Lava LSP12 Subwoofer Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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Dale Rasco
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Houston, Tx
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Lava LSP12 Subwoofer Review

Lava Subs LSP12

Lava Subs is a relatively new company founded by a group of experienced audio engineers who have been in the industry for decades. Lava’s stated mission is to provide quality sounding, high performing subwoofers at a wholesale price.

The LSP12 was delivered double boxed and hosts a 12 inch cellulose composite woofer in a front firing position. The cabinet has dual 3 inch ports that measure 10 inches each positioned directly under the woofer and whole cabinet is glued together on all of the edges. The amplifier is a 250 watt Lava branded plate amp that has all the common features for crossover, volume, LFE RCA input as well as speaker terminal connections.

Published Specs:
Speaker Type: Powered Subwoofer
Enclosure Design: Front-firing, front-ported
Driver: 12" coated cellulose composite
Power: 250 watt internal amplifier
Frequency Range, Lowpass: 22 - 200 Hz (+/-3dB) boost: 13dB @ 40Hz
Frequency Range, LFE: 24 - 400 Hz (+/-3dB)
Sensitivity: 200mV @ 250W
Crossover: 40 - 200 Hz continuously variable low pass
Inputs: Line level RCA, speaker level
Cabinet Dimensions: 18 7/8" [479 mm] H (including feet) 13 3/4" [350 mm] W 16 3/8" [416 mm] D (including grill and amp)
Grill Material: MDF frame w/ black speaker cloth
Available Colors: Black vinyl, lightly textured
Price: $338 Shipped

The cabinet itself is constructed of ¾” MDF with a black vinyl laminate finish and feels very solid. The corners are rounded for aesthetic purposes and the front grill is basic black speaker screen material stretched over a frame.

When I removed the driver, I was surprised to find that there was no additional bracing for the woofer itself. The lip on which the sub sits and attaches to is actually the same ¾” MDF routed to accommodate the subwoofer’s placement making the lip around .37 inches in thickness. Most people I know drive their subs very hard and having built my own sub, I can’t see it performing as adequately through some of the more grueling punishment I have subjected my subs to however; it is important to recognize that this is a budget sub and shouldn't be measured against subs costing twice as much. That is also not to say that the LSP12 doesn’t have an audience in our forum either. Pictures of the open cabinet can be seen HERE and HERE.

Setup and placement was relatively easy as this sub does not weigh much compared to my Outlaw and Shiva DIY. I took several measurements in two different locations. The first was on a concrete slab in the floor of my garage as to diffuse the risk of the test being contaminated by room extension. The second was in my home theater room to the left of the center. I also took another measurement running the LSP12 through my Behringer DSP1124 and setting various filters to compensate for room deficiencies.

One of the hardest things about reviewing this sub was around what my expectations should be as opposed to what I think a sub should do. I definitely wanted to give it a workout however; being a budget sub, it would also be unfair to expect it to perform at the levels my current subs perform. I felt the best way to achieve my goal was to test the LSP12 against Lava’s stated specs.

In-room frequency response measurements were taken using Room Equalization Wizard utilizing a Galaxy CP-140.

Data Analysis:
The specs state that the frequency response is 24Hz to 200Hz so I measured 20Hz to 250Hz using Room Equalization Wizard. I used three separate mic placements to verify the response and found that the same was true at ½ meter, one meter and two meters. I had the initially connected to the LFE and found that the one constant was that the roll off started at about 50Hz which then continues to drop 15 db on its way to 24Hz. After scratching my head a bit, I decided to try the Low Level Input and discovered that there was about a 13db boost on frequencies below 50Hz however; for the purpose of this review I went back to the LFE which is how most consumers will connect the sub.

This first result shows the measurement from the garage floor and reflects the 15db roll-off that I mentioned earlier.

This second graph shows the sub in the floor of my home theater with no filters set on the DSP1124.

The final graph shows the response after setting the filters on the Behringer. This gave the LSP12 a much flatter response as well as boosted the lower end quite nicely.

Subjective Listening

Reference System:
For testing I used my Onkyo TX-NR3007 and a combination of Apple TV, Sony Playstation 3 and ASUS EEE Box 1501U running Windows 7 for sourcing the material from.

Music Reference:

Liquid Tension Experiment Universal Mind
Universal Mind is one of my all-time favorite songs to test bass with as it has great punchy bass but avoids the over processed, electronic thump that is so common these days. Tony Levin’s bass line half way through the song is powerful by itself, but coupled with Mike Portnoy’s drums it offers a perfect balance of low and mid bass. The results were very pleasing to the ear and I couldn’t make out any discernable distortion as the progression built faster and faster. The LSP12 carried the lower end very well.

Bass Boy I Got The Bass
This one on the other hand presented a few obstacles for the LSP12. This is all about over processed/electronic bass and while the LSP12 kept up with the music, there was some chuffing going on when I turned the mains off and played it at 90db. Most of this material is very low for music, somewhere south of 30Hz, and is the kind of thing you would here inside your house as a teenager goes down the street in his tricked out corolla. Still, this did have me concerned for some of the other tests I had planned.

Movie Reference:

War of the Worlds (2005)
I can't think of any better subwoofer test than the emergence scene from War of the Worlds. There is a ton of bottom end waiting to be explored from the ground shaking to the alien craft placing its leg firmly on the ground. The port chuffing was again present when I had the volume up at my designated reference level but could not be heard when the mains were on.

The scene I tested here was around the firefight near the end of the movie when Ironhide does the summersault over the lady in the middle of the street. I believe that sweep goes down to about 30Hz and I could not hear an issue with the chuffing there even with the mains turned off. The rest of the scene was fairly impactful as the LSP12 did its best to keep up with the rest of the system.

Finding Nemo
Darla’s tap scene is another must for testing the subs and I found a similar scenario that I had found with War of the Worlds in that the chuffing did exist, but could only be heard while the mains were off.

Summary and Recommendation:
The bottom line is that the LSP12 is a budget sub and as such there are certain things that need to be taken into consideration. I have no problem recommending this unit, and I have actually, to those that are just getting their feet wet with surround sound or that just absolutely can not afford to spend a lot of money on an expensive setup. I think that overall the Lava Sub performed very well for the price point. The bass is impactful and low as long as there is plenty of room extension to help it over the hump. Yes there is some minor chuffing but it really isn’t noticeable unless you are looking for it and are not running the mains. I did find that if the LSP12 was unable to go low enough to accomodate a particular frequeny, it would gracefully bow out rather than struggle and give the familiar mechanical "clank" that we have all heard from time to time. Let me be clear, this isn’t a replacement for any audiophile subwoofer however; you would be hard pressed to find a subwoofer at this price point that performs half as well. I actually sold the original giveaway LSP12 that I used for testing to an executive at my company and we now have a brand new, never been used unit in a box for our giveaway that we will announce soon!

I think it is important to mention that Lava seems to be very dedicated to customer service and resolving any issues that may come up as well. Lava has had some problems with UPS delivering damaged product, but I have seen definitive evidence that Eric Mortensen from Lava Subs has been there every step of the way to answer questions, address concerns and assure customers that they were addressing the issue and were going to take care of the problem and replace any units that were damaged. He was also very responsive to questions I had during the review process. I even know of one instance where they cross shipped a unit so the customer had his replacement as soon as possible. I think that speaks volumes about Lava's dedication and commitment to their customers and to their product.

Please visit the Lava LSP12 Subwoofer Discussion for comments and questions.

Dale Rasco

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." -Thomas A. Edison

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lava , lsp12 , review , subwoofer

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