There is a growing demand for quality dedicated Home Theatres, and therefore the associated products needed to get the most out of these theatres. One essential component is the sub-woofer. There are two attributes that are desirable in this situation – firstly it needs to be very good, and secondly as most Home Theatre subs are housed in cabinetry it needs to be front firing. This led to us looking for a brand that would sit above the Sunfire range of subs, which has been a favourite of ours for many years.
The obvious choice was JL Audio out of the US. This is about as good as sub-woofers get. The first sub we auditioned (and subsequently purchased) was the Fathom F112V2. OK – at $6,500 this is not a cheap sub, but you can really see where the money has been spent. I think on-line publication ‘Secrets of Home Theatre and High Fidelity’ summed them up perfectly in their conclusion:
“What are they, exactly? I can’t answer that in a nutshell. Not if you want more specific than fantastic. The condensed version is that they are relatively small, insanely well-built, extremely powerful, very smooth, tight, detailed to a fine line, clean, poise-laden, dynamically proficient, utterly kick-ass subwoofers.”
There is a lot more to a subwoofer than just producing lots of bass – that is the easy part. To produce a lot of bass you need to move a lot of air – and you do that by moving the bass cone. If you want that bass to be tight, dynamic and accurate you need to control that cone, e.g. stop it when the note stops, and that is one area where many manufacturers fall down. There can also be a lot of nuances in bass, particularly when listening to music rather than movies. Listen to someone playing a double bass – can you hear the individual notes, or do they all sound the same? Far too many subs sound sloppy, slow and indistinct.
This is what stands the JL Audio apart from many – they are fast and very articulate. Plus they do what you would hope any good sub would do, produce lots of bass (the F112v2 above does down to 19Hz at -3dB).
JL Audio also manufacture a couple of in-wall subwoofers. Most modern home cinema designs dictate that you cannot see any speakers, and while this is not a problem for the main speakers finding a good in-wall sub-woofer has been problematic. Preferably installed as pairs JL Audio produce an 8” in-wall sub-woofer, powered by an external 600watt amplifier, and a 13.5” in-wall powered by an external 2000watt amplifier. These are substantial boxes requiring a wall cavity height of 2.4mtrs. If you are looking for an unobtrusive, high performance sub it does not get much better than this.
On the other hand you could opt for the top of the line Gotham G213v2 dual 13”, 4,500watt behemoth – selling for a cool $26,000! (and no, we don’t have one on the floor).