Going in, my biggest question was handshake height. With our sealed Dynaudio sub as well as a pair of Grimm, I'd favored the lowest transition. This jelled with what Kevin Scott of Living Voice fame later said in an interview, about always wanting to cross true subs as low as possible. From my options set by the reach of our mains, that was 40Hz. The Dynaudio and Grimm were just about adding bandwidth. With the sound|kaos, logic suggested that the more typical omni bandwidth I could convert to directional dispersion, the better. Our Aurai Lieutenant 3-way tower is good to ~33Hz -3dB. Church organs or movie synths don't factor. That leaves little relevant music data out of reach safe for the occasional infrasonic chicanery of electronica. My Mr. Ripol Jones wasn't really about extra bandwidth though I expected some. It was mostly about much reduced room interference across the lower octaves. That would create more textural continuity into the upper ranges whose radiation automatically narrows to get more directional. It was about bleeding out pressure zones in the room corners; and the effect those have on overall clarity higher up; plus on sheer listener comfort. If we complete the hermetic principle, we get at its second half of 'as below so above'. Connect that with the audiophile maxim of 'music lives in the midrange'. It's self-evident. The above of the midrange can only be as good as the below of the bass allows it to be. Put still more bluntly, improve your bass and everything else will get better.
The resonant frequency and dispersion of the same woofer in a big sealed box, in an open baffle and in a compact Ripol.
Audiophiles drone on about our systems only being as good as their weakest link. Multi-arrival 360° slow bass from ubiquitous box speakers is that. As the effective normal which drones on, it's always overlooked. It's never questioned or challenged. Today we'll do both because we can finally make an actual difference. That creates contrast to compare before/after. This subwoofer review for once won't be about extra bass. It'll be about superior overall sonics from more advantageous bass dispersion. If we end up with a bit of extra reach, why not? The primary attraction is invisible free room treatment. Sure, a compact side table for bass is neither free nor invisible. But it's not all over the walls like egg-carton foam; nor does it stand tall like two or more corner bass traps. And when its official category is 'subwoofer' like all competing box subs, the room treatment aspect is extra. To be sure, it's not room treatment per se. By not causing the usual reflection/boom problems, it simply eliminates the need for room treatment across the bandwidth we set it for.
As it turned out, Martin's 3m Vovox terminated in a banana-studded quad plug sums its two '+' and '-' leads on the amp side. Looking to drive one woofer off each channel in the Kinki EX-M1, I found that none of my own locking banana cables fit the sub's slightly outsized terminals. They all sat too loose. So as a personal first, I ran the supplied cable off the integrated's right channel, with the left left to idle. Bad idea. Mega ground loop. Defaulting to a Kinki mono amp instead produced dead silence; until I hit 'play'. I was in business. Technically this eliminated my bass attenuator. Instead I had the Enleum AMP-23's on the speakers. Cutting that would make the sub louder should that want a boost. I just couldn't cut bass if the final balance demanded that instead. Fortunately it was about right to get going. If as suspected I did need a few dB of bass cut during fine-tuning—initial sub glee tends to be heavy-handed until calm reason returns—the incoming Gradient Box would have that provision. On cab height, the sub did cover up the preamp. For more cosmetic symmetry, I reshuffled the initial setup by removing the central Artesanía amp stands altogether. icOn 4Pro SE and Enleum AMP-23 sat up to the right, the mono amp to the left of the sub. Just then Cube Nenuphar straddled the lot to evaluate their new v2 drivers which had just arrived a few days prior.
Then that review wrapped for our Aurai Lieutenants to resume their routine beat on deck. With their higher sensitivity, relative sub output diminished by just the right amount. It set my ideal balance by sheer dumb luck, no bass attenuator required. Perhaps I'd racked up enough good hifi karma to get a pass? If so, I'd just used it up. I'd have to put in another 20 years of reviewing to replenish it.
Time to share observations.