May
2021

Country of Origin

Holland

SB1

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Denafrips Terminator+ clock-synced to Gaia/Avatar, Soundaware D100Pro SD card transport; Preamp: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with Elrog ER50; Power amps: LinnenberG Liszt monos; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Aurai Audio M1 [on loan]; Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room so no wall behind the listening chairs
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D300Ref SD transport; DAC: Denafrips Terminator; Preamp/filter: Passive Preamplifier icOn 4Pro SE w. custom 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass;
Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers:sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Zu Submission sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan];  Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~4x6m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win7/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headamp: Kinki Studio Vision THR-1; Phones: Audeze LCD-XC on Forza Audio Lab cable; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 120
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: Soundaware A280 SD transport; Integrated amplifiers: Schiit Jotunheim R or Bakoon AMP-13R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a, Audeze LCD-2, Final Sonorous X & D8000, HifiMan HE-1000; Loudspeakers: Acelec Model 1
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; DAC: Kinki Studio; Preamp: Wyred4Sound STP-SE II; Power amp: Pass Labs XA-30.8; Loudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120; Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: €11'200/pr

New beGrimmings in subbing. Say hello to Grimm Audio's latest Dutch think on a compact 10" motional-feedback 20Hz subwoofer with 700-watt class D. Their LS1 range of active two-way monitors always had the—highly recommended—option of adding an upfiring compact subwoofer. That slips between the legs which house their electronics. If one didn't own LS1, one simply was out to lunch on this count so without sub on the menu. The recently released SB1 now has a bypass switch to defeat its 70Hz LS1 filter. Now it can work with all non-Grimm speakers. We just need to feed it an already low-passed signal. That could come from a home-theater pre/pro's adjustable LFE path; from an external active filter à la Pál Nagy Gradient Box, JL Audio CR1, spl Crossover or Wilson ActiveXO; or what I have in my icOn 4Pro SE autoformer preamp and also as a standalone version as a fixed active 40Hz 4th-order Linkwitz-Riley hi/low-pass filter. Because the Grimm is a modern DSP affair, one should inquire about latency. That of our Dynaudio 18S is a low 2.5ms which I still offset by reducing its distance to the seat by 86cm versus the speakers. Late bass is slow bass.

"Our AD⇒DSP⇒DA is real time and fast enough for the whole feedback loop to be effective up to 500Hz. The latency is accordingly small hence negligible. No physical offset is required as long as these subs are placed at the same distance to the listener as the main speakers." Guido Tent then referred to their SB1 as new wolves in sheep skins. Our baby sheep outside were skipping about in their still snow whites unawares.

Going low: downright done right. Motion feedback inserts itself into variables like diaphragm inertia, suspension hysteresis and thermal voice-coil effects. For very low bass, large excursions require heavier membranes that won't deform. Their higher mass becomes harder to start and stop on time. Next their suspension components may never quite return to their original position. And voice coils that work hard heat up to increase their electrical resistance which limits their excursion to cause dynamic compression. All of it creates nonlinearities. Now the woofer fails to accurately track the input signal. Enter the bright Philips idea of motional feedback from the late '70s. It attached a piezoelectric accelerometer to the inside of a woofer dust cap. That fed its signal to the amplifier's comparator circuit. Naturally corrections after the fact cause time delays. But such loops can also counter the effects of thermal compression. In the mid 80s, the Philips involvement with this tech stopped. Today firms like Kii Audio, KS Audio and PSI Audio exploit derivative techniques. The Swiss call theirs AOI or Adaptive Output Impedance described as a feedback loop of transducer velocity against amplifier output Ω. Co-centered with their primary voice coil, Rhythmik Direct Servo subs use a secondary sensing coil described as a specialized microphone which feeds real-time woofer data on current and voltage to their comparator circuit. KS Audio refer to theirs as DMC or Dynamic Membrane Control and claim zero latency.

Velodyne still use accelerometers. Genesis always called theirs servo subs. About modern motion feedback, a paper by RMS Acoustics goes into more detail, this one even more so on a sensorless velocity-feedback subwoofer. KEF's KC62 propaganda has this: "Many subs use an electromechanical sensor to monitor driver position relative to the input-signal waveform. When nonlinear discrepancies common at high excursions occur, driver motion limits to reduce distortion. By contrast, the low voice-coil inductance of our UniCore driver allows us to use an analog current sensor to directly and instantaneously measure current in the voice coil. That's far more accurate than an electromechanical sensor." KEF continue to describe their hybrid system as combining DSP pre-correction with indirect cone-motion sensing and feedback. "Our systems work together to tackle different distortion mechanisms. The DSP uses an inverted numerical model of the sub's driver parameters. That pre-corrects the DSP output signal such that the distortion added to it counteracts the distortion generated by the two woofers. Simultaneously, instantaneous cone motion is sensed indirectly from the electrical current in the driver coils. That signal is used by a feedback loop within the amplifying electronics."