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#78539 - 01/23/05 12:13 AM HSU VTF3 MK2 VS. EP350 Showdown!! Plus a suprise!
BlueStater Offline
veteran

Registered: 12/20/04
Posts: 173
Loc: Portland, OR
As mentioned in a thread in the Advice forum, I invited a friend over with his HSU sub. I wanted to hear his sub, he wanted to hear real speakers (he somehow spent $600 on a good sub and $299 on BIG RETAIL main/center/surround speakers!). When he showed up, there was a suprise: A friend of his from work with a brand new SV Subs PB12-ISD2! Wow! Please refer to the manufacturers websites if you want to look up the partik's. This will be a very subjective, non-technical comparison/review. The electronics used are in the signature at the end of this post. Also, please note my system is new and was really dialed in to my satisfaction yesterday. So I, as well a the others at the showdown, were listening with "un-broken-in" ears.

First, the EP350. This sub is really a nice looking piece. I have the "Boston" Cherry, and even from FO, it just looks great. I really had a hard time placing this sub properly. When I finally got it right, I was amazed by the musicality. I ended up with the crossover at 60Hz, but it really is quite detailed until you get to the very bottom of its frequency range. It acquitted itself well playing such selections as "Moanin'" by Charles Mingus, "DSOTM" by Pink Floyd, "Jar of Flies" by Alice in Chains, and "Bitches Brew" by Miles Davis. One track in particular can be tricky for subs. "I Stay Away" by Alice in Chains has very prominent bass that is EQ'd FAT and DEEP. Wimpy or ill-designed subs will just produce an ill-defined, uneven rumble. I used this
track among others when placing the 350 and other subs, and
the 350 produced this track with authority, with nice definition and just the slightest trace of boom in a couple of parts, but not enough to be distracting. In 5.1, we noted
a few problems. First off, I played a THX test pattern. I understand this pattern pushes below the 350's stated requency response, but it really boomed down low. Closer to
the sub, I could hear just a tiny bit of chuffing, but this wasn't audible from the listening area (Note, in 5.1 I'm running the 350 with the volume set to 60% or so on the sub and -2 on the Denon. My room gets loud without having to crank things too much). In Star Wars: TPM there is many, many ultra-low passages when spacecraft land or fly by, during the Pod Racing scene, etc. There is one passage early
in the movie(didn't write down the chapter #) when a spaceship flies over from behind in preparation to land. This scene cause some of the same booming the THX pattern did. To be fair, this scene pushes lots of sound below 20Hz
all the way to 10Hz. The 350 really did well during the Pod
Scene, which has all sorts of strange-sounding LFE sounds from the pods. The pods all sounded fantastic. So, the 350 in our opinion played music very nicely, has nice "butt-shaking" capability, but has a little problem down around say 25Hz at high SPL. I think it is a good all around
sub.

The HSU is not the prettiest box I've seen. As a matter of fact, it's downright ugly. Looks like somebody sprayed it with wall texture and painted it with Krylon. But their motto of sorts is "form follows function," so I won't dwell on it. To keep this simple, the HSU wasn't quite as musical,
sticking to the same tunes, as the '350. It is tight, almost
a little "over-punchy," but it didn't sound quite as subtle
as the '350. It was a little harder to blend with the mains,
due to its punchiness. The M22's have nice, clean, smooth bass and the HSU is more in your face. Now 5.1, on the other
hand, is where the HSU stepped up. We noted lower, tighter sound when extending down to the depths. The THX pattern was
startling. It still rolled off at the lowest notes, but it held on longer than the '350. The pod scenes didn't tax it at all. It dropped out evenly at the lowest tones during the spaceship flyover at the begginning. So, we give the HSU
a couple of demerits on musicality, but kudos on 5.1. Nice sub, and cheap. Flat ugly though.

The PB12 is in a slightly different class pricewise and in
configuration. With 2 12" woofers and a 600W amp, and an $899 base price, we expected more out of this sub, and we got it. BOY, did we ever get it. This was the easiest sub to
place to get good sound. We almost could have placed it anywhere. And from the first note, we were blown away. This
sub is an instrument. I mean, it is flat out musical. I never thought I would write that this brute is subtle and even delicate in its sound. But it is. And when you get to an industrial strenght, heavy duty song or section, it is absolutely clean and clear and very powerful. Whoa Nelly, is it powerful. This thing wasn't even breathing hard by the time we got it to the wall-flexing level. Zoiks! (Note, we
had the port tuning plugs set to 25Hz for music). And it blended very nicely with the M22's (I am falling deeply in love with those little speakers. More on that in another post). Now 5.1. We tuned the ports to 16HZ. Well, I'm just
astounded. Flat out astounded. It's almost effortlessly powerful. The THX pattern was just a titanic monolith of bass power. Sure, it couldn't reach that 10Hz note, but nothing under $1k that I've heard of can. The pod scene was
spectacular, the flyover was breathtaking. One note on appearance: It's nicely built and shaped, but the textured black finish is almost as hideous as the HSU. But it's hard
to notice when looking at it with the lustful eyes of a person who just listened to it at high SPL's.

All in all, we came out very pleased with our own subs. The
EP350 was excellent at music, and very good at 5.1. At this price range it seems to be a great value as an all-around performer. The HSU lacked some of the EP's musicality, but
flexed it's muscle in 5.1. Not all that great to look at, though. If you watch 5.1 movies more than you listen to music, this is another excellent value. Don't be swayed by
the music part though. It did fine. We just thought it wasn't quite as good in that area.

The PB12 is astounding. Now, if you include shipping, it is
almost a whole high-quality Universal disc player more expensive than the other 2. But we were simply awestruck by this sub. It does everything extremely well without seeming to work hard at all. SV, will you PLEASE give it a better finish?

That's all folks!

PS: While collecting my thoughts and preparing this post, my Sound Guru worked on placement of the EP350 a little more. He moved it to the other side of the rig, inboard of the RF speaker, and more centrally located between the RF and the AV stand. This move was dramatic, removing the "boominess" we were getting earlier. Has to do with the 5' opening into the next room, we decided. In our minds, this change put the '350 ahead of the HSU as an all-around sub as far as this showdown goes. -MF

Mark





_________________________
"There's too many notes!" M22ti VP150 EP350 QS8 AVR-2805 SCD595 Panasonic DVD-S35

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#78540 - 01/23/05 12:37 AM Re: HSU VTF3 MK2 VS. EP350 Showdown!! Plus a suprise!
curtis Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 05/28/03
Posts: 1501
Loc: Manhattan Beach, CA
Very cool!!

Your friend must have the same model VTF-3 I have....with the spray on "truck bed liner" type finish. They stopped making that one almost two years ago. Front firing...right? How was it tuned? Did you mess with placement on all the subs like the 350?

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#78541 - 01/23/05 12:54 AM Re: HSU VTF3 MK2 VS. EP350 Showdown!! Plus a supri
BlueStater Offline
veteran

Registered: 12/20/04
Posts: 173
Loc: Portland, OR
The finish was not pleasant. It's well-done, I suppose, but the choice of finish material is lacking. We had it in "Output
Mode" for music and "Extension Mode" for 5.1. Sounded best this way. We tried both of the configurable subs in all available modes and found that the both sounded better tuned to 25Hz for music and lowest extension mode (The SV has 3 modes) for 5.1. I forgot to mention the modes for the HSU in the original post. Thanks for bringing up the point. And yes, it was VERY cool blasting away all day with these subs.
I'm impressed by all 3, and all for under $1k! Now, I have never heard a $20K sub in context, just at expos and store listening rooms where I have no reference except direct comparisons with other speakers in that room. But I wonder if there is really a subwoofer that sounds $19,000 better than any of these three? Kind of like, does a Ferrari really
drive $100,000 better than a 'vette? I really do wonder.
_________________________
"There's too many notes!" M22ti VP150 EP350 QS8 AVR-2805 SCD595 Panasonic DVD-S35

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#78542 - 01/23/05 01:08 AM Re: HSU VTF3 MK2 VS. EP350 Showdown!! Plus a supri
BlueStater Offline
veteran

Registered: 12/20/04
Posts: 173
Loc: Portland, OR
Oops! Forgot to address your other question: Yes, front firing. And I just called my friend. He bought it 1 year ago, new, on Ebay. (bringing up HSU website) Uh-oh! It's an original VTF3!! I think he was had on Ebay! It never occured to me that the sub could be anything other than a MK2, his being the only HSU I have ever seen, and knowing he paid for (what he thought was) a MK2! This point also changes the results of the whole showdown!!! *Sigh*. Now I have to call him back and tell him the bad news. I didn't tell him why I was asking about it just now, so I could confirm the identity of the sub. He can be a little gullible, especially
on Ebay. OH, The Humanity!!!

PS: If the MK2 is an improvement over the original, it must be a real performer!
_________________________
"There's too many notes!" M22ti VP150 EP350 QS8 AVR-2805 SCD595 Panasonic DVD-S35

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#78543 - 01/23/05 01:08 AM Re: HSU VTF3 MK2 VS. EP350 Showdown!! Plus a suprise!
Ajax Offline
axiomite

Registered: 12/30/03
Posts: 6252
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
WOW! Really nice job, Mark. Very readable, and understandable. Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts.
_________________________
Jack

"People generally quarrel because they cannot argue." - G. K. Chesterton

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#78544 - 01/23/05 01:09 AM Re: HSU VTF3 MK2 VS. EP350 Showdown!! Plus a suprise!
bridgman Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 5432
Loc: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Thanks for a great report !

So... I have to ask. Did you ever think about getting a splitter cable and hooking all three up at the same time ?

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#78545 - 01/23/05 01:25 AM Re: HSU VTF3 MK2 VS. EP350 Showdown!! Plus a supri
BlueStater Offline
veteran

Registered: 12/20/04
Posts: 173
Loc: Portland, OR
brigman wrote:

So... I have to ask. Did you ever think about getting a splitter cable and hooking all three up at the same time ?

"And it was Said, and I quoteth

'And the apple was held forth, and Temptation tooketh hold of
Geek. But Geek remained stalwart, and resisted Tempation. And Temptation retreated, leaving Geek in Audio Nirvana unspoilt....'"

Or, too lazy to head to Rat Shack.

Mark
_________________________
"There's too many notes!" M22ti VP150 EP350 QS8 AVR-2805 SCD595 Panasonic DVD-S35

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#78546 - 01/23/05 01:30 AM Re: HSU VTF3 MK2 VS. EP350 Showdown!! Plus a supri
BlueStater Offline
veteran

Registered: 12/20/04
Posts: 173
Loc: Portland, OR
That post just pushed me into addict status.

Step One: I admit that I am powerless over my addiction to audio and audio forums...
_________________________
"There's too many notes!" M22ti VP150 EP350 QS8 AVR-2805 SCD595 Panasonic DVD-S35

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#78547 - 01/23/05 01:53 AM Re: HSU VTF3 MK2 VS. EP350 Showdown!! Plus a supri
curtis Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 05/28/03
Posts: 1501
Loc: Manhattan Beach, CA
Yeah.....hooking up all three at the same time would have been a nice test of how well your house is built!

The biggest different with the Hsu VTF-3MK2 is the new amp....adds more dynamics.

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#78548 - 01/23/05 07:23 AM Re: HSU VTF3 MK2 VS. EP350 Showdown!! Plus a supri
Zarak Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 03/09/03
Posts: 1849
Loc: PA
Actually, it's addict junior that you are in. There are two addict levels. You've got a ways to go for the main one.

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