|Revel Concerta B12 Subwoofer|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Subwoofers|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Wednesday, 01 March 2006|
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In my theater, I have RBH on-wall and in-wall speakers that are for all intents and purposes attached to my walls, so I was not able to run a full Revel system with this sub. Tim Hart raved about the other speakers in the Concerta line, but here was a chance to see how the sub would integrate with another system when purchased a la carte. Subwoofers are typically easier to mix and match than the other speakers of a 5.1 system, with the center and left and right channels the most important speakers to match tonally. My RBH WM-24 speakers that I use for left, center and right are able to produce bass down to 50 Hz, so I had a good idea of where I would need to set my low-pass filter for listening to two-channel music.
Revel recommends leaving the low-pass filter"Off" with AV processors or AV receivers, which incorporate crossovers as part of their "bass managemment" under most circumstances. Some processors offer an alternative "analog bypass" mode that bypasses the bass management crossovers. In such instances, the B12's Low pass filter provides the ability to acheive an optimized blend between the main speakers and the B12 Subwoofer.
In my room, my placement options are somewhat limited. However, I was able to place the sub in the front left corner of the room, meeting the recommended placement options in the instruction manual. Revel suggests using two subs if possible. My room is not large enough for this, but if yours is, they suggest putting it in the opposite corner, as the primary subwoofer placement to produce even coverage and minimize dead spots. It is virtually impossible to eliminate these sonic anomalies, but Revel has included a test disc that has a series of tones and test patters that are used along with the set-up software that is available from Revel’s website. In my particular room, I found that that one certain frequency would cause the glass in my flush-mounted gas fireplace to rattle. Using the built-in EQ, I was able to find this frequency at about 60Hz and back it down a few dB until it was no longer an issue. I set the bandwidth to the smallest setting, so I could pinpoint this frequency on the test disc, then lowered the level and the buzz went away, yet it did not dramatically affect the overall tonality of the music. The result was, when playing music, I’d get the fireplace rattling with the EQ off and I made the disturbance vanish simply by toggling the EQ switch to on. The next logical step will be to open the fireplace and find where the rattling piece is and secure it, but in the meantime, the flexibility of the B12 allowed me to easily solve a problem that was a noticeable annoyance at medium to high volumes.
The Music and the Movies
I’m a bit of a hack drummer who likes to jam along to Rush and Led Zeppelin songs on my iPod through the auxiliary input on my Yamaha Digital drums. I have been recently inspired by a new two-disc DVD set released by Rush drummer Neil Peart, whom many consider to be the most technically advanced drummer in rock music. In his new disc Anatomy of a Drum Solo (Hudson Music/Roundor Records), Peart breaks down, section by section, his drum solo called “Der Trommler” (German for “The Drummer”). This instructional DVD was recorded in a large studio under very controlled conditions, so the sound of the drums is impeccable.
This would be the perfect opportunity to see how well the subwoofer would benefit my system. I cued up the double bass pedal triplet flurry section where Peart’s feet are flying faster than Carl Lewis at a track meet. The kick drum, otherwise known as a bass drum, has more complex overtones than many people might guess, but at the heart of any good kick drum sound is a nice, tight bottom end, and the Revel B12 provided a solid foundation that blended well with the RBHs. A camera placed by Peart’s foot actually lets you see when the batter on the kick drum pedal strikes the drumhead. The speed at which the sound was produced relative to when the drum was struck gave me a good indication that the response time on this sub is quite impressive. I have heard faster subs, such as the smallest Sunfire subs, but for a sub with a large 10-inch woofer, it has some get up and go.
As Peart moves around the kit, often riding with his right hand on the lower floor toms to create a low droning effect, the B12 was also able to handle these sections without becoming muddy. On lesser subs, the distinction between each individual drum strike can easily become lost, making it even tougher for wannabe rock stars like me to hear what is actually being played. No one works a drum set like Neil “The Professor” Peart, and the B12 kept up quite effectively.
“Kung Fu Hustle” (Sony Pictures Classics) is one of the most original films ever, combining classic kung fu with musicals, a la “West Side Story,” with “Matrix”-inspired action sequences and some “Roger Rabbit”-style animation elements mixed with live action. The film is subtitled, so the sound effects have a great deal to do with telling the story. In the dark blue sequence where two hired assassins attack three masters that are living in the small run-down village on the outskirts of town in the dead of night, the sound is extremely important. The assassins hold what looks to be a long skinny harp and they strum it in the direction of their foes and a sound I would compare to a sonic boom winds up and then a second explosion rocks the speakers as various projectiles are hurled through the dark blue night sky towards our heroes. The sound is indescribable, but the B12 reproduced this sonic assault with detailed accuracy and precision. This sound makes car crashes and big onscreen explosions that you see in most action movies seem tame by comparison.
Dance music calls for a nice, tight, fast subwoofer, so I put on some high-res dance music in Jamiroquai’s DualDisc release of Dynamite (Epic Records). On the rocking yet ever-so-funky track “Black Devil Car,” using the “enhanced stereo” mix, the syncopated relationship between the drums and bass part have the subwoofer working overtime. Just when it’s pushing out air to reproduce a big bass drum sound, the funky slap bassist is hitting the strings on the up-beat, requiring the B12 driver be in two places at once. I have rocked some Jamiroqai and other high-energy music of this nature on other systems, including the Polk LSi. The Polk sub is similar in shape and power, but the Revel B12 seems to have a smoother feeling in the higher end of the bass spectrum. The overall result is a smoother, cleaner sound.
Going back an old favorite, I cued up the SACD release of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon 30th Anniversary (Capital). The opening heartbeat that segues into the frantic opening sound effects that build in intensity on the track “Speak to Me/Breathe” is a legendary subwoofer demo. It was during this track that I found the horrible rattle in my fireplace would render my system unlistenable without the EQ turned on. With the EQ set, I was able to crank this track to obscene levels, yet the rubber feet of the B12 on my tile floor and the MDF cabinetry isolated the sub so well that the following day I asked my neighbors if they were annoyed by my Pink Floyd demo; I thought for sure the entire neighborhood was privy to it. They had no idea that I was even playing music, yet inside my unit, the bass was tight and fast, with a liquid smooth sound that I would not expect from a subwoofer under $1,000.