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Audioholics Subwoofer Measurement Data Compilation & Report

by January 13, 2012
CEA Distortion

CEA Distortion

By now you’ve seen the numerous subwoofer reviews we’ve published using our new Powered Subwoofer Test and Room Size Rating protocol. Audioholics.com has invested a great deal of resources measuring and analyzing subwoofers over the last few years.  As a result we have created the industry’s most comprehensive testing procedure and database of tabulated measurement results.  Our tests adhere to our strict testing methodology which is also compliant to the CEA-2010 Subwoofer Measurement Standard whenever practical.  

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Audioholics CEA 2010 Subwoofer Measurement Data Excel Attachment

With each new subwoofer review published, we are now typically uploading an Excel spreadsheet of all subwoofers tested to that point.  This can be seen on the main page of this article and any recent subwoofer review towards the bottom of the site below the "Jump to" drop down bar.  You need Microsoft Excel to view it. If you have trouble finding the excel file, go to our forum thread and download the Zip file from the first post.  Also included on that thread is a PDF version of this spreadsheet for those that don't have Excel.

In this article, we will take you on a tour of our Excel Spreadsheet  measurement results called “Audioholics CEA-2010 Subwoofer Measurement Data”.   It is our hope that the reader can achieve a better understanding of what all the data means for a more informed purchasing decision by making objective apples-apples comparisons between various tested products. 

Output isn’t always everything as the laws of physics dictates BIGGER is BETTER if you want deep loud bass. But, how a sub behaves or more accurately termed “mis-behaves” gives a good indication of how it will perform in a real room using real program material.  This is why we stamp a room size rating on each subwoofer we review which will be discussed later in this article.

The Audioholics CEA-2010 Subwoofer Measurement Data Excel spreadsheet features 5 tabs each with different information collected for all the subwoofers we’ve tested over the last 5-6 years.  You can select one tab at a time by hitting the left mouse button with your cursor placed over the desired tab.  You will have to hit the right arrow key to shift the tabs over when you desire to view tab #5.

Tab 1:  Subwoofer General Data

This tab is rather self explanatory.  The brands are alphabetized and data such as price, dimensions, dimensional volume, weight, driver type, amplifier rating, system alignment, etc is tabulated in corresponding columns.  When a sub has multiple tuning modes it is listed as “yes”.  This means the manufacturer has provided a method for changing the tuning of their sub by either plugging ports or engaging different EQ settings, or a combination of both.  If the sub has an EQ on board we list it as “yes”.  Some subs even come with built in auto setup and room correction options which you can read about in their corresponding formal reviews.

 Tab1: General Data

Tab 1: Subwoofer General Data

We broke up the data collected by Josh Ricci in the top table for the first two tabs and data collected by other staff (myself included) in the bottom table for the first two tabs.  The reason for this is Josh is our primary reviewer testing per our new subwoofer measurement protocol which adheres to CEA-2010 testing.  Many of the reviews in the bottom tables were either done before we established our new measurement protocol or they were conducted by reviewers not setup on a CEA-2010 test rig.  Later on we discuss how to correlate the results done by different testers and methods as closely as possible.

Also notice that each brand/model# is hyperlinked to our formal review for that product.  If you want to dive into more detail on our tests or subjective impressions, just click the product and our review will open in a new browser.

Tab 2: CEA 2010 Output Results

Tabulated  CEA 2010 test results are located in this tab from 10Hz to 125Hz in 1/3rd octave increments.  Our measurements are conducted at 2 meters using groundplane technique.  While the test program reports peak SPL data, we convert all of our data to RMS data at 2 meters which more closely resembles 1 meter 4pi (freespace).  Though it’s not as flattering to report 2 meter RMS data as it is to report 1 meter peak data to the manufacturers whose sole purpose may be a marketing slogan, we do this because it’s a more accurate way of representing actual product performance.

We always publish distortion data for all max output measurements done using CEA-2010 test signals.  This is the only way to determine pass/fall to ensure you have accurately achieved true maximum output of the product under test.  To get distortion data for a particular product, you will have to reference the formal review for that product.  In our reviews, you will find even more elaborate test results including frequency response, group delay, max long term compression tests, and much more.  Please reference our SVS PB13-Ultra and Velodyne DD18+ reviews as examples.

Groundplane

Some quick translations:

  • For every doubling of distance you subtract 6dB (1 meter to 2 meter to 4 meter, ….)
  • To convert Peak SPL to RMS SPL you subtract 3dB

Thus, to convert 1 meter peak to 2 meter RMS would involve you subtracting 9dB for every SPL measurement at each frequency. If you want to convert 2 meter RMS to 1 meter RMS you need to add 6dB for every SPL measurement at each frequency.  I can continue with more examples but just remember to always make sure you are comparing RMS or peak data when making SPL distance conversions.

 Tab2: CEA Results

Tab 2: of CEA 2010 Output Results

Bandwidth Uniformity (20-80Hz) - This a measure of how closely the subwoofer maintains a constant output across the entire frequency range.  If a sub maintains +-6dB that means it exhibits no more than a total swing of 12dB for the entire frequency range of 20Hz to 80Hz.  In most cases the tighter this number the better. In extreme cases, if a designer remains to focused on bandwidth linearity as a primary design goal, they can ultimately sacrifice too much output and/or extension.  In addition, employing a steep High Pass Filter (HPF) will cause the system to ring at its roll off points.  This can also result in a dramatic and sudden falloff of output below the subwoofers 3dB point which will nullify the advantage of picking up room gain at the lower frequencies. This type of behavior can be seen by closely inspecting the frequency response of the product and how steep the slope is on the High Pass Filter (HPF) employed.  We illustrate this in our formal reviews of the products via frequency response sweeps and also provide group delay measurements and engage in listening tests to determine if the product suffers from such sonic nasties. 

Frequency Range – This is a measure of the bandwidth the product is able to maintain its output with no more than +-3dB of variance. 

Tab 3: Sweep Output Results

Tabulated  test results are located in this tab from 20Hz to 125Hz in 1/3rd octave increments using a continuous reverse sinewave sweep.  Our measurements are conducted at 2 meters using groundplane technique.  Distortion isn't measured during these sweep tests but levels are increased for each progressive sweep until compression is observed or mechanical or audible distortion is heard.  If mechanical noise or distortion is heard, the sweep is redone at a reduced level until the output sounds clean.  That level is then recorded as the maximum sustained sweep level for the product.

We do our best to correlate how CEA-2010 burst tests and reverse sinewave sweeps can directly compare but it’s far from a perfect translation. 

 Tab3: Sweep Results

Tab 3: Sweep Output Results

What happens at low frequencies (driver limited output)?

What we’ve found is at low frequencies where the subwoofer is driver limited, the results between CEA-2010 test signals and continuous reverse sinewave sweeps usually correlate within 2-3dB (down to 20Hz) of each other.  The only exception is when a particular product has a very aggressive limiter which can either react too quickly causing it to prematurely limit output during continuous sweep tests or not react quickly enough resulting in excessively high distortion output using CEA-2010 test signals. 

What happens at high frequencies (amplifier limited output)?

We’ve found at frequencies where the subwoofer is amplifier limited, the results between CEA-2010 test signals and continuous reserve sinewave sweeps usually produce lower results for the reverse sinewave sweeps between 3-6dB (up to 80Hz) depending on how high the tester continued to power sweep the subwoofer beyond its low frequency compression point. 

There is no perfect translation between CEA-2010 and reverse sinewave sweep testing of subwoofers.  This is why it’s a good idea to look at both sets of data for each product or try to directly compare competing products tested using the same test signals and methodologies.

Bandwidth Uniformity & Frequency Range for these results is also listed and computed in the tabulated data in a similar fashion to how it was done for the CEA-2010 test results of Tab2.

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About the author:

Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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Attached Files

Recent Forum Posts:

Hokies83 posts on March 30, 2019 23:58
shadyJ, post: 1306675, member: 20472
I wouldn't say that SVS outperforms Hsu subs. They have different performance targets. They each have their strengths.
Especially at the $1000 mark, what dollar amount does it take to outperform the $1000 Hsu sub? The 4000 series ? PB-4000 is $1.900,
Ill take my Hsu VTF 15k mk2 for $1050 anyday and put that $900 elsewhere.
shadyJ posts on March 23, 2019 00:48
KallyCoda, post: 1306668, member: 87761
Really appreciate the hard work and sharing of data. Ordinarily, I'm not a data junkie because I find it suspect but your measurements look to be in a controlled environment. They also support my thinking that SVS subs outperform Hsu subs! Don't get offended anyone please. It's always a matter of ear preference. But nice to see some empirical data out there!
I wouldn't say that SVS outperforms Hsu subs. They have different performance targets. They each have their strengths.
KallyCoda posts on March 22, 2019 23:37
admin, post: 857429, member: 1
By now you've seen the numerous subwoofer reviews we've published using our new Powered Subwoofer Test and Room Size Rating protocol. Audioholics.com has invested a great deal of resources measuring and analyzing subwoofers over the last few years. As a result we have created the industry's most comprehensive testing procedure and database of tabulated measurement results. Our tests adhere to our strict testing methodology which is also compliant to the CEA-2010 Subwoofer Measurement Standard whenever practical. In this article, we will take you on a tour of our Excel Spreadsheet measurement results called “Audioholics CEA-2010 Subwoofer Measurement Data”. It is our hope that the reader can achieve a better understanding of what all the data means for a more informed purchasing decision by making objective apples-apples comparisons between various tested products.


Discuss “Audioholics Subwoofer Measurement Data Compilation & Report” here. Read the article.

NOTE: If you are having problems downloading the EXCEL spreadsheet in the main article, I attached it as a Zip File here. Also attached is a PDF version of this file for those that don't have Excel.

I will replace and update as more test data becomes available.
Really appreciate the hard work and sharing of data. Ordinarily, I'm not a data junkie because I find it suspect but your measurements look to be in a controlled environment. They also support my thinking that SVS subs outperform Hsu subs! Don't get offended anyone please. It's always a matter of ear preference. But nice to see some empirical data out there!
everettT posts on February 17, 2019 07:54
vancobra, post: 1298993, member: 87472
Hi gene…
What is your advice..
should I buy .. ONE SVS PB2000
OR
TOW POLK PSW 505
THANKS….
Go ahead and delete this post since you did the right thing and started a thread
vancobra posts on February 17, 2019 07:00
Hi gene…
What is your advice..
should I buy .. ONE SVS PB2000
OR
TOW POLK PSW 505
THANKS….
Post Reply