Subwoofers

Paradigm Reference Signature Sub 25 Subwoofer and Perfect Bass Kit Software (PBK-1)

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

The first words sung on Genesis' A Trick of The Tail album (SACD) are "Holy Mother of God," which not coincidentally was my first reaction on hearing the Sub 25 reproduce the Moog Taurus bass pedals on the opening track, Dance On A Volcano. As Genesis bassist Mike Rutherford stomped on the bass pedals throughout the song, the Sub 25 filled the room with clean, deep bass. The best subs can actually sneak up on the listener when reproducing low frequency music, because unlike less-worthy subwoofers that slam you in the chest with a first harmonic that is masquerading as the fundamental, they accurately reproduce the fundamental in a way that is often felt rather than heard.

For example, while I was listening to Virgil Fox's direct-to-disc recording of Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor", my teenage son sitting next to me (used to hearing subwoofers showing off how loud they can make a 60 Hz explosion seem) commented that he didn't think it sounded all that impressive. I told him to stand up and walk a couple steps behind the couch, where he could feel the entire room rumbling from the pedal stops. "OK, that's impressive," he said. That experience was repeated numerous times, where the Sub 25 was so effortlessly reproducing low bass that it didn't seem that loud, until I walked into another room and felt the vibration under my feet. An important note here is that our ears are not very sensitive to the lowest frequencies, so when I say that it didn't seem that loud, the implication is that the sub was producing the sound with very low distortion. If it had seemed loud, what we would actually been noticing would be harmonic distortion.

Switching back to A Trick of The Tail, the bass accompaniment on the song Squonk consists almost entirely of bass pedal stops. Again, the Sub 25 was teasingly subtle in reproducing the notes without any boomy overtones or harmonics that are often mistaken for "loud" bass. I was satisfied that the Sub 25 could play low, but could it play loud? For that, we turn to the cinema show.

I ran through the usual assortment of movies with exploding depth charges, pod races and Darla tapping on a fish tank, but my new favorite subwoofer demo is the finale of V for Vendetta, when (spoiler alert!) Parliament is destroyed by copious quantities of high explosives and fertilizer. It may not be the lowest or loudest bass on anyone's chart, but we're not simply talking about one loud boom; this is an extended scene of room-shaking mayhem. There is really no good way to describe in words what the Sub 25 sounded like during this scene, just that I have never heard anything like it before.