Brian was very generous to allow me to demo both the F15HP and FV15HP in my house over the last couple of days and I wanted to give everyone my impressions of these two subs and how they compare to the existing sub I have, HSU VTF-3 Mk4.Room and listening conditions
My room is a rather large living room (16' x 24' with vaulted ceilings). The vaulted ceilings make it somewhat difficult to measure cubic feet, but I'd estimate about 4600 cu. ft. The room opens to the kitchen on one end and has two doorways to bedrooms on the other end, so it is not sealed by any means and this likely adds to the size.
When comparing all the subs, I listened to the same music tracks on all of them, focusing on 1. Country 2. Rock/Alternative 3. Electronic Dance Music. I figured this would give me a good impression across many genres. I chose songs I knew were produced well and had good bass lines and/or drums from listening in my truck (which has subs in it and a decent sound system).
For home theater comparisons chose movies that I owned that were listed in this thread
about good movies with bass in them. The movies were 1. Lord of the Rings Return of the King 2. Finding Nemo 3. 300.
I also listened to some random DirecTV programs from drama to newscasts to get a variety of content that may or may not be mixed very well.
The time I spend with my stereo consists of mostly watching TV with some movies mixed in and about 15% music. But I really care about how the music sounds. I'd say it's more important to me even though I spend less time doing it.HSU VTF-3 Mk4
I got this sub because I thought it sounded like a good bang for your buck and had a lot of adjustability in it. It's my first sub so I didn't know what I'd like (sealed vs vented, etc.) So I thought this would allow me to play with all those variables and dial it in to how I end up liking it. After dialing it in to as tight and sealed as I could with it, I still wasn't happy, and it's why I wanted to test out the Rythmik's which are known here for their tightness and accuracy (which seemed like what I was missing with the Hsu).Music
The sub made itself known with the very lowest of notes. You could hear it distinctly separate from the mains. There seemed to be a hole in frequency response (never measured it to be sure) between these low-lows and where my mains left off. It was also quite boomy and muddy to my ears. The tighter I could make it with the settings, the more I liked it, but it never was enough.Home Theater
It actually did pretty well for home theater I thought. All the LFE were represented well. There was a lot of rumble and HT was generally a good experience.DirecTV
The exaggerated low end I noticed with music was here on DirecTV as well. Whether it was commercials that were mixed poorly that had music in them, or the deep voice of a newscaster, the sub made its presence known. Sounded like bassy puffs of air all the time. Very loose and muddy. I had to completely block off all the ports to get it sealed sounding for this to be mitigated and it still was there a little even after doing that. It was quite annoying. With stuff that was mixed well, it wasn't quite bad, but this loose boomy sounding characteristic of the very low end was driving me nuts.Summary
Lacking punch, impact, and mid-bass slam. Seems like a dip in frequency response between the low end of the sub and where my mains are crossed over and therefore not balanced with the main speakers. Good for pure HT use as LFE low effects were emphasized and you could feel them.Rythmik F15HPMusic
All I can say is WOW....I was absolutely blown away with how well this sub balanced with my mains. The hole I felt that the Hsu had between sub and mains was filled up and seemed totally flat to my ears. It almost sounded like an extension of my mains, not like I had a separate sub. But it was powerful in the mid bass and had impact. Bass lines and drum beats hit you in the chest. It was very fast and tight sounding. I'm not sure I could ask for more from a sub for music.Home Theater
After noticing a lack of exaggerated low-end in music like the Hsu had and knowing that "sealed subs are for music not for HT" I expected a compromise with home theater. Boy was I wrong. Where the Hsu was rumbly and loose, the F15HP knocked me in the chest with some of the LFE sounds. I was shocked how good this sounded with home theater. The authority and impact this sub had with all the movies was very very good.DirecTV
Probably due to how well this sub blended with my mains, I never noticed any exaggerated low end like with the Hsu, all DirecTV broadcasts basically sounded like how I thought they should sound. Was watching a drama last night where they intentionally mixed in some good LFE stuff and it was like I was watching home theater again. Men's voices never seemed boomy at all. Perfect representation of the source material.Summary
This thing is clean and tight. It has that mid-bass slam I thought I was missing before. It even sounds great at lower volumes, filling in the low end in a very balanced way even when the volume isn't loud. I was impressed by that.Rythmik FV15HPMusic
This is definitely much much closer to the F15HP than the ported Hsu. It still sounded balanced with the mains, but there was slightly less impact, detail, and punch. It seemed to have a very slight exaggeration down low as well in comparison. Without having the F15HP to flip back and forth between it might be hard to tell the difference though. Overall, this sub performed very well with music, but I give the edge to the F15HP.Home Theater
This thing is an absolute beast with the movies I threw at it. It handled movies effortlessly and I felt things more than heard them. Lots of shaking on my walls. So much so I thought it might break something
The edge in output absolutely goes to the FV15HP for movies. It is hard to say whether I actually preferred it for movies though. More output doesn't necessarily mean better sound. The F15HP had what I would consider very good output as well but seemed to blend in a bit better with the rest of the speakers.DirecTV
Basically the same as the F15HP. I noticed a very slight emphasis in the low end sort of reminiscent of the Hsu. However it isn't nearly as bad and probably wouldn't have noticed it where I not coming directly from the F15HP and having been sensitive to this sound because of the Hsu. I would say for general watching TV, the edge goes to the F15HP for a cleaner sound, but for movies or drama on TV, the FV15HP might be better. Sort of depends on the source. Very tough call between these two for watching TV.Summary
I was very impressed with the sound quality of this sub and the output it has in movies is unreal.
All things considered, I will end up going with the sealed F15HP. The crispness, impact and how well it blends with my mains made me like it better. But both of these subs are far and away better in detail and clarity than the Hsu I am coming from and I honestly think you can't go wrong with either choice. Brian/Rythmik has me sold. What a great product.
The biggest lesson I learned here is that a sealed sub can sound great for home theater. Somehow I thought by going sealed I would be limiting my enjoyment of home theater and I don't think that is the case anymore. Yes, ported absolutely has more output for home theater, but the slightly better detail for music makes the F15HP my favorite between them.
Since I had two subs on hand that sounded very similar to one another, I decided to see what two subs at the same time sounds like and fired them both up. I was expecting the volume to increase substantially in the bass region when I did this, but it only slightly went up. What it did do is made the bass sound like it surrounded me more and evened things out. I didn't think I could localize a single sub, but there was something more "all enveloping" with both of them going. I definitely preferred it, and now I'm thinking about buying two of them. It's more money than I wanted to spend, but I imagine these will last a long, long time.
Thanks again to Brian for letting me demo these units and I hope my little review can help others debating between the F15 and FV15.