Originally Posted by Kaldari
Hey CorsairGeorge, can you give us some insight as to why you guys went with the bandpass sub design?
It's known to be the muddiest sounding, so it's a bit of an oddity when you guys seem to be so focused on giving us quality. Was it because of the minimal power requirements?
You can Occam's Razor this one.
A bit of background here: most PC speaker systems use a simpler design called bass reflex; it's your garden variety cube with an outward-facing driver and a port. It's a perfectly fine design -- our also-new SP2200 also uses it -- and a well-designed bass reflex subwoofer can sound very nice.
But with the SP2500, we weren't going for "perfectly fine" or "very nice." We're going for a system that will be a new reference standard for PC audio. One way to do that is to cure the ills of many high-powered PC speakers -- way too much distortion in the bass, and (to our ears, at least) too much crossover/phase distortion.
A fourth-order bandpass system has a driver mounted into a sealed chamber, firing into a separate, ported chamber. The ported chamber creates an acoustic filter (hence the "bandpass") which passes along only a select range of frequencies.
As you mentioned, it's more efficient, so you get more volume with less power. It also adds less distortion (again, a huge issue in PC speakers) and better transient response -- things like gunfire, drum solos, and the like. The sound is cleaner and more detailed because it's coming from only one source -- the port. With bass reflex enclosures, sound is coming from both the driver and the port, so you can see why this can lead to transient response issues.
I just got back from CES, where I demoed the SP2500 to what seems like a metric squillion people. One of my favorite demos was to play Van Halen's "Everybody Wants Some" or that perrenial audio demo favorite, the live version of "Hotel California." We'd turn the volume and sub up to nearly 100% and amaze people with the amazingly clean attack and punch of the percussion. The drums in the live Hotel California sound amazing on a good audio system, and Van Halen did a really good job in recording their drums -- on the SP2500, you sound like you're in the studio with Alex Van Halen. Drums are much more than a bass instrument... they go into the mids, and the details are there if you have the right gear. On some other high-power PC speakers on the market, those drums on the Van Halen track sound like they may as well have been synthesized after listening to them on the SP2500.
As for the "it's known to be the muddiest sounding" -- well, certain people just know what they know, and if you know it and know it well, then I won't try to convince you otherwise. Just note that the tight, clean bass has already been called out by reviewers as a highlight of the SP2500.
If you actually meant "I've heard some fourth-order bandpass subs and they sounded muddy," or "I've read that fourth-order designs have a reputation for being muddy," that's understandable. Here's why:
- Fourth-order bandpass enclosures are tough to design well. Get it wrong, and it won't sound good. We designed ours well.
- Car audio is a notorious offender here; it's a common design in that field and some of the boxes just sound bad. Thus, some folks assume that the concept, not the implementation, is at fault.
- Because of the bandpass feature, the design has been used to mask less expensive or poor-quality drivers that have lots of distortion on the edges -- you can filter those out. Thus, some people assume that a fourth-order design is hiding a sub-par driver. By comparison, when you're desigining a bass reflex enclosure that's firing nakedly into the air, you can't get away with sourcing a poor-quality driver. As you can guess, for the SP2500 we used a really nice driver anyway.
Again, there are some folks that just KNOW that fourth-order enclosures sound bad -- that's the thing about audio; opinions run pretty strong. You can't build a system that meets everybody's preconceptions, so it's best to just build a system that sounds great.