Last month you caught a glimpse of the new RBH MS-10.1 subwoofer as one of my personal Top Picks from the 2004 Consumer Electronics Show. Small enclosure, high output subwoofers are not new to home theater. The design principles of subwoofers work as a series of tradeoffs: using the same size woofer for both examples, a larger enclosure (often vented) requires less power to achieve higher output and thus is considered more efficient, while small enclosures often require two times or more the power in order to achieve the same volume output.
There are also, of course, inherent traits to smaller woofers' achievements in comparison to larger woofers--yes, this is the big guy versus the little guy. Smaller woofers (those under 12 inches) rarely dip below the 30Hz range without help from the room. This is where the RBH MS-10.1 steps in.
What is truly unique about the RBH MS-10.1 subwoofer is that it incorporates a proprietary Tuned Aperiodic Vent (TAV). The TAV uses the principles of Aperiodic material to act as a "choke" on the vent. The woofer (or woofers) in turn are fooled into thinking they are in a larger enclosure than they actually are. The idea is not new, but the application on the port for the home environment is brilliant.
With this design, RBH has created the ability to power two 10-inch aluminum woofers in a small enclosure with a mere 250 watts. Combine the power of the amplifier, the rigidity and transient response of the aluminum woofers, the TAV and a MDF enclosure, and the results are quite impressive.
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
The MS-10.1 subwoofer is full featured with both high and low inputs and outputs, variable gain and crossover, auto on and an infinitely variable 0-180 degree phase adjustment. Its compact size does not equate to any weight loss--this bugger is a hefty 40 pounds.
We connected the MS-10.1 up in our office lobby. The room itself measures about 700 square feet. I felt it would be well beyond the boundary of the tiny subwoofer. Nevertheless, we plugged it in and began a proper break-in period with various music selections. With the volume set to a twelve o'clock position (half-way) we were all very impressed with the output. Still, the sub seemed better suited to mid to upper bass frequencies than to those frequencies below 50 cycles.
After running the sub in for several days, I brought the unit home, where the volume is well over 1,900 cubic feet in my living room theater. However, the MS-10.1 was an entirely new subwoofer here. With the sub placed in the front corner of the room (one foot from either supporting wall) and the vent facing into the corner, the output and performance were tremendous. And yet the MS-10.1 still had the capability to finesse high bass frequencies.
I am not one for gimmicks, and I am not one easily impressed. The RBH MS-10.1 represents a technical achievement certain to be copied by others in years to come, and delivers on claims of hard hitting bass down into the mid 20Hz range. More importantly, the RBH MS-10.1 delivers a value to customers seeking a compact solution to high-output needs.
RBH MS-10.1 Subwoofer
Frequency Response: 22Hz-180Hz
Amplifier Power: 250 watts RMS
Drivers: Dual 10-inch Aluminum Cone
Enclosure Type: Tuned Aperiodic Vent
Dimensions: 14 3/4"H x 13"W x 17 1/2"D
Weight: 40 lbs.