VELODYNE SPL-800 Ultra

MJ01.10.2012

Subwoofers

Originally subwoofers were designed to support home cinema installations and as such they had been ignored by an audiophile crowd. The assumption that a pair full-range loudspeakers can deliver precise and extended low frequencies is still alive among us. Unless you have perfect speakers AND a perfect room (or a DSP) this assumption is completely incorrect. Then excellent monitors plus a subwoofer are among the best choices you can make.

 

Funkce a forma

88%
Ergonomie
75%
Zvuk
92%
Zpracování

The SPL-800’s enclosure is sealed (no bassreflex port is to be found here) with a single forward firing woofer which is driven by a built-in Class D amplifier capable of 2400W of dynamic power. The high efficiency of the Velodyne’s amplification (they state over 95%) allows for a very compact size of the subwoofer.

In Velodyne they use resin cones that are further reinforced by Kevlar fibres: the moving mass is very stiff (try to touch the cone – it is like made of steel) yet relatively lightweight which, in combination with their proprietary dual wound (outside & inside) coils indicate low distortion and fast response.

From the SPL-800’s rear panel you can control volume, low pass crossover (40-120Hz) and phase (0, 90, 180 and 270°). Input and output signal is available either on speaker level (speaker cables) or via unbalanced connections (RCA cinches for left and right channels). Optionally you can drive the subwoofer through externall crossover, for example in home entertainment installations. Most functions are available also via supplied remote control plus you can choose from four preset equalizations – there is further boost below 40Hz in its ‘cinema mode’ or limited output in ‘night mode’ for example. The preset marked P3 is a neutral setting, i.e. no equalization is applied.

The enclosure of the reviewed piece was finished in high gloss piano lacquer so there was no reason to hide the subwoofer. Indeed, the SPL-800’s compact dimensions and curvaceous cabinet with small blue display on its front panel are rather attractive. Did I say display? Yes – with the Velodyne you would also receive a calibrated microphone with several meters long cord that is to be connected to the subwoofer. In the SPL’s auto-equalization mode (and with the main speakers turned off) the subwoofer plays a sequence of bass tones to automatically correct its frequency response according to your listening room parameters. What you need to do is to position the subwoofer and put the microphone at your listening seat – the rest is automatic. In case you decide to move the sub or yourself you would just repeat the procedure. By the auto-EQ function you ensure that the bass response is the flattest you can get at your seat.

Nízké frekvence

Váha
87
Výbušnost
85
Artikulace
87

The DSP processing is an extremely powerful tool as it comes to even bass response in a listening room. The only remaining thing is to properly set the low pass crossover, phase and volume. Take time for this process. If you judge by your ears, depending on your experience it may take up one or two days of repetitive listening to accurately set up a subwoofer. It is not easy and most listeners end up with an overdone setting. It is very important to realize that in the music we listen to is only a very limited (if none, depends on the music) output below 30Hz. For example, the test tones like a bass guitar tune are almost worthless for setting up a sub for really deep frequencies as an electric bass plays usually above 40-50Hz. If your main speakers can play these frequencies and with a subwoofer added the amount of the bass increases there is probably something wrong with your setting. Please note that I am not referring to the quality of bass, just to its amount. On the other hand, if you have monitors with roll-off below 50Hz, it is natural that a subwoofer will add also the bass volume. Therefore be careful – as a general rule in the subwoofing process the less is always more.

If you wish to learn how to professionally set up a subwoofer by ear, please follow this link: How to accurately Set Up a Subwoofer With Almost No Test Instruments by Bob Katz, Digital Domain

Čistota rozlišení

Detail
86
Transparentnost
88

What you hear immediately is a weighty kick drum that is more physical with the Velodyne and more laid back without it, but the difference was not huge and it scored more in a precison of the bass than in an audibly higher bass output. When I used P2 preset of the subwoofer (the one for ‘Rock’) I got much stronger lows with a really thrashing song as the result, however, the bass was overt the top a bit and slightly obscured important midtones resulting into decreased legibility of the song. Therefore I preferred the neutral P3 preset as I did with all the music material played through the Velodyne. The electric bass guitar was more present with the SPL-800, more delineated within the mix and a tad more contoured than in the non-subwoofered system.

Tonální věrnost

Témbr
88
Dynamika
90
Časování
90

The harmonic richness and rhytmic equilibrism of Dean Peer’s four-stringed bass guitar cannot fit any music genre as it is a genre itself. The guitar is recorded live on a DAT recorder and if you want to make a use of its effective frequency range your system has to be capable of a full 32-35Hz output not to clip the sound at the bottom end. With the Velodyne the guitar acquires a very lifelike quality – not only the sub does support the energy and easy of presentation but it also contributes significantly to soundstaging precison. Suddenly the sound creates its own ‘envelope’ in time and space and exists very naturally around, it is not reproduced anymore - it simply is.
I tried to use two Velodyne subs in a tandem (one next to each louspeaker) to see what it takes. It is presumed that low frequencies are non-directional and as a consequence it does not really matter where you place a subwoofer as long as it is perfectly matched. However, with Dean Peer’s guitar the difference between one and two subwoofers was significant: not that the bass but the recording’s soundstage improved dramatically, the pictures jumped out with three-dimensionality, juicy palpability and superb temporal clues. It was a great stuff!

Prostorovost

Trojrozměrnost
85

In my opinion Mental Distortion is the best piece of music that the Canadian Front Line Assembly duo has ever written. This abrasive, bass heavy and pumping club track has nothing to do with the softly sculpted songs that the guys from FLA publish under Delerium moniker these days. Add complex yet crystal clear sound and top-notch dynamics (DR16) and you have a perfect dancefloor killer that can make your blood boil.
The Velodyne SPL-800 loved this stuff: the track’s pumping synthetic bass line tried to annihilate its cone and caused the membrane to move to its limits calling for extremely fast response. Mental Distortion was where some lesser subwoofers burned and introduced real distortion, unlike the SPL-800 that showed a perfect poise and control. The internal circuitry of the Velodyne does not allow the subwoofer to cross its limits so your ears are spared of unwanted noise. Still, if you consider the output of the Velodyne to be too honest, you can boost the performance through the sub’s presets to breakdown the walls of your listening room and to feel the penetrating power of FLA’s basslines.

Important note: Do not underrate the importance of a good subwoofer interconnecting cable. I used cheap but excellent Vincent Subwoofer Cablea and the speed, clarity, focus and tightness of the bass improved significantly.

Cena v době recenze:87 000,- Kč

Doporučení prodejci

High-End Audio Studio, Praha, tel. +420 224 256 844

Připojené komponenty

  • Sources: Accuphase DP-78
  • Amplifiers: Accuphase A-60, Accuphase C-11
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Homegrown Audio DNA, Krautwire Fractal, Vincent Subwoofer Cable
  • Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Virgo V, Dynaudio Confidence C1
  • Power conditioning: Nordost Thor (modified)
  • Subwoofers: Dynaudio SUB-250, Elac Sub 2040D, REL R 305

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