Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
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Velodyne (with rare exception) was head and shoulders above the competition in the 80s through 90s. Their servo subs allowed for reasonable sized subs with good output and low distortion. If you were willing to live with large enclosures, you could do better (i.e. the Muse 16, which was basically the size of a refrigerator on its side). I used Velodynes for years, F1000, pair of ULD-12, SPL-1000, HGS-10 and HGS-12. For music, I still believe the ULD series was the best sounding of the bunch.
To me Rythmik has replaced Velodyne, but at far better pricing for better performance. I have a L12 ($500) which is every bit the equal of the HGS-12, but at 1/4 of the price, not including inflation. The F15HP I use in my main system is a major step forward from the ULD and HGS series, having a tighter, cleaner, nearly dry sound, but having far greater output capability when needed.
As others have noted, the market changed. I attribute it less to internet direct, than the availability of high power, small, inexpensive amplifiers. Hoffman's iron law has never changed, subwoofers are a trade off of sensitivity, enclosure size, and extension. Pick two. When you can use a 1000 watt amp with built in equalization, when only a 100 watt amplifier was available before, you can give up sensitivity and use a smaller enclosure while still maintaining output and extension. Driver design evolved around this newfound ability resulting in a major closing of performance between small enclosure servo and non-servo subs (aided also by built in dsp which can monitor the subwoofer output and limit distortion).