As a preface to my test I would like say how much I admire and appreciate the work that some of the HTF members do to test subwoofers so that the rest of us can make educated decisions on what we should purchase. I realize that their work requires many hours of charting, listening, testing, and data summarizing. But I thought it would be fun to take a totally illogical and subjective view to see how one subwoofer might fare over another. So, for those of us that have trouble knowing the difference between a THD and an SPL I offer the following HIGHLY technical subwoofer comparison test. So are you…………. READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLLLLLLLLE??!! The Contenders: In Corner #1! Weighing in at 85 pounds with a dimension of 20” wide x 17” tall x 27” deep. We have a VMPS New “Original” sub. This passive sub. has a front firing 12” driver called a megawoofer which is a carbon fiber cone with a rubber surround and a floor firing 15” passive radiator. It has 1” thk. cabinet walls and is finished off in a light oak laminate with a black fabric speaker cover. It is powered by NAD 216THX amp bridged at 400 watts. I bought this sub. about a year and half ago as my first “real” sub. I had considered many brands and decided on the VMPS since so many were talking about well it sounded with music. In Corner #2! Weighing in at 60 lbs. With a dimension of 15 ½” wide x 19” tall x 21 ½” deep we have the new SVS PB-10. This sub also is front firing with an ISD 10” driver and a 3” flared port. This active sub is powered by a built in 300 watt BASH amp. Its cabinet wall thickness is 1” and it is finished off in an attractive black textured finish. I just purchased this sub. about 4 weeks ago after reading all of the rave reviews I just had to see for myself what all the hype was about. In Corner #3! Weighing in at 35 lbs. With a dimension of 12”wide x 13”tall x 17”deep we have a Kenwood H-130. This sub is also front firing with an 8” driver and since the fabric cover is not removable an unknown port. This active sub is powered by a 100 watt amp. It is finished off in a nice black laminate and a 5/8” thk. MDF cabinet. This little guy was my first sub. and has been sitting in a closet for about a year. I have placed in a couple of garage sales but most yard salers don’t know what a sub. is, so I still have it. I bought it not knowing anything about HT except that subwoofers go boom, boom. It served it purpose pretty good but thanks to HTF I have been educated by what a sub is supposed to do. Anyway, I digress. Back to the test. The Ring My family/living/gathering/dance/play/entertainment room is 16’ wide by 20’ long with 9’ ceilings. The floor is hardwood with an area rug in the middle. The entertainment center is center stage on one of the long 20’ walls with 5’ archway type openings to other rooms on either side. On the opposite 20’ wall is a couch and two end tables. To the right of the couch near the corner of the room is yet another opening to a bedroom that can be closed off. Finally, on one of the 16’ walls is a fireplace and two windows, and on the opposite 16’ wall is two high back chairs and a table in-between. For this test, I crammed all three subs side by side along this wall between the two chairs. I used a double “Y” cable to connect each sub to the source only requiring a flick of the subs power switch to change from one sub to the other during the test. The Judges Many reviewers and critics alike preach about how effective (or ineffective) a double blind test is when reviewing components. I thought I would do one better and offer a TRIPLE blind test. That is to have 3 HIGHLY qualified judges to rate the SOUND, not volume, and not pants flapping ability, of these subs. For this test, I employed the best judges that money can buy…… well, my money anyway. That being the case, the following is the best my money can buy: Judge #1; My wife, high school English teacher. Highly qualified critic in the literary arena, Enjoys any type of music from Kenny G to Led Zepplin. Her audio/video abilities include being able to turn on and off the TV without assistance and sometimes the stereo as long as the source is the CD player. Judge #2; My oldest daughter, junior in high school, and highly qualified in the arena of boy friends. She enjoys the “new stuff”, Usher, Creed but also enjoys some of the classic rock that her mom and I play at times. She is somewhat more adept at the remotes than judge #1. She still hasn’t mastered recording a TV show but she can play a CD or DVD. Judge #3 My youngest daughter, 8th grade gymnastics extraordinaire, highly qualified in tumbles, back flips, cartwheels, and moves that I can’t even name. Her music tastes and technical abilities are similar to judge #2, and she is the movie watcher in the family. She will buy a DVD and watch it a minimum of 50 times or until she has it memorized word for word, whichever comes first. The Rules To satisfy even the harshest critic I thought I would verify the “blindness” of the judges to prove that they have no bias in the choosing of the subwoofer sound they think is best. I did this by asking each of them two questions at different times and in different rooms so their answers would not be swayed by the other. Question #1 “What is an SVS?” (Asked before the SVS box arrived on my door step) Answer: Judge #1 “A car part” Judge #2 “ A car” Judge #3 “A car” Question #2 “What do you think a subwoofer should sound like.” Judge #1 “ Clear, with deep sound” Judge #2 “ Like thunder” Judge #3 “ Low and deep, like boom, boom, boom” I am sure I could have asked a third question about what a VMPS is and would get the same answer as in question #1, even though that sub. has been sitting in the family room corner for a year and half. The Music I asked each judge to choose two songs in which there would be quite a bit of bass so we could compare the subs. I provided a grading sheet for each judge with the songs listed on the left hand margin and 3 columns labeled “A,B,C”. I asked each of them to rate the SOUND of the sub by grading it either with a 1,2, or 3 with 1 being worst sound and 3 being the best. On the right margin was a column for comments based on there opinion of the sound. To aid in the comments I provided a list of adjectives to help them describe the sound they heard. Some of these were: boxy, boomy, muddy, dull, mushy, slow, bright, clean, tight, fast. I played part of the song until each judge felt they had a good sense of the bass sound for that song. I then immediately switch over to the next sub and replayed the same section of the song. When switching subs I went through the same motions appearing as though I was turning one sub on and another off each time so that even if the judges were watching me they couldn’t tell if I was switching the sub on or off. They recorded their scores and comments immediately after hearing the third repeat of the song. Each sub was calibrated to the same level with a Radio Shack SPL meter using the receiver’s pink noise. In addition, I also used a Rives Audio Test CD with a built in correction factor to assure that the volume levels for each sub was the same. The volume was agreed upon by the judges( -15 db below reference)before the test and was not changed during the test. The overall sub. setting was below the mains by 3db. Each judge was seated side-by-side on the couch which was approximately 6’ from the subs. The Results I tallied the results of each judge and summarized them based on the number of 1’s(worst) to 3’s(best) . I then multiplied the number of 1’s, 2’s & 3’s by the number if times that each judge scored that sub. SVS 11-1’s, 6’-2’s, & 12 -3’s ….. Total 29 points VMPS 6-1’s, 10-2’s & 7 – 3”s …. Total 37 points Kenwood 3-1’s, 10 – 2’s, & 5 – 3’s ..Total 38 points THE WINNER by a nose………. Kenwood!! Do I agree with this? No. Even though I was one who knew which sub was playing I could immediately tell a big difference in the sound with the Kenwood vs. the other two. The judges I think are like the vast majority of people. They think that loud boomy bass is better bass. That is also why many people who switch from an el-cheapo brand of sub. to a better brand are initially disappointed in the sound. Movies Just for fun I also played the LOTR “The Fellowship of the Rings”(daughters DVD) and forwarded to the Bridge of KHazad Dum section. I raised the volume to -10 db below reference and the overall sub setting to 0 db from the mains and had each judge rate the “WOW factor” of each sub based on how much the couch rumbled during this scene. The scale was also 1, worst, meaning the cat could fall asleep next to the sub to 3 being best, shake the floor, pictures, & couch. I again played this section three times and had the judges record their results. The VMPS … … 3 points The Kenwood … 6 points. The SVS …… 9 points Did I agree with this? No. The Kenwood bottomed out and started making clacking sounds so to me it should have been disqualified. I didn’t listen to the other two close enough to determine a winner for movies. Now it’s my Turn. I didn’t bother to include the Kenwood in my listening test since I knew it would be boomy and easy to tell it vs. the other two. I showed judge #3 how to switch between the two subs. I then selected one of the previously played songs and then left the room so even with my eyes closed I could not tell by sound which sub she was turning off or on. When she had the subs switched she would come and get me. I would enter the room with my head down so I could not see which sub was on. She would play a passage and I would score which sub. I thought was the smoothest and tightest and least boomy. I would leave the room, she would switch the subs, and I would return and listen again. After each of the three songs I would look up and see which sub was playing. My results. Song #1 Winner - SVS Song #2 Winner – SVS Song #3 Winner – VMPS Even though I did not know which sub was playing I had a pretty good suspicion because I had been comparing the two for the past few days so I had an idea of how each sounded. I did note that the SVS sounded more boomy on song #3 but what I determined after my judging was that the VMPS was actually rolling off due to the music having bass in the 20-30 hz. Range making the SVS sound louder than the VMPS. So there you have it. my HIGHLY technical subwoofer comparison test. No THD , no FR, no GR, no decay, no hours of listening tests, just plain ole subjectiveness by highly qualified judges. I now will go stand by the phone and wait for “Sound & Vision” call me for that job offer.