OSD Audio Nero TubeBass 10 Subwoofer: $199
I don’t know about you, but my first thought was “too good to be true” when I saw how much OSD is asking for its Nero TubeBass 10 subwoofer. Turns out, the little canister is a brute that offers ridiculous value for $179, while trading the usual black-box form factor for a 19 x 13-inch cylinder that packs a down-firing 10-inch driver and 400-watt amplifier. This is a subwoofer that won’t dominate the room. But given the low price, it’s also a no-frills design that (unavoidably) lacks wireless connectivity, app control, EQ presets, and DSP/automated room correction. Instead, you get the old-school basics: a volume control, a rotary dial for selecting a crossover point between 30 and 120 Hz, a phase switch, line-level RCA and LFE inputs, and a black-mesh-fabric-covered tube with rubber feet that provide stability and clearance for that down-firing woofer.
For his evaluation, Al Griffin set up the TubeBass 10 in the corner of his 12 x 16-foot home theater and hitched it to a Rotel RSP-1576MKII surround processor feeding Elac Uni-Fi 2.0 speakers and set the Rotel’s low-pass crossover to 100 Hz. Then he ran some test tones and confirmed usable output down to 30Hz before firing up some music. Comparing Bill Frisell’s “Blues Dream” from the CD With Dave Holland and Elvin Jones, Griffin was surprised with “how much bass OSD Audio’s cylinder sub was actually generating in my room” and marveled with how tight and impactful the bass guitar and kick drum sounded on Roxy Music’s “The Space Between” from Avalon on multichannel SACD. The little subwoofer also did an impressive job with movies, adding fullness and punch (sans infrasonic rumbling) to the mayhem in Pacific Rim without audible distortion. What more can you ask from a sub that costs 200 bucks? (Editor’s note: Since the original review, OSD has increased the price of the TubeBass 10 from $179 to $200.)
AT A GLANCE
Compact form factor
Good extension and output
No wireless option
Full Review Here (posted 4/14/21)
SVS SB-1000 Pro and PB-1000 Pro Subwoofers: $600, $800
SVS has built its reputation around delivering impressive performance at budget-friendly prices. To make a good deal more enticing, the company has included its best-in-class app with the super-compact SB-1000 sealed sub and its ported big brother, the PB-1000 Pro. The app makes it super easy to set up and fine-tune the performance of either sub, each of which mates a 12-inch woofer with a 325-watt RMS Class D amplifier. Instead of having to get down on your knees and crawl around to the back of the subwoofer, you can simply grab your phone (and a sound meter) and use the app to adjust a surprising range of parameters from your easy chair.
In addition to controlling volume and setting crossover points or correcting polarity, the app lets you adjust phase, select room gain compensation (to tame bloated bass in smaller rooms) and puts a highly flexible parametric equalizer with frequency and bandwidth (Q) controls at your fingertips. The app also provides three presets and a port tuning mode on the PB-1000 Pro with customized “Standard” and “Sealed” frequency response curves for maximizing low-frequency extension or output.
Switching out his regular SVS SB-3000 subwoofer (our 2019 Top Pick of the Year in subwoofers) for the new models in a 1,200 cubic-foot room, S&V’s resident bass guru David Vaughn was impressed by what he heard and felt while watching The Haunting, which features a reference-quality Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack known for its deep bass. In the scene where protagonist Nell flees for her life while being attacked by the evil spirit, the SB-1000 held its own but the “PB-1000’s ability to go a bit deeper and play louder definitely enhanced the experience with bass that displayed more prominence and heft.” Conversely, while both subs also performed well with music, the SB-1000 Pro had the edge, rendering bass in the tight, punchy manner you’d expect from a sealed design. If you’re looking for good bass for a reasonable price, you really can’t go wrong with either of these subwoofers. (Editor’s note: Since the original review, SVS has increased the price of the SB-1000 from $500 to $600 and the PB-1000 from $600 to $800, both with a black ash finish.)
AT A GLANCE
Deep bass from a small box
Best-in-class control app
45-day in-home trial period
No auto-calibration/room correction
Best suited for smaller rooms
Full Review Here (posted 5/19/21)
OSD Black Trevoce 12 EQ DSP Subwoofer: $600
If you don’t know much about OSD Audio (OSD is short for Optimal Speaker Design), it might be time to start paying attention. We were caught off guard by the clean, deep bass emanating from the $200 Nero TubeBass 10 subwoofer we reviewed last year. This time, we stepped up to the $600 model in OSD’s Black series and were not disappointed. (OSD recently launched a $1,000 flagship featuring 15-inch drivers.) The Trevoce 12 EQ DSP has a lot to offer for 600 bucks: It mates a 12-inch woofer with two side-facing passive radiators, app controllable DSP with 25-band parametric equalization, and an 800-watt amplifier in a manageable 15-inch cube. There are also standard crossover, volume, and phase controls but you probably won’t use them once you fire up the app.
Reviewer Al Griffin subjected the subwoofer to dual torture tests — one in a system set up for music, the other in a home theater dedicated to movie watching. The Trevoce 12 rendered the bass swells on Steven Wilson’s “King Ghost” (The Future Bites) in a clean, dynamic manner and was able to convey the immense power of the deep synth-bass lines on “Valley” from The Orb’s 1995 electronic album Orbus Terrarum. “I was impressed with how much of it I was hearing,” Griffin noted, adding: “I was also able to push the volume to near-uncomfortable levels without losing clarity.”
Movie time was every bit as impressive. When the plane gets hijacked and smashes into a hangar in the 2020 sci-fi action thriller Tenet, the impact was palpable, and Ludwig Göransson’s droning, bass-heavy score was rendered in an appropriately dynamic manner — one that created the extreme tension the composer was no doubt going for. If you like the idea of nuanced performance from a subwoofer with an arsenal of controls that lets you really dial in the bass, the Trevoce 12 EQ DSP is well worth a look and listen.
AT A GLANCE
Deep bass from a compact design
DSP and app control
Control app not user-friendly
Unreliable auto on/off function
No wireless connection option
Full Review Here (posted 1/26/22)
Bluesound Pulse Sub+ Subwoofer: $749
With its Pulse Sub+, Bluesound offers a bigger and better take on the Pulse Sub we reviewed in 2017. For starters, it doesn’t look like a subwoofer — a trait sure to please décor-conscious system builders. Its trapezoid-shaped cabinet is slim enough to slide under a sofa or end table or you can stand it on end (as shown below) using a second set of rubber feet that attach magnetically and provide vibration relief. If you want to get really fancy, you can even mount the Pulse Sub+ on the wall using the supplied bracket. The sub is available in black or white and operates wirelessly when used with Bluesound products such as the Pulse Soundbar or Powernode 2i streaming amplifier; otherwise, it has a line-level input for integration with any system. Like many new subwoofers, there’s no remote — setup and control are handled via the BluOS Controller app, which makes it easy to adjust volume, phase, delay, crossover frequency, and more.
Regardless of where you put the Pulse Sub+, this very unsubwoofer-like bass module will rock your world with a 150-watt smart amp/digital processor and 8-inch driver combo rated to rumble down to 22 Hz (±2 dB). Testing its might with the spectacular Amazon Olympics opening scene from Wonder Woman 1984, reviewer Al Griffin reveled in the sound of driving drums, thundering horse hooves, and the pounding bass in Hans Zimmer’s score. Turning to music, he was equally impressed with how the Sub+ “deftly handled the relentless deep bass, synth patches, and exaggerated kick drum” in 1984’s “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. “Its 150-watt amplifier and 8-inch driver provided substantial amounts of bass, and its DSP kept the sound precise and controlled.”
AT A GLANCE
Impressive kick from a slim, elegant cabinet
Extensive control via smartphone app
No remote control
No auto-calibration/room EQ feature
Full Review Here (posted 2/10/21)