OUR TEST SETUP
Any subjective evaluation of subwoofer performance is as much a review of the room as it is of the sub. At about 350 square feet and 3,000 cubic feet, my studio is similar to many family rooms, except it's double-sheetrocked and built to dimensions I chose for achieving reasonable low-end smoothness and extension. As in any speaker evaluation, you can expect the same sub to perform differently in a different room.
From long experience, I know that subs deliver their smoothest 20- to 100-Hz response in my room when placed behind the left front speaker. Our three bantams were small enough that I could set them up cheek by jowl and switch among them for fair comparisons - as I verified using a sound-level meter to calibrate volumes and check positions.
I ran all three in crossover-bypass mode, setting my preamp's crossover at the THX-standard 80 Hz. And to simplify things, I did my listening using short segments of music tracks and movie scenes that I'm very familiar with (see "Test Tracks" below). My colleague Tom Nousaine also measured each sub's performance (see "In the Lab," as well as the individual reviews).-D.K
Movies can demonstrate a different side of bass, since the low-end sounds are usually more fleeting and more likely to be masked by higher-frequency sound effects and music.