When I begin setting up a single subwoofer I typically place it at a corner behind the satellites, facing the driver (in the instance of a forward-firing woofer) diagonally across the room, which maximizes room reinforcement. I listen for the way the sub is launching air into the room. If the sound is thick and bloated, I incrementally move the sub farther out into the room or experiment with moving the sub along the plane of the speakers. I then listen to familiar tracks with repetitive bass lines, gradually settling first on a basic volume setting followed by the crossover setting to eliminate any holes in the response between the sub and the sats.
A finely tuned sub such as the SuperSub X goes beyond mere extension and actually rebalances a system along more musically authentic lines. Capturing the realism of the concert hall is my goal. This is where the SuperSub X really shines. Partnering with the Revel M126Be it raised that compact’s performance by supplying a foundation that extends perceivably into the low 30Hz range, even touching the upper 20Hz range in my room. Bass quality was full-bodied yet controlled, exhibiting the requisite bloom and resonant sustain expected of deep lower octaves. In a brass ensemble track like Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man the bass drum not only had deeper pitch extension but also reverberant drum-skin textures and more graduated sustain. Similarly, during Rutter’s Requiem the pipe organ developed denser waves of bass energy projecting into the hall. Such low-frequency density aided in defining the soprano soloist’s position as well as the vast reaches of ambient space within the venue.
During “Autumn Leaves” by the Manhattan Jazz Quintet I removed the SuperSub X and noted how the particulars of the soundstage vanished—the performance was constricted within narrower boundaries, as if it had suddenly become fenced in; the sound grew cooler and more analytical; the beating heart of the musicianship was truncated. With the SuperSub X back in play, the standup bass regained its persuasive personality—full, ripe with bloom, and even on occasion a bit boomy with woody resonances, just as basses can sound in live performances in intimate clubs.
For compact speaker enthusiasts it’s worth noting that if you augment a stand-mount like the Revel or ATC the overall tonal balance will seem to shift downward a notch. Restoring the bottom octaves elicits an “unmasking” effect that impacts mid- and treble-range detail, as the subwoofer blends with the L/R speakers. This is a natural consequence of adding bass to hitherto bass-restricted systems. It’s a tradeoff, and some may miss the hyper-detailing they’ve come to expect from a cherished two-way. But achieving sound that can approach concert-hall realism is a worthy trade in my view.
The SuperSub X was not just for the classical or jazz aficionado, either. Sometimes a woofer just wants to get out there and party, and on those occasions I found that the X marks the spot. There are three pop tracks that appeal to me for their steady bass vamp intros: Gordon Lightfoot’s hit “Sundown,” the bass intro leading into Holly Cole’s cover of “I Can See Clearly,” and the electric bass opening from BS&T’s “Something Comin’ On.” In none of these tracks the is the bass especially subterranean, but there is a larger point that a sub like the GoldenEar underscores. It’s not just the raw note being played; it’s the character of each instrument, the pitch and dynamic force that each adds to the presentation. With the X, the bass notes seem wider and more expansive instead of limited and pinched. I also cued up an old Nautilus pressing of The Cars’ rollicking track “Just What I Needed,” and the SuperSub willingly hit the dance floor with all the right moves—rhythm, speed, and punch that belied its modest dimensions. There was terrific pitch control with every kickdrum/bass-guitar pulse. The SuperSub’s drivers were unfazed by the demands of the music; their controlled excursion at very high levels testified to the effectiveness of the transducer/enclosure configuration.
Certainly there are much larger subs that possess greater output and ultimate extension (like the X’s big brother, the SuperSub XXL). Still, the SuperSub X firmly pushes important buttons; plus there is something more than bottom-octave extension that’s key to its performance—a finely honed capacity to expand the soundspace, upscale images, and open up the performance. To say I was impressed greatly diminishes the impact this subwoofer had on me. It will mate superbly with a wide range of compacts and smaller floorstanders and fit into almost any room. GoldenEar’s SuperSub X is a speaker of estimable extension, slam, and musical subtlety. The fact that it’s a bargain to boot only sweetens the deal.
Specs & Pricing
Frequency response: 12Hz–200Hz
Drivers: Two 8" long-throw, high-output bass drivers; two 10" x 11" quadratic planar infrasonic radiators
Power: 1500W ForceField Digital/DSP amplifier
Low-pass filter: 12dB per octave, continuously variable from 40Hz–200Hz
Inputs: Direct coupled, unfiltered LFE; low-level left and right channel
Dimensions: 13 ½" x 12 ½" x 12.5"
Weight: 40 lbs.
P.O. Box 141
Stevenson, MD 21153