Onix x-sub Listening Tests
Most bookshelves will need at least a little help with bass. For music, 28 Hz should be plenty low enough for all but the most demanding musical tracks. Still, extension isn't everything. What I really wanted to know was whether or not the sub would be musical. The last thing you need to add to your system is a boomy, one-note wonder. That may work for movies but not for music.
Listening Tests: Music
Diana Krall Love Scenes
Not really needing an excuse to listen to this album again, I fired this one up just to see how the x-sub would deal with the walking bass line. I was pleasantly inundated with a nice blending of the sub with my mains. The x-sub contributed meaningfully to the lower bass notes for most of the tracks. The laid back walking bass line of "Peel Me a Grape" remained for the most part tight and focused. During some of the faster bass lines like in "How Deep is the Ocean" the sub had no problem differentiating between the different notes. There were moments that I felt the x-sub lost a bit of coherency and started to sound a bit boxy. Specifically during any sort of low slide the sub seemed to mush all the notes together into a sort of general hum. But for the most part I was very impressed with the sub's performance.
Porcupine Tree In Absentia
I've had a couple of discussions about this album in comparison with the other DTS Porcupine Tree release Deadwing . While I like them both, I find that the songs that I like on In Absentia, I tend to really like (and therefore the ones I don't, I really don't). With Deadwing, I feel like the whole album is a bit better but I don't really like any one song as much as I do some of the songs In Absentia . I chose this album to give the x-sub a little more rock bass and kick drum. There is a slow and low bass line in track 3 舠 Lips of Ashes 舡 that I let the little x-sub flex its bass muscles on. For the most part, the sub performed well though some of the lowest notes were taxing the limits of the sub's response (i.e. the output was softer than the other notes). The bass was well sustained through each of the notes and the response time to a new note was quite impressive. Very fast, very tight. The cabinet did seem to have a little resonance problem and probably could use a little extra (or some) internal bracing but I didn't notice any chuffing during any of the music portions of my tests.
Listening Tests: Movies
People on the market for a budget sub are looking for one of two things in my opinion - an affordable solution for a second setup (as in an office) or a low cost solution for a movie/TV system for your first time buyer (who can't fathom spending more than a couple of hundred on any one speaker). Option one would probably be used mostly for music, but the second option seems to me to be the most likely. Therefore, I really think the ability of the x-sub to perform in a small to medium sized home theater for movies is single most important test. If it can't give at least the modicum of a tactile response during an action flick, then this review will be headed south, fast.
Why would I watch this movie when it got such dreadful reviews? Why would I waste my time putting it on my Netflix list when there are so many more deserving movies to watch? Because it's got climbing in it. And I climb. Just that simple. So, from a climbing perspective, the movie still stank. The monsters were stupid, the plot contrived, and interactions forced, and the emotions undeserved. The climbing wasn't all that bad (when compared to crapfests like Cliffhanger). What it did have was a couple of nice explosions and it was a fairly average amount of LFE for your cookie cutter action/horror genre.
The Onix x-sub held up well on most all the loud passages. There was a scene at the beginning where an old church is destroyed in a fairly cheaply produced CGI enhanced landslide. I could definitely feel the bass as the church was reduced to rubble. Even though I didn't get quite the sensation I would expect from a larger sub, the x-sub was still pumping out enough sound to make me feel the bass. At moments if did sound like the little sub was eeking over into the "one note wonder" area, but for the most part, it performed very admirably.
No test of a subwoofer is complete without a visit to the famous Darla tap scene. I may not always report on it but you can rest assured that I've run it. With my earlier discovery that there may be some port chuffing issues, I knew that this scene would bring them to light. Obviously, if I'm going to watch the Darla scene, I might as well watch the whole thing (or so my son insists). During the barracuda scene, the sub scene, the whale scene, and the tap scene the x-sub did all it could to keep up with the outrageous amount of subsonic bass Pixar, in their infinite wisdom, included in the soundtrack (God bless them). I tried low volumes, high volumes, and reference volumes all trying to hear the port chuffing that I knew was going on. The only time the chuffing was a problem was when the bass was pretty much the only thing going on. The tap scene was an issue as was the beginning of the whale scene (right before they get spit out). The chuffing could be heard at any volume that one would consider being reasonable for watching a movie like this (i.e. above background music level). Still and all, there was a tactile response during all these scenes that was very enjoyable.
Wow - this movie just dragged. By about half way through, I thought, "If they ever find her daughter, I hope they throw them both off the plane." Jodi Foster provides a commanding performance but the combination of a thin plot and weak premise made for little for the Oscar winning actress to hold on too. By the end, I was kind of getting into the movie but I never could get past the fact that simply by holding her 6 year old daughter while boarding, no one on the whole plane saw her. I'm all about suspension of disbelief but come on. No one saw her? Really? I'm supposed to just let that one go?
Flightplan didn't exactly have a ton of bass aside from a subway scene at the beginning and an explosion at the end but it did have a lot of low male vocals. Throughout the movie the x-sub provided both a convincing and engaging experience. I never really noticed the sub as it blended perfectly with the mains in my system. It provided enough tactile bass so that I found the explosions and low bass all very convincing.