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Definitive Technology makes a great line of speakers and subwoofers, in various price ranges. This sub is their top of the line model.



Definitive Technology Super Cube Reference Subwoofer Reviewed

* By: Dr. Ken Taraszka
* - Reviewer's System

* Category:
* Audio Reviews, Equipment Reviews, Subwoofer Reviews

* Resources & Links:
* Subwoofers
* , view Ken Taraszka's reivews


* January 2, 2009

Definitive Technology is well know in the audio business as a giant killer. They make full-range speakers that sound phenomenal for less than many snotty audiophile company's smallest monitors - you know the ones without any meaningful bass performance. Anyone with a home theater system knows for real bass you need a subwoofer, and Definitive Technology has an entire line. The Super Cube Reference is one down from the famous Trinity subwoofer they specially made to replace the pipe organ damaged in the Trinity church in NYC by the soot and ash of the 911 attack.

The Super Cube Reference uses a 14 inch driver pressure coupled to two 14 inch infrasonic radiators, with the main driver powered by an 1800 Watt class D amplifier. All that size and power allows the Super Cube Reference to reproduce bass down to 11 Hz to foundation shaking levels. Housed in a relatively small 16 inch square by almost 17 inch tall cabinet that is covered on all sides by mesh with the top plate and bottom a high gloss black piano finish. The sub weighs a beastly 111 pounds and can rest atop either adjustable spikes or rubber feet. On the rear panel are line level inputs and outputs as well as an LFE direct, high pass and low pass inputs and outputs as well as continuously variable phase, level, high and low pass filters. The only thing missing are balanced inputs and outputs.

This subwoofer has an interesting design with the main driver firing forward and the passive radiators to the side, the grill mesh is more a tube stretched over the four sides with a draw string on top to keep it always looking taut. The build quality is excellent and the cabinet is rock solid. Fire this baby up and trim it in to your system and you will be treated to deep, accurate bass with seemingly limitless extension in both depth and volume. You can spend a lot more than the $1,899 the Super Cube Reference cost, but it would be hard to beat its performance at twice the price or more.

High Points
• Definitive Technology is known for solid bass, and this beauty will show you why in spades. This is one of the best subwoofers made regardless of price.
• While the Super Cube Reference is moderately sized by today's standards, it puts out Earth-shattering volumes of deep and tight bass making it a great choice for medium to large rooms were you want to hide the subwoofer, or for the small room for the bass madman who wants to blow out the windows and wake the dead.
• The vast array of inputs and outputs allow this subwoofer to easy fit into almost any situation, from being the "point 1" channel in a dedicated home theater, or a single or stereo subwoofers for a two channel system, connected with high or low level signals.

Low Points
• It comes in any color you want as long as it's black. This won't be a problem for most, but for some were the subwoofer needs to match the décor of the room it can pose a Tim Gunn type style problem.
• This sub can go down to 11 Hertz and that frequency has a wavelength that is huge, so these sounds will carry for very long distances, through walls into neighboring condos or apartments and as such can cause serious problems with the neighbors. While not really a low point, it can be a detriment to this subwoofer's owner in certain applications.
• The Super Cube Reference doesn't have any balanced inputs or outputs, so you'll have to use single ended connections.

Conclusion
Definitive Technology has developed a reputation for big, tight bass and the Super Cube Reference subwoofer shows why. This little beast pumps out bass with a depth and volume not usually heard, more often felt, than even larger and more expensive units. This is a great subwoofer and one you must consider when building a home theater or adding bass to your two channel rig. The power and incredibly flexible set up options make sure this subwoofer will fit into any system now and in the future.
Keywords

Subwoofer, Definitive Technology, Definitive Technology, bass, high pass, low pass, LFE, home theater, Sandy Gross, Directed Electronics.
 

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There seems to be a real dearth of reviews on the Supercube series and the Reference in particular, so it was great to see someone reviewing the sub. Unfortunately, the DefTech Supercube line is dismissed by many Audio and Home Theater afficiandos as a mass market brand pushed out by the truckload through Big Box retailers to uneducated first-time buyers. While the supercube series (I, II, III) is sold through best buy, I think that it is a mistake to overlook these solid subs, especially the top of the line Reference. DefTech makes good subs. Pricey, but good.

So I thought that I would chime in, since I have had a Supercube Reference for about a year.

The Supercube Ref is in a dedicated HT, 13' X 26' X 8'. I am pairing it with Klipsch RF-3 II's for the mains, the RC-3 II center, two SS1 (soon to be replaced by either the RF-42 or RF-52's), and two Klipsch Quintet for the rear surround. I also have a Paradigm PW-2200 sub that is driven with the supercube. I am powering the setup with a Denon 3808 with the Audyssey Dynamic EQ upgrade. I use the system for Home Theater (no music) exclusively. The Supercube sits under the screen (FP) between the right main and the center. The paradigm sits between the left main and center. I have used REW to match the SPL of the subs and main and let the audyssey algorhythms handle the EQ from there. I have measured the sub performace with/without Audyssey using a Digital RS meter and REW.

First off the Reference is a beautiful, compact and VERY heavy sub. It has a cherry finish board on the top and the black "sock" over the drivers giving it an appearence of fine furniture. For looks the WAF is very high! It is also compact and is easy to "hide" or fit into tight spaces. Finally the supercube is solid, weighing in at over 110 lbs. It fools you until you try to pick it up! For this reason, moving it around is a pain.

The fit and finish on the controls are excellent. All the connections and adjustments are on the rear of the sub. The usual High Pass connections along with Phase, Gain and cut-off for frequency are there as well as LFE connections. Because of the compact size it is very easy to get to the controls from the top of the sub by reaching around.

Overall performance is very good. However the claim of 11hz is just not true. While there may be some movement of the drivers and a slight bit of low frequency coming out at this level, it is in no way usable, even when corner loading the sub. This sub is not a deep digger. Best to look at either a JL audio or Rythmik (duals) at these price levels if that is what you want. Having said that though, let me tell you that this sub performs VERY well at 18hz and above, with a consistent and very flat sound up through 90/100hz. In fact, when compared to the Paradigm PW2200 I have paired with it, no matter where I placed it, it measured very flat and accurate without any equalization. The Paradigm (which is ported), while going down lower (15hz), seemed very finicky about placement and needed equalization to flatten out. As a matter of fact Audyssey seemed to do no adjustments for the Supercube.

The supercube has TONS of power. I run it hot by about 5db and I only have the gain at slightly above 3.5 on the 10 scale on the knob pan. Much more than that, and it crushes the mains and center and gets downright uncomfortable to listen to. At reference level on the 3808 (0 on the volume) the supercube does an outstanding job of pressurizing the room, thumping the walls, furniture and punching out chest rattling bass. The sound is also very tight, with no boominess or wallow, even at high volume. This is one of the most important advantages of this sub. It is fast and accurate. For instance, on the opening chase sequence in the Blu-Ray edition of Quantum of Solace, the rev of the engines and the staccato of the gunfire is very defined and accurate. Bass decays quickly and distinctly without fatiguing you from a wall of low level noise. The Paradigm, when used alone in the same scene, is muddier, somewhat smearing the bass if it is coming fast and furious. Another example would be the War of the Worlds (Spielberg edition) "Tripod Emerge" scene (a favorite test of bass heads). The Supercube grabs the cracking and fracturing of the street and building, engrossing and involving the viewer. The transition from that low-level bass to the higher whine of the Tripod engines is seemless and smooth. You get the feeling of the power this little sub has during the entire scene.

So is the Supercube Reference worth the $1800 price tag? For me, I couldn't recommend it at this price. I was lucky enough to find one very slightly used for $800. At the $1800 price level you are getting into the more heady atmosphere of JL Audio fathom series or rythmik duals or SVS high-end. However if you could find a unit for $1200 to $1400 I think this would be a good fit with these conditions:

1) You need ALOT of power in a very compact and good looking cabinet. Nothing comes close to the size/performance you can get out of the Reference. It also is guranteed to have good wife acceptance factor.
2) You want good flat response from ~18hz + . This is NOT a sub sonic sub. However, the VAST majority of Movies and music don't have any content below ~20hz, so you really need to think about how much you will get from those low digging subs that might have the edge in sub sonic, but be less flat in the more usable listening range.
3)You want placement flexibility. As I mentioned, this sub is compact, so it can be put places most other subs can't go. Addtionally, it seems to have less of a preferred sweet spot (although it does perform better in certain locations) than other subs.
4)You want tight, accurate bass, even at reference levels.

If you want to meet the above conditions, then the Reference will make a fine sub for your setup. If you realy need sub sonic performance, look at other subs or mate the reference with a cheaper, deep digger sub. This is what I have done and together they do a great job of covering my bass.

Hope this helps!
-Alex-
 

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There seems to be a real dearth of reviews on the Supercube series and the Reference in particular, so it was great to see someone reviewing the sub. Unfortunately, the DefTech Supercube line is dismissed by many Audio and Home Theater afficiandos as a mass market brand pushed out by the truckload through Big Box retailers to uneducated first-time buyers. While the supercube series (I, II, III) is sold through best buy, I think that it is a mistake to overlook these solid subs, especially the top of the line Reference. DefTech makes good subs. Pricey, but good.

So I thought that I would chime in, since I have had a Supercube Reference for about a year.

The Supercube Ref is in a dedicated HT, 13' X 26' X 8'. I am pairing it with Klipsch RF-3 II's for the mains, the RC-3 II center, two SS1 (soon to be replaced by either the RF-42 or RF-52's), and two Klipsch Quintet for the rear surround. I also have a Paradigm PW-2200 sub that is driven with the supercube. I am powering the setup with a Denon 3808 with the Audyssey Dynamic EQ upgrade. I use the system for Home Theater (no music) exclusively. The Supercube sits under the screen (FP) between the right main and the center. The paradigm sits between the left main and center. I have used REW to match the SPL of the subs and main and let the audyssey algorhythms handle the EQ from there. I have measured the sub performace with/without Audyssey using a Digital RS meter and REW.

First off the Reference is a beautiful, compact and VERY heavy sub. It has a cherry finish board on the top and the black "sock" over the drivers giving it an appearence of fine furniture. For looks the WAF is very high! It is also compact and is easy to "hide" or fit into tight spaces. Finally the supercube is solid, weighing in at over 110 lbs. It fools you until you try to pick it up! For this reason, moving it around is a pain.

The fit and finish on the controls are excellent. All the connections and adjustments are on the rear of the sub. The usual High Pass connections along with Phase, Gain and cut-off for frequency are there as well as LFE connections. Because of the compact size it is very easy to get to the controls from the top of the sub by reaching around.

Overall performance is very good. However the claim of 11hz is just not true. While there may be some movement of the drivers and a slight bit of low frequency coming out at this level, it is in no way usable, even when corner loading the sub. This sub is not a deep digger. Best to look at either a JL audio or Rythmik (duals) at these price levels if that is what you want. Having said that though, let me tell you that this sub performs VERY well at 18hz and above, with a consistent and very flat sound up through 90/100hz. In fact, when compared to the Paradigm PW2200 I have paired with it, no matter where I placed it, it measured very flat and accurate without any equalization. The Paradigm (which is ported), while going down lower (15hz), seemed very finicky about placement and needed equalization to flatten out. As a matter of fact Audyssey seemed to do no adjustments for the Supercube.

The supercube has TONS of power. I run it hot by about 5db and I only have the gain at slightly above 3.5 on the 10 scale on the knob pan. Much more than that, and it crushes the mains and center and gets downright uncomfortable to listen to. At reference level on the 3808 (0 on the volume) the supercube does an outstanding job of pressurizing the room, thumping the walls, furniture and punching out chest rattling bass. The sound is also very tight, with no boominess or wallow, even at high volume. This is one of the most important advantages of this sub. It is fast and accurate. For instance, on the opening chase sequence in the Blu-Ray edition of Quantum of Solace, the rev of the engines and the staccato of the gunfire is very defined and accurate. Bass decays quickly and distinctly without fatiguing you from a wall of low level noise. The Paradigm, when used alone in the same scene, is muddier, somewhat smearing the bass if it is coming fast and furious. Another example would be the War of the Worlds (Spielberg edition) "Tripod Emerge" scene (a favorite test of bass heads). The Supercube grabs the cracking and fracturing of the street and building, engrossing and involving the viewer. The transition from that low-level bass to the higher whine of the Tripod engines is seemless and smooth. You get the feeling of the power this little sub has during the entire scene.

So is the Supercube Reference worth the $1800 price tag? For me, I couldn't recommend it at this price. I was lucky enough to find one very slightly used for $800. At the $1800 price level you are getting into the more heady atmosphere of JL Audio fathom series or rythmik duals or SVS high-end. However if you could find a unit for $1200 to $1400 I think this would be a good fit with these conditions:

1) You need ALOT of power in a very compact and good looking cabinet. Nothing comes close to the size/performance you can get out of the Reference. It also is guranteed to have good wife acceptance factor.
2) You want good flat response from ~18hz + . This is NOT a sub sonic sub. However, the VAST majority of Movies and music don't have any content below ~20hz, so you really need to think about how much you will get from those low digging subs that might have the edge in sub sonic, but be less flat in the more usable listening range.
3)You want placement flexibility. As I mentioned, this sub is compact, so it can be put places most other subs can't go. Addtionally, it seems to have less of a preferred sweet spot (although it does perform better in certain locations) than other subs.
4)You want tight, accurate bass, even at reference levels.

If you want to meet the above conditions, then the Reference will make a fine sub for your setup. If you realy need sub sonic performance, look at other subs or mate the reference with a cheaper, deep digger sub. This is what I have done and together they do a great job of covering my bass.

Hope this helps!
-Alex-
It certainly did. thanks so much for your excellent details and sharing your experience. There is nothing better in my opinion then someone sharing their experience with equipment, in real world conditions. Absolutely excellent.
 

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Great writeup, Alex. I really enjoyed it. Though it has a hefty price tag, the SC Reference seems to offer very good performance from a small enclosure. I'd love to have the opportunity to hear one sometime.
 

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Thanks! For a little more objective data I am attaching some graphs from my theater with Def Tech Reference. I am pretty new to using the Radio Shack digital meter and REW so I am not sure if my readings of the data is correct. But here they are:

dtrefwithoutaudyssey.jpg
Supercube Reference Response without Audyssey

dtrewithaudyssey.jpg
Supercube Reference Response with Audyssey

dtrefwaterfallwithoutaudyssey.jpg
Supercube Reference Waterfall without Audyssey

dtrefwaterfallwithaudyssey.jpg
Supercube Reference Waterfall with Audyssey

This is my first try at REW, so please comment on the data so the interpretation can be more valid!

Thanks,
-Alex-
 

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this was a really nice review. I am considering the reference sub for my HT setup, today i use some XTZ subs but i want more hard hitting and heavy, tight and distinct bass. SVS will be to big for my room, so this is a excellent candidate. Great review.

Anyone else has some great words to share of this sub? Compared to other subs?
 

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this was a really nice review. I am considering the reference sub for my HT setup, today i use some XTZ subs but i want more hard hitting and heavy, tight and distinct bass. SVS will be to big for my room, so this is a excellent candidate. Great review.
Which XTZ sub do you have? I've got a 99 W12.16 myself.
 

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ive had a super cube 2 for about 2 years now and i couldn't be happier... i couldn't believe how big it sounded when i first fired it up...
 
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