2013 Recommended Components Subwoofers

Subwoofers

Class A

B&W DB1: $4500
The DB1 is a powered subwoofer in a handsome sealed enclosure measuring 19.3" H by 18.1" W by 16.2" D and weighing 97 lbs. Its solid construction includes: two mechanically opposed 12" woofers separated by a partially open internal partition, 1"-thick walls of MDF with 3"4"-thick bracing panels to minimize vibrations, digital signal-processing circuits to run its menu-based control system, home automation capability, and a 1000W switching amplifier equalized to produce linear output. Also included are a calibration microphone, four connector cables, and a USB-connected soundcard for use with the DB1's Room Acoustics Compensation program. Setup was quick and easy. Though it lacked the pitch definition of JL Audio's Fathom f113, the DB1 blended seamlessly with LG's Quad electrostatics, and produced powerful deep bass and impressive room lock. "The B&W DB1 proved to be a real pocket rocket," he said. (Vol.35 No.2 Read Review Online)
JL Audio Fathom f212: $6300
The ruggedly built Fathom f212 is a powered, sealed-box sub with two 12" cone woofers. It measures 32" H by 15" W by 20" D, weighs 220 lbs, and has an effective cabinet volume of 574 cubic inches. Like the smaller Fathom f113, the f212 provides an automatic internal room optimizer for single-band adjustments, but lacks a high-pass filter. With its clean, well-defined low bass and outstanding three-dimensionality and soundstaging performance, the f212 delivered the full intensity and emotional impact of music, said LG. "The Fathom f212 has raised the performance quality of my audio system, and my enjoyment of it, to much higher levels," he concluded. Price is for Gloss Black finish. Black Satin costs $6200. (Vol.33 No.4 Read Review Online)
JL Audio Fathom f113: $4000 $$$ ✩
The f113 is a small, sealed cube featuring a 13" drive-unit with a prominent OverRoll surround that permits huge cone excursions. All controls and connections for JL Audio's Automatic Room Optimization are conveniently located across the front of the sub, beneath the removable grille. Setup was simple and sophisticated. "Small as it is," said KR, "the f113 makes a powerful and musical contribution to the bottom end, even in the context of an already full-range system." "Remarkably powerful and clean by any standards, it is all the more so considering its compact dimensions," he sums up. When passing his system's low-end signal to the f113 below 80Hz, KR also noted "a dramatic expansion of the entire soundstage." Though installing two f113s in his system required more care and time than LG had anticipated, the improvements in soundstaging and deep-bass reproduction were worth the effort. "My entire system achieved its best performance to date," he said, also noting that the JL Audio's Automatic Room Optimization circuit enabled him to tune out an annoying 50Hz mode in his room acoustics. Price is for Gloss Black finish. Black Satin costs $3900. (Vol.29 No.11, Vol.30 Nos.5 & 9 Read Review Online)
Paradigm Reference SUB 15: $3499
The SUB 15 has a 15" drive-unit with a 76mm-diameter voice-coil, and is rated for bass extension down to 12Hz. Considerably more attractive than the austere Paradigm Reference Servo-15, the SUB 15 has outrigger feet, gracefully tapered side panels, and weighs 114 lbs. It accepts balanced and unbalanced RCA input signals, and offers a trigger input, adjustable low-pass filter, phase adjustment, and a USB port for control of its equalizer. Compared to the Servo-15, the SUB 15 produced a flatter, more extended bass response with a smoother upper end, allowing it to more readily "disappear" as a discrete sound source. "The SUB 15 offers all the powerful bass and extension needed for any music and, indeed, for home theater, unless you"re a bass maniac," said Kal. Add $300 for Piano Black finish. (Vol.33 No.1 Read Review Online)
Velodyne DD-18+: $5799
The DD-18+ is a powered, sealed-box subwoofer; its 18" forward-firing driver has a fiberglass Rohacell-laminate cone, a 3" voice-coil, and a 39.7-lb magnet. Compared to the original DD-18, the 18+ is 6.5" deeper, 19 lbs heavier, has 28% more internal volume, uses a more efficient amplifier, and features strongly tapered side panels. In addition, the DD-18+'s equalization software provides automated room compensation and controls drive-unit distortion using a servo-loop accelerometer. Despite a daunting number of features, controls, and options, setup was simple. The DD-18+ played the deepest bass passages with minimal distortion, low coloration, and outstanding pitch definition, said LG. "Solid Class A," he concluded. (original version, Vol.27 No.6 Read Review Online; Vol.36 No.3 Read Review Online)

Class B

Bryston 10B-SUB crossover: $3595 ✩
The 10B features three balanced configurations—stereo two-way, monophonic two-way, and monophonic three-way—and proved extraordinarily versatile in managing crossover slopes and frequencies. LG heard no electronic edginess and noted only the slightest loss in soundstage depth. "I found the 10B-SUB's sound clear, transparent, and neutral—as good as I've ever heard from an outboard crossover." (Vol.18 No.5, Vol.28 No.11 Read Review Online)

Editor’s Note: There are no Class C subwoofers listed.

Class D

NHT Super 8: $349
Physically and sonically a perfect match for NHT's SuperZero 2.0 minimonitor, the gloss-black, sealed-box Super 8 measures 11" on each side and uses a single 8" long-throw paper-cone driver. It has a 110W class-D amplifier with a switching power supply and offers line- and speaker-level inputs, as well as an LFE input for connection to a sub output. The Super 8 blended seamlessly with the SuperZero 2.0 to dramatically improve bass impact and low-frequency extension without damaging the SuperZero's extended highs, clean midrange, and excellent image focus, said SM. Package price for SuperZero 2.0 and Super 8 sub is $500. (Vol.34 No.10 Read Review Online)

Class K

Sonos Sub.

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COMMENTS
guitarist9273's picture

The Beats Solo HD is now a Stereophile reccomended component... That sounds like a (funny) joke. They're certainly attractive looking & very stylish, but they sound very...well, bad. They're Class D...but I'm genuinely curious as to why they'd be included at all.

There are a lot of decent choices when it comes to headphones in the portable/sealed-on-ear-headphones-under-$300 category, now, that it's hard to see the B&W P3 and the Beats Solo HD making it onto the list. (Anyone interested in heaphones should check out Stereophile' sister online publication on personal-audio/headphones---InnerFidelity.)

Thanks for this awesome compilation, by the way! I sincerely enjoyed reading through such a wide sampling of great loudspeakers, amps & such. The balanced objectivity is always refreshing, considering other publication's purely subjective approach.

RobertSlavin's picture

Being able to see the photos of the components next to their descriptions, as found in this online version of recommended components, is nice.

However, Stereophile used to charge for this section online. Why is it giving it away for free now?

There's not a tremendous amount of money in magazine publishing. I'd prefer that the magazine make a reasonable amount of money from this section.

John Atkinson's picture

RobertSlavin wrote:
Stereophile used to charge for this section online. Why is it giving it away for free now?

Unless I am having a senior moment, we never used to charge for on-line access to Recommended Components. In fact, we have only been making it available in its entirety on-line since 2012, which is when we launched our free iPad app.

And regarding charging for it, my bottom-line policy is that the magazine's content should be available free on-line.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Poor Audiophile's picture

Thanks for that JA!

EU-USA Stereophile Fan's picture

Maybe some other EU makers could have been included such as Phonar (Germany) or PMC (UK)

John Atkinson's picture

Quote:
Maybe some other EU makers could have been included such as Phonar (Germany) or PMC (UK)

"Recommended Components" exclusively concerns products that have been reviewed in the magazine. In turn, to be reviewed in Stereophile, a product needs to be available in the US; see  www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/307awsi/index.html.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Glotz's picture

WOW, I love it!  

I think I have memorized the entire RC over the years, and seeing each component again (some for the first time) is wonderful!  

I wonder who went through the trouble of procuring all of those photos for RC online.  

I won't even pretend there will be photos (for the next RC) in the magazine.  I imagine it would be 500 pages long... 

Ariel Bitran's picture

photos were gathered by myself and reformatted by Jon Iverson.

Downforce's picture

Has the excellent Emotiva ERC-2 been discontinued?  And for JA, the link you posted isn't working.  Thanks for the lists.

John Atkinson's picture

Downforce wrote:
Has the excellent Emotiva ERC-2 been discontinued?

Not according to Emotiva. It's there in Class C of Disc Players.

Downforce wrote:
And for JA, the link you posted isn't working.

Fixed. Thanks.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

stereomag's picture

Wow! Here they (Stereophile) go again. Still no review of any Accuphase preamps. Why is that, Stereophile?

weitn's picture

M30.1 got impressive reviews from Stereophile and Absolute Sound and recommended by both. I have auditioned it and ordered a pair the other day. Out of curiosity, what happened to the M40.1? It was listed in the 2012 recommended list.

destroysall76's picture

Great recommendations, but I'm curious in the LS50 from KEF. Is it really that much better of a speaker to be a part of the Class A (Restricted LF) over the Harbeth P3ESR and the Proac Tablette?

Also, is the Rega RP1 the better table buy this year over the Project Debut Carbon?

mkrzych's picture

Hello,
I've read here that Dali Zensor 1 are in class C (Exteme Restricted LF), so according to your judge those are considered not entry level speakers, am I right?
If so, do you have any suggestions for the speaker cable matching or positioning for these little babies to sound the best? Currently I have Marantz CD5004/PM6004 connected to them over the QED Strand 79 speaker cable. They are on Soundstage Z22 stands.
Is it anything I can do to improve this gear in your opinion?

Thanks for any suggestions.
Krzysztof

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