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Velodyne SPL-1200R Subwoofer Review

by The Review CrewAugust 30, 2010

Velodyne Acoustics is arguably the most well known subwoofer manufacturer in the world.  In the early 1980’s, a Velodyne subwoofer was simply the subwoofer to own.  If you wanted the best subwoofer made, you purchased a Velodyne – end of story.  At that time, the Velodyne ULD Series set the standard in subwoofer design and everyone soon wanted to purchase the big subwoofer that looked like a coffee table.  By the time the 1990’s rolled around, home theater became all the rage and Dolby Digital and DTS, both 5.1 configurations with left front, center front, right front, left surround, right surround, and a separate low frequency effects (LFE) channel for deep bass, almost made owning a subwoofer mandatory.   Subwoofer demand grew, but subwoofer cabinet size began to shrink.  Companies like Velodyne started to design compact subwoofers with output levels that matched or exceeded past larger designs.  Velodyne’s engineering ability and brand-name recognition allowed it to give consumers what they wanted by developing a complete product line of compact, high-output subwoofers like the Velodyne SPL-1200R.

Setup

As I unboxed the Velodyne SPL-1200R, I was immediately struck by the quality of this subwoofer’s beautiful, black lacquer finish.  At a mere 57 pounds, it’s definitely no heavy-weight in subwoofer terms.  At 14 inches high by 14 inches wide by 16 inches deep, it’s quite petite and its small size is downright shocking for a 12-inch subwoofer.  The front panel has a black cloth grille that is removable and has a lighted, blue Velodyne logo.

Setup couldn’t be easier.  I disconnected my current reference subwoofer, which also has balanced (XLR) inputs, plugged in the power cord, ran the auto-EQ feature, adjusted the volume with the help of my Radio Shack SPL meter and had the subwoofer woofing within minutes.  I’ll discuss the one button, auto-EQ feature later in the review, but I must say that I found the one button, auto-EQ feature of this subwoofer easier to use than with any other subwoofer I have ever used before.  There aren’t many subwoofers on the market that have this feature, but I found it both invaluable and extremely simple to use.

Features

The SPL-R (Small, Precise, Loud – Remote) Series is available in three different models (SPL-800R, SPL-1000R and SPL-1200R) and all SPL-R Series subwoofers feature a six-band auto-EQ function, with included microphone and a full-featured remote control.  With one touch on the remote, the SPL-R generates its own test tone, analyzes that tone via the included microphone and feeds the information back to the subwoofer.  It then automatically adjusts the 6-band internal EQ to provide and best bass performance in any room, regardless of acoustical variation.  The auto-EQ function is powered by the Texas Instrument Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technology that allows precise management of the subwoofer’s crossovers, slopes, equalization, subsonic filters and distortion limiting circuitry.  Velodyne claims this technology allows the SPL-R Series subwoofers to play incredibly low and loudly, with 70% less distortion than competitive products.

Besides the addition of auto-EQ, the remote control also comes complete with four listening presets for movies, R&B-rock, jazz-classical and games; a four position phase adjustment control; night mode setting which limits the maximum output of the subwoofer for late night listening; volume control and light control.  I found the presets to be extremely helpful when selecting a listening choice, because there are four different presets, consisting of Movies, R&B – Rock, Jazz – Classical and Games.   The presets provide the following characteristics for bass reproduction:  Movies: Maximum output and impact for explosions and other action adventure movie content.  R&B – Rock: Provides the driving bass found in today’s rock music.  Jazz – Classical: The tightest, cleanest, lowest distortion bass.  Games: Maximum loudness available for the impact of video games.

All three models in the SPL-R Series subs are powered by a Class D (digital) switching amplifier delivering 1000 watts RMS and a whopping 2000 watts dynamic power!  The drivers incorporate light, stiff Kevlar-reinforced fiber cones, massive 21 lb. magnet structures (on the SPL-1000R and SPL-1200R), 2.5” to 3” copper wound voice coils and vented pole pieces.  The available finishes are black gloss, medium cherry or light maple.  MSRP for the SPL-1200R is $1,899.

More important than bass quantity, I wanted to listen for bass quality, pitch definition, tightness, accuracy and distortion levels.  This is what many music lovers want in a subwoofer.  With that said, this is a subwoofer review, so I also pulled-out some of the most punishing, teeth-rattling, bass-centric CDs and DVDs I could find to test this subwoofer.

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The Review Crew
The Review Crew is a group of beat editors, writers, and consultants that have been working together for years. They know just about everything about everything collectively and have published their collective work under the Review Crew brand moniker for almost 20 years.

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