James Loudspeaker EMB-1200 subwoofer The James EMB-1000 subwoofer
The 10" EMB-1000 ($1595) shares the larger EMB-1200's design and internal amplifier, but it costs $600 less. It's also 1" shorter and thinner, 4" shallower, and weighs 30 lbs less. The EMB-1000 (serial number 1577) performed surprisingly well in my large listening room with most program material. To my surprise, I was able to blend it with the Quad ESL-989s at 45Hz, which made it much less directional than the EMB-1200. Working behind the Quads, it widened and deepened the soundstage even more.
However, demanding program material showed its limitations. Emmylou Harris' "Deeper Wells" turned into a churning cauldron of bass pulses that drowned out her voice. When I listened to Patricia Barber's rendition of "Use Me," her voice was sweetened and softened when the standup bass played, losing the edge and character that my wife finds so irritating. Harry Connick, Jr.'s smooth-as-butter tenor vocals on the When Harry Met Sally... soundtrack (CD, Columbia CK 45319) turned slightly off-key and more distant, as if he were singing through cupped hands. This was not explained by frequency-response differences below 200Hz, as viewed on the Velodyne DD-18 subwoofer's spectrum analyzer. Perhaps my large listening room would have been better handled by a pair of EMB-1000s.—Larry Greenhill