Subwoofers

Epik Conquest Subwoofer

ARTICLE INDEX

Test Setup

Since I live within driving distance of the Epik factory, Chad and his father were kind enough to deliver the speaker directly to me. Without many options to move it once the Conquest was in place (you'll see why below), I had them place it in my basement theater.

This room had the Infinity Beta setup as seen here in Colin Miller's review (sans the subs), a Yamaha DSP-A1 working as a preamp, and an Adcom GFA 555 Mark II providing amplification. I used this setup for most of the testing, although I did throw a pair of B&W bookshelves (CDM-1NT) in for some of the 2.1 channel testing.

While I twiddled with the Conquest's crossover, for the testing I used the 80 Hz low pass output provided by the Yamaha to drive the Conquest. The Conquest itself was placed roughly 1/3 of the way down the main wall, well out of the corner (it did not need any kind of corner reinforcement).

Subjective Performance

My initial reaction to the Conquest Subwoofer was "Wow, so that's what real bass is!" In this I was far from alone. Anecdotally, a friend of mine with a fairly high-end system (mainly B&W 801 speakers driven and controlled by Bryston components) was forced to search for an upgrade to his own system after listening to the Conquest in mine. There'll be more on this story later.

Home Theater – 5.1

When a bomb goes off in a movie and a picture jumps on the wall, you know you are in for something special with a subwoofer like this. Early on in my audition, I watched a CSI New York episode and jumped out of my seat when there was a lab explosion. Definitely not my normal reaction!

Since the Conquest was truly a step up performance wise from what I was used to, I found myself revisiting many of the clips and movies I had previously viewed to see how big the difference was with the Conquest.

First I tried The Haunting from "dts Demonstration Disk #4" (a nice collection of Movie Clips from dts). The scene in the clip is when the house comes to life and attacks. On all my previous viewings, the sub in the system would always clip with the low frequency effects. The Conquest handled it with aplomb.

Next, I next tried chapter 9 from The Incredibles. Mr. Incredible's first battles with the rolling Omnidriod literally shook the room.

I've always felt that the plane crash from Tom Hank's Cast Away was very realistic – well I assume it was realistic, at least it's as close as I need to get. Anyway, the Conquest simply increased my appreciation of this scene. It crashed around just like the plane and honestly, reduced any of my immediate desires to become airborne.

Since I've had the Conquest in my system for over three months and have viewed a few dozen movies, I could go on and on singing its praises. The Conquest's performance never failed to impress. But I've been reminded I'm not paid by the word.

Music 2.1

While I primarily focus on home theater, I did break out some tunes as well. I first tried a couple of the typical house shaking genres - rap and pipe organs. What, don't you always listen to the two back to back? For rap I tried LL Cool J's "Going Back to Calli" of his Greatest Hits All World. The impact of the bass line was as good as I've ever heard. It was in the chest-pounding good fun. Of course I couldn't skip the pipe organ, so I gave a traditional standby a shot, Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor". This particular version was from Sound Check from Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. I've always been impressed with the attention to details in their recordings. Almost needless to say at this point, the lower notes of the organ were reproduced with an impact I've never heard before. Heck on some systems these sounds are completely irreproducible.

Finally, I listened to a little music that wasn't so much focused on maximum impact, rather I tried to see how subtle this big boy could be - did it have the speed to blend well with mains? Simply, I'd say yes. Plucked bass guitars transitioned smoothly between my main towers and the Conquest. For example, the bass was subtly but authoritatively reinforced in "She Makes Me Feel Good" by Lyle Lovett on his recording on the 1999 dts 5.1 Demo CD. I know, 5.1 music in the 2.1 section - sacrilege! This smooth blending of the sound between the mains and the sub held for both the Infinity Beta 50 tower speakers as well as the smaller B&W bookshelves. This seems to indicate that the Conquest is flexible enough to work well in many systems.

Measured Performance

So did it measure as well as my glowing reviews would indicate – heck yeah! Although measuring the performance of this darn thing was tough. All I had on hand was my (usually) trusty Radio Shack SPL meter with its roughly 120 dB max range. As always, I placed the meter close to the driver (roughly at the speaker grille) to reduce the room's influence. In this position, the Conquest was easily able to exceed the maximum capability of the meter, so I'm not entirely sure what the upper limit of the sub is! The measurements I did make are noted in the graph below. As you can see, the measured performance is between 122 and 127 dB between 10 and 80 Hz. Pretty darn impressive!

epik-conquest-subwoofer-figure-5-graph.gif

Conclusions

The Conquest is an eye opening subwoofer. If you are looking for spectacular bass regardless of size, this is your sub. The Conquest has few peers, and at $1,599 it really is a steal. However, I give one caveat: this is a heck of a big box. In a room, it's the equivalent of adding a big screen TV – perhaps even the second. If you have the space or can design a theater around the Conquest, look no further. However, if you are short on space or are design and décor conscious, you may have to look for other options. Epik itself offers many other choices. Based on the pedigree and accomplishments of the Conquest, one of these may meet your needs.

Back to my anecdote from earlier, my friend did go out and purchase a subwoofer, two in fact – JL Fathoms F112 and F113. Both he and I agree that the Conquest is the better performer on many levels except one, only the smaller Fathoms could get past his wife. In fact, most subwoofer manufacturers don't build large enclosure subwoofers for exactly this reason. The upside to the Conquest is its great big down low, and its downside is its great big upsize.