A tale of three subwoofers....its a long story, so grab a cold one and buckle in.
Let me start from the beginning, for perspective, and how I finally arrived to where I am. Started out many years ago with a nice little JBL HtiB setup with coffee cup sized satellite 5.1 system with 8" "subwoofer". As is usually the case for all of us starting out, it was completely awesome!!!! Remember those days? I'm sure most of us started there. Seriously though, it was so much better than TV speakers. Sounds coming from all around. A drastically better experience than TV speakers.
After moving, and one of the components failing, I had to get a new AVR and sub since the HtiB sub was passive. I bought an entry level Yamaha RXV-375 from Best Buy, along with a Polk PSW-110. I almost got some 8" model, but the giant Polk 10" sounded beefier in the store, so I got the enormous Polk sub. Wife agreed it was enormous. She wasn't completely happy but went along with it, and agreed it sounded better than the HtiB sub. Well, I was still using the little coffee cup sized JBL satellites. Started researching. Ended up buying some enormous speakers.....Hsu HB-1 bookshelves and HC-1 center channel. Wife almost cried when she saw the enormous center channel sitting on the mantle. True story. She got used to it, and came to appreciate the better sound quality of the decent quality Hsu speakers. Well then I had to continue reading and researching. Found out the Polk PSW-110 was not the cats meow after all and ordered an SVS PB12NSD. Wowzers! My first 20 Hz sub. Two weeks later the PB2000 came out so I traded. Realized I was hitting the PB's output limits in the mid and upper bass pretty easy, so ordered a PSA XS30.....their original dual opposed sealed 15" sub.
The XS30 is the first sub that caused my wife an anxiety attack due to the amount of mid bass this thing could produce on music. Learned about the benefits of duals but a 2nd XS30 was out of budget, so traded for dual XV15se, PSA's small ported 15" subs. These were a great value. With the help of REW and a miniDSP, I eq'd a house curve with a beautiful rising response down to 16 Hz. I ran these for a good year or two and they sounded fantastic. With the boosted low end response, I was able of course to find their output limits on movies. I couldn't afford bigger better ID subs so I delved into DIY
DIY: I bought a couple of 4 ft^3 sealed flat packs and a SI HT-18 driver for $189. It was the super bargain DIY driver of its time. I hit 107 dB at 20 Hz in room with an Inuke amp with one of these. Then I added an HST-18...a MONSTER 70 lb driver. Driven with an Inuke 6k, this sick beast of a subwoofer hit 114 dB in my room at 20 Hz on a sine wave sweep with low distortion!!!!!! It took every last drop of power my Inuke 6000 could dish out, and just laughed. With plans on adding a matching HST, I sold the HT-18 and, just for kicks, ordered a Dayton PA-460 pro audio driver for $89 to play with while I saved up for the HST-18. WHAT? This 6mm xmax(I think) driver absolutely caved your chest in with mid bass compared to the HT-18 driver I sold. The combo of HST-18 and PA-460 was PHENOMENAL. Deep bass galore and stunning mid bass. Hello pro audio drivers!!!!!
This led me to purchase a pair of what I believe are the best all around 18" drivers made....BMS18n862. They are tested on Data-Bass. In fact, I bought them from Ricci
These things were incredible. Combined, slightly more output down low than the HST-18 was capable(yes, that driver was stupid beast mode down low). A little above reference capable down to 10 Hz and below with a sine wave. Clean, crisp, crushing, concussive mid bass with unlimited headroom. And not only that, but also the lowest distortion driver ever tested.
Then I sold them. Why? Well, my system is in my living room. I like to have a clean, polished, elegant and user friendly system. I currently have very nice looking piano black tower speakers. In wall surround speakers that match my wall colors. All wiring nicely routed and hidden. My DIY subs had state of the art, world class performance. But the pro audio amp was manual on/off. Fans ran full time and were audible. My house does not have central heat air so dust build up over time which of course leads to heat and failure. Finish quality was mediocre at best. Although mostly hidden, this still bothered me. Also, with 18's, no single dimension can be small. They are just big everywhere for a living room. I wanted a narrower baffle, auto on, no fan noise, superb finish quality.....a nice polished subwoofer system to match the rest of my setup.
PSA came out with their new B&C pro audio drivers in their subs, which of course caught my interest. Very high sensitivity, very high motor strength, light cones, high power handling, low distortion, and very good xmax for pro audio drivers are really something special imo. The concussive mid bass you get from this type of driver has to be experienced to be truly understood, just as reference level capability from ported subs down to 10 Hz has to be experienced to be understood.
The PSA S1512 were at the top of my budget, so I ordered up a pair. I was hoping they would perform similarly up top on music with mid and upper bass, as I didn't want to give that up. I knew I would lose some low end, but was willing to give it a shot in order to get the smaller cab size, polished fit and finish, auto on, etc etc.
Well, I made the mistake of underestimating how much I appreciated the low end capability of the BMS subs I had. I mean, these things would max burst 104-107 dB at 20 Hz in a 4ft^3 sealed cab.
Let me touch briefly on the PSA subs....they perform *very* well for what they are... a very small sealed 15" sub. Their capability on music was just stunning...absolutely unlimited headroom on music. Powerful, clean, crisp, crushing mid bass capability. I was literally blown away and I think they did not give up anything on my BMS in this regard. The amps PSA uses have *very* good burst output...so couple with the very high sensitivity and high power handling of the excellent B&C drivers...they just pound and sound amazing. Most people would be very happy with these for movies and music if they are not looking for full reference level capality with subs hot and DEQ rolling. In other words, you can't ask more than ANY small sealed sub is capable of giving. I watched Underwater and was super impressed with the overall presentation.
On really demanding LFE scenes, I could tell they were a little soft. Only because of my experience with much more capable subs did I realize there was more there that I wasn't getting. I'd guess 99% of all people would be completely blown away and would think anyone was nuts to want more. But I wanted more down low. It's not a knock against the PSA S1512's...they are truly excellent for what they are.
So I ordered the FV15HP's. They have held the top spot for low tuned ported 15's for ten years. Baffle is only 18" wide which makes them fit my room very well despite the overall larger size. They are only 1" wider than the sealed subs from PSA. I can accommodate the height and depth in my room without being imposing. Going ported, I knew I wanted a low tuned sub to not give up the extension of my sealed subs. An 18" ported sub is too big for my room. The Hsu VTF15.2 does not pass my or my wifes aesthetic requirements...just the design. The Monolith 15 is bigger and I'm not willing to pass up the customer service one gets from companies like Rythmik and PSA. PSA's low tuned 15 is not being produced yet.
This is what led me to the FV15HP's. Next post, FV15HP impressions. I apologize for so much non Rythmik commentary, but ALL of the above is what led me here. Which in the end is also a compliment for Rythmik.