Kingdom for a Subwoofer
M&K/PSB Subs Really Put Out
By Jim Bray
M&K sample for this column was provided by K&W
Audio of Calgary, Alberta.
I had always assumed
my reference speakers had all the bass Id ever need.
I was very wrong.
My audio epiphany
came twofold, courtesy of subwoofers from Messers Miller, Kreisel and
Barton, of M&K Sound and PSB Speakers, respectively and Im
M&K is well known
in professional circles, and their $850 V-1250THX subwoofer is a beauty.
As its name suggests, its THX certified, which means
its designed to reproduce the signal exactly as recorded in the
I dont know
about that (I wasnt invited to the recording sessions), but it sounds
The 44 pound sub comes
with a built in 125 watt power amplifier driving a 12" long-throw speaker.
M&K says its in room frequency response is 20 - 125 Hz
± 3dB, which means it goes down to the limits of human hearing.
The V-1250THX is a
sealed-box design and because the speaker driver itself is magnetically
shielded, you can put it right next to your TV.
The rear panel controls
are set up for THX and non-THX Dolby Digital systems. Theres a switchable
bass level control, and a phase switch. The THX setting basically hands
control over to your THX-certified preamplifier/surround processor.
I liked this setting,
which required no conscious thought (set it and forget it), and found
I preferred it with much music, too - though not all.
The M&K comes
with an attractive grille for the front panel, but the best performance
in our room came by sticking the unit in a corner, aimed at the walls,
which leaves the grille pointed away from you, exposing the rear panel
and its protruding switches and the input jack.
Its kind of
like being mooned
published specifications on the M&K V-1250THX are here.
The $650 PSB Image
SubSonic 6 isnt THX certified, and I dont think its
quite as good a sub as the M&K, but its no slouch, either. Its
vented port cabinet has a 12 inch driver, a 120 watts continuous
and 440 watts peak amplifier and a frequency response that goes down to
The SubSonic 6 has
innumerable connectors and controllers on its buttocks, but the manual
explains everything clearly and you end up marveling at the units
flexibility. You can hook it directly to the Sub Out jack
on your preamp/processor or receiver (if it has such), you can hook it
between the preamp and amplifier, and you can even connect it directly
to your speaker outputs, daisy chaining your speakers as if the SubSonic
6 were an unpowered subwoofer like those found in many sub and satellite
I hooked it directly
to the Sub Out jack on a THX-certified preamp/processor, which,
if you have the capability, is the preferred way to do it.
PSB recommends experimentation
with the subs placement and configuration, and after much fiddling
I ended up plunking it near the TV, about two feet from the rear wall,
with the speaker (and its covering grille) aimed into the room. I tried
it in various places, of course, but once I'd tweaked to my heart's content
I discovered I liked it best there. This also took advantage of the PSB's
handsome grille, which wasn't wasted the same way the M&K's was (since
it pointed away from the room).
Granted, the look
of the subwoofer isn't the major consideration, but it's nice when everything
process is much more involved than the M&Ks, and youll
probably end up tweaking it repeatedly over time, just because you can.
Adjustments include Sub volume and Sub Cut-off frequency
as well as Phase.
published specifications on the PSB Inage SubSonic 6 are here.
Listening to my sub-enhanced
home theater (with either of these fine subwoofers) was an ear opening
experience. Most of the time you never really know the subs there
or that its working, which may make you wonder why youd bother
with it but then a tympani is struck, a bass drum is kicked or
an Imperial Star Destroyer comes into frame and it suddenly becomes very
clear why that squat black box is sitting across the room from you.
truly gut wrenching bass, when its appropriate, as well as profound
subtleties you may have never known were on your favorite CD. In short,
it fills out the sound.
Since the low frequency
(long wave length) signals arent particularly directional, you dont
need to worry about where to place the subwoofer nearly as much as you
do for your tweeters. You can stick it out of the way in a
corner (as with the M&K), yet a bass guitar coming from a speaker
on the opposite side of the room still sounds like its emanating
from the proper place.
It may sound like
magic, but it works.
Now the only problem
is convincing my wife that we cant go back to the old pre-sub
Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.
V-1250THX Manufacturer's Specs:
Drivers: 12" long-throw
Internal Amp Power: 125 watts RMS
In-Room Frequency Response: 20 - 125 Hz ± 3dB
Dimensions: 18" H x 15 1/4" W x 23" D
Weight: 44 lbs.
Suggested Retail Price: V-1250 THX in Black Lacquer Bead Finish $850 each
V-1250 THX in Black GLOSS Finish $950 each
PSB Image SubSonic 6 Manufacturer's Specs
Image SubSonic 6
|FREQUENCY RANGE (Anechoic
On Axis @ 0° ±3 dB
LF Cutoff (-10 dB)
Maximum @ 100Hz
Poly-coated Fiber Cone
||1.64 cu ft (45.9
2 x 2" Front Port
|SIZE (W x
H x D)
381 x 492 x 362mm
44 lbs (20.0Kg)/each
48 lbs (21.8Kg)/each
High Level Input and Output
5-way Binding Posts,
High Pass Filters
Horizontal or Vertical,
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