Subwoofers

Paradigm Reference Seismic 110 Subwoofer

ARTICLE INDEX

Design and Setup

The Seismic 110 is a sealed design, meaning there are no ports as found on many subwoofers. Ports are a nice way to increase the low frequency output of a sub, but come at the cost of higher distortion and group delay which can result in muddy, boomy bass. Generally speaking, a well-designed sealed subwoofer will produce cleaner bass than its ported cousins, but at the expense of low frequency output. So I was surprised to read Paradigm's spec sheet for the Seismic 110 showing the -3dB point at a subterranean 18Hz. Not to spoil the surprise, but when I put the Paradigm through its bench tests, it really can produce clean bass down to 18 Hz.

The Seismic 110 uses a single, 10" driver, but there's a lot of sophisticated engineering that went into the unit. In fact, the Seismic 110 contains no off-the-shelf parts, it is a completely custom built product. The driver has a low profile due to two-part construction, and uses Paradigm's inverted, corrugated Santoprene® surround, which allows the driver extreme excursion. Here's a video of Paradigm's Mark Aling demonstrating the driver at last year's CES. The driver uses a 10 lb. triple magnet, set in a die-cast aluminum chassis.

The Paradigm's enclosure is cylindrical, which reduces the build-up of internal standing waves, and is structurally more stable than a typical box shape design. The Seismic 110 is powered by a Class D amplifier, increasingly popular with subwoofers. Paradigm's amp is capable of producing 1,700 watts of dynamic peak power and 850 watts of RMS sustained power. The amp also has several features designed to minimize distortion, including a digital signal processor that shapes frequency response without distortion, and a pulse-width-modulation power processor that rejects variations in the power supply. Again, bench testing (see below) showed that the Seismic 110 was able to produce extremely high output with low distortion.

The rear panel of the Seismic 110 sports two line-level inputs along with a balanced XLR input (there are no speaker level inputs). Power is provided via a detachable IEC cord, and activated either through an external trigger or auto-on when the subwoofer detects a signal. The Seismic 110 also has a USB jack for connecting with Paradigm's PBK Perfect Bass Kit software (sold separately), which I tested with great enthusiasm when reviewing the Sub 25. The back panel has three knobs, one for output level, a variable cut-off (defeatable) frequency adjustment from 35-150 Hz, and variable phase alignment from 0-180 degrees.

Setting up the Seismic 110 was literally painless, given its modest 37 pound weight and small footprint. I was really a nice change of pace to be able to pick up a subwoofer rather than have to drag it across the floor on a blanket with a helper (or two). I placed the Paradigm in my usual sub location, about two feet out from the front right corner of my listening room in front of a panel bass trap, then plugged it in, ran the PBK, and was ready to go.