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Velodyne SMS-1 Subwoofer Management System  Print E-mail
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Written by Brian Kahn   
Sunday, 01 October 2006
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Velodyne SMS-1 Subwoofer Management System 
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Music and Movies
My first listening experience with the SMS-1 was in the two channel system and the Sunfire subwoofer. Crystal Method’s “Busy Child” from their Vegas album (Outpost Records). Regular readers know that I like the synthesizer bass line on this track for checking a system’s ability to play fast and powerful bass notes. As I mentioned above the Velodyne unit has 6 presets, one of which is EQ defeat which let me easily disengage the processing so I could easily check the results. The bass line was noticeably tighter and faster with the processing engaged. The synthesized drum beats were noticeably more powerful, seemed to reach deeper with more detail with the processing than without. The bass integrated better with the mids and highs with the SMS-1 engaged than without.

The infamous opening of Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” (Warner Brothers) off of their album of the same name was likewise improved by the use of the SMS-1. The drums were noticeably more detailed and coherent with the processing than without. The soundstage was better defined, with the instruments having more solidity and presence with the processing than without. The bass guitar seemed to really come alive with the SMS-1 engaged while the drums gained strength and detail that allowed them to more firmly occupy their space on the soundstage. While the biggest benefits were with the bass guitar and drums, the entire track benefited from the processing as there was a greater sense of coherence from top to bottom than without.

The SMS-1 provided similar benefits when I moved to my theater system. I played Missy Elliott’s “Get ur Freak On” from the album Miss E…So Addictive” (Elektra). The repetitive bass line on this track shifted in position and increased in both detail and depth with the processing in place. I listened to the next few tracks and found the improvements to be very similar from track to track.

The SMS-1 provided similar benefits when I moved to my theater system. I played Missy Elliott’s “Get ur Freak On” from the album Miss E…So Addictive” (Elektra). The repetitive bass line on this track shifted in position and increased in both detail and depth with the processing in place. I listened to the next few tracks and found the improvements to be very similar from track to track.

The Eagles’ “Hell Freezes Over” (DTS) remains a favorite 5.1 music album. The drum beat on “Hotel California” is one place where I noticed a difference between the Monster THX Select Subwoofer 200 and my more expensive reference Cantons. With the SMS-1 processing engaged this difference, while not completely eliminated, was significantly reduced. As before, the subwoofers acted quicker and lighter with the processing than without. The kick drum had more depth and detail both in the impact and decay with the processing than without. While I was careful to make sure the bass level was the same with and without the processing, there seemed to be more impact with the processing engaged than without.

Movies also benefit from the processing. I watched “Robots” (20th Century Fox) and in the scene where the two robots are riding through a pinball machine type maze across the city in a ferris wheel type of ball the LFE channel is used to provide visceral impact to the ride. The effects are more subdued than the Crystal method bass line or a series of explosions from the latest James Bond flick but just as important and involving to this scene. The increased detail afforded by the SMS-1 really maximized the impact of the effects.

The scene from “Robots” reminded me of the Blue Room scene from “Hero” (Miramax) before the bamboo came crashing down. I went through my collection and found “Hero” and confirmed my suspicions, the SMS-1’s processing brought increased detail and depth adding impact to the low frequency effects both to the subdued effects and the later impact of the collapsing bamboo.

Knowing that the SMS-1 worked well with subdued bass lines I wanted to see what it would do with an aural assault such as that of a battle scene. The battle scenes from “Master and Commander – the Far Side of The World” (20th Century Fox) seemed appropriate. The canons and explosions did not disappoint. Even without the SMS-1 in place the visceral impact of bass in this scene could not be ignored. However, with the SMS-1’s processing in place the explosions were not as overwhelming, as they had more finesse to accompany their strength.


 

 
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