PSA S1500 - Musical Sub: a brief review
The PSA S1500 – Great Size Great Sound
I waited until I tried this sub for about a month to post a brief review in order to have some time to see how it performs. My comments are really only related to music as home theater isn’t my main interest (at this point).
If you are a two channel “musicphile” and don’t already own a subwoofer, you’ve no doubt have wondered whether a sub would improve your system/sound. If your ultimate pursuit is transparency, dynamics and the “live music sound/feel”, I have no doubt that the PSA S1500 will kick your experience up another notch….whether you have satellites, bookshelves or floorstanders.
Why? Because, deep, powerful bass is one of the x factors that makes music more captivating and exciting and not many home audio systems have this capability without a good subwoofer. And the great thing I found using the S1500 is that the improvements are apparent on virtually all recordings, not just the “demo your system audiophile recordings”.
My floorstander based system resides in the living area of a non rectangular but roughly 30’ x 40’ open concept room that has concrete/tile floors and 10’ ceilings. The mains sound open, transparent and spacious and the low end is pretty good for a room this size. Having heard subwoofers in other people’s homes (some good, some not so good) the urge to improve my sound gave me the nudge to try a subwoofer of my own.
A little bit of research revealed that there are plenty of good ID and B&M sub options. What drew me to Power Sound Audio were the reviews, their reputation, warranty, trial/return option & made in America attitude. What drew me to their new S1500 was the size, which was small, the output, which was large and the controls including room size rolloff and time delay which I suspected would make it easier to integrate.
I placed an order via their website (with no issues), subsequently asked them to delay shipment for a couple of weeks as I was going out of town (no issues) and then took delivery when I returned (no issues). The sub was well packaged and arrived in perfect condition.
I located the sub to the right of my right speaker about 2’ from the rear wall and 3’ from the side wall. I let the mains run full range and brought the sub in a 50hz and listened for the next week or so. Overall, the sound was pretty good, certainly better than the floor standers alone. Then, I began tweaking (by ear and via you tube frequency response videos). I found that I had no strong peaks but nulls at 50hz and 80hz. I moved the sub a few inches. I high passed the mains at 80hz and also brought the sub in at 80 hz and voila, the nulls disappeared. The bass was now tighter, deeper and more realistic and unlike anything I’d ever heard in my home system before.
Overall, I’d say that it was easy to integrate the S1500 and get great sound without microphones, measurement programs, computers and digital sound shapers. And, to be clear, with the S1500 well integrated with the mains, there is no localization of the sub whatsoever. The bass you hear/feel remains properly positioned, left/right/center based on the recording and the mid/upper bass cues given by the mains.
My initial impressions of the S1500 after four weeks:
1. The cabinet – relatively small and very solid; it will easily fit into almost any room
2. The finish - It’s a lot better looking in real life than on the web photos. Yes the surface sparkles when hit with direct sunlight but in indirect light, it has a matte black look that is a good match with my floorstanders and TV. And no doubt, the finish is tough and won’t scratch very easily
3. The grills – really well made, tough, tightly attached and very nice looking
4. The power cord – detachable, 3 prong and about 6’ long
5. The controls – easy to access, easy to read and when you turn the mains off and just listen to the sub you can definitely hear the sound change as you rotate the controls. My current settings are gain set to 9am, time delay to 0ms and the room size set to large
6. Auto on/off – works flawlessly; it takes about 2 seconds to switch to on after the music first starts and then another 2 seconds until the signal off/on delay allows the sub to play
7. Quietness – absolutely no hums, buzzes or hisses, dead silent
8. The output – shocking how much clean bass this small sub puts out into a 12,000 cubic foot open concept room and how defined and tight it is throughout the room... powerful if you are in to home theater and tuneful if you are in to music
9. The sound – turn off the mains, and from 80hz on down what you hear are the thumps, thwacks, bumps, grunts and pressure that you expect in this frequency range . Now turn the mains back on and what you have is a well-integrated, powerful musical bottom end that has no problem keeping up with quick complex bass lines. Things don’t just sound better, they feel better, like you are at a venue listening live but without the crowd noise.
10. The sound (part 2) – when the sub is turned on, the soundstage gets larger, the overall level of ambience improves and previously bright sounding music sounds less bright
11. Break In – I have about 40 hours on the S1500 at this point. Somewhere in the 15-20 hour range it became even tighter than it was out of the box and with improved pitch
Is the S1500 the ultimate musical sub? I can’t really say as it’s the only sub I’ve ever had in my system. What I can say is that the low end sound/support it provides is clean, deep, has a really good pitch and blends well with the mains. So, as the 30 days comes to a close, the S1500 is definitely not going back and I can’t say enough good things about dealing with PSA.
I suspect that in the months to come, I will get around to trying further tweaks with a REW/miniDSP or a DSPeaker Antimode, and when that happens, I will report back.