Some contentious issues will never be resolved in my own lifetime: vinyl vs digital, tubes vs solid state, subjective vs objective, streaming vs physical media.

Also, subwoofers vs no subwoofers in a stereo stereo system.

Setting aside the problems of cost and space and domestic tranquility and considering only the grade of the musical experience, I really believe a subwoofer, or a few, ought to be a basic element of any modern music system.

Whatever the size and selection of yours, loudspeakers-the main ones-are always positioned for optimal tonal balance and imaging predicated on their on-axis frequency response, off-axis dispersion, and the interaction of these parameters with a room’s reflective surfaces. Optimizing low bass presents very different challenges: Resources of low bass ought to be positioned to optimize interaction with low-frequency room modes, which rely upon the room’s dimensions and shape. (Low bass isn’t involved with imaging, and in the reduced bass, “direct sound” isn’t a good useful idea.)

Except by chance or in a few purpose-built rooms-not most of them-there is no common solution to both tasks: no spot that’s best for low bass and all of those other audible frequency range. The addition of subwoofers allows independent answers to a music system’s high- and low-frequency needs: You can position the subs independently of the key speakers, putting each in the positioning that is most effective. The opportunity of incorporating several subs, each a seperate location, increases this advantage.

Smaller speakers with limited low-frequency output can of course take advantage of the addition of subwoofers for the reason that subwoofers’ range extension helps balance the highs for a far more optimal frequency response. Plus, the diversion of low frequencies to (typically powered) low-frequency drivers reduces the strain on the key power amplifiers, that may improve system performance.

Finally, as opposed to passive speaker systems, most powered subwoofer systems incorporate DSP-based equalization in modern subwoofers-so you can now control both frequency response and-by moving the subwoofers around-which room modes are energized the most.

Working from this are mainly practical issues: Powered subwoofers have a tendency to be large and take up space. They have to be connected to the wall-which means a supplementary power cord for every single one-so, all-in-all, subwoofers aren’t that room-friendly. High-quality subwoofers could be expensive-though probably cheaper than comparable extension in a high-quality full-range loudspeaker.

And yet, subwoofers be able to increase the bass to suprisingly low frequencies in a manipulated and musically satisfying manner. High-quality deep bass could make a major difference in the product quality and character of the listening experience.

JL Audio has been near to the forefront of mobile and home subwoofers for many years. The f110v2 I’m reviewing this is actually the smallest model within their most advanced class.

Physical
At roughly 16″ × 13″ × 17″, the f110v2 isn’t large, but via its W7 driver and internal 1.1kW class-D amplifier, it could move a whole lot of air. Its small size can help you employ several in an area, multiplying the output power and, by exciting the area from multiple location, have significantly more control over which room modes are excited, in comparison to what could possibly be achieved by using a single, larger subwoofer of equivalent power. The effect is, potentially at least, a far more even low-frequency response in real-world rooms.

The f110v2 incorporates the most recent, multiband version of JL’s Digital Automatic Room Optimization (D.A.R.O.) processor, which uses internal signals and a provided microphone to improve for irregularities in frequency response that derive from room resonances and the subwoofers’ positions. D.A.R.O. can be utilised independently on each sub, or you can daisy-chain the subs together and equalize le tout ensemble.

As I unpacked the f110v2, I was impressed, as I have already been before with the corporation, by the competence and practicality of the packaging. Even this relatively small sub is fairly heavy, and yet an individual of only average strength can unpack it by inverting the box, sliding the sub onto carpet or a rug, then reinverting it to “walk” it into position.

The f110v2 is impeccably finished. Much like its your government, the f113v2, left and right XLR and RCA inputs are on the trunk, nestled between massive heatsinks. There can be an XLR output to hook up another sub as a slave, two input-mode switches, an IEC-style AC input, and a fuse post.

The normal controls and indicators are in the top of leading panel: power/standby; microphone input; illuminated Demo/Defeat/Calibrate buttons for the EQ; input-mode LEDs; a level-mode switch; the master level control; a switch for dimming or turning off the LEDs; a low-pass filter switch; low-pass frequency/ELF level (footnote 1)/phase controls; and a polarity switch-all behind a sturdy, well-fitting (and removable, obviously) front grille; when lit, the LEDs is seen when the grille is set up.

Since the Fathom series premiered, the EQ spent some time working the same manner. Plug in the provided microphone and press the “Calibrate” button. An LED flashes as you hurry back again to your listening spot and contain the microphone at head level or, when you can, fix the microphone at head position by using a microphone stand. Within minutes, the test tones begin. After a few momemts, the “Calibrate” LED stops flashing and the calibration is performed.

What has changed because the Fathom series’s start is how capable the machine is. Original, v1 Fathoms had an individual band of parametric EQ, which sought to improve only the room’s most aggressive mode. Current, v2 Fathoms, just like the f110v2, have 18 parametric EQ filters operating in a variety from 25Hz to 130Hz.

There’s little doubt or controversy about the features of having several subwoofers rather than just one; tips for placement vary; practical issues have a tendency to play a major role. Like many persons with home systems, placement in my own room was tied to the room’s shape, the positioning of furniture and other audio tracks equipment, and the necessity to have the subs be as unobtrusive as possible-and with an electrical receptacle nearby. Still, I had some options:

I possibly could use one f110v2 on leading wall, located behind and between your front right and center speakers and about one-quarter of the length from the medial side wall;
I could put in a second f110v2 on the left sidewall about one-third of the length from leading wall;
I could put in a third sub in the room’s right-rear corner.
All three, or any two of the above.
An integral issue in the keeping subwoofers is how high up you would like to use them. Research demonstrates sounds below about 80Hz cannot readily be localized; if your subwoofer doesn’t exceed that frequency, the only consideration in placement (apart from the practical considerations mentioned previously) is how they energize the many room modes. But if you are using your sub at higher frequencies it becomes possible to listen to its location in the area, which complicates placement.

With an individual subwoofer create along leading wall, hearing the test tones through the D.A.R.O. calibration, which go well above 80Hz, I came across it simple to hear the sub’s location. When I added the next sub, on the left sidewall, the test tones appeared to come from the complete left wall. When I added the 3rd sub in the proper rear corner, the test tone filled the area, without identifiable source. That last situation is ideal, but I judged the first acceptable: It’s OK to have bass emerging from the portion of the room where the key speakers can be found. I eliminated the two-sub setup from consideration and limited my hearing one f110v2 along leading wall and the three-sub array, arranged as in the 3rd bullet point above.