Cambridge Soundworks Powered Subwoofer Subwoofers

Powered Subwoofer

12" Woofer

User Reviews (23)

Showing 1-10 of 23  
Isaac Van Wesep   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 26, 2009]

I want to point out that there are two (that I know of) master/slave subs that came out of CSW, and they are VERY different. I think most of the reviews here are for the ones that came with the ensemble system sold in the late 1990s through the 2000's. these were thin-bodied boxes and were really boomy. I have a pair of bigger-boxed, acoustic suspension subs with a 500w amp in the master. these things make serious bass and if you have a preamp with a sub out and you adjust the volume low enough, they are very musical. they are called the PSW 1 and they are great. $240 from a guy on craigslist.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Michael Gutierrez   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 22, 2000]
Strength:

Great price, great performance.

Weakness:

None!

At first, I wasn't a fan of front-firing subs, but the Powered Subwoofer is truly amazing for its price. It could handle tons of demanding DVD soundtracks, and also had musical excellence. Although, in the opening scene of the Arlington Road DVD, during the credits, the sub bottomed out, even after I adjusted the level significantly. It might've been some other discrepancy in my set-up, but overall, the performance was too good for me to complain. The sub is very strong; it rattled my bathroom mirror, windows, and cracks are even forming in the ceiling. Grat sub for the price.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Chad Riley   an Audio Enthusiast [Sep 14, 1998]

I feel this product is way overlooked. I got a great price of 525 on the unit, a like new demo. It does all you could ask. Clean bass, stonger output than the Paradigm or Energy at that price. Very underrated for the money and output. I replaced a NHTSW1p with it without a second thought.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Low Down   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 26, 1999]
Strength:

Good bass for very little money that i paid

Weakness:

An Ineffective volume control range

I have had the powered sub and slave for two years now. They have been modded with floor spikes and the round metal grille has been removed, this solved the problem of the woofers hitting the grille on loud passages. I made snap on cloth covers to keep prying little hands away. This sub can make as much bass as I want in my room for ht(I dont use them for music)and I only paid about $250.00 for both, new when Best Buy closed them out. Great subs for the money I paid.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Karl   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 31, 2000]
Strength:

"Room Shaking Sound". Even at low volume!

Weakness:

A little on the ugly side--and big.

I purchased this as an open box at Best Buy for $250.00. A month earlier, I purchased the slave at Best Buy for $100.00...
I have lived in apartments/condos for the last three years, and for the last three years the slave has remained in its box! The powered woofer is just too powerful by itself. In fact, I hear the bass through my walls even at very low volumes. My neighbors sometimes hear it too.

However, thats where I believe that this woofer shines--at low voumes. You can still "feel" the sound without having to crank it. In that way it sound very lifelike./ You can feel a man's baritone voice much in the same way you can feel a man's deep voice in conversation. The same goes with reports and explosions in movies, they are heard and felt--even at low volumes.

At high volumes, I have to be sure the neighbors are away, because this thing rattles the walls and some of my pictures--literally. When I crank my system, my pictures rattle against the wall, very disconcerting!

Until I move into a house with an acoustically sealed listening room, I think that the slave will remain in its box. I don't need it!

My system now includes HTD (Home Theater Direct) Level Two mains, Cambridge Soundworks Center Channel II, and Cambridge SoundWorks Surround II 5.1. By the way, those Level Twos are great speakers--they work exceptionally well with the subwoofer--better than my Ensemble II's.

Similar Products Used: Cerwin Vega downward firing 12"
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Jim Harrison   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 27, 2000]
Strength:

Volume, price

Weakness:

Cabinet, grille

Based on my listening tests at several hi-fi sound rooms, there is no better sounding sub for the money. I used the powered sub alone for a year and then added the slave last year. I have a good sized room and enjoy home video cranked up. The powered sub alone couldn't handle the room at the volumes I enjoy. I experienced some extraneous vibrations coming from the speaker, both a little rattling of the cabinet and some noise coming from the grille area. With the slave (and the additional wattage the amp puts out with the lowered impedance) I now have more than adequate volume for those occasional transients and few of the problems. I am surprised and disappointed at the amount of cabinet vibration at low frequecies. Perhaps this is the reason for the slightly muddy base line at higher volumes. At moderate and reasonably loud levels the speakers sound great. But when they are stressed, they disappoint. I noticed that my old AR-15's with 12" acoustic suspension speakers in similar sized cabinets put out almost as much base volume (though not as low a frequency) with much less cabinet vibration. Perhaps toouch particle board and not enough bracing in the CSW subs?

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
5
BC   an Audio Enthusiast [Mar 06, 1999]

I've owned this sub for about two years. I've found it to be merely ok with home theater, unacceptable with music. With music it's sloppy and doesn't hold it's own with the much tighter and accurate woofers in my full range left and right speakers. It can go quite a bit lower than my main speakers but distorts easily. Also, I've found that I can't turn the volume of this sub much beyond about twenty percent of max without the distortion getting completely out of hand. I've tried three different ways of running a signal to it, all with the same results. Because of this I question whether there may be a problem. The sub seems to be more sensitve to placement than two other subs I've used. Assuming this is not a defective unit, I can give it just one star.

OVERALL
RATING
1
VALUE
RATING
nopcbs   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 21, 2001]
Strength:

Quiet (litttle or no 60 Hz hum when idle), ample bass for medium-sized rooms, relatively compact, reliable (no break-down in 3 years home use), good extension.

Weakness:

Like any sub, room placement can make or break the "deal" as far as performance is concerned, relatively compact, but it's still big, needs a little oak trim to brighten up its all-black looks -- which I added

This is an "old" model no longer available as "new". It cost $700 when new, by mail, and was WAY over-priced at that price. It was a $500 sub that was sold for $700 because of it's association with designer Henry Kloss. I think a lot of the low ratings it got were because of the price problem. Now that it's a "used" model to buy and sells for under $300, it becomes a screaming bargain if you can find one in nice shape.

Given proper placement (no "in a corner on a hard floor nonsense") and sensible use of the volume control (some people love to over-drive a sub and they all sound like hell then), it provides solid musical bass down to 30 Hz and it does it reliably (as I say, I've had mine for several years and use it daily). It can't do 20 Hz pipe organs, but then if you want that you better have a huge room and a heck of a lot more money to spend on your sub. We use ours for home theater, too, and it works just great. Overall it's a very nice unit that would keep anyone happy who spent the time required setting it up in their room. My value rating is based on buying one used. (Can't get them new, anyway.)

Similar Products Used: Phase Technology Power 12 servo sub
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Steve   an Audio Enthusiast [Nov 12, 1998]

With all the other entries for Cambridge Soundworks, I'm surprised that there's not more mention of the one product they have done well. While their sub/sat systems seem rather mediocre to me (lack of resolution in mids and highs), their powered sub does a bang-up job for home theater and music listening.
I picked up the Powered sub at Best Buys (of all places) as a close-out item. I paid $319.00 for it (a few months earlier I picked up the "slave sub" for $149 at the same store), and I couldn't be happier for the price of admission.

Sure, there is something about the pitch that just isn't as accurate as your high-end subs, and perhaps there's a bit more "overhang" than in your servo jobbies from Paradigm and Velodyne, but the positive qualities are admirable. It isn't super-fast, but it isn't cloddish, either (thanks to the well-designed sealed enclosure).

On nit... without the slave sub hooked up, I could localize the sub too easily (this may be more of a room trait than anything, but I'm of a mind that a third order crossover just isn't enough in most applications). With the slave sub (one sub next to each main speaker), this problem was eliminated. [Yes, I know that the corner is THE place to put a sub in most rooms, but this is only necessary if you need that kind of reinforcement for the bass... with both subs hooked up, I need no such reinforcement - not even for the train wreck sequence in Fugitive at high volume.]

This is indeed one of the most overlooked subs in the industry. What you get from this sub is plenty of clean low bass. I've tested it (with Stereophile test CD and handy-dandy Radio Shack SPL meter) reasonably flat down to 31.5Hz (it easily goes down to 20Hz, but it's down about 6-7dB in my room). These are not close-miked results, these are from my listening seat. The adds are quite correct, you do get "room shaking bass" form this sub. In fact, it does so without strain (especially with both hooked up). I've recorded 106 dB peaks in my listening room without any HINT of strain from the subs (yes, that's with both hooked up). While I don't have a large listening room, I doubt that I'd have any trouble filling in a much larger room with solid bass (in fact, it would probably sound better).

Is the resolution and speed up there with the best subs? No. In home theater, you aren't likely to notice this. In music listening, it becomes a bit more noticable (though only if you've auditioned the best subwoofers and know what you are listening for), but it still doesn't get in the way of the music. It adds solid low-end with decent resolution and pitch, and lots of presense.

If you want lots of effortless bass, I highly recommend buying both the Powered and Slave subwoofers together. While one puts out plenty of bass on its own, adding the slave, at least in my room, evens out the response and sound more "open". The extra couple of bills for the slave sub really does make a noticable difference. If you are patient, maybe you can find them on close-out at Best Buys, or perhaps a Cambrige Soundworks factory deal.

If I judge these on the price I paid for them, I'd give them a full 5 star rating. However, I've been spoiled in my many visits to my local audio emporium, checking out the monster subs (FSR-18 by Velodyne, Paradigm's reference sub, Sunfire True Subwoofer, and other subs costing at least twice what the RETAIL on the CSW sub), so ....

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Tristan Sitzman   an Audiophile [Nov 20, 1998]

The CSW Powered sub is fantastic. It blew away all other subs I have listened to. Very very accurate base response all the way down to 30hrz! For $700 I felt like I was stealing the thing. Bravo on a fantastic piece!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-10 of 23  

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