These are the individual comments from some of the panel members:
Rijax or Ajax:
Subwoofer A - (which turned out to be the SVS Ultra in 20Hz tuning.
Like Jeff, I felt this was the weakest performer, though I wouldn't describe it's performance as "horribly disappointing." It just didn't measure up to the others. Learning which sub it was, provided the 3rd biggest surprise of the day. Unlike Jeff, I had no doubts that there was a subwoofer in the mix. This particular difference between Jeff's impression and mine can be explained by how we are acclimated to the different settings of our home subwoofers. This sub came in 4th in my ratings.
Subwoofer B - (which turned out to be the EP500 with a boost centered at 25Hz.)
Noticeably better than subwoofer A. But as we went through the various tracks and movie scenes, I felt that the sub was (using my own, completely unscientific, term) boomy. Too much "ring." Others later described this same phenomenon as "muddy." In fairness, I found one or two of the Animusic tracks, particularly the one that was solo drums, to be a bit "boomy" on every sub. Were it not for the fact the other Animusic tracks resulted in relatively tight, crisp bass on the other 3 subs, I might have assumed this "boominess" was native to the tracks. This sub came in 3rd in my ratings.
Subwoofer C - (which turned out to be the SVS Ultra in 16 Hz. tuning.)
To me, this sub sounded clearly better than the first two. I cannot argue with Jeff's compression assessment with the 5 dB bump for movies. You can chalk this up to my inexperience. I wouldn't know compression if I heard it, probably because I've never heard it. I live in a townhouse with a wall common to my neighbor. I don't listen anywhere NEAR the levels we listened to at Craig's. This sub came in 1st in my ratings.
Before I go on to sub #4, a little digression. My single biggest concern about this listening session was the fear that, after listening to all 4 subs, I would be sitting there thinking "Holy carumba! I can't really tell any difference between the 4." Needless to say, at this point in the listening, being able to easily hear noticeable differences in the first 3 subs, I was feeling pretty cocky and confident. And then we listened to :
Subwoofer D - (which turned out to be the EP500 tuned flat.)
OH OH! I don't hear much of a difference between this one and Sub C. OK. OK. I don't hear ANY difference. I thought it did a great job as well. To my relatively inexperienced ear the two were a wash. It never occurred to me to have a tie, so this sub came in 2nd in my ratings by one single point. Had I heard this sub BEFORE #3, I very well might have picked this one.
The 2nd biggest surprise of the day was the fact that we had been listening to only 2 subs and not the 4 we expected. To me, the biggest surprise of the day was the difference between the SVS Ultra in 20 Hz. tuning, and the same sub in 16 Hz. tuning. IMHO, the difference was night and day. Amazing.
IMHO, it's a wash between the SVS Ultra in 16 Hz tuning and the EP500 with a lean toward the EP500 simply because of the limitations of my room.
Don't anyone EVER call me an Axiom fanboy
Seriously, I DO wish that many of those who will be doing their mightiest to discredit this whole thing could have been there. I will reiterate what I said in my earlier post. This was a hell of a lot of fun! And, the best thing about it was the people. Hanging out with people who share your passion for a hobby is extremely rewarding.
A BIG thanks to Craig for hosting the thing, and to his lovely wife for enduring this "invasion" of audio nuts.
Jeff D2's impressions:
Six people including myself were invited to Craig’s house for the DBT. Craig would not be participating in the evaluations since he was in charge of changing out the subs in between the audio demos. Though we all knew from the forum that there was the potential for six subs to be evaluated, we were not told which ones we would be listening to.
We spent the first 20 minutes getting to know each and discussing personal preferences as related to audio. Soon after, we went into Craig’s theater to listen to, not yet judge, the audio material and familiarize ourselves with it. It was decided for music we would use Animusic 2 and a jazz track that had some nice string bass in as well. For movie sound, a couple of clips from the DTS demo disc. The movies clips used were-
Day After Tomorrow- Tidal wave hits NYC
LOTR ROTK- Gates of Mordor
Master & Commander- Opening battle scene where initial cannon bursts are shot through the fog.
We would eventually narrow it down to just Master & Commander as the criteria.
It was agreed we would listen to music at a set up of running the subs flat, but for movies we would run 5dB hot which I would imagine a typical user would do to help pressurize a large room.
Now that we were settled in, familiar with the material and had a point of reference, it was time for the judging to begin. It should be noted that we had absolutely no idea where the subs were placed in the room. It should also be stated that we had the option of reevaluating subwoofer A if necessary based on a personal decision not as a group.
I used a scoring system of 5 stars for best, 1 star for worst. 30 points would be a perfect score. I am also writing this strictly from memory and have yet visited the AVS thread so as not to become jaded in any way. Any inaccuracies I may state here will acknowledged and addressed after I post this. I also run my home system 6-7dB hot for the sub.
Clearly the weakest performer. I found myself wondering if Craig had his mains set to large and the sub off line. This sub added nothing to the movie LFE and was generally unremarkable with music. Horribly disappointing. This sub rated 14 points.
This would turn out to be the SVS PB12 Ultra in 20hz tune.
A dramatic difference from sub A. I found the kick drums in the music perfectly suited to my tastes. I liked the extension this sub displayed on the synthetic bass of the Animusic tracks. I did however find it to be a bit muddy on the jazz track. As I recall, all the listeners noted this. I found myself grinning and thinking “hell yeah” during Master & Commander. Here’s the catch- Craig had induced a 5dB bump at 25hz just to make sure we were all listening. So, why did I like this one so much? Because I have a 5dB room peak at about 22.5hz that I have not yet BFDed. It sounded just like my home system! I was willing to live with the mud because IMO performed wonderfully in other categories scoring some 5s along the way. Total score –27 points.
This would turn out to be Axiom EP500 with the induced bump.
Another good sounding sub. Performed quite well musically and was solid on the movie tracks. But there was bump in the road on the way to drawing a conclusion. About ¾ of the way through Master & Commander, I realized Craig had not changed the settings to run 5dB hot, but rather left it at flat from the music. I brought this to his attention and it was corrected. We replayed Master & Commander. I was going to give this sub high marks, but it simply could not handle the 5dB bump. It was obviously compressing and clearly not could carry the extra load. This would be reflected in the score. Total points- as I recall, about 21.
This would turn out to be the PB12 in 16hz tune.
Another fine performer in stark contrast to sub A. Performed wonderfully on the kick drums and the jazz track. Performed quite well on Master & Commander though I did detect some ringing on one of the huge cannon bursts. For my tastes, just not quite the punch of sub B, but better than A and C. Total score- 24 points.
This would turn out to be the Axiom EP500 with no 25 hz. bump.
Time would not allow me play a track from Ozzy Live at Budokan as song choice for personal reference, as I had a six hour drive home ahead of me. But if I had stayed longer I would have chosen the Axiom EP500 to listen with.
IMHO- Winner- Axiom EP500.
Don’t anyone EVER call me an SVS fanboy.
Dave or Bossobass:
Hey, everyone. I just got in and am a bit weary, but thought I'd chime in as I have been on the impatiently waiting side of these G2Gs before, and I sympathize having to wait.
Craig and his lovely wife and beautiful kids really all put themselves out for our little invasion. I never forget things like that and will always be thankful for the gracious treatment and generosity of the Chase family.
I finally got to meet Ajax (RiJax here) which is all my pleasure. He's full of energy and is INTO it, as well as being a great guy to meet under any circumstances. Ray indeed is a riot. Very quick and not shy about injecting the levity from every angle. John is a very cool guy who never stops asking questions and sorting the info out on his own mind. A great couple of conversations...some I just listened in on and some I engaged in...all I learned something in. Jeff is cool. 6 hours each way? Insane. He was very logical and helped his son to overcome his 'noob' shyness as he explained everything in exact detail. It was a pleasure to meet Jeff and his son and to watch them (as Craig mentioned) do what I think is the best eval of us all.
I had an excellent time. The House of Chase is certainly large enough for a G2G and is meticulously kept in every way. The Main theater room is large and on the 'live' side.
I chose not to inspect ANY of the equipment, placements (other than the FL/CC/FR, which I could see well enough, but not tell what they were), etc. I just walked into the darkened room and sat in the sweet spot. Well, it was open...and I was the last to enter...wouldn't YOU have grabbed that seat, too?
First, being in a room for the first time and not knowing the particulars is a bit scary as far a comments on 4 subwoofers. Still, the session was just long enough for each of the subs and contained a pretty good mix of sound that it all seemed a bit less daunting in the end.
So, there I was expecting to hear a UFW-12, SVS PB Ultra, Axiom EP-600 and the big Velo DD-18. With all of the above in mind, here goes my impressions:
Sub A: My notes were that it sounded a bit thin and a tad bottom heavy. Also, that it had good extension and overall was a good sub.
Sub B: This sub was definitely bottom heavy. That usually kills it for me. So, I liked this one the least, though I still noted it to be a pretty good sub otherwise.
Sub C: This sub sounded better than the first 2. Still a tad bottom heavy, which I personally attributed to the room at this point and not having the faintest clue that it was not a 3rd sub at all, but 'knowing' at this point that 2 of the sub were sealed and 1 of them I know fairly well. It was fairly seamless, excellent extension and smoothly calibrated...just a tad heavy on the bottom, which is not so offensive with M&C but an illusion robber with music and the new Animusic animations.
Sub D: This sub is the one I like the best of the '4'. It sounded seamless. Again...just a smidge bottom heavy, but less than the other 4. Every bit as well calibrated as Sub C. Just as smooth and clean sounding. Just that C was muddier, which was apparent only slightly with M&C, but moreso with the other source material.
In the end, I liked all 4 subs, with the above noted differences, and...clearly, all things considered, liked Sub D overall the best.
I went all the way out on the blind listening limb in my notes and wrote that if I had to guess, I would ascribe as follows:
Sub A= UFW-12, Sub B and Sub C I picked as a toss up between the 2 ported subs and Sub D would have had to be the Velo. I was as surprised as everyone to learn the 'trick' Craig played, but in the end, it sort of fit with my general thoughts and it certainly was a great session and loads of fun.
Bottom line is that as far as Craig's set up and hardware go, the Ultra DEFINITELY sounds it's best in 16 Hz tune and is a superb subwoofer. The Axiom EP-500 is also a very surprising performer, IMO. It was the most detailed sub system of the 4 and had good presentation of the powerfully low stuff without masking the rest of the freqs, compared to the other '3'.
Afterward, as John mentioned, we went down stairs to another excellent system and listened to some exquisite monitors with stereo UFW-12s The sound was sweet as it gets and Dr. Hsu's demo disc is a great one to test any system.
Dinner at the CC was an enexpected treat, The food was excellent and we jawed like we know what the heii we're talkin' about. I love that at the end of a great day. I didn't mind at all being thrown the 2 subwoofer curve ball. I feel privileged to have been invited and to have met some great new friends and exchanged e-mails/names/numbers, etc.
Alas, I flew away still having never heard the DD-18 Velo, but hopefully there will be another time.