by Ryan Abeling
Subwoofer Technology Continues To Evolve For Better Application Placement
The Wentz Concert Hall’s sound system is flexible, amplifying and moderating sound to meet the needs of the situation, thanks in part to Four Bag End D18E-AD subwoofers.
Subwoofers are often overlooked in an audio system, paradoxically, as their absence is most keenly felt by listeners who are used to the solid low-end found in commercial cinemas and home theaters. As demand for subwoofers increases in more applications, manufacturers have made significant advancements in subwoofer technology so contractors can place these products in more discreet and unique installations.
Danley Sound Labs president Mike Hedden has seen a lot of advancement in subwoofer technology through his company, most recently with its innovations in tapped horn technology. “The tapped horn, which is what all but one of our subs are equipped with, is the most significant improvement in years,” he said. “For the same cubic volume you’ve got 8-10 dB more sensitivity compared to the vented approach, where you lose power.”
Over at Bag End, the design of subwoofers is unified in its approach. Jim Wischmeyer, president of Bag End, explained, “We make a wide variety of sizes and shapes, but all our subs have the same frequency response. The response is very wide, from 8Hz-95Hz, so you don’t need to go lower or higher. Our systems are all sealed boxes, and they use the same INFRA processor. Because we make all these different sizes and shapes, you have this tool kit of subs, and if you’re a designer trying to put bass in a room, now you can decide what fits where without worrying about frequency range.”
On the transducer side, D.A.S. Audio has changed the way its power handling is processed. Javier Navarro, head of research and development for D.A.S explained, “We have developed transducers with increased power handling and excursion for less distortion. We also have improved efficiency and component performance. In order to achieve this, we used new materials in our suspension and centerpiece designs. Hence, the voice coils and materials used allow a higher tolerance, which in turn allows higher RMS power in our speakers. D.A.S. has even introduced third-generation class D amplifiers to power our sub systems. These amps use the latest in DSP technology with advanced filters and protection systems.”
Even though technologies continue to alter the quality of subwoofer output, a major issue for contractors is fitting subs into more applications. “Installations have advanced, like people used to never consider flying subs,” said Hedden. “They needed that original boundary because the sensitivity is so low, so they have to pick up the free sound that way. But now, with extreme sensitivity, you can do things you couldn’t do before.”
Selecting the right subwoofer is still essential for any application. Manufacturers all stress the importance of knowing the type of sources you’ll be working with before selecting a sub. Navarro noted, “Integrators should always select subwoofers according to acoustic criteria, examining the frequency range required for each specific project. It is also of utmost importance that the selected sub be the correct one to work with the satellite speaker perfectly within the installation.”
While range and source are both key to selecting a sub, Wischmeyer also believes that it all comes down to volume. “No matter how good a sub sounds, if it’s not loud enough, a customer is going to push it to the point to where it doesn’t sound good.”
SUBWOOFER PRODUCTS 2010
Danley TH 412
The Danley TH-412 "Road-Monster" horn-loaded subwoofer is designed for tour/event/staging customer who wants high efficiency and sub 30Hz performance while delivering really intelligible bass, the type of bass that is rich, deep and loud. There isn’t another sub on the market that offers this combination of compact size, extreme sensitivity, high power handling, and low frequency extension. TH-412 features four 12-inch waterproof drivers and the units can be ordered with handles and wheels for touring applications, or a variety of fly points for permanent installations such as houses of worship, commercial theaters, live music venues and high-end home theaters. All Danley speakers come in a weatherized finish as standard. Powered versions are also available.