First off – pleasantries -- Thanks to Husker Omaha for hosting the Subwoofer get together, and his wife for letting a couple fellow enthusiasts from out of town crash for an evening at their place. Desertdome did a great job of eq’ing the subs in a quick and efficient matter, and was pretty essential to the way we did the lineup. I think he actually works for that JRiver media company because he tried to peddle that software more than any of the visiting visitors attempted to push their audio equipment. Ha! But he knew the software well and it was indeed capable! Thanks to the vendors for participating and showcasing their products. All vendor products at the meet show cased well as I’m sure you’ll note in the results. It was fun to put a face to some of the forum names I’ve seen around AVS in the last year or so.
This is my second subwoofer meet this year. At the previous meet I hosted in KC I heard and I subjectively ranked
the following subs in this order.:1. JTR Captivator2. Seaton Submersive HP3. SVS PB12+
4. HSU VTF-15H
5. Epike Empire
6. Yamaha CW218V
7. Jamo D7sub
8. Jenson MS500
You can read specifics about the KC meet in the link in my signature - or follow this link: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1335139
In addition to the subs above that were in my room for the KC meet – I’ve owned and used the following subs in my home in the last calendar year.
• Captivator Pro pair (mid/late 2011) (love)
• SVS PB13 Ultra pair (mid 2011) (sold)
• Yamaha CW218V (mid 2011) (plan to sell)
• Jamo D7sub pair (Early/mid 2011) (died/sold)
• Infinity HPS-1000 pair (turn of 2011) (died)
I’ve determined over the last couple meets that I definitely prefer the sound of a ported subwoofer over a sealed subwoofer. Every single time I’ve heard a ported or a sealed sub in the same “class” side by side I’ve always preferred the ported subwoofer. Examples include:
(KC meet) HSU VTF-15H and SVS PB12+ (ported subs) vs. Epik Empire (sealed) - I preferred ported.
(Omaha meet) Chase Home Theater 18.1 vs (ported) vs. Chase Home Theater 18.2 (sealed) - I preferred ported.
(KC & Omaha meet) JTR Captivator (ported) vs Seaton Submersive HP (sealed) - I preferred ported.
I think sealed subs have a characteristic that is hard to define and I’m not using the best descriptive word to relay this characteristic, because I don’t know the right adjective, but a blend of these three words, and yet none of these words individually, can accurately convey my thoughts 1)inflated 2) boomy(or muddy) 3)burdened. The combined essence of these three words describes my opinion on movie related LFE content reproduction when compared to equivalent classed ported sub counterparts. I may stand in the minority on this opinion, because I realize some hold the entirely opposite opinion and may well describe a ported sub’s sound by using some of the same adjectives. But, I have this advice to those who disagree – buy some baby oil and clean out your ears. In all actuality, I usually like sealed subs a smidge better for music, but I dislike their movie profiles more than a smidge by comparison (Especially explosions – which often sound burdened, inflated and yet still limited in some artificial way). Soooo ported is definitely my preference. Oh yeah, and loud. I like loud, and I like tactile, and I like in your face presentation. Don’t give me subtle -- I want to feel and experience the bass frequencies.What port tuning do I prefer?
Here are my experiences for movies - - I love the HSU VTF-15H pair a buddy, Luke Kamp, owns when played in a 16hz tune when compared back and forth to the 22hz tune. The 16hz tune on those HSU subs in his 1500 cubic foot room make me grin ear to ear. The 22hz tune sounds good, but doesn’t induce a forced grin. I loved my SVS PB13 Ultra pair in a 15hz tune when compared to the 20hz tune, (but I didn’t like the SVS 10hz tune). Most of all I prefer my Captivator Pro pair. I prefer them at the 20hz tune over the 15hz tune. When strictly listening to music and not evaluating movies content I usually prefer the higher tune on all these sub pairs I’ve listened to.
Here is how I subjectively ranked
the subs auditioned at this Omaha meet:1. JTR Captivator pair (ported)
- my averaged scorecard – 9.382. Seaton Submersive HP (sealed)
- my averaged scorecard – 8.863. Chase Home Theater 18.1 VS pair (ported)
- my averaged scorecard – 8.0
4. MFW-15 Turbo pair (ported) - my averaged scorecard – 7.79
5. Chase Home Theater 18.2 (sealed) - my averaged scorecard – 7.76
6. A7S-450 (sealed) - my averaged scorecard – 7.34
7. F20 Pair (horn) - my averaged scorecard – 7.05
8. Rythmic DIY (sealed) - my averaged scorecard – 5.05
9. BIC F12 (ported) - my averaged scorecard – 4.67
10. MFW Quads (sealed) – no score – didn’t like these at all. One wasn’t working and the others may not have been configured properly – I opted to leave the audition early and go visit upstairs.
11. DTS10/Growler combo (horn/ported) – no score – the DTS-10 was surely malfunctioning – either that or it is terrible and nobody wants to admit it after spending 20 hours putting it together.Note:
I was fortunate to be assigned a sweet listening position at the meet, front and center – right by the calibration mic. So both Greg and I heard the subs as they were intended to be heard (sitting on either side of the calibration mic).What I listened for:
I’ll list the main focal points of my listening criteria for each of the clips. Each person may have focused a bit on different aspects of the clip, but these were my reference points.Movies
Master and Commander – depth of canon sound
Tron Legacy – fun factor rumble
Transformers: ROTF: Sideswipe - ambient bass (wasn’t even present for the lesser subs)
War of the Worlds – fun factor rumble and bass wave as ground expands then falls as pod emerges
Iron Man – depth of Jericho missile explosion sounds and sound of resulting impact wave
Flight of the Phoenix – the long tuba like sound during the scene, the impact of the propeller break off
Transformers: DOTM: Bumblebee Highway Flip – the short descending bass notes and debris/tire swipe
Incredible Hulk – the footsteps, the scream, and the chest thump shock wave
Fellowship of the Ring: the mace swing thumps and ring drop
How To Train Your Dragon – the fire explosion the dragon creates as he crashes to earth
Black Hawk Down – this clip didn’t work very well for us at the meet, but trying to listen for blade thumps
Cloverfield – the first ‘meteorite’ that crashes down as they are getting ready to run down the stairwell
Battle L.A. – the alien ship’s popping thruster sounds
Red Cliff: Fire/Boats – the large drum beats for a small section in the clipMusic
Pomp & Pipes – depth/extension of organ sound
Pete Balasco: Deeper – clean, clear, accurate and distinct difference in bass notes
Eagles: Hotel California – kick drum beat: both accuracy and realism
Black Light Syndrome: Duende – sliding bass note effect near the end of the clip
Kid Kudi: Day n Night – the depth and tactile feel of the singular held bass note in my chest
Deadmau5: Ghosts n Stuff – the accuracy of the multiple frequencies in the simultaneous bass notes occurring in the clip there is both a lingering bass line and a drum beat.
Basstronics: Bass I Love You – Depth/presence/feel of the lowest note without distortion or distress
I took extensive notes during the testing and transcribed my notes here:Winner: JTR Captivator pair
This is the best overall sub I’ve ever experienced, no matter the venue, no matter the location, no matter the room. Car, Home, Club, Party, Concert, Auditorium – whatever. I’ve never heard a sub I liked better. Its headroom is nearly limitless, its ported sound my preference, and its tactile ability second to none. I’ve now heard this subwoofer at two subwoofer meets and in my opinion it won both meets. I like loud tactile bass (louder than the volumes we listened to at the Omaha meet) and I prefer the ported sound, and so my preference clearly falls to the Captivator. On the Captivator’s audition I kept thinking “man we should turn this up!” – it sounds so good and I know from my ownership of the pair that they can take soooo much more!!! Even at the lesser volumes listened to at the meet it was the only sub in attendance that I didn’t feel either:
1)missed content that should have been there/lacked output (Big F12, Rythmic)
2)never exceeded its limits (all subs not otherwise specifically mentioned)
3)sounded like we neared its limits (Seaton Submersive)
Couple this observation with the fact that we weren’t even close to discovering the Caps limits and that point of note becomes all the more admirable. I heard somebody say who listens to anything this loud? My response is that I listen to my subs louder than this at home. I think as subjective comments start appearing in the commentary you’ll read things about effortless, limitless, and untapped capability in most of the comments in relation to the Captivator. Why is that? Because it was apparent it had gads of headroom remaining – and I don’t think that could be said of the other competitors at the meet.
As to my specific meet notes on the Captivators:Positives
• The Caps were the only time the Bumblebee scene gave me chills. The descending short bass notes were PERFECT on the Cap pair. The only sub I gave a 10 on this scene.
• The Caps sounded heavy and authorative on the Hulk footsteps – just the way they should, there was no distress on the driver. The Hulk’s voice was deep and awesome! It really needed to be turned way up! I love this clip and use it as a reference clip on my home theatre setup --- did I mention it should have been turned way, way, way up?
• LOTR clip of the swinging mace thuds, right before the ring drop was the best of the night.
• The Explosion in HTTYD when the Big Dragon crashes to earth was PERFECT
• The alien ship popping sound was the best of the night on the JTR Captivator – VERY articulate and chest thumping. Some of the subs really screwed up these popping sounds – they weren’t articulate/clean or tactile on many of the contenders. The Cap did it right and was the only sub of the night I gave a 10 on this scene.
• The Drum scene in RedCliff was perhaps the best of the night. very accurate, very clean
• Absolutely effortless in the Pete Blasco clip, each note very clear, unique and individual – On this clip (like many of the clips) you could tell how much headroom the Caps have – they were not hard pressed at all. The only sub of the night I gave a 10 to for this scene.
• PERFECT on Eagles drum beats – the best of the night. Some subs really screwed this clip up. The caps sound just like a kick drum should and was the only sub of the night I gave a 10 to yet again.
• Kid Kudi clip was my favorite song of the night. I actually wrote “orgasmic” on my score sheet during this song. Silly? - perhaps, but it made me grin ear to ear! That low sustained note in this song is just flat out impressive on the Captivators and the sound was PERFECT! It begged to be turned up twice as loud!
• PERFECT on Bass I love you --- the best of the night and the only sub I gave a 10 score ( the second place was not the Submersive on this track, but the VS 18.1 set IMO)
• I thought the Cap did slightly better than the second place finisher (SubmersiveHP) on the following clips
1) Flight of the Phonix
2) Transformers 3 – Bumblebee
3) Hulk Cop –
4) Fellowship of the Rings
5) HTTYD –
6) Black Hawk Down
7) Battlefield LA
8) Pete Balasco
10) Black Light Syndrome
11) Bass I love youNegatives –
• Need to turn those caps up! (did having EP4000 clip limiter engaged have effect on dynamics?)
• I thought the two top sealed subs did better than the Caps on the Ghosts N Stuff song as I felt they were more articulate to the multiple levels of bass occurring at the same time on this particular song. I gave the Cap a 9 score here and the Seaton Submersive and the CHT 18.2 a ten.
• I thought the SubmersiveHP did slightly better than the Captivator on the following clips
1) Master and Commander
2) Iron Man Jericho Missile
3) Pomp & Pipes
4) Ghosts N StuffConfiguration:
I’ll speak to the Cap config because people may be wondering since it is a passive setup and there are no common setups that everyone recommends. The Cap pair was being powered off a single EP4000 amp. 1 Cap on L channel, 1 Cap on R channel, using a single parralled input, and running at 2ohm stereo. The EP4000 amp’s HPF was disabled, and no HPF was engaged via desertdome’s EQ. The clip limiter was engaged - I know some people say a clip limiter limits dynamic range and prefer to have it off, but with unknown equipment sourcing the amp it’s probably best to have the clip limiter on for a test like this. This choice may have adversely affected the scores, and I like the clip limiter off at home – but oh well. The amps gain knobs were maxed out. I doubt we were hitting clip levels during our normal testing based on my experience with this setup at home and the fact that Greg’s room and my room are roughly the same cubic feet (though all the amps were in a closet and I wasn’t able to watch the amp to verify). Greg measured around 120dB during the loudest demo scenes we played – specifically in the unranked ad hoc Open Range movie material that Jeff and Mark asked to show with multiple shotgun blasts. The volume for this scene wasn’t increased until we found the limit, but rather just arbitrarily set a few notches higher for this scene. I know that isn’t the Cap’s limit on the single EP4000 because the Cap pair plays 125dB at the listening position on repetitive bassline dubstep music at my house while just tickling the single EP4000 clip lights – so figure we had at least 5dB more of steady continuous RMS power before we ran out of amp powering the cap pair. Then add 6dB more spl PER sub if you choose to utilize a more robust amp because the EP4000 only supplies about 800 watts RMS of the 4,000 watt RMS rating on the Cap driver. If I’m doing the math right and we threw in a HPF - effectively we could have tripled the cap pair’s subwoofer volume levels and still had clean sound. Impressive when you consider the other subs were already at or finding their limits. Some will say a sanity check needs to be employed here --- and I will concede. Do you need to triple your volume when you are at these types of sound pressure levels already? ….well no… but a few extra clean dB of that bass line you can feel really appeals to me!!! I would have liked to run all the demo material as hot on bass as we ran the open range material, but just dialed back the mains to something close to what we were actually listening to save our ears from being overwhelmed with highs.
Noteworthy : A couple of the scenes with the lowest frequency response measurements, including Bass I Love You and WOTW were won by the Captivator in the voting tally, even though these scenes would logically have been won by the sealed setups due to their lower extension capability. The caps were in a 20hz tune but were flat after EQ to 15hz. Did I mention I love these subs?!?!Second Place - Seaton SubmersiveHP
The Seaton SubmersiveHP in wood veneer is gorgeous, probably the best looking sub of the night (it’s only real competitor was the MFW-Turbos). Its EQ is practically supernaturally flat. It has gads of output capability for a single subwoofer, (second only to the Cap) and the dual opposed option may help with placement concerns and room nulls/modes. I like this subwoofer, but I prefer ported sound, so I wouldn’t care to own one in comparison to a Captivator. I’ve had the chance to play with a SubmersiveHP in my room, on my own, for a couple days outside of the meets I've experienced it in because Randy Bessinger, who supplied the SubmersiveHP for our KC meet let me use it for a few days following my meet. Thus I’ve had several hours of audition time with this unit outside of the two meets I’ve experienced it in -- and yes I still prefer the Captivator. As far as the commonly touted theory that anyone will like multiples of the Submersive (or any quality sealed sub) more than multiples of a similar quality ported subs – I don’t agree. I don’t think that principle is galvanized truth - at least I surely haven't found it to be the case with me. I’ve heard five Seaton SubmersiveHP subs in avsforum member cousil
’s theatre room (along with four epik empires he uses for fill behind his seats) at 125dB. He has four Submersives on the front wall - L/R corners and one nearfield by the couch, then the four epik empires he places on the wall immediately behind the couch. counsil always has the latest/greatest EQ/phase gadgetry, and so rest assured his EQ and delays are spot on to make all those subs sing together. He’s posted some graphs in some of his threads for anyone who doubts. Everything about his system is impressive with one exception - - - with that much hardware I can’t figure out why he still uses a 55” tv instead of a projector
– come on man! He has that sought after extension that occurs with multiples, but I still honestly prefer the sound of my pair of ported Captivators in my room at that same 125dB level on identical movie and music clips. To each their own! It’s a good thing we all have unique preferences – it keeps the hobby interesting! The Submersive is very capable, very attractive, easily placed, well designed, well eq’ed, and each component – amp, cabinet, drivers, and EQ are designed to be completely complimentary. It has a very high pedigree, from one of the more well known subwoofer designers. The product, the company, and Mark Seaton – all have lots of supporters. It is a great sub by all accounts, just doesn’t meet my sound preference of ported. At this meet it was trading punches with the Caps and won a few rounds, but lost by decision on my scorecard. Had the volume levels been raised I think the Captivator would have increased its lead significantly. My notes on the Submersive are more critical than those on other subs. If I was as critical about the early subs as I was in my notes about the Cap and Submersive there would have been negative notes on most every clip – so take the negatives I bring up in that context. I was more forgiving in the fault finding commentary as the subs decrease in expectation/price/quality. The Seaton is truly an outstanding subwoofer and I acknowledge full well that many people liked it best.
As to the meet notes:Positives
• One Submersive vs. two Caps? Submersive not only held its own, but won the collective group vote by about 2% at nominal listening levels! Very nice! Hats off to Mark. (I’m not conceding I like it better -- because I really don’t, but I acknowledge its win at this meet)
• PERFECT on Master and Commander – the only sub I gave a 10 score to and 2 full points ahead of the cap on my scoresheet.
• PERFECT on IronMan – the only sub I gave a 10 score to
• Overall Fantastic on WOTW – very tactile (but it seemed perhaps the limits weren’t far away as I heard a bit of the sealed sound that I don’t like in this clip) and the Submersive didn’t quite have as much umpf on the cave-in with the ground expanding and falling as the Caps did. I felt perhaps the submersive had a bit more umpf in the ULF you can’t hear – could it have been turned up much higher to tell or would it have ran out of headroom? I rated both Cap and Submersive a 10. I’d be very happy with either on this scene!
• Very tactile explosion on HTTYD clip even though it didn’t sound like it was completely effortless as on the Caps – overall very good explosion!
• PERFECT on Cloverfield, and while I gave both Caps and Submersive a 10 on Cloverfield (they both were amazing) - I think the Submersive may have the slight nod.
• Very nice performance on Red Cliff – tied caps
• Perfect on Pomp and Pipes – the only sub I gave a 10 score to
• Beat the caps on ghost N stuffNegatives
• Transformers 3 sideswipe clip revealed that sealed sound that I don’t like
• Perhaps not as articulate as the caps on the Hulk footsteps
• The Black Hawk down scene did less than the Caps for me by a whole two points
• Out of headroom it seemed to me on Pete Balasco – sounded good, but seemed on edge of limits
• Not as good as Caps on Eagles drum beat – borderline distorting a bit?
• Bass I love you – “ouch” somehow missing that lowest note with the authority of the caps? Actually surprising to me! Too loud for the sub to behave perfectly? Still 2nd best performance of the night on this track.
• Something a bit weird in the bumblebee track – like that higher portion of the descending sub notes was elongated?
There is an interesting thread on JTR Captivator Vs. Seaton SubmersiveHP with many different community member's perspectives linked here:http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1367775Third Place - Chase Home Theater 18.1 VS pair.
This was the first time I’ve had the chance to hear CHT equipment. I was impressed! I do not like to recommend things I’ve not heard, and now that I’ve heard their equipment I will feel very confident in making their recommendation, going forward. Greg’s mains are all CHT speakers and sound incredible, The two CHT sub setups that were represented at this meet sounded outstanding, and the CHT equipment placed 3rd and 5th on my scoresheet, and 3rd and 4th in the overall averaged scoresheet which falls generally in line with their price points and anyone’s best legitimate expectation. The 18.1 VS was very near my Captivators in performance on most clips. I felt they did exceptionally well and anyone in the market for a pair of 18” ported subs at a great price needs to look no further. Craig is offering a pair of these subs for less than the price of a single Captivator which may not be a coincidental price point. I really liked these subs and can honestly say I was impressed. If you are okay with the bigger sized cabinet, then I believe they are a better choice than the typical $1000 subs I heard in Kansas City, and that includes the SVS PB12+ and the HSU VTF-15H. As you may have read previously, at my meet in Kansas City I didn’t feel any tactile response from the single HSU VTF-15H, nor the single Epik Empire in my difficult room and only a wee bit from the SVS PB12+. The Chase 18.1 VS and 18.2 sub had tactile feedback in spades in Gregs similarly sized room. In some cases the VS 18.1 tied the caps, in some cases I only rated the Chase 18.1 VS pair one point lower than the Caps pair. The biggest outstanding difference was that we found their limits on a couple scenes, and I’ll comment on that in the individual section below. If not for those limit discoveries the score would have been closer between these two subs for me. Overall the VS 18.1 were very clean and capable subs. I saw three generations of CHT products at this meet. I saw the SS 18.1, the 18.2, and the newest 18.1 VS subs. The craftsmanship on these subs has come a LONG way. The first gen subs were as ugly as people said they were. I’m not meaning to hurt feelings in being blunt, but it’s true. The feet were ugly, the paint job finish was pretty rough, and if the room lighting was up high they just weren’t much for looking. The second gen finish looked better – no glaring problems, and continuing on the third gen 18.1 vs subs have a very nice finish -- more typical of the other current ID offerings. The subs are still big, but they are no longer ugly. Craig has made a lot of headway on his finishes and it shows. Again, I’ll be a bit more critical on this sub than some of the lower classed subs. Negatives I wrote down here by the ounce – probably apply by the pound to the lower end subs. We only found its limits on a couple clips, in most/all of the other clips it didn’t sound limited at all. The subs were not broken in yet according to Greg, so that should perhaps be considered in these evaluation notes. I still felt this sub setup sounded great and it placed a solid third against two subs that cost twice as much. If you aren’t looking to peel your paint back with your listening levels – they are a very strong alternative to the Captivators and at half the price!Positives
• Very tactile, very impressive overall!
• On Sideswipe clip I thought the VS was right in there among the best with the chain gun shots
• Sounded very impressive on WOTW – I gave them a 10 – I did not hear any limits being pressed.
• Sounded better than the Submersive on the transformer bumblebee scene
• Sounded quite awesome on the Hulk scene, I tied it with the Cap at 10
• Sounded PERFECT on Black Light Syndrome – it was the only sub I gave a 10
• Second highest score on Bass I Love You, with a 9 – right behind the 10 on Caps, but right on edge of output it seemed!?
• Generally speaking I liked them about the same or about 1 point higher than their sealed brothers in the 18.2 with two exceptions listed in the negatives, we encountered only a couple clips in which the vs subs showed any serious limitations at the SPL tested.Negatives
• Not quite as tactile as the Caps at similar volumes I felt
• Explosion rumblings weren’t quite as articulate, maybe a tiny bit muddy compared to the top two subs
• We found their limits on Flight of the phoenix right before the propeller hits the side of the plane and then the “tuba” sound in the clip was not clean. Drivers sounded a bit distressed at some points. This particular clip did not do this sub any favors IMO
• Not as accurate on the popping alien ship sounds in Battlefield LA as top performers
• Red Cliff drums weren’t as accurate as the top performers
• Absolutely puked on Kid Kudi in my opinion - I gave it a low score on this clip and felt it was distorting quite badly. Overdriven it seemed to me!Fourth Place – MFW-15 Turbos
Michael spent a longer time in calibrating these subs, I went upstairs and started visiting for a while. Unfortunately nobody called kwarny and I down for the start of the Turbo audition. I missed the first three clips thinking they were still working on setup. These were the only audition clips I missed of the day (besides the quad MFWs at the end). I really enjoyed the subs and was actually quite surprised by their powerful sound. I liked them quite a bit on most things, and thought the finish and cosmetic look was right up there with or perhaps even would have bested the Seaton Submersive HP if the MFW-15 cabinet was new. This was my first interaction with the MFW-15 cabinet and now I see why they were so popular half a decade ago. The quality looks like something from FunkyWaves or an expensive furniture company. Michael had an extra empty cabinet for sale for $75 and I purchased it from him to try my own project for our tv upstairs. My wife wasn’t excited about me coming back with yet another sub cabinet from the meet, and I couldn’t convince her we should use it in the living room, so I may not keep it, but it is a very nice looking cabinet, even with a couple blemishes. The turbos’ audition was very clean, the subs were very well tuned and I heard no obvious glaring - cringe inducing faults. They won out in the slightest of margins against the sealed CHT 18.2 on my scorecard.Positives
• These were the first sub of the day to that I heard anything I liked in the Irene clip, other subs later surpassed this one, but at least it had presence in that clip
• Better than the ED A7S-450 on Hotel California bass drum notes
• I loved this subwoofer pair on Kid Kudo, I gave it a 10 on that track. Three other subs scored a 10 on that track so it wasn’t unique there, but my cliffnote said “WOW Fantastic on Kid Kudo”. I gave it a high score on Ghosts N Stuff too. I wrote that it would be a good dubstep sub.
• No distortion on Bass I Love you that I heard. It hit the lowest notes reasonably well.Negatives
• The drums sounded deeper in Red Cliff than the A7S-450, but even so I still preferred the drum sound on the A7s-450. However this sub did better on the drum beats in the Eagles track than the A7s-450 did. --- so the drums comment swing on preference is probably a wash.
• I didn’t like it in Pomp & Pipes - I scored it rather low.Fifth Place – Chase Home Theater 18.2
These subs impressed me as well, and I generally ranked them similarly to the VS models, but if they weren’t tied they were usually a point down or so on my score card. Again – I prefer the ported sound and these are sealed – so if you like sealed you should pick these up without reservation – they are a nice sounding sub for the price! I thought they were a very competent sub in nearly all the material and I didn’t hear them crap the bed on anything like I did with the 18.1 vs subs(specifically on the Kid Kudi song is where the VS subs stunk up the room), but then overall I still liked the VS better and my scores reflected that overall in individual rankings and in totals. I only gave one 10 score to these sealed 18.2 subs, but they still earned lots of relatively higher scores. The VS subs earned four 10 scores by comparison from me. I think If this sub was turned down about 2 or 3dB I wouldn’t have had some of the negative comments on my scorecard. Overall still a treat to listen to and did very well on many clips.Positives
• Sounded very good on sideswipe – ambient rumbling was there!
• Very nice “Tuba” note on FOTP – picked up slack on this scene when their ported brethren failed, the man that falls from the plane made a satisfying crunch. The overall FOTP scene had a bit of that sealed muffled sound I don’t like, but I don’t think that is a issue with the sub --- just a personal preference of ported over sealed
• Sounded very good for Bumblebee scene
• Nice job on hulk scene
• Nice ring drop on FOTR, but prefer the ported offerings for the following “wave” sound
• Nice job on pipe organ clip, one of the better auditions
• VERY awesome for Ghosts N Stuff – tied the Seaton Submersive on this track with one of the two 10 scores I gave – very distinct bass lines reproduced accurately
• Very good on kid kudi (compared to VS 18.1 which did exceptionally poorly on this track)Negative
• Sounded a bit limited on WOTW, but was still overall generally impressive
• Not as good as the turbos for the alien ship popping thruster sound on Battlefield LA
• Not quite as accurate as some of the others on the drum beats
• Overdriven a bit on Pete Balasco
• Overdriven on Bass I Love You – the lowest notes were distorting a bit.Sixth Place – Elemental Designs A7S-450
This sub seemed nice performing solo, but I don’t think it lived up to the Chase Home Theater Sub auditions. It was outgunned 2 to 1 since the others were pairs and it was a single so it would have been nice to have a pair of them to see if that would have changed the outcome. The box looked especially sturdy, weighed a ton and looked like it could be strong enough to be doubled as an elephant training stand. The silver driver with the Elemental Design logo looked sexy. I’d have no problem with this look in my home theater room. It is a manly looking setup. It didn’t earn any 10 scores from me, but earned a handful of 9s.Positives
• Very nice performance on sideswipe, deep and tactile.
• Very nice on WOTW
• Very nice on Bumblebee
• Ambient bass was there in spades on Flight of the Phoenix, but I didn’t hear the prop hit the plane
• Very nice hulk scream – the first to its audition point of the day (bested the f20’s here) – good on cop car smash
• Good definition and accuracy on Cloverfield
• Very nice extension on Kid Kudi
• Good definition and accuracy on Red CliffNegatives
• The tuba sound on Flight of the Phoenix wasn’t as impressive as some of the other subs demoed to this point (and it was still early in the night)
• I didn’t hear anything in the Irene clip
• Didn’t really sound any better than the BIC F12 on the Battlefield LA alien ship popping sounds
• Did not like the Hotel California drums on this sub – I rated it the worst of the night on this clip at 4. The kick drums sounded very artificial on this sub for some reason, which is odd because I did like the Red Cliff drums on this sub – a different sound/frequency I suppose.
• Perhaps a bit overdriven on dubstep style music.Seventh Place – F20s
The F20s went first and I think that helped their scores. They were loud and impressive during the first couple clips, but even before hearing the other subs I noticed they were sloppy and inarticulate and the demo scenes progressed. It seemed that there was very little separation in some of the beats/notes. Had they gone at the end of the day they would have been directly compared to the more equivalent SPL subs and IMO they would have been ranked lower on my sheet. I didn’t go back through and re-adjust my scores, but perhaps I should have. I don’t think it really matters because my scores averaged up as is still reflected my overall opinion. The F20’s were capable of plenty of SPL and rumble – they were a fun on that front. The first three tracks we demoed that criteria was all that mattered – so I was giving them a couple 9’s and even a 10. I remember thinking these seemed a great bargain during these clips. Their weaknesses, however, were revealed throughout the course of the continuing demonstration. Cosmetically they are big, but not obnoxious to me. I could live with the looks in a dedicated theatre room --- what I wouldn’t want though is the sloppy sound. I have to assume they were setup correctly – I know horns can be tricky, but maybe that was part of it? Though I’m being overly generous in providing that doubt because we did end up eq’ing them for hours on Friday night, and no other sub to my knowledge had that many hands involved working on perfecting eq.Positives
• Really fun for Master and Commander, WOTW, and Tron. 9, 9 and 10 scores respectively on my scoresheet.
• Very tactile, very fun for slower bass,
• Fantastic for Kid Kudi – I gave them a 10 (one of four 10’s I awarded on that clip)Negatives
• After the first three clips it spiraled downward for me. I began to see the chinks in the armor
• Battlefield LA alien ships popping thrusters were not crisp
• Not much happened with the Pomp and Pipes
• Really sloppy on Red cliff, there was no separation at all. I wrote “Terrible drums”
• Sloppy on Flight of the Phoenix
• Not very crisp, not very accurate--- just in general on pretty much the majority of clips - in my opinion --- especially in hindsight after listening to a few more subs.Eight Place – DIY Rythmic
This was a so/so entry. I won’t comment on the cosmetics - beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I believe this sub was pretty much at its limits on several of the scenes, but didn’t really complain too badly. The driver was moving like crazy. It had nice extension, but was never fond of calling attention to itself. Its owner likes this and said he was happy with its performance (in fact I believe it was his opinion the Rythmic won the night). It didn’t suit my tastes – I don’t want ‘blend’ and ’transparency’ I personally want my subs to announce their presence with in your face tactile, accurate, deep bass. I want to know there are subs engaged and that they can hurt me at will as the movie or music scene demands. This sub traded some punches with the BIC and ultimately came out on top, but only because of its extension capability IMO. This subwoofer was like the little old harmless gentleman from the retirement community with the funny hat that walks by every day and says hello, but you never really know him. Then one day you realize you haven't seen him in six months. You feel a brief moment of sadness when you realize he probably died, but immediately following that thought you take your next bite of corn flakes and finish reading the morning newspaper never to think of the old man again. The sub had good manners, but no personality outside of the hat. You’d need about 20 of them…with pitchforks…to scare away a housefly.Positives
• You could feel a bit of the extension over the BIC – lows were present, but just barely.
• Better on Red Cliff drums than F20s
• Everything sounded nice and balanced and…….….. dead (where’s the live sound?)
• Did everything it was asked to do without complaining too loudly, nor did it shine in any of its dutiesNegatives
• Popping from alien ship thrusters in Battlefield LA was better on BIC
• Drums on Hotel California were better on BIC
• Definitely at limits of excursion – visibly and perhaps even a whimper audibly – but on the plus side it never outright complained.Ninth Place – BIC F12
This little sub is a standout in that it costs $190 shipped from Amazon I know of no other sub of this quality that can be had for that price. It doesn’t fail on ultra low frequencies because it doesn’t even try. It just does what it can and performs loud and clean. It beat the F20 and the Rythmic on several scenes on my scorecard. Not bad for a sub $200 shipped bargain bin subwoofer. With EQ it seemed to be fine for music and movies. I guarantee it will put to shame any HTIB subwoofer that ever attempts cross it. Another friend’s $200 Onkyo sub I’ve heard is a complete disgrace to subwoofers in comparison. The BIC looks nice, performs admirably, and perhaps best of all you can throw it in a backpack and take it to the next subwoofer meet on your motorcycle. If you understand what your purchasing I do think this is a very good value and I generally have no major issue with watching a movie at my friend KCNitro07’s house with this subwoofer performing low duty. I have and will continue to recommend it for the budget conscious enthusiast. If you don’t know what you are missing – you’d never really even know it was missing ----- right? Of course right!Positives
• Very impressive considering price – woofer looks nice, cabinet looks nice, you could get away with putting this small box in your living room, no matter how small the room. A single cheapo sub filled Greg’s 3,800 cubic foot room with plenty of sound (30hz and above sound that is)
• The alien ships in BattleField LA were actually represented very well I thought. The popping sound was tactile and fun – much better than F20s’ on this clip that immediately preceded it.
• Drums sounded better on RedCliff scene than the F20s
• Sounded better and more accurate on Ghosts N Stuff than the F20s that preceded itNegatives
• Nothing on hulk footsteps and Hulk smash - Shouldn’t I feel something in my gut when the concrete is being torn apart by two ton fighting behemoths?
• Nothing on the LOTR’s ring drop. The ring hit the ground and I knew I was supposed to be feeling something – but ….. nothing
• Etc, etc etcTenth Place – MFW Quads
I didn’t rate these things. I actually left the audition. One didn’t work, the others didn’t sound good. I’m not sure if was EQ or what. These were the only subs that Desertdome didn’t EQ. I don’t really like the sealed sub sound and I really don’t like a bad sealed sub sound. It was late in the day and perhaps I’d just had my fill. If anyone can get them sounding good – it’s Desertdome, but they weren’t ready for primetime that night. There seemed to be some driver rattling going on too – so one of the drivers in the working pairs may have failed, or been close to failing. I could say a bunch more negative stuff, but I’ll leave it at that. I understood they were just put together and not even tested yet. So hopefully they can be make a better showing in the future.Eleventh Place – DTS-10/Growler Combo
I didn’t rate these things with more than a couple scores. They sounded awful, like flinch inducing – please stop it now awful. We turned them way down, re-eq’ed several times, and they still sucked. Something was wrong with the DTS-10. Be it EQ, or be it the design, (I doubt), or be a driver failure – but they were IMO clearly the worst of the night. The Growler might have been fun to listen to by itself, but we didn’t try it. This combo was a disappointment because we were all REALLY looking forward to hearing it. Hopefully the owner can figure out the issue and get it fixed. I understood it was the first time he had a chance to listen to the combo as well. I felt sorry for the owner in that regard, but hopefully it’s something simple, cheap, and easy to replace/fix. I’ve heard so many great things about the DTS-10 that I’d not worry too much if I were him until I’d discovered what the issue was. Just stinks that it didn’t show up for game night. That thing was a beast. I thought it was about 280 lbs, but the shipping label – still attached said 385lbs!!!??? I’m really glad Stormwind was bracing my back as I was backing down the stairs with one end of that ridiculously massive horn sub. If we had missteped on Greg’s steep basement stairs with 300-400 lbs falling on us – it would have broken ribs, legs, or worse!Takeaway
My take away from this meet, even more than the KC meet was that we all have our biases. Each owners’ score seemed to reveal a bit of this bias. This is probably inevitable without blind testing but it seems that people evaluate the sub they own as slightly higher than others would. Apparently, myself included. I truly do love my Captivators, and felt they handedly won the meet and would have done even better if we could have opened up the demo material a bit on the volume front, but then that’s my preference for very aggressive bass and it’s one man’s preference. Kwarny likes his subs to blend in and be ‘transparent’ to the listener and doesn’t care about SPL levels, he doesn’t want the sub to call attention to itself. Again – one man’s preference. KCNitro07 is all about value – because his sub costs half as much as any sub in the meet and was still very capable he believes his sub was the best. As my longtime college friend he constantly ribs me that I spent well over 10 times as much on my Captivators to no worthwhile advantage. “Sure it’s fun to feel it, but is it worth the cost?” he’ll goad! Yes, I’ll say.
The take away is whether our biases are inherent in our personality, or a trademark of our unique ear design, or perhaps simply an established preferences based on the equipment we’ve heard in the past – I don’t’ know. What I do know is that there are biases and seldom will two people prefer and seek the exact same sound. If someone can figure out if they like ported or sealed sound that will conclude half the sub choice battle.
Thanks again Greg for hosting this thing!
Finally here are a couple references for those hoping to host their own meets or share their experiences. I hope more of these meets are hosted in the future. They are a lot of fun!The I'll demo my subwoofer for other enthusiast's thread -http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1354149The Subwoofer Shootout Collection thread -http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1367811