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Old 11-05-12, 10:14 AM   #1
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Dale Rasco
Since: Apr 2009
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Power Sound Audio XS15 Review


Power Sound Audio XS15
By Dale Rasco


Power Sound Audio is the product of Tom Vodhanel and Jim Farina. Both Tom and Jim spent several years designing and driving subwoofer innovation at SV Subwoofers (SVS). Headquartered in Mineral Ridge, Ohio, Power Sound Audio's vision is to design products that exceed their customer's expectations and provide best in class customer service.

Now I have to be honest, I am not all that familiar with Tom or Jim’s work at SVS as they were finishing up just about the time I was really getting back into home theater. That being said, a quick search was able to net several results some of which dating way back to the turn of the century. Yeah, did you like how I worked that one in? Seriously, Tom’s reputation for being a master of his trade is out there for all to read.

Features
  • Proprietary, USA assembled, 15" high excursion driver
  • Patented digital hybrid PS BASH® 500W amplifier with DSP control
  • American made, highly durable, black textured finished cabinets

Aesthetics
The XS15 is a down-firing sub. The unit measures 19.5” x 18.5” x 20.75” but it never feels that big for some reason as it blends into the surrounding décor nicely, well at least from a 'basshead' perspective anyway not so much from my brides perspective. The finish is a flat black sand texture and can slip into just about any corner unnoticed very well.

Build Quality
Assembled in the USA, the XS15 is a very well constructed sub utilizing 1" MDF baffles and a 1.5" base and weighing in at a solid 73 pounds. Now, when I say well constructed I actually mean ridiculously solid. The 1” MDF makes a huge difference compared to many typical 3/4” cabinets out there as the XS15 just never feels very hollow comparatively to other subs.

From left to right: 1) Opening the sub 2) Corner 1" MDF 3)Driver from top 4) Driver pic 2



Manufacturers Specifications
Spoiler

Driver
  • Power Sound Audio proprietary 15” driver
  • High excursion capabilities (2" peak to peak)
  • Optimized motor using Finite Element Analysis (FEA)
  • Low carbon steel motor structure for optimized flux flow
  • Aero vented pole geometry for quiet operation and efficient cooling
  • Triple stack of Y35 grade magnets
  • Reinforced curvilinear kraft pulp cone
  • Rubatek foam surround
  • Twelve spoke aluminum frame for a rigid foundation
  • Flat wound copper coil on a black anodized former allowing for effective heat dissipation and rigidity
  • Single poly cotton semi-progressive, high excursion spider
  • Fatigue limiting designed, forty-eight tinsel count lead wire
  • Assembled in the USA

Amplifier Specifications
  • Amplifier Power: 500W RMS (continuous), 1000W Peak (dynamic)
  • Amplifier Topology: PS BASH® - Patented hybrid amplifier uses best of Class D and Class AB
  • Precision analog control through DSP (digital signal processing)
  • Inputs: Left (LFE) and Right RCA connections
  • 0o to 180o Continuous Phase Control
  • 40Hz-150Hz/LFE Variable Crossover
  • Off/Auto/On Selector
  • Voltage: 100-120V/220-240V~50/60Hz (6.3A) with auto-switching
  • Stand-By Power: Less than 1W
  • Temperature sensing protection
  • Driver voltage monitoring with DC offset protection
  • Driver current monitoring with overload, short circuit, and load protection.
  • Primary voltage monitoring to control dynamic and average power limits
  • Soft limiting protection
  • Frequency dependent compressors
  • Energy Star compliant

Enclosure
  • Sealed enclosure
  • Down-firing driver
  • Super durable, black sand textured finish
  • Precision machined CNC panels for perfect fit of all components
  • 1” thick MDF baffles and 1.5” thick MDF base
  • Dimensions (D x W x H): 19.5” x 18.5” x 20.75”
  • Weight: 73lbs
  • Made in the USA


Setup and Placement
I was in great position this time to test these particular units in a couple of different areas thanks to Jon over at The Audio Insider who recently sent me a new DANA 5 channel 630i set to review and being paired with the XS15's was a great match! The receiver I had to use for this area (game room) does not offer any type of auto-calibration tools such as Audysey or ARC, but I was still able to tame the peaks via my Behringer DSP1124. Of course this took me a bit of time but the end result was a fairly flat response. You can see in the measurements below the type of room gain I was able to benefit from on the low end in this area. This room plays very well to the XS15s strengths and I decided that this was the best place to do my subjective listening tests.

I did setup the XS15s in the Temple of Boom as well and Audeyssey did a good job of taming the bass for the most part, but I still needed the Behringer here as well to tame some of the peaks. The other issue is that the size of the room is not very conducive to playing to the XS15s strengths.

See How the XS15 Performed in The Sub Zone


In Room Measurement
The measurement below was taken from the center of the room using a single XS15, my Galaxy CM140 and using the REW SPL calibration tool to the default 75db. I was running through the receiver with the crossover set to 80 Hz and measured 10 Hz to 100 Hz.



Subjective Listening
In true 'two birds with one stone' form, I went ahead and set the cross-over to 100Hz so I could give the XS15's a little bit of a workout. This also enabled me to setup with the recommended room size rather than trying to pressurize The Temple of Boom. One of the things that immediately stood out to me was the precision of the XS15. While I admit that it is not necessarily the tightest sub I have ever heard, it is easily on par with slightly higher priced subs. The 'attack' is where the XS15 really stood out to me. The XS15 has a quick impact and I could not audibly hear any artificial 'boom' from the cabinet over resonating.

Music
Avenged Sevenfold - Nightmare (CD)
Crossed over at 100Hz, the XS15 was going to have to work for it when listening to the heavy and progressive song. Mike Portnoy provided the drums on this CD for the band and precision is always the order of the day when this madman is behind the kit. The XS15's did a fine job of providing a tight and impactful response. The solid bassline in the song comes across in a low 'pluck' that really thickens up the delivery quite nicely.

Bullet For My Valentine - Waking The Demons (FLAC)
Yes, I was in a heavy metal frame of mind as I had a long day and needed to get out some agression. Besides, the XS15 can land a punch in your chest that would kickstart your heart if necessary. It was nice that the XS15 could keep pace with such precision and maintain a musical feel. This was a very tight response and I really enjoyed it.

Adrenaline Mob - Undaunted (FLAC)
Adrenaline Mob is a heavy metal super group made up of members of Symphony X, Disturbed and former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy. This is just a great full throttle heavy metal band and Undaunted is the epitome of what Adrenaline Mob is all about. With thick, heavy guitars, throaty vocals and thunderous drums 'Undaunted' is the type of song that gets better the louder you play it. The XS15's once again delivered a with almost surgical precision. Very tight with formidable impact.
Movies
Hitman(Blu-ray)
There is a chapter on the Hitman Blu-ray titled ‘Storming the Hotel’ in which Interpol tries to corner Agent 47. The scene is great demo for this type of setup because it has a great explosion to kick things off that really pops and then fades into a nice low rumble. The gunfire in this movie was audibly designed to be very impactful and is another good test for precision. I thought that the XS15 responded as expected and I could not detect any issues with the presentation. What I did notice when comparing the XS15 to some other downfiring subs such as my old Outlaw LFM Plus is that the dispersion was not as specific as the Outlaw. In other words I could not audibly detect where the bass was coming from.

Transformers (Blu-ray)
One of my favorites for the longest time and for the foreseeable future is the summersault scene in The Transformers. This is just a fun scene to listen to and it kicks off a barrage of nonstop action and an onslaught of low frequency goodness. Again the XS15’s were up to the challenge and I was pleasantly surprised by the depth at which the bass was reproduced. This room is not particularly advantageous to being pressurized by the bass, but it was not sorely missed either.

War of the Worlds
Ok, we all knew this one was on tap right? The more and more I hear War of the Worlds emergence scene, the harder it is for a subwoofer to impress me with reproducing the scene. While the XS15 reproduces the earthshaking and rumbles very well, I found it falling a little short when the tri-pod stands up but 16Hz can be tricky to hit with authority for subs costing twice as much. Additionally the room and receiver have to be taken into account as well.
Rasco’s Wrap
So how do I rate the XS15’s? Well there are several things that have to be taken into consideration and put into perspective. Performance for instance needs to be graded comparative to the XS15s class. It would be unfair to compare it to say a DXD 12012 or the SB13. But when compared to other subs in its range, such as the Emotiva X-Ref 12 DSP, the Axiom EP-350, etc, I would say that the XS15 represents a great value when I apply a simple cost versus performance formula based on the measurements.

What really stands out to me is the XS15s ability to reproduce music. Just listening to some simple bass lines that fall below 100 Hz and hearing how ‘musical’, for lack of a better description, that the XS15s are speaks volumes to just how hard Power Sound Audio must have worked on designing this thing. Do not get me wrong, as with all subs, placement is critical and the size and shape of a room can, and will, drastically impact the results. It took me a bit of time to get the XS15's 'dialed in' but I am used to doing that type of thing on a regular basis so there was no huge loss. So the question for me became much less about whether or not the Power Sound Audio XS15 represents a great value at $749 and infinitely more about how the next class of subwoofers will compare to the XS15 and can justify the higher price.

It will be exciting to watch how Power Sound Audio develops over the coming years and what innovations that Tom and Jim come up with as they continue refining their processes. I cannot speak to their customer service to any great detail, but judging by the company’s responsiveness to any of my queries, I very much believe that Power Sound Audio customers are in for a real treat. The XS15 represents an excellent value and it definitely seems like Power Sound Audio is off to a great start! I highly recommend anyone shopping for a new subwoofer to look into the XS15 and Power Sound Audio!




Please use the Power Sound Audio XS15 Review Discussion Thread for Questions and Comments!


Regards,
Dale Rasco




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


Dale Rasco and Temple of Boom REDUX

Shiva 12" Build

Last edited by Dale Rasco; 03-23-13 at 07:41 PM..

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