Onix x-sub Build Quality and Setup
In what I am quickly discovering is an AV123 tradition, the Onix x-sub came double boxed and wrapped in a cotton sleeve. The x-sub was easy to unload by grabbing onto the raised base and pulling the unit free. The first thing I noticed was that the base was a bit loose. The second thing I noticed was the pure beauty of the finish on the sub. I've seen pictures of the White Shadow Maple finish before but it was even more impressive in person. The seam between the pieces of veneer was visible on a close inspection and the color was a bit different but overall, at this price, I can't complain. Overall, the aesthetics of this subwoofer are outstanding. I thought I was going to hate the black risers and the front port, but I didn't. The finish is so light that it makes a nice counterpoint to the overall look.
Taking the unit apart, I found essentially an empty box with about an inch of damping material around the inside. The edges were glued together. The port is of the folded, slotted variety so that takes up a bit of the internal volume at the top. The entire unit is constructed out of 1" MDF (unheard of at this price point). The mass loaded woofer is down firing and it mounted near the front of the sub (where the port is).
Setup and Placement
The manual for the Onix x-sub suggests that corner loading the sub is the best location. Well, that will certainly net you greater bass output overall, but it may not be the best location for your room. Playing with placement with this sub is really a breeze. The sub is fairly light (especially compared to my reference Axiom EP500 ) and can be moved easily. If you have carpet, the base plate slides easily. You can even set it on your couch without fear of structural or superficial damage as you Crawl for Bass . I've played a lot with placement of my EP500 in my review of the Onix R-DES and I think I can definitely say that I've found the "best" position for my sub (within the strict guidelines of WAF). Leaving the R-DES in Bypass mode, I played with the placement a bit and determined that while the corner loading of the sub provided a bit more extension (to my ear) and output, I preferred the spot where I had calibrated my EP500. I found it to be a bit more linear. I went ahead set all my speakers to "Small" and set the crossover on my Denon 3805 at 80Hz. I connected the sub via the LFE in which defeats the sub's crossover. The sub has a non-defeatable standby mode that powers down the sub when not in use. Normally these modes don't work as well as I'd like, so I'd appreciate having the option to have the sub always on. With the x-sub I never noticed the auto-on to be slow to engage so it wasn't much of an issue.
I wanted to make sure that I ran the x-sub through its paces but I also didn't want to expect too much from it. It is a budget sub after all. My first thought was to test out that claimed frequency response - down to 28Hz. With a little sense of irony, I used the Onix R-DES test disc to see both if the Onix x-sub would have any meaningful output down to the claimed frequency and how it would handle lower frequencies. Well, on the first count, yes, the Onix x-sub definitely did have meaningful output down to 28Hz. That was reassuring. However, it did want to continue to try to put out something below that. That something normally took the form of port chuffing. With nothing but the sub playing, the chuffing was exceptionally loud (I kept expecting to hear a choo choo) so I was concerned that I'd notice it during playback. Read on to find out.