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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
Amplifier Power (RMS) 1400 W Short Term, 350 W Continuous
Hybrid Tuning 16 Hz Ported, 22 Hz Ported or Sealed
Woofer Front Firing 15 Inch
Q Control Range 0.3 - 0.7
Crossover 30 - 90 Hz, Bypassable
Crossover Slope 24 dB/Oct
Inputs Line Level (2), Speaker Level (2)
Power Outlet Requirement 430 W, 120/240V
Enclosure Dimensions 25" H x 18" W x 26" D
Weight 100 lbs
Warranty 7-years on Woofer, 2-years on Electronics
Designed and Engineered in the U.S.A
Here is the sub in my foyer. Big box!
Here is the sub up in my home theater room with the outer box removed.
Inner box opened with copious firm corner and edge cushioning material.
Inner box removed and unit standing on cushion pads.
They included 4 nice large feet for the subwoofer that are easily threaded into the bottom of the sub. Took only a few minutes and screwdriver to put them on. The most challanging part was flipping the subwoofer on it's side so I could have easy access.
As the subwoofer is very heavy and I didn't want to risk scratching the beautiful veneer, I pushed the subwoofer on the floor. The soft but firm plastic cushions did not scratch the floor or the subwoofer. Unless you have multiple people to help you, I would recommend this form of movement once unpacked.
Here is the sub in it's final position. Sorry about the low quality but there is not enough light for my iphone to take good pictures. Please see the above stock pictures for a better idea of how really nice this subwoofer actually looks.
Took me about 30 minutes to unbox and set everything up. Of course the calibrating and figuring out which configuration I like the best is a variable time commitment.
This is a great sub and I am very happy with the purchase.
Do you think it is a good sub to use with my Accoustat 2+2 full range planner speaker? I mainly use it for 2 channels listening not setup for in-home theater. Thanks.
It will be a very good mix. Planar speakers (even full range) in my opinion are slightly week on the lower end. I use Martin Logan Vantages so I do have experience with planar speakers. The nice think about the VTF-15H is that it's highly configurable. If you want a very musical sub (ie mostly for music listening), you can have both ports closed. It will function as a closed sub. If you want a more pronounced lower end you can open one or even two ports. The q-setting will also allow you to finely tune the sound.
If you go to their website, they actually provide some nice diagrams of the frequency response with the different settings,... although hearing them will be the ultimate test. I can say that it will NOT sound under powered. My room is 500 sq ft, and I use it a lot for movies that I want to really "shake" the room, and I have the volume turned to about 1/3.
One aspect you should be aware of is it's massive size. Get a measuring tape and make sure you have enough room as you won't be squeezing this into a small space. Also, it's really heavy so you will need somebody to help you if you have to bring it up or down stairs and even un-boxing is a lot easier with two people.
The Rosenut veneer is really nice, so that may be worth the extra cost if you want a nice aesthetic presentation.
Let us know how you decide, I think you will be really happy with the VTF-15H if you go with this. It does have a return policy if your not satisfied for any reason (minus shipping).
My new basement media oom is about 18' W X 22' L X 9' H. I think it should be big enough to run this configuration. The only thing that I need to decide is to either spend the money on the sub-woofer or replace my 2+2 with KEF Refernence 201/2 full range monitor and then add the subwoofer later but this setup cause whole lot more money. I am incline just to add the subwoofer for now and see if this fit my needs. Thanks for your input.
That's a fairly large room, so you should plenty of placement options. I wouldn't worry about that too much in that case.
I think it comes down to how much you want to spend. I think the 2+2 can probably use a boost in the lower end. The KEF would be much more capable on it's own in the lower end, however, it is still somewhat limited by the size of the cone. I think the Kef has a 6.5" woofer? When you look at how much air is moved by a 6.5" vs a 15" driver, that is still a pretty big difference. Not to say the Kef won't give good performance, I think it depends on how much you want to spend, how much low end you want, and how loud you want the speakers to play. The VTF-15H is considerably less expensive than the Kef Reference, so if money is a primary concern then the answer is skewed toward adding a sub. If floor space is an issue, and you want only two speakers sitting in your room, then the Kef seems a better choice.
My personal preference for planar speakers tarnishes an "objective" opinion, as I just like the detailed and transparent sound of planars speakers, but their obvious deficiency is the lack of low end.
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