HTS Moderator , Reviewer
The subject of this review is the JTR Speakers Captivator S1, an acoustic suspension subwoofer with an 18" driver. For a unit with such a sizable driver it isn't really all that large, measuring a very reasonable 21"x21"x18" (HWD). It weighs quite a bit though, coming in at just over 100 pounds. As I came to find out later, over 60% of the total weight is the driver itself! Quoted frequency response is 16-104hz, +/-1dB. That is an extremely narrow range of just 2dB, which is a mere third of what most other manufacturers quote (+/-3dB, which equates to a 6dB spread). If JTR's claim proves true room gain could allow for true single digit output. The class D amplifier is rated at a prodigious 2400 watts RMS. No peak is listed.
Even though the company is named JTR Speakers they have a significant presence in the subwoofer market, both with their home theater and live music reproduction divisions. They are an Internet Direct company through-and-through, selling everything straight to the consumer. The S1 retails for $2599 and carries a 5 year manufacturer's warranty against defects on everything but the amp. That's covered for 2 years. Shipping in the Continental US averages about $100, higher for other locales.
The Captivator S1 I received was the very first 2016 model ever built, so the packaging was still in a state of transition. The new unit has a cabinet that is approximately 1.5" deeper than the previous version so some of the protective material wasn't a perfect fit. By the time you read this JTR will have probably already made the necessary changes to ensure everything fits as perfectly as it did on the 2015 model. Let's start off with what is generally a negative for me; single boxed.
Because I said it that way I suspect you probably guessed JTR didn't double box this one. Regardless, the packaging proved to be more than adequate. The cardboard utilized has to be at least 500 pound burst rated, which essentially means really stout. There was almost no give in the material itself - being closer to thin plywood than cardboard - so I'll let JTR slide here. Bottom line is it would take an awful lot of abuse to damage the S1 during shipping, so let's unbox it and see what they sent me.
Protecting four of the six sides were 2" sheets of hard styrofoam, while the front and back had 1" (this is due to the aforementioned cabinet size increase, otherwise JTR would have used 2" material everywhere). Personally I'm not a fan of hard styrofoam - too much mess, too unforgiving, too much static, too 20th century. I prefer the softer, more forgiving medium density foam myself. It's hard to argue the results though, because this old school material does afford a lot of protection for not a lot of money.
After removing the top piece of styrofoam I found myself staring at four 1.5"x.75" rubber feet, each of which was held firmly in place by a hex bolt. Not a #2 phillips screw, which most companies use, but a large hex bolt. As you probably already surmised, I was looking at the bottom of the subwoofer. That makes unpacking very easy because all you need to do is flip the box over and the sub ends up oriented the way it should be, feet down. When the item you're unpacking weighs in excess of 100 pounds thoughtful touches like that are very welcome, especially for your back.
Once liberated from the box I found the S1 wrapped in a thick plastic bag. So too was the grill, in its own separate bag, so both were protected quite well. The one gripe I have is how the power cord was packed; it was in a bubble wrap pouch, so no problem there, but JTR put it between the driver and the grill like a giblets package included with your Thanksgiving turkey. My concern with that arrangement is most ground shipping companies don't handle things very well, so the power cord is likely to be bouncing back and forth between the driver and grill for the entire trip to your house. I did examine everything carefully to make sure nothing had been damaged and there were no visible signs of any kind, so perhaps my trepidation is not warranted.
There was no documentation included. I'm not sure what JTR's standard practice is, but seeing as how this was the first 2016 model produced they may have still been in the process of finalizing that at the time of this evaluation. As you'll come to understand the further you get in this review, there's really not a lot that would even require documentation.
Can "take no prisoners" be considered an impression? Sizing up the threatening driver and industrial finish on the cabinet left me thinking exactly that. This thing means business and it doesn't hide those intentions. Oddly I found the approach refreshing; there's no pretense here, that's for sure. The Captivator S1 is not a wallflower and it has no qualms with letting you know it. Another thing it projects is substance, so let's start there.
Almost every other subwoofer manufacturer uses MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) to construct their enclosure, but not JTR. Instead, they go all out and use 24mm (.94") of Baltic birch. Unlike traditional plywood Baltic birch's core is comprised of layers made from solid birch veneer, cross-banded and then laminated using high-grade adhesive. This results in what's referred to as a "void free" core, which essentially means no gaps or air pockets. Basically, a solid sheet of wood. Sonically inert, or close to it anyway, Baltic birch is what's used when performance and strength outweigh cost.
Five of the six sides are 24mm, while the front panel is 63mm (2.4"). That depth allows JTR to flush-mount the driver even with the meaty surround. For added rigidity there is a 2" window brace tying both sides to the top and bottom panels. Covering every square inch of real estate on the inside is a 1" sheet of acrylic damping material expertly glued into place. On the rear panel it appears JTR doubled up on the damping material in an effort to further protect the amp from the considerable backwave off this driver.
The corners of the enclosure have been given a very slight round-over, just enough to soften the otherwise boxy appearance of your typical subwoofer. The coating itself has a slight consistency to it and will "sand off" a bit of skin if you drag your arm along the edge while moving it around (don't ask me how I know that). It's not actually rough, per se, but it does have enough texture to be noticed. The application was excellent with no uneven spots or blotches.
Overall it does have a bit of a mean attitude, but what if that won't cut it in your environment? What if you need to increase the S1's Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF) to placate your better half? JTR offers two options for those situations:
- Various wood finishes consisting of veneer, stain and clear coat. Most are $300.
- Automotive finishes comprised of a gel coat, primer, paint and clear coat. That will run you $500.
The grill doesn't really follow the 'bulletproof' mantra the rest of the S1 exhibits unfortunately. Constructed from a 1/4" sheet of Baltic birch, it doesn't have the same unyielding persona of the cabinet (or driver, for that matter). The wood frame was painted black, so it matched everything just fine, but it didn't equal the structural integrity of the enclosure. The cloth used is transparent and was secured to the frame using both glue and staples, meaning there's little chance it will ever come off. There are felt covered magnets for attachment points and when placed on the cabinet it aligned well. The magnets might need an upgrade though because the grill tended to rattle when the S1 was challenged, and was actually knocked clean off during a few movie scenes. After picking it up from the carpet several times I resorted to what most JTR customers will probably do and put it back in the box. I usually prefer the more finished look of a subwoofer with a grill, but to be honest there was a bit of enjoyment to be had watching this driver go about its business. Speaking of the driver...
From what I can tell JTR uses a customized version of the Fi Audio SP4 18D1, so the foundation is certainly a good one. It's constructed with an immense half roll high density foam surround, deep voice coil bump-out, massive overhung motor built with dual magnet slugs and a rigid paper cone that's topped off with a carbon fiber dust cap. The manufacturer claims 1.3" of linear travel each way. For those counting that's 2.6" of cone movement, which is almost unheard of for an 18" driver (go get a ruler and see what 2.6" looks like and then tell me that's not amazing). This behemoth weighs in at 67 pounds all by itself, which means the driver alone tips the scales at almost 5 stone!
The amplifier is from SpeakerPower, a company acclaimed for their brilliance in engineering and efficiency. It's a class D model rated for a staggering 2400 watts RMS, so there is no shortage of power on tap. JTR has meticulously tuned the DSP to produce a virtually flat response all the way down to 16Hz. Provided you have some measure of room gain you can reasonably expect strong output into the low teens, perhaps even single digits. What the amp doesn't have is the ability to do any tweaking or fine tuning. There is no manual adjustment for phase, LPF, power mode (on/off/auto), crossover, nothing. There's an on/off switch, an XLR input, Speakon power connector and two push buttons, both of which are inactive. That's it. Like to tinker with your settings? Not happening. Initially I thought that was going to be a huge drawback, because I am absolutely the type of person who likes to fiddle with things, but the lack of adjustments didn't prove to be a handicap at all. On the contrary, this subwoofer turned out to be more of a set-it-and-forget-it affair. I pointed the gain dial to the 1:00 position, ran my room EQ program and viola!, everything was good. Somehow it just worked, no fuss no muss. I never touched it again during the entire review.
Let me start out this section with a rather bold statement; the JTR Captivator S1 is not the subwoofer it appears to be. I don't care what you assumed this thing was going to sound like, you're probably wrong. How can I be so sure of that? Because it fooled me too. I had it all figured out myself, or so I thought, and then I lived with it for a month. Turns out it isn't the least bit crude, raw or unsophisticated, aura notwithstanding. Truth be told, the Captivator S1 is far more nimble and precise then it has any right to be.
One look at that formidable 18" driver stuffed into a truck bedliner covered enclosure barely large enough to hold the thing suggests unrefined, bohemian even. If the appearance doesn't make you think that then this may; JTR has a long history in the live music industry - think PA systems installed in bars and clubs - so you would certainly be forgiven if you thought the S1's only selling point would be sheer output. It has that ability in spades, which isn't the least bit shocking, but sound quality? Who needs to waste time on that nonsense? Volume is all that matters, right? Well apparently that isn't what JTR was thinking when they designed the S1 because reality proved to be quite the opposite. It's as though someone melded Andre the Giant with Bruce Lee; a hulking presence, yet one that is quick and agile when needed. Who woulda thunk it?
Over the long haul what I heard was bass far more controlled and subtle than expected. That doesn't mean weak though. When not called upon the Captivator S1 was restrained, having no problem sitting in the background doing almost nothing, but pop in a blu-ray with a punishing soundtrack and be prepared for an assault. Like a snake hiding in the bushes, coiled and ready to strike, the Captivator S1 will sit silently minding its own business. Get too close to that reptile though and it will unleash all its fury on you in a heartbeat, without warning or concern. Same thing here, only the subwoofer equivalent. During day-to-day usage you might wonder what all the fuss is about, but crank up the volume on a 5 star "bassfest" movie and you'll get clobbered by this thing. There's a perverse sense of enjoyment about the chameleon personality of the Captivator S1.
I always try and test each unit within the parameters/limits I believe a manufacturer has set for their product. That seems fair to me. After all, why bother pounding on a $300 subwoofer as hard as I would a $3000 one? My assessment of the JTR S1 was of a product intended to be pushed, one that could handle abuse, so I treated it accordingly. It never even flinched. OK, so this thing wants to play hardball eh? Well I have enough 'bash your brains in' movies that I can certainly rise to the challenge. Let's try some of the more difficult ones, shall we? I'm going to make this subwoofer wish it never threw down the gauntlet. Well, that's what I thought anyway.
My HT mirrors what most of you probably have to contend with, a space which serves double duty (in my case it's also the living room). As you're probably all too familiar with, certain concessions must be made when dealing with a situation such as this. One of them is it's not a rattle free environment; windows, wall hangings and the like can be a nuisance sometimes. When evaluating a subwoofer with the abilities of the JTR Captivator S1 you're prone to finding any weak spots in your space, and sadly I did just that in mine. Want an example? Halfway through the movie tests I had to hit the Pause button, get myself out of the recliner and open the hallway closet door. Why? Because it was rattling and had become a distraction. Just for reference sake, my closet is 18 feet from where the subwoofer was sitting.
How To Train Your Dragon (blu-ray)
HTTYD, as this movie is often referred to, is one of the first I thought of. There are a few scenes in this flick that have a remarkable amount of content below 10Hz, so it seemed a fitting test. After all was said and done, the S1 treated me to a thrilling and very lively rendition of this movie. One of the most punishing parts begins at scene 14 - when the vikings confront the dragons on their own turf - so I started there.
The viking clan is led by Stoick, a man who is sick and tired of having his village and their resources pilfered by the dragons. He finally grows so weary of the constant raids that he decides to launch a counter-offensive. He assembles all his men and leads an armada directly to the mountain lair the dragons are holed up in. An epic battle ensues, which is one of the reasons this scene is such a good subwoofer test.
To announce their presence the vikings use catapults and launch huge boulders directly into the side of the mountain, intent on blasting their way inside to get at the enemy. After pounding away for a time they're successful, eventually ripping an immense hole in the mountainside. The S1 rendered this scene to perfection, making the assault seem totally realistic as the boulders tore into the earth and created a landslide. The impact from each hit was potent, and when the side of the mountain finally crumbles from the onslaught a wave of bass was sent coursing through the floor and into my chair. Once the dragons were unearthed they took flight and disappeared off into the sunset, making the vikings think they won the battle. As it turns out, the fight had only just begun.
Buried deep in the mountain is Red Death, the dragon ultimately responsible for all the turmoil. He's an enormous beast, dwarfing not only the other dragons but even the viking ships. He's definitely not happy about being exposed and responds by barreling out of his hiding spot with a vengeance, taking part of the mountain with him in the process. Each step he took rumbled, each roar sent a pulse through my room. The Captivator S1 seems to be made for a movie like this.
When Red Death charges out of the mountain the S1's driver started gyrating wildly, unlike I had seen up to this point. Think along the lines of a piston in an internal combustion engine. There was so much bass pouring out of this thing that the CFL light bulb in the lamp to my left began to flicker! It was ever so slight - not like someone was turning it on and off - but it was indeed having an issue. I ended up holding my hand next to the eye closest because it was becoming a distraction (the lamp sits less than 3 feet from my head). That wasn't the last time it happened either. If this keeps up I may have to spring for LED bulbs instead.
As the battle with Red Death is drawing to a conclusion the beast takes flight, and every one of his wing flaps caused the thermostat on my wall to rattle. The reason he went airborne was to go after his adversary, who just so happens to be Stoick's son Hiccup (where did they come up with that name?). Hiccup is riding a friendly dragon, one who also detests Red Death, so the plan they concoct is to get the massive creature in the air where the smaller one would be more nimble and maneuverable. They take Red Death high into the sky, and then Hiccup loops around and heads back toward earth. The goal is to get this creature so incensed that it forgets he's plummeting toward the ground and ultimately crashes into terra firma, resulting in his end.
The plan works to perfection and Red Death plunges headlong to his demise. In order to convey the sheer size of this foe as it crashes into the ground the sound engineers added an extraordinary amount of content below 5Hz. Yes, 5Hz! I can't say with certainty whether the S1 was able to produce much of that ULF (Ultra Low Frequency), but I can tell you almost everything in my room rattled at one point or another. Either way, there is no question it was able to impart the magnitude of the collision in a manner that left no doubt how gigantic Red Death truly was. Key word being "was".
Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World (DVD)
Set in April of 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars, this is the story of British Navel Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe). Captain Aubrey is at the helm of the H.M.S. Surprise, the pride of their fleet. He's been given orders to hunt down and either capture or destroy a French ship named Acheron. It's rumored to be somewhere in the Atlantic off South America, so the Surprise heads there to... well, surprise it. Turns out the Acheron is not only larger and better equipped, it's also faster and more maneuverable. That becomes painfully obvious when the Acheron launches a... wait for it... surprise attack of its own (sorry, I just couldn't resist).
The stage for the confrontation is set brilliantly as the Surprise crawls through a dense fog, everything eerily silent. The only sounds of consequence are the men's voices and the lapping of water against the hull of their vessel. Suddenly, off in the distance, lights bounce against the fog and create an ominous gleam. Immediately Captain Aubrey knows what it is - muzzle flashes from canons - and instantly the tranquility is shattered by blasts from the enemy frigate. When I say blasts I do mean blasts; powerful and mighty. The Captivator S1 wasn't the least bit surprised (OK, that will be the last pun) as it sprang to life, hitting with incredible authority. Straight away you're drawn right into the action.
Before the crew of the Surprise have a chance to react destruction rains down upon them, courtesy of the Acheron. They regroup quickly though and launch a ferocious counter-attack. With the ships parallel to each other they start firing their canons at point blank range, each blast prompted the S1 to lash out in anger. The sound of cannon balls ripping through each ship's hull accompanies explosive percussions, creating a true sense of bedlam. Despite the ferocity of the soundtrack the S1 was never unnerved; every blast and explosion was forceful, yet they were also very precise and distinct. None lingered either, they were quickly dispatched as the Captivator reloaded for the next. In spite of the pandemonium all the effects remained independent of each other, which is really just as it should have been. I found myself being pulled deeper into the movie, yet I was supposed to be taking notes.
Underworld: Awakening (blu-ray)
It's been at least a year since I've used this one in an evaluation. With everything I had experienced thus far from the Captivator S1 (read: unshakable) it seemed like an opportune time to drag it out again. If you've read any of my previous reviews where this movie was featured you know I skipped right to scenes 9 and 10, but unlike past evaluations I'm going to give you a hint of my assessment right up top instead of at the end; amazing, that's all I have to say. This soundtrack is heartless, bent on destroying your subwoofer, but the S1 was having none of that. In the end I was treated to one of the most unbelievably satisfying renditions I've heard to date.
Another deviation from my norm is I'm not going to write 3 or 4 paragraphs where I set the stage for what's about to come. You've probably either seen the movie or have read one of my earlier painstaking depictions of these two scenes so I'm going to skip over all that and jump right into the florid descriptions I've seemingly become known for.
As the battle between the Lycans and Vampires grows ever more intense the Captivator S1 obliged, ramping up the intensity accordingly. Gunshots were both potent and sharp, rumbles that were supposed to be earth-shaking reverberated throughout my living room, subtle chair-rattling sensations became evident. The battle in the 2nd rotunda was especially captivating (I seem to be on a roll with these puns), highlighted by the huge Lycans growl and thundering footsteps. As this colossal mutant creature bounds into view the output and depth the S1 produced was astonishing, yet it remained calm and unperturbed by the ruthless soundtrack. It was working hard but it never seemed fazed by the chaos, never unsettled by the maelstrom. I can think of a few politicians that I wish had similar abilities.
After all the testing had concluded I checked the amp to see how hot it had gotten. There was some evidence of warmth, but frankly it wasn't too much more than what I found during normal day-to-day usage. This SpeakerPower amp seems nonplussed about being pushed.
I had this entire section all written and ready to be published, but after reading it over decided to completely scraped the whole thing and start again. Why would I waste so much time and do something like that? What I trashed were my thoughts on how the S1 handled all manner of synthesized electronic music, songs designed with the sole purpose of abusing a sound system (similar to EDM, but not as goofy). It seemed appropriate at the time - I mean, just look at this thing - but as I started composing my notes into this review it became apparent how many references had been made to attributes such as sound quality and precision, so I decided the material originally chosen simply wouldn't do. I tossed out everything and began anew, selecting real songs instead. Consider that a testament to the musical prowess at the heart of this subwoofer (whether you deem what I opted for to be "real" songs or not is another matter altogether, so we won't go there).
The astute members of the audience will immediately notice there are 4 musical passages listed below, not my typical 3. Alright, what gives? The JTR Captivator S1 proved so masterful at its craft that I couldn't help but add it to the vaunted, yet exceedingly small list of subwoofers I personally consider 'musical'. Encountered as infrequently as the mythical unicorn, the subs I deem worthy of being classified musical is extremely rare. I can tally them on one hand, or at least I could. Now it seems I may need to add a sixth finger for the S1.
1812 Overture, Tchaikovsky (SACD)
What on earth is an avowed metal-head doing listening to classical music? It's simple really; I have a deep appreciation for history and that which came before me, and as such there's clearly no way to deny the impact the masters who lived in the 18th and 19th century had. The foundation they set for all musicians who followed is undeniable. Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Strauss, Wagner, Mozart, the list goes on and on. You've heard the names of course, but how many of you fully realize the influence these brilliant men had on what you're listening to today?
Pyotr Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer with eclectic tastes, someone who was as likely to pen a concerto as he would an opera. Melodic pieces were his stock in trade, some of which are celebrated even to this day. A few of his more notable works were The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. Tchaikovsky is one of my favorites because his pieces tended to go against the grain, qualities I can relate to. I held on to this disc for a long time before unleashing it, waiting for just the right opportunity, and when the Captivator S1 landed on my doorstep I reasoned this was my chance. I came away disappointed unfortunately, but the S1 was not the culprit.
This Telarc recorded symphony was conducted by Erich Kunzel and features the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. The pedigree is certainly there, but for me the execution left something to be desired I'm afraid. This piece is almost 16 minutes long and is celebrated for its intense cannon blasts, yet no portion of this performance seemed to confound the Captivator S1. The first time the blasts occur in earnest the Cap was wholly unfazed, as though it was nothing but a walk in the park. I bought this CD because it was supposed to be demanding, yet in the end it proved anti-climactic. At 14:30 there is a second set of blasts, potent enough to cause the driver to undulate violently, but despite that the S1 never lost composure. OK, so what's all the excitement about? Did I waste my money on this disc or is this subwoofer really so accomplished that it merely laughs off demanding material?
Outshined, Soundgarden (CD)
Soundgarden is unquestionably my favorite "grunge" band. I love the music Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, et al created, but Soundgarden was always the best of them in my opinion. A lot of their material sounded like my favorite group of all time, Black Sabbath, so that may be part of it. Thick, heavy rhythms with a dark tone defined my youth, and Soundgarden patterned themselves on that genre. Their style of music may appear to run counter to my general proclivity for energetic songs, but I've always been a fan of brooding riffs.
Named after a Seattle sculpture, Soundgarden established themselves as a band to be reckoned with around 1991 with their album Badmotorfinger. Along with the song Rusty Cage, Outshined got significant radio airplay. Badmotorfinger was actually the bands third album, although the previous two were more like EP's than true albums. This also marked the first disc with bass player Ben Shepherd, the man who replaced founding member Hiro Yamamoto after he had decided to move on.
Since the rhythm on this song is rather simple I decided to challenge the S1 with volume instead, but that proved to be an exercise in futility because it simply wasn't fazed. Shepherd's bass guitar carried the same weight as Matt Cameron's drums did, no matter how high I cranked the volume. Transitions stayed sharp, dynamics plentiful, zero overhang was heard. Before the song ended I had to turn down the volume because it became too much. How is it that I tapped out before the S1 did?
Don't Walk Away, Firehouse (WAV)
This is the stereotypical hair-metal song from a throw away 80's band that had almost no commercial success. So why am I using it then? First off, the hook is infectious, but more importantly the mix places an undue emphasis on the kick drum. What better song is there for a subwoofer designed by a company that also makes products for live music reproduction? Let the party begin!
Note to self; turn down the volume *before* you start playing this song. I didn't, and subsequently paid the price. Having just finished listening to Outshined at a ridiculous level I immediately queued up Don't Walk Away. Trouble is I neglected to lower the volume prior to hitting the play button. Bad idea. When Don't Walk Away launches it does so in a very conspicuous manner, to the point where I was actually startled. Lunge for the remote and turn it down!
After regrouping I decided to crank the volume back up, because the 'thump, thump, thump' from Michael Foster's kick drum had become addicting. Perhaps you can chalk that up to my insatiable appetite for live music, and the physical sensation associated to the PA system that I seemingly never get enough of. Maybe I wanted to push the Captivator S1 even further, see how far it could truly go. Regardless of the reason, I was intent on testing the boundaries. Ultimately the limitations proved to be my own.
Even with the volume knob twisted to an outrageous level the S1 never faltered, never ran out of gas. The thing just kept getting louder. With the grill off I watched the driver take on the appearance of a bass drum head, slapping and pulsating with each beat, yet it didn't sound slow or sloppy. What little bass guitar there is in this song was never subjugated to the background because of the raucous kick drum, but oh how glorious that over the top sound was.
Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd (CD)
After getting this far - and being very impressed with what I had heard up to this point - I decided to take a chance and drag out my favorite album of all time. Surprisingly well mixed for how old the original recording is, and definitely challenging to reproduce in all of its glory, Dark Side is not something I use very often. I ditched my SACD version for the original mix though, mostly because I wanted to get back to my roots.
The number of SACD's (Super Audio Compact Disc) I own can be counted on one hand, which is sad because when they were first released I had high hopes for the format. What was touted as a CD on steroids proved to be a miserable failure. The Dark Side SACD has more midrange and treble than the original CD does - and perhaps even greater detail - but something about it just doesn't sound right. It's akin to the difference between remixed and remastered; the latter I often appreciate, the former I generally don't. Messing with a classic is always a dangerous proposition, and if ever there was a classic this is definitely it.
There's never been a Pink Floyd album where I wanted to pick an individual song to incorporate into a review because all their material has always been inextricably linked. In that realm Dark Side Of The Moon is the standard bearer, nonpareil, the quintessential piece used to measure all their other works by. That means I listened to the entire CD, not that doing so is ever a problem of course. However, my notes below center on the incomparable Time.
This particular passage begins in a rather tame manner, with nothing more than what sounds like white noise. Static basically. That ends abruptly when a cacophony of alarm clocks start going off, an effect which quickly segues to a metronome-like beat - courtesy of the then revolutionary VCS3 synthesizer - and Roger Waters plucking the E string on his highly amplified bass. The repetitive beat from the VCS3 is not supposed to be crushed by the bass guitar though, and thankfully it wasn't. Even with the S1 making Roger's notes resonate throughout my entire room I could still here all the subtle detail in the background.
As Time progresses the rhythm becomes a fairly lazy affair, highlighted by a subdued kick drum accompanied by a powerful bass guitar. The S1 had no problem balancing what seems to be opposing requirements, understated drums with a pervasive bass lick. No matter what you did with the volume knob - had it cranked up or down - the presentation from the S1 was uniform.
Can a subwoofer made by a company known for designing products targeted at people who view a Metallica concert as docile be capable of something other than obnoxious volume? Is it possible to achieve any semblance of refinement from a product whose appearance suggests blunt force trauma? JTR Speakers is famous (infamous?) for creating speakers and subwoofers powerful enough they can be heard from a block away - and no, I'm not kidding - yet in spite of their reputation for outlandishness the person behind it all is an aficionado of music. I've heard several JTR offerings in the past but on each occasion it was at a GTG, gatherings where insane volume commands all bragging rights. I often wondered if this company could do anything else. When I finally got my hands on one of their products I decided to see if it was capable of something other than shouting, and it turns out the answer is an unequivocal yes. The JTR Captivator S1 is a powerhouse subwoofer, but you probably already knew that part. What you may not have realized is it also has an incredible amount of finesse. The S1 proved to be the rare combination that skillfully blends brute force with elegance in equal parts. Think brass knuckles hidden inside a velvet glove and you start to get an idea of what I'm referring to. This is the Mike Tyson of subwoofers, had he gone to Juilliard; small and intimidating, yet a musical savant. The living embodiment of the word "oxymoron".
Please use the JTR Speakers Captivator S1 Discussion Thread for questions and comments
These measurements were taken using an Omnimic measurement system. The S1 was positioned in the center of my listening room with the microphone 1 foot from the dustcap of the driver. The amp gain was set at 12:00. Since there are no other controls that was the only adjustment made.
Overall frequency response