I made the mistake of buying a home audio subwoofer at a website geared for computer enthusiasts. Don't ask why, I don't know either, and that's why I paid for it (literally) with the full retail price. I'm stupid.
I purchased this subwoofer back around September of 2005 as a replacement to a 1994 Sony 6.5" 80 watt POS. I was in college at the time when I purchased this Yamaha and $300 for a subwoofer that got decent reviews seemed good. Although I originally wanted a 12" cone in this price range, I settled for this based on the specs. 250 watts with the "ability" to hit 20hz sounded really good on paper. Also, Yamaha was the brand of my AV receiver and since the receiver has treated me quite well, I figured Yamaha subwoofers would be of the same quality.
My initial response to this subwoofer was very pleased. It could definitely get down to the low frequencies, although like others, I believe Yamaha might have exaggerated the numbers a bit. Running a frequency sweep, it can definitely hit around 26hz - 28hz, but anything lower might be a bit of a stretch. Otherwise the specs on this Yamaha shine through with the variety of uses that I put my audio setup through.
------------------- MOVIES ------------------
While watching movies this subwoofer more than suffices as long as you keep the volume to a semi-reasonable level. I'm a bit of a bass junkie, where as I not only like to hear my explosions, gunfire, and other things, but I really want to feel them. For movies, with my Yamaha RX-V530 set to -10db for the subwoofer, and the SW315 at around 65% with the cutoff around 80hz, the movies sound great, at volume -35db or lower. However, once you start really cranking the sound, the subwoofer tries valiantly to keep up with my mains, but fails miserably. When explosions and gunfire are in play, the distortion really comes out, although I feel as though it may be more of a cabinet problem rather than the cone not being able to reproduce it. Either way, for most people, during movies this subwoofer sounds excellent; just keep the sound at above average, and not explosive.
----------------- MUSIC -----------------
When listening to music, the sub more than achieves. With a direct feed of music (I.E. CD via optical line into receiver), the range seems to be a bit higher than with movies, but generally around the same ballpark. The bass seems to have a more dynamic range with playing music, although that could be attributed to my dynamic tastes. I listen to everything from rock to techno, bass heavy trance to hard hitting rap, high pitched pop to easy listening jazz, and for good measure some Latin flamenco guitar and collegiate a capella. With this wide range of music, I can comment on almost any style and this subwoofer performs wonderfully, but not perfectly. Granted the same precautions must be taken when listening to music as with movies. This subwoofer will perform great when kept under a certain limit. With music, I'll crank the bass a bit more, since music tends to curve more towards the mids and highs. RX-V530 set at -8db and volume no higher than -40db, with the sub set at no higher than 75%, and cutoff around half way, about 70hz or so. With these settings, the music is dynamic, transitioning from my mains to my sub with ease, and performance is great, with the LFE really coming into play when I can't even tell which speaker is hitting the bass.
However, the sub will show its weaknesses with bass heavy music, such as trance, techno, and rap, or the volume on the receiver at closer to -35db and higher. It struggles when pushing out the low ends of rap, and distortion can be heard when keeping low notes for a while during trance and techno. Even some songs, the cabinet begins to rattle, and the sound can become extremely unpleasant. Although this happens to me more often, with my need for bass and volume, others barely comment with anything more than a "wow" when I play music at above average levels (almost to that threshold where you'd have to transition from a loud talk to a soft yell, but just almost).
------------------- DJ -----------------
Here is where I really put my system through its paces, sometimes maxing out every component in my audio system. I don't DJ for a living, and if anything it's more of a hobby rather than a skill. I started back during my senior year in college (when I purchased the SW315) at parties when I wanted something more than the 5 watt 2" JBL Ipod speakers maxed out and barely audible when more than 5 people were in the room. I had been using this set-up for mostly movies and music, and decided to give it a go at a large (60+ people) party that I was hosting. I'm a bit of an over-achiever and decided that I didn't want to just have a play list run off of my computer, but wanted to really control the music. I downloaded a DJ program from the web, and it's been history ever since. Its grown into sort of a characteristic of mine where whenever my friends have these “get togethers” (aka booze fest parties) they ask for me to bring my "DJ booth." Anyways, I digress.
When you think of DJ-ing, think of the bars/clubs where you actually have to yell into another person’s ear to talk and have a conversation. That's about where I keep my system for long lengths of time, anywhere from 2-4 hours. I regularly have to keep a 12" fan blowing directly at the receiver so that it doesn't overheat and completely die (which has happened more than you can count on one hand) and have to play with the settings on the receiver constantly. For some reason, when it comes to parties where a lot of alcohol is on hand, the music just keeps getting louder and louder as the night goes on.
Anyways, because of this phenomenon, the system is set at a much different setting than otherwise. Receiver settings are as follows: -25db volume (sometimes higher), subwoofer at -15db, and contrary to when I watch movies or listen to music, I have the bass coming out of both my mains and my subwoofer (you'll see why). Settings on subwoofer: No higher than 50% volume and cutoff at around 60hz. During DJ parties, I basically keep to the popular music, mostly rap, some techno, and some oldies (journey, ac/dc, and other 80's-90’s classics). And with the volume settings at such incredible levels the weaknesses of each component really show. My mains can’t hit the bass the way the sub can, but the sub can barely handle anything when I have the volume up. It’s really a trade off. I know when it comes to home-theater equipment that it’s not meant to be maxed out for long periods of time, rather it’s meant to hit those peaks occasionally, but when maxed, you really get a feel for where the limit is with your entire system.
When playing rap, the bass just can’t be re-produced at the volume level that I want with this sub. Even if it does have more to do with the cabinet materials and quality (which I think is 75% of the cause) the bass just can’t hack it. My main speakers (which were high-end $300/piece back in the 70’s, purchased by my dad) have no problems with the bass, but with their 8” built in passive woofers, the low-end just doesn’t exist if I relied solely on them.
Simultaneously to having this subwoofer, I also had the pleasure of owning a JBL 12” sub, the one prior to the current P12SW, with almost the same specs and different model number. That thing would literally SHAKE my entire apartment when I had it cranked for DJ parties, and had no problem with the level of bass that I was pumping through it. Unfortunately, during a particularly crazy party, where the volume on receiver was set to –15db, the poor thing couldn’t handle the bass from a rap song, and just all together stopped sounding. A little bit of me died that day, but I realized the error of my ways when using my system during DJ parties.
Couple my desire to here bass, with the spoiledness of having a 12” that could hit it hard at high volumes, when I had to make the switch from the JBL to this Yamaha for DJing, the bass volumes just weren’t there.
In short, don’t blow a better sub when DJing.
---------------- FINAL THOUGHTS --------------
I do enjoy owning this subwoofer, despite the particular annoyances of keeping the volume at a semi-reasonable level. My experience during movies and music is absolutely more than acceptable, and to anyone that enjoys quality of sound, over quantity (volume), this subwoofer will fit quite nicely in your mid sized home theater. Although its cabinet could have been made from better materials (and a slightly larger cabinet would make the claim of 20hz more acceptable and feasible) the subwoofer is a great performer at this price range, especially now since you can find an online deal for well under $200.
I had a gift card at Best Buy and I needed a sub so this was the natural choice; better than everything else they had there except for maybe the 12" Klipsch sub which was much more expensive. I have used it for home theater and have been very pleased, it can rock the house during movies when it needs to.
Recently I have been using it to supplement a two channel system with Magnepan MG12 speakers and it hangs in there pretty good. Not as fast as the Maggies but I don't think it's a liability and it fills in the bottom end. Just set the variable crossover frequency to 40 hz and turn it up to about 3 and it takes care of the bottom octave without drawing attention to itself.
solid performer, no complains. I have a yamaha receiver and had a tough time finding a good sub that can handle the LFE I wanted.The sound is simetrical and can be distinguished not muddy or felling apart like.No distortion below 40hz, The bass blends with any kind of speaker and perfroms very good with music too. This is the best sub in the $300 price range. If you want a better sub go ahed and sped $700+ on a high end sub. But if you want a sub well constructed that sounds really good in the $300 give this one a shot.
This one is a solid performer. I own a yamaha receiver and had a tough time finding a good sub that can handle the LFE output i wanted. This one gives solid bass with no distortion, low frequency lows are well felt. I've tryed other subs finding that the only the hig end $700 + subs gave the LFE I wanted until i find this one. I tested on HT set up and craked on the volume with only deep bass that was felt all over the house. it will blend with any speaker type or size.Overall this one is the best in the $300 price range.
This sub was bought as a replacement to a cheap 6.5 inch sony sub (which happened to be remarkebly good). What attracted me to this LFE was the price point at under $200, the power of the amp and the fact that Yamaha said it could go down to 20hz. I have mixed feelings about this sub. For the msot part this sub performs well in all situations during music and movies. I sometimes feel like the bass sounds a little fake while listening to movies and is just a moaning roar with little definition which could just be the movie soundtrack. For music, which is what I mostly use it for, the performance is very good. The bass that it produces is musical and is not just one noted like some cheap subs. It also has adequit amounts of power and head room for what I use it for. It can competentanly reproduce very low frequencies although I think that Yamaha exagerated the responce numbers. For the most part the bass seems controlled and apropriate. At high volumes the sound becomes quite boomy and the woofer seems to overpower the small cabinet. It also does not shake the room to the extent of other subs I have heard. The looks of this sub are very ordanary resembling a black cube. In all this is a good sub for most music and movies, but does not work as well during high volumes.