I've been researching my options for an upcoming sub purchase (hope to place order next week). I think I've narrowed it down to either Rythmik or PSA based on the many positive reviews here on the forum as well as the good customer support I have received so far directly from these vendors in soliciting advice. I could easily add HSU or SVS options to this list, but wanted to narrow down my options as much as possible before starting a thread. Also, when you factor in potential future upgrades, you could make an argument to save up some money to get a PSA Triax or Seaton SubM. While that is true and logical, it just won't work in my household. My wife can tolerate an annual $1,000 to $1,500 HT purchase, but a $2,500+ purchase is a non-starter.
The room is 16x20x10, but is mostly open on one side to the rest of the house. This is on the second floor and opens up to a loft/balcony/foyer area, so I don't have any illusions that I will be "pressurizing" this space. I am however looking for more output and my use is 95% HT (occasionally we will throw in a concert DVD, but no critical music listening). The room is a multi-purpose "family room", so there are some placement limitations I have to deal with. I can fit a larger sub in the front right corner of the room. Beyond that, I am limited to fitting subs under existing end tables. These are oversized end tables so they can accomodate subs up to 26x26x22. I currently have an Epik Empire located in the front right corner of the room. The Empire has good mid-bass impact, but seems to be lacking in the low end, at least in my room. I intend to initially move the Empire nearfield to one of the end tables to see if I can get it to play well with the new sub. If I can get the Empire to blend well with one of the new subs, that would be great. Having said that, I am going into this knowing that if the Empire does not play nicely, I will find a new home for it, and look to add a new Rythmik or PSA down the road. One more thing, I have a Denon 4311, so will be using Auyssey Sub EQ to try to mange the two subs. Both PSA and Rythmik were enthusiastic that Audyssey would be able to handle two different subs and make them play nicely together.
Here is my short list and thoughts on each option. I went in with a ~$1,500 budget, and all of these options are within +/- $200 of each other, so I do not consider price a deciding factor at this point.
1. PSA XV30f - this thing looks great on paper and is seemingly the best vlaue of the bunch. Although there is not a lot of feedback on the XV30f, I expect it to be very similar, if not identical to the XV30 which has a lot of positive feedback and reviews. I also like that if I were to need get rid of the Empire, I could replace it with one or two XV15's down the road which could be placed near field under the end tables. I think the combo of an XV30f up front (~12 ft from listening position) and two XV15's on either side (~3ft from lstening position), would be a good combo, and it should be easier to blend the XV15's with the XV30f (same driver, ported design). My hesitation with the XV30f is mostly cosmetics/aesthics. While the foot print will work in the up front position, the height will certianly bring attention to itself. My wife is usually pretty lenient when it comes to these things, but she is concerned with having something that looks like a small refrigerator in the front of the room. Also, I'm not crazy about the finish, but that is not a deal breaker. My last concern is that with all of the talk about using identical subs, I would be eliminating that as an upgrade path down the road. There is simply no way I could locate another XV30f or even an XV30 in the room. So I am left with non-identical subs (either XV30f + Empire or XV30f + XV15(s))
2. 2x PSA XV15s - following up on the last point, if having identical subs is ultimately the "best" route, then I could get two XV15's now and add a third one down the road. I would end up with three XV15's located throughout the room, which I assume would give me the smoothest response throughout the room, but I also think this would give me the least output. I am resistant to this approach, as I would really like to have at least one high output sub up front. PSA was encouraging that I would be able to blend an XV30f with either the Empire or the XV15's, so that would be my preference over the all XV15 option.
3. Rythmik FV15HP - this seems to be the safest in the Rythmik lineup from the standpoint of being a proven entity with a good track record, published numbers and lots of happy owners. It fits my space better and I prefer the finish over the PSA options. If it does not play well with the Empire, the Rythmik upgrade path is less clear. Given my placement restraints, I do not think I could squeeze another FV15 or FV15HP under an existing end table. If I want to stay with ported options, I would need to go down to the LV12R. Over time I could end up with the FV15HP + 2 LV12R's with the LV12R's being nearfield. If I want to stick with 15" drivers, however I would be looking at either an F15, F15HP, or E15. At that point, Rythmik starts to become significantly more expensive than PSA, and also have the same issue of blending a ported sub with sealed sub(s).
4. Rythmik F25 - this is another one that looks good on paper and is potentially the best match for the existing Empire. The enclosure is significantly shorter than the PSA XV30f and would basically sit at cabinet height (33"), which is a good thing, and prefer the finish over PSA. If I were able to buy a single sub, and not have to worry about future upgrades, then I think this would be my first choice. Rythmik seems to think that Audyssey can handle F25/Empire combo as they are both sealed 2x15 designs. My hesitations with the F25 is that there does not seem to be anyone using one yet. There are reviews out there on the older version which had a single 600W amp driving the two 15" drivers, but they were underwhelming for HT use. I think the consenus was that for HT use the FV15HP which had an upgraded driver was better than the F25. But the new F25 has two 400W amps driving the 15" woofers separately. I'm not sure how that changes the FV15HP vs F25 comparison for HT usage as there are no reviews out yet on the new F25, but it might be worth taking the chance.
To sum up my thoughts, if there is a good chance that I will be able to keep the Empire, then I think I would favor the Rythmik options and probably would take a chance on the F25 over the FV15HP. If trying to find a sub to complement/supplement the Empire is a fool's errand, then I think I would be better off with the PSA line up. Any thoughts, advice or experiences would be greatly appreciated. I would be particularly interested in 1) anyone who has used an Empire with another brand sub and how it worked out, and 2) anyone who has heard the newer Rythmik F25 (although I already posted in the dedicated Rythmik thread).
Thanks in advance for any feedback or advice.