My home theater room previously used a dual subwoofer setup with some of the higher end (but older) polk audio subs. I noticed that one of these subs developed a slight rattle with higher volumes. I acquired these prior to my dedicated home theater room which is over 500 sq feet. I made the decision that it was time to update the low end on my "movie watching" system. I read countless reviews and finally decided to go with a Hsu VTF-15H subwoofer. This over 100 lb beast had excellent reviews including Home Theater Magazine as well as Sound and Vision Magazine.
Delivery and Unpacking:
It took approximately 1 week to deliver the subwoofer to my door step and my fiancee informed me that the Fedex man was not happy lugging the large and heavy box into my house. Oh well. It was a two man (woman) job to carry the box upstairs but luckily it had nice hand grips built into the side which made it significantly easier. The unit was double boxed with Styrofoam packing both between the inside and outside box, as well as in the inside box supporting the subwoofer which was covered in a clear transparent plastic and thin foam sheet packing as well. I was happy to see that they took extra care with packing as I did not want any scratches in the veneer. On that note, I decided to go with the Rosenut veneer which was an extra $150 but well worth it as it matched the wood veneer of my Martin Logan Vantage speakers and the general "wood motif" of my home theater room.
It took a couple of box flips to get the unit out and I used the inner packing to turn it on it's side to attach the rubber feet and then slide the unit into place (I couldn't lift it by myself). After moving it into it's final place I was ready for action! I decided to start my testing with both ports open (I will talk more about this later) and played some "demo worthy" material, Tron: Legacy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Thor. Included with the VTF-15H is a demo CD with some classical peices with nice low end extension as well as some very useful test tones. The low end test tone frequencies of 16 and 20 hz actually allowed me to find some items in my room that were rattling in this range. Some rearrangement and padding will fix this.
Needless to say I was completely blown away. I have heard some very expensive subwoofers in my time that cost many thousands of dollars and frankly I think the VTF-15H outperforms them. I know this is a bold statement and there is buyer's bias but I truly believe this claim. With my previous subwoofers I had the volume on them turned up rather high to get a decent response, but with this one the level even on low was tremendous. The entire room literally shook with every amplitude increase from the LFE channel. More importantly than pure "amplitude", the true beauty is in how tight and accurate the low end is. You can definitely hear (and feel) the wide frequency range and 60 hz sounds very different that 50 hz, as well as 16 hz to 20 hz.
The aspect of this subwoofer that sets it above the rest (in addition to power and acoustic quality) is the ability to dramatically change the sound by opening and closing the two front ports. I found that by going from two open ports, one port, and closed, the actual "flavor" and dynamics of the sound are altered. It is literally like buying 3 subwoofers and having the option to switch them out at your convenience. Put this together with the "Q setting" dial and you have infinite variation. As time goes I will probably experiment with these more but my rough calibration and listening sessions drove me to using a singe ported setup with a Q setting of around 0.5 and 1/3 volume. A rough explanation of the "Q setting" for those not familiar with this is an adjustment of loudness vs "tightness". It really does have a dramatic effect on the sound. You can see this in the frequency response curves of the subwoofer. The sound is nice and tight, but boy does it rattle my back teeth from 20 feet away during some high intensity LFE movements! As mentioned above, my home theater room is fairly large at 500 sq ft and the VTF-15H has no problems playing extremely loud even when the sub is set to a low volume. There is definitely a lot of headroom available so I'm sure that you could get away with one of these subs even in the largest of home theater rooms.
I took some pictures of the un-boxing and setup as these I could not find on the internet and I figured people would be interested. I also posted some stock picks as the lighting in my home theater room does not show well when taking pictures with my iphone.
My conclusion is (as was the conclusion of the reviews that I read), that this is a serious subwoofer and will definitely be a keeper! I can definitely see why this was awarded the "Home theater top pick", "Sound and vision certified recommended", and "Sound and vision Editors choice" awards.
If you are looking for a high end subwoofer, don't want to spend a lot of money (relatively), then I strongly encourage you to take a look at this subwoofer, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Hsu Research VTF-15H Subwoofer website link
Price= $879, $999 w/ real wood Rosenut Veneer
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