First a few special thanks!
Andrew, You are a fantastic host! I wish we lived closer together man. I think you and I would become fast friends. Give Jody our collective thanks for letting us crash your home and the provide the opportunity to absolutely enjoy this event! Ben --- you came through on the clips! Great job putting those together. I think the way it worked out was different and fun! This is definitely the first meet I've been to where we watched the spectographs playing realtime --- showing what we should be hearing. Bravo! I enjoyed hanging out and swapping stories! Mark, Jeff, You guys are the best! I'm continually impressed that you make it to most of these events all over the US and are willing to be fair, independent,and honest with not only your equipment --- but everyone else's equipment as well -- you are both full of class! To the rest of the guys, I'd like to mention names -- and started to do so, but then deleted them because I'd surely miss a name and hurt someone's feelings. Suffice to say I really enjoyed getting to meet each one of you. Nearly all of you were incredibly easy to talk to and I look forward to meeting with you again! My wife's family lives in PA, so I'm out there a time or two a year. Maybe I'll have the chance to visit your home theaters in the coming years! Thanks to all the guys who brought food. The pretzels, boutique beers, pulled pork, pizza, soda, donuts etc --- All Awesome!
This was my seventh big audio meet in a couple years, and I have another meet to attend in Omaha NE next weekend! SWEET!
As to the meets I've attended and subwoofer equipment I've heard in the past couple years - here's the list
I love this stuff! What a great hobby! It's fun to hear the equipment and a even better to meet the enthusiasts on this forum and share our joint passion. I hope everyone enjoyed the meet as much as I did and that the enthusiasm found in the meet was contagious and generates more opportunities for similar events! It cracks me up that Andrew is already talking about hosting a second speaker based event --- not even a week after this one!!!
Onto my subjective impressions of the subwoofers...I took notes on paper during each audition - I'll recount them here. Many of my notes are in chronological order. I was writing my observations as I was hearing each track --- so I might say I loved something and then say ---eww..that wasn't quite right on the very next track. Take these observations as my subjective impressions from my listening position and nothing more. I'm going to be honest in my feedback. I like the people who came to the meet, but I may or may not think the world of the equipment you brought. My opinion of the equipment obviously doesn't reflect on you as a person, and only reflects my opinion. - don't take it personally. I've heard a lot of subwoofers, and so feel I can speak with a bit of experience in comparing these products, but my opinions are only my own -- my subjective impressions are just one data point of many.
I sat immediately behind the omnimic the entire day. I wasn't in the prime listening row but was immediately behind it. Andrew's room is the best room I've ever measured. Each sub was graced with a tremendous amount of room gain down low. My theater room by contrast has very little room gain at all. Not only did Andrew's room have a lot of low end room gain --- the frequency response was amazingly similar in way more seating positions than I would have thought possible! On Friday night, I walked around with the omnimic doing real time analysis and the only seats in the house that were noticeably poor were the very first seat on the front left of the couch that was against the wall, and beyond the bar in the very rear of the room. Even beyond the bar the worst of it was about a 10dB boost between 50 and 60hz that wasn't present up front. That isn't even that bad of a problem to have!!! All of the typical seating areas, including those along the bar had a reasonably smooth and flat frequency response when compared to the main listening position. The variances were very minimal. Absolutely a fantastic room for a subwoofer shootout!!!
And now on with the subjective impressions!!!!HSU ULS15
The HSU ULS15 had a problem I think. It would make a popping sound at any spl over 80dB when playing back full range pink noise. This popping sound happened with the omnimic tone and the receiver test tones used to set trim levels. I mentioned this in the post above when I talked about the ULS15's frequency response. If we increased the gain on the sub and decreased the AVR subwoofer trim the most we could get was about 80dB of SPL before the popping occurred. Same thing occurred if we decreased the gain on the sub and increased the AVR Trim. A $1,100 sub should not have difficulty playing a full range receiver test tone above 80hz. I've reviewed quite a few subs personally, and been to quite a few meets, and I've not encountered this before at 80dB levels. It really reminded me of my Jamo D7 Sub that had an amp problem. Here is a video of my Jamo D7 Sub to get an idea of the popping sound we heard. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-RWyUdHde0
I told Ben he should contact HSU and tell them of the problem. Ben said he's read that many, if not all of the ULS15's experience this 'amp clipping' problem when using test tones, but that the sound doesn't reveal itself in real world material. Supposedly it only occurs on ULF, frequencies below about 15hz. That seems very odd to me, on a sub that is designed from the ground up to be a company's flagship deep diving subwoofer, but sure enough when we engaged a 16hz HPF on the minidsp and played back real world content we didn't hear the clipping sound except for the most demanding of clips at much higher SPL levels (like the 5hz to 100hz sine wave clip). I still don't think it's right, and I'd want to get that taken care of. It's for this reason that I have a hard time judging the ULS15. I don't think this particular specimen was working properly -- at least I hope that's not working properly. Frankly it biased me against this sub from the very beginning. I have a lot of experience with the HSU VTF-15h, from several meets. My buddy, Luke Kamp has a pair, and we've done some pretty exhaustive testing with them in both his room and mine --- and it's hard to get his pair of HSU VTF-15H subs to make a bad sound no matter what you do. To hear bad sounds at anything over 80dB on the AVR's test tone used to set LFE trim is just odd. Anyway -- How did it sound? Well, ignoring the setup issues and when played back at the standardized volume for music this is a very smooth sounding sub. It has a very nice clear sound. I felt like on occasion the bass sounded a bit thick in the early standardized volume listening of -15dB. This is perhaps due to the subs charted frequency response, which was heavy on the low end, but I thought the thick sound was noteworhty. I first picked up the thick sound in the tag team song. The ULS15 really struggled on the bass I love you track and sounded outright bad at the standardized volume. Track #6 sounded great and really filled the room well. Overall I felt like the subwoofer sounded good, but needed a partner or three! The ULS15 is sold in singles, pairs, or quads. For my purposes it'd be quads or none at all. This is not a high output subwoofer. Getting into the movie section Ben turned it up a bit -- I think to -12 to start and gradually increased to -7ish by the end. When turned up this loud I felt no impact at all on the War of the Worlds pod emergence footsteps. The sub had nothing left to give in the way of dynamics. The explosion of the elevator in the Underworld scene was weak. The mushroom puff in the THX amazing life clip was weak ---- but surprisingly the "deep note" on the end of the THX trailer sounded great! The Pulse clip crippled this sub and it made a bad noise at the end of the scene. By the Master and Commander clip we were listening steadily at -7dB (subs still 8dB hot) and there was absolutely no dynamic headroom left at this volume---the cannons completely lacked impact. It performed weakly in Live Free or Die hard, exhibited nothing at all on Jericho Missile launch from IronMan. There was just nothing left in the tank at these volumes for bringing about dynamic impact. Most of the clips at the louder volumes just ended up being muddy rumblings IMO. This sub just can't handle near reference volumes by itself, and pushing it too hard makes it all the worse because you lose every ounce of dynamic impact.Summary:
Broken amp? Sounds clean when played within means -- rumbly and lacking dynamics when pushed. Truly, I wasn't overly impressed. I can think of other subs I'd recommend for $1,100 if this sub is actually working as designed. If there was a problem with the amp, then obviously we didn't give this sub a fair shake! I've read that other's said they didn't hear a bad offering for the pricepoint. I can't honestly say that. For $1,100 I'd expect more. If you bought a pair of these for $2,200 (+ shipping) you are dangerously close to a Submersive HP in price and I think a Submersive HP is a much stronger choice. That said I really like the HSU VTF-15H and feel it is a great value at the $1K mark. I'd recommend it without pause over what I heard out of the ULS15. I maintain that there must have been something wrong with that amp...A quality sealed sub shouldn't need a 16hz HPF to function properly.PSA XS-15
Thick sounding bass - sounds thicker than ULS I think, clean so far, Definitely more umpf than the HSU on the first true bass song tracks. I thought the ULS played the Tag team song better. Bass I love you is better on the PSA sub, but still not right - bottom 7hz note not right. ULS had more power in the 20hz heavy song that immediately follows Bass I love you. Playback on movies was set to -12.5 to start. Seems like this sub is a bit more protected at the lowest notes by the amp or DSP than the ULS was -- fewer bad noises, or sounds of limits. The mushroom poof on the THX amazing life clip was a bit better on the PSA sub than the ULS. Pulse clip is finding the limits. Master and Commander sounds good. Has more dynamic headroom than the last audition of ULS15 --- but still lacking compared to what I'm used to. I didn't hear any bad noise on the skadoosh scene in Kung Foo Panda, but there was no headroom to make the explosion sound big or deep at -9dB playback level. No dynamics on the Hulk Cop Car smash scene at -9.Summary:
Good Value. $750 represents a excellent pricepoint for a quality sealed 15" subwoofer. I liked this sub better than the ULS 15 in sound, and for the price of $400 less ---- it becomes a no brainer. It was slightly better at most things than the ULS15. Not a blowout, but a walk away. The PSA vendor is apparently another class act by all accounts. Jim and Andrew had nothing but good things to say about Tom. The fact that Tom offered to raffle off the XS15 was unexpected and incredible! A solid choice at the $750 pricepoint.Rythmik E15
First sub that the bass did not sound "thick" through the first few music track auditions. I think this is a cleaner sound on nearly every track. It seems more capable at higher spl. Crapped out on Bass I Love you pretty bad -- no mechanical noise, but definitely the limits of excursion or limiter was reached at the standardized -15dB SPL. This sub blends very well with the mains --- best so far. Movie Section: Footstep of pod machine on WOTW cut out a bit? Limiter or servo reeled in the sub pretty aggressively. Gunfire sounded great on this sub. Best of the day by a large margin. First time the gunfire sounded tight and you got the thump, thump, thump, feel in your chest in the Live Free or Die Hard apt scene. Pulse clip chewed this sub up and spit him out. Owner turned volume down and still distorting badly at -12. Based on this clip alone I can tell the PSA sub has a better dsp, or limiter built in to protect the former sub from frequencies it cannot handle.Summary:
Good sub. I liked this sub the best so far. The PSA sub behaved a bit better during the worst of the torture clips, but this sub sounded a bit better when not at those limits. A might expensive at $1300ish, but very attractive finish - complex amp with many dsp options. A good product for the right buyer and a very clean sound when not taxed with exceptionally punishing source material.SVS 20-39 PCi
See my notes in post #8 on this sub. The SVS was not played back at the standardized volume of -15dB for music. The owner requested that we not risk bottoming out his sub so I advised a 23hz HPF for his 20hz tune. The owner also requested that we lower the playback volume for the audition. I lowered the LFE trim on the AVR by -3dB. The owner asked that we lower the overall volume a few dB. We complied. The owner exercised additional caution by turning down the gain on the plate amp about half way through the audition. When it was all said and done this sub was probably running 10dB less intense than the previous three subs and the main volume was turned down as well. For this reason a proper comparison cannot be made. However, what I heard sounded good on this sub. I didn't listen the entire time, because I got distracted in a conversation for a good portion of the audition and when the levels weren't matched for the standardized portion I lost some interest. I think with the HPF this sub would have been fine to play through the demo material. The SVS 20-39PCi was a strong and recommended sub by a lot of subwoofer enthusiasts. It still possessed a nice frequency response, and as you might have noticed in my previous post # 8 showing frequency response, I think it out-preformed a $1800 Definitive Tech Supercube model that possesses a 14" woofer. It was a gem when you consider price to performance especially.Summary:
Solid older sub model. I wished we could have heard it at the standardized volume, but I respect the owners discretion in the matter and desire to protect his product. I appreciate that the owner shared the sub with us and decided to attend the meet!Rythmik FV15HP
Bass is back to sounding a bit thicker again on the first couple music tracks, so far I like the E15 a bit better. European technosound song sounds the best of the day! Rastafari song sounds a bit weaker. Bass I Love You -- Best so far by a LONG SHOT! No bad noise at all in Bass I Love You, nor in 5hz to 100hz sine wave clip. This unit has a very high quality limiter engaged! Driver is pumping, but no mechanical sounds, no cringe worthy sounds created like the sub auditions before. There was port noise out of the single port, but that is to be expected on a 5hz tone played on a much higher port tuned subwoofer. The driver moved a LOT of air. I was sitting behind the first couch and felt air on my face for the first time. We played that clip again because this was the first audition where the lowest clips were handled well and that air movement is a fun novelty that the entire front area felt and enjoyed! Personally I think the air movement generated by a port is a positive sensory reinforcement that compliments the tactile feel presented by ULF. I'm starting to really like this sub, the amp and dsp make it a very impressive offering. Movie section: Bullets are the best yet. Thump, Thump, Thump of machine gun fire you can really feel -- they hit you in the chest! First sub we've actually heard the mushroom thumps correctly in the THX Amazing Life clip. Dynamics are the best so far. Pulse scene -- ut ohh finding limits at -6dB (remember sub is about 8dB hot from mains) Found a bit of the bleeding edge in Skadoosh scene too -- not bad, but the sub wasn't perfectly comfortable. Owner keeps increasing volume. Now at -4dB for John Mayer Clip. Mains are overwhelming sub at this point. No depth on Hulk punches in cop car smash scene because of -4dB and there is no remaining headroom. Sub was more impressive at -6dB to -8dB, but still no bad noises at the increased volume. I helped move the Rythmik after it's audition and it might be worth noting that the amp was hot, like burn my hand hot. The owner was really pushing this sub, and the sub was delivering everything it was asked of --- the amp didn't' fail, and maybe the temps well within spec --- but just as a little side note -- the amp gets hot.Summary:
This is an excellent offering, perhaps my new favorite <= $1333 subwoofer....I understand why this subwoofer is so well liked on this board after hearing the audition. clean, controlled, deep, dynamic, seldom heard a bad noise at limits, just stops getting louder. I understand why the two brothers who reviewed the five $1000 subs a couple years back really fell in love with this one. Excellent work on the amp dsp. All around my favorite sub so far in this lineup. Certainly not limitless, but appears to be able to near reference level subwoofer volumes and still remain clean --- that's a pretty important demarcation zone differing the beastly subs from others.2x Dayton Titanik MK3 15" drivers in sealed enclosure
Actually I didn't expect too much from these. A friend of mine has a pair in KC and I've helped him set them up
on a few occasions in his room. I've never been blown away by their performance. Inexpensive they are, and I felt their sound sort of models their price. The owner asked what HPF he should use and I suggested a 16hz HPF. I think someone else said use a 12 or 14hz. We went with a 14hz HPF, which later got turned down to a 10hz HPF. I was afraid the subs would bottom out. I did hear them making a few bad notes either due to excursion limits or amp clipping on only a couple instances, but actually they were more capable than I gave them credit for initially. Here are my notes during the audition: Sounds good, but once again back to a little thicker sound. Not quite as tight as Rythmik. Best so far on 5hz to 100hz sine wave (with 14hz HPF), After standardized volume music section turned down HPF from 14hz to 10hz for movie section at group request. Volume bumped to -10. I heard distortion on the war of the worlds track at -10. I hadn't heard distortion on the previous subs. Mushroom Puff on THX clip sounded clean. This was the first sub that didn't find its limits on the Pulse scene. Master and Commander retained nice dynamics. I heard a bad sound on the Skadoosh scene --- either the sub ran out of excursion, or the amp clipped. These had a nice clean sound on Flight of the Phoenix.Summary:
Good for the money -- if you want to put something together on a budget - these are sort of the defacto recommendation. They aren't world beaters --- in fact I personally would prefer the previous single Rythmik sub to this pair, but for $200 for each driver = $400 + $200 for boxes = $600 + $300 for an amp = $900. It's a decent option for $900. Personally I'd just buy the Rythmik FV15HP for $1300 as I thought it was noticeably superior to this pair, but the DIY option has it's place, and if you look for a used amp, or build the box on the cheap - the project can be completed for relatively little monetary outlay! This is the third set of these subwoofers I've heard -- each owned by different folk. One pair in KC, heard a pair in IA, and now a pair in PA. they've never impressed my socks off, but I recognize the value in both the product and the esteem that is generated by DIY. A side conversation through pms with bossobass, notnyt, and Scott Simonian indicated after crunching the numbers it would take more than eight of these 15" dayton drivers in sealed enclosures to equal the air displacement of a couple ported Captivators. Out of raw curiousity I was asking these guys about purchasing eight of these Titanik drivers when they were last on sale for $200 shipped ($1600) and buying eight boxes for $95 each ($800) from this site
and was advised by the experts it wouldn't be much of an upgrade (if even one at all). When I heard that eight wouldn't really equal two of my caps above port tune I dropped the idea all together. That's the good thing about the DIY community here. The long timers are straight shooters,and even though they are all sealed sub fans - they were honest with me and kept me from going down a rabbits trail and potentially ending up disappointed.2x LMS5400 powered by iNuke6000 amp
Very clean subs. Obvious headroom beyond what we are doing with these music tracks. The subs blend very well with the mains and seem quite mellow on the music tracks compared to some of the other subs we auditioned today. During the Bass I Love You track I can finally tell we are in the top tier range. During this track the 10hz HPF (24dB per octave rolloff) that was initially engaged prior to the beginning of this audition was turned off so we could attempt to feel the 7hz note in the Bass I Love you, and the track was re-played. The subs were not laboring in the least during the standardized music section volume. Everything was clean and very enjoyable for music. Onto the Movie Section! Austin immediately cranked the AVR towards reference territory. The first movie scene playback, War of the Worlds, encountered clipping on the Inuke and started making a bit of bad noises. This didn't seem to concern Austin as continued to nudge the volume up through the rest of the demo section. As Austin continued to increase the volume the bad noises became more frequent. I couldn't tell whether the Inuke amp was clipping on the LMS-5400, or if it was the 8C mainspeaker amps were clipping at any given time. I think they both were definitely playing at and beyond their limits. There was a clear popping sound through a good portion of the demo material. I put my earplugs in when Austin hit +6dB above reference with the subs still 8dB hot. Some clips still sounded great, some were a mess. The pulse clip still sounded great even at a +9dB above reference. I didn't hear any bad sounds on the Pulse clip. IIRC the HPF was completely off at this point. These are levels beyond what any mortal should encounter for very long lengths of time. Watching the SPL tab of the omnimic doing real time frequency analysis, at these levels the subs are no longer running hot and the mains are now running hotter than the subs. In my opinion some of the dynamic capability on the LMS-5400's is exhausted as we exceeded reference levels. I think these subs would have preformed better at lesser volumes, to retain dynamic capability and stay out of the clipping sounds --- or possibly a more powerful amp could have assisted their demo. However, some discussion through page 7 and 8 provided by another LMS-5400 owner (in this very thread) seem to indicate that the LMS-5400 drivers were at 80-85% of their peak excursion capability during the playback based on the videos that Ben took. The clip lights on the Inuke were on pretty solid during a majority of the later clips. The clipping sound was pretty constant, and I flinched more than a few times with concern for the subs and speakers. The final three auditions all hit 129dB 'peaks' according to omnimic's max spl tab which was reset for each audition, but the bias of mains to subs spl levels differed as to which was playing louder. For the LMS-5400, the mains were playing louder than the subs, for the Caps and the Submersives, the subs were what was hitting those peak SPL levels as they were still playing louder than the mains according to the RTA on the omnimic.Summary:
Impressive subs when controlled, excellent sound during the music section, but the amp clipping sounds were detrimental to my final evaluation. I'd like to spend additional time with these subs, but in a more optimized audition. I've now heard a LMS-5400 pair twice and been impressed both times (with reservation), but in both instances the drivers weren't necessarily able to demonstrate their best. The other time I heard them was at the Wisconsin meet that TJhub hosted and he preferred we not turn the main AVR volume beyond -10 during our demo session with his subs level matched flat to the mains -- so his pair was just loafing along by comparison.2x JTR Captivator powered by Crown XLS5000
During the first few tracks of the music section these immediately seemed underwhelming...Why? Well we had just finished listening to 129dB SPL peaks on the LMS-5400 audition and now we are back at the standardized -15dB AVR volume for the music tracks once again. Flaw in the plan eh? Perhaps so...it's hard to immediately judge back to back when such discrepancies of volume occur. Another strike was what Andrew discovered after additional testing after the meet --- that we enabled the minidsp's 17hz HPF on the Captivator pair incorrectly. Instead of setting both channels to the same HPF, only one of the two channels was enabled --- here is that discussion: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1434901/northeast-october-20th-gtg-results-thread/80_20#post_22524016
This oversight is a shame because a HPF basically functions like reversing polarity on the drivers (phase mismatch), and so the output bonus of two subs becomes actually the output of one sub then further cut in half as that HPF frequency is approached. Looking at the meet graphs compared to the post meet graphs it looks like frequency response was affected from about 25hz and down. Take a look at Gorilla83's retest data to compare graphs. All that said, the standardized music demonstration left me somewhat underwhelmed. The subs were clean, loafing, and still sounded great, but they weren't spectacular. At no point during the music demonstration --- even during the 5hz to 100hz sine wave sweep without a HPF on one of the channels did they exhibit bad driver noise. I did hear a bit of port noise on the 5hz end of the slow sine sweep, but that is certainly expected in hindsight on a 15hz tune (1 port open rather than two), with no HPF on the ported sub. When the movie section came into play and Andrew cranked the volume up, then the Caps came into their own. Andrew kept the overall volume under a bit more control than the previous LMS-5400 audition and kept the 8C mains and Crown amp out of clipping for the most part. The Kung Foo Panda skadoosh scene was the best rendition yet. The John Mayer concert was really cut loose, and just sounded ridiculously good. I felt that Andrew turned the Caps up to a volume too loud to preserve clear dynamics on a few of the movie scenes starting at about the +6dB AVR point. However, these Caps definitely seemingly had more dynamics than the LMS pair. Flight of the Phoenix was the best on the Caps so far, and the most tactile of the day. One point of note was that the Caps dislodged a bass trap from the wall, and shifted the projector mount twice during it's demonstration. Popalock saved the day by jumping up to catch the falling bass trap and keeping it from smashing into a 8C's and knocking it off the pedestal! The projector screen and room walls shook more on the Caps than any other audition including the final triple Submersive audition. Multiple people were commenting on just how tactile the Captivators were. One guy exclaimed at the end of the demonstration that he'd like to buy a pair on the spot assuming Jeff took credit cards because these were the best sounding subs he'd ever heard. (I myself am familiar with that feeling from the 2011 KC meet when I first heard this sub) People behind the bar 25 feet back in the room were stating that their pant legs were flapping. The ported Cap is a very tactile sub. If that's your thing, you'll find it's aggressive and visceral. It's the top fuel engine sound of subwoofers. When the driver is really moving the slot ports can really start pumping some air, which just adds to the tactile experience. Andrew chose to run the Caps in the 15hz tune (1 port plugged), instead of the native 20hz tune with both ports open. At high volumes 1 port plugged is really underported in the 2011 cabinet. For the 2012 cabinets(the current edition) Jeff ditched the port plug option and just natively tuned the ported Captivator to 17.5 hz with both ports open. Because blocking a port to get the 15hz tune in the 2011 model will create port noise at high SPL, we attempted to mitigate this concern by using a 17hz HPF. I find it very impressive that one channel had an HPF at 17hz engaged and the other had no HPF engaged and yet we never heard the unprotected driver sound excursion limited or make a mechancial bottoming out sound, even when tripping the internal circuit of a 5000 watt Crown amp. That little observation speaks volumes to the raw capability of these drivers. We were running torture test clips with the AVR closing in on +8dB and +10 dB above reference at some points with the subs 8dB hot and the unprotected Cap driver never audibly cried mercy due to physical excursion limits.
As mentioned during the meet day audition Andrew managed to trip the XLS-5000's internal amp 20 amp breaker, so we had to take a moment to reset that. The previous night while testing we had tripped the monster power surge protector, so we took that out of the loop and plugged directly into the wall. Immediately after starting up the demo material again we threw the 20amp dedicated circuit the XLS-5000 was drawing from. HA Three ways proven that the Captivator drivers can gobble up that Crown amp's power! Amusingly enough, the Cap's vibration even unscrewed a lightbulb in Gorilla83's bathroom during Friday night's preparation warmup. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVs99V_sgKkSummary:
The ported Captivators remain one of the the most tactile subwoofers I've ever auditioned. Beaten by only the JTR Orbit Shifter pair at nearly 10dB more SPL (137dB peak at my house in the 2012 KC Blind meet's play time as compared to 129dB peak in this meet) and avsforum Desertdome's infinite baffle subwoofer system with eight 15" drivers mounted directly to a suspended wooden living room floor at 127dB. The Caps were taken to the limits of a 5000 watt crown amp and dedicated 20amp electrical circuit without even engaging a proper high pass filter (HPF) on one of the channels and the unprotected subwoofer driver never made a bad noise during some of the most extreme torture test clips ever produced. The Caps unscrewed a lightbulb, knocked down a bass trap, dislodged the projector mount 2x's, and threw various breakers over the weekend's setup and demonstrations. I left this G2G still quite satisfied with my purchase of a pair of these units, and aside from a DIY project with multiple drivers and some elbow grease I don't know of a better value to a subwoofer enthusiast than a pair of ported passive Captivators and a capable amp like the Crown XLS-5000.2x Seaton Submersive HP and a single Seaton Submersive F2
Again -- after just experiencing crazy high SPLs, the standardized music section at -15dB seemed a bit underwhelming at first. At this point in the evening I'm actually feeling pretty desensitized. HOWEVER, I've always liked the Submersives for music ever since the first time I heard one in the 2011 subwoofer meet hosted in KC. Let it be known by all that there is definitely something special about the Seaton Submersive subwoofers for music. And it wasn't long into the musical section before these subs began to draw me right back into the music and allow me to really enjoy myself. To me, this sub is as accurate as they come. I've heard the Submersive subs now at multiple meets and had some playtime with a unit in my own room, and in a couple homes back in KC. Carp hosted a g2g at his place where we pitted his pair of Sumersive HPs against my pair of JTR Captivators in a half day eardrum demo to the death. Each of these subs has its strong suites, and they have distinct sounds as they approach their respective limits. Bass I Love You was the best of the night on the Submersives IMO. As many times as I've heard the Bass I Love you on so many different subs I most often think this track sounds odd on sealed subwoofers, probably because most sealed subs strain to hit the 7hz note. I've found I personally typically prefer this song on a ported subwoofer with an steep HPF rolloff. However, I did not feel/hear that strain on the LMS-5400 audition, nor on the Seaton Submersive's from my listening position. These two subs are fully capable of accurately reproducing this track. Track #5 I preferred a bit more on the Captivator pair. Like the two auditions before it, no bad noises at all during any of the music demos. Ultimately, I give the edge on sound quality for the standardized music portion to the Submersives for the day. Going onto the movie section...Mark keeps it at or around reference until the Transformer's bumblebee hwy scene demo where he turns it up to +2dB, he turns it up to +4dB on the THX demo. So far this has been the cleanest sounding demonstration overall to me. Six 15" drivers and Mark's savy volume control (not pushing to the absolute limits of his equipment) ensure dynamics are spectacular and bass is exceptionally clean! The Black Knight bullet forensic test had HUGE dynamics. Very impressive! Canon fire was, as typical, excellent on these subwoofers during the Master and Commander demonstration -- cleanest of the day! One thing to note. The JTR's were shaking the projector quite a bit more during these demonstrations. The Submersives sounded cleaner to me, due to the aforementioned reasons, but the Captivators did provide more tactile feedback. The Hulk Scream and cop car smash scene were just fantastic on the Submersives, and I felt best of day. However, the How to Train your Dragon scene with the cliff wall collapse was noticeably more impressive on the Captivators from my seating position. I don't think I heard the Submersives make a bad sound all day!. Excellent cosmetically, Excellent audibly, Excellent control! I believe Mark made a few sales that day too, as people really enjoyed both the submersives, and the mainspeaker Catalyst 8C's!Summary:
Overall the cleanest, audition of the day, and my favorite setup of this meet -- especially if not considering the expense of three of these subwoofer units. Not the most tactile, not the loudest, (all three of the last demonstrations -- the LMS-5400, the JTR Captivator, and the Seaton Submersives hit 129dB peak according to omnimic) but the Submersives were the most controlled and since this audition's volumes weren't taken to the very last brink of capability at +8dB or +10dB over reference (with subs still 8dB hot) these subs remained very dynamic, and the 8C mainspeakers played very well alongside! Yet another excellent demonstration in the capable hands of a practiced showman. During the other demonstrations each of the other owners found the limits of the equipment, Mark knows the limits of his equipment, and with his hand controlling the AVR volume, his subs auditioned powerfully, yet conservatively -- without exposing any flaws in the entirety of the system. Smart! Excellent! These subs are as impressive sounding as they are good looking. In no way are under performers in any category of media, -- music or movies!!! Owners, take pride knowing they have one of the absolute best subwoofers money can buy -- as continually proven in meet after meet after meet!Definitive Supercube Reference
These particular subwoofer audition was done very differently. We used Ben's Rokit monitors to compliment rather than Mark's 8C's. We played different clips and it was a very relaxed -- anything goes audition thrown in on the tail of the day because the sub was available and a couple of us wanted to hear it. The sub measured poorly when confronted with the grossly exaggerated DefTec Specs. It has an obvious HPF installed at ~25hz, despite the fact it is marketed as effortlessly producing 11hz. http://www.definitivetech.com/products/supercube-reference
Take a look at it's frequency response in the post immediately before this one. Why does DefTech think they can use such BS marketing? I pity the poor sap who paid $1899 for this unit. You got taken. Now that DefTech is adequately shamed, I'll admit this sub doesn't sound bad, but it doesn't bring anything exciting to the table either, especially just after listening to the $3500 JTR Setup and the $6500 Seaton setup. The amp would shut down if we turned it up too loud. (It actually was shutting the amp off at -10dB). Subs were still 8dB hot so that means at -2dB on a flat calibrated reference system the DefTech amp just shuts off -- at least this one did --- multiple times. In my opinion this was one of the lesser performing subs of the day. It's a classy dame cosmetically, and at nearly 100lbs --- it weighs the part and is built tank tough ---- but it sure seemed to be all show and little go. It'd be fine for a secondary sub system on a living room TV, where you don't need reference level volume and don't care about frequency response being flat to 15 or 20hz. If you can buy this sub used for $400 or $500, or new for $750 it'd be alright. $1900 MSRP is just silly. Note the graph I posted where the SVS 20-39PCI that sold new for ~$500 range was directly competitive in frequency response and I'd wager fully competitive in actual capability as well.Summary:
Beautiful sub with compact size and high gloss finish! But that's where my praise ends. Amp shuts off? What? Why not just limit output instead of actually shutting of the the amp?!?
ULF Testing Notes
Mark proposed a cool little test test to determine if people can feel/hear/appreciate ultra low frequencies --- which of course is always a topic of discourse on these forums. We all eagerly participated! The idea presented was to set a HPF at 18Hz on the minidsp with a 48dB/ocatave rolloff and watch a 5 star bass scene and see if we could detect which playback sounded like it included the deeper content (<18hz). The results were pretty clear to the affirmative! Yes you can detect deeper content! 12 out of 14 people guessed/surmised correctly which playback of the clip included the sub 18hz content. The voting wasn't skewed because nobody knew which clip was played with the DSP engaged except Ben, and everyone closed their eyes for the blind vote count taken by raise of hands. I wrote a brief post on that test here:
Immediately after this test I threw my pen and exclaimed --- 'darn it, now I've got to buy sealed subs!' This was the first test I've ever participated in that seemed to clearly indicate there was something detectable going on in the lowest frequencies that wasn't rendered immaterial by higher hz fequencies playing at louder dBs. By my own personal estimation I'd say the clip that included the lowest frequencies sounded 10-20% more powerful. I couldn't hear a difference, but I could FEEL a difference on my pant legs and my shirt. It was fairly clear from my seat.
Clear Cut! - Right?
Well Yes in that test! -- but not so fast....
I asked for the group to try a music clip to confirm the previous test and the one we chose was Basstronics - Bass I Love You because it has some 7hz content in it on the deepest notes. In that particular test after listening both ways everyone stammered that they couldn't detect a difference on that clip and the vote was dismissed because the most vocal in the group (not myself - I still wanted to vote!) said it would just be a guess as compared to the previous clip were most thought it was more obvious.
Still --- it was convincing on the Hulk clip --- so sealed subs are the way to go right?
I reflected on this since the meet I'm not even sure that point is really clear to me. Why? Well multiple people, including myself, noted that the ported Captivators were more tactile during the meets' audition -- they hit you more, they shook the room more, they seemed more savage in general playback. Is that an audible quality of a ported sub? Is it distortion based harmonics? I don't know. I'll leave that to the more knowledgeable to discuss! What I do know is:
1) I could tell which clip had the deep content on the Hulk scene because my pants and shirt shook more noticeably ---- because I felt it -- not because I heard a difference.
2) The Captivators were more tactile in the regular meet playback than the submersives playing full range without a hpf --- evidenced physically by the various feats they accomplished -- knocking down a bass trap, knocking the projector mount loose 2x's, visibly shaking the projector screen quite a bit more, as well as noted subjectively by many attendees.
So how do you weigh all that out? I can't tell you how you should interpret the results, but I know what it meant for me after I reflected on it and thought it through. I don't have to buy sealed subs to appreciate a movie. If it's simply the more tactile feel the lowest frequencies create that I'm missing out on in a sealed subwoofer - then I can simply turn it up a couple dB's and get that back, and more in my current Captivator subwoofers. The next logical test at the meet (in hindsight) would have been to play the Captivators with the HPF, and then play the Submersives without the HPF and see which clip audition (test blindly) the group thought was the deepest. That would have been interesting, and as shown previously at the HuskerOmaha meet in 2011 might not be what people would immediately think...See the following post where in four of the six deepest clips played in the 2011 HuskerOmaha meet the attendees collectively voted the Captivators as sounding the deepest over the Sealed sub counterparts. To be clear there was only one Submersive in that test, vs two captivators, but our standardized volume levels used for both music and movies at that meet was much lower and the dual caps served no headroom advantage at the lower spls auditioned.
Taken all together -- if you have the capability to play the subsonic <20hz frequencies DO play them. They add value to the experience! I think the Hulk clip testing with 12 out of 14 people voting correctly is fairly conclusive there. I noticed it myself, as a long time ported sub advocate. The fact that we were in a basement slab room for this test is further evidence for that point that the subsonic content is beneficial --- because it isn't like we were feeling vibrations from the floor. Since we were auditioning on a concrete slab --- all that we felt and identified was acoustic energy! However, personally, I don't think it's worth going to much extra expense to try to capture those frequencies, as just turning it up a couple dB will equate the feeling of more tactile feedback, with my Caps which is seemingly what the <20hz frequencies provide.
^ is one man's opinion...
What is yours?
My JTR Neosis impressions are shared a little bit here:
We watched a car racing clip showing an F1 screaming around the track and it sounded true to life in Gorill83's living room!
Concerts, and night club bluray recordings sounded live -- just like you were there --- regardless of volume.
I heard the Neosis again in the Omaha home theater tour on 10/27 and they sounded fantastic in desertdome's room. I'd put them right up there with Mark's Catalyst 12Cs and desertdome's monolithic LS6 speakers as the three best speakers I've ever heard. As to which is the best --- I don't know, without A/B/C'ing them directly and spending some real quality time with them on the same exact tracks. Music sounds very live, and movies are exceptionally dynamic. I will say that the gunshots during the Open Range demo at desertdome's house on the Neosis speakers were the most accurate, flat out jaw dropping sounding gunfire reproduction I've ever heard --- with such a compelling lead that there is no second place. A handful of us heard it, and that same handful all simultaneously expressed guttural HOLY #$()@$ exclamations, followed by nervous laughter and the immediate desire to play it again. Perhaps even the sadomasochistic desire to turn it up louder --- just to see how more we could handle before our skulls caved in. Sadly, or perhaps fortunately, it was late, and we decided to wrap it up instead.
The Catalyst 8C's are yet another fantastic speaker, and performed quite admirably through the course of our day long demo -- taking some amp clipping abuse all in stride!
The Rokit speakers were also impressive. I'm glad Ben brought them to let us audition them. They had very surprising amount of bass response, and were strong down to 30hz. They sounded great for the money, and I'd enjoy owning a pair! He uses his set as computer speakers, and that's a great idea!
I'm sorry but I did not get to demo the Arx A5 towers. I walked through the living room with them on, but at that time, I was too busy to sit down and take much of a listen, so I have no impressions to post of these. From what I heard, people enjoyed them.