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Sunfire True Subwoofer Junior Subwoofer Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 February 2000
ImageThe Sunfire True Subwoofer Junior is the latest in Sunfire’s line of subwoofers priced competitively at $895. Those of you who are regular readers of should be familiar with this series of subwoofers. For those of you who are new to these pages or who just need a recap, here it is: big subwoofer performance, little box. The Junior is a nine-inch cube that weighs a beefy 28 pounds. This tiny cube can reach down to an amazing 22 Hz thanks to two long excursion six-inch drivers powered by a 1200-watt amplifier. The technology involved in moving so much air with these two small drivers is pretty interesting. Sunfire uses an advanced amplifier design that averages about 120 watts, but can produce up to 1200 watts when necessary, feeding horizontally opposed drivers. One driver is passive; both have long excursions that permit the displacement of large amounts of air, the true key to low bass. This design also reduces the tendency of the subwoofer itself to hop around the room at high output.

The Sound
I set the True Subwoofer Junior up in my two-channel room. This system currently consists of a Theta/Rotel CD digital front end driving a Bow Technologies Wazzoo integrated amplifier ($3,500). The loudspeakers I used with the subwoofer are Martin Logan’s Scenarios ($1,995), which go down to 45 Hz, making them prime candidates for a little bit of bass extension. The room is approximately 1,600 cubic feet, with solid walls and a wooden floor. I experimented with placement, finding big variations in sound depending on where I set both the sub and my equipment. I ended up with the True Subwoofer Junior in the front right corner of the room, about four feet from the right speaker. The True Subwoofer Junior has both line and speaker level inputs, as well as continuously adjustable controls for volume, phase and crossover frequency, making installation options fairly flexible.
I was very pleased with the performance of the True Subwoofer Junior in this system. I spent a lot of time listening to one of my newest CDs, Supernatural by Santana (Arista). The bass was surprisingly tight and accurate. "Corazon Espinado" featured some good bass lines that were cleanly reproduced, with a good deal of low-end authority. This CD has a lot of detailed yet powerful guitar and bass, making it pretty handy for checking out a system’s low-end response. Many similarly priced and physically larger subwoofers are simply unable to play such low frequencies with any solidity. Lesser woofers fail in their ability to output such extreme amounts of volume, as well as low-end and higher frequency bass information detail. In a size versus power versus detail comparison, the Sunfire True Subwoofer Junior is in a class by itself.

I am happy to report that the True Subwoofer Junior significantly extended the lower frequency range of my speakers, creating musical benefits without any substantial sacrifices. The low-end extension was particularly notable while playing the now infamous "Train Song" by Holly Cole on her album It Happened One Night (Metro Blue). The bass on this song is very low, very powerful and very detailed, an excellent test for any subwoofer. Once again, the Sunfire True Subwoofer Junior performed quite well, providing bass that I could physically feel while preserving the details in this great recording. With regard to reproducing the higher frequency (low end) details of a bass guitar, the True Subwoofer Junior is at least equal to, if not even better than, the more expensive Sunfire Signature model.

The Downside
Setting up any of the Sunfire Signature woofers is not very hard, as they accept direct signal and speaker inputs. Additionally, Sunfire gives you the ability to adjust relative volume, phase and crossover point. With nothing more than a rudimentary knowledge of where to place a sub in your system, you can get very good results. With an after-market set-up tool and charts from a company like SAS Checkpoint ($200), you can factor in the performance of your loudspeakers, your room dimensions and your acoustics to get even better sound. The last level of perfection you can achieve is to hire an acoustician as publisher, Jerry Del Colliano, did for his two Sunfire Signature Subwoofers. The science needed to elicit sickeningly good bass from your $900 subwoofers cannot easily be achieved by most amateur end users looking for subs at or near this $900 price point. You decide the level of perfection you want in set-up. Just understand that this woofer gives you the power to rock the world with exacting levels of accuracy.

The Sunfire True Subwoofer Junior doesn’t come with, or make provisions for, decoupling feet or spikes. While is the last publication to get tweaky on you, we must suggest that you invest in some appropriate feet to decouple your sub from your floor. German Acoustics and Black Diamond Racing make both sharp point and dull point spikes with adhesive. The dull points are good for hardwood floors, while the sharper spikes allow you to pierce through your carpet into the padding. Sunfire should sell optional spikes in both varieties to give you one-stop shopping for the absolute best performance. For $75 in spikes, the difference is well worth the investment.

The Sunfire True Subwoofer Junior’s sonic shortcomings are apparent mainly when compared to its bigger brother, the Sunfire Signature Subwoofer, which is priced at more than double the Junior’s retail price. The most noticeable difference is the fact that the Signature Subwoofer can simply output more deep bass at a louder volume – as it should for double the price, double the power and with a bigger cabinet. Everything the Junior does, it does well, but the Signature does everything bigger and better. One advantage of the Sunfire’s smaller size and price is the fact that you can buy or later upgrade to two woofers as your system grows. The concept that one subwoofer is all you need is bogus. Two subs make a huge improvement in providing evenly presented, more powerful and louder bass performance in your room.

The True Subwoofer Junior is the best small subwoofer on the market and represents a true high-end product at a bargain price. I don’t care if you just bought $500 bookshelf loudspeakers at The Good Guys or you have $2,000 Martin Logan's like myself - this woofer brings high-performance, low-frequency information to your sound that is simply not there with your main loudspeakers. There are situations where only this size of sub will make sense, such as for office and desktop PC environments. Considering both financial and physical issues, the Sunfire True Subwoofer Junior is a no-brainer. The only reason not to buy one (or two) is if you’re going to invest in the larger Sunfire Signature woofer or another woofer costing at least three to five times the price. Bravo to Sunfire in extending the industry trend of more performance for less money.

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