Received the Sentinel yesterday! Initial impressions are that it doesn't sound as loud as the EX. Had to turn the gain much higher (11 o'clock on the EX vs. 1 o'clock on the Sentinel). Perhaps I need to play it hot? mcjasonb
, what are your settings on the receiver and at what position do you have the gain set?
The EX seems to slam harder down low, but I think that the down firing driver and ports attribute to the more visceral feel when the floor rumbles and shakes. The Sentinel is much tighter and more responsive and is better with music (for the most part - one exception was with the Chilli Peppers Blood Sugar Sex Magik song on Lithium (Sirius/EX) via DTV signal - EX seemed to hit a little harder and just sounded slightly better with this song). Overall, the Sentinel is a more musical speaker. The EX is a bit boomy and the bass seems to hang around a bit. The Sentinel is more responsive and doesn't linger like the EX.
I would give a slight edge to the Outlaw in HT, because of the feel of the floor/couch shaking abilities. The Sentinel is right there with it, but doesn't shake the room quite as much, but it's close. Granted, I had a lot more time to dial in the EX, so take it for what it's worth. The EX has a little more boom to it, which is good for a lot of heavy base scenes in movies, but not as good as the tight bass in the Sentinel for everything else. I also think the Sentinel will break in over time. I've only had 2 days with it so far.
I compared a few different bass heavy scenes between the two of them. Some were with my kids, so I played Kung Fu Panda with the Sentinel and compared the Escape scene and the Skidoosh scene (several times). You feel the EX more simply because it shakes and rattles the floor more. However, the Sentinel rattled one of the decorations in the Entertainment center, which I didn't notice with the EX. The Sentinel doesn't interact with the floor like the EX, mostly due to design. I often thought of getting a Gramma with the EX, but I don't think I'll need one with the Sentinel. Also played the beginning of Horton Hears a Who! and both subs are comparable. They just sound slightly different. It's tough to describe, but the EX seems a bit more visceral, heavy (down low), and the bass seems to hang around more. The Sentinel seems more controlled, tighter, and more realistic since the bass doesn't linger and it doesn't shake quite as much. The Sentinel does shake, just not with seemingly everything like the EX.
Also listened to Dark Knight hospital explosion, depth charges in U571, and Iron Hide flip and other scenes in Transformers (while alone
). Receiver set to -20 to -10, depending on what I was watching. My first experience with the depth charges was phenomenal with the EX. I was shaking and moving with the Germans in the submarine. This scene is amazing with a quality sub! The Sentinel was excellent with this scene too, but didn't feel it as much. I preferred the EX in this one, just because I felt it more in the couch and made me feel like I was there shaking around in the scene. The Sentinel had quite a punch too, but the edge goes to the EX. Both the hospital explosion and the Iron Hide flip were equally impressive with both subs. They have a slightly different sound to each of them as I described before. I think it's a matter of opinion and taste in whether you would like one vs. the other. My kids thought the EX sounded louder and more impressive (with the kid friendly movies of course), but as I replayed the scene and turned up the Sentinel a bit more, they seemed equally impressed. I played some music this morning on Sirius/EX and my wife thought the Sentinel sounded much better. She thinks that the EX is too boomy. I like them both, but favor the Sentinel for it's better representation of the original tracks. The EX is a bit bass heavy on the low end and like I mentioned, the bass seems to linger. I also watched Live Free or Die Hard tonight at low volume (-40 to -35) while the kids were in bed and the gun shots sounded awesome (especially the silenced ones). I didn't compare both subs, but I didn't feel the need to since the Sentinel sounded so sweet.
With all that said, I'm keeping the Sentinel over the EX. I love the EX and I think it's a fantastic sub, but there are a few things that I like about the Sentinel. First is the size and quality of the build. This thing is solid and heavy. It's definitely 15 pounds heavier even though it's much smaller than the EX. I like that it doesn't have carpet spikes and is easy to move around. The smaller footprint is a plus for me, because it's hidden nicely in the corner of the room and is easily concealed by our rocking chair (WAF). The driver is beautiful and clearly well made. I get a kick out of watching the driver excursion and so do my kids
. The butyl rubber surround on the driver feels thick and strong and the aluminum driver is solid and tight. This thing is built to last. The amp is nice too. I love the feel of the rubber knobs on the gain and I really appreciate the nice design touch of the raised section on the volume (gain) knob. I don't have to look behind the sub to figure out what position it's set to. Very nice touch! I also like the tight punchy bass of the Sentinel and that it has a more natural sound with music. It doesn't quite have visceral feel that the EX has in movies, but it holds it's own and it's not enough to sway me either way. The Sentinel is equally impressive in movies and just has more natural sound to it. The EX is heavier with the bass and I like the way it sounds, but I like the versatility of the Sentinel with music. I also think the Sentinel is going to break in over time and won't be quite as stiff as it is right now.
Both subs are keepers, but the Sentinel is the one I'm keeping. If I never got the Sentinel, I'd be perfectly happy with the EX. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend either sub. Both have their strengths and they're both quality subs at a decent price. The recent sale of the EX made it probably the best bang for your buck subs ($519 + free shipping is a steal). The Sentinel is right there, but a bit higher at roughly $200 more (but it's still on sale). Dual Sentinels is an even better deal. I only wish I could've bought two. I think two Sentinels would sound awesome in my room, but one is good enough and I'm quite happy with it so far
With a little more time to dial in the Sentinel and a bit more break in, I think it's going to sound even better than it does now. I didn't quite like the EX right away either until I dialed it in and had the gain, SW settings on the receiver, etc. set the way it sounded best. It takes time getting used to the sub and getting a feel for it in how it integrates with the rest of your system.
EDIT: I feel very fortunate to have heard both of these subs in person. It's very difficult to make a purchasing decision on something you've never heard before, but I can say without a doubt that both of these subs sound better than anything else that I've ever heard. They both have made dramatic differences in my listening experience. I can't express how important a good quality sub improves the sound of the rest of your system. One thing I noticed is that my surrounds (5.1) sound fuller and deeper with the added bass from both subs. The depth seems to come from the surround speaker even though the sub is 20 ft away. I never thought it would have this kind of impact.