Originally Posted by Marc Alexander
did/do you level match?
Yes and no. The typical method without specialized equipment is to use a multi-meter. Turn up the main volume to 75% of maximum and match the amplifier gain(s) through a multi-step process. I did not perform that process, but I did level match by ear and an dB app on my phone. Before I describe that, here are the two DSS amps I experienced in summary:
2 of DSS Plate Amps - 120v, 2,000 watts per sub. Total of 8,000 watts.
1 of DSS Rack Amp - 240v, 3,000 watts per sub. Total 12,000 watts.
Keep in mind, the rest of the system remained the same through both experiences, including the subs and locations. Nothing changed except the plate amps vs. the rack amp.
I have heard many systems and subs in my life. I was sponsored by Rockford Fosgate in the early 90's and won 2nd in the Nation in the 1,001+ watts power class. My car hit 150db with a maxed RTA score. In the past year I have listened to many high end theaters in my area. I know what real performance is and have always dreamed to put that type of performance in my own theater. If I were to rate subwoofers and amplifier combinations on a scale from 1 to 10 for performance, here how I would classify them given my experiences:
Baseline 10 - My Competition Vehicle (2nd in IASCA Finals) - 10
Most of the high-end home theater subwoofer/amp combos - 6
DSS Plate Amp described above - 9
DSS Rack Amp described above - 14
Now before I go on, remember, I am a serious BASS HEAD. I love massive amounts of hard hitting, great sounding bass. There is a big difference between a lot of bass and really good, hard-hitting bass. I'm not looking for a lot of bass, but rather very impactful and great sounding bass. Most haven't experienced the difference and just don't know. Of those that do know, most do not like nearly as much bass. Meaning they would not listen at the levels I expect of my system. I consider myself very hard to please when it comes to good bass. In fact, the first local company and I parted ways over subwoofers. The owner of that company was great and had all the gear I would need, but I didn't want to buy four of his JL Audio Dominator or E-series subs (nor any other subs he sold). Great subs, but not anything near what I wanted. Literally he said, if I didn't buy my subs from him we needed to part ways, so we parted ways and I did most of the theater myself, with the help of Nyal Mellor, David Gage and the people of AVS. I have an approximately 280sf space with 8.2 foot ceilings and a 18" rear-riser in the back 1/3 of the theater.
So, back to your question. I knew what the DSS Rack amp was all about since I had experienced it, but knowing what I know now, there was a problem with channel 2 of that amp since day 1. When that channel went out, I was left with just two DSS subs. Those two subs far outperformed four of those expensive JL Audio subs (and other high end home theater subs), but it was weaker than I signed up for.
When I received the two plate amps David sent, I had to turn both plate amps close to maximum volume in order to achieve the incredible base I wanted. Right about 90% for the front two subs and about 80% for the rear two subs. It did great, but the gains were definitely set much higher.
Once I received my fully repaired rack amp back, I put it on the same gain and LF settings I had previously when it did work. OMG it blew me away! I had to turn down the gains substantially. It made me realize channel 2 was never really working at full strength. Like literally right now, the front subs gain is set at about 35% and the rears at about 25%. That subwoofer amp and subs have SOOOOOO much more to give. If I turn the gains up substantially more, it literally hurts me and my ears. I have so much headroom it's RIDICULOUS! If Nyal calibrates my system, we will likely have a friendly argument about me wanting more bass than he wants to calibrate.
- Two 18" DSS subs with a single 4,000 plate amp is fantastic and beats most high-end home theater four sub systems!
- Four 18" DSS subs with two 4,000 watt plate amps (8,000 watts total) is way more than most would ever need!!
- Four 18" DSS Subs combined with the 12,000 watt (3,000 watts per sub) is literally out of control. Mr. Awesome seriously needs to put warning stickers on this system. It can literally hurt you!
- Four 24" DSS Subs combined with the 12,000 watt (3,000 watt per sub)...I seriously can't even imagine that. My insides hurt thinking about it.
I hope that answers your question.