First of all, thanks for taking time to listen to our subs. I initiated this request for ShadyJ to do a mini review. ShadyJ, being a reasonable person based on his posts, doesn't seem to believe that our servo subs make any difference in sound. So the discussion very often came down to let us turn blind eye on this sound difference that Rythmik claims to have. On the other hand, I know our sound is distinctively different (to the better side) and all of my customers can hear it and praise it with a few exceptions (4 total as I recalled with all models years combined and for those customers, I didn't even waste time in refunding them the money). So I wanted to give it a shot at ShadyJ. My goal was not to demonstrate that we can play louder or anything like that. If he can hear any positive note from FV12, I am already a happy man. So I want him to have more relaxing time with the sub. This is much better in my opinion than a couple of hours that is available in a lot of audio get-together.
Originally Posted by shadyJ
I had a chance to play with a Rythmik FV12 for a couple weeks, ... I wanted to see if Rythmik's servo technology really did produce a different sound, which was something I had been skeptical about.
.... Of course, the problem is this is not a fair or rigorous comparison, since placement has such an impact on the sub's performance, in output and frequency response, but I wasn't primarily after differences in FR and output. For much of this exercise, I also had any kind of EQing turned off, including Audyssey, as I didn't want to risk obscuring the natural sound of the subs. To help compensate for these deficiencies, I positioned myself closer to them than my typical listening position, where, when measured, the swings in FR weren't quite so severe. I also gain matched them for many of the listening sessions.
I agree with you on this. I believe all of these subs should have pretty flat out of box FR. Besides, the conclusion that you later drew cannot be explained by simple FR difference. That also serves as a reminder that FR is not everything. Harmonic distortion is not everything. There are other factors that makes the sound different. I hope that will steer members away from simple mind thinking that as long as frequency response is same, then there is no difference in sound. I will put in my explanation later in this post.
So I turned to film material and sound effects, but at this point not expecting anything different than what I had already experienced with music. One of the first things I played was the Trainstart wav file
from Danley Sound Lab's website
, and, lo and behold, I hear a difference right away. This wasn't my imagination either, as I had it confirmed by others, and while it wasn't a huge, tremendous difference, it was certainly noticeable and one could hear it right away. The recording is simply a heavy freight train passing by, with lots of different types of rumbles and low frequency crunching noises. While the other subs reproduced this recording well, the Rythmik definitely had a edge in detail for the texture of much of this low frequency grinding. I heard the same in other like recordings, such as distant thunder, and also complex drone type sounds. In certain film passages, there was a difference, such as the pods rising sequence from War of the Worlds. In that scene, there was a richer texture to the earth quaking and crunching sounds, although the Rythmik was not able to dig as deep as the Hsu or Outlaw. However, in other film scenes, I couldn't detect a clear difference, such as the plane crash from Flight of the Phoenix, although I think it would have been harder to gauge a difference in that scene, even switching back and forth immediately because the nature of the bass there changes frequently and abruptly. It's a great demo scene, but just not in the way I was using it.
I'd like to add the difference you hear above is not a switch-on-and-off thing or a step function type of behavior. The difference is always there, just different degree. That is, between no difference in pure sine waves to the complex train sound with very audible difference as ShadyJ has pointed out, there are other levels of difference in between. But the point is everyone should be able to hear it one way or another. If one's setup is more optimized, he maybe able to tell the difference starting from a less complex music signals. [EDIT:] The bright side is the sub has the potential of not being outgrown by other components. One can continue to upgrade the front speakers, the amp, ...etc and the subwoofer will not the limiting factor in sound quality.
Now my explanation of the difference is that all frequency components are reproduced in all subs, there is no signal missing. However, our subs can maintain better correlation (or audible clues) between various interweaving signals. If one use FFT or do a spectral analysis, the difference is completely scattered all over the place. On other subs, it is not that they lose the signals. It is more like they cannot maintain consistency/correlation among all the components in the interweaving signals so our brain just cannot connect the dots (in which case, it sounded like excessive rumble noise in the background that often interpreted as having deeper bass). Once all signals are put in the right perspective, we hear much cleaner sound with a realism that resembles what we hear every day.
Output wise, the Rythmik could really belt out a tune, although you really had to compel it to do so. To get it to really blaze, I had to raise the level on the sub out in my AVR quite a bit, and also turn the gain knob up all the way to the max. It will rock though, there is no question about that. It did not have the headroom of the Hsu or Outlaw subs, they could punch harder and louder than the Rythmik, and it was easier to get them to that point, all you had to do was turn the gain knob up a bit. Their volume control is quite a bit more sensitive than the Rythmik's as well, with the Hsu being absurdly sensitive in comparison. Just touching slightly would move the volume by 2 db, I could not get any finer control on the Hsu then that!
Don't be afraid to turn up the volume on our subs. We designed it to be that way so most customers should use 12 o'clock position. The purpose is to avoid this overly sensitive volume control issue you just described. You may have a more steady hand, you can imagine the problem someone with less steady hand can have.
I appreciate ShadyJ to spend his time on this comparison and the conclusion (which I will not quoted again) very much in line with what I anticipated. In terms of sound difference, we sell our subs to both 2 channel customers (10 percent or so) and mixed use customers (the remaining 90%), I really don't want anyone to say our subs are more suitable for 2 channel setup. It is really for all setup and in one way or another, you can hear the sound difference our sub makes. It is actually a quite rewarding experience.