While on a swing through Vancouver this week to check out the vintage audio scene, I stopped by to say hi to the guys at Vancouver Audio Speaker Clinic, an old-school speaker repair shop of the type I haven’t seen since I was a kid in the 1970s trying to resurrect the shredded speakers from my Fender Twin Reverb after a full-volume jam on Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man.” While I was there watching the crew repair everything from ancient JBLs to nearly new B&Ws, I noticed a truly frightening sight: the biggest subwoofer I have ever actually laid my eyes on.
Sure, there are larger subs, like a 34-inch car woofer made by Audiobahn. And I remember seeing a bass guitar cabinet with a 36-inch driver in an old issue of Guitar Player. But this was the first time I’ve seen a sub this big in an actual enclosure that anyone with a pickup truck, a strong back and $1,200 Canadian can buy today.
Shop owner Dave Lee explained that he builds the monster subs for nightclubs who want to play big-bass dance music really frigging loud. The 27-inch cone is actually a passive radiator hand built by the Speaker Clinic crew. The active drivers, completely concealed inside the 10-cubic-foot bandpass cabinet, are dual JBL 18-inchers.
It’s a passive design so you need an amp to go with it. “You’ll need something with considerable horsepower, 400 to 600 watts. And not necessarily a digital amp, because you need something that has some reserve in the power supply. But for $1,200 I’ll throw in a power amp.”
To my surprise, the megasub doesn’t play down to, say, 10 Hz; Lee says it’s -3 dB at 35 Hz and -10 dB at 20 Hz. Why not deeper? “The customers think it sounds better this way. We’ve tuned it for -3 dB at 24 Hz, but the very slight improvement on the low end is counteracted by what one lady called ‘lifelessness’ at 80 Hz. Everybody else agreed but was less … articulate in their description.”
A factory-fresh new model with beefed-up drivers for professional use runs $2,150. Still, that’s a relatively small sum for a subwoofer that is absolutely, positively guaranteed to be bigger than your neighbor’s.
Brent Butterworth and Geoff Morrison combine their years of gear testing and knowledge in one überblog of irreverence and techiness.
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