AudioEngine A2+ vs A5+ (RESOLVED: A5+ -> REVIEW/IMPRESSIONS) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 39 Old 11-02-2013, 04:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Well as of November 1st, the new A2+ is released, making my decision difficult.

http://audioengineusa.com/Store/Powered-Speaker-Systems/A2-plus-B-Powered-Desktop-Speakers

http://audioengineusa.com/Store/Powered-Speaker-Systems/A5-plus-B-Powered-Speakers

Just not sure which ones to get. The A2+ has a built in DAC and the fantastic size, the A5+ has the 5" drivers and front volume control.

This will be used as a DACless PC setup. At times I like to listen LOUD. Although these will mostly be used near field, I want the ability to fill a room for small get togethers or maybe even larger parties. How much will I benefit from the size of the A5+ or the DAC in the A2+?

I will be using the SVS SB-1000 with either one, crossed over at 80 hz, so bass from the mains isn't as important but will the A2+ STILL struggle with 80+ hz midbass?

Of course buying both and auditioning them would be the best way to know if the A2+'s are good enough, but I was hoping someone would have some other insight before I have to buy them both and pay return shipping for one.


11/5/13 Review of A5+

Well I got the A5+s today. These are impressions without a subwoofer, straight from my 2011 MacBook.

Build quality is super solid. When I first got them I blared them for an hour. I sat about 5' away from them and probably had them around 80% volume. The heatsink on the back of the left speaker was warm to the touch after this, so I think it will do well after long, loud sessions without any overheating issues. Of course, the enclosures don't rattle at all. The black satin finish is my favorite texture; it's a fantastic blend of the a mild gloss and a solid wood texture. It won't attract fingerprints, but has a matte glimmer to it. The only thing that really bugs me about the design is the off-center tweeter. Seriously, what were they thinking? It makes them look considerably worse because of it but I'll deal with it.

They get STUPID loud but they distort at those levels, and even a little sooner; Basically talking ear-bleeding here, and also talking about near-field use. At any reasonable desk-usable distance they will get as loud as pleasurably listenable without distortion. One could easily use these to have some music ambience in a medium to large room (by large I'm talking 30' x 30' or something).

Soundstage is pretty unreal with these. I don't know how it's so good but it sounds like there's a definite center channel and maybe even some front wides in front of me. Similarly, imaging and stereo separation are fantastic. I'm hearing things actually coming from different directions. It takes some getting used to, but the sound can actually change pretty drastically depending on the distance between the speakers, between the speakers and the listener, and the angle (horizontally and vertically) that the speakers are facing.

MIDS + OVERALL: It's definitely a warm sound overall. They're still in the break-in period, so I've read that mids open up more, but right now they're slightly recessed. These have a typical "youthful" V shape sound to my ears. I say youthful because I think the younger crowd enjoys this type of equalization. It especially works for me since I listen to a lot of pop, rock, and EDM. Truthfully about 90-95% of what I listen to is EDM, so it really works well. Mids are still plenty enjoyable; I've never struggled to hear vocals, male or female. It just makes everything sound fun and enjoyable. These are NOT for the audiophile that wants a flat response across the board. These are QUITE revealing though. I'm hearing things in some of my favorite songs I really didn't hear before. This wasn't an advantage every time. I heard details in tracks that I wished I hadn't heard sometimes, but that's what happens when you get used to hearing something a certain way for so long.

HIGHS: There's definitely no painful sibilance with these. To my ears there's a healthy balance of sparkle and shine, but I wouldn't call these bright by any means.

LOWS: These have a decent punch to them, for sure. Boost low-end EQ or turn it up and you can actually feel the bass, depending on the track. Mid-bass is very strong in the A5+s, giving them the overall warm sound. It's never overpowering (for me). It makes everything very enjoyable.

Conclusion: These offer a nice, balanced, enjoyable sound to my music. The clarity is certainly there. The power and volume are absolutely there. The setup is simple; just plug it straight into your 3.5mm/headphone jack and you're good to go. Control the volume from the left speaker and/or from your OS and music software. Go for these over the A2+ if you do any considerable amount of lounging in the room where these will reside and you can definitely jam without losing quality, and without being right at the listening station.

Feel free to ask any questions. I'll try to remember to come back and update this if I have additional thoughts or if the sound changes in any noticeable way.
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post #2 of 39 Old 11-02-2013, 04:50 PM
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FWIW, I auditioned the A2 passive version and IME the sub crossover would need to be higher than 80hz (100hz might work). The speakers sounded great and had excellent detail and clarity. But, regardless of the specs on the website, the bass (and even lower mids) were not very present.

Two caveats ...
- The newer active version of the A2 may have different drivers.
- I didn't test them in a desk setup. The bass/lower-mids may sound different in that context.
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post #3 of 39 Old 11-02-2013, 05:18 PM
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That's no audiophile feedback but I have the A2 and was amazed by the quality.
I had the same question between the A2 and A5 and I am not disappointed by the A2 I found in white to match with my desk...

As I said, no audiophile feedback at all so probably totally useless for you
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post #4 of 39 Old 11-02-2013, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdg4vfx View Post

FWIW, I auditioned the A2 passive version and IME the sub crossover would need to be higher than 80hz (100hz might work). The speakers sounded great and had excellent detail and clarity. But, regardless of the specs on the website, the bass (and even lower mids) were not very present.

Two caveats ...
- The newer active version of the A2 may have different drivers.
- I didn't test them in a desk setup. The bass/lower-mids may sound different in that context.

I appreciate the input!

Well the SVS SB-1000 has a high-pass filter with a built in non-adjustable setting of 80Hz so there's no adjustments that can be made there. And honestly I was looking at the specs on AudioEngine's website, saying that the A2+s could handle 80Hz+, although I had SERIOUS doubts. Thanks for settling that.

I saw a video of an AudioEngine spokesman saying that the driver is exactly the same as the A2.

This confirms more that despite the somewhat obtrusive size of the A5+, I will just be happier with them.
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post #5 of 39 Old 11-02-2013, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by borisnet View Post

That's no audiophile feedback but I have the A2 and was amazed by the quality.
I had the same question between the A2 and A5 and I am not disappointed by the A2 I found in white to match with my desk...

As I said, no audiophile feedback at all so probably totally useless for you

With hearing so many good things about the A2, it's so hard to know how they will sound to my needs (loudness, clarity, strong 80Hz+ power)!

I wish there was somewhere nearby that carried these for demo.
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post #6 of 39 Old 11-02-2013, 06:20 PM
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I think that since you want to use these in party/loud situations - you should go for the 5's.
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post #7 of 39 Old 11-02-2013, 06:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by charmerci View Post

I think that since you want to use these in party/loud situations - you should go for the 5's.

Not just only parties with ambient noise though, more often I'll play these loudly just for myself, don't want to be sacrificing clarity for volume. Thinking the A2+ won't cut it but had to be sure.

Thanks everyone. I've ordered the A5+ from the AudioEngine refurb store for $320 shipped. smile.gif
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post #8 of 39 Old 11-02-2013, 10:18 PM
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I think you made the right choice with the A5+. The original A2s have an artificially induced based boost (built in the amp) to help the tiny drivers which gives them a very high, peaky roll off above 100hz. As sdg4vfx pointed, out, they really need a high crossover. I wouldn't expect the newer ones to have improved that much in that regard since it's a limitation of the driver size. Plus, as you realized, you'll have more max output from the A5+.

Just say yes to bigger drivers biggrin.gif
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post #9 of 39 Old 11-03-2013, 06:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dctrombly View Post

Not just only parties with ambient noise though, more often I'll play these loudly just for myself, don't want to be sacrificing clarity for volume. Thinking the A2+ won't cut it but had to be sure.

Thanks everyone. I've ordered the A5+ from the AudioEngine refurb store for $320 shipped. smile.gif

Reading others' comments and your exact needs, I think the A2 may lack a bit of the bass you'd need but personally I am fine with the amount I hear for the use I make of this small yet very capable things !
When I chose my A2, I came from the super cheap league of $40 2.1 speakers, so obviously that was a shock as I discovered a clarity I never heard before just coming from my laptop - everybody has been a rookie in some domain before being a connoisseur ;-)

I also went for the A2 as I am building an HT where more powerful sound system will be installed...

The 2 things present on the A5 I miss on the A2 are the button and connection at the front. I noticed there is a remote control on the A5+, although I can control the sound from my computer, it's great to have these extra few controls. At the time of purchasing the A2, I could not justify the extra $ for non-primary speakers.

Let us know your impression of the A5+ when you get them !
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post #10 of 39 Old 11-03-2013, 08:49 AM
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The SVS SB-1000 should be a good match for the A5+. I would definitely put a DAC into the chain... unless you already have a good 24-bit sound card in your PC.

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post #11 of 39 Old 11-03-2013, 11:44 AM
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+1
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post #12 of 39 Old 11-03-2013, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comments everyone. Whether I made the right decision or not (which I think I did), it's nice to be assured by a great community.

I'm not using a DAC right now. I'm coming from a Logitech Z623 so I have no doubt I will be pleased with it for the time being.

I was thinking that even if the A2+ can handle loud volumes, not using the A5+ to capacity will be healthier for the drivers and the amp rather than pushing the A2+ to its limits.

Looking at some better cables for it now. The Blue Jeans RCA cables look great but $40 each or so? Hmm...
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post #13 of 39 Old 11-03-2013, 05:54 PM
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Just get Monoprice Premium cables. They work great and are inexpensive. Then if you have a desktop PC, save your money towards a Xonar DX or D1.
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post #14 of 39 Old 11-04-2013, 12:18 AM - Thread Starter
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As much as I didn't wanna get into DACs, I'm unfortunately looking at them now. tongue.gif

Looking at the D1 specifically. Are there other DACs that allow you to use OS volume controls. The D1 bypasses Mac OS keyboard volume controls, which seems like an inconvenience. Ideally I'd like to be able to use the volume knob, AND my keyboard controls, like how I was doing with the Logitechs.
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post #15 of 39 Old 11-04-2013, 06:04 AM
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It's better to stick with analog volume control, there can be bit-loss associated with using a digital volume control like the windows system volume. I would keep your source set at 100% and adjust the volume at the end of the chain with your DAC. The D1 would be a fine choice, you don't need another power brick with it and its discrete enough to stick anywhere on your desk.

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post #16 of 39 Old 11-04-2013, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

It's better to stick with analog volume control, there can be bit-loss associated with using a digital volume control like the windows system volume. I would keep your source set at 100% and adjust the volume at the end of the chain with your DAC. The D1 would be a fine choice, you don't need another power brick with it and its discrete enough to stick anywhere on your desk.

Thanks for the info. I'll settle with the sub and speakers for now. What kind of audible differences do DACs actually make?
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post #17 of 39 Old 11-04-2013, 10:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dctrombly View Post

As much as I didn't wanna get into DACs, I'm unfortunately looking at them now. tongue.gif

Looking at the D1 specifically. Are there other DACs that allow you to use OS volume controls. The D1 bypasses Mac OS keyboard volume controls, which seems like an inconvenience. Ideally I'd like to be able to use the volume knob, AND my keyboard controls, like how I was doing with the Logitechs.

So you are looking at the Audioengine D1? If you don't need a headphone amp, the Schiit Modi would work well as a DAC--straight DAC, no volume control, can't plug headphones into it, just your speakers. And the DAC in the Modi is generally considered to be better than in the Audioengine D1. Or the Maverick TubeMagic D1, which has a DAC, headphone amp, and pre-amp, has the option of either using the pre-amp with the speakers so you can control the volume, which is where the tube sound comes into play, or using the direct line out that bypassing the volume knob/tube pre-amp completely.

For cheaper, the FiiO E17 portable DAC/headphone amp has line out capabilities (bypasses the internal volume control). You just need the FiiO L7 dock (about $10) to connect to your speakers.
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It's better to stick with analog volume control, there can be bit-loss associated with using a digital volume control like the windows system volume. I would keep your source set at 100% and adjust the volume at the end of the chain with your DAC. The D1 would be a fine choice, you don't need another power brick with it and its discrete enough to stick anywhere on your desk.

I've heard some discussion about how that might not be a problem with Windows the way it works now in the latest versions, but I just don't know. However, there is a way to definitely prevent that. If you generally listen to music that is 44.1/16 bit, just set Windows to use 44.1/24 bit as the default. Then there are plenty of bits to lose that will not affect any music loss.

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post #18 of 39 Old 11-04-2013, 10:48 AM
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Thanks for the info. I'll settle with the sub and speakers for now. What kind of audible differences do DACs actually make?

An analog out connection from a motherboard is susceptibe to noise and inteference from the computers hardware. Sometimes people will have crackling or a hum from their speakers that is usually do to the aforementioned reason. A DAC cleans things up and uses a digital output which does not have the same weaknesses. Don't get sucked into the world of DACs, there are people who spend thousands and claim they hear differences, just get something with the features you need and it will work fine for you.

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post #19 of 39 Old 11-04-2013, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I've heard some discussion about how that might not be a problem with Windows the way it works now in the latest versions, but I just don't know. However, there is a way to definitely prevent that. If you generally listen to music that is 44.1/16 bit, just set Windows to use 44.1/24 bit as the default. Then there are plenty of bits to lose that will not affect any music loss.

You are probably right, but I like having a knob to turn to adjust, old habits die hard I suppose rolleyes.gif

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post #20 of 39 Old 11-04-2013, 10:58 AM
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You are probably right, but I like having a knob to turn to adjust, old habits die hard I suppose rolleyes.gif

I do, too. I also like analog volume pots more than digital knobs adjustment knobs on todays receivers. Just "feels" more precise and smooth. smile.gif

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post #21 of 39 Old 11-05-2013, 05:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Well I get my A5+ later today. I can post my impressions I suppose, but it'll basically either be a thumbs up or thumbs down. ha

Doesn't look like the SB-1000 has even been shipped yet, which is unfortunate since I'm probably more looking forward to shaking the house a bit. >:]
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post #22 of 39 Old 11-05-2013, 10:02 AM
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I have the A2. Sound pretty good, but bass is not deep. I wish I had the A5.
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post #23 of 39 Old 11-05-2013, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
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I've added my impressions/review to the first post, so check it out if you're at all interested.
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post #24 of 39 Old 11-06-2013, 05:14 AM
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I've added my impressions/review to the first post, so check it out if you're at all interested.

Good right up, glad you are enjoying them! I think you have seen first hand how crucial speaker placement can be, keep playing with them and find what you think sounds best. Audioengine also makes matching desktop stands that angle the speakers towards your ears, I have a pair of the smaller ones for my NHT and they work very well. It helps eliminate the reflection off the surface of the desk and gets the tweeter aimed at you.

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post #25 of 39 Old 11-06-2013, 08:54 AM
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DAC... Take a look at the Emotiva DC-1. It is currently on sale for $500, which I consider to be a steal for the features and build quality. It does a full 24-bit/192KHz via USB, has an analog volume control that steps in .25 dB increments, a pair of pre-amped headphone outputs, AES/EBU, XLR, TosLink, CoAx, and USB output. It even has a stereo-pair of analog INPUT for connecting something like a tape deck or other analog device. I have one and I'm extremely happy with the sound quality, especially with high resolution audio. It won't make 128kbps mp3 sound any better but one doesn't send that crap through a DAC anyway.

I prefer to lock all of my PC apps at 100% volume and use the DAC to adjust the volume. The DC-1's volume control as way more precise than the volume controls on the PC.

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post #26 of 39 Old 01-12-2014, 09:37 PM
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Wanted to ditch my decade old 5.1 pc setup and go with a simpler more music friendly approach so I bit on the A2+. Right away I sorta missed having that extra boom in the room since I tend to listen to a lot of electronic and rap music. I decided that my desktop had the room for bigger drivers (the small footprint of the A2+ was a lot smaller than I expected). Within an hour I was with Amazon Customer Service to set up a return/exchange. Needless to say a third party seller along with a strange "please do not send hazardous materials back to amazon message" resulted in having to speak to Amazon directly. Amazon actually agreed to refund the $250 in full AND let me keep the speakers. Initally I thought it might be a good idea to just spend the $250 and jump up to the A5, but after a few days of listening to some other genres like country, folk, and classical music, I'm sorta falling in love with these. They aren't giving me that floor shaking boom I'm accustomed to when I'm gaming or listening to a long techno set, but for most others genres, they tend to shine. I know just adding a small sub would be plenty loud (maybe even too much) for my personal computer.
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post #27 of 39 Old 01-15-2014, 06:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Wanted to reply on my impressions with my A5+ with subwoofer. I ordered the SVS SB-1000 and PB-1000 since I'm a pretty big basshead. I went with SVS specifically for the high pass filter built into the subs, which would allow the sub to take over 80Hz- frequencies, allowing the A5+ to play distortion free at low frequencies.

After numerous tests I declared that the high pass filters in BOTH subs were not functioning at all, although I would have chosen the PB-1000; it hit fast enough for my tastes, yet offered deeper extension. The A5+s were continuing to play full range despite SVS's claims.

I found another sub that offered this feature and I'm happy to say that it's working exactly as I imagined it would. That sub is the KRK 10S. Fixed 80hz crossover to the mains, built into outputs of the sub. Mains are no longer attempting to play full range. The PB-1000 may have extended deeper than the 10S but I don't have them side by side so I can't compare. The 10s certainly kicks and will please anyone with a similar setup as me (office/desktop).
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post #28 of 39 Old 01-15-2014, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by dctrombly View Post

After numerous tests I declared that the high pass filters in BOTH subs were not functioning at all, although I would have chosen the PB-1000; it hit fast enough for my tastes, yet offered deeper extension. The A5+s were continuing to play full range despite SVS's claims.

I'm not sure what your issue was, but I can confirm that the built in high pass filter on my SB-1000 DOES WORK.
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Originally Posted by dctrombly View Post

I found another sub that offered this feature and I'm happy to say that it's working exactly as I imagined it would. That sub is the KRK 10S. Fixed 80hz crossover to the mains, built into outputs of the sub. Mains are no longer attempting to play full range. The PB-1000 may have extended deeper than the 10S but I don't have them side by side so I can't compare. The 10s certainly kicks and will please anyone with a similar setup as me (office/desktop).

The PB-1000 would definitely extend much deeper than the KRK 10S. KRK only claims a 34hz low end response, whereas the PB-1000 has been verified by independent reviewers to reach 19hz as specified by SVS.

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post #29 of 39 Old 01-15-2014, 08:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I'm not sure what your issue was, but I can confirm that the built in high pass filter on my SB-1000 DOES WORK.
The PB-1000 would definitely extend much deeper than the KRK 10S. KRK only claims a 34hz low end response, whereas the PB-1000 has been verified by independent reviewers to reach 19hz as specified by SVS.

Interesting that stated measurements are so different since they're both a ported 10" design. It's too bad mine weren't functioning correctly as I would've kept it.
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post #30 of 39 Old 01-15-2014, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by dctrombly View Post

Interesting that stated measurements are so different since they're both a ported 10" design.

If you get into studying the basics of subwoofer design, you'll find that the fact that each is 10" and ported predicts nothing about how they would compare in low end frequency response. Different drivers of the same size can easily have the potential for different extension (with usable output). I say "potential" because different ported enclosures would affect frequency response with the same driver as well.

And then KRK is budget level pro audio equipment. They are targeting music production where below 30hz is often not going to be necessary. SVS is targeting the HT market, where solid low 20hz response is very desirable for movie playback. Not to mention that the PB-1000 has the lowest low end response of any 10" subwoofer I have seen. Certainly beats out everything else for price/performance in its price range (something commented on in this S&V review: http://www.soundandvision.com/content/review-svs-pb-1000-subwoofer).

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