However...moving the e110’s crossover point down to 70Hz and subsequently to just below 60Hz, where the D-1 is still playing strongly, made for a blend that was so unexpectedly magical— and so much in character—that it was almost as if the D-1 had developed several more octaves of bass on its own.
At a crossover point of around 57–58Hz (this is an educated guess as the scale on the e110’s crossover-frequency control, though graduated, isn’t graduated finely enough to say for sure), the bottom bass—and this little sub goes deep, down only 3dB at 23Hz—acquired the same tonal and dynamic character, the same dark, rich, lifelike timbre, sensational transient speed, and ultra-fine resolution of texture and articulation in the low bass that the D-1 has on its own in the mid-to-upper bass, power range, midrange, and treble. At the same time bottom-end pitch-definition, impact, and extension were dramatically improved.
It was as if (and I scarcely exaggerate) a blanket that had been thrown over the deepest bass octaves had suddenly been lifted, revealing an astonishing wealth of previously unheard information—and revealing it with a clarity and definition that I don’t quite hear even with my reference Raidho C-4.1s (though, as you will see, there are other aspects of the bass that the C-4.1s are far better at reproducing).
I could give you musical example after example of the e110/D-1’s virtues, but it is simpler to sum them up like this: In the bottom bass this combination reveals low-level details about pitch, timbre, intensity, and duration more clearly and more often than any loudspeaker I’ve heard, no matter how expensive or sophisticated. This is an ear-and mind-bogglingly high-resolution system. (It kind of makes me wonder what JL Audio’s top-line sub—the $12k Gotham, with dual 13.5" woofs—is capable of, although, when it comes to matching the speed and resolution of a great two-way, there is something to be said for a “quick” ten-inch driver.)
While hearing a fresh bonanza of low-level information about an instrument and the way it is being played is enormously satisfying (and contributes greatly to the sense of being in the presence of that instrument), let me quickly point out that bass-range instruments in particular aren’t just about texture and articulation. They are also about power and impact, and here the e110/D-1 combo is not the most revealing speaker system I’ve heard. To be fair, this isn’t the e110’s fault. A two-way—even a great one like the Raidho D-1—and a ten-inch sub simply can’t move air in the bass and power range the way a big multiway can; nor can such a combo image with the more-lifelike size (particularly image height) of a big multiway.
There is this, as well. My decision to place the subs nearby the mains and to cross over at a lower-than-recommended frequency in order to more fully preserve the character of the D-1s comes with a slight additional price in imaging and power. With the reinforcement provided by a nearer-to-the-wall placement and a higher crossover point, the e110/D-1 seems to size bass instruments—indeed all instruments—more consistently from their top octaves to their bottom ones. With the closer-to-the-speaker positioning and lower crossover point, some instruments seem to shrink a bit in size as they descend in pitch, so that a four-string contrabass, for example, isn’t as big and expansive sounding on its lowest notes (E1 and C1, 41Hz or circa 33Hz) as it is higher up in its frequency range.
This slight “funnel-like” effect in imaging is accompanied by a small loss of impact on big, powerful instruments and orchestral tuttis. I don’t want to oversell this point. The e110/D-1 is plenty powerful, capable of genuine room-shaking temblors on really deep synth or bass drum, and punch-in-the-chest sock on toms or kickdrum. As two-way-based systems go, this one is a veritable dynamo. But...when it comes to pure wallop it ain’t a Wilson XLF or a Magico Q7 or a Raidho D-5.
But then the Raidho D-1 and e110 subs don’t cost what these giants cost, and don’t take up the real estate that these giants do, and (if configured optimally—for which see the sidebar) don’t give anything away in color, speed, definition, or resolution to the biggest of these Big Boys. For one-sixth (or less) of the system cost, you can live like a Robert Harley (or, yeah, like a Jonathan Valin)—with a loudspeaker that comes so close to the very best that you’ll scarcely notice the difference. I scarcely do...and I do live like a Jonathan Valin.
The E-Sub e110 is a no-brainer highest recommendation if ever I heard one. And remember this is coming from someone who hates subwoofers (or used to).
SPECS & PRICING
Enclosure type: Sealed
Effective piston area: 58.78 square inches
Effective displacement: 131 cubic inches
Frequency response (anechoic): 25–116Hz +/-1.5dB, -3dB at 23Hz, -10dB at 18Hz
Amplifier power: 1200 W RMS (short-term)
Dimensions: 13.5" x 14.24" x 16.51"
Weight: 52.7 lbs.
Price: $1500 in ash, $1700 in gloss
JL AUDIO, INC.
10369 North Commerce Pkwy
Miramar, FL 33025-3962
JV’s Reference System
Loudspeakers: Raidho D-5, Raidho D-1, Estelon X Diamond, MartinLogan CLX , Magnepan 1.7, Magnepan 3.7, Magnepan 20.7
Linestage preamps: Soulution 520, Constellation Virgo, Audio Research Reference 10, Siltech SAGA System C1, Zanden 3100
Phonostage preamps: Audio Research Corporation Reference Phono 10, Innovative Cohesion Engineering Raptor, Soulution 520, Zanden 120, Constellation Perseus
Power amplifiers: Soulution 501 and 701, Siltech SAGA System V1/P1, Audio Research Reference 250, Lamm ML2.2, Zanden 8120
Analog source: Walker Audio Proscenium Black Diamond Mk V record player, AMG Viella 12
Phono cartridges: Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement, Ortofon MC A90, Ortofon MC Anna
Digital source: Berkeley Alpha DAC 2
Cable and interconnect: Synergistic Research Galileo and Galileo LE, Crystal Cable Absolute Dream
Power Cords: Synergistic Research Galileo LE, Crystal Cable Absolute Dream
Power Conditioner: Synergistics Research Power Cell 10 SE Mk II, Synergistic Research Transporter Ultra SE, Technical Brain
Accessories: Synergistic ART system, Shakti Hallographs (6), A/V Room Services Metu panels and traps, ASC Tube Traps, Critical Mass MAXXU M equipment and amp stands, Symposium Isis and Ultra equipment platforms, Symposium Rollerblocks and Fat Padz, Walker Prologue Reference equipment and amp stands, Walker Valid Points and Resonance Control discs, Clearaudio Double Matrix SE record cleaner, HiFi-Tuning silver/gold fuses