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post #1 of 99 Old 11-04-2007, 06:19 PM - Thread Starter
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This session was a continuation of the listening tests conducted at PBC's place in September. http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=913510.

It was decided that for Part 2 we move to a larger HT dedicated room with room treatments and equalize all the subs. So I volunteered my room last Saturday and the group consisting of myself, PBC, Huff, Jesse S, the Bogg, and Soundemon (from Canuckaudiomart) gathered at noon for a day of chatting, comparing gear, food and beverage. And we also listened to a few subs.

The room is 19'x21'x8' ft with floor to ceiling basstraps in the corners. The entire front wall is covered in Roxul R12 acoustical panels hidden behind heavy Velvet curtain. A quarter of each sidewall is also covered with Roxul 12 panels. Overall the room is well damped but not overly so. The A/V gear consisted of the following: 7 Totem Model One speakers crossed at 90hz, Arcam avp700, Outlaw 770 amp, Toshiba XA2 HD-DVD player, JVC-RS1 projector, Vutec Silverstar screen, SMS-1 equalizer.



We spent the first couple of hours setting up the subs on the left side midwall 3 metres from the seats, and connecting them to a switchbox for blind testing. Each sub was equalized flat using an SMS for easy switching as well. All subs were calibrated flat at 80db, 2db hot or 3db below Dolby reference. The idea was to test these subs using a variety of demanding music and soundtracks, and in particular to see how they behaved when pushed near their limits.



The subs for this session consisted initially of from left to right: Axiom EP600, Velodyne DD-18, EP400 pair, JL113, SVS Ultra-13, and an older Velodyne FSR (HGS)-18. The FSR-18 response appeared to be oscillating when we tried adjusting it with the SMS so it was dropped from the actually listening session.

After equalizing the subs we spent an hour or so acclimatizing ourselves with tunes and soundtracks. After a food and beverage break the group got down to business, blind listening as I switched subs with various soundtracks and some music. Because I was doing the switching and knew the identities of the subs I will save my comments for last but it was interesting listening to impressions.

John
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post #2 of 99 Old 11-04-2007, 06:25 PM
 
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John ... Looking forward to reading the results ... I know from other posts you love that little Axiom. And you sure had quite the group of guys there !
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post #3 of 99 Old 11-04-2007, 06:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey Craig, glad to see you back in form. . Yes, as I've already posted I like the sound quality of the little guy though I'm not telling stories out of school that it couldn't match the output of the big guns. It was a long fun day that started around 11:30am and ended around 9:30pm when the Leafs/Canadiens game ended. That's what happens when there's too much food and drink on the table. After the sub session, we almost got into an amp comparison shootout in my listening room upstairs. My next project will be checking out a pair of Bryston 4bssts vs. a pair of McIntsh 2102s vs. Outlaw 770 vs the new Axiom A1400-8 amp.

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post #4 of 99 Old 11-04-2007, 07:30 PM - Thread Starter
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PBC is a mod at another site and he just posted his commentary which I've taken the liberty of pasting here in its entirety. Good post Steve.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PBC View Post

So we headed over to John's house for the second round of what I will call fun with subs!

John has a spectacular house, with what seemed like rooms full of audio/video stuff all over the place! John and his wife were wonderful hosts, and the food and beverages were incredible! Nothing like a beef tenderloin sandwich to get the day going, especially after lugging that 155lb beast back and forth from my SUV!

There was 6 of us in total, with Asher having to leave very early unfortunately as he was on call. As you can see in the picture, the subs we listened to were:

Axiom EP600
Velo DD-18
Dual Axiom EP400's (you can see one on top of the Velo)
JL Fathom F113
SVS PB13 Ultra

The last sub is the Velo HGS18, but we were having issues with it right off the bat so left it out.

The room was relatively large, at about 3,000 cubic feet and sealed with bass traps all over the place. It had a steep but narrow null from about 38 to 42hz or so, then again up in the 120 range if I recall. The speakers (6 Totem Model 1's and a matching CC) were crossed over at 90 on John's Arcam pre, and were driven via an Outlaw 770 amp. The video source was very impressive, what I believe was a JVC DLA-RS2 on a 110 16:9 screen. The speakers were incredibly articulate and sounded great, and HD sources (I stuck around to watch a bit of 300 and then a couple periods of the Leaf's game after everyone had left) was a site to see! DVDs/CDs were played through a Toshiba XA-2 HD-DVD player.

We equalized all subs before hand using the SMS-1 (more on this a bit later), took about 1.5 hours or so (for some reason the SMS started messing with the settings after they were saved the first time around), so we had sine waves in our heads for quite some time!

We only listened to the EP-400's for a couple scenes and quickly realized it simply couldn't keep up from an extension perspective with the rest and left it for some music tests at the very end. It sounded wonderful with some bass guitar tracks (Eric Clapton) that we had played, an impressive little performer. Looking at the SMS graphs, it rolled off considerably at about 27/28hz or so. Would make a great sub for stereo applications or in a small room (e.g., a condo) and was very clean.

The scenes/music we tested the remaining 4 subs in were:

Cars - Highway scene with lots of rap
Eric Clapton - bass guitar solo
Pulse - not sure what the scene is called, but you know which I mean!
WOTW - Laser scene
Sasha - Not sure which CD, but basically house music
Macus Miller - fantastic bass guitar track

We tested an organ track at the end but I can't recall what it was (reached down to 17hz or so) and I unfortunately didn't take notes at that point!

As most of these scenes were new to me and I'm still new at this stuff, I had some difficulties with getting pen to paper with what I was hearing, but I did my best in any event! It was very difficult doing it with 4 subs blind as by the time I hit the 3rd/4th sub, I was having trouble remember what the heck the first one sounded like! John manned the switcher and was the only non-blind participant.

Before I start, I will add that it's incredible just how subjective this really is, which confirmed what I've felt all along about subs. Some people will simply like the way one sub sounds over another, and then like a different sub for a different application or scene! Just checking the notes of others showed just how so, since the other participants had different results in most of the scenes!

The SVS was tuned to 20hz, and all listening was done at -5db DD, unless noted otherwise.

Cars
This was a difficult track to judge, as I'm not a huge fan of rap and therefore aren't entirely sure what it's supposed to sound like (i.e., I was guessing it should be boomy vs. tight).

Sub 1 - This sub seemed somewhat reserved to me on the track, the notes were pretty clean, but didn't seem to have the same chest slam as 2 or 3 in this scenario.
Sub 2 - Seemed a tad more loose than sub 1, but did have that boom/slam I would have thought one would want with this sort of track
Sub 3 - was somewhat similar to Sub 2, but with more chest slam and possibly slightly higher SPL? Hard to choose between this and sub 2, but give this the slight nod as it had a tad more output/feel, in particular where the fire juts out of the exhaust of one of the cars.
Sub 4 - Again, less output than 2 or 3, but seemed tighter and cleaner. Similar to 1, but not much output with the exhaust like sub 3 and 2.

After this first scene, I was thinking 1 and 4 were the sealed subs (I was only half right!).

Eric Clapton

Sub 1 - The bass guitar seemed a tad muddy to me, with not a lot of definition, in particular, I wasn't getting that nice plucking sound when the bass player was playing.
Sub 2 - Much tighter than number 1, I thought this was the 2nd best sounding sub of the lot for this scene. Seemed to give you that I'm there feeling
Sub 3 - personally I thought this sub performed the worst of the 4 in this test. Again, this is highly subjective, as by worse we are practically splitting hairs here! Just seemed the most loose of the bunch to me, but did have some nice slam, just too much overhang for my tastes.
Sub 4 - Personally, my favourite for this scene. Good tight sound, hate to use the term fast but just seemed to recover the best after each note.

Pulse (-5db)
Before I start on this one, I have to say that John seemed very much inebriated here after just 1 glass of scotch! Kidding of course! But after playing 3 subs he sheepishly looked over and said darn, I think I screwed up on the last one. So hopefully I'm getting the order right, but in any event you'll see my responses below. This was by far the hardest scene to judge, as none of us really knew what it was supposed to sound like and almost all the subs were hitting their limits here. Jesse was just sitting there with a smug look on his face as we all struggled asking is that what this is supposed to sound like? Jesse, with his 4 18 Avalanche IB setup with 2500 watts, simply said no, that is definitely not what it is supposed to sound like. In his system he indicated the pulse is all around you and not localized at all. Also, it seemed many of the subs were reversing the pulse to him (I'll let him explain that if he joins in).

Basically at this point I was just listening for bottoming out, or what Ilkka believes is the subs' limiters engaging.

Sub 1 - bottomed out in the hallway sooner than sub 2
Sub 2 - bottomed out as the woman opens the door
Sub 3 - Started to bottom out just before the opening of the door, then a ton of that ugly sound once she walks into the room!
Sub 4 - Very little impact in the hallway, then when she opens the door this is where Jesse felt the sound of the Pulse was reversed (i.e., higher then lower, or vice versa, I can't recall!). The sub didn't bottom out, but clearly its limits were reached as the SPL just wasn't there

Pulse (-15db)
Sub 1 - clean, but not a lot of SPL/slam
Sub 2 - seemed to hit it's limits at open of the door
Sub 3 - very similar sound to 2, slightly less bottoming out?
Sub 4 - again, did not bottom at all, but couldn't even hear the heartbeat?

WOTW - Laser

Sub 1 - Very clean sounding laser blasts, good slam/response
Sub 2 - Great SPL and good punch, think it was my favourite on this scene
Sub 3 - sub seemed to continuously hit it's limits, very high SPL and great slam, but that ugly noise reared its head a few too many times
Sub 4 - Very clean, articulate, but not a lot of slam. Very pleasant though.


Sasha
I won't really go into this track as all the subs seemed to sound the same to me here. I believe sub 3 seemed to reach the deepest at one part though.

Marcus Miller
Sub 1 - to my ears the best sounding sub (which is odd, given that I wasn't a fan of this sub for the Clapton bass guitar solo)
Sub 2 - Good kick, possibly some overhand?
Sub 3 - The most output and good full sound, great chest slam, just not as articulate as the first sub to my ears.
Sub 4 - Wasn't as impressed with this sub for this scene

As you can see, and I hate to sit on the fence like this, but for me there was no clear winner. We had a discussion about this at the end and most agreed that each sub had it's positives and negatives, or trade-offs if you will. I jokingly added you'd almost want a different sub depending on what scene you're listening to and everyone agreed.

The subs were:

Sub 1 - Axiom EP600
Sub 2 - Fathom F113
Sub 3 - SVS PB13
Sub 4 - Velo DD18

Personally I have to admit I wasn't impressed with the fact that we seemed to keep getting the limiter to engage on the PB13 in 20hz mode, which had me wondering whether the new amp still had some issues?

We did listen to the Eric Clapton scene again with the PB13 in sealed mode and were quite impressed with its sound. In sealed it's a very musical sub and seemed to keep up with the F113 to my ears here. The EP400s were very impressive with this track as well!

At the end as John mentioned we tried to torture the PB13 in 10hz mode as John felt if the sub was going to fail, this is where it would fail. So we put it to the test (besides, Ron and Ed at SVS were pretty clear when they told me to test it out!). At -5db the limiter was engaging big time and those farts were coming out all over the place. But the sub didn't stop, that's for sure! We decided to try it again, but this time without the SMS-1, and for those of you interested, this definitely showed the SMS1 was limiting the output at lower frequencies as the sub was much louder after this. However, the limiter was kicking in even more often (obviously). Hopefully Velo comes out with their firmware fix for this ASAP. Although in this case it did exactly what they intended it to do!

That's it for now folks. Sorry that this wasn't as helpful as I would have hoped. What was clear to me was that each of these subs were incredible performers and sounded different depending on the application/scene. The Servo on the DD-18 was impressive in keeping it's distortion to a minimum, albeit by limiting its output. However, that is what it's intended to do!

Cheers,

STeve


John
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post #5 of 99 Old 11-04-2007, 07:36 PM
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I'm looking forward to these impressions as well. I heard 4 of the EP400's in a room that also contained 4 of the EP600's at the Audioholics show in Clearwater, FL last month. I thought the "little" 400's easily held their own against their very much bigger brothers. For their size, I thought they were an amazing subwoofer system!

However, this was in a poorly optimized room, on a concrete foundation and with minimal room treatments. (Actually, there were some room treatments in the room, but they were deployed more for visual effect, not sonic optimization.) I think the EP600's were not optimally deployed in this application. I would be very interested in your findings in a more optimal listening environment.

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post #6 of 99 Old 11-04-2007, 07:38 PM
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wow, very enlightening. thanks for sharing. that's what A/B listening should be like ... blind!

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post #7 of 99 Old 11-04-2007, 07:45 PM - Thread Starter
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People often think that blind testing is easy to set up and participate in but it can be quite difficult which is why its best after some hours of climatizing to the room and sounds.

By the way the switching consisted of switching cable inputs at the hidden box on the sub and switching to the subs equaliztion setting at the SMS. If I had been inebriated I wouldn't have caught that one spot where we needed to redo the test.

Steve mentioned an organ track we played towards the end of the day. It was "Gnomus" from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition", a glorious organ piece performed by Jean Guillou in 1988 on the Great Kleuker-Steinmeyer Organ of the Tonhalle, Zurich. It's 32 ft. pipes played sustained loud 16hz notes which presented another challenge for the subs and participants.

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post #8 of 99 Old 11-04-2007, 08:03 PM
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I still hear those test tones in my head!

Thanks to John and his charming wife for a feast fit for royalty. Certainly raised the bar with that tenderloin, fine cheese etc...

Unfortunately, the call of duty came too early and I had to leave before we really got into the testing, but I did get to experience a few scenes.

I hadn't seen the Pulse scene before. It sounded distorted at fairly low volume on both the fathom and the pb13. I wondered if it was an error in the recording or something...I'll try it at my place once I'm set up.

I think one of the reasons that the subs may have overloaded at levels well below reference was because bass management was used below 90hz all the way around. I don't know about Pulse specifically but some soundtracks have significant bass in all the channels so that when everything is sent to the sub it will reach its limits sooner than if it was just doing the lfe.

Hopefully my room (Rives level 3 design) will be finished in a couple of months and we can do round 3 there.

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post #9 of 99 Old 11-04-2007, 08:12 PM
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One thing that should be noted: The SMS-1 is known to be prone to heavy distortion on the input side. Perhaps it is being overloaded during the Pulse scene.
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post #10 of 99 Old 11-04-2007, 08:22 PM - Thread Starter
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That's a distinct possibility Mike as we were playing a DTS Pulse track which is 4-6db hotter than Dolby Digital so we were forcing the subs into a stressed state. Nevertheless, all the subs were subjected to the same equalized amplitude signal. Part of what we do is test the limits and Pulse played loudly is in the league of WoTW and FoTP. Its intense tracks like these which often reveal the designer's tradeoffs and sub limitations. They remind me that graphs only tell part of the story.

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post #11 of 99 Old 11-04-2007, 08:24 PM
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It's funny, I thought it sounded distorted even at -15db... The Fathom has a limiter so you shouldn't be able to make it bottom out (according to a previous post by MSmith on the Fathom forum) yet it sounded distorted just like the pb13.

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post #12 of 99 Old 11-04-2007, 08:32 PM - Thread Starter
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That scene sounded different with each sub. When I play it at lower levels with my trio of 2 Velos and JL113, it has a synthetic computer generated quality to it which I suppose is what the director intended. The 15-30hz bass sounds on Saturday in that scene coming out of all those subs at DD reference audibly had lots of distortion, though some more than others.

John
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post #13 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 03:27 AM
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Since the distortion of the SMS-1 is in its input stage, you might want to reduce the preamp output by 7 and make it up on the SMS-1 to see if the distortion at reference levels is still there. This would narrow down whether the distortion is SMS-1 induced or in the subwoofer.

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post #14 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 04:20 AM - Thread Starter
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That's how I use the SMS Jim. Sub level input is always kept between -5 and -8. What was being heard was the subs trying to reproduce a very low powerful transient. Not all of them could do it well.

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post #15 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 05:55 AM
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As I mentioned over at the SPoT, we still heard the "farting" noises or distortion (which Ilkka believes is the limiter kicking in) with WOTW with and without the SMS-1. I don't have the actual DVD, guess I'll have to buy it and test it out at home.

We didn't try Pulse without the SMS-1.

Quote:


I wondered if it was an error in the recording or something...I'll try it at my place once I'm set up.

Interesting, hadn't thought of that? Odd though that it also happened with the Laser scene in WOTW, I played that scene on Wed night (or Tues?) and Pods emerging at my house at reference in 15hz tune and don't recall hearing those noises.

Having said that, at my house I had the gain setting at just over 1 notch (i.e., very low) to achieve reference in a corner loaded nearfield placement, at John's place the volume was just short of half way (say 11 o'clock) to hit reference and was several feet from the corner. Could it be that the peaks were overloading the amp and causing it to hit its limits earlier than it would at my place? Just a thought, as I'm not a sub or amp expert by any stretch of the imagination!

 

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post #16 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 07:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Steve, the Ultra was around 3.5 metres from the measurement location whereas at your place we were measuring about 2 metres from the sub. So you are right we needed to raise volume on all the subs to get to 80db. All subs would be under more stress in my HT which is also more damped with the wall treatments and bass traps compared to your living room. The other thing to keep in mind is we applied deep cuts on all the subs but more on the Ultra as it was closer to the corner in order to get linear response down low.

I'm hesitate to get into my own views before everyone chimes in but what you were calling "bottoming" may also have been amp clipping distortion and/or heavy chuffing. All sorts of nasty artifacts happen when a sub reaches its limits. Its what I used to hear on my old single Ultra with Flight of the Phoenix at reference. To be fair all the subs were having a tough time with the DTS Pulse track which comparatively speaking was slightly above DD reference levels. I doubt few sane people would play it at those levels when watching this movie. In any event, its why I always recommend dual subs for the extra headroom no matter what sub we are talking about.

John
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post #17 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 08:07 AM
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I am sure it has been said numerous times before but after looking at the subwoofers "mug shot" line-up, it is incrdible that the Jl can put out so much sound from such a little box (comparatively).
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post #18 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 08:33 AM
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John, I didn't find the bass all that overwhelming in Pulse. The distortion was quite noticeable though. There should have been more pants-flapping as far as I'm concerned based on my own experience with the fathom and the auditioning of steve's ultra 13.

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post #19 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 09:36 AM - Thread Starter
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That was very loud to me Asher, and there was significant harmonic distortion coming from the single subs which was being audibly reproduced at higher frequencies. Most of the Pulse fundamental is in the 15hz to 30hz zone. When I play that track with multiple subs the sound is cleaner but its still an unusual sounding bass transient which gets much louder when she steps through the door. Also what you may be sensing is the lack of peaks since we equalized all subs and applied some deep cuts as well as the effect of the acoustical treatments compared to Steve's room. Nevertheless, I sure was feeling/hearing the physical pulse where I was in the room. My wife mentioned later that everything was shaking in the room directly upstairs with regular pulses.

Next time you are over we will play it with multiple subs and you will hear the difference. Also when you have your dual FL113s setup again it will be fun to try it at the same levels.

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post #20 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 11:07 AM
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I had the pleasure of attending this sub shootout as well. It was a great opportunity to Listen to these excellent subs, and make some new friends. Great group of guys in attendance, all very serious about high end HT. Thanks again to John and his wife for hosting. Very classy people.

I made notes per test, per sub, but I've compiled them as to keep my post brief:

The Axiom EP600 I found to be the most "musical" sub, with good depth and the ability to convey quickness and detail the other ones missed. It had a little less impact and depth for a couple of scenes, but one thing I noted was in the laser firing scene in WoTW, the other subs would provide bass and the speakers would provide texture for the sound, the Axiom also had texture to the bass, which was quite impressive.

The DD18 I found had great depth and impact, but was a little to "clinical" and "dry" (difficult to describe exactly what I mean by "dry" sorry!) very good control of start and stop of bass notes, very little overhang, very tight. This one seemed to suffer the least amount of distress during the intense "pulse schene, but also had the least output.

The JL F113: This was a sub that I really wanted to like thruout the testing, as I'm a big fan of the W7 drivers. This sub had a good deep and smooth sound, and some really nice texture to the bass. a little less so than the Axiom, but much more than the DD18. I found the leading edge of bass to be very impressive with this sub, altho it also had a little more hangover at the end of the note than the others. Good impact, and great feel with this one.

The SVS PB13 The SVS had great intensity and impact, and seemed to have a little more volume or output than the others. for the music scenes I liked this one as it was good and tight, with a crisp sound to the bass. start and stop were very well controlled with very little hangover. the sound was pleasing and full. Thru the stress tests, there was alot of audible distress with this one, and it was difficult to say if it was the driver bottoming out, or port chuffing, or both.

All in all, each of these subs sounded great untill it bottomed out, and they all seemed to bottom out around the same volumes. For this shootout none of the subs could I say ran away with it, and none of them would I advise to avoid.

One comment I'd have is I wish we'd spent a little less time making them bottom out to the "pulse" schene, and a little more time listening to some more music, and maybe a couple of extra movie scenes. I'd also suggest that instead of listening at reference volume, where most of the subs did show distress, the volume be set so that the sub is sounding great, and we could compare this to the other subs, to see which bottom out, which show distress, and which play clean. Finding this "golden" volume for the room / sub would be a lenthy process tho!

I think we're the demons.
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post #21 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 11:13 AM
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The SVSPB-13 would be my first choice, if I needed any more subs. My dual HSU VTF-3HO's plus Turbos are all I need for the moment. The only thing I might like is a Velo SMS-1. Instead of the Velo SMS-1, I think that the HSU MBM-12 is as much of an EQ as I need.

You may not understand why I think that the MBM-12 has anything to do with EQ (using the SMS-1). You will have to look at the HSU website to see how the MBM-12 placed nearfield can be considered a substitute for a $600 EQ.

I can post a link if you do not understand.
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post #22 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 11:16 AM
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Spyboy - umm ... are you posting in the right thread? Sounds like you're responding to a question not asked in this thread??

 

My DIY Subs ... http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1233892

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post #23 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 11:26 AM - Thread Starter
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One comment I'd have is I wish we'd spent a little less time making them bottom out to the "pulse" schene, and a little more time listening to some more music, and maybe a couple of extra movie scenes. I'd also suggest that instead of listening at reference volume, where most of the subs did show distress, the volume be set so that the sub is sounding great, and we could compare this to the other subs, to see which bottom out, which show distress, and which play clean. Finding this "golden" volume for the room / sub would be a lenthy process tho!

All good comments Ben. We actually did quite a bit of what you are suggesting at Steve's place in September where we listened more to music and compared the Paradigm Servov2, FL113 and Ultra-13. At normal listening volumes all these subs are great performers and an asset in any HT, though even at lower levels they have sound quality differences.

John
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post #24 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 11:43 AM
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Jakeman,
I know what you mean when you say your room is treated. I used to run a plus/2 in a 35 x 15 x 8 untreated room(tile floors and windows) and then built a 21 x 16 x 7 room with carpet and treatments and thought I would get more bass with the plus/2. It is actually harder to drive that sub in the smaller room. Rooms are the biggest factors. Great job.
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post #25 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 11:47 AM
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I had the pleasure of attending this sub shootout as well. It was a great opportunity to Listen to these excellent subs, and make some new friends. Great group of guys in attendance, all very serious about high end HT. Thanks again to John and his wife for hosting. Very classy people.

I made notes per test, per sub, but I've compiled them as to keep my post brief:

The Axiom EP600 I found to be the most "musical" sub, with good depth and the ability to convey quickness and detail the other ones missed. It had a little less impact and depth for a couple of scenes, but one thing I noted was in the laser firing scene in WoTW, the other subs would provide bass and the speakers would provide texture for the sound, the Axiom also had texture to the bass, which was quite impressive.

The DD18 I found had great depth and impact, but was a little to "clinical" and "dry" (difficult to describe exactly what I mean by "dry" sorry!) very good control of start and stop of bass notes, very little overhang, very tight. This one seemed to suffer the least amount of distress during the intense "pulse schene, but also had the least output.

The JL F113: This was a sub that I really wanted to like thruout the testing, as I'm a big fan of the W7 drivers. This sub had a good deep and smooth sound, and some really nice texture to the bass. a little less so than the Axiom, but much more than the DD18. I found the leading edge of bass to be very impressive with this sub, altho it also had a little more hangover at the end of the note than the others. Good impact, and great feel with this one.

The SVS PB13 The SVS had great intensity and impact, and seemed to have a little more volume or output than the others. for the music scenes I liked this one as it was good and tight, with a crisp sound to the bass. start and stop were very well controlled with very little hangover. the sound was pleasing and full. Thru the stress tests, there was alot of audible distress with this one, and it was difficult to say if it was the driver bottoming out, or port chuffing, or both.

All in all, each of these subs sounded great untill it bottomed out, and they all seemed to bottom out around the same volumes. For this shootout none of the subs could I say ran away with it, and none of them would I advise to avoid.

One comment I'd have is I wish we'd spent a little less time making them bottom out to the "pulse" schene, and a little more time listening to some more music, and maybe a couple of extra movie scenes. I'd also suggest that instead of listening at reference volume, where most of the subs did show distress, the volume be set so that the sub is sounding great, and we could compare this to the other subs, to see which bottom out, which show distress, and which play clean. Finding this "golden" volume for the room / sub would be a lenthy process tho!


That's a very interesting write up in that it goes against the usual stereotypes by picking large ported Axiom as the most musical vs. the sealed Velo and JL which are the usual picks.
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post #26 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Jakeman,
I know what you mean when you say your room is treated. I used to run a plus/2 in a 35 x 15 x 8 untreated room(tile floors and windows) and then built a 21 x 16 x 7 room with carpet and treatments and thought I would get more bass with the plus/2. It is actually harder to drive that sub in the smaller room. Rooms are the biggest factors. Great job.

thanks MK. That idea is sometimes tough to understand for people with untreated rooms who are used to more room resonance. You need to raise volumes to get the same SPLs. It was another factor affecting the subs which people with full acoustical treatments would understand well.

John
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post #27 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 12:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mojomike View Post

That's a very interesting write up in that it goes against the usual stereotypes by picking large ported Axiom as the most musical vs. the sealed Velo and JL which are the usual picks.

I found this surprising as well - I'm extra glad we did blind testing!

I think we're the demons.
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That's a very interesting write up in that it goes against the usual stereotypes by picking large ported Axiom as the most musical vs. the sealed Velo and JL which are the usual picks.

Since the most "musical" subwoofer was a ported design, the next time why not include the Epik Conquest. The Conquest is going to prove both musical and a killer for HT.
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post #30 of 99 Old 11-05-2007, 01:27 PM
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First, thanks to John (jakeman) and his wife for the fantastic food, drinks and hospitality. John's house is stunning and could grace an architectural magazine. And that dedicated man-cave of a home theatre! It was better sounding and more enjoyable watching movie clips in there than any other movie theatre I've been in.

Second, I haven't (yet!) purchased any products by any of the companies that make the subs we listened to.

Third, my main goal from the session was to try to make a purchase decision. I'm looking to buy my first "reference" calibre sub and was lucky enough to be invited along (twice now!) to be able to compare some really great subs in side-by-side listening. And my usage is 90% HT, 10% music so that weighs heavily on what I was listening for.

Here are my impressions of the 4 main subs compared (dual Axiom EP-400s were also compared briefly and, while sounding great, were not in the same league for HT as the others so were sidelined). Just layman talk, nothing technical (the others are much more qualified than me on the technical side):

My Overall Choice (disregarding price)
=============
1) JL F113
2) SVS PB13
3) Axiom EP-600
4) Velo DD18

Throughout the movie scenes it was readily apparent that 2 of the subs possessed the WOW factor. The WOW factor has to do with the width of the smile on your face and the rumble under your seat when the bass effects kick in. The easiest thing to determine when A/B testing these subs for movie effects is which one sounds louder and which one you can "feel" more. It's much more difficult to determine differences in the sound reproduction when all the subs are as good as these. The F113 (hidden sub #2) and PB13 (hidden sub #3) had me thinking "now that's what I'm talkin about!" and the other 2 were a level below. I was most surprised at the fact that the large DD18 did not seem to produce the same output as the F113 & PB13. So it's not all about size.

During "Pulse" - a ridiculously tough assignment for a single sub - I heard the F113 and the PB13 making some strained sounds. The DD18 and EP-600 much less so, likely due to some kind of limiting when the going got tough. This was the only time during the afternoon that I heard any sounds of distress from any of the subs and since I would never play a movie like that at that level in my home, I really didn't care and it would not affect my purchase decision.

For music, it was very difficult to discern any significant differences between these subs on a variety of 30-60 second soundbites. On the Clapton bass guitarist track, I thought the F113 and DD18 sounded best. On a different Marcus Miller sampler track, I thought the EP-600 sounded best. On the Cars "rap" segment, I liked the F113 and PB13 best. It was splitting hairs really. If I listened to the tracks a few more times, I might even have changed my mind. They all sounded really, really good and for the pop music I mainly listen to, I'd be very happy with any of them. If you're into instrumental or jazz or classical (I'm not), then I bet that after extended listening and A/B comparing (with material you are familiar with) you would detect differences that may sway your purchase decision.

The JL F113 wins my overall choice (disregarding price) over the PB13 because of its ability to almost disappear in a room due to its size (extreme WAF!) and still produce pants-flapping, accurate bass that makes you smile so wide it starts to hurt. For HT, the PB13 was equally satisfying and gets its own kudos below.

OK, so the DD18 is at the bottom ... something has to be right? It's there because this is a subjective choice and I'm choosing for primarily HT use. My guess is that the DD18 is targetted toward the discerning music listener, and likely excels at instrumental music reproduction.

My Best Value for $$$ Choice (in Canada)
======================
1) SVS PB13
2) Axiom EP-600
3) JL F113
4) Velo DD18

To my door, the EP-600 is ~$1900 CDN, PB13 (Rosenut) is ~$2100 CDN. The F113 and DD18 (new) are beyond my budget, but I'm guessing the F113 is ~$3K+ and the DD18 is ~$3.5-4K+ new. If a used F113 could be had for ~2.5K or less, it would move up to #2 in my best value list (and end up in my house!).

In the contest for value-for-the-buck, the PB13 wins this comparison for me. It plays loud, sounds great and has a furniture grade finish. It's worth the extra $$$ over the EP-600 for me, primarily for the extra punch I like for HT. I liked the EP-600 a lot and its finish options are much better suited to my HT room than the PB13, I just wanted a few db more from it.

As of now, I'm still considering the EP-600, the PB13 or dual EP-500s (EP-600's little brother). The EP-500s are much smaller than the EP-600, are ~1.2K each and I expect sound just as good. Duals would be a few hundred $$$ more than 1 PB13, but the finish options are much better (there's that WAF again!) and the prospect of having dual subs, both for effortless output and better freq. response throughout the room, is appealing.

Ah, it's really all about the journey, isn't it ?
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