Velodyne DD Plus: New King of the Jungle?

Category: Speakers

I've had the new Velodyne DD15 Plus now for about a week. I've had and heard plenty of subs, always looking for that magical moment where you are immersed in the music in its fullest range, uninterrupted by separation and unwanted resonances. Subs are difficult to judge; it depends on how well their sound can be blended with the system in use. And there's always that artificiality of tone the listener is fearing to detect, so my expectations were tamed as I set the thing up. My gear is simple, some of it is not the finest in the world but performs amazingly well for what it is, and I've heard lots.

I set it up on a stool about 8 inches off the floor, with plenty of padding to isolate it from the wooden floor(I'm funny about isolating stuff from wooden floors but it seems to sound better). It was placed diagonally, near a corner of the room. I put on some Diana Krall and roughed dialed it in. I have to say that right out of the box, not broken in and not EQ'd yet, the DD15 Plus and walls of my listening room just disappeared and left me with my jaw in my drink. I was in the concert hall with her. This sub just may be in a league of its own.

About an hour later, my wife came home. I was playing some Allman Brothers and upon walking in she exclaimed, "Something's different; did you get something new?" I was dumbfounded. Luckily it was covered up and in the same place the old one was so she didn't see it. "What Do you mean?" I mumbled. Later I confessed to her about the purchase. When asked about the sound, she said that when she walked in (45 feet from the sub), the whole house had "an atmosphere" to it and she thought "there was a live band in the living room". Now that's music to my ears!

Even as it was with the factory settings, it would have been good enough. But of course I ran the auto EQ with the microphone, video connection to my TV played the tone sweep CD it came with.

With one push of a button on the remote the DD15 plus began listening to and adjusting itself. Five minutes later it had analyzed my main speaker's low frequency output and matched their cutoff to its own, set its low level output and frequency responses to the contours of my room, set its crossover parameters, phase and parametric filters. The result was a very flat response line across the range on my TV screen. The crossover points were showing up as little dips, varying no more than -3db. It started rolling off gradually around 160db. I could have gone further with fine tuning the EQ manually but didn't need to.

Back to Diana Krall. Same effect only this time, the whole experience was smoother and more seamless. I realized its not only that the DD Plus gets completely out of the way, but it has a very organic and natural * tonality *; significantly more "real" IMHO than any other sub I've heard. I played some rock, blues, jazz and samba with the same effect. We have an extremely versatile sub here.

I'm using it for music in my stereo system so I don't need that much power. This is way overkill. However, I did play a DVD (Wall-E) on the surround system with it in place and again, it made the room disappear and put me right there in the action, everything not being lifted out but rather enhanced with detail I've never heard before. I felt like this sub could take me anywhere sonically. And the kicker is that the volume was at about 25% of its 3000 watt capacity.

I'm running Harbeth Super HL5's and they're extremely fast, detailed speakers with tons of naturalness. The DD15 Plus kept up and possibly exceeded them in velocity. For fun, I set the crossover on the sub to its highest point (200hz) and adjusted the volume. The instruments timbre and tonality were filled in with more detail and their stage presence more placed. Wow! This is one fast sub, full of natural tonality, detail and can put you right there in the musical event.

I can't wait until it breaks in -

I look forward to other fellow AG'ers who have far more experience, different gear, more brains and better ears than I do to give their opinions on this amazing piece.



Odyssey Extreme SE monoblock amps
Odyssey Candela tube preamp with Mullard ecc82 long plates
Harbeth Super HL5 main speakers
Velodyne DD15 Plus sub
all IC's and cables custom made UP silver over OFC
custom 12 gauge pure copper wiring from meter
customized and treated listening room

David Weinhart, Weinhart Design, LA
Klaus Bunge Odyssey Audio
Alan Shaw, Harbeth Loudspeakers, UK

All are IMO, among the very best in the business and phenomenal to deal with.

I've been enjoying a pair of Super HL5s for the better part of a year -- without a sub. I find, overall, that a sub is not needed with them. The bass is just enough 99% of the time. Once in a while there's a song or album where the bass is a bit lacking; but, just then, another song or album will provide just the right amount of low end -- not thumping, not muddy.
I thought the same thing when I got my Super HL5's. They do so well at bringing forth the detail, from bottom to top end and with so much naturalness. I love the way the cabinets resonate, sending musical nuances out which end up surrouding the listener. It really does sound like you're in the event, much more than speakers with highly dampened cabinets. Its just a different design and it works for me.

What also works is to have a good sub which can really help to make your listening room and gear disappear, leaving you in a deep, dark and open stage on which the performance happens. The Velo DD Plus does this and at the same time (when set to its higher crossovers) fleshes out the low to lower mid textures in the instruments and vocals.