Review: Emotiva X-Ref 12 Subwoofer

Small and flexible bass unit


Review summary:
The X-Ref 12 is representative of the next evolution in Emotiva’s powered subwoofer line and comes equipped with many upscale features such as built in DSP that is controlled via a top mounted LCD screen with a rotary push button knob, balanced XLR connection, and two fully adjustable bands of parametric EQ to address room response issues or adjust to suit listener tastes. The X-Ref 12 has a solidly built, well finished sealed enclosure with a hand rubbed lacquer finish. The 12″ driver is a robust piece with a 3″ voice coil and double stacked magnets which is controlled by the 600 watt highly efficient amplifier. Being a sealed subwoofer with a very small form factor the X-Ref 12 does not have subterranean deep bass extension or herculean output capabilities, so it should perform better in smaller spaces. But, it operates with rock steady reliability and always sounds clean and composed while doing so. Considering the bargain cost of only $599 shipped to your door for a subwoofer that does all of the above and the generous 5 year warranty, the X-Ref 12 offers a lot of bang for your hard earned buck.

My initial thoughts on the X-Ref 12 are that it looks to be of high quality and well built. It is what I would consider a small subwoofer. The weight of the X-Ref 12 at 44lbs unpacked is light enough for one person to easily move it without worrying about giving oneself a hernia. The finish was a smooth and uniform black that looked classy and understated. One thing that I would’ve preferred is a grill that is rounded or blends into the cabinet profile better. Still with that minor caveat aside the overall product is well finished, small and good looking.

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Emotiva has produced a polished and affordable sealed subwoofer with the X-Ref 12. At the reasonable price point of $599 with free shipping to your door, it offers a lot of features that are rare in this price bracket including: XLR input and output, DSP control and 2 bands of fully adjustable parametric equalization. The finishing and parts quality is very nice as well with a robust amplifier and driver combined inside of a solidly built, inert enclosure. The warranty is also very generous and the protection circuitry prevents any possibility of damage or even making the X-Ref 12 emit an obviously “bad” noise.

There are a few misses here as well. The response rolls off very rapidly below 30Hz and the option to cross the X-Ref 12 over higher than about 100Hz is limited by the upper frequency roll off. The result is a somewhat limited effective bandwidth. Being a small sealed subwoofer it also has very real limits on how much output it can provide. The protections and limiting that Emotiva has dialed into the X-Ref 12 keep it safe and under control no matter the situation though. Certainly the driver itself never seemed to be near or past its limits even during outdoor testing of maximum output which is far more strenuous than typical use.

Read the complete review here at Audioholics and comment in the forum here.


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