We're back from our BOL summer vacation, only to find that Paul Allen is trying to patent-troll the Internet out of existence, Netflix seems to have finally put BlockBuster out of existence, and Foursquare ain't going down without a fight. Oh, and Donald Bell gives us his predictions for Apple's Sept. 1 event. --Molly--> Subscribe: iTunes (MP3) | iTunes (320x180) | iTunes (640x360) | RSS (MP3) | RSS (320x180) | RSS (640x360)… Read more
We all know subwoofers make bass. Big subwoofers, like the $799 Epik Empire, can sport massive 15-inch woofers and a Class D 600-watt power amplifier, all packaged in a 22x18x24-cabinet. The Empire's 120-pound weight might be a not-so-subtle indication that it's solidly built.
But Eminent Technology's TRW-17 Rotary Woofer ($12,900) doesn't have a cone-type woofer or a box or cabinet. No, the TRW-17 looks like a high-tech fan. And when you turn it on, the fan's blade spins just like a fan, but it's a bona-fide subwoofer. It produces deeper and more powerful … Read more
Subwoofers make bass, that's easy. But really high-quality affordable subwoofers are surprisingly rare. The big problem facing subwoofer designers is the pressure to make really small subwoofers. That's not to say small subs can't make bass, they boom and thunder all right, but the sound tends to veer to the muddy side of accurate. That can sound acceptable for home theater duty, where nuance and subtlety aren't always big priorities.
So sure, a 1-foot cube sub can get the job done for a home theater, but can it define the sound of a 1962 Fender Precision Bass? Can it play music and let you really hear what's going on in the bass? No way! For that you need something a bit more substantial: a large subwoofer. Big subs also make their presence known in home theaters, where their sound has the gravitas no minisub can match. Oh, but most large, high-performance subs come with heavyweight price tags.
That's why I'm jazzed about the $799 Epik Empire; this bad boy boasts two 15-inch woofers; a Class D 600-watt (1,500 peak watt) power amplifier; in a 22-inch-high, 18-inch-wide and 24-inch-deep cabinet. The Empire's 120-pound weight might be a not so subtle indication that it's solidly built.
I briefly spoke with Epik's founder and chief designer, Chad Kuypers, Thursday. He's a no-nonsense kind of guy, and he told me he's working on some really cool larger and slightly smaller subs, but for now he's just offering one model, the Empire. Epik Subwoofers is located just north of Chicago, Illinois, where they build the subs, including fabricating the precision CNC machined cabinets in-house.… Read more
I'm a city boy, so I don't relate to the "outdoor" speaker category all that well, but I certainly acknowledge the need for such things. For me outdoor audio is limited to my iPod and whatever headphones I'm reviewing. Geoffrey Morrison over at Home Entertainment magazine sees the bigger picture so he reviewed the Polk Audio Atrium Sat30 satellite ($150 each) and Atrium Sub10 subwoofer ($300), and came away pretty impressed by what he heard.
It's a plus that Polk managed to avoid the usual styling gimmicks that most outdoor sound systems rely on, … Read more
I suppose the "place the sub wherever" myth is based on the fact that low frequencies (80 Hertz or lower) are nondirectional, so it's hard to tell where in the room the deep bass is coming from. That's true, but that's not the same thing as disregarding subwoofer placement concerns altogether.
Some experts recommend always sticking the sub in the room's corner. I rarely do that, but corner placement will produce more bass at a given subwoofer volume setting. The corner's two walls and floor reflections "reinforce" bass output, so sure, the sub would have to work harder to generate the same amount of bass when it's not in a corner. But in my experience the bass is smoother (flatter) and better integrated with the speakers when the sub's placed next to a wall.
If your speakers are small, fewer than 10 inches high, with a 4-inch or smaller woofer, I recommend keeping the sub within 3 or 4 feet of the front left or right speaker. The logic here is that if the sub is much farther away it's easy to tell the bass is coming from the sub. The goal is to make the bass sound like it's coming from the speakers, not the sub.
Larger speakers, with 6-inch or larger woofers, make more bass on their own, so the sub is only responsible for delivering the deepest (nondirectional) bass. Sub placement options are greater for that reason, but the best possible bass sound still requires a little work on your part.
Some placement experimentation may be useful; play a CD with lots of deep bass and keep repeating the track as you move the sub to all of the visually acceptable locations in your listening room. Wireless subs simplify the task somewhat, but they always have at least some wires and need to be plugged into an AC power outlet. You'll be amazed just how different the bass will sound in different locations; some will be muddy, some will sound louder, and some will reduce the bass volume. The goal is to get the best balance of deep bass and still have mid and upper bass in equal proportions. … Read more
When I reviewed and raved about the Energy RC-Micro 5.1 Surround Speaker System in late 2008 the MSRP was $1,000. It still is, but it's not hard to find the awesome sounding system selling for $399, delivered!
Energy is big on small speakers, so even though the Energy RC-Micro 5.1 is downright tiny, it sounds big.
How small is small? The four jewel-like RC-Micro satellites measure just 4.7 inches tall by 3.5 inches wide by 3.5 inches deep, a size that barely contains the unusually small drivers: a 0.5-inch aluminum dome tweeter and a 2.5-inch aluminum midbass driver. Each speaker weighs just 1.6 pounds.
The center speaker uses the same drivers, but they're housed in a slightly larger cabinet (3.5 inches tall by 5.9 inches wide by 3.5 inches deep), and weighs 1.9 pounds. Both speakers feature Energy's proprietary Convergent Source Module (CSM) technology that was originally developed for the company's flagship Veritas series speakers.
The 240-watt ESW-CS8 subwoofer has a down-firing port and a front-mounted 8-inch injection-molded woofer. The driver utilizes Energy's Ribbed Elliptical Surround--the rubber "rim" that surrounds the woofer cone has molded-in ribs--which Energy claims lowers distortion and allows the subwoofer to play louder than more conventional designs. A blue LED behind the front baffle's grille lights up when the sub is on. The sub isn't too big--just 12.7 inches tall by 10.5 inches wide by 12.3 inches deep--and it weighs a modest 16 pounds.
The entire RC-Micro 5.1 system is beautifully finished in piano black, and each component has a removable black cloth grille. The satellites and center channel speaker can be wall mounted with either their keyhole slots or threaded inserts.… Read more
So you want to upgrade your current car stereo to a phat sound machine with specialty or aftermarket parts? Beyond your personal tastes and desires for items like a head unit, speakers, and woofers, you should probably be aware that you'll need to upgrade your battery and alternator; most production vehicles' electrical systems are not designed to run high-power aftermarket audio equipment. In fact, most vehicles' electrical power range lies between 600 and 1,200 watts--not much for a big, loud, fancy car stereo.
Once you've decided what exact pieces you want to install as your car stereo … Read more
In case you didn't know, my articles this week are all about car audio. Today, we start at square one with picking out your most basic components for your car stereo: the head unit and speakers.
Rich Richards of Utah-based Innovative Home and Car Audio explains some basic things to look for and consider when designing your car audio system. Rich discusses the importance of getting a deck with high-voltage output through the preamp for better sound, the benefit of component speakers (midrange and tweeter) being as close together as possible, coaxial rear speakers, amplifiers, wiring, fuses, and everything … Read more
I occasionally get e-mails asking about cheap and easy ways to soundproof a listening room. Readers want to minimize the amount of bass and sound leaking into neighboring apartments or rooms in a house from their home theater.
Bona-fide soundproofing is neither cheap or easy. Anything short of building a "floating" (isolated) recording studio type listening room won't totally soundproof a room. You see, a floating room's ceiling, walls, and floor are acoustically and structurally isolated from its surroundings. Prices vary, but plan on investing at least $10,000 for a professionally installed floating room. After the floating room construction techniques, you can attain more limited success with double sheetrock on the walls. That is, install new double sheetrock walls with an air gap between them and the original walls. Double sheetrock can make a big difference, but it's still far from a cheap or easy solution.
A friend put a layer of lead sheeting under his apartment's finished wood floors to reduce bass transmission to the floor below. It worked, but I'm not so sure about the health concerns from living around that much lead.
But I do have a few tips to reduce sound leakage from one room to another, or between floors of a house or apartment that won't break the bank.
Before we go any further, let's define our goals: sound isolation isn't the same thing as improving room acoustics (I'll cover that in another blog).
Sound is transmitted from one room to another either through structure borne vibrations (wall, ceiling, or floor movement), or through the air. Thick carpets or wall pads won't do much in the way of soundproofing, but they may improve sound quality in the room.… Read more
LAS VEGAS--As any gamer or music fan knows, your computer's built-in speaker are utter bunk and the more-affordable PC speaker upgrades typically lack in low-end power. To fill the void of booming PC speakers for under a Benjamin, Altec Lansing is gearing up to release its VS4621 2.1 PC speaker system in the Spring, with a down-to-earth retail price of $79.
Like its predecessor, the VS4121, the new system features a pair of stylish and slim stereo speakers that connect to an impressive-looking powered subwoofer. The sub sports a 6.5-inch driver in a ported enclosure, while the … Read more