From the posts I’m seeing on the New BFD Poll thread, it looks like a lot of people are interested in remote control for their subs. Rather than sidetrack that thread, I thought I’d open a new one here on the topic.
The cheap and easy solution: A gizmo called the Chase Technologies RLC-1. It connects between the receiver and the subwoofer. Sure, most receivers these days can control sub levels through the remote, but you usually have to shift through a lot of on-screen menus to do it. The RLC-1 makes sub levels readily accessible - like the main volume control - which to me is the way it should be.
Photo courtesy of Otto
A brief background on the RLC-1: Back in the mid 90s a maverick company called Chase Technologies came out with the RLC-1 (for remote line controller). It was designed to upgrade older two-channel receivers for remote control capability, accomplished by connecting across the tape monitor loop. All of your components would plug into the RLC-1, which would then allow input selections and basic functions like volume, balance, bass and treble to be remote controlled. The RLC-1 was tested in Stereo Review and got good marks for its excellent specs and sonics. List price was $150, but Best Buy sold them for $100.
Chase Technologies is long out of business, but occasionally a RLC-1 will show up on eBay (search “chase rlc-1” or “chase technologies” from the home-page search engine). When you find them, they will typically sell under $50.
Eleven years later I’m still using my RLC-1, and it works very well for this application. It does have a few minor problems, but they have easy solutions.
- The first is that the front-panel LED’s are ridiculously bright. I fixed this by taping a piece of 20% window tint over them.
- Second, the RLC-1 only has a visual reference for volume level changes, a row of blinking LED’s, and it’s rather vague and ambiguous. Once you move the volume setting up or down it’s pretty much all up to your ears. If you want to then move it back to the point where you started, it’s hard to do that with any certainty.
However, there’s an easy fix for this, too: When the RLC-1 looses power, it re-sets itself to default settings. So what I did was calibrate my reference sub level to the default, and then plugged the RLC-1 into a switched outlet. This way anytime I change the sub level, it goes back to the default/reference setting the next time I power up the system.
- Third, the RLC-1’s default output is lower than the incoming signal, so you’ll have to compensate by increasing the signal from the receiver’s sub output or at the subwoofer itself.
If you have a remote that runs macros, you can simply include the RLC-1 in the turn-on sequence, assuming your remote can be “taught” commands from other remotes. The default input is “VCR,” so that’s the one you want to use – otherwise you have to change the input every time you turn the system on.
It’s interesting how times have changed. When I first started on the home theater forums back in ’99, I mentioned remote controlled subs in general and the Chase specifically a few times, and generated near zero interest. Maybe it’s an idea whose time has come. I for one think the concept is very cool. I wouldn’t dream of having a system without it. It's also a quick and easy way to turn of the subs for late night viewing when others in the house are sleeping.
Another viable option is an old stereo pre amp with remote control. I looked through my old Audio Equiment Directories from the mid-to-late 90s and came up with a few that listed for under $1000. If you can find them on eBay or some other auction site, they should be selling pretty cheap by now, although they’ll probably be higher than the Chase:
- Onkyo P-301
- Adcom GFP-710
- NAD 116
- Technics SU-C1000
- Yamaha CX-2
- Denon PRA-1500
- Proton AP-2000
The Onkyo and Proton had the lowest list prices (in the $300 range), so they’re probably your best bet for a cheap solution.
Pre-amp/tuner combos are also an option. Here are the ones I could find that listed under $1000:
- Adcom GTP-450
- AudioSource Preamp/Tuner 2
- Carver CT-23/CT-24
- NAD 917
- Rotel RTC-940AX
Good luck and happy remoting!