[img]http://www.hometheaterreview.com/images/jl_gotham_subwoofer.jpg[/img]JL Audio Gotham Subwoofer Review
By: Andrew Robinson
The JL Audio Gotham has come a long way from the early offerings that characterized JL's roots as an automotive loudspeaker manufacturer. If you're thinking the Gotham is a couple of low-quality car audio sub drivers in a new, high-gloss case, you're sorely mistaken, for the Gotham is the real deal. By real, I mean really, really good. Besides being hopelessly good- looking, the Gotham packs quite a punch with its dual 13-and-a-half-inch drivers stacked atop one another in is slightly triangular, sealed chassis that is about as solid and robust as you'll find in a sub, regardless of price. The Gotham has a reported frequency response of 19-200Hz and has a built-in amplifier that is capable of 3,800 peak watts RMS in short bursts. Let me put that into perspective: my reference sub has a peak power performance of 350 watts and I consider it to be quite good, but 3,800 watts is borderline insane. I like it. The Gotham comes in any color so long as it's black and measures in at roughly 34 inches tall by 21 inches high and 24 inches deep in a sort of round triangle where none of the sides are parallel. The Gotham is rock-solid in its construction and, because of its enormously over-engineered drivers and power amplifier, it tips the scales at 360 pounds and retails for a hefty $12,000.
In terms of integrating the Gotham into your system, it has some of the usual features and a few that are not so usual. For starters, the Gotham features stereo and mono RCA and balanced connection options. You can even daisy-chain a few Gotham subs together via their inputs. The wonderful thing about the Gotham is, once you get past the connections, the remaining features and controls for the sub itself are located on the front of the sub (vs. the standard back) and under a separate grille, allowing you easier access during set-up. The usual level, phase, polarity and power modes are all present and accounted for, although the Gotham has a few more low pass filter modes and crossover controls then your average sub. The sheer level of control and adjustment at your disposal to tune the Gotham to your system and room is unparalleled. In a further effort to maximize performance and value, the Gotham features Automatic Room Optimization and comes with a calibrated microphone. This level of EQ or room correction isn't the usual test pattern and/or automatic crossover setting you'll find in a receiver-based auto EQ. This is far superior and much more successful in its implementation.
• Stylish and elegant for a large subwoofer. This isn't one you'll want to hide in a corner, nor should you. However, if you must, the sheer level of control will ensure you get the most out of your investment.
• One of the fastest subwoofers I've ever encountered, regardless of price. There are many subs that cost way more than the Gotham that can't match its level of performance and output.
• The Gotham is surprisingly musical for a brute of a sub, possessing nuance, texture and grace, even when thrashed at insane levels.
• When it comes to multi-channel music or movies, the Gotham is in a league all its own, with few rivals.
• The Gotham's front-mounted controls and auto room optimization are absolute godsends.
• While supremely attractive, the Gotham is large and may be a bit much for smaller and some medium-sized rooms. If you require a smaller sub, I would look to JL Audio's Fathom sub.
• The Gotham is a blue-chip subwoofer that should be paired with loudspeakers of equal prowess and status in order to get the most for your money in terms of overall performance.
In terms of reference-grade, or should I say weapons-grade, subwoofers, the Gotham by JL Audio knows few equals. Sure it's a bit pricey at $12,000, but your dollar is buying you more than just quality. It's also buying also you peace of mind that you'll own one of the very best subwoofers in the market today. With a feature set that rivals those of most AV preamps, the Gotham is a no-holds-barred assault on your senses. It's part jackhammer, part scalpel, for no matter what source material you throw at it, you won't faze it. It is exceedingly musical when called for, but can also throw down with subs costing much, much more. It is a reference-grade subwoofer by which others should be judged. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.