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MartinLogan Descent Subwoofer Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 January 2004
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MartinLogan Descent Subwoofer
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I let the Descent break in for a few weeks before I began my critical listening. This wait was particularly difficult, as I was anxious to hear what effect the Descent would have on my system’s performance in the lower registers.

I began with some brute force tests for the Descent by placing the latest Bond flick in my collection, “Die Another Day” (MGM Home Entertainment), into my DVD player. The opening scene has some explosions that were detailed but didn’t necessarily shake the rafters. I thought about adjusting the level, but when the hovercraft chase scene concluded, I realized this was unnecessary. There were some low-frequency effects in the chase scene that left no question that the Descent, in addition to being detailed, could shake things up.

Exploring more bombastic explosions that subwoofers are so often called upon to reproduce, I moved to a clip from a movie used in my Odyssey review, “Heat” (Warner Home Video). The armored car robbery scene at the beginning of the movie features an explosion ripping off the roof of the armored car. There was a huge amount of detail in the bass region and, to my surprise, there was no lack of overall clarity caused by the Descent. The most prominent change I noted with the addition of the Descent was increased dynamic range; the Descent had no problems with low-frequency reproduction without compression at either high or low volume levels.

I then fired up another DVD in the player, “Finding Nemo” (Walt Disney Home Entertainment). The scene where Marlin and Dory meet Bruce the shark contains some powerful but detailed bass. The movement of Bruce’s fins resulted in deep and detailed bass at lower relative volume levels. The Descent’s ability to reproduce these sounds spoke highly of its ability to viscerally recreate lower frequencies without having to turn up the volume. Of course, the Descent was more than up to the task of handling the relatively high volume explosions that followed a few minutes later without any signs of strain or effort.

Satisfied that the Descent could easily handle the LFE duties of the movies, I was looking forward to seeing how it would fare with music. I listened to the Eagles’ song “Hotel California” from the DVD Hell Freezes Over (DTS – Image Entertainment). The drums in the first minute of the song were extremely tight, detailed, deep and powerful. I honestly can’t remember this piece ever sounding or feeling better. The bass lines were well integrated between the Descent and the Odyssey, with no smearing of image or detail.

I then listened to another recording that I used in my review of the Odyssey system, Lyle Lovett’s Joshua Judges Ruth (DTS). The second track, “Church,” has lots of deep and detailed bass that can overload lesser subwoofers and result in a blurry mess. In reviewing my listening notes, the Odyssey system was very articulate with this track, yet with the addition of the Descent, there was much greater extension and impact without loss of detail.


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