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Definitive Technology SuperCube Reference Subwoofer Print E-mail
Sunday, 01 August 2004
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Definitive Technology SuperCube Reference Subwoofer
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ImageThere’s nothing more satisfying while watching a movie or listening to music than deep, bone-shaking bass. While surround sound in the home has given us a magical experience of movie-watching in our living rooms or home theaters, a lot of home set-ups tend to ignore the lower frequencies, the argument being that as long as it booms and fits in the living space, what more could be achieved? Then came alternatives. High-performance mini-cube subwoofers garnered acclaim by producing a better sound than the subwoofers that come in pre-packaged systems and it didn’t intrude on the décor. People were amazed at what these diminutive cubes could produce, with their long excursion drivers and high-powered amplification. Seemingly, the quest for a home friendly subwoofer had ended. But as impressive as the performance of the space-saving miracles are, they don’t generate the sound pressure levels and true lower frequencies that their bigger cousins produce. In order to get this type of performance, you had to get the kneepads out and convince the practical side of the family to buy into the huge cumbersome enclosure that would end up dominating the room in which it would reside.

Definitive Technology is out to change that with their SuperCube Reference subwoofer ($1,699). The SuperCube Reference is Definitive Technology’s flagship in their SuperCube product line and aims at world-class performance for music and home theater applications with true subterranean frequencies at a very attractive price point and, most important of all, a package smaller than a refrigerator.

Definitive Technology has a contemporary look with their SuperCube series. The unit comes completely covered with black fabric, with the exception of the top and bottom cap, where the finish of the wood (piano gloss black or golden cherry) accents the subwoofer’s presence. My review sample came in golden cherry. The color contrasts make a subtle and attractive statement that would blend with many of today’s home decors. This look is carried over from Definitive Technology’s other product offering, their BP Series of SuperTower bi-polar loudspeakers. Details
At 111 pounds, the 16.7 x 16.7 x 16.9-inch enclosure is dense, solid and almost seemingly impossible to move once on its spikes, which is a good thing. Generating a soul-jarring reported frequency response of 11-200Hz, the 1,800 watt Digitally-Coupled Class D internal amplifier supplies the ponies to a 14-inch long-throw woofer. Because this is a sealed cabinet design, Definitive Technology uses two opposed passive radiators that are 90 degrees from the active driver. These passive radiators give the air displaced by the main driver a place to go, in turn generating low frequency themselves. Also, using a sealed cabinet in this way greatly improves the response of the active driver. The negative pressure behind the active driver centers the driver back to neutral much more quickly. Combined with the very powerful amp, this combination gives the larger driver a better chance of blending with quicker, smaller drivers in your main loudspeakers.

The back panel has connections for low-level RCA inputs, along with the ability to run your line-level main speaker outputs through the high-level speaker cable inputs on the SuperCube Reference to limit low-frequency information sent to those speakers. This is attractive if you want to leverage your existing amplification by off loading its power requirement to generate lower frequencies. But to do this requires another set of speaker cables, so it may not be practical to do so.

Instead of limiting the user to three phase settings of 0, 90 and 180 degrees like most subs I’ve seen, the SuperCube Reference gives you an infinitely adjustable phase between 0 to 180 degrees. This makes it easier for to you to blend your own SuperCube Reference to your main speakers. The variable high-pass and low-pass crossover knobs handle the 40 to 150 Hz range for fine-tuning to your main loudspeakers frequency range, with a volume knob and fuse to sum it all up.

When determining the best location for your subwoofer, many factors must be considered. Your room is the biggest variable in any system set-up, whether it’s your loudspeakers, your center loudspeaker, or your surround and effects loudspeakers. Starting off by ensuring that your existing system is set up properly will greatly reduce your frustration when introducing a subwoofer. Minimizing wall interactions with your front three speakers is a good place to start. Loudspeakers too close to surrounding walls or objects will artificially boost the lower frequencies, emitting a bloated and bloomy response; too far away from the walls, bass support drops off. If you’re confident that you have a nice balance within your room’s limitations and your loudspeakers are level matched, you’re ready to start.

I have a 16 x 27-foot room that serves as more than a home theater and music room. It is also the family room, computer room, and the kid’s sleepover room (Don’t touch the equipment!), so I, like most people, have to be considerate of the many uses the room has to accommodate. In real world terms, this means I was limited to the area where the SuperCube Reference would reside. To help me in my quest, I used a Radio Shack analog SPL meter and a test tone generator for testing the location.

I started off with an area behind a couch. Moving the 100-plus pounds of SuperCube to the chosen area had me thinking that this spot had better work out because I wasn’t looking forward to moving it again. Attaching a single-ended RCA interconnect from the LFE on the back panel to the LFE output on my B&K AVR307, and plugging in the power cord, I was ready to start.

As things have it, the first location did not work out, as the SuperCube Reference was sitting adjacent to a sliding glass door. As I was outside while the kids were watching “The Matrix Reloaded,” the glass of the door looked like the side of the glass building in the first “Matrix” movie right after the helicopter crashed into it. The effect scared me into the action of moving to another locale.

Although I prefer corners, I was unable to use any of the ones in my room. The next available spot I manhandled the SuperCube Reference into was somewhere along the wall between my Revel Studios, which are spaced eight-and-a-half feet apart and three feet from the wall. I oriented the active driver of the SuperCube Reference away from the wall, which allowed to the two opposed passive radiators to point along the wall, then started running test tones and taking measurements to eliminate as many bumps and valleys in the frequency range as the limited location allowed. I moved the SuperCube Reference back and forth along the wall, taking measurements as I did so and found an acceptable position towards the
left speaker with the left passive radiator about 14 inches from a ASC Tube Trap. Satisfied that the phase was set properly, I set low-pass and high-pass filters to slightly crossover to the Revels’ specified frequency response and did some more twiddling until I felt I had the SuperCube Reference where I wanted it. Then it was down to the business of listening.


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