Subwoofers

Velodyne SC-600 In-Wall Subwoofer

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

OK. The installation and setup were quick and easy. However, what about the sound quality? Can a subwoofer that is 3.5 inches deep sound good? Remember, unlike a tradition subwoofer, you cannot tweak your location options and placement is important to achieve a flat frequency response. Once the auto EQ worked its magic, I was very pleased with the sound quality. When I first listened critically to the SC-600 IW, I was somewhat surprised that I was not noticing the bass more while watching a movie.

I listen to organ music often (I am a self-confessed Bach-aholic) and I really thought this sub was going to rock my world. I was surprised at first that the bass was not more pronounced. I think I was expecting a noticeable increase in bass output as this sub was larger than my previous sub. After some extended listening sessions, it occurred to me that good bass is not pretentious, but refined and well behaved. The lowest notes of the organ were there. I could actually feel them in my gut, but they were not overbearing. Explosions were loud, but controlled.

I began to realize that accurate and controlled bass sounded differently from what I was used to hearing. My previous sub had a down firing 8 in. woofer and in comparison, it sounded loose and unfocused. Never before had I heard a 32-foot organ stop on a well-recorded organ sound so musical and natural. The Velodyne was able to produce deep bass and yet still maintained its musicality. Here are some samples of movies and music I used to put the SC-600 IW through its paces:

Movies: Seems like every subwoofer that is reviewed is put up against U-571 and I was not about to surrender the tradition. What a better way to test the mettle of a subwoofer than a series of depth charge explosions? The SC-600 IW not only played loud and deep, but with a high degree of agility. Those charges are going off in rapid succession and the sub kept pace with all the action. This was bass that I could feel…literally, my insides were vibrating with each explosion. It was at this point I noticed some rattling going on in the room. I had to secure a few of my CDs on the rack before continuing with the movie. On the plus side, nothing structurally in my room was protesting. Batman Begins had me grinning as the police chased our hero in his "tumbler" through the streets of Gotham City.

Velodyne SC-600 In Wall Subwoofer

Again, the bass was palpable, but not bloated. The vibrations I felt through my seat added to the excitement of the cinematic experience.

Music: I have a penchant for well-recorded and well-played organ music. This transcription of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition played by Jean Guillou on the Dorian label is a tremendous recording. The sound engineers really captured the rich acoustics of the Zurich Tonhalle organ. From the soft delicate passages to the thunderous conclusion, Guillou gives a jaw-dropping performance.

Velodyne SC-600 In Wall Subwoofer

Again, the SC-600 IW demonstrated that it could keep up with the complex musical score. The bass was powerful when it needed to be and subtle when required. I chose my next piece of music to see how well the sub performed with my monitors. A male baritone voice would help reveal if a problem existed with blending or if the crossover frequency was not properly set up. This recording of Thomas Hampson singing Old American Songs by Copland provided a good test. Hampson's voice remained deep and articulate without becoming thick. I ended up listing to the whole recording before I knew what time it was.

Velodyne SC-600 In Wall Subwoofer

My last test was an Telarc recording called Time Warp. It contains perhaps the loudest, deepest bass notes recorded on CD that I own (actually comes with a warning on the cover!). It opens with a prelude performed on synthesizer by Don Dorsey that goes from tranquil tinkling to explosive climaxes all in the span of a few minutes.

Velodyne SC-600 In Wall Subwoofer

The next track is the Cincinnati Pops under Erich Kunzel performing the theme from Star Trek: The Next Generation which opens with a tremendous tympanic whack that will make you jump out of your chair. The SC-600 IW reproduced it with startling dynamics and realism. If I had pictures on the wall…well, you get the idea!