Klipsch R-115SW Subwoofer Official AVS Forum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 288 Old 05-11-2015, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Klipsch R-115SW Subwoofer Official AVS Forum Review



Is bigger better when it comes to subwoofers? Mark Henninger investigates the capabilities of a powerful ported 15-incher from Klipsch.

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There's more than one way to build a subwoofer that plays loud and deep. With its R-115SW ($900), Klipsch succeeds in delivering full-range performance for under a grand. The sub is a perfect accompaniment to Klipsch's new Reference Premiere line of speakers, which are next up in my review queue. But since it's more than suitable for use with any brand of speakers, I'm giving the sub a stand-alone review.

Klipsch is no newcomer to the subwoofer game; its subs are in many electronics stores across North America and throughout the world. It's a mainstream brand, and as such it enjoys the economy of scale that translates to aggressive pricing.

Klipsch made a name for itself with horn-loaded speaker designs that offer high efficiency and dynamic performance. Nobody buys a Klipsch system to play background music—typically, the company's speakers are the life of the party.

Glancing at the R-115SW, it's obvious the sub fits the Klipsch mold. Its no-nonsense design is all about putting an evil grin on your face while triggering seismometers two counties away.

Klipsch sent two R-115SWs for review as part of a 7.2-channel surround system. (I've made it a standard practice to request dual subwoofers for all reviews because I feel two subs—of the same model—are almost always better than one.)


Features

The R-115SW is a 75-pound, 15-inch, 400-watt (800 peak) vented subwoofer that offers a frequency response from 18 to 125 Hz +/-3 dB. It's a sizeable sub, measuring 19.5" (W) by 21.5" (H) and 22.3" deep. Klipsch offers it in one finish, a brushed black-polymer veneer.

Each sub includes a detachable cloth grill, which removes to reveal the 15" Cerametallic aluminum cone with its signature copper-colored finish. The design employs a slot-shaped, forward-venting tuned port.

The sub's rear panel sports a rather minimalist set of inputs and controls. There is no speaker-level input, and the R-115SW does not offer audio pass-through with its stereo RCA line-level inputs. One knob adjusts the crossover point, and a second adjusts gain. There is a LFE setting that disables the crossover. It's clear this sub is for use with a modern AVR offering built-in bass management.


The minimalist rear panel has what you need to use the sub with an AVR or pre/pro. 2-channel options are minimal.

On the back, you'll also find one toggle switch for phase and another for power. A DIP switch lets you chose between 120V and 240V. Last but not least, the sub includes a WA port that works with the Klipsch WA-2 Wireless Subwoofer Kit to provide a wireless connection.


Setup

I placed the twin R-115SWs so they flanked the Klipsch RS280 towers that are part of the 7.2-channel system sent to me for review. The system took up every last inch of space in my studio—I cannot fit a larger system in this room.


This Klipsch system tested the outer limits of what I can fit in my studio, as well as my neighbors' patience.

Crestron's PSPHD 7.3-channel pre/pro handled digital audio-decoding duties. I used an 80 Hz crossover when integrating the subs with the tower speakers.

Taking measurements of sine-wave sweeps with REW, I found the bass response was uneven around my main listening position—more so than with other subwoofers. I measured a 12 dB spread (+/-5 dB) between the peaks and the nulls. My guess is the front-firing ports on the Klipsch subs make them sensitive to less than optimal placement.

I have few other options for placing such large enclosures. Fortunately, I was able to use EQ to tame the subs and bring the spread between peaks and nulls down to around +/-3 dB while seated in the main listening position.


Performance

The R-115SW is a big sub that belts out prodigious quantities of bass. I'm confident many people would find the output of a single R-115SW more than adequate for music and movie watching. The sub is especially generous when it comes to doling out bass in the 20-30 Hz region. Whether it's rattling the rafters reproducing the upright bass on Dawn of Midi's Dysnomia or disturbing the neighbors by telegraphing the infrasonic percussive soundscapes of Meat Beat Manifesto's Answers Come in Dreams, the R-115SW delivers a bone-rattling performance in terms of sheer output.

I ran sine-wave sweeps and was able to energize the entire room with one sub. I achieved room lock (that physical sensation you get from the bass) from 18 Hz on up, and with plenty of headroom to spare. However, pipe-organ fans should take note that the ported design means that the response drops off a cliff below 18 Hz.

Sine waves at 20 Hz coming from dual R-115SWs measured 110 dB at my main listening position—enough to make my vision blurry and trigger nausea. Seriously, that's more bass than I need. However, when I tried to reproduce 16 Hz, the port started chuffing, and there was very little energy. Klipsch's 18 Hz low-frequency rating appears to be 100% accurate.

I wasn't able to sense the micro-dynamic nuance I've heard from some other subs, such as the GoldenEar ForceField 5 or the JL Audio e112 (review coming soon), but that's unsurprising, since both those subs have more powerful amplifiers attached to smaller drivers—and cost more. I don't have measurements, but I'd guess damping factor—the amp's ability to maintain control of the cone's movement—comes into play. Nevertheless, neither of those subs offer as much output per dollar as the Klipsch R-115SW.

Conclusion

I'll discuss R-115SW again when I publish the Reference Premiere 7.2 system review. For now, suffice it to say that these subs provide a gratifying amount of deep-bass punch.

From a price/performance perspective, I gladly and strongly recommend the R-115SW for bass addicts and movie lovers. While I typically suggest holding out for dual subs, one R-115SW offers so much impact, it's almost a no-brainer for home theater use—you can always add another one later if (when) the cravings get to be too much.

My review of the entire Klipsch system is coming soon, and in it, I'll describe extensive movie and music listening experiences featuring these powerful yet affordable subwoofers. Stay tuned!


REVIEW SYSTEM

Sources

DIY PC (Windows 8) running Tidal and iTunes

Amplification and Processing

Crestron Procise PSPHD pre/pro
Crestron Procise ProAmp 7x250

Cables

Monoprice 12-gauge OFC speaker cables
Mediabridge Ultra Series subwoofer cable
Mediabridge Ultra Series HDMI cable

Additional Components

Klipsch RS280 Tower Loudspeakers

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Mark Henninger, Senior Editor at AVS Forum

Last edited by imagic; 05-11-2015 at 11:41 AM. Reason: frontpage, klipsch, subwoofer, R-115SW
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post #2 of 288 Old 05-11-2015, 11:50 AM
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Both subs are corner loaded, and the room itself doesn't seem to be that big (can you list the dimensions?) - I would imagine both of these factors contribute to the sub's measured performance.

I would also be curious to find out how this sub compares to more compact/sealed 15" ID subs such as the PSA S-1500 or Rhythmik E15.
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post #3 of 288 Old 05-11-2015, 11:57 AM
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You take great pictures for all of your reviews, but these speakers look like they were meant for your studio.
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post #4 of 288 Old 05-11-2015, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tezster View Post
Both subs are corner loaded, and the room itself doesn't seem to be that big (can you list the dimensions?) - I would imagine both of these factors contribute to the sub's measured performance.

I would also be curious to find out how this sub compares to more compact/sealed 15" ID subs such as the PSA S-1500 or Rhythmik E15.
That is correct, total room volume is around 1900 cubic feet. And corner loading does add extra room gain, but it is also a very convenient place to put twin large subs.

Lots of good options out there when it comes to 15-inchers. I definitely am curious how it would compare.
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Mark,

You might want to listen to the podcast with Scott about a year ago, where that one gentleman specialized on room correction etc. explained that the subwoofers should be in the middle of the sidewalls to create as little as possible room resonances. I only have one sub, so for now it is in my right corner, but if I ever get another one, I will place as suggested.

Cheers

P.S. It would be nice in your reviews, if you would support your words with some graphs (as in, how steep does the sound fall off below 18Hz etc.)
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post #6 of 288 Old 05-11-2015, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boguspomp View Post
Mark,

You might want to listen to the podcast with Scott about a year ago, where that one gentleman specialized on room correction etc. explained that the subwoofers should be in the middle of the sidewalls to create as little as possible room resonances. I only have one sub, so for now it is in my right corner, but if I ever get another one, I will place as suggested.

Cheers

P.S. It would be nice in your reviews, if you would support your words with some graphs (as in, how steep does the sound fall off below 18Hz etc.)
I am familiar with that approach, and if I had a custom dedicated room I would choose sub location based on what's optimum. I also read Sound Reproduction: The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms by Floyd Toole and spend many hours discussing bass with Keith Yates.

Notably, when I'm listening to my own system I use a near-field sub behind my couch in addition to two subs up front... one of my DIY Sump Basins.

But there is not universal agreement on the best approach. Peter Lyngdorf espouses putting the subs on the front wall, as does Paul Hales. One AVS member, popalock, had subs the likes of which I have never heard before or since. 16 18-inchers. I have heard good results from all sorts of setups.

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Last edited by imagic; 05-11-2015 at 01:34 PM.
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post #7 of 288 Old 05-11-2015, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by boguspomp View Post
Mark,


P.S. It would be nice in your reviews, if you would support your words with some graphs (as in, how steep does the sound fall off below 18Hz etc.)
This one is tricky because I have in-room reflections to deal with,, but here's a nearfield measurement. It confirms Klipsch's spec, it's -3 dB at 18 Hz. I suppose it looks like it is falling off a cliff at 20 Hz, but that's because I measured that small bump at 21 Hz. The point is 18 Hz was usable while 16 Hz was not.

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Is well know in the audio forums that Klipsch inflate the spec specially on the sensitivity part ,they don't really fit into the high
sensitivity speakers group, just read reviews on the internet and the measurements , someone that is always talking about this is Bill Fitzmaurice.

I think the only true high sensitivity speakers are the THX ones and the Vintage ones.

they are still great speaker for movies do to the exciting high frequency's.

some people don't like the cooper cone look and IMO it looks very nice.

I can't comment on the subs much , I usually look into SVS ,PSA,HSU....

I wonder about the quality of this new line,this new line is the first made after Audiovox bought Klpish.
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I enjoyed reading your review Mark. ...This is a serious subwoofer for serious subwoofer people. ...Movie people.
I also love its looks, with that copper/gold driver.
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post #10 of 288 Old 05-11-2015, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by losservatore View Post
Is well know in the audio forums that Klipsch inflate the spec specially on the sensitivity part ,they don't really fit into the high
sensitivity speakers group, just read reviews on the internet and the measurements , someone that is always talking about this is Bill Fitzmaurice.

I think the only true high sensitivity speakers are the THX ones and the Vintage ones.

they are still great speaker for movies do to the exciting high frequency's.

some people don't like the cooper cone look and IMO it looks very nice.

I can't comment on the subs much , I usually look into SVS ,PSA,HSU....

I wonder about the quality of this new line,this new line is the first made after Audiovox bought Klpish.
For the R280 tower, Klipsch lists a sensitivity of 98 dB 1W/1M. That's right in-between true high-sensitivity speaker designs like a JBL Screen Array (104 dB) and a regular dome-based tower like a Polk Audio TSx550T (91 dB). it's not the sort of stat you fudge.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by losservatore View Post
Is well know in the audio forums that Klipsch inflate the spec specially on the sensitivity part ,they don't really fit into the high
sensitivity speakers group, just read reviews on the internet and the measurements , someone that is always talking about this is Bill Fitzmaurice.

I think the only true high sensitivity speakers are the THX ones and the Vintage ones.

they are still great speaker for movies do to the exciting high frequency's.

some people don't like the cooper cone look and IMO it looks very nice.

I can't comment on the subs much , I usually look into SVS ,PSA,HSU....

I wonder about the quality of this new line,this new line is the first made after Audiovox bought Klpish.
My first real speakers were a pair of Klipsch KG3s I bought in 1988 or 89. My mundane Onkyo stereo receiver could drive those speakers louder than I could listen to and I have yet to own a pair of speakers that were is easy to drive as the KG3s. I bought them based on their sound plus they were spec'd at 98db sensitivity. The tweeter that was horn loaded was also made of silk if I remember correctly and was not harsh at all. I wish I still had those speakers now that I have a sub.
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Great review. It sure would look good in cherry
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Quote:
Originally Posted by losservatore View Post
Is well know in the audio forums that Klipsch inflate the spec specially on the sensitivity part ,they don't really fit into the high
sensitivity speakers group, just read reviews on the internet and the measurements , someone that is always talking about this is Bill Fitzmaurice.

I think the only true high sensitivity speakers are the THX ones and the Vintage ones.

they are still great speaker for movies do to the exciting high frequency's.

some people don't like the cooper cone look and IMO it looks very nice.

I can't comment on the subs much , I usually look into SVS ,PSA,HSU....

I wonder about the quality of this new line,this new line is the first made after Audiovox bought Klpish.
fudge specs? yeah they do a tad. they are still pretty dang easy to drive. much more than polk or others that they are compared to so often.

you are a bit off on the guess. the heritage and cinema line up hold true to the ratings. everything else is about 3 db off with the thx being the least sensitive of all of the modern lines.

klipsch to some, are bright speakers. i always laugh when people say that. i have owned a ton of klipsch and currently own their cinema line, palladium line, reference ii, and reference premiere line. not a single one of them sound bright to me and i have had hundreds of people to my house to hear them and not one has ever said they were bright either.

they really do offer a great speaker for the money in my opinion. there is better out there for certain criteria but to me there is no one speaker that is perfect for everything. klipsch makes a good all around speaker.

these subs are the first i have enjoyed from klipsch in a while. they have had some overpriced boomy one noters recently. these are a step in the right direction. next series of subs could be a home run if they keep up the good work.

also i know we are comparing this sub with 900 dollar subs as that is the msrp but there are tons of places that sell this sub for 650$ so keep that in mind.
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post #14 of 288 Old 05-11-2015, 07:07 PM
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fudge specs? yeah they do a tad. they are still pretty dang easy to drive. much more than polk or others that they are compared to so often.

you are a bit off on the guess. the heritage and cinema line up hold true to the ratings. everything else is about 3 db off with the thx being the least sensitive of all of the modern lines.

klipsch to some, are bright speakers. i always laugh when people say that. i have owned a ton of klipsch and currently own their cinema line, palladium line, reference ii, and reference premiere line. not a single one of them sound bright to me and i have had hundreds of people to my house to hear them and not one has ever said they were bright either.

they really do offer a great speaker for the money in my opinion. there is better out there for certain criteria but to me there is no one speaker that is perfect for everything. klipsch makes a good all around speaker.

these subs are the first i have enjoyed from klipsch in a while. they have had some overpriced boomy one noters recently. these are a step in the right direction. next series of subs could be a home run if they keep up the good work.

also i know we are comparing this sub with 900 dollar subs as that is the msrp but there are tons of places that sell this sub for 650$ so keep that in mind.
Thanks for confirming that they advertise a higher sensitivity than what they really are.

hundreds of people has heard your speakers? wow
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post #15 of 288 Old 05-11-2015, 07:41 PM
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I really don't think the sensitivity above 90db really matters if it's off a few dbs, unless you planning to drive them with some low powered tube amp. Even entry level AVRs should drive these with ease. Anyway this review is about the sub.
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by ceptorman View Post
Great review. It sure would look good in cherry
Why would his review look good in cherry?

(I think you deliberately fed us that one-liner)
+++

I will add my sentiments to yours, great review. I enjoy the conversational style of reporting, very easy to read.

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I really don't think the sensitivity above 90db really matters if it's off a few dbs, unless you planning to drive them with some low powered tube amp. Even entry level AVRs should drive these with ease. Anyway this review is about the sub.

I understand my Revel speakers are 88db and my marantz SR7005 drive them pretty well in my medium living room ,but I would like to try the speakers with an amp.

I didn't mean to make someone feel uncomfortable about the post, is something that I read very often on the forums and threads.

I have audition the klipsch before in a av store but never at home.

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A nice review and the speakers look spectacular! The setup looks bold and ready to deliver big home theater performance. I would love to demo one of the subs.
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Originally Posted by losservatore View Post
I understand my speakers are 88db and my marantz SR7005 drive them pretty well in my medium living room ,but I would like to try the speakers with an amp.

I didn't mean to make someone feel uncomfortable about the post, is something that I read very often on the forums and threads.

I have audition the klipsch before in a av store but never at home.
You didn't make me uncomfortable all I'm saying is sensitivity figures are not something worth worry about much unless they are unusually low, which is clearly not the case when it comes to Klipsch.
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I hope Klipsch did it right this time and internally braced such a large box. Well going by the weight (72 lbs), I think they didn't. too bad.....Also, it should walk all over the hard flooring with that 15" driver pounding away
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You didn't make me uncomfortable all I'm saying is sensitivity figures are not something worth worry about much unless they are unusually low, which is clearly not the case when it comes to Klipsch.

I understand ,the problem about rating the wrong sensitivity is that it raise controversy about the speaker in general , Specially about the speaker line that have the incorrect sensitivity rating.

but I agree this is about the sub and honestly very few times I talk about klipsch.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by losservatore View Post
Is well know in the audio forums that Klipsch inflate the spec specially on the sensitivity part ,they don't really fit into the high
sensitivity speakers group, just read reviews on the internet and the measurements , someone that is always talking about this is Bill Fitzmaurice.

I think the only true high sensitivity speakers are the THX ones and the Vintage ones.

they are still great speaker for movies do to the exciting high frequency's.

some people don't like the cooper cone look and IMO it looks very nice.

I can't comment on the subs much , I usually look into SVS ,PSA,HSU....

I wonder about the quality of this new line,this new line is the first made after Audiovox bought Klipsh.
I own Klipsch Heritage, Klipsch Pro and Klipsch Cinema speakers, and they do not inflate the specs on those.
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post #23 of 288 Old 05-12-2015, 07:42 AM
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Enjoyed the review, Mark! Glad to see people are diggin' our new subwoofers.

I have a R-112SW in my house and I'm liking it more than our previous subs.
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post #24 of 288 Old 05-12-2015, 07:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Alex L View Post
Enjoyed the review, Mark! Glad to see people are diggin' our new subwoofers.

I have a R-112SW in my house and I'm liking it more than our previous subs.
Hey Alex, I just got word I'm going to the Indy 500 this year! Looking forward to seeing Klipsch's hometown.
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post #25 of 288 Old 05-12-2015, 08:04 AM
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I would also be curious to find out how this sub compares to more compact/sealed 15" ID subs such as the PSA S-1500 or Rhythmik E15.
The entry level PSA XS15se sub, will blow the R-115SW out of the water and for less money.
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post #26 of 288 Old 05-12-2015, 08:12 AM - Thread Starter
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The entry level PSA XS15se sub, will blow the R-115SW out of the water and for less money.
There's an interesting little chart on that compay's website... https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/01...6_big.png?2389 According to its calculations, it takes two SB-2000s to equal one of its subs.

I say it is interesting because I have a SB-2000 right here, and it would take roughly two of those to match the output of the Klipsch from 18 Hz on up. If I get a chance, I'll perform that calculation. The main difference I see is that the sub you mention is sealed and has some more continuous power on tap, whereas the Klipsch has a tuned port and a bit less power, but potentially makes up for it with added efficiency at port tune.

I sincerely doubt there would be that much difference in a direct comparison because these are subs, and basic physics apply—I see no secret sauce. If it were not for the chuffing that made it distracting, I'd note that the R-115SW is also 12 dB down at 16 Hz—same as that other sub. But by 20 Hz it is in its comfort zone for block-rocking. Even it the Klispch were sealed, the difference in power (400 vs 550 watts) would add up to very little decibel-wise. Just sayin'.
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post #27 of 288 Old 05-12-2015, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by coolcat4843 View Post
The entry level PSA XS15se sub, will blow the R-115SW out of the water and for less money.
Have you even heard the Klipsch? It's an incredible sub for the money, and most dealers will discount the $899 price tag to make it an even better deal. You ID sub lemmings are such pests.

<---ID sub owner.
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post #28 of 288 Old 05-12-2015, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post
I sincerely doubt there would be that much difference in a direct comparison because these are subs, and basic physics apply—I see no secret sauce. Even it the Klispch were sealed, the difference in power (400 vs 550 watts) would add up to very little decibel-wise. Just sayin'.
The PSA XS15se has in-room extension down to 12Hz.
Which makes it great for watching bass laden movies, like War of the Worlds, Edge of Tomorrow and A Good Day To Die Hard.
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The PSA XS15se has in-room extension down to 12Hz.
Which makes it great for watching bass laden movies, like War of the Worlds, Edge of Tomorrow and A Good Day To Die Hard.
I have dual XS15se's. You would need quite a small room to have in-room extension down to 12 Hz that you would actually notice.
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post #30 of 288 Old 05-12-2015, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
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The PSA XS15se has in-room extension down to 12Hz.
Which makes it great for watching bass laden movies, like War of the Worlds, Edge of Tomorrow and A Good Day To Die Hard.
To do 12 Hz right with sealed subs, it's preferable to have something like this sub subwoofer system popalock built that was part of the first-ever AVS HToM... The subs could keep up with those RF-7IIs at any level, it was scary.


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