Chase Home Theater Dual VS-18.1 and SHO-10 3.2 Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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Dale Rasco
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Chase Home Theater Dual VS-18.1 and SHO-10 3.2 Review

Chase Home Theater 3.2 Review
Dual VS-18.1, Dayton SA1000 and SHO-10

When I first got the word that I would be reviewing the Chase Home Theater SHO-10 High Efficiency Monitors and the dual VS-18.1’s in a 3.2 configuration I was both excited and concerned because I have noticed that Chase fans can be a fairly rabid lot and that there would be no mercy if I got this wrong. However, I could not let that deter me from what needed to be done as our forum members here at Home Theater Shack can be even more brutal and unforgiving at times so nothing less than an honest and objective review would be acceptable. Well, here it goes…

All of the speakers came on a single pallet. The packing materials within the sub boxes were a bit lacking when compared to other manufacturers as there was no fitted foam nor were they double boxed. However, that is mainly due to the size of these bad boys. The VS 18.1’s are not just huge, “They’re GYNORMOUS!” to quote Buddy the elf. The lack of proper packing materials was not that big of an issue as Chase Home Theater did not send the equipment via normal shippers like FedEx or UPS but an over the road carrier who obviously takes a lot more caution when hauling cargo as they all showed up in perfect condition.

Fit and Finish:
I am going to make a statement here that will be a recurring theme throughout my review. Chase Home Theater gear, in my opinion, is not at all your typical home theater speaker manufacturer. These speakers are made for performance, not to win a beauty contest. I have been trying to find a parable to describe them and I think the best description I can give would be to compare them to a muscle car. If Paradigm and ML’s were European sport/super cars like Ferrari and Lamborghini, then Chase would be a Shelby Mustang GT or a Dodge Challenger SRT8. The finishes are matte black which doesn’t look bad, but they are not going to win over your spouse either. On the upside, any minor blemish can be easily fixed with touch up paint. The units come with cloth grills or optional metal grills for an additional $25, which give the speakers a very clean but heavily industrial look that even borders on intimidating. These are the kind of speakers that don’t get “oohs and aahhs’ but rather grunts of manly approval from your friends.

Build Quality:
Chase products, by all outward appearances are built to last. I can’t point to any one thing, but I can point to a combination of things that just spell out durability and quality. For instance, there are no self-tapping screws holding in the woofer as we have seen on so many lower and mid range speakers produced in mass quantity. The woofers are attached using eight (8) 1” hex-head screws and anchors. As you can see in the SHO-10 pictures below, each cabinet is built using ¾” MDF with glued joints and braces and plenty of insulation for the optimal reproduction of audio with as little cabinet colorization as possible. Even the insulation is more of a high quality insulation as opposed to the typical bulk white batting shoved in many speakers.

This is as solid of a speaker cabinet as I have ever seen and is undoubtedly of a much higher quality than I have seen from many ‘mass produced’ big box store manufacturer lines. I don’t mean to spend so much time on this, but there are just so many low quality products out there produced by companies that have opted to take the outsourced manufacturing route that it was really a great comfort to see such a solidly built unit.

Connection and Setup:
Connections for the SHO-10's are a snap via the five way binding posts. The sub connections on the other hand may take a bit more time depending on how familiar you are with using outboard amps. Connectivity for the subs consists of two separate stages. The first is a single standard subwoofer cable between the Dayton amp and the receiver/processor sub pre-out. The second stage consists of connecting the VS-18.1's to the amp via standard speaker cables to each of the subs, but I knew that was coming and had run them prior to receiving the units.

Once the physical setup and connections were made I moved on to the calibration setup via Audyssey on the Onkyo TX-NR3007. Here is where things get a bit tricky with the dual VS-18.1’s. About a year ago Craig Chase mentioned to me in an email, and I am paraphrasing, that his subs required a little more time to dial in than something like my Axiom EP800, but that the results would be worth it. Well the 18.1’s definitely took more time to setup but again, based on that previous discussion, this is something that I was expecting. I started from scratch and even did the sub crawl for the sub placement. I know what position is most effective for my EP800, but that’s a sealed sub and a completely different animal than the Chase HT beasts. Finally after about an hour of trying different placements I was ready so I ran Audyssey and leveled the volume and the results were looking much better than the original sweep I did before finding the sweet spots for the subs. At this point it was getting late so I went ahead and did some minor listening to get an idea of where I was in the process and the results were a little off-putting but I knew I still had some work to do.

Luckily, the next day was Saturday and I was able to dedicate the proper amount of time to finish the calibration. Using REW I was able to identify several spikes and some small nulls that I needed to get out via my DSP1124 in order to get the flattest response possible. I had to use 9 separate filters in order to tame these bad boys and the entire process from start to finish took about six hours, but that includes the unboxing, placement, Audyssey and time to EQ the sub.


Manufacturer's Specifications

  • Two-way monitor system
  • High efficiency
  • Vented enclosure with slotted vent on front baffle
Frequency Response: 72 Hz – 18 kHz +/- 3 dB
  • 1” compression driver tweeter feeding a 90 x 90 degree controlled dispersion waveguide
  • 10” Woofer
  • Crossover Point: 1600 Hz
Impedance: 8 Ohms nominal
Sensitivity: 97 dB (2.83 Volts @ one meter, anechoic)
  • 3/4" MDF
  • Slightly textured, matte black finish
  • Full length cloth grille
Dimensions: 19" H x 11.5" W x 9.6" D (including grille)
Weight: ~28 lbs each
Shipping Weight: ~32 lbs each
Video Shielding: No (matters only for CRT/tube TV's)
MSRP: $395 each

All of the demo material that I listened to was in either FLAC, Apple Lossless or direct from a CD played on my PS3. One thing that I noticed immediately is that the overall tone seemed a tiny bit brighter than I am used to but not painfully so by any means. It just took a little time for my ears to adjust to listening to a different set of speakers. One of the things I find most difficult about reviewing speakers that I, as I am sure most would, have a natural inclination to want to immediately compare the new speakers to my own system and that’s actually a very hard thing not to do. That all being said, I do think that the SHO-10’s do possess a bit brighter tone over many speaker lines. It’s not a bad thing, just something that I noticed.

Dayton SA-1000

Manufacturer's Specifications
  • Class D
  • Class AB output stage for clean, controlled output
  • Rated Power Output: (0.92% THD) 497 Watts into 8 ohms; 950 Watts into 4 ohms
  • Efficiency: 86%
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 98 dB A-weighted
  • Input Impedance: 12K ohms
  • Gain (volume) Control
  • Parametric EQ Frequency: 18-80 Hz
  • Parametric EQ Bandwidth: 0.1-1.0 Q
  • Parametric EQ Level: -14.5 dB to +6 dB
  • Continuously Variable Phase Adjustment: 0° to 180°
  • High-pass Output: -3db @ 80Hz, 12 dB per octave
  • Low-Pass Adjustment: 30 Hz to 200 Hz
  • Bass Boost: +3dB @25 Hz, Q=1.4
  • Subsonic Filter: -3dB @18 Hz, Q=0.8
  • LFE input
  • Stereo LINE LEVEL inputs
  • Manual, auto, or triggered ON/OFF for integration into any automated system
  • Standby mode
  • Toroidal power supply transformer
  • Power Requirements: 120VAC ~ 60 Hz / 230VAC ~50 Hz
  • Patented tracking down converter power supply for high efficiency
  • Sophisticated soft clip circuitry improves headroom and protects woofers
  • Heavy-duty steel chassis with brushed aluminum faceplate
  • Can easily be converted between rack-mount and tabletop configurations
  • Dimensions: 17.5" W x 4" H x 13" D (tabletop configuration)
  • Weight: 20 lbs
  • Based on one-third power duty cycle
  • MSRP: $400

Chase designed the VS-18.1 with the Dayton SA-1000 in mind for power. I can't say how efficient the dual subs would have run with something like an Emotiva or a Behringer, but I do know that the Dayton powers them very efficiently and cleanly with loads of headroom to spare.

DUAL VS-18.1’s

Manufacturer's Specifications for a single VS-18.1

Type: Vented, single driver, passive subwoofer system
Frequency Response: 20Hz – 100Hz +/- 4 dB without any EQ being applied
In-room extension (room and placement dependent): 15Hz or lower
  • One 18”, 8 ohm driver
  • X-Max (not X-mech) is 1.5 inches peak to peak
  • Fs is 19.4 Hz
  • Power handling is 800 watts rms
  • 1" MDF
  • 2" thick front baffle
  • Countersunk driver
  • Slightly textured, Matte black finish
  • Full sized, 40" x 22" grille included
Dimensions: 40”H x 22”W x 22”D
Weight: TBA
Shipping Weight: TBA
MSRP (As Packaged): Dual VS-18.1's with Dayton SA-1000 Amp - $1990

The 18.1’s on the other hand are pretty much unlike anything that I have heard in the same price range. After finally taming the beasts and going for my normal array of demo material, I found the 18.1’s to be absolutely RUDE, and anyone familiar with my reviews or knows me understands that this is one of the highest compliments I can give a sub. These units perform with such authority that at times I could feel my skull starting to cave from the room compression.

Quick anecdote, once I got the subs dialed in and began doing some subjective listening test with ‘Transformers’, my wife came to me and said, “You can’t keep those. The entire first story of the house is vibrating even when there is no shooting or explosions happening.” Apparently the underlying LFE hum during the last 30 minutes of the original ‘Transformers’ was so pronounced that it was transferring downstairs. Of course my response to that was “don’t sit downstairs then…”

So now the big question on everyone’s mind is: (How do they perform?) We are all undoubtedly familiar with the age-old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” well…

Subwoofer Testing Methodology:
There are a lot of testing methodologies out there and a majority of them have their strengths and weaknesses. For my test with the Chase 18.1’s I used a combination of in room and ground plane tests in order to get a more rounded picture of what can be obtained with these subs. Keep in mind that what I was able to achieve in-room will vary from what you are able to achieve in your own room due to room differences, acoustic treatments, EQ, etc.

The frequency response for the Ground Plane test was the result of a 11 second sine sweep from 10 Hz to 200 Hz with the EMM-8 placed two meters from the center of the woofer. The in-room test results used a 5 second sine sweep from 0 Hz to 200 Hz with the EMM-8 placed in the listening position. Chase Home Theater’s published Frequency Response at 1 meter BEFORE room / boundary gain: is 20Hz – 100Hz +/- 4 dB and in-room response of 15Hz or lower.

Testing Gear:
  • Dell E6400
  • IBF-Akustik EMM-8
  • IBF-Akustik MP-1r
  • IBF-Akustik SC-1
  • REW

Reference Gear:
  • Onkyo TX-NR3007
  • Sony PS-3
  • Apple TV
  • Apple Mac-Mini
  • Wyred4Sound Mini-7

Results and Impressions

Test Results

The measurements were taken from a single sub sitting on a concrete surface in the middle of a parking lot with the nearest structure being well over 100 feet away. I ran the Dayton power off of an APC 3000 SmartUPS plugged into the 110 outlet in my truck. The EMM-8 was placed two meters from the sub, as you can see below.

Setup Images

Frequency Response
UPDATED: I add the frequency response below on 3/5. It was the first chance I had to recreate the conditions that were present during the earlier sweep. As you can see, the results are much more in line than the previous fiasco. I found two things wrong with my setup on the previous sweep.
  1. My original measurement was taken after I took the max output readings and I still had the volume set as such thereby causing the sub to distort.
  2. My mic placement did not correctly account for the port measurement. I initially set the mic on the ground however, this time I placed the mic halfway between the port and the driver.

Group Delay




Max Output at 10% THD Threshold
I took measurements at 20Hz, 25Hz, 32Hz, 40Hz, 50Hz, 63Hz, and 80Hz. I took these measurements at a distance of two meters and pushed the volume until the sub hit 10% THD. I will be posting some more measurements at 1 meter in about two weeks when I take measurements for several subs and posting in the subwoofer forum.

Click the Spoiler button for the REW notes from each individual frequency

20 Hz
65536-point spectrum using Rectangular window and no averaging
Input RMS 104.8 dB
Distortion at 20.1 Hz, -16.8 dB FS based on 8 harmonics:
THD 10.3978 %
THD+N 17.8690 %
2nd harmonic 6.1275%
3rd harmonic 4.9729%
4th harmonic 1.5518%
5th harmonic 5.0335%
6th harmonic 0.7714%
7th harmonic 3.3197%
8th harmonic 0.5737%
9th harmonic 2.4797%

25 Hz
65536-point spectrum using Rectangular window and no averaging
Input RMS 109.2 dB
Distortion at 24.9 Hz, -12.4 dB FS based on 8 harmonics:
THD 10.3469 %
THD+N 13.5767 %
2nd harmonic 6.2372%
3rd harmonic 7.9082%
4th harmonic 0.7784%
5th harmonic 1.1143%
6th harmonic 1.0262%
7th harmonic 1.3103%
8th harmonic 0.7049%
9th harmonic 0.7073%

32 Hz
65536-point spectrum using Rectangular window and no averaging
Input RMS 111.9 dB
Distortion at 32.0 Hz, -9.7 dB FS based on 8 harmonics:
THD 10.1465 %
THD+N 17.7388 %
2nd harmonic 4.9034%
3rd harmonic 8.7128%
4th harmonic 1.2614%
5th harmonic 1.0977%
6th harmonic 0.1425%
7th harmonic 0.2564%
8th harmonic 0.2232%
9th harmonic 0.2525%

40 Hz
65536-point spectrum using Rectangular window and no averaging
Input RMS 116.8 dB
Distortion at 39.9 Hz, -4.8 dB FS based on 8 harmonics:
THD 9.8350 %
THD+N 14.6519 %
2nd harmonic 6.7166%
3rd harmonic 5.7050%
4th harmonic 2.5732%
5th harmonic 1.8927%
6th harmonic 1.3640%
7th harmonic 1.9382%
8th harmonic 1.1534%
9th harmonic 1.3842%

50 Hz
65536-point spectrum using Rectangular window and no averaging
Input RMS 115.4 dB
Distortion at 50.0 Hz, -6.5 dB FS based on 8 harmonics:
THD 10.0908 %
THD+N 28.0294 %
2nd harmonic 5.7472%
3rd harmonic 6.8447%
4th harmonic 2.1389%
5th harmonic 3.2743%
6th harmonic 0.3300%
7th harmonic 1.8531%
8th harmonic 0.8813%
9th harmonic 1.5259%

63 Hz
65536-point spectrum using Rectangular window and no averaging
Input RMS 115.8 dB
Distortion at 63.1 Hz, -5.7 dB FS based on 8 harmonics:
THD 10.2653 %
THD+N 13.8368 %
2nd harmonic 9.6407%
3rd harmonic 3.1247%
4th harmonic 1.4080%
5th harmonic 0.6767%
6th harmonic 0.2789%
7th harmonic 0.3129%
8th harmonic 0.1646%
9th harmonic 0.1660%

80 Hz
65536-point spectrum using Rectangular window and no averaging
Input RMS 116.7 dB
Distortion at 80.1 Hz, -4.9 dB FS based on 8 harmonics:
THD 10.0677 %
THD+N 11.0830 %
2nd harmonic 6.0271%
3rd harmonic 6.7835%
4th harmonic 0.6705%
5th harmonic 3.9176%
6th harmonic 1.0061%
7th harmonic 1.3547%
8th harmonic 0.1667%
9th harmonic 0.5871%

In-Room Before EQ

The first sweep I took for in-room was not EQ’d, calibrated and before any of the placement changes were made. What you are looking at is the result of putting them in the front of my room, turning them on and leveling the volume with the rest of the speakers.

In-Room After EQ

As you can see from the responses above, the 18.1’s perform within the published responses but take a look at the ‘In-Room After’ response. It doesn’t even take more than a -5 dB hit until it is between 8 and 9 HZ! That is ridiculous! For someone like me who can’t get enough of hard hitting, chest thumping, intrusive bass, this was an absolute treat and I know it won’t be long before I finally get a pair myself. Of course I have to get my brides approval first…

Subjective Listening:

Ozzy Osborne: Miracle Man
I have always thought Miracle Man was one of Ozzy Osborne’s most underated songs that never garnered the respect it deserves. It was put out at a time where most Ozzy fans were still reeling from Ozzy’s dismissal of Jake E. Lee as lead guitarist. For me it was a return to form for Ozzy and an abrupt turn away from the more commercial friendly and ‘Glam’ centric noise of The Ultimate Sin, and Miracle Man was the embodiment of this statement. Zakk Wylde’s effect laden and thick sound blasts from the speakers with authority before being joined by the rest of the rhythm section into a heavy, chugging rhythm that is classic Ozzy. The sound coming from the SHO-10’s is sheer bliss as the speakers reproduce the song with as perfect rendering as I have ever heard with a sonic accuracy not found in any other speaker I’ve heard in this price range.

Doobie Brothers: Long Train Runnin’
Long Train Runnin’ is one of my favorite Doobie Brothers songs. The catchy guitar riff in the beginning blares with a punchy yet clean and well-balanced tone that has a fabulous groove. Again I found that the SHO-10’s performed flawlessly. In less than a measure of music, the rest of the band kicks in and what follows is another perfect balance of bass, congas, drums, guitars and harmonica that just groove right along. The tone was excellent with no particular instrument standing out but rather an excellent mix of all working together. Probably my favorite of all the music I listened to while reviewing these speakers.

Akon: Right Now
Right Now (NaNaNa) has become one of my favorite songs for testing speakers and subs due to all the different tones available to the ear in it. There is no doubt that the bass is there and can be downright intrusive. There is also a wonderful myriad of mids and highs available that blend perfectly together to make this song a staple for subjective listening tests. The SHO’s paired with the 18’s reproduce the song wonderfully. I did find the tone to be a little bright than what I am used to but not enough to cause any annoyance, it’s just something I noticed and needed to reprogram my brain for; overall a great reproduction of a great song.

Basstronics, Bass Mekanik: Bass I Love You
Ok, I thought it would be funny to crank this one at the beginning and see my wife’s expression; of course those kinds of things always seem like a good idea until I actually do them. Let’s just say her and I don’t always agree on what’s funny and leave it at that. ‘Bass I Love You’ is probably one of my favorite pieces for subjective listening where bass is concerned because it can deliver some skull crushing compression in a room that will bring a big smile to my face every time. This particular listening session of this song was by far the most brutal I have ever heard and I loved it! I’ve played it for several friends and neighbors and the result is always the same: “That’s insane!” Truly one that must be heard to be appreciated.

For movie reference I will defer to some of the Bluray reviews I have done recently in which I have been using the Chase setup with my Axiom surrounds for the full 9.2.

Cowboys and Aliens

The audio fares only marginally better than the video and is just as impressive as most other films that have been recently released. This is an extremely dynamic and very well balanced 5.1 DTS-HD-MA presentation. The imaging is wonderful as horses gallop off the screen and exit through the rear surrounds. Voices on and off screen are directionally prefect and add a lot of depth to the overall experience. The action sequences are engaging and flawlessly executed as gunfire, alien weaponry and even ambient sound as the action draws to a close are all brilliantly presented. The surround presentation is a bit slow to get started as it is more dependent on the action to really take off and dialogue is very clear, crisp and textured. One thing that stood out to me was the amazing score put together by Harry Gregson-Williams. From brilliant guitar pieces to a truly inspiring composition that plays with a long vast shot of the landscape as our heroes prepare to do battle with the alien invaders, the entire score was truly remarkable.
The Thing

The 5.1 DTS-HD-MA is pretty good but nothing to write home about either. I found a couple of spots that the audio was almost piercing and I needed to turn down the volume a touch. This was mainly in the beginning when the team discovers the spaceship. The audio is fairly dynamic but falls a bit short in terms of LFE. I thought there were some missed opportunities for some really good atmospheric LFE but it wasn’t worth penalizing the transfer; just an opinion. I did think that the surround channels were a bit underused and really didn’t come to life until the third act of the film. The sound designers failed to capitalize on the creepiness factor of ‘The Thing’ itself by not better utilizing the surround channels for those things that go bump in the night. Dialogue reproduction was about as perfect as I have ever heard and directionality was exceptional. The score was basically the same as from the 1982 classic that was written and performed by John Carpenter and added a great nostalgia factor to the film.
Conan The Barbarian

The 7.1 DTS-HD-MA presentation is a tad more impressive than the video. LFE growls, shakes and tumbles through the subwoofer as entire structures fall apart on the screen. The pounding of the ocean against the ship is equally impressive as the thud coming from the sub shakes the room. There is plenty of surround activity thanks to all of the battles and a constant bombardment of magic that keeps the scenery moving and the landscape changing. The score is epic and blasts from the speakers with authority breathing life into each scene. Dialogue reproduction is superb and directionality is perfectly placed throughout the film which really lends to a couple of creepy scenes. Overall this is an outstanding audio presentation and it’s a shame it was wasted on such a monumentally bad film.
Overall Impression:

As I mentioned early on, these speakers are not the most aesthetically refined speakers out there. They’re not going to win any awards for clarity, response or any other performance related, yet oddly subjective driven awards that are out there. But I will say quite candidly that they do represent one of the best values available on the market today. Let me clarify this a bit because I am not talking about budget speaker companies; I am talking about Internet direct speaker companies, big box store companies and everything in between. The performance of the SHO-10’s can easily keep in lockstep and even surpass many of the offerings from Klipsch, Definitive Technologies and B&W at a fraction of the cost and there is not a subwoofer that I think can compete with the 18.1’s performance at MSRP. Now that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything left to consider. For instance, it could take a considerable amount of time to get the 18.1’s dialed in and sounding right and they do sometimes run a bit ‘throaty’ when compared to sealed subs. These are the type of subwoofers that you legitimately ask yourself “Am I doing long term damage to the structural integrity of my home by testing War of the Worlds?”

Those that are new or just novice’s of home theater may want to do some more research before jumping in and buying the 18.1’s due to the confusion that an external amp can cause for those who are unfamiliar with outboard amps. Additionally, those that are unfamiliar with taming bass via an external EQ, Anti-Mode or enhanced EQ functions found in Audyssey XT-32 may want to hold off until you have a better understanding of what all is involved with dialing in these monsters. But I assure you boys and girls that if you have the ‘know how’ and are in the market for a new sub, there is unquestionably no better value in my mind that will yield this much brutal, thumping, crushing and absolutely uncompromising bass as the Chase HT VS-18.1 even at twice the cost.

Highly Recommended

Please use the Chase Home Theater Dual VS-18.1 and SHO-10 3.2 Review: Discussion Thread for Questions and Comments!

Yes the rumors are true! We will be giving away this awesome setup to one lucky Shackster! Details forthcoming very soon so stay tuned!

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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Last edited by Dale Rasco; 04-30-12 at 08:30 AM.
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