January 22, 2009
| by Steve Guttenberg
Subwoofers are the Rodney Dangerfields of audio: They get no respect. Sure, they make bass, but the speakers are the star of the show. Today, most sub manufacturers succumb to the pressure to make ever-smaller models, and while I’ve heard some impressive sounds coming from the better baby boomers, full-size subwoofers like RBH Sound’s 1010-SEN/R Signature Reference are in a different league.
What can I say? Size still matters.
How big is it? The 1010-SEN/R Signature Reference ($1,999, plus $924 for the amplifier), is large enough to make a strong impression, visually and sonically. It’s 30 inches high, 13.25 wide and 18 deep. The subwoofer features a pair of newly developed 10-inch aluminum woofers that can easily fill large home theaters with deep, room-shaking bass. The cabinet’s rounded corners and clean lines lend a contemporary appearance to the design.
RBH offers “powered” and “passive” versions of their Reference 1010 Series subwoofers. Powered subs have built-in power amplifiers, and passive subs rely on external amps. My review sample was the latter type, so RBH sent along its SA-400 rack-mountable subwoofer amplifier that is 19 inches wide, 4 high and 14 deep.
The amplifier’s connectivity covers all the bases (or basses). You get line- and speaker-level inputs and outputs; in most cases, hookup will involve just one interconnect cable plugged into the sub’s line-level “LFE” input. The 400-watt amplifier has all of the necessary filters and crossover adjustments required to blend the 1010-SEN/R Signature Reference’s bass with your speakers.
I used the “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” Blu-ray disc to exercise the 1010-SEN/R. The scene with a tanklike vehicle chewing a path through the dense jungle’s plants and trees brought out the 1010-SEN/R’s muscularity. But a great sub elevates the entire system’s performance, and my Dynaudio Contour speakers handled the film’s soft-to-loud dynamics with greater ease.
With the Rolling Stones’ concert Blu-ray disc, Shine A Light, the 1010-SEN/R dramatically heightened the horn section and background singers’ contributions on “All Down the Line.” Oh, and Charlie Watts’ drum kit really came into its own, I could feel each beat of his bass drum, and Watts’ floor tom thwacks, normally blurred by lesser subs, were startlingly vivid here. Best of all, the Stones rolled a lot harder with the 1010-SEN/R on the job.
There were times I felt, literally, that the 1010-SEN/R’s grip on the lowest frequencies wasn’t as detailed as I would have liked, but power delivery was never an issue.
The RBH 1010-SEN/R Signature Reference subwoofer’s low-down palpitations and fabulous, room-filling undulations will have a transformative effect on the sound of any home theater.