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Episode ES-SUB-12-300-MB Powered Subwoofer Reviewed

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Episode-ES-SUB-12-300-MB-subwoofer-review.jpgHigh Points
• The ES-SUB-12's build quality is phenomenal, possessing smooth lines, solid construction and the warranty to back it up. While the finish may not be automotive grade, it's not supposed to be, for the ES-SUB-12 is designed with the intention of being installed into custom cabinetry or behind a fabric wall or perforated screen.
• The ES-SUB-12 possesses all the necessary inputs and connection options to integrate it into a variety of setups, including more basic two-channel systems, thanks to its speaker level inputs or five-way binding posts.
• The ES-SUB-12's front-mounted volume controls make fine-tuning adjustments easy and straightforward, saving you time and headaches.
• The ES-SUB-12's performance is stellar, as it punches far above its weight class, embarrassing others in its price bracket and coming just short of performance benchmarks set by my costlier JL Audio Fathom f110 subwoofer.

Low Points
• The ES-SUB-12's grille is a bit finicky and cheap, but then again, you'd probably leave it off when installing it into an AV cabinet anyway.
• I'm sure many will criticize the ES-SUB-12 for its simplicity, for many subs in its price bracket feature some sort of unique cabinet construction method, finish or control option, which the ES-SUB-12 does not have. However, I would argue that the competition spends funds on these so-called features that they aren't spending on their product's performance, which is a problem the ES-SUB-12 doesn't have.
• The ES-SUB-12 is a large subwoofer, meaning it's best suited for medium to large rooms. If you're not building it into a cabinet or dedicated theater space, then you will have to contend with its larger footprint.

Competition and Comparison
On Episode's own website, they list what they view as the competition for the ES-SUB-12. This competition includes Velodyne's DLS-4000R subwoofer, which retails for between $499 and $849, depending on the size of the driver. Another competitor to consider would be Polk's DSW Pro 600 at $679.95, as well as Paradigm's DSP-3200 at $749. I would also add GoldenEar's $699 ForceField 4 subwoofer, as well as Aperion Audio's Bravus II 10D at $799.

Of course, I did mention my own personal reference too, JL Audio's Fathom f110, which does outperform the ES-SUB-12, but not by the wide margin I feel many would expect. For more on these subwoofers and others like them, please visit Home Theater Review's Subwoofer page.

To say that I was impressed following my time spent with Episode's big daddy subwoofer, the ES-SUB-12, is a bit of an understatement. At first glance, there's little to get excited about, for the ES-SUB-12 appears to be behind the times in terms of finish and construction, but when you consider its designed purpose, to be installed into a cabinet or custom installation, its physical attributes and design become more acceptable. Then you power it up, at which point who cares about its physical appearance, for the ES-SUB-12 manages to pack so much performance into its simple cabinet and modest asking price that you can easily overlook any shortcomings it may have. Is it perfect? No, but it more than holds its own against its direct competitors from the likes of Velodyne, Paradigm and others, and even manages to give higher-end brands like JL Audio a run for their proverbial money. All things considered, the ES-SUB-12 is a true value and performance leader. Highly recommended.

Additional Resources
• Read more subwoofer reviews by the staff at Home Theater Review.
• Find Bookshelf Speakers or Floorstanding Speakers to pair with the ES-SUB-12.

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