A good subwoofer can make you squeal like a little kid. The music/movie was moving along nicely and then WOW, out of left field comes some bass that you didn’t expect. It almost lifts you out of your seat. You can’t help but smile at the impact of how that seismic bass enhances your listening experience. I don’t care how erudite you think you are. This is just plain fun! Why would we not want it in our movies/music?
This brings me to the topic of, the evolution of subwoofers and where we are today. To appreciate where we are today, let’s take a look at where we’ve been, and how we got here.
The subwoofer as a product category emerged in the 70s. M&K was among the first companies to sell a box with a dedicated bass driver, with on board passive crossover with goofy jumper cables. While this is prehistoric by today’s standards, hey, it was fun. Was it accurate?
Nope. But it was fun to hear the bass thunder away, especially with Magnepans or Mini Monitors that just didn’t have much bass of their own. But alas, we music purists didn’t like the subwoofers obfuscating our music. The chase has been on ever since to refine subwoofer performance.
Over the past 40 years, subwoofers have improved, but honestly, with mixed success. We have faster drivers, denser cabinets, improved crossovers and usually on board amplifiers. Buttt, the physics of what it actually takes to create strong bass, starting with a huge cabinet and amplifier, has never sold well. Our wives dominate the aesthetic landscape and they simply won’t tolerate them. Hence the market has tried to bring domestically tranquil subs to the party. While they are tolerable to her, they don’t cut it for us.
This is based largely around the fact that the cabinets/drivers are small and the flimsy plate amps on board BREAK when you drive them hard. And why else would you buy a sub other than AT TIMES you want to let ‘er rip?!
We’ve sold many subs over the years by fine companies like Velodyne, B&W & Paradigm. They’ve done pretty well for the most part. But they’ve all had extremely vulnerable power amps that, we’ve found, a few years down the road, give up the ghost. Some companies will repair these subs, but this ain’t the good old days. Today these repairs are a profit center for the company in question, and further, the physics of the design are not changed. This means that it WILL happen again. Hmmm. You buy a $700 sub, run it six years, and face a $400 repair bill with 90 second, ooops, 90 day, warranty. Untenable.
GoldenEar Subs In 2017
Having lived through this entire span of subwoofer-dom, I’m happy to tell you there is one company that eclipses the rest. GoldenEar has a wide line of subs from $500-2000 the eschews pedestrian sub designs of the past. How so?
First of all, GoldenEar pays attention to the fine details of building subs. The cabinet shape and density is unique. The active drivers are robust. Quadratic passive radiators are used to control the resonance, as opposed to employing chuffing ports. The on board power amps positively SLAY the amps used by the other guys. The high testosterone amps are bigger, stronger, produce more wattage and are controlled by new DSP, all factors that are vital to class leading performance and long term reliability.
Having sold gazillions of subs over the years, I can flat out say that the performance and reliability of GoldenEar is hands down the best I’ve seen. Let me point out that when company XYZ sends their sub in for review, it has been extensively QC’d. Mr. Reviewer isn’t getting a sub off the line like you are! Mr. Reviewer lives with the sub a month or three and does his level best to give it a fair shake. Mr. Reviewer is likely not a cement head. He’s probably an educated guy with realistic expectations. Almost all of them are older guys and listen nowhere near as loudly as the rank and file customer. I have to tell you that a fair number of subwoofer buyers ARE abusive, and that has to be factored into the design of the product. GoldenEar’s success in terms of performance, reliability and longevity, absolutely SLEDGE HAMMERS the well meaning offerings we’ve sold for 40 years.
$500: GoldenEar ForceField 3
If you’re looking for an inexpensive sub that can do a formidable job, you’ve found it in the GE FF-3. It is the $500 champ among powered subs- because it doesn’t sound lightweight.
There are many facets of GoldenEar subs that make them good values. FF-3 starts as a potent, cast frame 8” woofer with a large magnet. It is mated with a down firing 9.5×11.5” Quadratic Radiator. Most companies supply a 100-300w amp. FF-3 has dramatically more power= 1000w on board to deliver a big punch when needed. You need the power for performance and reliability. GE has it. The other guys…. don’t.
$700: GoldenEar ForceField 4
If you can step up two bills, you can swing FF-4. FF-4 has a front firing 10” woofer, down firing 11×14” Quadratic Radiator and a 1200w amp! The step to FF-4 is quite noticeable in a good sized room or, especially in a basement environment where it is tough to get the bass moving. Please note, this is a 1200w amp. The other guys, usually top out at 300w.
$1000: GoldenEar ForceField 5
The best buy of the bunch is the FF-5. FF-5 uses a 12” front firing woofer, down firing 13×15” Quadratic Radiator and a 1500w amp! While FF-5 is fast enough for music, it can absolutely BRING IT when you’re immersed in an action movie. FF-5 has the gusto. The 1500w amp is real muscle. There are many $2000 on up subs with 400w amps!
Are we being greedy in suggesting you consider buying two subs? Not really.
While our industry says you can’t tell where a sub is located because the bass is so low…. that’s not really true. We find that a listener with a decent ear really CAN locate where the sub is.
If you run a pair, one towards each corner in the front of your room, for music OR movies, the bass and weight is equally distributed and you really can’t locate the subs. By running two, each works less, so the sound is deeper and tighter. You can run the crossover a bit higher. Since each has its own amp, you haven’t compromised there either.
Prodigious, yes. Over kill, no!
New Dual Plane Subwoofers!
GoldenEar’s new Dual Plane subwoofers are more controlled than the ForceField models above. While we love the FF’s for what they do and at the price points they offer, the Dual Plane subs are a distinct step up.
The Dual Plane models have opposing active drivers and quadratic radiators. This cancels distortion. GoldenEar has patented a number of details pertaining to the design of its Dual Plane subs. The Dual Plane subs have been instant hits (literally!) and I predict we will soon see a plethora of imitators.
As the Dual Plane models play music, you can put your hand on them and BARELY feel any resonance. How weird. You hear plenty of clean, tight bass, but feel no rumble in the jungle. These guys are definitely plowing new turf in the subwoofer domain.
$1250: SuperSub X
SuperSub X uses opposing 8” long throw active woofers, firing left/right. SuperSub X also has opposing quadratic radiators, 10.5 x 9.5, top and bottom. Driven by a 1400w amp with DSP, SuperSub X is a major league performer in a 12.5” cube.
$2000: SuperSub XL
SuperSub XL uses opposing 12” long throw active woofers, firing left/right. SuperSub XXL also has opposing quadratic radiators, 15×13, top and bottom. Driven by a 1600w amp with DSP, SuperSub XXL is the best big time subwoofer performer at anywhere near its price range!