Most active subs on the market are pieces of under-designed junk that are sold for convenience purposes only. There are exceptions to this rule, but.... Sean
If I can add...I would buy a used Vel HGS 18.But you then still have issues of room modes which Aerial Acoustics trys to fix with an on board parametric.I feel you need a full parametric,digital or analog.And that plate amp...for 4500.00.Do you know what kind of bass management system you could build with 5000.00 .You would never look again for another sub .I am not putting my nose in the air and saying mine is best and yours stinks, I'm upset that manufacturers charge way too much for not much at all.I think I should market my system.
Ah, I agree the prices on many "audiophile goods" are unconscionably high compared to the production cost. But hey if someone wants to think that an amp, or CD player or even a cable is worth the money for the parts put in then well the rest of us will be eating the scraps because everybody will be pandering to those fools even if I can afford such an expence. Ah the folly of capitalism and no I'm not a communist. Someone tell me why a Gryphon amp is worth what it is worth considering that the difference between that and a $2000 amp is at best a matter of degree? Someone could make a killing if only they would make a $2000 amp that was really worth that much. The problem as I see it is that someone will be taken and lynched for not believeing that 20k amp sounds better than a 2k amp. Ah, but money talks.
What it took to get performence in my system and past systems was individual parts assembled through trial and error.The end product is far from some ,"all in one box sub".Their ability to deliver spl's at a full 20-90hz always failed and the whole system suffers from it's inability to do its job.That is why when I hear a new guy looking for reference quality in a one box system I think back to what I was looking for and hope my advice doesn't fall on deaf ears.And not that a 30,000 krell sub would be fun to play with there is no way it took 30000.00 to get reference quality.Yes,I am jeolous of disposable income of that scale.
A TRUE reference LFE channel is hard to find. The best is the PMC XB-3. This is the sub most truly serious mastering and recording facilities use. Most of the recent large scale movies are recorded and mastered with the big PMC systems and the XB-3 is the LFE channel of choice. Nothing else really comes close. It is big, it is expensive at about $11.5K with a Bryston monoblock amp, it takes about 2 months to have one built...but it is without parallel and has credentials that no other LFE speaker system has.
Beyond that...the James EMB-1500 is damned impressive in our showroom, besting all comers below the big PMC's.
Very doubtful you could build something that would "put it to shame". I've heard countless home builts and while they are usually very good...they all miss critical elements such as the transient snap. Keep in mind...this thing is not only capable of deep bass...it is also squeaky clean up into the 350hz range since it can also be mated to the big PMC BB-5 reference monitors as an additional woofer section. Try putting a 350hz signal thru most really large subwoofers and watch them absolutely fall apart. Think that doesn't make a difference? You would be wrong. The amount of tuning required to build this big transmission line monster would take the average builder months. It took PMC several years of development to get every element right and produce a piece capable of 124 db of clean, fast, tight, tuneful and fist of god powerful bass from 14hz to 350hz. Keep in mind, that price also includes a $3000 power amp to go with it. While you could spend less, I've found there is nothing better to mate with it.