Wow. I feel like I just got beat up—really takes it out of you getting blasted by sound for 12+ hours.
Where to start-thanks to everyone for coming from all over. Craig Chase drove 900 miles across the midwest. Mark Seaton and Jeff Permanian came from Chicago. We had some guys from KC and Michigan. Good turnout and about right for the size of my room. We had some good food in pizza and BBQ. Thanks to all for donating money to cover food and drink; you made my wife happy!
I thought Mark, Jeff, and especially Craig did a good job of staying out of our way. I think it is very informational and helpful to have some reps/owners at a GTG, but you also need to stay on track and get through what you want to accomplish without getting sidetracked by any cool toys they may bring. The three guys stayed upstairs most of the night other than when we played through the CHT, JTR, and Seaton Sound offerings. Mark has some EQ on his Submersive HP that comes with the product, and Jeff helped place the JTR Growler.
Here is the interest thread leading up to the GTG: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1349742
Each person who attended the meet has been asked to write up their subjective impressions of each of the subs, hopefully each will take advantage to share their experience from the day. Most of the attendees were able to be there all day but some had other responsibilities that had them show up in the afternoon. Some subs will have more scores than others, as you will see by the scoring charts.
The GTG attendees were:
Archaea – Dual Captivator Pros (Behringer EP4000)
KCNitro07 – BIC F12
desertdome – Dual MCCA MFW-15 Turbos, Quad MFW-15 Sealed Dual Opposed (Dayton SA 1000, Seaton sound modded amps for the Turbos)
kwarny – DIY Rythmik (F15) (A370)
HuskerOmaha – Dual Cinema F20s (Sampson SX1200), Dual CHT 18.1 (SA1000)
nebrunner – DTS-10 + JTR Growler (Behringer EP4000)
Dr. Spankenstein – eD A7s-450
Stormwind13 – CHT SS 18.2 (Dayton SA1000)
Craigsub – Dual CHT VS 18.1 (Dayton SA1000)
Mark Seaton – Seaton Submersive HP
The attendees that would be there all day had first priority on the front row and bar seats, and then the front row was prioritized for those that are active on avsforum and have heard a few subs to give their subjective thoughts.
There were a few other guys there, but I’m not sure if they are on the forums. Please post if you are, and I apologize for missing you!
HuskerOmaha --ECM8000--- Archaea ------ kwarny ------ stormwind13
Desertdome ----- Dr. Spankenstein ------ XXXXX ------ KCNitro07
People moved in and out from the bar seating in the middle.
If you want to see more information on my room and the build of it for any reason-a link to my build thread-http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=19646954. My room is approximately 4000 cubic feet to fill. It was interesting seeing the difference in filling that space. 3-20A circuits were available for the two racks and for plate amps on the front wall. We didn’t have any electrical issues.
QUESTIONS FROM INTEREST THREAD:
Funny how you set up a GTG but can not get anything extra done even though you try hard. Here were our original questions and comments in italics.
What do different alignments sound like?
(MFW driver: Vented, Sealed DIY, F-20?)
Sealed DIY wasn’t able to be EQd so comparisons and subjective comments may be hard to do.
Do people prefer more midbass output or low bass output?
Attendees should be able to comment.
Does EQ make a difference in listening?
All of the subs, other than the Sealed DIY MFWs Dual Opp were EQd using REW v5.
Can attendees tell if EQ is on/off?
We were not able to test this with all of the attendees-we ran out of time.
At what volume do capabilities start to make a difference?
We didn’t do a structured test for this question, but we did crank a few of the larger subs with Open Range and other content.
Does location make a difference in listening?
Were not able to swap between MFW Sealed Dual Opp and the single subs all used the same location.
What does unlimited bass sound like? (8 MFW-15's and two 18.1's)
Didn’t do this.
Playing the VS-18 and the CS -18 together, and other sealed + ported mixes and see what people think. Test the theory that the same design is better than mixed. Cross the ported sub over at a higher frequency. See reactions.
Do attendees prefer the effect of nearfield subs +/- usual placement (wall locations) and with what type of bass output?
Some attendees sat near the subs for short period of times. Otherwise, this wasn’t tested.
What do attendees prefer for different subs for the crossover freq?
We used 80hz for the crossover frequency in all tests.
Ask attendees on the difference in sealed/vented/horns musicality vs HT use and which they preferred.
Attendees should be able to answer this and it is reflected in their scores.
Ricci Comments and Suggestions from Interest Thread
Does anyone who will be there have the ability to run REW? Do you have a decent EQ unit available supported by REW? MiniDSP, DCX, BFD, etc? I hope yes.
Desertdome ran the REW and used the EQ unit-Steinberg MR816x with J River Media Center he will discuss later.
What I would suggest is this.
1.Place all of the subs in the same location when you listen to them, or as close as you can anyway.
Every single sub was placed in the same position as noted by the pictures. All dual subs were placed in the same position as well. The only sub that wouldn’t fit there was the DTS-10. The DTS-10 had the distance setting modified for EQ in J River Media Center, as well as some of the other subs (Growler, F20s). The JTR Growler was placed in the same position as the singles.
2.Have everyone listening try to remain in the same seat throughout the day as much as possible.
6 seating positions were static throughout all of the graded subs. The rest were interchanged with who was available or wanted to sit or stand.
3. Use the same program material for all subs.
The same material was played for each setup.
4. Pick one seating location to make measurements from. Take an REW frequency response measurement of each sub from this same location at a similar drive level.
As you will see by the pictures, the ECM8000 never moved from its microphone stand perch-sitting directly between HuskerOmaha and Archaea seating positions. Levels were matched and the subs were run approx 3 db hotter than the mains—each setup was reviewed for levels.
5. Use the REW sweep and auto eq function to generate eq settings to flatten each subs response. Try to get the responses roughly similar. It doesn't have to be perfect. You just don't want radical 10db differences in response shape. If there are wild variations in response amongst the subs this is what will be heard and this does not necessarily indicate how the sub can perform optimally.
Desertdome used RTA instead of sweeps and will discuss later.
6. After applying the suggested EQ settings take another response measurement with REW to show the effects.
Desertdome took pre-EQ and post-EQ graphs for each sub after filters were applied.
7. At this point level match the sub to the mains. It does not matter if you want to run the subs flat, 6db hot or even 12db hot, or whatever you want. Just make sure that each sub is set similarily.
We ran 3 db hot….desertdome will have numbers but I believe on average subs were 77db and mains 74 db with the pink noise.
8. Throw on the demos and pop open a cold brewski. Enjoy. Be careful with the level on the smaller subs.
We didn’t pop open any brewskis until late in the night-pop was plentiful though. We didn’t push the BIC F12 too hard though the owner swears it could handle quite a bit more!
Desertdome (Michael) will thoroughly explain all of the EQ in his post; since I can’t even figure out how to run it after watching it all day. This includes seat responses, before and after EQ charts, etc (assuming they are all saved properly!)
Mark Seaton helped Michael check things out prior to the start of the subs regarding level matching and checking out the room response across all of the seats.
We had many initial questions for those remembering our interest thread that did not get addressed, but I think everyone had a ton of fun…definitely worth it in my book to attend and host these.
After some initial delays in leveling out all of the speakers and interfacing the Steinberg and J River Media Center with the HTPC we were ready to rock.
We got started with actual playback at 11am and stopped around midnight. Testing was NOT blind. I'm not sure how one would even be able to do this properly, using the same position or subs, with all other factors considered.
Here is the material played through the subs and the rough timestamps for those interested. Some of these were modified as we realized we could cut some material to make the GTG faster but still keep the majority of the bass content in each.
Master and Commander:Cannon1:41(1:36-3:17)
Tron Legacy: Grid 1:14(23:36-24:50)
Transformers: ROTF: Sideswipe 0:22(6:39-7:01)
War of the Worlds: Pod 2:10
Iron Man: Jericho Missile0:36
Flight of the Phoenix1:52
Transformers: DOTM: Bumblebee Highway Flip0:40(1:07:30-1:08:10)
Incredible Hulk: Street Fight/Cop Car2:50
Fellowship of the Ring: Opening 1:00(3:26-4:26)
How To Train Your Dragon1:25 (8:00-9:25)
Black Hawk Down: Irene1:05
Cloverfield: Statue of Liberty Head/Street2:27
Battle L.A.: Bus/Grenade/Gas Station1:38
Red Cliff: Fire/Boats2:15(1:39:40-1:41:55)
Pomp & Pipes: The Vikings0:20
Pete Balasco: Deeper1:18 (1:01-2:19)
Eagles: Hotel California 1:11(0:30-1:41)
Black Light Syndrome: Duende0:25(5:25-5:50)
Kid Kudi: Day n Night 0:28(0:55-1:23)
Deadmau5: Ghosts n Stuff0:30(1:16-1:46)
Basstronics: Bass I Love You0:45(0:19-1:04)
We played Open Range (raising the volume quite a bit) for a few of the heavy hitters (1:42:45-1:46:54).
ORDER OF SUBS PLAYED
We were attempting to go from lowest expected performance (output, sound quality) to highest. We varied from this a bit-the F20s were already in the basement and so we started with those-I actually thought this was nice to give you a high output benchmark to then go back to the smaller subs to get an idea of how to rank. We also moved the JTR and Seaton subs up a bit since Jeff and Mark had to get on the road.
DIY Dual Cinema F-20 (lilmike designed)
BIC America Formula F12
Elemental Designs A7s-450
Motor City Custom Audio Dual MFW-15 Turbos
Chase Home Theater SS 18.2
JTR Speakers Dual Captivator Pro
Seaton Submersive HP
Chase Home Theater Dual VS 18.1
Danley Sound Labs DTS-10 + JTR Growler
We also played around with the Quad MFW-15 Dual Opposed after these, but Desertdome had to run (wife had a baby 48 hours prior) and the EQ and one of the four subs were kaput. Everything but the Quads had REW run and filters and EQ applied to subs prior to playing-again Desertdome has the information and we will post it as soon as we can.
Technosponge was a great help. He had his camera equipment and was snapping photos all day. It made things go easier and smooth. For whoever holds one of these down the road-make sure to delegate certain things. With him worrying about documenting pictures, I had less to worry about as well as desertdome. He took pictures of the sub sizes next to the Hulk BD disc case, wide stage shots of EACH setup, and numerous pictures of everyone during the GTG. It was great. I will post some pictures and I think he is planning on having a flickster or similar link with the HQ shots.
I think he has numerous photos of the room as well.
I attempted to have attendees give a pre-audition ranking, and then grade each sub on WAF and build quality. My instructions must have sucked—as Archaea and I looked over the material early Saturday morning, the numbers were all messed up.
ATTENDEES: Please make sure to note your observations of WAF and build quality in your thread responses.
The rankings were compiled from excel fill in the blank sheets. Archaea, Kcnitro07, and I tabulated and averaged the numbers via excel last night. It was 4am, so if you see an error please let me know so I can check it out. We double checked it, but accidents can happen.
I wanted to use a similar ranking strategy to the KC GTG, so that we can start to have similar ways to report results. Though I wanted to be different with a 1-10 scale of course.
(clips)2-my computer may match it
3-is that a 6" sub?
4-not bad, I could live with this
5-getting close to buying
7-welcome to the big boy league
8-impressive. How do I order?
9-I need to have it
As you can discern from the number of ratings, some people weren't there at the beginning and missed the first sub or two. With the DTS-10 and Growler, as I'm sure it will be poured over later, something was wrong.
The Growler sounded fine, but the DTS-10 has something wrong with it as far as we could figure out that night. We didn't have time to pull and look at the drivers. We applied the first 4 filters recommended, then ran the EQ. Mark and Jeff may have still been there watching it. Well, anyways, the DTS10 sounded off, really off. We even restricted it later to HPF at 15 and a LPF at 30 and something was still wrong. Sounded like a bad driver. Others can offer opinions. That is why most didn't rate it, I left the ones in that did.
|Clips||M/C||Tron Grid||T2 Sideswipe||WOTW||Iron Man||FOTP||T3-Bumblebee||Hulk Cop||FOTR||HTTYD|
|Clip||Black Hawk Down||Cloverfield||Battle LA||Red Cliff||Poop/Pipes||Pete Balasco||Eagles||Black Light Syndrome||Kid Kudi||Ghosts N Stuff||Bass I Love You|
Clip Averages and Overall Highest Score Average
|Clips||M/C||Tron Grid||T2 Sideswipe||WOTW||Iron Man||FOTP||T3-Bumblebee||Hulk Cop||FOTR||HTTYD||Black Hawk Down||Cloverfield||Battle LA||Red Cliff||Poop/Pipes||Pete Balasco||Eagles||Black Light Syndrome||Kid Kudi||Ghosts N Stuff||Bass I Love You||AVG||MOVIES||MUSIC|
Sorry for the decimal breakdown, but I wanted to separate the CHT subs so there was a 3 and 4 and not a tie.
You can see the average overall, and then for music and movies on the far right.
Technosponge is working on pictures and Desertdome will post EQ as soon as possible.
I will put my evaluative thoughts down in a later post.
This event was awesome. I'm happy I did this, and Mrs Omaha isn't as pissed as I thought she would be. Thank you Craig for the vodka. She cracked it open tonight.
I wrote down my comments with each setup; in order of playing-- and I'll transcribe them here:
Tron not as impressive as I remember with my CHT 18.T.
M/C, WOTW, FOTP very impressive. Felt the low flip of the airplace in FOTP, WOTW ground rumble was seat moving.
Plays 20-40 Hz very emphatically but higher bass feels muddy and misplaced.
Would egg crate inside enclosure help?
I felt the F20 had amazing output for the cost. The size is limiting in my room, and my wife is making me get rid of them. With some EQ and some more placement and crossover options, I think these would make a great value for someone looking for output.
BIC America F12
It would make a good mouse pad.
EQ at 1 db below F-20 (72 db pink noise)
Tactile but probably need duals unless a smaller room
Battle L.A.-precise popping of spacecraft but not the output I would want
Red Cliff - precise banging of drum, stands out and is blended perfectly
Bass I Love You - better than I expected, blends well with mains
Really? Surprised at the tactile feel of this sub. Duals would do it for a bunch of non-AVS members.
Set to 28hz ext on movies, 14hz ext on music
Sideswipe scene: Guns on flip sound great
FOTP: actually could hear low roll but very quiet, guy falling is quick and decays fast
Hulk - better than BIC
Driver is moving @ all the right times, and actually quite the extension, but cannot feel the bass. My room is probably too big, need duals
Kid Kudi: Excels and can feel the whole range: very smooth and good feeling to it
It must be a different feeling. On a few scenes I liked the sound, on most I couldn't feel A THING.
Sideswipe guns scene: more punch, more impulse, first sub to show it
WOTW: low rumble sounds good but not precise enough
Bumblebee flip: can hear clearly the whole range, best so far of subs tested on this
FOTP: low roll-starting to get where I'm used to
Hulk: Can feel the footsteps, but can not feel the hulk scream prior to the run
LOTR: 1st sub to do the sweep and ring drop justice on opening scene
HTTYD: first sub to get you that feeling of hearing the bass from the wings, need more feeling on the large hits and the main crash
Battle LA: nice popping of engines and good output
Red Cliff: Consistent and solid on explosions and drum
Blends really well with music. Might hang on too long to notes but being picky
Kudi: Great extension across notes in this song
Bass I Love you: first sub to give me that LFE feeling
I was actually impressed at the musicality and blending of the eD. I thought overall it wasn't too bad being a single and all. The eD seemed to be a bit muddy on a couple of the film scenes, but was a solid music sub. Would have liked to have duals to compare to the CHT sealed.
Michael used subdudes and cheated so this sub results should be thrown out
Transformers scenes: best tactile feeling to date
Not as crisp as eD but great output
Hulk: steps are precise and the scream has nice loud output
Irene:BHD: First sub to get the helicopter blades LFE feeling
Battle LA: Popping sound good but prefer the eD treatment of material
Explosions in material loud and precise. Nice!
Organ Music: First time I felt something on the crappy poop/pipes tract
Deeper: Hits hard but doesn't feel as extended as the eD
Kudi: Good response but still doesn't feel as deep as the eD
These were placed on subdudes so they should be excluded! These were good, but when I heard the 1 of them at desertdomes house it was more impressive. Maybe the room was too big. Still a great option if you have them. More precise than the F20s.
CHT 18.2 Sealed
M/C: Cannons sound good and succinctnot the F-20 output but much cleaner, can differentiate the sounds better
FOTP: guy falling and hitting ground precise
Hulk: Scream is best to date, really feeling it
HTTYD: Wing flapping is good/great on last shot of fire into large dragon mouth
Red Cliff: Opening second has hit hardest of all of them to date: drum is filling the room but not overdonesubtle yet accurate
Deeper: Clean and Deep. Exactly what I expect this to sound like
Kid Kudi: Felt some subsonic I think for first time
Bass I love you: Not as much excursion as Turbos but seems to hit higher bass fine
I like the 18.2 more than my 18.T. Why? Who knows. More discussion and thought on this later. What to do what to do. Great musicality, great blending, boomy on a part of Red Cliff but didn't hear anything else I didn't like. Tight bass. I like the Eminence driver sound apparently, since the SubM was my favorite followed closely by the 18.2.
JTR Dual Cap Pros
M/C: Noticed footsteps above more than 18.2.
Tron: Equal to 18.2
Sideswipe: hit good, cannons not as good as 18.2 but the cut down the middle of the car was more audible
WOTW: Asphalt breaking sounds amazing. Best so far
FOTP: Barrel roll is solid, haven't felt impressed yet
Bumblebee: Same as 18.2 on roll
Hulk tackle: best so far: you can feel the soundwave that breaks the theater marquee
FOTR: nice wave
HTTYD: best main scene and wing flapping so far
Red Cliff: Solid drum level even to 18.2: best ships crashing sounds so far
Deeper: hit all notes clean with extra oompf
Music overall: surprised how much I liked this, still prefer the tactile nature and the better letting go of notes the 18.2 has, but I could definitely live with this given its awesome treatment of movie material
Better at music than I thought they would be. Definitely feel like they have output to spare, even when we played Open Range at 118 db. I wouldn't go louder other than to show off. Open Range was very impressive. The Hulk scene was freaking amazingthat shock wave seems hard to reproduce in my room. M/C best of the subs.
Seaton Submersive HP
M/C- great explosions. Awesome
Sideswipe: cleanest and deepest extension on slow mo to date
WOTW: solid and awesome range, no complaints
Battle LA: popping of spaceship tight, crisp
Red Cliff: Drum precise and good
Deeper: By far the best demo of this track tonight
Eagles: hits HARD
Kudi: bliss. Perfect
Ghosts: Solid: The 18.2 matches it on this song.
FOTR: Finally heard the cleanest sweep of Sauron with his hammer, the ring drop, and the sweep was impactful for the first time
My favorite overall sub. Felt the deepest extension. Cleanest sweeps with slow-motion. Music was expectedly tight and precise and filled the room. That little box didn't seem to vibrate at all and definitely the best looking and WAF approved sub of all of them.
CHT Dual VS 18
WOTW: Deep crater falling in felt awesome and blended well with other sounds
FOTP: great rumble and sustains when needed
Sonic Cannon: good rhythmic feel: drivers moving rhythmically and precisedidn't watch this or grade it with others (extra clip)
HTTYD: like JTR feel on this
Red Cliff: impactful opening-wow! Tied for best with JTR. Heard higher explosion frequencies I had not heard earlier
Book of Eli: awesome and machine gun fire is money. (extra clip)
Hulk: Scream: check, Shockwave tackle: check-felt the best of all on this scene
Another example of a great reproduction of the Hulk track; better than my sealed favorites. Great on movies, I liked the SubM and 18.2 better on music, but only slightly. I think people are going to like this new offering. Really a quality product, great look and good feel on repetitive material
I didn't rate the Quads or DTS10+Growler because the EQ and or setup was off and it was late.
This GTG was really fun for me because I got to meet some cool guys, explore my newfound hobby more, and see what sounded the best to me in my room.
We used Cherry amps for the front stage but truthfully I didn't really notice a difference. I won't be upgrading my amp power ability. Unless desertdome tells me I need too! I didn't really experience any fatigue from listening until the 8th or 9th hour about when we got done with the VS pair. The SHO-10s seemed to get good reviews for their ability from attendees.
I would be happy with the top 4 rated setups. The JTR and CHT vented subs I could live with, but I know I prefer sealed overall. If I never listened to music, I see the value of the VS 18s and the Caps. They both did a great job with material. On a couple tracks the JTRs had more than the CHT setup; I'm also wondering if break-in on new VS drivers would have helped. The CHT vented duals played the best on the Hulk track to my ears and was probably my favorite clip on those.
My favorite setups were the Submersive HP and the CHT 18.2. (though I might have given the edge to the JTRs over the 18.2). I will be more than likely changing up my sub setup. I will try my Dual CHT 18.T setup front firing. If that doesn't get me the same response the 18.2 did in our GTG (with Audyssey off and re-EQ), then I will sell my 18.T along with the F-20s.
I will be getting either dual CHT 18.2s or dual Submersive HPs. It all depends on the value and deal I can get at the time.
Like I said earlier, Craig, Mark and Jeff all have wonderful products and were great guys in person. I have no doubt all three would take care of you if you buy their products. They are honest, smart about their hobby/profession, and informative.
Picking from any of their 4 offerings would be easy if you are just starting out-I don't know how you would be disappointed with what they bring to the table in home theater audio.
I look forward to discussions later.
My scoring is below (minus DTS10/Growler):
|Clips||M/C||Tron Grid||T2 Sideswipe||WOTW||Iron Man||FOTP||T3-Bumblebee||Hulk Cop||FOTR||HTTYD||Black Hawk Down||Cloverfield||Battle LA||Red Cliff||Poop/Pipes||Pete Balasco||Eagles||Black Light Syndrome||Kid Kudi||Ghosts N Stuff||Bass I Love You||AVG|
Here is a vague list of what Craig, Mark and Jeff brought. I apologize for not remembering the names correctly or forgetting something.
Craig – Chase Home Theater Forum
(2) VS-18.1, 2 pairs of WAF-1, and 2 pairs of SHO-10
Mark – Seaton-Sound
Seaton Submerssive, finished cabinet and crossover for the drop-in kits speaker kits (think using the AV123 drivers?), and a speaker using a Seas coaxial.
Jeff – JTR Speakers
Pair of Single 8HT, 1 finished Triple 12HT, 1 finished cabinet for the Triple 8HT.
Brief history about me to help relate to my subjective comments
The only home theater sub I have had before my DS1500 Rythmik kit was a 10” Ported Sony from a HTIB. I have always found subs ranging from car audio to amplified concerts to be fatiguing. My Rythmik has only possessed a bloated sound in very small rooms (which is should since the response will not be as smooth). I have had it in a least 9 different rooms or outside in the past year and half. It sounds the best in large rooms but most of all outside. This past summer I tried the experiment that Paul Spencer did. I shoved bed mattresses and materials in the corners of my parent’s 700 sq. ft. room that is open to another 600 sq. ft. room. I then placed my sub 25% from each room dimension including the height. The biggest difference was in the midbass and the ringing of the room. It was now easier to hear the midbass but the biggest improvement to me was that the bass notes decayed quicker. It sounded almost as good as when I use to set up my system outside firing into an open park.
I really enjoy Explosions in the Sky, Balmorhea, XX, older Kings of Leon, City and Colour (Dallas Green), Infected Mushroom (Converting Vegetarians Other side album), Armin van Buren – A state of trance mixes (usually fall to sleep with these mixes). There are tons of other bands, groups I enjoy but the dynamic compression or recording quality of many of tracks makes them not as enjoyable.
What I prefer
My subwoofer preferences resemble my speaker preferences. Transparency in my system is my number one goal. I also dislike warmth and I think transparency and warmth may be somewhat oppositely related (negative linear relationship). I want my sub to blend well with the mains. I find it distracting if I can differentiate my sub from my mains. I prefer that it only provides extension to the speakers. My system outside and the Las Vegas Blue Man Group (the theater was heavily treated) are two of my references for bass. Every note sounds clean and decays quickly. I guess I am a critical listener but I prefer not to critically listen. I should not have to strain to hear the detail. I just relax, enjoy and if I can tell a difference by not intently focusing on the sound, I believe it is an upgrade.
I was somewhat unfamiliar with the movies clips, have not seen them in a few years, or through basic tv speakers. I ended up changing my scoring later for the CHT, Seaton and JTR subs. I will provide information in the order that it happened. This is only what I heard at my seating position. No means to offend anybody. I found out my preferences differed greatly from the group (at first I graded less harshly on tactile feel since I can always multiples) and I am not sure what the levels of each sub were during their time to shine. My goal was not to rate which sub was better or the best (this one crushes it, or it’s no comparison) but to be able to display the differences between them (I know the subs and speakers frequency response has a large impact on many of the differences though). If I was held gunpoint to pick what I would choose as the winner, I would state depends on the purpose, your preferences, and what equipment you have. I really don’t need to have a bias towards a company since my parents said they would buy off my old equipment if I feel the need to upgrade in the future. I was hoping I would find a larger displacement sub that fit my preference to save room.
Dual LilMike F-20
This was the first tested. During almost every movie scene, it seemed like there was constant bass. It would drone on which seemed like forever. Since there was so much ringing, I could barely tell when a new frequency was played. It all sounded pretty much the same through every clip. My first thoughts were maybe it is just because we are listening to movies and there is usually more ringing in the sound effects and the notes are masked since there are so many frequencies played. I gave it points since it did provide a tactile feel (which it should since the decay of bass was slowest of the day). I would rate it one of the highest for FOTP when the plane rolls over if you are only to feel the bass (it was first test of the day though).
When it switched to music, I could hear the start of new notes but there was no definition and everything sounded off. This had me thinking that the room was causing all of the one-note bass that lingered.
Bic Formula F12
The Bic was carried down into the room with one arm. Can’t say that about any other sub haha. The clips started and BOOM Goes the Dynamite. It lacked some of the extension but was awesome for the price. The bass seemed to decay quicker (well much quicker) but every note still kind of sounded the same. The shaking feeling of the F20s was gone but the slam (like the feeling from a kick drum) was still there but without definition and stood out from the mains. Four of these for the price would do well above 30 Hz for anyone who just enjoys subs or had a small room. I was still thinking that the room was maybe causing the bass to sound the same.
DIY Rythmik DS1500 (practically same as F15, just slightly larger internal volume)
This sub was probably the poorest built of the group. It had no roundovers on the corners, uneven paint lines, the boards did not match up perfectly, green paint on the white which looked like grass stains. I could go on but don’t want to offend the owner. The owner (me) used 28 Hz High Damping for movies and 14 Hz High Damping for music (If I would have known under 20 Hz for movies was just subtle, I would of added the rumble filter which is a 3rd order HPF at 20 Hz). There was something missing with this sub. I believe Greg (HuskerOmaha) had to check if it was on at least twice. Then later Mojave walked up to see if it was working. Hmmm. It seemed the least underwhelming compared to the F20s and the Bic. The low bass feeling and chest slam even seemed less than compared to the Bic.
It blended the best with mains. I heard definition in the Transformers Bumblebee highway flip scene, Kid Cudi’s Day N Night (Wibbler’s Remix), Black Light Syndrome’s Duende then I did with any other sub. It had the most realistic kick drum in Hotel Eagles (most others took to long to decay or made it sound thick). I thought the Deeper song was extremely bass heavy that’s why I thought it sounded the best with the Rythmik since the lack of overhang didn’t make it so distracting. I can see why there are headphones for that album’s coverart. Since the Rythmik had the least overhang on notes or the least masking I will bring up a point. I think the Ghosts n Stuff and other songs and movie clips were not great song for judging. The only difference I could tell with Ghost n Stuff was in the fullness of the bass line. For these kinds of clips I graded based on tactile feel. At first I thought the BLS Duende electric bass was not going to be a good judge for music. I was wrong, using the Rythmik as the reference for this track, every other sub had added energy on this track. That energy masked the detail of the guitars notes. EDIT [The reason I thought this was not a good was song was because the first two set-ups made the notes sound very similar. As an example, the song U2 -With or Without had different notes but the notes have the same timbre, just a different pitch. With the Rythmik it sounded sweet (this and Bumblebee really put a smile on my face, almost goosebumps). I could hear the playing style of the bassist and the quick changes in the sound. Ever other sub masked this part since the note from before was still decaying]. END OF EDIT. I heard some surround distortion on bass I love you but it was on its limits there.
I will state that this was my favorite sub of the day. It sounded really no different then it has in any medium sized room I have had it. That is the reason I rated this highest. I prefer accuracy first. The lack of overhang and bloatedness made it seem clean. It seemed like every other sub was masking the detail not just on the peaks of clips but throughout the whole thing. I am not mistaken the feeling of bass for the hearing of it. I graded those two aspects separately the best I could and ignored the resonances in the room. The downfall was that there was only one so the displacement of it was not able to provide ULF shaking feeling. I have the go ahead to have however many subs that fit in room so displacement was the least of my worries. Later on I will explain that I changed my criteria of the subs more to the tactile feeling since those sounded more similar then different.
Final note – it sounded so smooth that my Grandma could listen. This is probably not a sub for someone who listens to tons of mainstream (majority of songs are dynamically compressed) or prefers more weight to his or her sound. My roommates disliked it at first last year since they could never hear the bass. I had them sit still, turned my amp, and they noticed a huge suck out in the sound.
Single ED A7S-450
I thought this sounded bloated and that the notes lingered. No offense, I just have a different preference. You could feel the bass, just not as well with the larger subs (might have been level matching issues for the first three). I stated to Archae after that I thought it sounded like a ported sub. He said that it sounds like a sealed. Whoops, from reading the forums, I thought ported subs were supposed to sound bloated and not as detailed as sealed.
Missed it. I was upstairs talking to Jeff. From the sounds of KCNitro07 – it was no Bic.
These next four setups made it harder to differentiate the differences. I might have the difference between ported and sealed down except the confounding factor (well there are a ton more, Mark and I discussed these a little before the event) was that there were dualie ported subs while the sealed beasts preferred to carpool in the same box. I started judging these four more on output and tactile feel since the differences seemed smaller, especially comparing sealed to sealed, and ported to ported.
I thought this and the Bic and were probably the best bang for the buck for home theater (maybe the BIC if you only prefer certain music) depending on your listening levels and needed extension. This sub had more detail than the ED, better tactile feel (level matching might have been different though), and less overhang. It was the first sub where I could slightly feel the bass in Black Hawk Down. It was subtle though (the scene was never really that impressive the whole night, more people were hyped up with the 30 Hz in the Kid Cudi song haha).
Dual JTR Captivator Pro
This set-up had less overhang or ringing in the notes (which might be why it does not feel as tactile as the sealed) than all but the Rythmik tested so far. The bass seemed really clean but lacked some definition (it really depended on the passage). The open range scene was pretty sweet. The scene sounded different then the other movie clips. I am guessing the gun shots were actually recorded instead of synthesized and that there are not as many other frequencies masking the sound and effect. This set-up never seemed strained and could take more abuse. If Seaton designed this it would maybe be called the Submissive since most people will give up before it finds its limits. The finish and handles on the Cap Pro fits the requirements. I think Archae bought the Pros so he could just carry these to GTG all over the county haha.
Seaton Submersive HP
It lives up to its name. It was run in the lowest extension mode. I am not sure if the playback level was higher but it really made me feel submersived in my chair. Like CHT SS 18.2, it had a little more overhang in the notes and sounded fuller. Not sure if it is due to the higher playback level. Mark mentioned it would be more articulate using the higher extension dsp setting. Probably due to ringing at the lower frequencies. It was not black and had a sexy veneer. Best looking at the GTG.
Dual CHT VS 18.2
It had many of the same qualities (short overhang on notes, clean) as the Caps but maybe not quite as much articulation on some passages and slightly less of a tactile feel. The finish is huge step-up. Congratulations Craig.
Summary of the CHT, JTR, and Seaton
I am not sure if the differences between the ported subs (lack of overhang, sounded cleaner) versus the sealed subs (more overhang, sounded fuller) was due to design differences or if the ported subs exhibited those behaviors because there were duals. Some clips the ported subs sounded more articulate then the sealed but it was also the other way around. It would be fun to A/B the JTR and CHT VS and the Submersive and the SS 18.2. Then choose my preference and compare a single (or dual) sealed versus a ported. The sealed subs would have less ringing with bass trapping so maybe then I would prefer these more but who knows how the traps would make the ported sound too. Greg set-up the WAF-1 after with his dual CHT 18.1s and some of the bass still sounded fuller. It did not seem to blend seamlessly.
I thought it actually sounded pretty decent from where I sat. The combo had the second to least amount of ringing. I could still tell a difference between that and Rythmik but maybe it would be very close when level matched. I think the only problem with the DTS-10 was that it bottomed on low material. I didn’t really pay attention after the high-pass was added though and was standing behind the bar.
Feel free to ask questions or hurt my feelings ☺. Every product had their benefits and I do not hesitate to recommend one over the other. Just remember at first I based it only on SQ cause I have permission to keep adding more if needed.
I am thinking about using Rythmik’s to make some speakers full-rangers and then maybe add a fuller sounding sub for LFE. I won't fully know since the first three were not level matched with the others.
The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge - Stephen Hawking
Kyle Bosso - SOB
This is my second subwoofer meet this year. At the previous meet I hosted in KC I heard and I subjectively ranked the following subs in this order.:
1. JTR Captivator
2. Seaton Submersive HP
3. SVS PB12+
4. HSU VTF-15H
5. Epike Empire
6. Yamaha CW218V
7. Jamo D7sub
8. Jenson MS500
You can read specifics about the KC meet in the link in my signature - or follow this link: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1335139
In addition to the subs above that were in my room for the KC meet – I’ve owned and used the following subs in my home in the last calendar year.
• Captivator Pro pair (mid/late 2011) (love)
• SVS PB13 Ultra pair (mid 2011) (sold)
• Yamaha CW218V (mid 2011) (plan to sell)
• Jamo D7sub pair (Early/mid 2011) (died/sold)
• Infinity HPS-1000 pair (turn of 2011) (died)
I’ve determined over the last couple meets that I definitely prefer the sound of a ported subwoofer over a sealed subwoofer. Every single time I’ve heard a ported or a sealed sub in the same “class” side by side I’ve always preferred the ported subwoofer. Examples include:
(KC meet) HSU VTF-15H and SVS PB12+ (ported subs) vs. Epik Empire (sealed) - I preferred ported.
(Omaha meet) Chase Home Theater 18.1 vs (ported) vs. Chase Home Theater 18.2 (sealed) - I preferred ported.
(KC & Omaha meet) JTR Captivator (ported) vs Seaton Submersive HP (sealed) - I preferred ported.
I think sealed subs have a characteristic that is hard to define and I’m not using the best descriptive word to relay this characteristic, because I don’t know the right adjective, but a blend of these three words, and yet none of these words individually, can accurately convey my thoughts 1)inflated 2) boomy(or muddy) 3)burdened. The combined essence of these three words describes my opinion on movie related LFE content reproduction when compared to equivalent classed ported sub counterparts. I may stand in the minority on this opinion, because I realize some hold the entirely opposite opinion and may well describe a ported sub’s sound by using some of the same adjectives. But, I have this advice to those who disagree – buy some baby oil and clean out your ears. In all actuality, I usually like sealed subs a smidge better for music, but I dislike their movie profiles more than a smidge by comparison (Especially explosions – which often sound burdened, inflated and yet still limited in some artificial way). Soooo ported is definitely my preference. Oh yeah, and loud. I like loud, and I like tactile, and I like in your face presentation. Don’t give me subtle -- I want to feel and experience the bass frequencies.
What port tuning do I prefer?
Here are my experiences for movies - - I love the HSU VTF-15H pair a buddy, Luke Kamp, owns when played in a 16hz tune when compared back and forth to the 22hz tune. The 16hz tune on those HSU subs in his 1500 cubic foot room make me grin ear to ear. The 22hz tune sounds good, but doesn’t induce a forced grin. I loved my SVS PB13 Ultra pair in a 15hz tune when compared to the 20hz tune, (but I didn’t like the SVS 10hz tune). Most of all I prefer my Captivator Pro pair. I prefer them at the 20hz tune over the 15hz tune. When strictly listening to music and not evaluating movies content I usually prefer the higher tune on all these sub pairs I’ve listened to.
Here is how I subjectively ranked the subs auditioned at this Omaha meet:
1. JTR Captivator pair (ported) - my averaged scorecard – 9.38
2. Seaton Submersive HP (sealed) - my averaged scorecard – 8.86
3. Chase Home Theater 18.1 VS pair (ported) - my averaged scorecard – 8.0
4. MFW-15 Turbo pair (ported) - my averaged scorecard – 7.79
5. Chase Home Theater 18.2 (sealed) - my averaged scorecard – 7.76
6. A7S-450 (sealed) - my averaged scorecard – 7.34
7. F20 Pair (horn) - my averaged scorecard – 7.05
8. Rythmic DIY (sealed) - my averaged scorecard – 5.05
9. BIC F12 (ported) - my averaged scorecard – 4.67
10. MFW Quads (sealed) – no score – didn’t like these at all. One wasn’t working and the others may not have been configured properly – I opted to leave the audition early and go visit upstairs.
11. DTS10/Growler combo (horn/ported) – no score – the DTS-10 was surely malfunctioning – either that or it is terrible and nobody wants to admit it after spending 20 hours putting it together.
Note: I was fortunate to be assigned a sweet listening position at the meet, front and center – right by the calibration mic. So both Greg and I heard the subs as they were intended to be heard (sitting on either side of the calibration mic).
What I listened for: I’ll list the main focal points of my listening criteria for each of the clips. Each person may have focused a bit on different aspects of the clip, but these were my reference points.
Master and Commander – depth of canon sound
Tron Legacy – fun factor rumble
Transformers: ROTF: Sideswipe - ambient bass (wasn’t even present for the lesser subs)
War of the Worlds – fun factor rumble and bass wave as ground expands then falls as pod emerges
Iron Man – depth of Jericho missile explosion sounds and sound of resulting impact wave
Flight of the Phoenix – the long tuba like sound during the scene, the impact of the propeller break off
Transformers: DOTM: Bumblebee Highway Flip – the short descending bass notes and debris/tire swipe
Incredible Hulk – the footsteps, the scream, and the chest thump shock wave
Fellowship of the Ring: the mace swing thumps and ring drop
How To Train Your Dragon – the fire explosion the dragon creates as he crashes to earth
Black Hawk Down – this clip didn’t work very well for us at the meet, but trying to listen for blade thumps
Cloverfield – the first ‘meteorite’ that crashes down as they are getting ready to run down the stairwell
Battle L.A. – the alien ship’s popping thruster sounds
Red Cliff: Fire/Boats – the large drum beats for a small section in the clip
Pomp & Pipes – depth/extension of organ sound
Pete Balasco: Deeper – clean, clear, accurate and distinct difference in bass notes
Eagles: Hotel California – kick drum beat: both accuracy and realism
Black Light Syndrome: Duende – sliding bass note effect near the end of the clip
Kid Kudi: Day n Night – the depth and tactile feel of the singular held bass note in my chest
Deadmau5: Ghosts n Stuff – the accuracy of the multiple frequencies in the simultaneous bass notes occurring in the clip there is both a lingering bass line and a drum beat.
Basstronics: Bass I Love You – Depth/presence/feel of the lowest note without distortion or distress
I took extensive notes during the testing and transcribed my notes here:
Winner: JTR Captivator pair
This is the best overall sub I’ve ever experienced, no matter the venue, no matter the location, no matter the room. Car, Home, Club, Party, Concert, Auditorium – whatever. I’ve never heard a sub I liked better. Its headroom is nearly limitless, its ported sound my preference, and its tactile ability second to none. I’ve now heard this subwoofer at two subwoofer meets and in my opinion it won both meets. I like loud tactile bass (louder than the volumes we listened to at the Omaha meet) and I prefer the ported sound, and so my preference clearly falls to the Captivator. On the Captivator’s audition I kept thinking “man we should turn this up!” – it sounds so good and I know from my ownership of the pair that they can take soooo much more!!! Even at the lesser volumes listened to at the meet it was the only sub in attendance that I didn’t feel either:
1)missed content that should have been there/lacked output (Big F12, Rythmic)
2)never exceeded its limits (all subs not otherwise specifically mentioned)
3)sounded like we neared its limits (Seaton Submersive)
Couple this observation with the fact that we weren’t even close to discovering the Caps limits and that point of note becomes all the more admirable. I heard somebody say who listens to anything this loud? My response is that I listen to my subs louder than this at home. I think as subjective comments start appearing in the commentary you’ll read things about effortless, limitless, and untapped capability in most of the comments in relation to the Captivator. Why is that? Because it was apparent it had gads of headroom remaining – and I don’t think that could be said of the other competitors at the meet.
As to my specific meet notes on the Captivators:
• The Caps were the only time the Bumblebee scene gave me chills. The descending short bass notes were PERFECT on the Cap pair. The only sub I gave a 10 on this scene.
• The Caps sounded heavy and authorative on the Hulk footsteps – just the way they should, there was no distress on the driver. The Hulk’s voice was deep and awesome! It really needed to be turned way up! I love this clip and use it as a reference clip on my home theatre setup --- did I mention it should have been turned way, way, way up?
• LOTR clip of the swinging mace thuds, right before the ring drop was the best of the night.
• The Explosion in HTTYD when the Big Dragon crashes to earth was PERFECT
• The alien ship popping sound was the best of the night on the JTR Captivator – VERY articulate and chest thumping. Some of the subs really screwed up these popping sounds – they weren’t articulate/clean or tactile on many of the contenders. The Cap did it right and was the only sub of the night I gave a 10 on this scene.
• The Drum scene in RedCliff was perhaps the best of the night. very accurate, very clean
• Absolutely effortless in the Pete Blasco clip, each note very clear, unique and individual – On this clip (like many of the clips) you could tell how much headroom the Caps have – they were not hard pressed at all. The only sub of the night I gave a 10 to for this scene.
• PERFECT on Eagles drum beats – the best of the night. Some subs really screwed this clip up. The caps sound just like a kick drum should and was the only sub of the night I gave a 10 to yet again.
• Kid Kudi clip was my favorite song of the night. I actually wrote “orgasmic” on my score sheet during this song. Silly? - perhaps, but it made me grin ear to ear! That low sustained note in this song is just flat out impressive on the Captivators and the sound was PERFECT! It begged to be turned up twice as loud!
• PERFECT on Bass I love you --- the best of the night and the only sub I gave a 10 score ( the second place was not the Submersive on this track, but the VS 18.1 set IMO)
• I thought the Cap did slightly better than the second place finisher (SubmersiveHP) on the following clips
1) Flight of the Phonix
2) Transformers 3 – Bumblebee
3) Hulk Cop –
4) Fellowship of the Rings
5) HTTYD –
6) Black Hawk Down
7) Battlefield LA
8) Pete Balasco
10) Black Light Syndrome
11) Bass I love you
• Need to turn those caps up! (did having EP4000 clip limiter engaged have effect on dynamics?)
• I thought the two top sealed subs did better than the Caps on the Ghosts N Stuff song as I felt they were more articulate to the multiple levels of bass occurring at the same time on this particular song. I gave the Cap a 9 score here and the Seaton Submersive and the CHT 18.2 a ten.
• I thought the SubmersiveHP did slightly better than the Captivator on the following clips
1) Master and Commander
2) Iron Man Jericho Missile
3) Pomp & Pipes
4) Ghosts N Stuff
I’ll speak to the Cap config because people may be wondering since it is a passive setup and there are no common setups that everyone recommends. The Cap pair was being powered off a single EP4000 amp. 1 Cap on L channel, 1 Cap on R channel, using a single parralled input, and running at 2ohm stereo. The EP4000 amp’s HPF was disabled, and no HPF was engaged via desertdome’s EQ. The clip limiter was engaged - I know some people say a clip limiter limits dynamic range and prefer to have it off, but with unknown equipment sourcing the amp it’s probably best to have the clip limiter on for a test like this. This choice may have adversely affected the scores, and I like the clip limiter off at home – but oh well. The amps gain knobs were maxed out. I doubt we were hitting clip levels during our normal testing based on my experience with this setup at home and the fact that Greg’s room and my room are roughly the same cubic feet (though all the amps were in a closet and I wasn’t able to watch the amp to verify). Greg measured around 120dB during the loudest demo scenes we played – specifically in the unranked ad hoc Open Range movie material that Jeff and Mark asked to show with multiple shotgun blasts. The volume for this scene wasn’t increased until we found the limit, but rather just arbitrarily set a few notches higher for this scene. I know that isn’t the Cap’s limit on the single EP4000 because the Cap pair plays 125dB at the listening position on repetitive bassline dubstep music at my house while just tickling the single EP4000 clip lights – so figure we had at least 5dB more of steady continuous RMS power before we ran out of amp powering the cap pair. Then add 6dB more spl PER sub if you choose to utilize a more robust amp because the EP4000 only supplies about 800 watts RMS of the 4,000 watt RMS rating on the Cap driver. If I’m doing the math right and we threw in a HPF - effectively we could have tripled the cap pair’s subwoofer volume levels and still had clean sound. Impressive when you consider the other subs were already at or finding their limits. Some will say a sanity check needs to be employed here --- and I will concede. Do you need to triple your volume when you are at these types of sound pressure levels already? ….well no… but a few extra clean dB of that bass line you can feel really appeals to me!!! I would have liked to run all the demo material as hot on bass as we ran the open range material, but just dialed back the mains to something close to what we were actually listening to save our ears from being overwhelmed with highs.
Noteworthy : A couple of the scenes with the lowest frequency response measurements, including Bass I Love You and WOTW were won by the Captivator in the voting tally, even though these scenes would logically have been won by the sealed setups due to their lower extension capability. The caps were in a 20hz tune but were flat after EQ to 15hz. Did I mention I love these subs?!?!
Second Place - Seaton SubmersiveHP
The Seaton SubmersiveHP in wood veneer is gorgeous, probably the best looking sub of the night (it’s only real competitor was the MFW-Turbos). Its EQ is practically supernaturally flat. It has gads of output capability for a single subwoofer, (second only to the Cap) and the dual opposed option may help with placement concerns and room nulls/modes. I like this subwoofer, but I prefer ported sound, so I wouldn’t care to own one in comparison to a Captivator. I’ve had the chance to play with a SubmersiveHP in my room, on my own, for a couple days outside of the meets I've experienced it in because Randy Bessinger, who supplied the SubmersiveHP for our KC meet let me use it for a few days following my meet. Thus I’ve had several hours of audition time with this unit outside of the two meets I’ve experienced it in -- and yes I still prefer the Captivator. As far as the commonly touted theory that anyone will like multiples of the Submersive (or any quality sealed sub) more than multiples of a similar quality ported subs – I don’t agree. I don’t think that principle is galvanized truth - at least I surely haven't found it to be the case with me. I’ve heard five Seaton SubmersiveHP subs in avsforum member cousil’s theatre room (along with four epik empires he uses for fill behind his seats) at 125dB. He has four Submersives on the front wall - L/R corners and one nearfield by the couch, then the four epik empires he places on the wall immediately behind the couch. counsil always has the latest/greatest EQ/phase gadgetry, and so rest assured his EQ and delays are spot on to make all those subs sing together. He’s posted some graphs in some of his threads for anyone who doubts. Everything about his system is impressive with one exception - - - with that much hardware I can’t figure out why he still uses a 55” tv instead of a projector – come on man! He has that sought after extension that occurs with multiples, but I still honestly prefer the sound of my pair of ported Captivators in my room at that same 125dB level on identical movie and music clips. To each their own! It’s a good thing we all have unique preferences – it keeps the hobby interesting! The Submersive is very capable, very attractive, easily placed, well designed, well eq’ed, and each component – amp, cabinet, drivers, and EQ are designed to be completely complimentary. It has a very high pedigree, from one of the more well known subwoofer designers. The product, the company, and Mark Seaton – all have lots of supporters. It is a great sub by all accounts, just doesn’t meet my sound preference of ported. At this meet it was trading punches with the Caps and won a few rounds, but lost by decision on my scorecard. Had the volume levels been raised I think the Captivator would have increased its lead significantly. My notes on the Submersive are more critical than those on other subs. If I was as critical about the early subs as I was in my notes about the Cap and Submersive there would have been negative notes on most every clip – so take the negatives I bring up in that context. I was more forgiving in the fault finding commentary as the subs decrease in expectation/price/quality. The Seaton is truly an outstanding subwoofer and I acknowledge full well that many people liked it best.
As to the meet notes:
• One Submersive vs. two Caps? Submersive not only held its own, but won the collective group vote by about 2% at nominal listening levels! Very nice! Hats off to Mark. (I’m not conceding I like it better -- because I really don’t, but I acknowledge its win at this meet)
• PERFECT on Master and Commander – the only sub I gave a 10 score to and 2 full points ahead of the cap on my scoresheet.
• PERFECT on IronMan – the only sub I gave a 10 score to
• Overall Fantastic on WOTW – very tactile (but it seemed perhaps the limits weren’t far away as I heard a bit of the sealed sound that I don’t like in this clip) and the Submersive didn’t quite have as much umpf on the cave-in with the ground expanding and falling as the Caps did. I felt perhaps the submersive had a bit more umpf in the ULF you can’t hear – could it have been turned up much higher to tell or would it have ran out of headroom? I rated both Cap and Submersive a 10. I’d be very happy with either on this scene!
• Very tactile explosion on HTTYD clip even though it didn’t sound like it was completely effortless as on the Caps – overall very good explosion!
• PERFECT on Cloverfield, and while I gave both Caps and Submersive a 10 on Cloverfield (they both were amazing) - I think the Submersive may have the slight nod.
• Very nice performance on Red Cliff – tied caps
• Perfect on Pomp and Pipes – the only sub I gave a 10 score to
• Beat the caps on ghost N stuff
• Transformers 3 sideswipe clip revealed that sealed sound that I don’t like
• Perhaps not as articulate as the caps on the Hulk footsteps
• The Black Hawk down scene did less than the Caps for me by a whole two points
• Out of headroom it seemed to me on Pete Balasco – sounded good, but seemed on edge of limits
• Not as good as Caps on Eagles drum beat – borderline distorting a bit?
• Bass I love you – “ouch” somehow missing that lowest note with the authority of the caps? Actually surprising to me! Too loud for the sub to behave perfectly? Still 2nd best performance of the night on this track.
• Something a bit weird in the bumblebee track – like that higher portion of the descending sub notes was elongated?
There is an interesting thread on JTR Captivator Vs. Seaton SubmersiveHP with many different community member's perspectives linked here:
Third Place - Chase Home Theater 18.1 VS pair.
This was the first time I’ve had the chance to hear CHT equipment. I was impressed! I do not like to recommend things I’ve not heard, and now that I’ve heard their equipment I will feel very confident in making their recommendation, going forward. Greg’s mains are all CHT speakers and sound incredible, The two CHT sub setups that were represented at this meet sounded outstanding, and the CHT equipment placed 3rd and 5th on my scoresheet, and 3rd and 4th in the overall averaged scoresheet which falls generally in line with their price points and anyone’s best legitimate expectation. The 18.1 VS was very near my Captivators in performance on most clips. I felt they did exceptionally well and anyone in the market for a pair of 18” ported subs at a great price needs to look no further. Craig is offering a pair of these subs for less than the price of a single Captivator which may not be a coincidental price point. I really liked these subs and can honestly say I was impressed. If you are okay with the bigger sized cabinet, then I believe they are a better choice than the typical $1000 subs I heard in Kansas City, and that includes the SVS PB12+ and the HSU VTF-15H. As you may have read previously, at my meet in Kansas City I didn’t feel any tactile response from the single HSU VTF-15H, nor the single Epik Empire in my difficult room and only a wee bit from the SVS PB12+. The Chase 18.1 VS and 18.2 sub had tactile feedback in spades in Gregs similarly sized room. In some cases the VS 18.1 tied the caps, in some cases I only rated the Chase 18.1 VS pair one point lower than the Caps pair. The biggest outstanding difference was that we found their limits on a couple scenes, and I’ll comment on that in the individual section below. If not for those limit discoveries the score would have been closer between these two subs for me. Overall the VS 18.1 were very clean and capable subs. I saw three generations of CHT products at this meet. I saw the SS 18.1, the 18.2, and the newest 18.1 VS subs. The craftsmanship on these subs has come a LONG way. The first gen subs were as ugly as people said they were. I’m not meaning to hurt feelings in being blunt, but it’s true. The feet were ugly, the paint job finish was pretty rough, and if the room lighting was up high they just weren’t much for looking. The second gen finish looked better – no glaring problems, and continuing on the third gen 18.1 vs subs have a very nice finish -- more typical of the other current ID offerings. The subs are still big, but they are no longer ugly. Craig has made a lot of headway on his finishes and it shows. Again, I’ll be a bit more critical on this sub than some of the lower classed subs. Negatives I wrote down here by the ounce – probably apply by the pound to the lower end subs. We only found its limits on a couple clips, in most/all of the other clips it didn’t sound limited at all. The subs were not broken in yet according to Greg, so that should perhaps be considered in these evaluation notes. I still felt this sub setup sounded great and it placed a solid third against two subs that cost twice as much. If you aren’t looking to peel your paint back with your listening levels – they are a very strong alternative to the Captivators and at half the price!
• Very tactile, very impressive overall!
• On Sideswipe clip I thought the VS was right in there among the best with the chain gun shots
• Sounded very impressive on WOTW – I gave them a 10 – I did not hear any limits being pressed.
• Sounded better than the Submersive on the transformer bumblebee scene
• Sounded quite awesome on the Hulk scene, I tied it with the Cap at 10
• Sounded PERFECT on Black Light Syndrome – it was the only sub I gave a 10
• Second highest score on Bass I Love You, with a 9 – right behind the 10 on Caps, but right on edge of output it seemed!?
• Generally speaking I liked them about the same or about 1 point higher than their sealed brothers in the 18.2 with two exceptions listed in the negatives, we encountered only a couple clips in which the vs subs showed any serious limitations at the SPL tested.
• Not quite as tactile as the Caps at similar volumes I felt
• Explosion rumblings weren’t quite as articulate, maybe a tiny bit muddy compared to the top two subs
• We found their limits on Flight of the phoenix right before the propeller hits the side of the plane and then the “tuba” sound in the clip was not clean. Drivers sounded a bit distressed at some points. This particular clip did not do this sub any favors IMO
• Not as accurate on the popping alien ship sounds in Battlefield LA as top performers
• Red Cliff drums weren’t as accurate as the top performers
• Absolutely puked on Kid Kudi in my opinion - I gave it a low score on this clip and felt it was distorting quite badly. Overdriven it seemed to me!
Fourth Place – MFW-15 Turbos
Michael spent a longer time in calibrating these subs, I went upstairs and started visiting for a while. Unfortunately nobody called kwarny and I down for the start of the Turbo audition. I missed the first three clips thinking they were still working on setup. These were the only audition clips I missed of the day (besides the quad MFWs at the end). I really enjoyed the subs and was actually quite surprised by their powerful sound. I liked them quite a bit on most things, and thought the finish and cosmetic look was right up there with or perhaps even would have bested the Seaton Submersive HP if the MFW-15 cabinet was new. This was my first interaction with the MFW-15 cabinet and now I see why they were so popular half a decade ago. The quality looks like something from FunkyWaves or an expensive furniture company. Michael had an extra empty cabinet for sale for $75 and I purchased it from him to try my own project for our tv upstairs. My wife wasn’t excited about me coming back with yet another sub cabinet from the meet, and I couldn’t convince her we should use it in the living room, so I may not keep it, but it is a very nice looking cabinet, even with a couple blemishes. The turbos’ audition was very clean, the subs were very well tuned and I heard no obvious glaring - cringe inducing faults. They won out in the slightest of margins against the sealed CHT 18.2 on my scorecard.
• These were the first sub of the day to that I heard anything I liked in the Irene clip, other subs later surpassed this one, but at least it had presence in that clip
• Better than the ED A7S-450 on Hotel California bass drum notes
• I loved this subwoofer pair on Kid Kudo, I gave it a 10 on that track. Three other subs scored a 10 on that track so it wasn’t unique there, but my cliffnote said “WOW Fantastic on Kid Kudo”. I gave it a high score on Ghosts N Stuff too. I wrote that it would be a good dubstep sub.
• No distortion on Bass I Love you that I heard. It hit the lowest notes reasonably well.
• The drums sounded deeper in Red Cliff than the A7S-450, but even so I still preferred the drum sound on the A7s-450. However this sub did better on the drum beats in the Eagles track than the A7s-450 did. --- so the drums comment swing on preference is probably a wash.
• I didn’t like it in Pomp & Pipes - I scored it rather low.
Fifth Place – Chase Home Theater 18.2
These subs impressed me as well, and I generally ranked them similarly to the VS models, but if they weren’t tied they were usually a point down or so on my score card. Again – I prefer the ported sound and these are sealed – so if you like sealed you should pick these up without reservation – they are a nice sounding sub for the price! I thought they were a very competent sub in nearly all the material and I didn’t hear them crap the bed on anything like I did with the 18.1 vs subs(specifically on the Kid Kudi song is where the VS subs stunk up the room), but then overall I still liked the VS better and my scores reflected that overall in individual rankings and in totals. I only gave one 10 score to these sealed 18.2 subs, but they still earned lots of relatively higher scores. The VS subs earned four 10 scores by comparison from me. I think If this sub was turned down about 2 or 3dB I wouldn’t have had some of the negative comments on my scorecard. Overall still a treat to listen to and did very well on many clips.
• Sounded very good on sideswipe – ambient rumbling was there!
• Very nice “Tuba” note on FOTP – picked up slack on this scene when their ported brethren failed, the man that falls from the plane made a satisfying crunch. The overall FOTP scene had a bit of that sealed muffled sound I don’t like, but I don’t think that is a issue with the sub --- just a personal preference of ported over sealed
• Sounded very good for Bumblebee scene
• Nice job on hulk scene
• Nice ring drop on FOTR, but prefer the ported offerings for the following “wave” sound
• Nice job on pipe organ clip, one of the better auditions
• VERY awesome for Ghosts N Stuff – tied the Seaton Submersive on this track with one of the two 10 scores I gave – very distinct bass lines reproduced accurately
• Very good on kid kudi (compared to VS 18.1 which did exceptionally poorly on this track)
• Sounded a bit limited on WOTW, but was still overall generally impressive
• Not as good as the turbos for the alien ship popping thruster sound on Battlefield LA
• Not quite as accurate as some of the others on the drum beats
• Overdriven a bit on Pete Balasco
• Overdriven on Bass I Love You – the lowest notes were distorting a bit.
Sixth Place – Elemental Designs A7S-450
This sub seemed nice performing solo, but I don’t think it lived up to the Chase Home Theater Sub auditions. It was outgunned 2 to 1 since the others were pairs and it was a single so it would have been nice to have a pair of them to see if that would have changed the outcome. The box looked especially sturdy, weighed a ton and looked like it could be strong enough to be doubled as an elephant training stand. The silver driver with the Elemental Design logo looked sexy. I’d have no problem with this look in my home theater room. It is a manly looking setup. It didn’t earn any 10 scores from me, but earned a handful of 9s.
• Very nice performance on sideswipe, deep and tactile.
• Very nice on WOTW
• Very nice on Bumblebee
• Ambient bass was there in spades on Flight of the Phoenix, but I didn’t hear the prop hit the plane
• Very nice hulk scream – the first to its audition point of the day (bested the f20’s here) – good on cop car smash
• Good definition and accuracy on Cloverfield
• Very nice extension on Kid Kudi
• Good definition and accuracy on Red Cliff
• The tuba sound on Flight of the Phoenix wasn’t as impressive as some of the other subs demoed to this point (and it was still early in the night)
• I didn’t hear anything in the Irene clip
• Didn’t really sound any better than the BIC F12 on the Battlefield LA alien ship popping sounds
• Did not like the Hotel California drums on this sub – I rated it the worst of the night on this clip at 4. The kick drums sounded very artificial on this sub for some reason, which is odd because I did like the Red Cliff drums on this sub – a different sound/frequency I suppose.
• Perhaps a bit overdriven on dubstep style music.
Seventh Place – F20s
The F20s went first and I think that helped their scores. They were loud and impressive during the first couple clips, but even before hearing the other subs I noticed they were sloppy and inarticulate and the demo scenes progressed. It seemed that there was very little separation in some of the beats/notes. Had they gone at the end of the day they would have been directly compared to the more equivalent SPL subs and IMO they would have been ranked lower on my sheet. I didn’t go back through and re-adjust my scores, but perhaps I should have. I don’t think it really matters because my scores averaged up as is still reflected my overall opinion. The F20’s were capable of plenty of SPL and rumble – they were a fun on that front. The first three tracks we demoed that criteria was all that mattered – so I was giving them a couple 9’s and even a 10. I remember thinking these seemed a great bargain during these clips. Their weaknesses, however, were revealed throughout the course of the continuing demonstration. Cosmetically they are big, but not obnoxious to me. I could live with the looks in a dedicated theatre room --- what I wouldn’t want though is the sloppy sound. I have to assume they were setup correctly – I know horns can be tricky, but maybe that was part of it? Though I’m being overly generous in providing that doubt because we did end up eq’ing them for hours on Friday night, and no other sub to my knowledge had that many hands involved working on perfecting eq.
• Really fun for Master and Commander, WOTW, and Tron. 9, 9 and 10 scores respectively on my scoresheet.
• Very tactile, very fun for slower bass,
• Fantastic for Kid Kudi – I gave them a 10 (one of four 10’s I awarded on that clip)
• After the first three clips it spiraled downward for me. I began to see the chinks in the armor
• Battlefield LA alien ships popping thrusters were not crisp
• Not much happened with the Pomp and Pipes
• Really sloppy on Red cliff, there was no separation at all. I wrote “Terrible drums”
• Sloppy on Flight of the Phoenix
• Not very crisp, not very accurate--- just in general on pretty much the majority of clips - in my opinion --- especially in hindsight after listening to a few more subs.
Eight Place – DIY Rythmic
This was a so/so entry. I won’t comment on the cosmetics - beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I believe this sub was pretty much at its limits on several of the scenes, but didn’t really complain too badly. The driver was moving like crazy. It had nice extension, but was never fond of calling attention to itself. Its owner likes this and said he was happy with its performance (in fact I believe it was his opinion the Rythmic won the night). It didn’t suit my tastes – I don’t want ‘blend’ and ’transparency’ I personally want my subs to announce their presence with in your face tactile, accurate, deep bass. I want to know there are subs engaged and that they can hurt me at will as the movie or music scene demands. This sub traded some punches with the BIC and ultimately came out on top, but only because of its extension capability IMO. This subwoofer was like the little old harmless gentleman from the retirement community with the funny hat that walks by every day and says hello, but you never really know him. Then one day you realize you haven't seen him in six months. You feel a brief moment of sadness when you realize he probably died, but immediately following that thought you take your next bite of corn flakes and finish reading the morning newspaper never to think of the old man again. The sub had good manners, but no personality outside of the hat. You’d need about 20 of them…with pitchforks…to scare away a housefly.
• You could feel a bit of the extension over the BIC – lows were present, but just barely.
• Better on Red Cliff drums than F20s
• Everything sounded nice and balanced and…….….. dead (where’s the live sound?)
• Did everything it was asked to do without complaining too loudly, nor did it shine in any of its duties
• Popping from alien ship thrusters in Battlefield LA was better on BIC
• Drums on Hotel California were better on BIC
• Definitely at limits of excursion – visibly and perhaps even a whimper audibly – but on the plus side it never outright complained.
Ninth Place – BIC F12
This little sub is a standout in that it costs $190 shipped from Amazon I know of no other sub of this quality that can be had for that price. It doesn’t fail on ultra low frequencies because it doesn’t even try. It just does what it can and performs loud and clean. It beat the F20 and the Rythmic on several scenes on my scorecard. Not bad for a sub $200 shipped bargain bin subwoofer. With EQ it seemed to be fine for music and movies. I guarantee it will put to shame any HTIB subwoofer that ever attempts cross it. Another friend’s $200 Onkyo sub I’ve heard is a complete disgrace to subwoofers in comparison. The BIC looks nice, performs admirably, and perhaps best of all you can throw it in a backpack and take it to the next subwoofer meet on your motorcycle. If you understand what your purchasing I do think this is a very good value and I generally have no major issue with watching a movie at my friend KCNitro07’s house with this subwoofer performing low duty. I have and will continue to recommend it for the budget conscious enthusiast. If you don’t know what you are missing – you’d never really even know it was missing ----- right? Of course right!
• Very impressive considering price – woofer looks nice, cabinet looks nice, you could get away with putting this small box in your living room, no matter how small the room. A single cheapo sub filled Greg’s 3,800 cubic foot room with plenty of sound (30hz and above sound that is)
• The alien ships in BattleField LA were actually represented very well I thought. The popping sound was tactile and fun – much better than F20s’ on this clip that immediately preceded it.
• Drums sounded better on RedCliff scene than the F20s
• Sounded better and more accurate on Ghosts N Stuff than the F20s that preceded it
• Nothing on hulk footsteps and Hulk smash - Shouldn’t I feel something in my gut when the concrete is being torn apart by two ton fighting behemoths?
• Nothing on the LOTR’s ring drop. The ring hit the ground and I knew I was supposed to be feeling something – but ….. nothing
• Etc, etc etc
Tenth Place – MFW Quads
I didn’t rate these things. I actually left the audition. One didn’t work, the others didn’t sound good. I’m not sure if was EQ or what. These were the only subs that Desertdome didn’t EQ. I don’t really like the sealed sub sound and I really don’t like a bad sealed sub sound. It was late in the day and perhaps I’d just had my fill. If anyone can get them sounding good – it’s Desertdome, but they weren’t ready for primetime that night. There seemed to be some driver rattling going on too – so one of the drivers in the working pairs may have failed, or been close to failing. I could say a bunch more negative stuff, but I’ll leave it at that. I understood they were just put together and not even tested yet. So hopefully they can be make a better showing in the future.
Eleventh Place – DTS-10/Growler Combo
I didn’t rate these things with more than a couple scores. They sounded awful, like flinch inducing – please stop it now awful. We turned them way down, re-eq’ed several times, and they still sucked. Something was wrong with the DTS-10. Be it EQ, or be it the design, (I doubt), or be a driver failure – but they were IMO clearly the worst of the night. The Growler might have been fun to listen to by itself, but we didn’t try it. This combo was a disappointment because we were all REALLY looking forward to hearing it. Hopefully the owner can figure out the issue and get it fixed. I understood it was the first time he had a chance to listen to the combo as well. I felt sorry for the owner in that regard, but hopefully it’s something simple, cheap, and easy to replace/fix. I’ve heard so many great things about the DTS-10 that I’d not worry too much if I were him until I’d discovered what the issue was. Just stinks that it didn’t show up for game night. That thing was a beast. I thought it was about 280 lbs, but the shipping label – still attached said 385lbs!!!??? I’m really glad Stormwind was bracing my back as I was backing down the stairs with one end of that ridiculously massive horn sub. If we had missteped on Greg’s steep basement stairs with 300-400 lbs falling on us – it would have broken ribs, legs, or worse!
My take away from this meet, even more than the KC meet was that we all have our biases. Each owners’ score seemed to reveal a bit of this bias. This is probably inevitable without blind testing but it seems that people evaluate the sub they own as slightly higher than others would. Apparently, myself included. I truly do love my Captivators, and felt they handedly won the meet and would have done even better if we could have opened up the demo material a bit on the volume front, but then that’s my preference for very aggressive bass and it’s one man’s preference. Kwarny likes his subs to blend in and be ‘transparent’ to the listener and doesn’t care about SPL levels, he doesn’t want the sub to call attention to itself. Again – one man’s preference. KCNitro07 is all about value – because his sub costs half as much as any sub in the meet and was still very capable he believes his sub was the best. As my longtime college friend he constantly ribs me that I spent well over 10 times as much on my Captivators to no worthwhile advantage. “Sure it’s fun to feel it, but is it worth the cost?” he’ll goad! Yes, I’ll say.
The take away is whether our biases are inherent in our personality, or a trademark of our unique ear design, or perhaps simply an established preferences based on the equipment we’ve heard in the past – I don’t’ know. What I do know is that there are biases and seldom will two people prefer and seek the exact same sound. If someone can figure out if they like ported or sealed sound that will conclude half the sub choice battle.
Thanks again Greg for hosting this thing!
Finally here are a couple references for those hoping to host their own meets or share their experiences. I hope more of these meets are hosted in the future. They are a lot of fun!
The I'll demo my subwoofer for other enthusiast's thread -
The Subwoofer Shootout Collection thread -
JTR Captivator pro duals- It's not really fair that I rate this first because eq'ed at the same level, I felt the submersive had much more output at my listening position. But based on non-official auditioning with the scene from open range along with it's performance upstairs with music on an inuke amp, I have to admit this sub is beyond awesome. I could not imagine me wanting more bass or slam than 2 of these captivators can provide (properly powered) They sounded tight and articulate despite being a ported sub. We were listening to music on this setup with the JTR single 8's at levels that made me have to plug my ears. I walked up to these subs and put my hand in front of the port and observed the movement of the woofer- The woofers were putting out insane levels of bass and barely even working. I think had these been hooked up to the lab gruppen amp that was present, all pictures would have come off the walls and all oxygen would have been sucked from my lungs. All that aside these subs do cost a fair amount and deserve to be powered by the best too- If you have 3-5k to drop on the bass portion of your HT system I would look no further then these.
Seaton SubMersive- This sub was set up with the 15inch woofers facing horizontally at both side walls. At my listening position in the room, this sub provided phenomenal slam, presence, spl, pretty much everything anyone could want. I did note that this sub was receiving the most power of any of the subs tested. I had high expectations for this sub based on what others had said, and all expectations were met and exceeded. They never seemed overdriven on any of the clips and seemed to dig very low. The kick drum on hotel california was by far the best sounding on this sub, the only one to exceed a 6 on my sheet. After the audition I went and put my hand on the heatsink portion of the internal amp and it was barely warm to the touch- which is awesome too. This sub was tops in the pack for the WAF factor, nice finish and not overly large.
CHT SS18.2- This sub really did well in this GTG, I felt it had an immense amount of slam factor. I really don't have a strict preference on ported vs sealed, I have always leaned towards ported but when I bought this sub I found a love for the sealed sound. On explosions and the really deep bass, I feel this sub performs very nicely. Craig (cht) may disagree with me, but I sometimes get the feeling that this sub is being slightly held back by the dayton amp. The eminence drivers are rated for 800w each RMS, and putting 1000 to it just seems like I'm cheating it out of it's full potential. Every time I have tried various other amps, I find myself coming back to the Dayton though. It is an overall good match for most people on this sub. Maybe once I get my hands on an inuke I will see how that sounds. Overall this sub is the best choice in the pack if you prefer sealed sound and are on a smaller budget. At 1,250 incl shipping and amplifier this thing is a steal. I have been completely satisfied with my purchase and if anything, I'll be adding a second one sometime soon.
MFW 15 Turbos
These subs sounded very nice to me, all the slam and authority most could ever want. They also had a few more points on the WAF factor too- very nice looking.
I really don't have a ton to say on these, they performed admirably and looked nice while doing it.
CHT VS 18.1 - These came into the testing field completely new and not broken in. I liked the sound of them, but I still prefer the sound of my 18.2 sealed better.
They got plenty loud and had pretty solid slam too. I did hear these run out of steam on the kid kudi song, which I'm sure is the dayton amp hitting it's limits. I'd like to hear these again after a proper break in and maybe with one of the new inuke amps or similar.
ED A7S-450 - This sub's performance was admirable considering a lot of the other offerings were dual subs. I think it lacked a bit of punch on some of the clips. Hotel california was disappointing on this one, none of the subs save the submersive got high scores from me on that clip. I did not hear anything on the irene clip- I expected this sub to dig fairly low being sealed and was left wanting more bass on almost all the clips. I think a dual of this sub might have caught it up though.
Lilmike f20 Duals- This was the first sub we listened to and It had tons of output, just bass bass and more bass. Too much bass in some categories. I think that this sub would be better suited if kept to the low frequencies and let a sealed design handle the midbass. It was very very boomy but had tons of potential. I actually may pick up 1-2 of these to see what I can make happen with them.
8th place: BIC f12- I had very low expectations for this sub based on it's weight and size. I would say this sub was a pleasant surprise because it sounded quite good for it's price point. Decent output (obviously not in the realm of some of the other offerings), but decent nonetheless. As far as bang for the buck goes, this sub cannot be beat vs what else was present that day.
9th place: DiY Rhythmik- I think I had an issue with my listening position on this sub- to me in nearly all the clips it was nearly inaudible. I thought the BIC had more output then this did. With a 15" driver I would expect a lot more sound then I was getting from this unit. Looks wise, it was ok- obvious diy self painted. Not sure if it was matching some other furniture in the room, but to each their own.
10th place: danley dts-10 and growler- for obvious reasons stated in other posts I did not even rate this one.
11th place: DiY MFW15 Quads- one of these did not work and the others sounded like crap. We had some eq issues with these and michael had already left- maybe properly eq'ed out and fixed they might have sounded better. But I wasn't feeling it at all.
I think it’s important that this be referred to as a GTG, not a shootout. There were no stated ground rules or any other competitive foundations (except maybe from kcnitro07) that I sensed. If that were the case, I would have popped for another A7s-450 since everybody else was rockin’ multiple drivers! (and the single eD hung tough as the result show.)
Let me get this out of the way, I prefer the sealed sound. Maybe I should clarify that as the sealed effect. There was just a more tactile and immediate impact from the sealed entrants overall. Now there is no doubt that ported designs can get down and loud, just different strokes…
My ratings were based primarily on SQ followed by extension. SPL is obviously a factor, but my take was on if the woofer sounded like it was strained or if it had some headroom. Value and WAF were not part of my equation, so forgive me gentlemen, if that skewed the results.
My personal rankings don’t differ much from the way the total average rankings went, with the exception of the F20’s (down the list.) Most surprising to me were the CHT 18.2 sealed and the Dual MFW-15 Turbos. Runaway hit, for me, was the SubM HP. Unbelievably impressive on all counts.
No doubt that seating positions had an influence on ratings, but overall I think we all got a great sense of what each sub was capable of. It was the ones that energized the room in impressive ways that elicited the most smiles and head-turns.
Michael asked me which clips I thought had the most variation, to which I replied:
FOTP (barrel roll) – some seemed to either miss or over-emphasize the sweep
Battlefield L.A. – the concussive nature of the sputtering alien ships boosters was a critical consideration
Eagles LIVE – the congo hits really showed off whether there was overhang/boomy sound
Level matching got off to a bit of a rock start, but by the time they got around to the Turbos, we were verifying the center and sub prior to the clips. The DSP that was utilized for the sub EQ via the HTPC was changing the relative levels between the mains and sub due to a “clip protection” mode that was being utilized. The only one that I think got a raw deal (level-wise) was the Rhythmic.
I loved that fact that we considered this the biggest subwoofer GTG, if not by sheer number, most certainly by gross weight! (I did my fair share while swapping, but I'm glad I wasn't involved in moving the DTS10! )
Dual F20s - Fun (prodigious output). Flabby.
BIC - Nice looking EQ'd REW graph...
Rythmic - Did a really good job. Extension mode let it dig deep. Watched it pulse @ ~12Hz
A7s-450 - Of course I'm partial, but I thought it performed admirably. Having 2 would have moved it to the #3 spot. LT1300 HFP kept it from attempting the really low stuff.
Dual Turbos -Now we're getting somewhere! Very potent and 1000W/ch on tap. Visceral low end.
Dual CHT VS 18.1 - Great output but less definition to sound that the sealed 18.2.
CHT SS 18.2- Outstanding sound from a relatively compact package.
Dual Cap PRO - WOW! Just effortless bombast with headroom to spare. Just missing the "tightness" I require for top marks.
Submersive HP - How does this do what it does? Granted, there are 2 woofers (15") and 2,400W on tap, but good grief!! Outrageous output. Energized the room like none of the others. Tight, clean sound that dips down low.
I feel privileged to have been able to listen to all these awesome subwoofers in the course of one day and the time and insight gained from my conversations and experience will stay with me a long time.
The vendors: Craig, Mark and Jeff should also be commended for taking time out of their lives to come be with us in Omaha and let us experience some of their "goods". I see, not only a few purchases in the future, but a respect that will span even longer.
We used an HPTC for all playback with JRiver Media Center V17 being used for playback and EQ. ASIO output was used via Firewire to a Steinberg MR816x. The MR816x is used for professional recording, mixing, A/D, and D/A conversion. It has 8 balanced outputs via 1/4 TRS jacks. Digital Amp Company's Cherry amps (stereo and mono) were used for the front soundstage and have balanced inputs. The amps can provide real world continuous output of almost 400 watts/channel into 8 ohms. The surrounds were powered by an Emotiva UPA-7. This used 5 of the balanced outputs on the MR816x and left the remaining 3 to be used for subwoofers. A loopback measurement showed the system down by about 1 dB at 10 Hz and the calibration file was used. The calibrated ECM8000 microphone was also connected directly to the MR816x.
JRiver Media Center was chosen as the playback software for several reasons:
- It allows for the playback range to be set for movies and music in order to create a playlist.
- Playlists can easily be created using drag and drop and selections can be moved up or down and their playback range easily modified.
- It has internal volume control with 64-bit precision since the Windows Master Volume Control is bypassed by the ASIO output.
- It allows distance and level settings for each output.
- It allows for visual feedback of each channel with its Analyzer. You can also use a VST plugin such as Voxengo Span for more advanced analysis.
- Its Mix Channels feature allows the subwoofer channel to be copied to other channels for use with multiple subs.
- It has advanced bass management with 12 or 24 dB/octave high pass filters available for all speaker channels and 12, 24, 36, and 48 dB low pass filters for the subwoofer channel.
- It has parametric equalization with the ability to individually EQ a channel or EQ multiple channels at once. You can add high/low pass filters, peaking filters, and a Linkwitz Transform. You can also use it for adding additional delay or adjusting the gain.
- It has a 64-bit audio chain for maximum precision
Below are pictures of JRiver showing the room correction\\bass managment and parametric EQ features:
I'm going to discuss the method of EQing, frequency response variations by seat, and frequency response of each sub before and after EQ in separate posts. I'll link to the posts here for easy reference.
Method of EQing
Frequency Variations by Seat
Dual Cinema F20s measurements
BIC F12 measurements
Rythmik DIY 15" measurements
Elemental Designs A7s-450 measurements
Dual Motor City Custom Audio Turbos measurement
Chase Home Theater SS18.2 measurements
Dual JTR Speakers Captivators Pro measurements
Seaton Submersive HP measurements
Dual Chase Home Theater VS18.1s measurements
Danley DTS-10/JTR Speakers Growler
Frequency Response of all Subs
Thanks Greg for putting together the show, the amount of hardware that was piled up in the garage was impressive, and it was great that the manufacturers themselves were in attendance. I was 2 out of 3 for owning products made by these guys, would have been 3 for 3 if I had purchased one of the MFW-15 mod kits last year but they were in short supply at the time so I passed.
I can't give you guys detailed sub descriptions but what I can say is that if you have the room for some of these subs (some of them are massive!) I don't think there was any of the bigger subs that I would have been disappointed in owning. It is too bad that I had to leave for the Submersive listening test, that is one that I really wanted to hear, and it was the nicest looking out of the whole group in terms of fit and finish.
The best takeaway for me from the whole event was that Jeff, Mark and Craig were all great guys, clearly passionate about what they do, and it shows in their products and attitude. These guys aren't corporate suits, they are hobbyists with the technical skills to build their own products and I'm glad I was able to support them even in a small way by buying some of their speakers.
For the performance (or lack of) with my Danley, it's been sitting in my basement for a few months as I am working on my theater room, and it had only been tested out one time prior to the GTG. At the previous test it had performed in the same manner, putting your hand on the exterior of the box you can feel the driver movement inside, but there is very little air or sound being produced, and if you turn up the volume very much the amp will go into clipping. I bought the sub from the classified forum here at AVS and have been in contact with the seller, and he has been helpful with some different things for HuskerOmaha and DesertDome and I to try out to see if we can get it to work.
For Kyle and anybody else who thought the Growler/DTS-10 combo sounded decent, what you were hearing was the Growler, which does put out some excellent sound solo, but drops off below 40hz.
"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." -Robert A. Heinlein
Volunteer Moderator for the Chase Home Theater forum
Though I think I've already found what will be my favorite comment of the entire thread...
but Desertdome had to run (wife had a baby 48 hours prior)
(I hope, too, that all visitors to this thread enjoy the presented information in the positive spirit in which it was gathered and shared.)
If everyone can try and hold posting until late this evening to give a bit of time to Desertdome and Technosponge so they can get the EQ data and the pictures up-that would be appreciated.
Got you. I just glanced over that quickly. When I looked at the charts it said SubM not SubM HP so my mind went back to thinking it was a regular SubM.
Those were Craig's ratings...
Edit: That was in jest, I realize none of Mark/Jeff/Craig would have voted. Now back to muted silence in anticipation of the others posting.
From the REW manual:
would if testing with Pink or White random noise, making them ideal for live adjustment of EQ filters. Use Pink PN when measuring with an RTA or White PN with a Spectrum analyser.
The Length control must be set the same as the length of the FFT used by the analyser. If it is set shorter than the analyser FFT there will be notches in the analyser display, as the periodic noise will not contain some of the frequencies the analyser is looking for. If it is set longer the extra frequencies will give a noisy display requiring more averaging.
The Save PN to WAV file button generates a 16-bit stereo wave file containing the PN sequence in both channels. The file duration is approximately 1 minute, the level is per the RMS Level setting of the signal generator. This file can be used to generate a test disc to be played on a system whose response is to be measured. Make sure that the current soundcard sample rate corresponds with the format of the disc to be made - for example, 44.1kHz should be used if generating a CD, or 48kHz for a DVD. When measuring
the system the sample rate and FFT length must be the same as used for the test disc.
Once REW had its SPL calibrated I would open up the RTA module while the Pink PN file continued to play. In the RTA the following settings were used:
- Mode was set to RTA 1/48th octave
- FFT Length was set to 131072 (this has to match the Pink PN file)
- Averages was set to None. This can be set so you can include more averages. This is useful for moving the mic around and getting an average over a wider listening area.
- Window was set to Rectangular. From the REW manual:
Quote:The FFT resolution is also affected by the Window setting. Rectangular windows give the best frequency resolution but are only suitable when the signal being analysed is periodic within the FFT length or if a noise signal is being measured. The Rectangular window should always be used with the REW periodic noise signals.
JohnM, the developer of REW, also said this,Quote:A couple of things on the RTA: when you use a noise signal as a stimulus it is best to set the window to Rectangular. You can then also take advantage of a nice property of the Pink PN signal, which is that it gives very good results with no averaging (because, unlike random pink noise, each complete sequence contains all frequencies at the correct levels and matches the FFT length, with random pink noise the levels are only correct over a (very) long average, especially at the low end).
REW would show the the frequency response during playback of the Pink PN file. This response can be captured by using the Save button at the top of the screen. This saves the current spectrum data as a new measurement. The measurement can then be used in the EQ module. After saving I paused the Pink PN playback in JRiver since it gets annoying after a while.
Next I opened the EQ module in REW. I set the equalizer to Generic and adjusted the target level to match the measurement. In Filter Tasks I usually matched the range from 20-200 Hz. I did EQ lower with a few subs. The individual max boost was set to 9 dB and the overall max boost was set to 5 dB. The flatness target was 1 dB.
I then clicked "Match response to Target" and let REW generate the filters. It generated from 4 -20 filters depending on the sub's measurement. I opened the Parametric EQ in JRiver and the Filters in REW and put them side by side on the screen. I then entered all the filters into JRiver's Parametric EQ. I have requested that JRiver import the filters in the future. This will save on manual entry.
After the filters were entered I unpaused the Pink PN file in JRiver and opened the RTA window again in REW. I then saved the sub's frequency response after EQ.
The Pink PN file is stereo, but had used bass management to send it to the subwoofer(s). I only used the subwoofer(s) output for the measurements in the RTA. After I had EQ'd the sub, I unmuted the mains and looked at the crossover region in the RTA. I then adjusted the distance setting in JRiver until I got the smoothest reponse in the crossover region. If you are off by a foot or two it makes a noticeable difference. Five feet or more from the best setting makes a huge difference and usually led to large nulls. The Cinema F20s were the first subs I EQ'd and they needed the sub set to 17' more than the mains. The mains were set to 10' and the sub to 27'. HuskerOmaha then measured the horn length of the F20 and it was right at 17'. Sealed subs usually need about 1.5-2 extra ft of delay, ported subs were at about 5-7', and the horns were from 14-17'. We didn't listen with any of the subs nearfield, but we could have delayed the mains to a further distance than the subs. You couldn't do this if you were using external EQ such as the MiniDSP or DCX2496.
Once the sub was EQ'd and the crossover was smoothed by using the distance setting we did a final level calibration. The main volume in JRiver was adjusted until the center speaker was at 74 dB with pink noise. The pink noise was then played through the sub(s) and their level was adjusted to 77 dB. The level for the subs was adjust first with the gain on the sub amps. If the sub's amp was at maximum gain, then the level was increased in JRiver for the sub.
The dual subs were all gain matched before EQ which, in our case, was the same as level matching from the mic position. Level matching was used for the DTS-10/Growler combo by matching the frequency response levels in the RTA.
Important Note regarding levels
The Cinema F20s were EQ'd on Friday night. On Saturday morning I had brought my Galaxy CM130 SPL Meter and put a fresh battery in it. I calibrated the SPL in REW with it for the first three subs (BIC, Rythmik, eD) since someone else was using the Radio Shack or I had misplaced it. Greg later had the Radio Shack SPL Meter and commented that my levels were off. It seems the Galaxy's levels were too low (which matched my subjective feelings about it). JRiver also has clip protection that keeps the EQ from ever clipping. This essentially adjusts the levels so that you still have maximum headroom without clipping. Just the process of EQing can cause level changes from setup to setup. We mitigated this issue by taking measurements of the pink noise of each setup prior to playback of the playlist. As a result, not only were the BIC, Rythmik, and eD handicapped by being single subs, they were also handicapped by too low of playback levels. This was announced to the group
I do mess with the levels during inital setup and both the BIC and Rythmik seemed to be straining when playing the Pink PN file at loud levels. I was very close to the subs (1-2') during part of the initial file playback so I was getting a little more sense of their output. On the other hand, I feel that the eD had much more output available than we used for the testing.
Here is the seating chart. The mic was placed at ear level between seats 1 and 2 for EQing all the subs.
Seat 1 ----- Seat 2 ----- Seat 3 ----- Seat 4
Seat 5 ----- Seat 6 ----- Seat 7 ----- Seat 8
You can see in the first chart that as you moved to the right in seating locationg that the levels increased, but there wasn't much variation in response until above 60 Hz.
The second chart is the bar seating. The levels also increased from the left to the right but was still very uniform in response until 75 Hz. If you sat in this row there was less output from 15-30 Hz and from 45-65 Hz (using the Mic as the reference). By overlaying the EQ'd sub response with a the mic measurement and a seat measurement, once can see how difference might have been perceived. I will be posting all the EQ'd sub responses in the next posts, but I don't plan on doing overlays for each seat.
The last chart shows the difference in response between a few feet in front of seat 4 and about 4 ft behind seat 6. Many stood behind the bar during the listening and would have been in this second location. At 22.5 Hz there is a difference of about 20 dB. Nobody listened from the front right, but this illustrates the differences in sub output within a room.