|Sunfire True Subwoofer EQ Signature Subwoofer|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Subwoofers|
|Written by Ben Shyman|
|Tuesday, 01 March 2005|
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Music and Movies
I began my evaluation on a Sunday morning with my usual routine of beebop and good coffee. When reviewing a subwoofer, I prefer to begin with acoustic instrumentation, casually work my way into the more electric stuff and finally end with movies. I keep the “Special” button on my Proceed AVP2 remote programmed to toggle the subwoofer on and off for late-night movie watching in my New York apartment, useful not only for offering my neighbors “LFE-relief” but also useful in this Sunfire evaluation, helping to distinguish differences in listening with and without the Sunfire in the mix.
I reached on this New York snowy Sunday for John Coltrane’s Giant Steps (Atlantic 1960). Right from the opening of “Spiral,” I was taken by the potent yet unobtrusive nature of the Sunfire. Paul Chambers’ bass sounded eerily lifelike as the Sunfire integrated beautifully with my Revels. Importantly to me, the Sunfire never greedily took over my listening space as other powerful subwoofers frequently do. It was the kind of bass that delicately and tastefully made the acoustic bass and kick drum sound and feel real. This proved that the automatic EQ set-up worked, and worked well. “Mr. PC,” a classic and fast-paced hard bop tune, was the next obvious track selection, chosen primarily to test the quickness of the Sunfire. Keeping up with my Revels, and with John Coltrane’s speedy playing, was a cinch for the Sunfire. The bass, right down to the deepest audible frequencies, never sounded strained or muddy, not even to the slightest degree. The Sunfire was impressively precise and quick on “Mr. PC.”
The more I listened the more I wanted to play my beloved bop, so I put on the 24-bit remaster of Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder (Blue Note 1961; Capitol 1999). On the title track, “The Sidewinder,” the rhythm section of Bob Cranshaw (bass), Barry Harris (piano) and Billy Higgins (drums) creates a wonderful space and groove that lets Lee Morgan (trumpet) and Hoe Henderson (tenor sax) work their magic. The rhythm has a consistent deep groove that was made even more enjoyable by the Sunfire. As I would have expected from my prior listening on “Giant Steps,” the Sunfire gave “The Sidewinder” a more authoritative presence in the lower octaves. Frequently on older recordings, this is exactly what the doctor ordered and was particularly true on “Gary’s Notebook,” where Harris’ bass frequently gets a bit lost and needed resurrection. The Sunfire EQ did such a great job here that when I toggled it off, I was aghast as to where poor Barry’s bass had gone. High marks for the Signature EQ on Lee Morgan.
Next, for some intense rock ‘n’ roll, I reached for the DVD-Audio of Queen’s The Game (DTS 2002). I began with the hit “Another One Bites the Dust,” where Roger Taylor (drums) and John Deacon (bass) dominate the track. The Sunfire EQ Signature rocked here, period. The bass was deep, tight and made my chest thump as I turned the volume higher and higher (to my neighbors’ dismay, I am certain). Listening to “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” the Sunfire demonstrated that it is much more than a chest-pounding bass machine for listening to rock ‘n’ roll as it carried Deacon’s melodic and familiar walking bass line with uncanny precision and smoothness. I finished my listening of Queen with “Don’t Try Suicide.” Much as on other tracks on “The Game,” I found the Sunfire to deliver the goods with precision and a balanced presence – not too forward, yet deep, punchy and strong in the lower octaves. Deacon’s bass had greater texture and was full but not obnoxiously so and Taylor’s drums were punchy and deep, particularly the kick drum.
Throughout my listening with the True Subwoofer EQ Signature, it provided great energy without ever becoming congested or reaching the end of its capabilities, even at extreme volumes. When a sub is set up correctly, you cannot tell where its energy is emanating from. It merely sounds like tight bass coming from your front main loudspeakers. The automatic set-up was so effective that I can’t imagine achieving this level without the services of a professional. I was inspired by the ease and accuracy of its EQ feature.
I began my movie watching with George Lucas’ masterful conclusion to the “Star Wars” trilogy, “Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi” (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Lucasfilm LTD, 2004). As the most recent movie in the trilogy, Episode VI has the best quality soundtrack and seemed a reasonable choice for my Sunfire evaluation. In Chapter 10, “Oh No, the Rancor,” when Jedi knight Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) fights the Rancor in Jabba the Hut’s palace, the footsteps of the Rancor provided enough deep bass to offer a sense of realism to the battle between the young Jedi and the monster. When Skywalker finally slays the monster by crushing him under the falling gate, the Sunfire performed admirably, producing a deep thud. Finally, with the conclusion of Chapter 12, “The Sarlacc Pit,” when Jabba’s ship is destroyed, the explosion that ensues just would not be the same without a subwoofer of the Sunfire’s capabilities to deliver the goods with deep, room-shaking bass.
I concluded my time with the Sunfire Subwoofer EQ Signature by watching director Ridley Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Black Hawk Down” (Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment, 2001). Winner of an Academy Award for Best Sound, “Black Hawk Down,” with its war action scenes dominated by gunfire, explosions and helicopters, is an ideal soundtrack to strain all but the best subwoofers. In Chapter Four, “Irene,” the deployment of U.S. Marines for their attack on Mogadishu is dominated by the liftoff of several Black Hawk helicopters and the music of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile.” The soundtrack here is simply unbelievable and it seemed the only thing missing that could have enhanced the movie experience was wind from copter turbines and the desert dust blowing through my living room. I briefly listened to “Irene” at near-uncomfortable sound levels and the only way I can describe how the Sunfire performed would be to tell you that I felt more reassured holding the glass of water that I was drinking rather than resting it on the small table in front of for fear it would vibrate clear off the edge.