If you’ve spent any time listening to GoldenEar’s Triton Tower loudspeakers, you know firsthand that GE doesn’t produce shrinking violets. Its speakers are robust music makers that deliver a dynamic, full-spectrum performance and are girded with rock-solid bass. A good portion of the credit goes to the fact that each of these entries is a hybrid or active/passive design, and uses powered subwoofers to anchor its low frequencies. Such speakers are inherently more efficient and controlled than traditional all-passive designs, and are effectively immune to the vicissitudes of external amp mismatching. GoldenEar brings this same experience to bear in its stand-alone subwoofer line—perhaps most persuasively in the SuperSub X under review here.
At a glance, the SuperSub X is almost impossibly small, with a footprint that’s little more than a twelve-inch cube constructed of high-density medite and finished in high-gloss piano-black lacquer. Yet, sound quality was perceivably high, elevating that crucial first impression well beyond your typical woofer in a box.
Internally there is a helluva lot going on in the X. For example, unlike a more traditional small subwoofer, which might contain a single forward- or downward-firing driver plus a port or a passive radiator, the GoldenEar implements a pair of horizontally opposing 8" long-throw active drivers and two vertically opposing 10" x 11" “planar infrasonic radiators” firing upward and downward. In GoldenEar’s words, the drivers in this four-sided arrangement behave like counterforces. “The force-cancelling inertial balancing preserves and focuses all the energy produced by the transducers in order to effectively move the air in the room.” Not surprisingly the X is intricately braced in order to eliminate resonances or the flexing of cabinet panels due to internal pressures.
GoldenEar also posits that the orientation of the multiple drivers creates a driver-to-room coupling that can more effectively minimize standing waves. However, in fairness, and given the long wavelengths that define low frequencies, a single X cannot cancel out a room’s normal peaks and nulls—at least not to the extent that a pair of SuperSubs can. GoldenEar would likely agree. A further benefit that I observed was that this driver configuration tended to counter the tendency of smaller, lighter subwoofers to “crab” across the room (move along the floor) under high output.
The X is powered by a 1500W Class D amp, originally developed for the Triton One speaker. It uses a fully balanced topology to help minimize noise and distortion, and is controlled by a 56-bit DSP device with a 192kHz sample rate. The amplifier also utilizes many small, separate power supplies for each circuit section in order to provide further isolation.
The back panel input/output complement is straightforward and includes right and left line-level inputs, a toggle that selects between LFE and preamp inputs, plus an IEC connector for the supplied power cord. A pair of knobs controls level and the low-pass crossover (ranging from 40–150Hz).
Successful subwoofer setup is about creating seamless integration between the sub and the L/R or “satellite” speakers. The fact that low bass is omnidirectional means that subs can be moved about freely, an important advantage over full-range speakers that demand pinpoint placement to optimize soundstaging and imaging. When adjusting a subwoofer, my set-up credo is “less is more”—as in selecting crossover and output settings as low as possible to keep from localizing the source of bass in the room. Ideally the chosen compact will have some supportive midbass response in the 80–100Hz range that will assist the subwoofer as it attempts to fill in the low-frequency gaps. Fortunately, I had on hand two superb compacts that fit the bill—the ATC SCM20SL and Revel’s new Performa3 M126Be (review forthcoming).