right now I have an XTZ subwoofer headed my way for review, but after that I might consider the Monoprice unit. They appear to have a 30 day money back guarantee, with no restocking fee, so I'd just have to pay for the shipping it seems.

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post #8 of 25 Old 10-25-2011, 09:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jproy13 View Post

Yes please!! Now these, I was considering at one point but solely on Monoprice's reputation.

Looks like this is a no-go...

One of my daughters is moving out of her small apartment and into some place larger. What I decided to do was buy the Monoprice 12", do the test and then simply give it to her. Unfortunately it's now listed as out of stock, and won't be back in until the end of January!

I'm not waiting 3 months of course, so it looks like I won't be able to review this one after all.

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post #9 of 25 Old 10-25-2011, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimWilson View Post

Looks like this is a no-go...

One of my daughters is moving out of her small apartment and into some place larger. What I decided to do was buy the Monoprice 12", do the test and then simply give it to her. Unfortunately it's now listed as out of stock, and won't be back in until the end of January!

I'm not waiting 3 months of course, so it looks like I won't be able to review this one after all.

Even though your review of the Monoprice 12 inch sub would have been incredibly helpful in deciding whether to spend $84.10 to see for themselves, lots of others have already made up their minds so we will just have to go it alone since your review hinged on events beyond your control. Thanks for all you do.
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Originally Posted by spyboy View Post

Even though your review of the Monoprice 12 inch sub would have been incredibly helpful in deciding whether to spend $84.10 to see for themselves, lots of others have already made up their minds so we will just have to go it alone since your review hinged on events beyond your control. Thanks for all you do.

Do I detect a note of sarcasm?

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post #11 of 25 Old 10-25-2011, 12:22 PM
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After running my Sub12D for over 15 hours now I think it's about as broken in as it will probably ever be. Under normal circumstances I wouldn't even consider doing a review so early, but this isn't normal circumstances I'm afraid. You'll understand why a bit later. Let me start at the beginning though...

The unit came double boxed. The subwoofer had styrofoam between itself and all 6 sides; the top and bottom were of the molded, form-fitting variety, while the 4 vertical sides were sheets dropped into the box. The unit was sealed in a plastic bag too. The owners "manual" was a single laminated sheet of thick paper which contained the installation instructions. An accessories bag was included, which had a male-to-dual female RCA adapter, as well as a twin RCA cable with 90 degree bends on one end. I didn't use any of the accessories however, because they're a little on the cheap side. But it was nice they were included.

Once unboxed the subwoofer weighed in at 25 pounds, so it's definitely on the light side. For a unit with a 12" driver it's very compact. The cabinet is made from .5" MDF, which probably goes a long way towards explaining why it's so light. Peering into the port slot on the bottom reveals a rather well done glue job, not at all sloppy like some budget subs. Every single screw -- on the amp, driver and feet -- was properly tightened. Not one of them was stripped either.

The website says the finish is black, but the pictures they have make it look more tan to me. It's mostly black in real life, but it has a silvery hue to it in various parts of the grain. It's odd and unique at the same time. There's what appears to be a smattering of left-over glue right next to the name plate on the front panel, as though they put the plate in the wrong spot initially and had to move it. There are some tiny impressions and imperfections in the finish, but I really had to look hard in order to find them. Overall the exterior seems good.

So how does it work/sound? Not that impressive, quite frankly. Remember earlier when I indicated 15 hours was enough? From what I can tell it's as good as it's going to get, which is not very good unfortunately.

To start with, the lower extension is weak. I keep thinking words like 'thin' and 'gutless'. I'm upgrading from an Orb Audio Super8 and it has deeper bass then the Sub12D does, and that only has an 8" driver compared to this ones 12" driver. I find this terribly disappointing for a unit with a 350 watt RMS amp. The Sub12D can play far louder then the Super8 though.

Right now I have it's gain set to 75%, and my AVR has been jacked up to +10dB, yet the extension is still anemic. That just seems awfully hot for the (lack of) response I'm getting. The auto-on function doesn't appear to work either, or at least I can't get it to work. Since it's been running the amp has only gotten slightly warm, and I've had it playing at an elevated level for a few hours now.

I was in contact with OFD's Customer Service before I got the sub, and Technical Support afterwards, just to see how they performed. Everything was done via email. Most times they answered quickly -- within 1 hour on several occasions -- but other times messages were never returned. They always seemed helpful on the emails I did get.

Technical Support provided more detailed responses then Customer Service did. I worked with one of their tech's a few times to try and get some more bass output from the Sub12D, but he wasn't able to suggest anything that I hadn't already done (adjust gain, channel level, crossover, move the sub to different locations, etc). Sadly, it appears like there just isn't anything left to get.

One interesting side note I uncovered; it seems that the Theater Solutions Sub8D, Sub10D and Sub12D are the exact same units Acoustic Audio sells as the RWSUB 8, RWSUB 10 and RWSUB 12 respectively. I was able to find pictures of each that clearly showed there were no differences. Every component -- cabinet, driver, amp, attached power cable, feet -- were identical. Even the name plate affixed to the front was the same (well, except for the name on the plate). The Acoustic Audio subs have slowly been disappearing from their website, and they aren't being replaced it seems, so Theater Solutions may end up being the only one selling these particular models sooner then later. But it does infer it's just a generic, mass produced subwoofer, and not something designed to anyone's unique specifications.

I'm going to leave it hooked up for a few more days, just in case it gets better somehow, but I'm not encouraged. If it doesn't improve then I'll avail myself of OFD's 30 day, no questions asked, free shipping, money back guarantee. For a sub in this class I still think that's fantastic (along with the lifetime warranty, of course).

Since everyone's experience can vary you may still wish to give Theater Solutions a shot. YMMV, after all. It's painless to try, and with no cost to you whatsoever, it's something that might be worth considering.

Thanks for the lengthy review. One thing I don't understand though is why you would expect greater extension by increasing the volume level. You certainly got a lot of volume as you noted. If anything, you will get a ton of Harmonic Distortion by trying to achieve greater extension than the design of the sub allows. If anything, I would think that you would have to use some kind of equalization to increase extension rather than just pushing the sub harder by increasing its level.

You can no more gain greater extension with a subwoofer by increasing overall subwoofer output level than you can get greater deep bass extension from ones main speakers by increasing overall output. But, if one has very capable main speakers, perhaps something with an excellent woofer in a large cabinet, you can bring up the bottom end with some boost in the 20Hz-40Hz octave.

Then again, maybe the sub just isn't broken in yet.
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post #12 of 25 Old 10-25-2011, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
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It was fully broken in based upon the manufacturers recommendations, which I double checked before anything was posted.

I do appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to impart everyone with your bountiful wisdom, especially when it's done in such a magnanimous way. It's really not necessary though, and I do mean really not necessary. Perhaps it's time to move along now - there's nothing more to see here.

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post #13 of 25 Old 06-03-2013, 01:11 PM
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Hi Jim,
Maybe you can add the 15" subs to the list on the first post? I'm itching to hear if they are worth anything...cannot seem to find many customer reviews online. I see the price is $200 on amazon -too good to be true?.. If I can return it, I'm going to get one and test it (front firing).

Why go out to a movie theater?
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post #14 of 25 Old 06-03-2013, 01:24 PM
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Well that didn't take long, got the front firing sub on order, 2 day free delivery with prime. I'll provide my thoughts once everything is up and running. Customer feedback is here: http://www.amazon.com/Theater-Solutions-Surround-Powered-Subwoofer/product-reviews/B007NZKNVQ/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

Why go out to a movie theater?
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post #15 of 25 Old 06-03-2013, 03:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveCarrera4 View Post

Well that didn't take long, got the front firing sub on order, 2 day free delivery with prime. I'll provide my thoughts once everything is up and running. Customer feedback is here: http://www.amazon.com/Theater-Solutions-Surround-Powered-Subwoofer/product-reviews/B007NZKNVQ/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

That's because it's from OnlyFactoryDirect. They're a good company to work with. Very responsive folks. Not sure if they still do it but OFD used to provide a free lifetime warranty on the Theater Solutions subs. That says a lot about OFD if you ask me.

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post #16 of 25 Old 06-06-2013, 02:36 PM
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Arrived on day 2. Perfect condition. This thing really opens up the lower end of my 9.3 setup. Think ill keep it! I'll get a review going shortly, with pictures.

Why go out to a movie theater?
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I'm fooling around with low frequency sweeps and placement. So far, I can say that the 15F sub loses about 12 db from 200 Hz to 22 Hz, starting at 78 db, with dropouts of 6 db or so at a couple points, hence playing around with location. could take some time to get this dialed in.

Why go out to a movie theater?
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Update: So I ordered it and it came in on Wednesday. Yesterday, I ran the cable for it (~60') and everything neatened everything else in the setup after relocating our front speakers up near the ceiling. Not too crazy about that but given our room, I didn't have many options, unless i wanted them about 2.5' away from the center.

Back to the sub though. So far, we've put around 5-6 hours of music and only about 2 hours of tv through it. I've noticed a somewhat large leap from the first night to now, I'm gonna give the week and then post my review!

As for the drop outs - although I don't have a meter to measure them it with (working on it) I can definitely say that there is a large drop out. I've cut the crossover down to ~60 Hz otherwise I begin to pick up the bass in actors voices when watching tv and it comes through loud.
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Which one?

Why go out to a movie theater?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveCarrera4 View Post

Which one?

SUB15F

PROS:
  • Cheap
  • Powerful
  • Sounds good (for the price)
  • Really brings out the lows in everyday use

CONS:
  • I wish they included an RCA male to 2xRCA female so if only one cable is run to the sub, you can still plug both in.
  • Auto on isn't reliable, so I've had to turn it to always on

    So, I had to play around with its placement, but ultimately, after I got positioned, it works great. Unfortunately, auto on isn't reliable, so I've had to turn it to always on. This isn't a big deal, as it is plugged into a switched outlet (the electrician wired both outlets on the wall to the switches mad.gif ). Overall, I would defiantly recommend this as a budget sub for anyone in a large room.
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post #21 of 25 Old 07-06-2013, 06:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for posting an update. I hope it continues to work out well for you.

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post #22 of 25 Old 08-01-2013, 01:21 AM
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SUB15F on sale for under $200 on newegg until Aug2
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?SID=7ntGqPqBEeK3yEYgESSkWgnbG1_aHde3_0_0_0&AID=10440897&PID=1225267&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-cables-_-na-_-na&Item=9SIA1620HD7955&cm_sp=

Good choice for my sub $100 refurb SUBSONIX 5.0 Pinnacle Speakers? Does it have LFE to work with 5.1? My reciever is Denon AVR-E300
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post #23 of 25 Old 08-01-2013, 05:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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SUB15F on sale for under $200 on newegg until Aug2

Good choice for my sub $100 refurb SUBSONIX 5.0 Pinnacle Speakers? Does it have LFE to work with 5.1? My reciever is Denon AVR-E300

It's only $139? Man that's cheap. It does have LFE in, so it will work just fine in a HT setup.

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post #24 of 25 Old 08-01-2013, 05:44 AM
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too much sub for my el-chepo satalite speakers?
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post #25 of 25 Old 08-01-2013, 06:08 AM - Thread Starter
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You can use the AVR's gain to adjust the sub output, along with the volume knob on the subwoofers amp, so you can dial it in and get them level matched. But that doesn't necessarily guarantee an acoustic match...

Those Pinnacle speakers have a 3" midrange, which means they can get down to maybe 120Hz and still have usable output. As such, you'll have to run the subwoofer up that high in order to ensure the crossover is smooth. Theater Solutions is not known for articulate subwoofers, so if you cross it at 120Hz things like male voices may sound 'thick' or 'chesty'. If your AV receiver has some manner of room correction that also works with a subwoofer you might be able to mitigate that to some extent. If not, you could experience integration issues.

Realistically though, what can you expect? A 5.1 system with a 15" powered sub that only costs $240 is simply not able to provide much in the way of fidelity.

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