JL Audio Fathom f212 Subwoofer


In Use

For the bench tests (see below), I used one of the f212s as a slave to the other. For listening tests, I connected them as stereo front left/right subwoofers with a Denon AVP-A1HDCI SSP, reviewed recently. The f212s were about 8 feet apart. I disabled the Audyssey EQ in the SSP for when I was listening to the f212s. Other equipment included a Denon POA-A1HDCI power amplifier, Denon DVD-2500BTCI Blu-ray player, and Paradigm Reference Signature speakers. The projector was a Panasonic PT-DW5000U and the screen was a Stewart Grayhawk. Cables by Nordost.

The first thing I did was calibrate each f212 using JL Audio's A.R.O. (Automatic Room Optimization). I placed the supplied microphone at head height on the head rest of my listening chair. After connecting the microphone to the f212, I pressed Calibrate. Once that was completed, I plugged the same microphone into the second f212, which was about 6 feet away from the first one. My chair was about 8 feet from the subs. It took several calibration attempts, because at first the sound level was set too low, then too high. Once calibration is successful, the calibrate button glows a constant green. You can press the Defeat button to turn off the EQ that has been produced by the calibration process.

As you will see in the bench tests, the f212 has extraordinarily low distortion, so music with deep bass was gloriously clean. Remember that a concert piano's lowest note is 27 Hz, so if your speakers or sub are not up to par, all you might hear are the harmonics of that note, and not the fundamental, making it sound very strange and unnatural. The f212s reproduced everything to my heart's desire, including that lowest piano key, not to mention some fantastic baroque organ. This disc, along with plenty of others that I have been listening to recently, is multi-channel SACD, and I have to say that if you have not heard multi-channel SACD in native DSD format (the Denon does not convert it to PCM), with an excellent SSP, power amplifier, speakers, and great subs like the f212s, you are in for a treat when you do finally have that experience. Pipe organ has the lowest notes of any instrument, and I was certainly not disappointed. I cranked it up too, with no ill effects on the clarity and depth of the sound. I suspect it will never bottom out or clip with any content being played on it.


Die Another Day is a recent Blu-ray release that we just reviewed, and along with being an exciting action thriller, it has all the sound effects necessary to test a subwoofer. The f212s thundered in our home theater lab, without a groan, at any volume I chose to set.


Now, I listened to a lot of SACDs and watched a bunch of movies using the f212s, and even without the bench tests (which I did last), I knew this product is STELLAR. At no time did they ever give even a hint of reaching their limits.