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Product Review
 

Onix Rocket UFW-10 Subwoofer

May, 2004

Yongki Go

 

Specifications:
 

● Acoustic Suspension, Single-Driver
    System

● 10" Hybrid Composite Woofer;
    Anodized Aluminum Cone with Inner
    Non-Pressed Pulp Sub-Cone

● Parametric EQ, Variable Phase,
    Crossover 40 Hz - 150 Hz,
    Crossover Disable Function, XLR
    and RCA Inputs
● Frequency Response: 25 Hz - 150 Hz

    ±
2 dB
● Size: 13.5" H x 13.25" W x  13" D
● Weight: 52 lbs.
● Finish: Rocket Rosewood / Macassar
    Ebony or Bird's Eye Maple w/ Piano-
    Black Lacquer End Caps
● MSRP: $599 (Rosewood/Macassar
    Ebony Finish), $649 (Bird’s Eye
    Maple Finish)

 

AV123

 

www.av123.com

Introduction

This review is a follow-up to my review on the Onix Rocket RS series home theater package that was published here a couple of months ago. Mark Schifter, the founder and CEO of AV123, who is also the proud creator of the Onix Rocket brand, initially planned to ship this subwoofer to me to be reviewed as part of the Rocket RS home theater package. However, due to some production delays, the UFW-10 couldn’t make it in time for the review, and hence, I report my impressions about it separately here.

The Ultra-Fast Woofer-10 (UFW-10) is the first subwoofer under the Rocket brand name. In today’s subwoofer world, the UFW-10 can be considered small, measuring only about 13" in width, depth, and height. Its appearance matches nicely with the other speakers in the Rocket RS line.

The review sample has Rosewood finish on four of the side baffles with glossy black on the top and bottom caps (MSRP $599). Two other wood finishes are available to match your other speakers or décor, namely Ebony Macassar (also $599) or Bird’s Eye Maple ($649).

This subwoofer is beautiful to look at and solidly built. Due to its small size, the sub can easily be hidden, but its beauty demands otherwise and I guess most owners won’t mind putting it in an easily seen area (with pride if I may add).

Features

The UFW-10 has a single 10" front-firing driver in an acoustic suspension configuration. This driver has a cast aluminum frame and it is of hybrid composite design with anodized aluminum cone and inner non-pressed pulp sub-cone for added strength and for better acoustical damping (prevents the aluminum from ringing). The UFW-10 is fitted with a detachable black cloth grille to cover the driver.

The amplifier, which is rated at 500 watts, together with all the subwoofer connectors and controls, are located in the rear. This amplifier utilizes Tracking Down Converter (TDC) topology, which supplies a continuously variable power supply voltage (as opposed to fixed voltage in conventional design) depending on the input signal to the amplifier. This topology offers several advantages, such as high efficiency, lightweight, high dynamic headroom, high output damping, and low operating temperature. A feature called Intelligent Parameter Control System (IPC) is integrated into the amplifier to monitor the woofer’s voice-coil condition in real-time and sends data to the amplifier to correct and prevent over excursion of the woofer's voice coil. Also included is a thermal overload circuit to protect the voice coil of the woofer from overheating under prolonged use at extremely high power levels.

The Layout

The UFW-10 can accept balanced or single-ended inputs, but no output is provided. The control knobs are of the flush type, and so to turn it, you need to use a small coin, such as a quarter. Although this type of control may not be as convenient to adjust as the regular type that you can grab with your fingers, they are less prone to accidental turn, which could mess up your carefully calibrated settings.

On the UFW-10, you have the usual subwoofer controls and more. Besides the continuously adjustable crossover (40 Hz -150 Hz), phase (0 to 180 deg), and gain, there is also a single band parametric equalizer, a feature that is not commonly found in a subwoofer at this price. The equalizer includes control for frequency, bandwidth, and boost/attenuation level.

The manual goes into great detail in explaining how to make use of this equalizer feature effectively. I value highly the inclusion of the EQ, as it can be very helpful in taming the presence of nasty peaks with the in-room bass response. But is a single band as included in this subwoofer enough? Well, the answer depends on your room characteristics. Many rooms have a problematic response around a single frequency in the below 80 Hz region. In several mid-size rooms that I have had a pleasure to set up my audio system in and performed some measurements, I usually found a peak in bass response due to resonance around 40 Hz - 50 Hz. For this situation, a single band equalizer should be enough to flatten the bass response.

If you have several nasty peaks or dips in your bass response, then obviously you’ll need more than a single band equalizer to get a flat response, but nevertheless, the single band equalizer included in this subwoofer is still useful to tame some of the problems. Isn’t it better to have partial cure than no cure at all? For example, in one of my rooms, which is untreated, the bass response has a peak at about 35 Hz and a severe dip at about 50 Hz. This dip creates a “hole” in the frequency response, which is noticeable, and I chose to tame it using the single parametric equalizer in the UFW-10. I was able to minimize the dip to within 4 dB, giving me a much better overall sound. This example shows that the onboard parametric equalizer, even though limited, is still quite helpful. Keep in mind that the best EQ is to reduce peaks rather than trying to raise a dip, but it does work sometimes, although a better solution might be to move the subwoofer.

Two types of feet - brass spikes and rubber - are provided. Also AV123 is thoughtful enough to include metal discs to be used under the brass spiked feet if you have hardwood floors. For my review, I used the spiked feet with no metal discs, as my listening room is carpeted.

The Sound

For subwoofers, there are three important aspects of performance to consider: quality, quantity, and extension. Now let’s look at how the UFW-10 fares on each of these aspects.

‘Awesome’ would be the right word to describe the quality of bass produced by the UFW-10. Tight, quick, and controlled are some adjectives that came to mind when I first listened to it. So, the name ‘Ultra Fast Woofer’ is not just a marketing moniker! The bass attacks and decays sounded realistic, and hence, it gave a sense of accuracy. The combination of characteristics makes this subwoofer very musical. In fact, the musicality of this subwoofer could put many other subwoofers to shame, even some of the more expensive ones out there. It is really that good!

One CD I used for bass quality evaluation was Sade’s "No Ordinary Love", from her album The Best of Sade. The quick bass notes underlying this song could sound muddy and blurred if the subwoofer were not up to the task, which was definitely not the case with the UFW-10. This subwoofer possessed the speed and control to reproduce the notes with great clarity and impact. On Christian McBride’s Number Two Express CD, the UFW-10 showed that it was also capable of following delicate acoustic bass notes with finesse.

In terms of quantity (SPL), unless you are a bass fanatic, the output of the UFW-10 will likely satisfy your need. In fact, for such a small subwoofer, its capability to play loud while maintaining its composure is quite excellent. While it might not be able to play at the THX level, I found that the UFW-10 had sufficient slam to bring immediacy with action scenes from various movies that I tried during the subwoofer evaluation.

The only aspect where the UFW-10 lacks is in bass extension. While the UFW-10 is a versatile little subwoofer, it doesn’t go to the lowest audible frequency regions. But unless you are a fan of organ music, it probably won't matter to you. After all, this is not a shortcoming, but rather a design choice. Small subwoofers are vogue right now, and the spouses love that. In my listening room, by playing with the parametric equalizer, I was able to get a usable bass response within 3 dB to 27 Hz.

In my review of the Rocket RS system, I indicated that although the performance of the RS speaker system was nothing short of excellent, I felt that for home theater applications, a subwoofer was still needed. Well, now, with the addition of the UFW-10 subwoofer, the Rocket RS system gives me a more enjoyable home theater experience. There is a sense of completeness in the overall sound of the system, which is mainly due to the coverage of the lowest octave region by the UFW-10.

Conclusions

The UFW-10 subwoofer is an awesome performer in a small package. This little subwoofer doesn’t go deep into the 20 Hz regions, but it is very musical and also quite potent, which will complete your home theater experience. Given its excellence in performance and craftsmanship, I think you will be hard-pressed to find a better subwoofer at $599. Highly recommended!



- Yongki Go -

Associated Equipment for This Review:

CD playback: Shanling CD-S100
DVD playback: Toshiba SD-4700
Preamplifier: Adcom GFP-750, Lexicon DC-1
Amplifier: Parasound HCA-855A, Sherbourn 7/2100
Other speakers: Rocket home theater system (RS-750, RS-250, RSC-200)
Cables: MIT Terminator 4 interconnects, MIT Terminator 2 speaker cables, Cardas Crosslink speaker cables, Audioquest GR-8 speaker cables, Audiquest Jade subwoofer cable.

 

    Related to the article above, we recommend the following:

Primer - Speakers

 

 

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