Just Another Subwoofer Review and Comparison - Part 2
IMPORTANT: All of my comparisons were done within the output capabilities of each sub. Clearly the max output for each sub is going to be a good bit different so I wasn't comparing things at reference levels. I will have duals of the chosen sub which will have all of the output I need.
Ok, so at the end of my subwoofer search, I arrived at the Rythmik FV18-PC. While the other subwoofers would be excellent choices, the FV18 just checked the most boxes for me and matched what I was looking for better than the others.
I quickly realized that Rythmik pays attention to the smaller details that often go overlooked. The packaging is among the best I have seen. Someone would have to be extremely careless to damage it in shipping. Unboxing is very easy considering the weight of this thing and the "skateboards" are quite effective. The FV18 is extremely well built and is very heavy relative to other subs its size. The vinyl wrap far exceeded my expectations and is applied with precision. The paper cone driver is "ok" looking; not bad, but not as nice to look at as JTR or PSA drivers. I like the transparency of the grill and found it to be much more attractive in person than in pictures. There are lots of dials and switches but the small instruction guide gives good starting points which simplified initial setup. I started with 12 hz, low damping, rumble filter on amd after powering it on, it remained dead silent which is a good thing (no hisses, no hums).
After running a baseline sweep to see what the native response looked like, I ran through a quick Audyssey calibration and started playing some different songs that I am familiar with. I don't want to spend a lot of time discussing the nuances of particular songs, but the FV18 is extremely impressive with music. Even in low damping mode, the clarity and texture is incredible. I can only imagine how the aluminum driver in high damping mode would sound. For me, the FV18 has the perfect balance of definition and accuracy, without becoming too sterile. It does an excellent job of blending in with the other speakers and sounds better with music than any other sub I have heard. The PSA TV36 did have a little more mid-bass punch at higher volumes, but the FV18 isn't lacking at all.
Next up were some of my favorite Dolby trailers that I keep on the Plex server. Once again, I came away very impressed. After hearing the finesse of the FV18 with music, I was worried that it might not have enough ULF grunt for my liking. I was wrong, very wrong. This thing can be downright violent when called upon. I had to double check a few times and make sure the BOSS platform was turned off as my seats were shaking quite a bit from the sub alone. By this point, my mind was already made up and I hadn't even watched a movie yet.
I'm not a big fan of cherry picking 10 second clips from different movies to evaluate subs as I prefer to actually watch movies. The first movie we watched using the FV18 was Maleficent. Yeah, I know I should be kicked off of AVS for that choice, but the family wanted to watch something new. I was actually VERY surprised by the quality of the bass in a Disney movie for once. The FV18 handled everything with ease and provided incredible impact to the more dynamic scenes. I was impressed with how the FV18 improved the experience without calling attention to itself too much. The JTR struggled with this aspect a bit and although it is the king of ULF TR, it likes to yell "look what I can do" which can take away from the experience.
Although I don't like doing it, I played some of the more popular demo scenes (EOT Intro, War of the Worlds, Olympus Has Fallen, etc) and my expectations were exceeded in every case. While the FV18 gave up a tiny bit of mid bass TR to the TV36 with music, it more than made up for it with these demos. I was NOT expecting the single FV18 to have more ULF TR than the larger TV36-IPAL and it is always nice to be pleasantly surprised.
While there is no such thing as a perfect sub, the FV18-PC is the right sub for me. It is the perfect combination of sound quality, build quality, musicality, violence, etc.
As soon as the second FV18 arrives, I will likely spend a lot of time getting everything dialed in and experiment a lot more with the different amp options. I imagine I will like 14 hz, high damping, rumble filter off the best but we will see. I will also do compression sweeps once everthing is broken in.
Electronics: Denon X4400, Vizio M65
Sub: Rythmik FV18-PC x 2
Speakers: 3 x Chane A2.4 LCR, DIYSG Volt-6 Surrounds