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Velodyne Optimum-10 Subwoofer Review  Print E-mail
Home Theater Loudspeakers Subwoofers
Written by Todd Whitesel   
Thursday, 12 November 2009
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Velodyne Optimum-10 Subwoofer Review 
Listening Session

A friend of mine likes to tell the story of someone who has too much money. It seems he had an acquaintance who was planning on upgrading a home theater system and wanted to jettison his old gear quickly. Instead of trying to sell it – or even donate it – he was just going to push it all to the curb and let any interested party have dibs. The first to go was a Velodyne subwoofer that had nary a blemish. When my buddy heard the news, he soon paid a visit and came away with a sweet subwoofer and not a dollar lighter. That same speaker has been proudly pumping out the bass for more than three years in its new home. Oh, were it always that easy to “adopt” speakers. When I received Velodyne's Optimum-10 subwoofer, I thus viewed my duties as akin to providing a temporary foster home, where the sub and I could share some good times before going our separate ways. Little did I know how attached I would become.

Features & Setup

Velodyne's Optimum-10 is the first substantial subwoofer I've had the opportunity to audition. Armed with a 1,200-watt Class-D switching amplifier and 10-inch long-throw front-firing driver, the 43-pound Optimum-10 is a heavyweight among subs. Its range extends from 24 to 120Hz and can be fine-tuned via presets, phase control and low-pass crossover. It's not just brawn, either, the speaker is outfitted in either a glossy black piano finish, like my review sample, or in a striking cherry cabinet. Ear and eye candy, I say.  

Subwoofers have become linked with home theater and surround sound, as part of the “.1” in 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 and beyond surround systems. Certainly subwoofers can make action and adventure films even more gripping. Explosions are more explosive, and so on. But subs are not just for surround; they can fill in the often large frequency gaps left by bookshelf speakers or floor-standers. If, like me, you've been wondering what's missing from your music, add a subwoofer and find out.

Lower half of the Optimum-10

First stage of business is letting the Optimum-10's microphone perform an acoustic “sweep” of the room, referenced from your listening position, which allows the speaker to “adapt” to its environment through equalization. Connect the microphone to the speaker, press “EQ” on the remote and sit back as it sweeps 12 times. The Optimum-10 offers several connection options: line and speaker level inputs, along with line level outputs. With Marantz's PM8003 integrated amplifier and SA8003 SACD/CD player already on hand for review, I chose to test the Velodyne alongside the Marantz gear and connected the Velodyne to the PM8003's pre-out jacks. Also on hand were a pair of Davone RITHMs (which will have their own reviews here soon).

The RITHMs are an arched floor speaker, with an unusual coaxial driver, where a 1-inch tweeter is placed in the center of a 7-inch driver. I had already listened to the RITHMs for a bit and was impressed by their overall presentation. But with a range of 50 to 20,000Hz, the RITHMs could use some help at the lower frequencies. Velodyne recommends adjusting the low-pass crossover until the transition from the sub to the main speakers is seamless. Smaller speakers with limited low-frequency response will benefit from higher crossover than larger speakers with greater low-frequency capabilities. The low-pass crossover's default setting is 80; I started with that and then backed off until I found the sweet spot, which with the RITHMs was in the 65Hz range.

Listening

The Optimum-10's front panel boasts an interactive display that responds to and displays commands from its remote control. It comes dialed in with four presets (R&B-Rock, Jazz-Classical, Movies and Games) for different music styles and/or applications. The R&B-Rock setting covers not just those two genres but country-rock, dance and DJ, heavy metal, latin music, rap and hip-hop. The Jazz-Classical setting is for music settings where clean, low-distortion bass is desired and is suggested for “soft country,” folk, alternative rock, blues, Broadway, gospel, new age and opera.

Optimum-10 Top Panel



 

 
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