Seeing as how I'm unemployed and have nothing better to do, I stopped in to Tweeter to check out the Rel Storm III sub ($1700). All this talk about amazing subwoofers as of late finally got to me. I also checked at the local Paradigm dealer, but they didn't have the Servo-15. The salesman there claimed that they don't carry them, because the B&W subs are better for the money. Anybody ever A/B them? Mantis?
Anyway, back to the Rel. Naturally the Tweeter salesman didn't know his head from his ass and couldn't really tell me much about the sub. He was able to tell me about the Rel proprietary speaker-level input cable (called a Neutrik Speakon connector according to their website). It uses three wires which go to the left positive terminal, left negative terminal, and right positive terminal on the amp side and a single connector on the sub side (at least that's what he said). That's definitely unique. It also has balanced high-level and low-level inputs and RCA intputs. I assume the balanced low-level inputs use a special Neutrik Speakon connector with an XLR connector on the amp side. I didn't know there was such a thing as a balanced speaker-level connector. Does anybody know what this is? Then there's a switch which toggles between line-level (0 or 180 degrees phase) and speaker-level (0 or 180 degrees phase). I assume the sub can sense which type of line-level or speaker-level connector is being used. Anyone, Mantis?
He hooked up the Sonus Faber Concerto bookshelfs to the system so it would approximate what I'm looking to do. Unfortunately the system was using a receiver, but it was a Denon 580x. It didn't even sound like the sub was on, so the salesman was fooling with the gain and crossover. Naturally he couldn't figure out how to work the crossover, so he had to go look for the manual. After he left I took a look at it and figured it out right away. There's nothing to it. It uses two knobs to control the crossover: a course adjust and fine adjust. There's a 2-dimensional chart on the back of the sub that tells you what the crossover frequency is for a given position of the two knobs. I played around with it a bit and got it sounding decent.
The sub did blend very well with the speakers. It went reasonably low, but I was completely underwhelmed with the low-end extension. I really didn't even think it sounded that tight. The first problem I see was the sub position. It was positioned halfway between the front speakers and my listening position along the side wall. According to Rel's website, their subwoofers should be corner-loaded. The second problem was the crossover. Also after doing some more reading on their site I think the crossover was set too high. I think I had it set around 49Hz., which I thought sounded a little high. In actuality it was probably way too high. I'm guessing 35-40Hz. or possibly lower would have been much better. That way I could have increased the sub's gain without making the it sound boomy. This would have increased the low-end extension. Of course, as a customer I shouldn't have to do any of this crap!
At any rate, I wasn't impressed. I have a feeling that the sub is capable of so much more, but it just wasn't set up properly. CDS (Crappy Demo Syndrome) strikes again.