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{picture courtesy of Rythmik}

Rythmik Audio FV18 Review

By Jim Wilson (theJman)​


Round 3
The subject of this review is the Rythmik Audio FV18, a large industrial strength ported subwoofer. This is the 3rd Rythmik sub I have reviewed, hence the "round 3" designation.

The FV18 is the company's flagship single-driver offering. Frequency response is listed at 12-200Hz +/-4dB using the LFE input, and 12-90 Hz +/-4dB using Line In (both ranges are with one port blocked, more on that later). It utilizes their newly released DS1820 driver which features an anodized aluminum cone, 3" voice coil and 240oz magnet assembly. Linear excursion is +/- 20mm, so a little over 1.5" point-to-point. The amplifier is Rythmik's high power HX1000XLR3 which, despite its name, is 900 watts. This is a Hypex-based class D amp incorporating the company's proprietary servo control mechanism. The cabinet for the FV18 measures 33"x21"x22 (HWD) and weighs in at just under 160 pounds.

Ordering
The FV18 costs $1700, which includes shipping to anywhere within the continental United States. That cost is likely to increase if you're located outside the US so contact Rythmik for a quote if that applies to you. As is the case with all Internet Direct (ID) company's, you order the FV18 right from their website.

The standard driver cone has a satin black finish, but for $80 you can upgrade to a non-anodized silver instead (there is no functional difference between the two, it's purely cosmetic). Due to the subwoofers size and weight Rythmik offers, free of charge, furniture mover pads for either carpet or hardwood floors. All you need to do is choose which you want when ordering. They're the only company I know of doing that. It's a nice touch as moving around a sub this large and heavy by yourself can be tough, so I'll gladly take all the help I can get. Also included are screw-in rubber feet. Chrome carpet spikes are sold separately.

Rythmik provides a 5 year warranty on the driver, while the amp is covered for 3 years. They also offer a 45 day in-home trial, with the customer only responsible for return shipping should he/she decide the FV18 is not for them. I don't imagine too many people will do that though, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Specifications
Rythmik FV18 Specifications


  • Driver: DS1820 18" high excursion with custom sensing coil
  • Driver Materials: One piece black anodized dish aluminum with rubber surround; Cast aluminum basket; Multiple aluminum flux de-modulation shorting rings
  • Amplifier: 900W RMS Hypex class-D patented servo controlled
  • Dimensions: 21"(W) x 33" (H )x 22"(D) - (23" D with grille and heatsink)
  • Shipping Weight: 180 lbs
  • Frequency Response: 12 - 200 Hz ([email protected]) with LFE input; 12 - 90 Hz ([email protected]) with LINE IN input
  • Multi-tune: 16hz (3 port) and 12.5hz (2 port)
  • Crossover Slope: Selectable 12 or 24 dB / octave (PEQ)
  • Crossover Range (Low pass): 25 - 100 Hz
  • Rumble Filter (High pass): 12 Hz 18 dB / octave (defeatable, recommended for high SPL playback)
  • Phase Adjustment: 0 - 180 degrees continuously variable
  • Bass Damping Factor Settings: high (Q=0.5), med (Q=0.7), and low (Q=1.1)
  • Finishes: Available in black matte paint or black oak vinyl
  • Warranty: 5 years warranty on driver and 3years on electronics; 45 day home trial with customer paying one-way return shipping
Unboxing
Due to the size and weight of the FV18 it came strapped to a pallet and shipped via freight truck with a lift gate.


{The white pieces on top are the free furniture mover pads}

Because the sub was delivered by a trucking company you'll need to be home when it arrives as a direct signature is required. Realistically speaking, when you get a new toy like this who doesn't want to be home when it shows up?

In typical Rythmik fashion the packaging was well thought out and executed to perfection. The subwoofer came double boxed - which is expected with something in this price class - but what was uncommon is each layer of packaging was stout enough that it probably would have sufficed to protect the unit by itself. The entire top and bottom of the subwoofer was cradled by custom-fit medium density foam, locking it securely in place. This same type of foam was used to construct large V-shaped pieces designed to safeguard the vertical edges on all 4 sides. And then there's the 'skateboard'...





Rythmik uses a cardboard and foam device that resembles a miniature wooden pallet. It's designed to assist when removing the FV18 from the box, so as not to strain your back. You basically lay the sub on top of the skateboard and pull. At first glance it may seem like a gimmick, but in reality it works quite well. Anyone who has unboxed a 150+ pound subwoofer by themselves can certainly understand why something like this is useful.


Typical Rythmik, But With Some Nice Updates
There is perhaps no company today building subwoofers that offers as much amplifier control as these folks provide. So extensive are their adjustments that an entire article could be written about this topic alone. That's out of scope for this piece however, but for those who like to tinker and fine tune Rythmik is the obvious choice.



There are so many settings and options that configuring this thing could be a daunting for some. How do I know what the individual dials and switches should be set for? How do they interact with each other? What is the preferred configuration to have before running room EQ (Audyssey, MCACC, YPAO, et al)? What about after, should I fine tune anything? It can be a little overwhelming unless you have some knowledge and experience in this area. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that, historically, Rythmik's documentation has been somewhat lacking. In essence, it was written by an engineer for an engineer. When you combine myriad dials and switches with terse instructions, setting up a Rythmik subwoofer correctly was a challenge for some. I'm happy to say things have gotten better as it's obvious they have taken steps in the right direction with regards to their documentation. The previous stark Quick Guide has been improved and is now much more helpful. Truth be told there is still some room for improvement, but the printout that comes with the FV18 is less austere and more polished than what came with any of their subwoofers in the past.

On top of the updated Quick Guide they now offer an Installation Guide. This is a welcome addition that goes into detail about specific controls and how they should be set given certain conditions. It's a handy reference for sure. Because each room and situation is different you still have to experiment and do some additional fine tuning - which is the same thing you would have to do with any subwoofer - but this guide does provide a really good starting point.

To make adjustments the amplifier employs a series of toggles, slide switches and dials. Everything is marked with an easily readable font so even in low-light settings you can see them clearly. This is the third Rythmik subwoofer I've reviewed - and the fourth I've had in my house, as an E15HP was my personal reference unit for a while - so I have a lot of experience with their amplifiers. In each case I have been impressed with how well they executed their controls. In spite of the busy appearance the amps tend to have, everything is perfectly legible.

Standby mode on the FV18 has been tuned to perfection, and I do mean perfection. This happens to be a pet peeve of mine so you'll have to excuse me while I go off on a tangent. If that's something you aren't concerned with feel free to skip the next two paragraphs.

I find it particularly annoying if a sub goes into standby too quickly or easily. It's also frustrating if it takes an excessive amount of volume to power the thing back up. I watch a lot of sports and nature shows - which means long intervals of people doing nothing more than talking - and all too frequently I've encountered subwoofers which go into standby prematurely because there's little deep bass during those programs. For me it's rather irritating to hear a human voice with nothing below 80Hz as it comes across sounding weak and attenuated, nothing like the real thing (read some of my speaker reviews to get an understanding of how important accurate voices are to me). When watching a program consisting almost entirely of voices having a subwoofer constantly go into a coma gets old real quick. What if you hit the mute button during commercials - which I do all the time - and upon your return find it has gone into standby mode? For all intents and purposes the amp is turning itself on and off every time the standby/wake up cycle happens. Do that multiple times an hour, for hours on end every night, and for sure longevity will suffer in the weeks, months and years ahead. No such worries with the Rythmik FV18 however as this amp does standby flawlessly.

It doesn't go to sleep even after 15 minutes of low bass or inactivity, so there are no issues muting commercials or watching sports. When the amp does wake from its rare slumber the response is all but instantaneous, without any untoward noises or sounds; the FV18 simply comes back to life and starts playing, with no drama whatsoever. It's immediate and seamless, exactly as it should be. Rythmik needs to publish a white paper on how to do standby mode as this is the yardstick to judge others by. I forget, did I mention this is a pet peeve of mine? Alright, rant mode off. And now back to our regularly scheduled program...

Construction and material quality is top notch; every screw was tight, every seam aligned, every component mounted flush. The black oak veneer on the review unit was applied flat, smooth and without a single blemish. Internally there are both horizontal and vertical braces placed in strategic locations, imparting an obvious structural integrity and a general feeling of substance. Lining every internal surface were sheets of acoustic foam, all neatly attached and tucked into place.





When you pay $1700 for a subwoofer it would be reasonable to expect things like that, but those expectations are not always realized in the world of mass produced products. Me thinks someone at Rythmik is a bit of a perfectionist, which is certainly not a problem as far as I'm concerned.

Like their documentation, Rythmik is making progress on the grills as well. Instead of what previously seemed to be an afterthought, it now appears they are part of the initial design and the result is a good integration. On the FV18 the frame is made from painted MDF that's an impressive 1.25" thick. As you can image, it's very sturdy. The corners are rounded and have a nice tapered angle to them, with the fabric expertly attached and very transparent. The whole assembly is held tightly to the cabinet using the ubiquitous plastic pin/cup arrangement, but in lieu of the typical 4 attachment points - one at each corner - they chose to use 6, adding an extra pair in the middle. Breaking up the normal all-black color scheme so common today, Rythmik (finally) decided to include a logo up front. Tastefully finished in a brushed silver, and centered along the bottom, the block lettered RYTHMIK name adds a nice touch.

The driver in the FV18 is their top-of-the-line DS1820, the largest and most powerful the company has ever offered. It's a high excursion unit featuring a one piece anodized aluminum cone with a thick rubber surround. Mounted to a 12 spoke aluminum frame which has been painted matt black, this is one very robust piece.


{Hint; can you guess one of the movies used during this evaluation?}

Befitting a driver of this pedigree, the DS1820 was mounted using 12 screws instead of the typical 8. That's probably warranted as it proved to be pretty heavy, so the more anchor points the better. There's venting everywhere - under the spider, around the entire perimeter of the voice coil, on the backside of the magnet - so thermal compression due to extended periods of high output should not be an issue. That was the case in real world usage as the FV18 driver never emitted a single bad sound, no matter how hard I pushed it.

A bass reflex subwoofer relies heavily on port(s) to augment output as its performance is directly related to how efficiently it is able to move air. Rythmik went all out here by using a triple stack of 3.5" round tubes that measure 34" long. Flared at each end to minimize turbulence they start at the top back of the cabinet and snake around to the front, exiting directly below the driver. When you peer inside the enclosure it almost looks like a pipe organ.



To ensure nothing resonates during times of high output each tube is rimmed by an adhesive/caulk as it passes through the cabinet bracing. Mounted to the top panel - directly over each port - are what appears to be inverted Hershey's Kisses. Similar to the port flares, their job is to smooth air flow and minimize turbulence. It's evident there is a lot of attention to detail here, and it shows in the final product as these seemingly inconsequential features contribute to produce a very smooth and well balanced sound. Pay attention to the small stuff and the big stuff takes care of itself.

This being Rythmik, of course you can use the ports to make further adjustments. Included with the FV18 is a foam plug that can be inserted into any port, effectively lowering the tuning frequency. With all 3 ports open you'll get the most output, which routinely means a loss of lower extension, yet in spite of that this subwoofer is still tuned to an admirable 16Hz. Plug one of the ports - it doesn't matter which since they're all the exact same length and size - and you lower the tune even further, all the way down to an incredible 12Hz. The tradeoff is there is a little less output, but in my testing it didn't prove to be all that much. Me being me, I used the 12Hz tune for almost the entire time I had the FV18.


This Subwoofer Packs a Punch
Does your neighborhood have a person who tends to do be a bit more 'spirited' than anyone else? The guy who can be counted on to stir up some trouble or create a bit of excitement (maybe controversy, depending upon how you look at it)? That would be me. I'm certainly not a miscreant, but I'm also not afraid to cause a little ruckus and the FV18 inadvertently played right into that. How? By announcing itself to my next door neighbors. Allow me to explain.

A week or so after I took possession of this sub I decided to cut loose one night and see what it was capable of. I wasn't even taking review notes yet, just felt like having some fun. To that end I queued up a few of the more punishing Blu-ray discs I own and cranked the volume, and I do mean cranked. At one point I recall thinking "should I really be listening to it this loud?". Restraint was lacking that evening, and I would probably have been better served dialing back the volume to something more reasonable, but sometimes I don't do prudence very well. If I showed restraint at that moment I would surely miss out on the fun I'm having, so it was full speed ahead. About halfway through my viewing session I get a series of frantic text messages from my next door neighbor who wanted to know what on earth was going on. Apparently my storm windows were rattling and they could hear it from their backyard. Let me paint the picture for you...

I live in the stereotypical suburban home, with my property being about 75'x150'. This neighbor's house is perhaps 20' from mine, so there's at least some distance between us. The FV18 was located on the opposite side of my house from theirs however, meaning around 50' away all told. Add in the fact they were outside and the sub is (obviously) inside and you have another barrier the FV18 had to overcome - walls - yet overcome it did. I've lived next door to these people for nine years, two more than I've been publishing reviews, and this is the first time they've wanted to know what I was doing that was making such a racket. So, are there any questions on what the Rythmik FV18 is capable of? Yea, didn't think there would be. Bet that incident also gives you a little preview about how the Movie and Music sections are going to turn out.


Movies
I didn't want to do it, I really didn't, but Rythmik made me. I thought I could try a few new movies to test the FV18, not recycle anything I had used previously, but this subwoofer just begs for the best you have. In response I felt compelled to drag out a few classics, see if it was able to take a punch, so I chose some old friends. What you may notice however is the selections are not just bassfest movies, the nonstop subwoofer workout variety. These all hit hard at points - some more frequently than others - but each allows for gaps in the action, sections where the sub has to hang back and show restraint. That wasn't by accident.

Most of you know by now that I love subwoofers, but in order to make the grade with me it had better be able to play deep bass at volume. Equally important, or perhaps even more critical, are detail and accuracy. It must blend in with what's going on, do nothing more than augment at times, and never be offensive or grating. That isn't easy to do though as a subwoofer able to strike with authority sometimes can't rein itself in when the time comes to be subtle. The movies I chose would force the FV18 to play both roles, so it won't take long before I know if it can deliver what a well-rounded subwoofer should be able to.

The Dark Knight Rises (Blu-ray)


Remember seeing this Blu-ray disk before? If not, hit PgUp a few times.

What can you say about a movie that within the first 5 minutes has content down to DC, which is 0Hz? Yes, 0Hz! I know what I say; queue it up and let 'er rip. That's precisely what I did and I showed no quarter, cranking this scene louder than I probably should have. Reviewing subwoofers is a tough job, but hey somebody has to do it.

This installment of the series portrays Batman as a criminal, a departure from the previous films. The movie opens with the CIA rounding up bad guys in their quest to find the madman Bane, aptly named as the word "bane" means "a cause of great distress or annoyance". This would not be the last bit of irony director Christopher Nolan threw in.

The CIA did get a few villains in their dragnet, but unbeknownst to them they also got Bane himself during their sweep. As you probably already surmised he planned that all along, so it's no surprise to find he has an ulterior motive. The CIA agents don't initially realize who they have because all of the prisoners have hoods over their head, so each is systematically loaded onto the plane and off everyone goes. Once in the air Bane's henchmen, trailing in their own plane, swoop in for the kill. Literally. It's at this point you notice another one of Nolan's paradoxes; the good guys are in the black plane while the bad guys are in a white plane.

As the white plane (bad guys) descends toward the black plane (good guys) the bass plummets just as quickly, all the way to 0Hz. It happens so fast that your poor subwoofer never knows what happened, yet the FV18 didn't really seem to struggle. Almost everything in my room began to rattle, which is disappointing seeing as how I've spent a lot of time trying to address all the things that could possibly make noise. Guess I have more work to do, eh? While the FV18 was not quite able to dig into the single digits - which is certainly excusable, seeing as few subs legitimately can - it had so much output starting in the low teens that during this scene I actually had to turn down the subwoofer trim on my AVR so it wouldn't overpower me. I don't recall having to do that before.

By the 5th scene Bane has done a masterful job of setting up Batman as both a criminal and murderer. So convincing was his character assassination that the Gotham PD is now after the Caped Crusader. At one point they're furiously chasing Batman, with the entire force bearing down on him. As the police cruisers close in on all sides he steers the Batcycle into a dark alley, at which point 5-0 thinks they have him cornered. Wrong. While the police position themselves outside the alley, ready to pounce, he's busy transforming the Batcycle into a flying craft. Within a few seconds Batman explodes out of the alley and flies off to the safety of Wayne Manor. The propulsion system used on his ariel craft seems to be centered in the 30Hz range, which isn't much of a challenge for most subwoofers. However, here it's not the depth but the amount; this part of the soundtrack is absolutely saturated, but at no point was the FV18 unable to keep up. There was so much output it completely engulfed me. I suppose you can't ask for more than that.

Black Hawk Down (Blu-ray)


If you're reading this review than surely you know about Black Hawk Down, and with that you also know the famous (infamous?) Irene scene. Ironically it's perhaps the shortest subwoofer test there is, being nothing more than a few seconds in duration, but it has achieved legendary status nonetheless. There is a lot more to this movie then that short piece however. Once the action starts in earnest it doesn't let up for over 20 minutes, so there's plenty for a subwoofer to do.

"Irene" is the code word for a military operation both Army Rangers and Delta Force undertake to capture the top lieutenants of Somali warlord Mohammed Farrah Aidid, a psychotic killer accused of slaughtering countless innocent people. The goal is a coop, to break Aidid's coalition and remove him from power once and for all. The US military brings their elite troops, along with aerial support provided by none other than Black Hawk helicopters (Sikorsky UH-60).

Once the mission has been deemed a 'go' the renowned line is uttered; "All units Irene. I say again, Irene" (you hear Matthews saying that line now, you know you do). It's at that point the choppers lift off, which results in perhaps the deepest bass the soundtrack has to offer. Anyone who has been around a large bird when it goes airborne knows full well and good that sensation, and the FV18 did an excellent job reproducing it. You could feel the power and intensity increase as the Black Hawks begin to ascend. In my smallish room it came across in a tactile manner with vibrations felt in my feet and chest, along with an unmistakable pulsating from the rotor blades. That's all fine and dandy, but it doesn't last long enough for me to consider it much of a test. For something a bit more sustained I jumped to scene 5 (Hey wait a minute, is this the second movie in a row where I quoted something from scene 5? Does that constitute a theme? Score one for me!). By this point the battle between the US forces and the 'skinnies' - Somali insurgents - is raging, which means a lot of opportunity to test the capabilities of this sub.

As I went over my notes - something I always do while writing each section of a review - it became apparent just how much I liked this part of the movie. Or, depending upon your perspective, how much I liked the FV18. There is all manner of things here that can challenge a subwoofer, but none of my comments indicate a single shortcoming. At various points there is artillery exploding, gunshots from multiple weapons, munitions of every type, yet each had its own weight and power. Interspersed amongst the mayhem is a soundtrack filled with ominous music, which the FV18 skillfully layered on top of everything else. My notes have entries like "everything blended perfectly" and "wonderful texture and tone". Each element of this scene was able to stand on its own, no matter how chaotic the action was.

Underworld: Awakening (Blu-ray)


Those of you familiar with my previous reviews might have been able to guess this movie was going to make an appearance. It shows up frequently because the soundtrack - like Tron: Legacy - is not only unforgiving, but it can be a bit on the obnoxious side if not done correctly. That's quite a tempting combination; deep and challenging material is definitely not something I shy away from when it comes to testing subwoofers, especially ones that aren't inexpensive, so it was hard to pass up Underworld: Awakening when the FV18 landed on my doorstep.

Typically I start with scene 9, which is where the half-breed (Lycan/Vampire) child Eve is seen cutting her own arm while imprisoned in a dark underground chamber. She's fascinated by the fact her cuts heal instantly, which is due to her Vampire blood, so she keeps slicing away just to watch it happen. At this point in walks her mother Selene, someone Eve never really knew because she was cryogenically frozen shortly after Eve was born. While talking with her mother for the first time Eve suddenly feels the presence of Lycans, the archenemy of Vampires. Can you guess what happens next? The only thing that can happen in a movie like this, a fight to the death.

The battle occurs predominantly in the 2nd rotunda, pitting Lycans and Vampires head-to-head. During the melee there are several different types of small arms being fired, all of which were forceful when discharged. Selene's automatic pistols were particularly strong, dominating the soundtrack with ripples of bass. My review notes reflect a sense of awe at the dynamic range this subwoofer has, with a near limitless amount of headroom. It's as though nothing fazes this thing. Excess/surplus ability is beneficial as once the initial battle concludes a huge Lycan makes its appearance. Having something in reserve proved advantageous when it came time to convey his presence as it's nigh impossible to instill the proper level of fear this thing creates otherwise. This is certainly not the time for moderation.

Most of the Lycans tower over the Vampires but this beast is gigantic by comparison, at least twice the size of the others. The soundtrack does an excellent job of creating a sense of enormity by virtue of his thundering footsteps and menacing growl. This is possibly the most difficult portion of the movie for a subwoofer to reproduce cleanly, so what did I do when it got to this part? Why crank it up of course! I twisted the volume knob higher in the hopes of finding the FV18's limit, but I wasn't able to trip it up. In spite of the merciless soundtrack this subwoofer kept its composure, all the while pouring out incredible amounts deep bass. This creature was portrayed with pure savagery, just as it should have been. I may have to go back and watch this scene again.


After all the testing had concluded I checked the amp to see how hot it had gotten, but warm is about all I could muster. The HX1000XLR3 has four banks of heat fins covering an entire side of the amp, so it certainly has the ability to dissipate BTU's, but frankly I expected it to be in worse shape than it was given how hard I pushed the thing.


Music
Sergei Rachmaninoff reportedly once said "music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music". Yup, he and I be mates. Brian Ding, the engineer behind Rythmik, apparently feels the same as his subwoofers are frequently described as being 'musical', mostly because of their near legendary precision and accuracy (traits often cited when subwoofers are designated as being musical). That means this part of the review counts as much, if not more, to some of you as the movie portion does. With that I'm sure many people think I spent a lot of time listening to music while evaluating the FV18. What if I told you I hadn't? What if I said I didn't really concentrate on music this time around? What if instead I said... oh who am I kidding? Does anyone really believe I would evaluate a Rythmik subwoofer and not spend an inordinate amount of time listening to music? I didn't think so.

The only problem is, what genre do I focus on? Should it be the somewhat lively/aggressive/repugnant (depends on how you view it) heavy metal I generally favor? Perhaps EDM/electronic, with its driving beat and deep bass? Maybe something from one of the original masters - the aforementioned Rachmaninoff, Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, et al - who were fond of things like tympani's and canon fire? Killer blues with their lazy yet powerful down beat would certainly work, as would any high energy tune having a staccato rhythm seemingly intent on destroying a subwoofer. Why choose though, how about all of the above? The beauty of writing reviews is that I can go crazy with total impunity. Think along the lines of grandparents; spoil the grandkids, have an absolute blast with them, then send the amped up little ones home to their mom and dad. Life is good for me sometimes. Let's get this party started, shall we?

Bass I Love You, Bassotronics (CD)


How many saw this one coming? Bet more than a few of you. The quintessential subwoofer test material, Bass I Love You has probably been used to torture more subs than any other song due to its demanding nature. With very deep and pulsing tones it can easily unsettle the best of them, making almost any subwoofer cringe and sound vague or sloppy. That didn't happen here as this was quite possibly the cleanest and most detailed version of the song I've ever heard. Surprisingly it wasn't the most potent, or was it? Did Rythmik try to sneak one by me? As I would come to find, this was a case of 'less is more'.

During energetic listening sessions - that's the polite way to say "loud" - the FV18 didn't seem the least bit fazed by what Bassotronics was trying to do. It was almost nonplussed, virtually unperturbed and apparently immune as I repeatedly played this track at an ever increasing volume. Given the brutal nature of this material the driver was moving less than I anticipated, but it certainly wasn't being shy. There were distinct throbbing sensations running up my spine, transmitted from the floor into my chair, but it wasn't overpowering or unpleasant. You can always tell when this song trips up a subwoofer because everything tends to fade into one big droning sound, almost like a hum, but the FV18 wasn't having any of that. I could feel a slight breeze from the ports washing over my feet, even though the sub was about 15' away, yet it never once lost its cool. The same can't be said for my printer I'm afraid, which sits on a computer desk in an adjoining room. This song and subwoofer combo made the paper tray rattle more than a little. I've had blinds and the closet door in my living room make noise in the past, but I'm not sure my printer has ever fallen victim to one of my evaluations before. There's something perversely funny about that.

Texas Flood (live), Stevie Ray Vaughan (CD)


I honestly couldn't help this one - and please don't think I'm making light of the recent tragedy in Texas with hurricane Harvey, because I'm certainly not - but between me looking for a blues song, wanting it to be something recorded live and Harvey the major news story as I was writing this, Texas Flood immediately came to mind. As it turns out Rythmik is located in the Lone Star state so everything just aligned perfectly, and you know how I like my themes. Even if you take everything I just wrote out of the equation you're still left with Stevie Ray Vaughan covering Jimi Hendrix. For me it simply doesn't get any better than that; two of histories seminal guitar virtuosos converging (sort of) on one song. In went the CD and up went the volume, and I do mean up.

The original recording of Texas Flood was the title track from Stevie's first studio album, the landmark 1983 release that also included such notable songs as Love Struck Baby, Pride and Joy and another cover, an old Buddy Guy tune called Mary Had a Little Lamb. To say Stevie Ray Vaughan announced his arrival with this album would be an understatement. Enough history and back story though, how did it sound? In a word, phenomenal.

In order to create the proper impact live music must be loud - there's no way of getting around that - so I attempted to replicate an SRV show by making sure the FV18 got itself a bona fide workout. The glue of this musical trio is Tommy Shannon on the bass guitar and Chris Layton on drums, two guys who play off each other brilliantly. Their contributions are plainly evident, with both effortlessly able to power through the blistering guitar solos Stevie unleashes during this recording. If I closed my eyes it was as though I could see each of them on stage plying their trade. A single Rythmik FV18 couldn't possibly replicate the stacks of PA cabinets I so relish, but in my living room it came close enough to elicit a broad smile. I really enjoyed this tune, about half a dozen times.

Pyrokinesis, Tony Macalpine (CD)


Remember the staccato reference I made earlier? That song goes here. I almost went with something from Dream Theater because, well, because of Mike Portnoy. He is one of the few people who can match the ferocity and quickness of such luminaries as Neal Peart and Keith Moon, two of my all-time favorites, but in the end I went with Macalpine instead because Pyrokinesis is just cruel. Yup, I showed no mercy. Again.

From his self-titled 2011 album, Tony plays the guitar - 6, 7 and 8 string versions! - along with keyboards and bass. Marco Minnemann handles the drums on this track, and it was mostly because of him I chose this particular song. Reason being, he's absolutely frenetic with the kick drum. So fast are Marco's feet at times that you must have a subwoofer that can start and stop on a dime in order to get it right. The FV18 handled the frenzied pace with ease. Here's the kicker (pun intended); the first 2 passes I played moderately, at a low volume. Why? On lesser subwoofers detail and resolution can suffer if the amp isn't in the meat of its power band, pushing out a good amount of wattage. My attempt to trip up the Rythmik FV18 didn't work out as planned unfortunately because clarity was plainly evident even when the volume was subdued. The next few passes were at a level far less civilized though, which was probably assumed by most of you. Things remained pretty much the same as the FV18 all but shrugged it off, remaining poised in the face of adversity. At the end of the day you can't show restraint when playing this song - at least I can't - so it seemed a fitting conclusion to the music evaluation to let loose one final time before I send this subwoofer back. Speaking of "conclusion"...


Conclusion
Rythmik has a reputation to uphold, and a lofty one at that. Widely regarded as a company who creates some of the most articulate and precise subwoofers money can buy, they're in an enviable position. Most of their competitors would love to have products held in such high esteem, but that status is a double-edge sword as any slip up could easily tarnish their reputation. Stepping up to a subwoofer with an 18" driver is unfamiliar territory for these folks, so there is a lot on the line here. Fear not as they have clearly done their homework and designed an absolute gem. Capable of remarkable output and depth - all while maintaining the accuracy this company is known for - Rythmik has created a very impressive subwoofer in the FV18. This is no 'jack of all trades, master of none' product as it hits every target, and it does so with relative ease. Rythmik took a while to release a subwoofer with an 18" driver, but it was well worth the wait. Excellence can be deceiving at times as it doesn't always shout and say "look at me!". Because of that it could potentially go unnoticed by those not looking in a specific direction. Eventually most will come to realize what's in front of them though, and the Rythmik FV18 is likely to be one of those times.


Please use the Rythmik FV18 Discussion Thread for questions and comments​























These measurements were taken using an Omnimic. The FV18 was positioned in the center of my listening room with the microphone 1 foot from the front panel, positioned equidistant from the driver and port in order to sum their output. The controls were set as follows:


  • Limiter: off
  • PEQ: off
  • Phase: 0ms
  • Crossover: 100Hz (maximum)
  • Volume: maximum
  • Low Pass: AVR/12
  • Rumble Filter: off
  • Freq: 12
The tests were done in three stages using the Low, Mid and Hi damping. Each sweep was run in 3 port and 2 port mode (the latter being 1 port blocked using the included foam plug). Each graph is noted accordingly.



2 Port Mode




3 Port Mode

 
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