Official OSD Audio Subwoofer Owners Thread - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 42 Old 01-05-2012, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
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As their name implies, OSD (Outdoor Speaker Depot) Audio specializes in speakers for outdoor usage. In order to accommodate that market they have a plethora of speakers shaped like rocks, tree trunks, frogs, planters, German Shepherds and banana's (and a whole lot of other things besides those I listed). While initially that precept might seem quite comical they actually have an interesting little niche; after all, if you wanted to disguise a set of speakers to look like watermelons where else would you go to buy them? I only say that partially with tongue in cheek - I don't fully comprehend the market, but I would imagine there is one. If you need outdoor speakers this is the first place you should check, because they probably have something for everyone.

OSD sells more conventional outdoor speakers as well, those that appear identical to any other satellites, except for the fact they're virtually impervious to weather. They have 70v versions too, so the commercial market is also covered. Additionally they offer amps, receivers, Blu-Ray/DVD/CD players and several different types of cables. Oh yeah, and home subwoofers too, but those are not designed to get wet though.

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post #2 of 42 Old 01-05-2012, 11:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Another in a series of reviews I've undertaken in support of my budget subwoofers thread...

Introduction
The subject of this review is the $199 OSD Audio PS10 subwoofer. The PS10 is a small bass reflex (ported) subwoofer designed for home theater. As you'll find out shortly, it's capable of more then just that. Measuring in at only 13.5"w x 14.25"h x 13.5"d it utilizes a single 10" driver and weighs approximately 29lbs.

The driver is front-firing, as are the dual ports (both of which are 2" in diameter). The amp is rated at 125 watts RMS, with no mention of peak power. There's a 115/230 volt switch on the amp, so international usage is possible. The rated frequency response is 25Hz to 180Hz @ -3dB. There is a 2 year warranty against defects in material and workmanship.


Ordering
OSD Audio sells direct to the public but you can also purchase some of their products from Amazon, which is where I got the evaluation unit from. I've observed that both prices are within a few dollars on a regular basis. However, I ordered from Amazon because they were having a "cyber monday" sale and the price was 30% off. OSD Audio was still selling them for $199 at the exact same time, so it appears as though any price breaks would only apply to Amazon orders.


Unboxing
The unit came double boxed. The inner box held the subwoofer in place using blocks of styrofoam in each corner, both top and bottom. Those blocks were fairly thick, providing almost 2" of protection between the box and the cabinet. The subwoofer was in a sealed plastic bag too.

The grill is perhaps an inch thick, but oddly doesn't feel very stout. The cloth is wrapped around to the back of the frame, and was applied evenly and smooth. When I attempted to remove the grill for the first time it was inordinately difficult. After a bit of struggling it eventually came off, and with it about a 1 square inch section of the veneer. Seems like they used a bit too much glue on the grill and it adhered directly to the cabinet. Maybe it was placed on the cabinet while the glue was still wet, but either way it was now damaged.

One other thing about the grill; the pins used to attach it to the cabinet appear no different then any other, but they did a very good job of securing it - the grill stayed firmly affixed for the duration of my evaluation.


Initial Impressions
The owners manual is rather good, especially given this is such a low cost sub. It's well laid out, organized logically and actually reads as though it was written by someone who speaks English fluently. A nice surprise. But it did contain some inaccuracies unfortunately.

The first of which is it shows the auto/standby switch as having 2 positions, but in reality there are 3; on, off and auto. It also says the LED is green when on and red in standby mode. It's actually green when on, but in standby the LED is off entirely. The most egregious mistake though is it depicts the gain and crossover knobs as being on a control panel mounted to the front of the subwoofer, which they're not. As is the case with most other subs both of those dials are on the back, attached directly to the amp.

That last issue does lead to a curious observation... a company named AudioSource sells a subwoofer called the PSW 110 that looks suspiciously close to the PS10. Even the names are similar, which seems like it may be a little more then merely a coincidence. The topper, as it turns out, is the fact that the AudioSource PSW 110 possess the identical front panel controls pictured in the PS10's owners manual, the same controls the PS10 doesn't have. I don't know for sure they're the same unit -- the dimensions appear to be slightly different -- but there's certainly more then circumstantial evidence to suggest the two subs share a connection of some type.

Appearance wise, this is probably the most generic looking sub I've ever seen. The cabinet is basically a cube, and nothing more. The corners are square, without any contour. The grill is the same dimension as the cabinet so there's nothing to differentiate it's profile from anything else, other then the cloth. Even the veneer is ordinary. It's not that the PS10 looks bad, simply uninspiring.

I don't especially like the fact that the driver has only 4 screws securing it to the cabinet - the fewest screws I've seen up till now has been 6, so 4 strikes me as insufficient. The driver isn't flush mounted either, it's affixed on top of the front panel. Think that's bad? Maybe not in this instance. Unless the front panel is thick -- at least .75" -- flush mounting a driver is actually bad for structural integrity because you're removing material from the very place you need it most; where the driver attaches to the cabinet. While surface mounting does make it look less esthetically pleasing when the grill is off, and infers a lack of forethought, it's better from a structural standpoint, so even though the driver is secured with just 4 screws it is mounted to a panel that's a full .5" thick. From my perspective this seems to be a wash; they don't use enough screws, but the ones they do use are at least being driven into a .5" panel.

The ubiquitous 'knuckle rap test' returns a somewhat hollow sounding echo, which isn't uncommon for a sub comprised of walls that are only .5" MDF. What's also uncommon -- in a good way -- is the interior is lined with damping material. It's not terribly dense or thick, but it's inclusion is noteworthy for such a low cost product. There's no internal bracing though.

Another nice feature is the amp has it's own enclosure, completely sectioning it off from the rest of the cabinet. This isolates the electronics from the backwave created by the driver. It's probably more important for an acoustic suspension cabinet to have such a feature, because of the immense internal pressure associated to that type of design, but it's still worthwhile to include it for bass reflex as well. Regardless, it's an unexpected bonus.

The + and - speaker wires are the only thing going between the amp enclosure and the cabinet. They run through a dollop of silicone where they exit the enclosure. The wires themselves are wrapped in a foam surround, further insulating them. All-in-all, there were enough thoughtful little touches to make you feel some genuine care was given to the design and engineering.

The dual ports are made from some type of heavy-duty cardboard. Don't equated that to mean the core from a roll of paper towels though - think more along the lines of mini Sonotube. Internally the ports go about 2/3rds of the way back, bend 90 degrees upwards, and then 45 degrees in towards the middle. The inside opening of each, which has a plastic flare attached, is just below the underside of the magnet. Both ports were well anchored and rigid, showing no signs of flex.

The driver uses a half-roll suspension that's not terribly stiff, but it is on the larger side of normal. The cone construction is typical treated paper, with an inverted dustcap.

There are speaker and line level inputs on the amp, but no outputs of either kind. The crossover and gain controls only have numerical values for the highest and lowest of their respective settings, and nothing but dashed lines in between the two extremes. I'm constantly amazed by how that seems to be a cost saving mechanism on inexpensive subwoofers. Would it really add that much extra to silkscreen on a few more numbers? I somehow doubt it, so I consider this type of omission inexcusable. OSD is not alone in this regard -- many others do it as well -- but that doesn't make it any less inexcusable in my opinion.


Setup
Setup is the same as pretty much every other subwoofer; connect the sub-out from your AVR to the line level input(s), adjust the gain, set the crossover and turn it on. I did use a Y splitter to double the input signal, which increased the sensitivity. Since there is no EQ or DSP there aren't any surprises, good or bad, regarding how the PS10 gets hooked up and configured.


Listening
My living room is 13x17x8 (1768 CF), so it's not terribly large. The main seating position is approximately 11 feet from the subwoofer. All testing was done after the unit had been broken in for at least 15 hours.

The first thing I'd like to note is associated to a pet peeve of mine; the auto-on functionality, or lack thereof. This is 8th subwoofer I've either bought or reviewed in the past 1.5 years, yet it's probably the only one where the auto-on feature has worked perfectly. Because of that I've grown particularly annoyed about how poorly this simple feature has been implemented on so many products. Is it really that hard to get right? I think not, yet so few do it seems.

When you raise the volume on your AVR the PS10 comes to life, every single time. It does so quickly and without having to crank it to some ridiculous level. It doesn't go into standby during long periods of dialog -- like when watching a sporting event -- yet it does shut itself down properly after about 10 minutes of no real input (when the TV is muted or turned off). In essence, it simply works, just like it's supposed to. What a rare treat.

In spite of the cabinet damping it does tend to ring a little, which deprives the bass of some richness. Bracing might help this tendency, as would thicker walls I imagine. But even with that this little sub does still put out some surprisingly good bass. Most of the time the lower frequencies are potent and clear, with no hint of the "one note" bass noise that other budget subwoofers force you to endure. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's musical, but it's pretty darn close. It does have it's limits of course, so don't expect the PS10 to plumb the depths and give you that gut punch you might achieve with a much more expensive subwoofer. There is a certain amount of depth and impact missing due to it's budget-friendly approach, but frankly this is a darn good subwoofer. I never once experience the PS10 embarrassing itself. Quite the contrary, actually; I often marveled at just how much it could do, or how loudly it was able to play, while still maintaining it's composure.


Movies/TV
I'm not prone to watching at "reference level", so my assessments should be considered in that regard. I've also begun to run each test scene twice; once while seated on the floor, within a few feet of the subwoofer, and a second time sitting in the normal listening position. This allows me to hear it as I normally would, yet also ascertain if it's straining even the slightest bit.

Like most people I have particular scenes I use when testing speakers. A few of my favorites are Lord of the Rings: Bridge of Khazad Doom, Collateral: Club Fever and Avatar: Assault on Home Tree. All three were used for this review.

Lord of the Rings: Bridge of Khazad Doom - There is an almost persistent ultra low-level rumble in portions of this scene. For a subwoofer to handle that properly it needs to be crisp and capable of reaching down low, otherwise that effect comes across as just an annoying rumble. The PS10 struggled a bit here.

When this effect kicked in there was some mechanical noise heard, indicating the driver had reached it's physical limits. There was some port chuffing as well. This was evident even at my normal listening position. The specifications claim this unit is capable of 25Hz at -3dB, but my conclusion would be that's somewhat optimistic. OSD does provide graphs to corroborate their contention, which I attached to this post for reference sake.

The Balrog's roar was produced much better, and exhibited a good overall balance. The fire effect that also accompanies him (her?) everywhere was clear, and displayed an impressive amount of power. When the staircase starts to crumble and fall, crashing down into the abyss, the bass was delivered in a solid manner and with great detail. The various impacts were balanced with the other sounds in a well controlled and precise way. It became apparent the only place the PS10 was having trouble keeping up was with the very low frequencies - above that octave it did an admirable job.

Collateral: Club Fever - This disc has the option of using DTS or DD, so I tested with both. The only significant difference is DTS has a bit of additional low bass, while DD seems to have a little more clarity.

Although this scene doesn't contain a tremendous amount of LFE information it does have a driving musical soundtrack, and over-emphasized gun sounds. The music portion I've found can cause trouble for a subwoofer because it does tend to drown out the voice track in certain spots. Because of that an articulate subwoofer is critical. The PS10 performed well here.

With DTS the music did not over-power the dialog, which I have observed with other budget subwoofers in the past. The driving synth bass track sounded like it would in a club, albeit with a smaller sound system (in other words you don't feel it, but you certainly hear it). The gun sounds were delivered with authority and blended properly with the other effects. No matter how close I got to the sub there was no audible indications of distress during any portion of this scene.

Avatar: Assault on Home Tree - For those familiar with the movie this scene has low frequencies, ultra-low frequencies, explosions, voices and enough other things going on to provide a good test of virtually every component in your system. The PS10 survived this scene virtually unscathed. I say "virtually" because when you got close to it there was some port noise in a few spots, but thankfully no untoward mechanical sounds. From the listening position the port sound was completely inaudible.

As the gunships approach Home Tree you can almost feel the underlying intensity. Realistically, a 10" subwoofer is not going to give much -- if any -- physical sensation of impact but there was an occasional rumble felt, which I didn't expect. While the missiles were being fired at the base of the tree all the low frequency elements were surprisingly distinct; the launch, the sound of propulsion and the delivery of payload. As more and more started to strike the tree the intensity picks up, yet the PS10 kept pace and never faltered.

As the tree begins to crumble and fall the ultra-low effects start to kick in, and the PS10 kept right on chugging along. There was a degree of ultimate impact missing, but it wasn't as much as you might expect given the price of this unit. From the crackling and explosion of the roots as the weight from the tree starts to shift, all the way to the final massive thud when it smashes into the ground, the bass sounds were pronounced and detailed. Not until I sat within 3 feet of the sub was there even a hint of stress, and that consisted of only a small amount of port noise.

At this point the amp was beginning to get a bit unhappy though. After playing each of the test scenes multiple times, at what I consider to be a higher then normal volume level, I noticed the heat fins were starting to get a little warm. Not so hot you couldn't touch them, but not too far from it. Once the testing had concluded, and the volume was dropped back down, they did cool rather quickly.


Music
I use a combination of lossy and lossless material to see how musical a subwoofer is, and in both instances the PS10 held it's own. Whether the songs were bass heavy to begin with, or focused more on the upper bass region, this sub played them with clarity and accuracy. Music lends itself to more critical listening, so if a manufacturer cuts corners it will often be conspicuous here. As mentioned previously, I don't think the PS10 could necessarily be classified as "musical", but I believe for a budget subwoofer it did very well with music reproduction. Yet another time I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard.


Support
Support was hit or miss; sometimes I got fast turn around and detailed answers, while others it was days before hearing anything, and the response was terse (not in the rude sense, just brief). Almost invariably I had to send another email to "remind" them there were open issues that hadn't been addressed. One thing I hadn't anticipated was the response I got after mentioning I was doing a review (which I only do after I'm done assessing the technical support, so as not to confuse the issue).

When I finally divulged my intentions I received an email from someone else, who CCed a half dozen other people as well. The person seemed quite interested in what I was doing, and made certain things were being handled appropriately. I found this level of attention to be a nice surprise (there's that word again). It's exceedingly rare for a company making a $200 subwoofer to show that level of concern for a review, especially one being done by someone with no discernible credentials. But they were, so perhaps OSD is the exception to the rule.


Conclusion
As you've probably already surmised, I really like this subwoofer. While it does have a few shortcomings it's still a very good value nonetheless. The review might best be summed up like this; the OSD Audio PS10 is the story of the little subwoofer that could. Yea I know, that sounds a bit campy, but it's really quite accurate. I often found myself thinking "you know, that's not bad at all" while listening to it. I certainly can't say the same thing about most of the other budget subwoofers I've reviewed.

The overall sound quality and level of output the PS10 is capable of belie the diminutive price tag. It's not much too look at mind you, but if sound is more your priority then this one should most definitely be on your 'short list', especially for the individual on a very strict budget. Simply put, your $200 buys a lot of product here.

Note: OSD Audio makes a 12" variant called the PS12, which costs a mere $50 more. If the qualities and inherent value from the PS10 are extrapolated to that unit I would imagine it's also an impressive subwoofer for the price.


For those interested in my subject assessment it would be the OSD Audio PS10 is highly recommended.
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post #3 of 42 Old 01-06-2012, 04:46 PM
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We love that our PS10 is getting the attention that it deserves. What a great review. To address your comment about the finish, the PS Series was originally targeted to the customer installer market, which explains the non-descript finish. Installers who purchased these units designed Custom Home Theater Component cabinets and would hide the sub inside the cabinet. That is why the original design had auto sensing and totally front firing elements (both the driver and ports).
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post #4 of 42 Old 01-07-2012, 11:15 AM
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Wonderful review!

Could you provide some more information on your connections setup? Why use the Y splitter and how does this increase the sensitivity? I assume that you plug into both of the line level inputs (since there is no LFE input)?
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post #5 of 42 Old 01-08-2012, 09:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Sickleport View Post

Wonderful review!

Thank you. I'm glad you found it of value.

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Originally Posted by Sickleport View Post

Could you provide some more information on your connections setup? Why use the Y splitter and how does this increase the sensitivity? I assume that you plug into both of the line level inputs (since there is no LFE input)?

The PS10 actually does have an LFE input; it's either of the line level inputs. Most amps will dedicate one of those connectors for the "LFE Input", so generally it's the same thing. In the case of the PS10 you can actually use either of them -- right or left -- because OSD didn't limit you to using just one.

The Y adapter enables you to "sum" the connections, thereby increasing the sensitivity. For the most part that simply means you can lower the gain (subwoofers volume control) and/or the output of the LFE port from your receiver. It's still a mono signal though -- you aren't changing it to stereo by doing that -- you're merely driving the subwoofer amp at a lower setting.

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post #6 of 42 Old 01-08-2012, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimWilson View Post

The PS10 actually does have an LFE input; it's either of the line level inputs. Most amps will dedicate one of those connectors for the "LFE Input", so generally it's the same thing. In the case of the PS10 you can actually use either of them -- right or left -- because OSD didn't limit you to using just one.

Ahh yes, that makes sense looking at the product info sheet again (although it could probably be written a bit more clearly).

So just to be certain, assuming we are using a typical receiver with a single LFE sub port... Would the ideal setup be to run a single cable from the receiver's LFE out to the sub, then Y split and connect to both line level inputs?

Thanks again for the help! I think I've decided on the PS10 (or 12)!
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post #7 of 42 Old 01-08-2012, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sickleport View Post

So just to be certain, assuming we are using a typical receiver with a single LFE sub port... Would the ideal setup be to run a single cable from the receiver's LFE out to the sub, then Y split and connect to both line level inputs?

Correct. That's precisely how I have the PS10 connected right now.

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Thanks again for the help! I think I've decided on the PS10 (or 12)!

Sounds good. If you do get an OSD sub be sure to come back and post your opinion.

What size is your room? That would help determine which is better, the 10 or 12.

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post #8 of 42 Old 01-08-2012, 04:17 PM
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Great review Jim. It's really fun to read and very detailed and well structured. I'm sure it will help readers make decisions as it seems it already did.

I posted a couple more budget sub on the budget sub thread.
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post #9 of 42 Old 01-08-2012, 05:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Great review Jim. It's really fun to read and very detailed and well structured. I'm sure it will help readers make decisions as it seems it already did.

Thanks. I appreciate the kind words.

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I posted a couple more budget sub on the budget sub thread.

I'll take a look.

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post #10 of 42 Old 01-09-2012, 09:44 AM
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What size is your room? That would help determine which is better, the 10 or 12.

Our family room is roughly 28' long by 15' wide with 9' ceilings. It is also open to the kitchen, which adds another 12' to the length or so.

That said, our goal is not to create an audiophile grade home theater, rather to improve on the TV's horrendous built in speakers. My wife is tired of turning up the volume to hear dialogue, then getting blown out during commercials.

Also, I'm not permitted to position the sub to maximize effectiveness. It will be placed under an end table in the front left corner of the room (where the sub's pre-wiring is located).

Long story short: we are looking for a aesthetically pleasing, cost effective sound boost. Hence, my interest in your "Budget Subwoofer" thread. Do you think the extra $50 would be worth it in my case?

In case it matters, the rest of the system is:

Receiver: Denon AVR 1712
TV: Samsung un46d8000
Blu-Ray: Panasonic DMP-BDT210
Center Channel: OSD Audio IW750LCR (in wall below TV)
Front and Rear R/L: Speakercraft Aim 7 Two (in ceiling)
Sub: ???


Thanks again, I appreciate your help very much!
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Quote:
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Our family room is roughly 28' long by 15' wide with 9' ceilings. It is also open to the kitchen, which adds another 12' to the length or so.

You have almost 3800 cubic feet of space without including the kitchen, which is a pretty good sized room. Realistically, you're going to need a commensurate subwoofer to fill that much space.


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That said, our goal is not to create an audiophile grade home theater, rather to improve on the TV's horrendous built in speakers. My wife is tired of turning up the volume to hear dialogue, then getting blown out during commercials.

I'm not sure how adding a subwoofer is going to help with the dialog, because it really shouldn't change how the front channels work from a volume perspective. It will add depth, for sure, but I suspect it will do little to help with volume control.

Does your AVR have an option for Dolby Volume setting? Or it's own equivalent perhaps? The feature is designed to try and level out the volume, so commercials don't blast you when the shows dialog is soft. That might help more so then a sub. I'm not advocating you don't get a sub -- you definitely need one -- just that there might be something else which could help with your most pressing need.


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Center Channel: OSD Audio IW750LCR (in wall below TV)

You already own an OSD product? You're the first person I've come across who can say that. How is your center?


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Originally Posted by Sickleport View Post

Long story short: we are looking for a aesthetically pleasing, cost effective sound boost. Hence, my interest in your "Budget Subwoofer" thread. Do you think the extra $50 would be worth it in my case?

There's no question in my mind that the smallest subwoofer you should consider is the PS12. Quite honestly, I don't imagine even that will prove sufficient in a room as big as yours, but there's no harm in trying it out. I understand your intent is not to create an "audiophile grade" HT system, but something rendered ineffective isn't really a benefit IMHO.

The PS10 was quite good for it's size, so I suspect the PS12 to be even better. That being said... I would be surprised if the PS12 was able to give much output in a room that size, especially without corner reinforcement. It's might be worth trying though - personally I can't see watching TV without one anymore, so having something may be better then nothing at all.

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post #12 of 42 Old 01-09-2012, 10:41 AM
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...Also, I'm not permitted to position the sub to maximize effectiveness. It will be placed under an end table in the front left corner of the room (where the sub's pre-wiring is located).

Hang in there buddy...

Jim is right, it's not alot of sub for a big room like that. 2 of them would be prefferable. You can always argue that you have 2 end table.
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post #13 of 42 Old 01-09-2012, 11:35 AM
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I'm not sure how adding a subwoofer is going to help with the dialog, because it really shouldn't change how the front channels work from a volume perspective. It will add depth, for sure, but I suspect it will do little to help with volume control.

Does your AVR have an option for Dolby Volume setting?

You already own an OSD product? You're the first person I've come across who can say that. How is your center?

Sorry if I was vague... the purpose of the entire system is to improve the sound (dialogue included of course). I know a sub is just a piece of that puzzle. Didn't mean to imply that the sub would clarify dialogue on its own. Apologies!

Yes, the Denon includes "Audyssey Dyn Vol". One of the main selling points for us.

Thanks?! The center arrives tonight, so I'll have to withhold reviews until everything is running.


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Hang in there buddy...

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post #14 of 42 Old 01-13-2012, 03:30 PM
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I'm glad that Jim has been able to help you guys out on our product. I couldn't have put it a better way than he has explained concerning the LFE input and the Y adaptor. Thanks Jim!

Sickleport: How are you enjoying our center channel?
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post #15 of 42 Old 01-13-2012, 06:15 PM
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I did take the plunge and purchased the ps12. IMO a GREAT sub for the money... Also the review that Jim had wrote was very well written and spot on. Those of you on the fence need not be. He breaks the details down really well so there shouldn't be any surprises once you receive your subwoofer. Theres value here and the thought of duals is very appealing for those of you with big rooms....Give OSD a try, i think you will like them.
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post #16 of 42 Old 01-14-2012, 06:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by onvoyed View Post

I did take the plunge and purchased the ps12. IMO a GREAT sub for the money... Also the review that Jim had wrote was very well written and spot on. Those of you on the fence need not be. He breaks the details down really well so there shouldn't be any surprises once you receive your subwoofer. Theres value here and the thought of duals is very appealing for those of you with big rooms....Give OSD a try, i think you will like them.

I'm glad the PS12 worked out for you, and that I was able to help with your decision. Keep us informed on how it works out for you.

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post #17 of 42 Old 01-15-2012, 04:54 AM
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I'm glad the PS12 worked out for you, and that I was able to help with your decision. Keep us informed on how it works out for you.

Definitely, and thanks again with helping me with my decision on the ps12...Hope your able to keep those budget sub threads going. They are very helpful
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post #18 of 42 Old 01-15-2012, 09:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Definitely, and thanks again with helping me with my decision on the ps12...Hope your able to keep those budget sub threads going. They are very helpful

For the near future I will continue to do them - there are perhaps a half dozen other prospects still under consideration. The next up will be the Pinnacle PS Sub 225, which I received last week.

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post #19 of 42 Old 03-12-2012, 07:40 AM
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Great review Jim! I am an A/V installer in the Joplin, MO area and I offer OSD products as an inexpensive alternative to higher-end systems. I own several OSD products myself including the AP-650 patio speakers and the RX550 rock speakers around the pool. I have been nothing but happy with their products and the support is second to none.

I have yet to have an unhappy customer when installing OSD products for them. For the price, the products are simply unbeatable. I always give my customers several options besides OSD products, but most opt for OSD due to the price. Once the system is installed, the customers are always happy with the quality they get for the money.

Thanks again for a very informative review!
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Originally Posted by ANS-Joplin View Post

Great review Jim! I am an A/V installer in the Joplin, MO area and I offer OSD products as an inexpensive alternative to higher-end systems. I own several OSD products myself including the AP-650 patio speakers and the RX550 rock speakers around the pool. I have been nothing but happy with their products and the support is second to none.

I have yet to have an unhappy customer when installing OSD products for them. For the price, the products are simply unbeatable. I always give my customers several options besides OSD products, but most opt for OSD due to the price. Once the system is installed, the customers are always happy with the quality they get for the money.

Thanks again for a very informative review!

Thanks, I'm glad you liked it.

If you have something you can add -- like a review of your own, or just some general information -- please feel free to do so. OSD is a relatively unknown company, and like you I found their products and people to be above average. That makes them worthy of acknowledgement, and the additional sales that come with it.

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post #21 of 42 Old 05-20-2012, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Introduction
The subject of this review is the Outdoor Speaker Depot (OSD) PS-88. The PS-88 is an acoustic suspension subwoofer that measures just 10.5"Hx11.5"Wx10"D and weighs a mere 17 pounds. In other words, it's tiny.

The PS-88 has an 8" side-firing driver with an 8" passive radiator (PR), which is also side-firing. The amp is rated at 180 watts RMS with no peak wattage listed. The quoted frequency response is 25Hz-160Hz. There is a 2 year warranty.


Ordering
OSD is an Internet Direct company, so as their name implies they sell directly to the public. The review unit was supplied to me by the manufacturer, so I didn't utilize the standard distribution channel. You can technically purchase them from other places, like Amazon, but the order is fulfilled directly by OSD themselves.


Unboxing
The review unit came double boxed. The inner box -- the one that contained the sub -- was placed inside a regular shipping box, not one that was custom sized for the PS-88. The shipping box was packed with air filled plastic bladders on all sides, so the inner box was well protected. The PS-88's box had soft foam blocks that encompassed the entire top and bottom of the sub, which was wrapped inside a cloth bag. The packing was more then adequate.

There was no manual included with the review unit because it was still being revised. OSD did email me a PDF version within a day or two of when I received the sub. Beyond the power cord there were no other accessories included.


Initial Impressions
I found the documentation was pretty good for a budget subwoofer. The grammar and punctuation could perhaps use a little touch-up, but it rates above average for content and completeness.

The cabinet is solid and well made - the ubiquitous "knuckle rap test" returns very little echo. I was especially impressed with the paint job. It's piano (high gloss) black lacquer, with a smooth and even finish. One of the few complaints I had with the OSD PS-10 subwoofer I reviewed a few months ago was that it looked far too bland and generic. That's certainly not the case with the PS-88; OSD has obviously spent a considerable amount of time trying to make their new subwoofer look better. And they succeeded; this unit does not look plain in any sense of the word.

The only feet supplied are rubber, and measure approximately 1 inch. The cabinet is constructed from .7" MDF. Just about all the amp screws needed a .25" turn to tighten them. There are no visible screws for the driver or passive radiator - OSD has covered them with an outer plastic ring. This lends itself to a nice finished look, almost inviting you to remove the grills. The grill frames are made from a plastic material that's about .5" thick, and they're quite sturdy. They attach very securely to the cabinet using large plastic pins. OSD uses a nice cloth material that is adhered perfectly to the grill frame. There's obvious attention to detail everywhere, and the grill is no exception.

Lining the front, top and bottom walls inside the cabinet are sheets of 1.5" damping material. The driver is a very impressive looking thing for it's size. It has a massive foam surround, equaling roughly 50% of it's diameter. The cone is paper based, but the dust cap seems to be made of some type of rigid plastic. It has a 42 ounce magnet, which is pretty large for such a small driver. There's a bump out on the back of the magnet to allow additional voice coil travel, but even with that I did get it to bottom out on occasion. The driver is constructed using what appears to be a stamped steel basket with some type of rubberized coated. The PR is equally impressive; it too has a huge foam surround, although not quite the size of the primary drivers. The cone on the PR is flat and very stiff.

The amplifier appears to be a quality piece. The silkscreening is very clear and legible. The dials move with a nice smooth action, and the switches have a positive solid feel to them. The LED turns red when the sub is in standby mode and switches to green when it's on. The auto-on function worked perfectly. There are dials to adjust the gain (volume), crossover and phase. Adjustable phase is rare on such a small, budget oriented subwoofer. The crossover dial is worthy of particular mention; it shows, in very clear detail, exactly what you have it set for. Far too many manufacturers think you should guess what this setting is, but the PS-88 leaves nothing to the imagination.

The amp itself seems very well designed. The PCB looks properly engineered and nicely constructed. There was nothing about it's appearance -- inside or out -- that said "budget" subwoofer.


Setup
There's both left and right low level and high (speaker) level inputs, but only high level outputs. The high level inputs are the less than high end push style, not the more substantial binding posts. The left and right low level inputs don't have the "summing" functionality, meaning there's no 3dB boost if you use them both at the same time. Because of that when using the PS-88 for home theater you connect it using only the left input.

There's a unique switch on the amp labeled SUB-LFE. In essence, this gives you the ability to disable the subwoofers crossover and use your AVR instead. That means you can use the PS-88 for HT or music, and still have full control over the crossover frequency. I found this feature to be of dubious benefit though. When set for LFE the output dropped noticeably compared to the SUB setting, which the PS-88 can ill afford. Because of that I left it in SUB and set the crossover dial to it's maximum and used my AVR to make the appropriate adjustments.


Listening
My living room is 13x17x8 (1768 CF), so it's not terribly large. The main seating position is approximately 11 feet from the subwoofer. All testing was done after the unit had been broken in for at least 15 hours.

One of the first things I noticed is how "hot" I had to run the PS-88; the gain knob needed to be set at the 3:00 o'clock position in order to achieve an appropriate output level. Additionally, I had to boost the subwoofer output in my AVR by 3dB from what I normally do, while lowering the other channels 1dB. One of the unfortunate side effects of doing that is you generally run out of head room (ability to play the subwoofer loud) because the amp has very little in reserve. However, I didn't find that to be the case; while the PS-88 did bottom out when played loud on very deep bass passages it took a lot more volume then I had anticipated. Frankly I found the PS-88 was able to play at a higher volume then it's size, amp wattage and driver size would infer.

Overall I'd say the quality of sound was very good. The PS-88 had surprising clarity given it's budget-oriented heritage, but it won't vibrate any of your pictures from the wall. There was a pleasing mid-bass punch, but not a tremendous amount of outright depth. Given it's physical size and 8" driver that's not a terribly shocking outcome though. When it was brand new the sound was somewhat thin and weak, but it did break in rather quickly. By 15 hours or so the sound had changed dramatically.

Because of it's size and driver compliment the PS-88 is a bit more sensitive to placement then perhaps other subs would be. I had the most success with 2 different orientations;
  • diagonal corner placement, where each side was within a foot of it's respective wall
  • the driver facing out towards the listening position with the passive radiator about a foot from the rear wall

Movies/TV
I run each test scene twice; once while seated in my normal listening position, and then a second time while sitting on the floor a few feet from the subwoofer. This allows me to hear it as I normally would, yet still affords me the opportunity to determine if it's straining even the slightest bit. Both tests are run at the same volume level.

Like most people I have specific DVD's and particular scenes I use when testing subwoofers. A few of my favorites are Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Collateral, Avatar and the quintessential ULF (ultra low frequency) torture test; War of the Worlds. I've also included another rather difficult test scene from the movie 10,000 BC. Each individual test is listed in the format of Movie: Scene.

Lord of the Rings: Bridge of Khazad Doom - There is an ultra low frequency rumble in portions of this scene, as well as significant amounts of impact generated by numerous structures crumbling. For a subwoofer to handle all of that properly it needs to be precise and capable of reaching very deep, otherwise a lot of it comes across as nothing more than annoying resonance. Except for the deepest notes the PS-88 did well.

The individual low frequency effects were clearly defined and each maintained their unique characteristics, but the total was not quite the sum of the parts. It wasn't how everything blended -- because that part was fine -- it was because a bit of depth was missing. I wasn't necessarily underwhelmed by what I heard, just not overwhelmed.

My favorite part of this scene to play around with is the Balrog's roar. There's an instance when you see it for the first time that I just love to crank way up. He jumps out of a cavern and lands right behind the Fellowship with a thud, and then lets out a fire-breathing roar. I enjoy seeing how loud I can play that part, because when the volume goes up it just sounds cool. The PS-88 did very well handling the volume. The huge impact created when the Balrog's feet hit the ground as he chases after the Fellowship lacked the chest thump I'm more accustomed to, but it was still pretty good considering.

Collateral: Club Fever - This disc has the option of using DTS or DD for audio, but I only test with DTS now. In general I've found DTS encoding has a bit of additional low bass and an overall greater depth to the soundtrack, so I've decided to use that exclusively for testing.

Although this scene doesn't contain a tremendous amount of LFE information it does have a driving musical soundtrack and over-emphasized gun sounds. The music portion I've found can cause trouble for a subwoofer because it does tend to drown out the voice track in certain spots, especially if it lacks clarity and speed. Because of that articulation is crucial. The PS-88 pretty much aced this one.

The club music never came close to drowning out the voices. The balance between the various elements was pretty much spot on. The gunfire came across a bit muted though, with less of an emphasis then I've heard in the past.

Avatar: Assault on Home Tree - For those familiar with the movie this scene has low frequencies, ultra low frequencies, explosions, gunfire, voices and enough other things going on to provide a good test of virtually every component in your system. The PS-88 comported itself well for the most part.

As the gunships approach Home Tree you can almost feel the underlying intensity. The roar of their engines, the sound of the rockets being launched, the impact of each explosion, the crackling of the massive roots as the tree begins to list, and all the way to the point where it's toppled and crashes into the ground the low frequency was satisfactory.

This scene has a good range of frequencies, and I often use it to determine how deep a sub can go. Because there is a notable amount of non-LFE material during this part I can always tell how strong a sub is because of the contrasting sounds. All the nuances and detail was plainly evident, but the sense of impact wasn't fully rendered.

War of the Worlds: The Machine Emerges - The archetype... perhaps the most recognized subwoofer test scene of all time comes from a movie that's about 7 years old. The depth and volume of bass that occurs during a several minute span is simply amazing. If you want to see what your sub is capable of this scene can certainly be used as a barometer. With subterranean vibrations, exploding pavement and collapsing buildings you have ultra low, low and mid-bass frequencies pouring out of your subwoofer. One of the most punishing combinations there is, and an excellent way to really push something to the brink. As in the case of Collateral, the DTS audio track is used for this scene. The PS-88 did better here then I thought it would.

This scene -- along with Lightning Strikes and At The Window -- are a chore for any subwoofer, let alone such a diminutive one as the PS-88. I hesitated to even include this scene because I was reluctant to risk damaging the review unit. I figured since I already had it I might as well run it through the gamut, and I'm glad I did too because the PS-88 fared better then I assumed it would.

No, it wasn't able to create a true sensation of the earth moving below my feet. Since there isn't anyone who is going to buy a tiny sub like this with the idea that it can, I don't view that as a problem. But it did surprisingly well, even if I did hear it bottom out a few times. This was one of the few instances where the PS-88's ability to play loud worked against it, because you could over power the driver.

10,000 BC: Mammoth Hunt - During this scene there's either ultra low bass or mid-bass, with very little in between it seems. However, I've found this to be a good way of determining how a sub performs with nuances while being pushed hard. If it's struggling to hit the very low notes then the mid-bass suffers, and will come across as a jumbled mess (lacking in detail). If it can hit the low notes, but isn't articulate, then it tends to sound "thick" or "heavy", losing most of it's distinction. The PS-88's performance on this scene was similar to War of the Worlds; clear, but not quite deep enough to provide the full effect.

In the prelude leading up to the stampede the mammoths are simply milling about, but each earth-rattling thud from their massive feet is supposed to be felt as much as heard. When the stampede begins you then have dozens of rampaging mammoths running to escape. In order for this scene to work properly your subwoofer must be able to produce a tangible sensation of the ground shaking all around you. This was the sole instance during my time with the PS-88 that I felt something was actually lacking. If I cranked the volume up to the point where the driver bottomed out and then backed it off just slightly the sensation was better, but even then it still wasn't quite engaging. I heard the thuds, but didn't feel them.


After all the testing was finished I checked the amp for heat output and found it was nothing more then barely warm. It seemed no matter how hard I pushed the PS-88 the amp was simply not fazed a bit.


Music
I use a combination of lossy and lossless material -- MP3's and CD's -- to see how musical a subwoofer is, and in both instances the PS-88 did well.

I wouldn't go quite as far as saying this is a musical sub, but there was a noteworthy amount of detail. The individual instruments, like kick drums and the bass guitar, were distinguished and properly balanced. On some CD's the PS-88 displayed less articulation and clarity then on others, which means it requires good source material. About the only true negative I found with music was there wasn't quite enough deep bass to project the true essence of certain songs.


Support
In the past OSD's support has been very good, and it's still that way now. I get the sense it's more of a family atmosphere then a corporate one. There's not a lot of the rigid structure you often encounter. With OSD it's more congenial instead. These people are a pleasure to work with.


Conclusion
OSD has an uncommon little subwoofer on their hands, and I do mean little (alright, tiny). It's not physically able to produce deep bass, but it certainly fights above it's weight class (OSD sells the PS-12 if you want deeper bass, so they have you covered either way). The beautiful paint job and minuscule proportions give the PS-88 perhaps the highest WAF -- Wife Acceptance Factor -- of any subwoofer made. I could actually envision someone buying two of these for the extra output and simply hiding them in the corners, daring people to find where the bass is coming from.

In some respects it is a niche product, but one that really has few equals. It's size, price and abilities form a unique combination. If you're in the market for a very small subwoofer that looks really nice, yet doesn't act small, the OSD PS-88 should be one of the first units you consider.
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post #22 of 42 Old 05-20-2012, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Additional pictures of the OSD PS-88 subwoofer...
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post #23 of 42 Old 12-08-2012, 01:46 PM
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Hi. I am somewhat new at some of this, so I have what may be a basic question about this subwoofer. My current receiver has an external in/out where my current and now dead subwoffer went. If there are no outputs, where do I hook up the inputs? I guess I could use y-connectors to the rca jacks which output to the amplifier which is a separate unit -- would that make any sense?

If I could afford it I would of course get the sv units, but I am definitely on a budget. I mostly listen to classical music and some movies and other stuff, so this seems not too bad for me.

Thanks in advance for any ideas.
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post #24 of 42 Old 12-08-2012, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by covici View Post

Hi. I am somewhat new at some of this, so I have what may be a basic question about this subwoofer. My current receiver has an external in/out where my current and now dead subwoffer went. If there are no outputs, where do I hook up the inputs? I guess I could use y-connectors to the rca jacks which output to the amplifier which is a separate unit -- would that make any sense?
If I could afford it I would of course get the sv units, but I am definitely on a budget. I mostly listen to classical music and some movies and other stuff, so this seems not too bad for me.
Thanks in advance for any ideas.

which receiver do you use? Brand/model?

Tom V.
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post #25 of 42 Old 12-08-2012, 03:30 PM
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which receiver do you use? Brand/model?
Tom V.

ADCOM GTP-502 and a gfa5300 power amp.
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post #26 of 42 Old 12-08-2012, 03:45 PM
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1)you might be able to use the "lab" output simultaneously with the normal outs(I'm assuming you are using the normal outs to the 2 channel amp). But check with Adcom first.

2)You could use the speaker level ins/outs on the sub although they may be of less than stellar quality. (or they may impart highpass filtering you do not desire).

3)Just Y-ing the main outputs as you originally described may also be an option but I would check with Adcom on this too.

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post #27 of 42 Old 12-08-2012, 06:08 PM - Thread Starter
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You have Adcom equipment and you want to use one of these subwoofers? confused.gif It's probably not a good match.

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post #28 of 42 Old 12-09-2012, 12:34 PM
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You have Adcom equipment and you want to use one of these subwoofers? confused.gif It's probably not a good match.
OK, I am ready to learn, can you tell me why and what would you recommend instead --primarily for music?

Thanks.
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post #29 of 42 Old 12-09-2012, 01:13 PM - Thread Starter
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OK, I am ready to learn, can you tell me why and what would you recommend instead --primarily for music?

For someone just starting out the best thing to do is read this thread, and then start a new thread dedicated to your particular situation. That will enable others to help with suggestions specific to your needs.

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post #30 of 42 Old 12-09-2012, 03:21 PM
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For someone just starting out the best thing to do is read this thread, and then start a new thread dedicated to your particular situation. That will enable others to help with suggestions specific to your needs.

I had already read the suggested post and a number of reviews in the budget subwoofers thread and this one seemed half way decent to me, if this is not so, I would appreciate more specific recommendations.

Thanks in advance for any ideas.
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