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Sunfire's "True" Subwoofer

Rattlin' Them Bones...

by Les Enser

We waited with baited breath for two months for Bob Carver's little Sub wonder to arrive - and now we can finally stop holding our breath. What a relief! It's nice to breathe oxygen again.

The ultimate question that comes to mind now, however, is: was it worth the wait? Read on.

Cube Root

When the little 12 inch cube-shaped box arrived we couldn't contain ourselves. How could something this small be referred to as the "True Subwoofer?" When the delivery person handed the box over to me my unsuspecting arms and legs almost buckled from the weight of the liffle guy, all 50 pounds of it. As we eagerly uncrated the sub we were truly amazed at its 11" high x 11" wide x 11" deep dimensions. Sporting two 8" push pull drivers with adjustable crossover controls from 40Hz to 120Hz, along with continuously adjustable Phase control from 0 degrees to 180 degrees this beast really does push the envelope. The "push pull" arrangement is so designed that the drivers are mounted opposite from one another in the cabinet. This is similar to the bipolar designs that are becoming increasingly popular. This design also cancels any inertial forces that may cause the cabinet to vibrate.

Bob Carver also wisely added a phase switch to his design. This is handy for that perfect match to the rest of one's speaker system, and we realized at that point that the little Titan definitely means business (Carver and the subwoofer!).

Also featured are line level inputs and outputs (low level) along with speaker level in (high level). Unfortunately, we could only take advantage of the line level in and could not route the line level output back to our reference receiver, since it did not have a preamp input. As it turned out, the results were overwhelming anyway.

MORE POWER!

Inside the box a 2700 watt servo amplifier is nestled to provide the power. As it turns out, that much power is needed to produce the right sound levels from such a tiny box. The drivers or speakers are as flat as pancakes and boast 7 1/2" magnets! I should mention that the drivers themselves are fully exposed, with the absence of grills. The drivers are quite dense, and are made from a very rigid aluminum clad material. All in all, a handsome unit. It is said that this design is able to move about 192 cubic inches of air, in comparison to a 15" subwoofer with one inch travel which displaces about 140 cubic inches.

Now for the listening test:

It took us a little time to find the best spot for the subwoofer, but we finally decided to place it next to our reference speaker, on the left side about 12" away to the left. We found the Sunfire Subwoofer played havoc with our Sony XBR television when placed too close to it! This indicates that there is no video shielding. We used various test tones from our Video Essentials Laserdisc to set up the subwoofer. We ended up setting the crossover at 65Hz and the phase at 90 degrees, utilizing the low level line input. The first disc we used was the laserdisc of "Mission Impossible," the scene where the fish tank is blown up. The Sunfire showed its muscle with good, solid, reinforced bass without the boominess that most subs exhibit. In the Vault scene, where the big, heavy door is being closed, the Sunfire again produced the sound with authority and without any ringing or coloration. We felt the bass as opposed to just hearing it. In "True Lies," where Arnold is about to show his "invitation" to the security guard near the beginning of the movie, again the Sunfire showed its finesse with a smooth and realistic explosion.

The impression this subwoofer has given us is that it produces deep bass only when required by the source, otherwise it is pleasantly silent until asked to do the job.

Some may argue that the Sunfire is "too clean," but we can honestly say that this "True Subwoofer" is a pleasure to listen to and does not cause the listener to become fatigued with the constant "boom boom boom" of some other subs on the market. Our only regret was the short term of exposure we had with the Sunfire (we had to give it back!) and the relatively high cost in Canadian dollars, at $2000.00, as opposed to U.S. retail of $1100.00. Even with the exchange this seems rather excessive.

However if I had that amount to spend on a subwoofer I would seriously consider the "New Sunfire True Subwoofer". It would be a fine addition to any audio system.

 

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Updated May 14, 2006