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Klipsch R-115SW Subwoofer Reviewed
Brent Butterworth reviews Klipsch's $899 R-115SW subwoofer, a ported design that uses a 15-inch Cerametallic driver and an 800-watt Class D amplifier. Read More
Sumiko S.9 Subwoofer Reviewed
Brent Butterworth reviews Sumiko's new $999 S.9 subwoofer, which features a 10-inch driver, a 10-inch passive radiator, a 350-watt RMS Class AB amp, and connection options that the audiophile will appreciate. Read More
The Pioneer SW-8MK2 Meets the Meters
Our previous review of Pioneer's $160 SW-8MK2 subwoofer certainly generated some chatter, so we asked Brent Butterworth to dig a little deeper. How did the SW-8MK2 (both the stock and modified versions) perform on his test bench. Read on to find out. Read More
M&K Sound X12 Subwoofer Reviewed
Bob Barrett explores M&K Sound's flagship X12 subwoofer, which uses two 12-inch drivers in a push-pull configuration and a Class D amplifier rated at 400 watts continuous and 700 watts peak. Read More
Outlaw Audio Ultra-X12 Subwoofer Reviewed
Outlaw Audio has introduced a brand new subwoofer, the Ultra-X12, that sells for $639. In our exclusive review, Brent Butterworth puts this 12-inch, 350-watt subwoofer through his full arsenal of demos and measurement tests. Read More
Home Theater Review's Best of 2014 Awards
Home Theater Review presents its Best of 2014 Awards. We've surveyed all the products reviewed over the past year and selected the ones we think are the most compelling. Check out our list and see if your 2014 favorites made the grade. Read More
Pioneer SW-8MK2 Subwoofer Reviewed
Terry London examines the SW-8MK2 subwoofer from Pioneer and is absolutely blown away by the level of performance that this $160 eight-inch, 100-watt subwoofer can deliver. Read More
SVS PB-2000 Subwoofer Reviewed
SVS is known for making some outstanding subwoofers. Does the SVS PB-2000 live up to their name. Dennis Burger discovers that what it does, it does well. Whether or not it's what your looking for you'll have to read not to find out . . . Read More
Episode Landscape Speaker Kit and Burial Subwoofer
I was recently introduced to Episode Speakers by Sean Killebrew, who reviewed the company's in-wall speakers and had good things to say about them. When I was asked if I wanted to dig up my backyard to run wires and... Read More
Home Theater Review's Best of 2013 Awards
It's that time of year again. The HomeTheaterReview.com staff has discussed all the products reviewed over the year and decided which ones rated the best. Check out our list of the best of 2013. Read More
RBH SX-1212P/R Powered Subwoofer Reviewed
Andrew Robinson takes a look at the RBH SX-1212P/R subwoofer, putting the subwoofer to the test. Robinson's evaluation encompasses music and movie performance as he determines if the SX-1212P/R's performance justifies its price. Read More
Everything You Need To Know About Subwoofers1.0 Overview of Home Theater Subwoofers
2.0 Types of Subwoofers
3.0 Room Correction For subwoofers
1.0 Overview of Home Theater Subwoofers
Subwoofers are speakers designed specifically and exclusively to reproduce the lowest register of audio in home theater and audiophile systems. Often using large drivers sealed in a square-shaped box, subwoofers originally were designed to augment the lackluster bass performance of floor-standing speakers. Getting subs to integrate with audiophile speakers in the early days was without question a challenge but, when done properly, the results added tremendous impact to the overall sound.
Today, subwoofers get a lot more respect, because in 5.1 surround, the "point 1" channel is the LFE or subwoofer channel, meaning that even with most good surround sound formats, ranging from Dolby Digital to DTS to today's best lossless formats like DTS Master Audio and Dolby True HD, your subwoofer is getting discrete audio mixed and mastered only for your woofer. The significance of this for audio and movies is that the mixing engineer can determine exactly where the most bass-demanding effects or instruments can go; the best place for them to go in the mix is the subwoofer. It allows your main speakers to do what they do best and do it more clearly, while not sucking the life out of your amplifiers, which are trying to power a gigantic explosion or the dynamics of a tympani drum. Most modern subwoofers today are powered with digital or powerful class AB amplifiers, allowing them to do their job of reproducing bass from around 140 Hertz to subsonic levels of below 20 Hertz.
2.0 Types of Subwoofers
There are two main categories of subwoofers: passive and active. Passive subwoofers are woofers generally lacking internal amplification, which means they require one channel of amplification and sometimes an external crossover component. Passive subwoofers were more popular in the late 1980s and 1990s, but with the advent of class-D digital amps, specifically with Bob Carver's Sunfire True Subwoofer, the size of powered subwoofers shrank and the power, volumes and depths that even a small subwoofer could reach drastically increased. Today, it,s hard to find a passive subwoofer in the market, as most of those currently available in the marketplace are active.
3.0 Room Correction For Active Subwoofers
One of the most important developments, along with the application of digital (class D) internal amplifiers, for powered or active subwoofers is the advent of automated room correction for subwoofers. Increasingly active subwoofers had more and more set-up options that, without question, confused the heck out of consumers who didn't know how to set parameters such as phase, let alone how to physically place a subwoofer to get the best performance and most seamless integration with their main speakers.
Today's most feature-rich subwoofers come with room correction software and a calibration microphone which, with the flip of a switch or two, can easily optimize the settings and even the placement of a subwoofer in a music or home theater system. The audible difference between a subwoofer optimized for a room vs. one just plunked on the floor and turned on is not subtle. The room has a major effect on a subwoofer and placement can make a gigantic difference. Setting levels, phase and polarity can also make a notable improvement that can be heard by mainstream consumers.