Salk/Rythmik 15 With Dual 15" Passive Radiators Subwoofer Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

 
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Salk/Rythmik 15 With Dual 15" Passive Radiators Subwoofer Review

Salk/Rythmik 15 With Dual 15" Passive Radiators

By Jim Wilson (theJman)




Introduction
The subject of this review is the Salk/Rythmik 15 With Dual 15" Passive Radiators. That's quite a mouthful -- and seems more like a description then a model number to be honest -- so what is this thing really called? That is the name Salk Sound uses, a fact I personally verified with Jim Salk just to be certain. For the sake of brevity though I'm going to call it the SSR15 (Salk Sound Rythmik 15") from here on out, primarily because that will be a whole lot easier for me to type.

The SSR15 is a down-firing subwoofer that utilizes dual-opposed 15" passive radiators on each side of the enclosure. Speaking of the enclosure... this is a fairly large subwoofer, measuring in at 25.5"x19.5"x28" (HWD, including feet). The size isn't the only substantial part though; the SSR15 weighs approximately 170 pounds! I say 'approximately' because it was too big for me to maneuver onto a scale, so I had to extrapolate the weight by subtracting the pallet and packing material from the shipping weight listed on the waybill that the trucking company used (they said the total shipment was 195 pounds).

The Rythmik amp Salk Sound uses is the H600PEQ3, which is rated at 600 watts RMS. There is no frequency response for this model listed on Salk's website. Actually, the SSR15 receives little more than a cursory mention by Salk Sound; there are no specifications or pictures to be found.


Ordering
The SSR15 retails for $1,895 when covered with the satin black paint that the review unit wore. Salk Sound is akin to most ID (Internet Direct) companies -- in as much as they sell directly to the public -- but they aren't absolutely typical of the breed. For example, most of what they sell is hand-made, which means you can have almost any finish or configuration your heart desires. These folks strike me as craftsmen really, people who eschew mass produced speakers in favor of old world values. Want proof of that fact? They have an on-line Order Tracking indicator which shows what stage of construction your particular speaker/subwoofer is in.



Can't do that if you sell equipment made overseas. Still not convinced Salk Sound goes about things differently? While gathering information for this review I was unable to find anything regarding the warranty or in-home trial period on their website, so I got a hold of Jim Salk directly and asked about his policies. Here's what he told me...

If you have a problem with one of our products, we make every effort to insure that it is fixed. The way we look at it, you purchased a stellar audio experience. And if there is something that interferes with that experience, we want to fix it. So that is basically our warranty policy. If you have a problem, it is our problem and we make every reasonable effort to resolve the problem, even if the customer is at fault (blown drivers, for example). So we feel our policy is the best in the industry.

In terms of an in-home trial period, with a standard finish, you have 30 days in which you can return the speaker or sub for a refund. With custom finishes, this is obviously not possible. But in those cases, we will actively help you sell the unit. Over the years, we have had almost no returns. But once and a while, a customer orders a speaker that does not really fit his/her needs. And even with custom finishes, we have been able to find new homes for those speakers with little difficulty.


None of that is paraphrased either, it's a direct word-for-word quote. While his statement might strike some as ambiguous, and be a potential cause for concern, let me point out that this man has been involved in the speaker business for years, so it's not as though Salk Sound is some white-van fly by night outfit. His reputation means everything to him, so it's unlikely he would do anything foolish and sully that.


Unboxing
At almost 200 pounds in shipping trim unpacking this monster will require the assistance of a few friends, so be sure to have them lined up beforehand. Since I live alone now there was a lot of creativity involved for me to do it by myself. I can only imagine how much fun it will be to repack the SSR15 when it's time to ship it back. Oh joy.

For me the whole experience started when someone from a trucking company (not UPS or FedEx home delivery, which I'm more accustom to) wheeled a pallet down my driveway with a huge box strapped to it. That was the first moment I began to think "what on earth did I get myself into?". The pallet had a sheet of luan laid on top of it, creating a perfectly flat surface to place the subwoofer on. The box containing the SSR15, which was strapped directly to the pallet, appeared to be hand made from a single sheet of cardboard. That, in turn, was protected by a few layers of shrink wrap plastic encircling everything. There were several sheets of 1" hard styrofoam insolation used between the subwoofer and the inside of the shipping carton, most of which appeared to be custom cut to fit specific parts (like the passive radiators or amp). Somebody at Salk Sound must have spent a lot of time constructing the packaging they used.

The SSR15 was wrapped in a thin foam sheet, taped securely on all sides. In spite of the obvious care Salk Sound took to ensure the SSR15 arrived in one piece a few chips were evident in the finish. That was probably no fault of there's; one of the bottom slats on the pallet had been completely ripped off during transit, so the whole thing was able to rock back and forth freely. It was evident these folks wanted their subwoofer to arrive intact, but it seems fate stepped in and had other ideas. Because the driver is down-firing -- and the feet are not installed during shipping -- Salk Sound packed the SSR15 upside down, with the driver facing up, so the part of the cabinet that got dinged was actually the top.

The only accessories were a power cord and the same single page amp information sheet Rythmik supplies with their own subwoofers. Nothing else was included.


Impressions
Large and heavy. Actually, large and heavy is more accurate. That was my initial sentiment when I first tried to wrestle this beast into place, and by the end of my time with the SSR15 that proved to be the same impression I had. Another overriding thought centered around the word 'impervious', as in this thing has the structural integrity of a bank vault. Frankly, I think John Dillinger would have been out of business if bank vaults had been made like the SSR15. I can only recall one other subwoofer built as solidly as the SSR15 is. If The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) were a subwoofer this is the one he would be. The SSR15 has zero flex and zero resonance, regardless of how hard the driver and passive radiators pulsate. It is a widely held belief that a subwoofer without a solid cabinet is almost useless because the panel resonance will noticeably color the sound. Apparently Salk Sound believes in that axiom because the SSR15 is about as inert as you'll likely ever encounter. Unfortunately all that structural integrity comes at a price because this thing weighs a ton (OK, so 170 pounds is perhaps more accurate). Moving the SSR15 around is a two man job, unless you're a complete lunatic like yours truly.

The fact that it feels almost hewn from solid granite wasn't surprising -- after all, Salk Sound is acclaimed for their wood working prowess -- but what did catch me off guard was the aesthetics. Or, in this case, the lack there of; basically, the SSR15 is a big square box, almost entirely devoid of personality. There are no round-over corners, no sumptuous curves, not even an emblem to break up the stark appearance. I find this really quite odd. A quick look around Salk Sounds website reveals some of the most exquisite finishes and magnificent wood working you may ever see on speakers. That ideology seemingly didn't extend to the SSR15 though, where it appears function won out over form. A rock solid cabinet is certainly the best way to build a subwoofer, but a little more time in the "wind tunnel", as it were, would certainly help in the aesthetics department.

Although it may not be the most pleasing subwoofer to look at, there's no question this cabinet is inert. It's not only braced but cross braced as well. The exterior walls of the enclosure are an impressive 1.5" thick, while all the internal braces are 1". They even went so far as to smooth the edges of the internal braces. Considering how few people ever see the inside of a subwoofer that tells me Salk Sound takes great pride in their work. There was perhaps 1 lb of loose fill polyester stuffing inside. Supporting all this heft were the largest feet I have ever seen on a subwoofer. Silver in color, and about the size and shape of toppers on the posts of a 19th century canopy bed, these things could probably support a tank. Given the weight of the SSR15 one could almost say they actually were.

The 15" driver, passive radiators and electronics are essentially off the shelf parts. Rythmik chips in their top of the line DS1510 driver and H600PEQ3 amplifier, while CSS (Creative Sound Solutions) contributes a pair of APR15 passive radiators. These are all highly regarded components, so the foundation is certainly there for excellent performance. If you were a DIY (Do It Yourself) person the parts required to build an equivalent configuration would cost roughly $1,000 -- not counting the MDF, glue, hardware, paint or ancillaries -- so the fact that Salk Sound is only charging an additional $895 for their cabinet and assembly work is truly remarkable. It would take quite a few hours to construct, assemble and paint this subwoofer, so when taken in that light $895 strikes me as an incredible bargain. Interestingly, the driver and PR's were flush mounted while the amp wasn't. Another peculiarity is that everything was held in by wood screws. Given the excursion potential of the driver and passive radiators it would probably be better if everything were secured by machine screws anchored into either t-nuts or threaded inserts. Then there's the grills...

As I came to find out, the ones used to cover the passive radiators could use a bit more attention. The pair supplied with the review unit were not sufficiently deep to accommodate the travel of the PR's. The very first time I played a movie with really deep bass at volume the grills liberated themselves from the SSR15 like corks from a champagne bottle. Pop! It was quite a spectacle to witness honestly; seeing a pair of grills literally take flight and land two feet from the SSR15 was something I won't soon forget. After I reported this to Salk Sound they did send me replacements, but those didn't even fit over the PR's surround so I wasn't able to use them at all. I've been assured that the situation has since been rectified and all SSR15's shipped from this point forward will have revised grills deep enough to handle the passive radiators prodigious amount of travel.

Documentation consists of just the standard single page Rythmik amplifier instruction sheet. Depending upon your alignment Rythmik will include one of two printouts; sealed or ported. What came with the SSR15 was the version for a sealed subwoofer, curious given the fact that the SSR15 uses passive radiators making the version for ported subwoofers seem appropriate (subs with passive radiators are more closely associated to bass reflex designs than acoustic suspension). I'm not sure what the difference between the instructions might be though, so in the grand scheme of things it may not even matter.

The Rythmik DS1510 driver in the SSR15 utilizes a rigid black spun aluminum cone, which is definitely not inexpensive to manufacture. It also has a 3" vented voice coil, large dual slug ferrite magnets, 12 spoke cast aluminum basket, woven tinsel leads and 1.2" of peak-to-peak excursion. Then there's the piece de resistance, servo control.

Servo technology is certainly not new, but the way Rythmik implements it has proven to be quite good indeed. Essential what happens is a sensor monitors the cone excursion and compares it to the original input signal. This information is relayed back to the amplifier in real time so it can be analysed. Any variation between the two results in a correction signal being sent to the driver, mitigating any deleterious audible effects before they reach your ears. The theory behind the technology is such that the sound you ultimately hear will have been 'corrected' before it gets to you, thereby being more precise as a result. I could elaborate further on the technology, but if you want to get a better understanding you should check out the write up Rythmik has on their website. Brian Ding, the mad scientist behind this particular implementation, is widely known for his fanatical devotion to musical purity. Using a driver and amp designed by this man is certainly not a bad idea, but when you couple that to passive radiators from CSS -- another company known for their design expertise -- you end up with an impressive foundation to build from. That's exactly what Salk Sound did with the SSR15, use tried and true components from respected manufacturers. And it worked, rather brilliantly I might add.

The Rythmik H600PEQ3 amp is a splendid bit of engineering, and as the name implies it has 600 watts of power. All the markings and labels are clearly evident due to the vivid white paint and properly chosen font. This version of the amp doesn't have XLR connectivity (you would need the H600XLR for that). For the individual new to subwoofers this amp can be a little intimidating because of the myriad configuration options and combinations you can potential have. For someone like myself -- the person who likes to experiment, tinker and customize -- it's simply ideal.

There's a variable phase control, with an adjustment range of 0-180 degrees. The crossover can accommodate anything from 25-120 Hz, with detents for 25, 50, 80 and 120 Hz. Nice touch. The volume knob only has Min and Max though, but there's is a dot for the mid way point at least. There's an adjustable PEQ (Parametric EQ) with a range of 20-80Hz, along with a boost of 3dB or a cut of as much as 12dB. The 'width' -- which determines how much of the surrounding frequencies are affected by the PEQ adjustment -- is similar to the volume and only says Min and Max on the dial, which isn't terribly helpful either. That's it for the dials, but then come the toggle switches.

You can adjust the LPF (4th order Low Pass Filter, which is 24dB per octave) to be 50Hz, 80Hz or simply use the bass management setting from your receiver. You can turn on or off the Rumble Filter, something used to attenuate the content below 20Hz. There's also a switch for extension, which basically enables you to set how low the subwoofer will play; 14Hz, 20Hz or 28Hz. The lower the setting the less volume capability you have, but the deeper the bass will be. For people who like to feel the very lowest notes they can set it at 14Hz, but in so doing there is a slight loss of total output. When set for 28Hz the output increases substantially, but then you sacrifice the very deepest bass. 20Hz sets everything pretty much in the middle of those extremes. There's one more switch for the Damping Factor, which changes the system Q to either Hi, Med or Low.

The Q setting is, to a certain extent, a gauge of how "accurate" the sound reproduction is. For home theater a lot of people would choose a Low Q, meaning the bass will tend to come across as thick and rich. Great for movies, but not the most articulate and precise setting. Hi Q is often used for music playback because of the superior transient response, yet for some it can sound a bit thin. Mid -- as you've probably already surmised -- is in between the two of those. Now you see why I stated earlier that the Rythmik amp could be intimidating for some, because there are so many potential combinations one can choose from. I only scratched the surface with my explanation of those options too, but while the initial setup might prove daunting for some, with a little time and patience it's actually not that difficult. And the results are worth it, because you can tailor the sound to be exactly how you'd like it.

Inputs on the Rythmik amp consist of dual RCA connectors for Line In and LFE In. The difference between them is that the former allows you to set the LPF (Low Pass Filter), while the latter ignores it and uses your receivers setting instead. There are also Line In connectors if you want to hook a pair of speakers directly to the amp. That enables you to use a receiver which doesn't have its own bass management system. Lastly, there's a 110/220 volt switch, so this power supply can be used both domestically and internationally.

So what about my pet peeve, the auto on functionality? Like all Rythmik amps, it worked flawlessly. Precious little volume was required to wake the SSR15 up, and never once did it go into standby when it shouldn't have.


Listening
My living room is 13x17x8 (1768 ft^3), so it's not terribly large. The main seating position is approximately 11 feet from the subwoofer. All testing was done after the unit had been broken in for at least 25 hours. Why so long this time? Simple; I had a driver and two passive radiators to break in, so I afforded almost twice the amount of time I normally do. Since the cabinet strength of the SSR15 is so impressive let me start with my observations regarding that.

At some point during every evaluation I will place my hand on top of the enclosure in the middle of an intense scene to check how much vibration is being transmitted through the cabinet walls. Rarely have I been impressed with any subwoofer, but the SSR15 proved to be one of the few exceptions. With a 15" driver and a pair of equally sized passive radiators pounding away the amount of vibration I detected was almost imperceptible, even during the most spirited (read: loud and deep) movie test scenes. This enclosure is about as solid and non-resonant as you're ever going to encounter. You could easily use it as an end table, even putting something like a lamp on top without fear of it moving.

My time with the SSR15 proved that the Rumble Filter on the Rythmik amp works quite well. When disengaged the passive radiators would protest a little if the volume was high and the bass very deep. All sounds of distress vanished when the Rumble Filter was enabled, but unfortunately that also neutered the deep bass somewhat. For example, when I ran a sweep of test tones from 10-15Hz with the Rumble Filter Off the SSR15 produced ridiculous amount of bass, but in the process some PR noise was detected. With the Rumble Filter On those same frequencies were almost undetectable, yet there were no unpleasant sounds. Once I established that I set the Rumble Filter On for the duration of the review, along with settings of 14Hz extension and Mid damping. This seemed to provide the best combination of deep bass and articulate sound, while still providing sufficient protection for the passive radiators.


Movies
I run each test scene twice; once while seated in my normal listening position, and then a second time while sitting a few feet from the subwoofer. This allows me to hear it as I normally would, yet also affords me the opportunity to determine if the subwoofer is straining even the slightest bit. Both tests are run at the same volume level, which is slightly above what I would normally use on a day-to-day basis.

While watching movies I came to find that the SSR15 has an extraordinary amount of headroom. Because of that I decided to drag out some of the more difficult movies I own, the heavy hitters if you will. For the most part I played them 5-10dB louder than I normally would, for no other reason than to put all that excess output ability to good use. I actually watched quite a few movies while I had the SSR15 -- a fair bit more than I generally do -- because of how much I was enjoying them. Almost irrespective of the volume level the SSR15 just chugged along with nary a hint of protest.

War Of The Worlds (blu-ray)
WOTW is known for its exceptionally deep bass, so I figured why not blast this one. In short order I came to realize the SSR15 has what it takes to draw you into the mayhem and carnage that is the hallmark of this movie.

I started watching at a scene I haven't used in a while -- Lightning Strikes -- because I wanted to spend a bit more time evaluating this subwoofer. Turned out to be a worthwhile endeavor; there was a fierce "whack" from each strike of lighting as it hit the ground, which intensified as the scene continued. If I'm being honest though... this scene isn't terribly difficult to reproduce, but the next one certainly is.

When people mention this movie in the context of a subwoofer test you can be virtually assured they're referring to Scene 5, where the alien pod emerges from ground for the first time. As this massive piece of machinery burrows out of its underground prison the earth is supposed to be shaking, an effect the SSR15 did justice to in my living room. There was a deep, intense rumble coursing through my chair. With buildings crumbling, pavement buckling and portions of the street collapsing there are a multitude of different sound effects to be heard (actually, they were felt more than heard). Each was rendered distinctly and with excellent definition. After the alien frees itself from the underground lair it starts blasting away with a pair of heat ray weapons. Similar to the lighting strikes these were extremely powerful and sharp, with a very pronounced sound conveying each impact.

Underworld: Awakening (blu-ray)
Seeing as how WOTW didn't really cause the SSR15 to struggle I decided to give UA a try, but this time upping the volume even further. In spite of another 5dB the SSR15 still wasn't fazed, which is saying quite a lot because this movie has some of the most brutal deep bass you're likely to encounter on a blu-ray.

As is my wont I started with the scene where the half-breed child Eve is cutting her arm, mesmerized by the fact that she heals instantly. While talking with her mother Selene -- the movies heroine -- a musical score begins that heralds the arrival of their archenemy, the Lycans. Usually when I'm testing a subwoofer the soundtrack is rather subtle, but in this case it seemed to have more authority. In essence that pretty much describes my entire experience with the SSR15; there was more of everything.

The aforementioned scene culminates in an all-out battle that takes place in the 2nd rotunda, pitting the Lycans and vampires in a duel to the end. During the attack there are several different types of small arms being fired, all of which were forceful when discharged. Selene's automatic pistols were particularly strong, sending ripples of bass into the floor. My notes at this point reflect a sense of awe at the dynamic range of this subwoofer. It's as though there was an almost limitless amount of headroom. Excess headroom (in essence, surplus ability) is a good thing too, because once the battle concludes the huge Lycan makes its first appearance. Having something in reserve proved very beneficial when it came time to convey his presence, enabling the SSR15 to instill the proper level of fear.

Most of the Lycans tower over the vampires but that one in particular is simply enormous, at least twice the size of the others. The soundtrack does an excellent job of creating a sense of his enormity by way of his thundering footsteps and menacing growl. This is quite possibly the most difficult part of the movie for a subwoofer to reproduce cleanly, so what did I do when it got to this part? Why crank it up of course! I twisted the volume knob to 0dB in the hopes of finding the SSR15's limits, but I wasn't able to trip it up. In spite of the punishing soundtrack this subwoofer kept its composure, all the while pouring out amazing amounts of deep bass. Impressive showing, to say the least.

How To Train Your Dragon (blu-ray)
Fairly typical Dreamworks movie, meaning a pretty well fleshed out story, excellent animation and a soundtrack with a lot of complex passages. Also emblematic is the fact that this movie entertains both mom and dad, not just junior, making it enjoyable for the entire family. My girls are grown and on their own now, so I no longer watch movies like this when they first come out, but I do remember the genre fondly. HTTYD, as this one is affectionately known, is widely acknowledged to have some mercilessly deep bass, which is the sole reason why I bought it quite frankly. Turns out to be true -- especially the battle between the Vikings and the dragons toward the end -- so guess which scene I jumped to first in order to test the SSR15?

HTTYD centers around a rift between a clan of vikings and a pack of dragons. The dragons are constantly raiding the vikings village, stealing their food and supplies. As you come to find out, the dragons are themselves hostages to a huge dragon who holds them accountable for all his needs. That part isn't obvious until the (inevitable) battle between the vikings and dragons begins.

The viking leader is Stoick The Vast, who happens to be the father of a less than fearsome boy named Hiccup. Yes, his name is actually Hiccup. Stoick abhors the dragons for what they constantly do to his village, but somehow Hiccup feels for their plight and ends up befriending one named Toothless. Yes, his name is actually Toothless. Naturally there's all manner of subterfuge necessary to keep that little secret from Stoick, but as you probably already deduced it isn't long before their friendship is exposed. It proves to be pivotal though when the vikings confront the dragons on their own turf.

Fed up with the constant assaults on his village Stoick decides it's high time to attack the dragons where they live, so he and all his warriors sail off to the island the dragons inhabit for one final showdown. The dragons are ensconced deep in the mountain however, so the only way to get at them is to heave boulders from catapults and blow a hole in the mountainside. As the vikings pound away at the side of the mountain the SSR15 was able to convey the impacts without breaking a sweat - each time one of the boulders landed there was a deep thud. After several direct hits the side of the mountain crumbles apart, opening a gapping hole that enables all the smaller dragons to fly off and escape. Just when the vikings think it's safe is when Red Death makes its first appearance.

Red Death just so happens to be the huge dragon who has held all the other dragons hostage. Furious about being exposed he barrels out of his hiding spot, taking half the mountain with him. The SSR15 rendered this effect brilliantly, producing a percussive rumble as the subsequent landslide occurs. Ultimately an arial battle ensues between Hiccup/Toothless and Red Death, a fight which culminates in the latter plunging headlong into the ground. The HT forums are abuzz with people claiming the impact from Red Death contains bass so low that it registers in the single digits (less than 10Hz). I can neither confirm nor deny their claims but I can tell you the passive radiators were gyrating wildly when Red Death hit the deck, and that the shockwave produced by this subwoofer was jarring. I mean that in a good way though - you literally felt Red Death crash into the ground.


After all the testing had concluded I checked the amp and found it had gotten pretty warm. Not too hot to touch, but it was to the point where I wouldn't want to keep my hand on it for very long. Note, however, I was running these movie tests louder than I normally would, simply due to the tremendous amount of headroom the SSR15 provides. Had I been using my customary -15dB I doubt it would have been much more than warm.


Music
Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon (SACD)
Few subwoofers will cause me to break out Dark Side with the anticipation I had this time, but what I heard from the SSR15 up to this point made me feel it may be up to the task. Were I forced to choose 5 CD's as the only music I would ever be able to listen to again this disc would absolutely be one of them, so I don't use it in subwoofer evaluations lightly. I'm glad I did though because it turned out to be thoroughly enjoyable.

The famous heartbeat ominously started things off by pounding my eardrums, yet it wasn't the least bit obnoxious. My notes contain words like 'crisp', 'sharp' and 'potent'. The rhythm in On The Run is slick, in as much as the underlying beat gets deeper and has more impact as the song progresses, something dutifully replicated by the SSR15. The open 'e' bass note that heralds Time thundered to life, with waves of bass sent rippling through my chair. The overall tone was spot-on too, making it such that I could almost envision Roger Waters pick hitting the strings.

Throughout this entire disc the dynamics were superb with enough head room to make the really deep bass notes jump out at you, simultaneously rich and detailed. I was able to crank the volume loud enough to (almost) replicate a live show, yet the SSR15 never seemed strained or challenged. I listened to the entire SACD at -5dB, never once feeling the need to turn it down. What a treat.

Bass-O-Tronics - Sub Bass Excursion (CD)
I experimented with the Rumble Filter on this song, just to verify my earlier findings. With the filter disengaged there was a slight 'bump' to be heard during several parts of this song, but turn it on and that unpleasant sound vanished completely (along with a bit of the depth unfortunately). It was difficult this time to ascertain precisely where the troubling sound originated from, the driver or passive radiators, but something wasn't happy on occasion. If you frequently listen to stuff that has very low content -- especially if you enjoy high volume -- I would advise you to enable the Rumble Filter. You can thank me later.

The songs from Bass-O-Tronics originate from the desire of car audio enthusiasts to have demo material they could use during SPL contests, typically competitions to see how loud you can get your stereo to play. By far the most recognized song from this genre is Bass I Love, and it does have some punishing notes that go very low, but I went with Sub Bass Excursion instead because the bass line pulsates almost constantly. That start/stop cadence is very difficult to reproduce with accuracy, and my intent was to try and trip up this subwoofer. Hey, somebodies got to do it.

With Sub Bass Excursion blasting away the SSR15 set my windows to rattling which, when coupled with the vibrations being transmitted through my chair, made for quite an interesting tactile sensation. It was akin to a 4 minute full-body massage really, and yet the SSR15 simply laughed it off. Once I engaged the Rumble Filter I was left with no drama whatsoever, in spite of the fact that there was an awful lot of bass pounding on my eardrums. I would have liked a touch better transient response -- because I sensed a bit of overhang -- but I think this subwoofer may have dislodged one of my fillings along the way.

Jonny Lang - Good Morning Little School Girl (CD)
I started digging through my CD collection, looking for something more complex and challenging to throw at the SSR15, when I came upon the Lie To Me disc. Staring at it for a few seconds I got to thinking 'I actually want to hear that', so I put it off to the side and continued digging for music to push this sub a bit harder. About a minute or two later it dawned on me, 'why not just listen to Jonny Lang?'. These songs don't contain any insanely complicated Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) level of drum playing, nor is there much in the way of complex bass licks of the type Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) might do, but this CD is recorded very well nonetheless. Besides, I really wanted to hear it, so in went the disc.

As a concession for my desire to push the SSR15 I decided to crank the volume all the way to 0dB and just let 'er rip. I made it all the way to Matchbox, which is the 5th song, before my ears starting letting me know it was time to drop the volume to something far more reasonable. In that 20+ minutes of punishment never once did the SSR15 complain, falter or stumble; it faithfully reproduced near concert-level sound in my dinky 1800 ft^3 room without audible strain. Best of all, it sounded really good doing it. The SSR15 never broke a sweat, in spite of the ridiculous volume. The output was consistently accurate, percussive and composed the entire time.


Conclusion
The Salk/Rythmik 15 With Dual 15" Passive Radiators (SSR15) is an awful lot of subwoofer for the money, and I mean that in every sense of the word. About the size of a mini-refrigerator, and weighing approximately what the average male does, makes it such that this one probably won't disappear in too many rooms (its distinct lack of style won't really help much in that regard either). It proudly lives up to the Salk Sound heritage -- meaning the cabinet is rock solid and nearly bullet proof -- so you can completely dismiss any notion of resonance coloring the output. Built using top-shelf components from respected companies, all securely nestled into a hand made cabinet, means what you end up with is a subwoofer that has excellent sound quality and an astonishing amount of deep bass. It's a nearly impossible combination to beat for the asking price. Just be certain to have a friend or two available when it comes time to take delivery of this beast. Trust me on that.


Please use the Salk Sound SSR15 Discussion Thread for questions and comments



Salk Sound SSR15 Pictures




Salk Sound SSR15 Measurements
These measurements were taken using XTZ Room Analyzer II Pro. The unit was indoors, physically positioned in the center of my listening room with no other speakers running. All measurements were taken with the amp set in the following manner: Line In Low Pass = AVR/12 (filter disabled), Rumble Filter = On, Frequency = 14Hz

This represents the overall frequency response of the driver. Green represents Hi damping, yellow is Mid and blue is Low.


This represents the overall frequency response of the passive radiator. Green represents Hi damping, yellow is Mid and blue is Low.


This represents the Spectrograph from the driver. The first graph is Hi damping, the next is Mid and the last is Low.


This represents the Spectrograph from the passive radiator. The first graph is Hi damping, the next is Mid and the last is Low.

-Jim

If you take yourself too seriously, expect me to do the exact opposite
theJman is offline  
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