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HSU Research VTF-3 MK5 HP

By Jim Wilson (theJman)



On audio forums an all too common question is some variation of "what subwoofer should I buy for XXX amount of money?". There are a handful of Internet Direct (ID) manufacturers mentioned repeatedly, but all too often those potential candidates do not include anything from HSU Research. That's rather interesting when you consider how long this company has been around. Truth be told I was among those who only gave their products a passing acknowledgment, but after having lived with the VTF-3 MK5 HP for over a month I won't be omitting them any longer. Put succinctly, this subwoofer is amazing. It wants for absolutely nothing and can hold its own with any product being sold for under a grand. When you consider all the tuning options, and realize the flexibility that affords, you quickly come to the conclusion it has few legitimate rivals. The HSU VTF-3 MK5 HP should be on your short list if both quality and quantity is what you're after.

For the full review Click Here
 

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Great review. I was going to buy and actually did purchase the VTF-2 MK5 HP but with some advice from members on this board and discussing with HSU directly I quickly called and have them charged me the extra money for the VTF-15H MK2.

Both share the same amp, same driver just the MK2 offers a larger cabinet with more port area. I'm pleased with my decision. It's a great sub. My room is right at 3000cuft though so I'll be adding a second soon.
 

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The HSU turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I knew of their reputation but hadn't heard anything they made. It's just an all-around performer, no matter what someone wants; depth, output, appearance, quality.
 

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Nice review Thanks! I used to own the VTF3 MK4 and it was a solid sub. HSU does make great products and they also have excellent customer service.
 

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HSU Research VTF-3 MK5 HP

By Jim Wilson (theJman)


On audio forums an all too common question is some variation of "what subwoofer should I buy for XXX amount of money?". There are a handful of Internet Direct (ID) manufacturers mentioned repeatedly, but all too often those potential candidates do not include anything from HSU Research. That's rather interesting when you consider how long this company has been around. Truth be told I was among those who only gave their products a passing acknowledgment, but after having lived with the VTF-3 MK5 HP for over a month I won't be omitting them any longer. Put succinctly, this subwoofer is amazing. It wants for absolutely nothing and can hold its own with any product being sold for under a grand. When you consider all the tuning options, and realize the flexibility that affords, you quickly come to the conclusion it has few legitimate rivals. The HSU VTF-3 MK5 HP should be on your short list if both quality and quantity is what you're after.

For the full review Click Here
The HSU turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I knew of their reputation but hadn't heard anything they made. It's just an all-around performer, no matter what someone wants; depth, output, appearance, quality.
I participated in sub-buying threads here and other forums ... and Hsu came up from time to time, usually in glowing terms, though not as much as SVS, PSA, et al. I started by shopping for a sub-US$400 sub, but the entry level SVS PB/SB-1000 had me really tempted, as well as their free return shipping if I wasn't happy. But ... for my room, my listening preferences, my blend of music and film viewing (both equally important to me), the flexibility of the Hsu VTF subs kept tempting me, even with no free shipping (either way).

I finally threw up my hands and realized that reviewers' evals of both brands assured me of a great sub from either. I held my breath, crossed myself, and ordered a VTF-2 (edging out the VTF-1 due to its lower reach to 18Hz). ... I've been supremely happy with it, particularly after I played the included Boston Audio Society/Hsu test cd. The first track of the CD, an excerpt from Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony, second movement (Poco Adagio), readily demonstrated the sub's gentle and assured performance at sub-aural freqencies, more succinctly than test tones that I'd downloaded from audiocheck.net. From the liner notes:

WARNING: When playing this track for the first time, lower the volume, as your woofers may be at risk. The bottom octave of this recording may damage vented or planar loudspeakers. (The opening string passage should be quite soft.) Boston Civic Symphony conducted by Max Hobart, James David Christie, organist. Two AKG 414 ORTF cardioids, about the third row in Boston's Jordan Hall, spring 1983. This was one of the last times that the Jordon Hall organ, already showing signs of serious asthma, was heard in a public performance. (Micha Schattner)

This recording has the strongest and cleanest 16Hz of any recording I have come across.
Not sure who to attribute that last sentence to, but I have to agree. I can feel it in my living room. I can feel it in my gut. The Hsu VTF subs really deliver. Those removable plugs and adjustable options on the back can yield hours of fun tweaking and experimenting.
 

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Hey Jim,

Thanks for the review!

Usually the spectrographs are presented in their own chart.

They are smaller, but still show in the top right corner of the frequency response graphs.
It looks like there are 5 spikes. Can you comment on this?



Thanks,
Kurt
 

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Unfortunately something happened to the screen captures for most of the spectrograph's, so instead of only including the few that did take I opted to not include any.

Realistically there are only 3 spikes of (potential) concern, those that occur above 125Hz can be considered irrelevant because your crossover will be set well below that threshold. Even at 100Hz the rolloff will be such that neither of those will be audible. Since most people us 80Hz - or even less - you can safely ignore the top 2.

Based upon what I experienced HSU programmed the VTF-3 to have a little kick centered around 23Hz, which is probably what lead to the favorable performance during movies. Since that's below the area the vast majority of music extends to it shouldn't impact sound quality in a 2 channel setup. To me that says HSU did their homework and gave the user the best of both worlds.
 

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Unfortunately something happened to the screen captures for most of the spectrograph's, so instead of only including the few that did take I opted to not include any.

Realistically there are only 3 spikes of (potential) concern, those that occur above 125Hz can be considered irrelevant because your crossover will be set well below that threshold. Even at 100Hz the rolloff will be such that neither of those will be audible. Since most people us 80Hz - or even less - you can safely ignore the top 2.

Based upon what I experienced HSU programmed the VTF-3 to have a little kick centered around 23Hz, which is probably what lead to the favorable performance during movies. Since that's below the area the vast majority of music extends to it shouldn't impact sound quality in a 2 channel setup. To me that says HSU did their homework and gave the user the best of both worlds.
Good points, the ones above 125Hz would not be an issue (for any typical setup), and the one around 23Hz is certainly below all traditional musical instruments (with the exception of pipe organ).

However, the two sitting just north of the 63Hz tick seem like they would be problematic when listening to piano or walking bass where those pitches would stand apart from the rest.
 

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Good points, the ones above 125Hz would not be an issue (for any typical setup), and the one around 23Hz is certainly below all traditional musical instruments (with the exception of pipe organ).

However, the two sitting just north of the 63Hz tick seem like they would be problematic when listening to piano or walking bass where those pitches would stand apart from the rest.
Even those two might not prove to be an issue. The reason I put the word "potential" in parenthesis before is because they may be of no consequence. Bear in mind those are close mic'ed measurements, so they reflect the raw output from the sub. Due to room interactions the response will be vastly different at the seating positions, so those peaks could actually become a null for some. Additionally, most people use some manner of room EQ so you can expect whatever remains to be tamed.

There is a bit of a misconception that a billiard table flat measured response is necessary, but that's really not the case. Sure, you don't want it bouncing all over the place, with 20dB gaps, but some "ripple" isn't really anything to be terribly concerned with. Bear in mind that no matter what the manufacturer does from the beginning the room will affect the output greatly, so all that careful tuning may be for naught in the long run. The other downside is headroom; depending upon how much wattage it takes to program the DSP to achieve a flat response there may be little left over for dynamic swings recorded in the source material. These charts infer HSU didn't use up a lot of amplifier power on the final output response, which if true has the advantage of allowing the sub to act on those dynamics. Based upon what my ears heard I suspect that's the case; the VTF-3 didn't want for headroom, so as the intensity of the soundtrack went up and down the sub was able to handle it.
 

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It's a pleasure to be learning at your knee, sir.
 

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Even those two might not prove to be an issue. The reason I put the word "potential" in parenthesis before is because they may be of no consequence. Bear in mind those are close mic'ed measurements, so they reflect the raw output from the sub. Due to room interactions the response will be vastly different at the seating positions, so those peaks could actually become a null for some. Additionally, most people use some manner of room EQ so you can expect whatever remains to be tamed.

There is a bit of a misconception that a billiard table flat measured response is necessary, but that's really not the case. Sure, you don't want it bouncing all over the place, with 20dB gaps, but some "ripple" isn't really anything to be terribly concerned with. Bear in mind that no matter what the manufacturer does from the beginning the room will affect the output greatly, so all that careful tuning may be for naught in the long run. The other downside is headroom; depending upon how much wattage it takes to program the DSP to achieve a flat response there may be little left over for dynamic swings recorded in the source material. These charts infer HSU didn't use up a lot of amplifier power on the final output response, which if true has the advantage of allowing the sub to act on those dynamics. Based upon what my ears heard I suspect that's the case; the VTF-3 didn't want for headroom, so as the intensity of the soundtrack went up and down the sub was able to handle it.

I agree. My HSU has never shown strain. Although I haven't tried to push it either and play 16hz at 120db which I doubt it could do.
 

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While doing measurements on two upcoming review units I noticed an anomaly that caused be to do some investigating. When concluded I came to realize that something is probably amiss with my microphone because the HSU - and the other two units I just measured - all have the same abnormal hump at 23Hz. Because of that I have added the following caveat to the Measurements section...

Please disregard the bump at 23Hz in both the frequency response charts and spectrographs. I've identified a potential issue with the microphone which is most likely causing it. The native response of the subwoofer does not exhibit that tendency.
 

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Even those two might not prove to be an issue. The reason I put the word "potential" in parenthesis before is because they may be of no consequence. Bear in mind those are close mic'ed measurements, so they reflect the raw output from the sub. Due to room interactions the response will be vastly different at the seating positions, so those peaks could actually become a null for some. Additionally, most people use some manner of room EQ so you can expect whatever remains to be tamed.
I can agree that they might not prove to be an issue, if your room acoustics happen to present a null at the LP for the same frequency that the sub produces a spike/resonance (at the listening position).
However, isn't it just as likely that the room acoustics could present a node (or peak) at this frequency presenting a combined spike beyond the capability of any standard EQ system to tame (assuming you have an EQ system)?

Wouldn't it be better to have a sub that did not have such an issue with it's raw output so you are not betting on the room and EQ to fix it?

As for a flat FR for raw sub output, I agree completely. The ideal is to have a roll off that matches room gain so the final FR at the LP is reasonably close to flat. But room gain is somewhat predictable.
 

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I can agree that they might not prove to be an issue, if your room acoustics happen to present a null at the LP for the same frequency that the sub produces a spike/resonance (at the listening position).
However, isn't it just as likely that the room acoustics could present a node (or peak) at this frequency presenting a combined spike beyond the capability of any standard EQ system to tame (assuming you have an EQ system)?
Yup, the room could influence the output in either direction so FR peaks might increase or decrease. Most room EQ systems can tone down massive peaks though, whereas they can only boost nulls by a few dB's. In essence, they can tame a "hot" frequency pretty well.


Wouldn't it be better to have a sub that did not have such an issue with it's raw output so you are not betting on the room and EQ to fix it?
An argument could be made either way. Frankly, I'm not certain there's a right answer because for sure there will never be a consensus among audiophiles. For me, the only thing that matters is what my ears can hear. If the end result gives me what I want I don't concern myself with how the manufacturer went about achieving it. That's just me though.
 

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Yup, the room could influence the output in either direction so FR peaks might increase or decrease. Most room EQ systems can tone down massive peaks though, whereas they can only boost nulls by a few dB's. In essence, they can tame a "hot" frequency pretty well.
Good point; Audyssey can be very effective at reducing peak nodes!
However, based on the measurements, I would be reluctant to recommend this sub to anyone wanting to use it in a system without EQ.

Did you find out any more about the problem with the mic?
Any chance that is the cause of the ringing at the other frequencies as well? I haven't noticed it so bad on any other subs you have measured and noticed that the Rythmik F8's have some of the same thing going on. With the E15HP, the servo seemed to counteract any ringing, I know the F8 is a step down, but am surprised the F8's would perform so poorly in this regard being sealed with servo!

23.5Hz is not the best place for measurement error with subs. Hope they fix you up with a quick and easy solution!
 

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Did you find out any more about the problem with the mic?
Not yet. I tried a few other subs I have lying around here and they all exhibit the same bump. The XTZ system has its own tone generator - it doesn't rely upon any test discs, which was one of the benefits as far as I was concerned - so the issue could be there as well. I did update the software to the latest version, but that didn't make any noticeable difference.

Any chance that is the cause of the ringing at the other frequencies as well?
It's not impossible, but I tend to doubt there is an affect on any other frequencies. What first caught my eye was when I saw the same hump whether the VTF-3 was configured for acoustic suspension or bass reflex. I thought "that's pretty unusual", but since I never had an issue in the 3-4 years I've been using the XTZ system I didn't think much of it. Then I measured the F8's and saw the same thing, and that's when I realized something was amiss.

My next review will be on the JTR Captivator S1 so I tested that one and sure enough, the same bump shows up there as well. I won't publish that review with the anomaly though - I'll figure out something before I post it.
 

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I'm very interested in the VTF-3 MK5, seems like a lot of bang for the buck. My viewing/listening room is roughly 1300 cubic feet, my use is probably a 60-40 split between music and movies. Is the VTF-3 MK5 an adequate choice for this size of space? Other recommendations in this price range?
 

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I'm very interested in the VTF-3 MK5, seems like a lot of bang for the buck. My viewing/listening room is roughly 1300 cubic feet, my use is probably a 60-40 split between music and movies. Is the VTF-3 MK5 an adequate choice for this size of space? Other recommendations in this price range?
The room I did that review in is 50% larger by cubic volume and the VTF-3 did remarkably well. You will have no issues whatsoever.

With regards to competitive options... this particular thread is for discussions about my review or the VTF-3. If you would like to explore other choices you should start a new thread. That way all the answers will be focused on your situation.
 
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