Once upon a time, I had to go to the office to review Velodyne's Signature 18/12 active subwoofer. It had an 18in driver as well as a 12in driver, and was so heavy and generally huge that it needed a two-man lift to get the top of its transit box off.
I made my notes, then gaily shook the entire building with it until Top Management came and gave me a right bollocking. I'd only stopped the work of two hundred people. However, it had a very polite and restrained room presence, with fi ne fi nishing materials and was mounted vertically, so as to offer as small a foot print as possible.
Amazingly, the SVS PB12Plus/2, albeit priced low enough so that you could buy eight and half of them for the same cash as the Velodyne's mad £12K ticket tag, is even more room dominating. It makes my big old resident REL look like a toy. Despite lacking all sorts of clever-clever technology, like simultaneous line and speaker level connection, or panoplies of selfprotection electronics, it just sort of takes over in the way large opera singers tend to fi ll a room with their presence. It's huge! Maybe I should have reviewed it at our offices.
Once this Pavarotti of a woofer had been wrestled into my home, it didn't take long to come to the conclusion that it looked out of place. This box is meant for homes with serious cubic space to excite. It's also as subtle as a kick in the testicles, or a punch up the solar plexus.
But then what should you expect of a big old box with three 4in ports, a fat 900W RMS BASH digital switching amplifi er, and two of the nastiest, heavyduty metal-coned woofers that would take it as a personal insult to be run at less than 150dB SPL.
The thing arrives wearing two long expanded foam inserts up the port tubes, all of which are the same length as each other and reach in from one end and go almost all the way to the back. Apparently, the use, or lack of use, of these foams will change the basic tuned frequency of the box-and-port. All open and no foam bits equals a tuned frequency of 25Hz. One port tube stoppered up will change the tuned point to 20Hz and with only one port operating and two stuffed with bungs you will get a ridiculous body shaking 16Hz; even allowing for the rapid drop off of level with ever reducing cycles per second (or Hz) of tuned bass boxes, the in-room response is claimed to reach down to eight cycles.
This little thug even convinced me that a full-size steam train was outside waiting to take me to the North Pole to meet Santa.
Corpse Bride bass I make no bones about the fact that I am a Tim Burton devotee. I still cherish, and screen, the Laserdisc special edition of Nightmare Before Christmas, that came with copious extras and a hardback book.
So for the bulk of my note taking, I opted to spin (time and again) Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride. Based on an old middle European fairy tale, it makes stunning use of Harryhausen-esque stop motion animation, and is just delicious to watch. It's also got a fabulously revealing sound mix. Bass in the opening sequences seems to occur below the possible subsonic cut off frequency points offered by switch, of 16Hz, 20Hz and 25Hz.
The subsonic filter will result in higher SPL at high power but the Off position is what I used, and it was seismically earthshaking, especially when the said bride emerges. I added a little lower fi ltration to the normal 80Hz point offered by my front end and crossed over around 60 to 70Hz as the level coming from this beast was phenomenal.
There's also a single band parametric equaliser, selectable between 20Hz and 80Hz with a Hi/Low adjust knob as well as the min/max knob. What it doesn't clearly indicate is whether this is a min to max boost or is a centred boost/cut knob of say /-12dB.
Either way, it is intended to 'tame' room acoustics so in fact is probably a 'cut' alone. After a little wrestle with this to reduce the point where my room furniture has an eigentone in sympathy with the bass - just because its rattle distracts - I cranked the system up and tried all my demo favourites. It is possible to overload the drivers but you have to be an idiotic hooligan.
One nice touch for bass-addicts is a pukka zero to 180º sweepable phase knob to go with the volume pot. Basically you twiddle it for maximum throb! I played some music tracks in 5.1 as well and rapidly came to the conclusion that this is subwoofer is hard to beat in terms of sheer scale. It fl apped the clothes on my body and moved the hair upon my head and made the crystal clink. Very satisfying.
Big and effortless, the SVS PB12Plus/2 breathes deep through its ports and seems to give the drivers just enough acoustic support by holding itself up on short stubby feet above a piano black plinth. This makes for a tight, precise output that is far from monophonic and indeed can hold the melody line of the stupidest in-car BassCD recordings. It's in no way innovative, and employs a classic design.
But there's no doubt that it delivers auditorium grade deep bass but for less than you might think. For those with the room to accommodate it, and the freedom to let it rip, it's difficult to imagine any other sub delivering the same visceral experience for the money. Adam Rayner