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Rise of the Super Subwoofers - A Comparison Guide (cont.)


Funk Audio 21.0

Funk Audio 21.0 Product Page

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In the realm of subwoofers, there are powerhouse subs for which performance is by far the most important priority, followed by affordability, with aesthetics far down on the list in the manufacturer’s agenda. These type of subs usually end up either in a dedicated home theater room where the subwoofer will not be seen or a ‘man-cave’ where coarse decor is not frowned on. On the opposite side of the spectrum, and very likely outnumbering the affordable-performance-above-all subwoofers, are subs whose primary mission is to visually compliment the system. These kind of subwoofers, typically manufactured by high-end speaker companies, are treated like an expensive and good-looking accessory to a speaker set for which performance is merely an afterthought. Funk Audio defies both those categories in their line of subwoofers,and they have grown a reputation where neither form nor function is allowed any compromise. Their latest addition to their subwoofer family is the Funk Audio 21.0: a 21” driver fitted in a curved, hand-made cabinet and backed by a 4,800 watt amplifier.

Funk TSAD21v2 driver 800600.jpg

Funk Audio Bass Driver

The powerful motor of the 21” driver utilizes Neodymium magnets and a 4.5” voice coil, which, together with the peak power of the amplifier, can apply as much as 365 lbs. of force to the cone. This ultra-tight hold on the lustrous carbon fiber cone results in an enormous amount of cone control, so you can expect very low distortion and an excellent transient response. A fun fact for the speaker driver nerds among us: the TSAD21V2 driver used in the 21.0 has a colossal BL^2/Re of 422 newtons squared per watt, which, in terms of physical force, makes it the most powerful home audio driver I have ever heard of by far. However, a driver is powerless without an amplifier, and the amp that Funk Audio has supplied is a doozy. Dual 2,400 watts amplifiers supply the driver with 4,800 watts, with each watt counting for far more than normal thanks to the driver’s above average sensitivity (95 dB/1 watt). What is especially admirable about the driver and amplifier is that, as with the cabinet, they are also both hand-made at Funk Audio. The cabinet itself is a work of art, which is not surprising given Funk’s reputation for having some of the finest speaker and subwoofer cabinetry available anywhere. The 21.0’s cabinet is a curved, heavily-braced, Baltic Birch enclosure which can veneered with a variety of high-end finishes of your choice. Beauty is in no less supply than brawn, and if the Funk Audio 21.0 has an analogue in the automobile world, it would certainly be an exotic Italian sportscar. At $6,035 it is expensive, yes, but unlike an exotic sportscar, the Funk Audio 21.0 is still affordable for many of us, and very reasonably priced considering what you get is one of the all-around finest subwoofers available.

JTR Captivator S2

Captivator S2 Product Page

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JTR Speakers is a company known for bringing the power and pragmatism of professional audio design sensibilities to heavy-duty home audio applications. Their speakers and subwoofers combine a high fidelity sound with concert level loudness capabilities, and the Captivator S2 is very much a testament this philosophy. The non-nonsense aesthetic correctly suggests that the bulk of the cost of the Captivator S2 goes to raw performance. Two high-excursion 18” drivers with large surrounds all but challenge the user to throw everything they have at it. The driver have to be considered the heart of any sealed subwoofer system, and the Captivator S2 is centered around an extremely powerful pair of drivers which act as insurance against ever running out of headroom at sane listening levels. The two 18” woofers have the cumulative surface area exceeding a single 24” woofer, and when you consider their 33 mm one way linear excursion, it adds up to a whole lot of potential air displacement. However, lots of energy must be spent to in order to move that quantity of air, and a monster 4,000 watt amplifier is what is chosen to make those woofers move. The design of the Captivator S2 suggests high sound quality along with massive output. So much cone area under control of so much motor mass should make for a very tight response.

 JTR Captivator driver 800600.jpg

Captivator S2 driver

The Captivator S2 was recently given a redesign which has boosted efficiency, lowered extension, and lowered distortion by using improved drivers and a larger cabinet. The cabinet is an achievement in itself. It is a heavily-braced enclosure made from 25 mm, void-free Baltic Birch, a wood preferred by higher end speaker manufacturers because of the greater stiffness and lighter weight compared to MDF. The rectangular shape of the cabinet makes for more versatile placement options; it can be laid on its side to fit under displays or stood up vertically to fit in places where a smaller footprint is necessary. The appearance of the design of the Captivator S2 is not as elegant as some high end subwoofers, but it does have a clean simplicity which would fit into many modern decors without any visual discord. The edges are rounded, and the base finish is a smooth matte black. A magnetic grill is provided for those who can’t tolerate the sight of woofers, which also makes for a clean look sans grill due to no peg holes on the front baffle. Custom finishes can also be ordered for a few hundred dollars extra. At $3,599 not including shipping, the JTR Captivator S2 is not a cheap subwoofer, but considering the amount of subwoofer you get for the price, it looks to be a great value. 

Reaction Audio Gamma 21

Gamma 21 Product Page

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Although Reaction Audio is a relatively recent company, began in early 2014, it has already made a big splash in the world of manufacture direct speakers and subwoofers due to the high performance their products provide for their very affordable prices. Their newest offering is the Gamma 21, the least expensive ($1,799) subwoofer in our roundup by a considerable margin, but it is no weakling. The Gamma 21 sports an impressive 21” driver in a heavy-duty sealed cabinet powered by a 2,400 watt amplifier. The driver has to be considered the center-piece of the Gamma 21 with a 25 lbs. motor structure capable of 4” peak-to-peak excursion. That is a lot of air displacement, especially when you consider the size and price of the unit. The development of the driver itself took over a year, and it has the advantages of being able to play well in a smaller enclosure along with the extra sensitivity that comes with its powerful magnet and large cone diameter. The high thermal power handling of the driver's 8 layer voice coil allows the Gamma 21's beefy 2,400 watt amp to drive it to thunderous output levels.  However, like other subs in the comparison with high output amplifiers, we recommend a dedicated circuit line to get the most out of this amp.



 Reaction Gamma 21 driver 800600.jpg

Gamma 21 Driver

The appearance of the Gamma 21 is simple and clean: a smooth satin black finish, rounded edges, and a recessed baffle for the driver with no peg holes thanks to the magnetic grill. It is not a flashy item, but it is simple and neat without being drab, and custom finishes are available at an extra cost. The cabinet itself is a very sturdy construction; it is built from one inch thick MDF with extensive internal bracing. It is built like a tank, and at 140 lbs shipped, you will likely need a buddy to help put it into place. With such a beefy motor, shorting rings, and a large cone, the Gamma 21 is certain to rank high not only in sound quantity but also sound quality, so it should be as welcome in high-fidelity stereo systems every bit as much as surround-sound home theater systems. There is no question it costs more than what most people end up spending on a subwoofer, but in our roundup it is comparatively affordable, complete with a five year warranty and free shipping. Furthermore, if for any reason you decide it is not the subwoofer for you, Reaction Audio will pay for the return shipping within 45 days after you receive it. We are betting that, given the extraordinarily high value of what is being offered, returns of the Gamma 21 will be a very rare occurrence.


Over-the-top subwoofers such as the ones discussed in this article are not a new thing for home audio; however, they are becoming more common as audio companies attempt to distinguish themselves with a flagship product. It was only a few years ago that subwoofers with a single 18” driver were considered the extreme fringe of higher performance design, but now, in light of what we have just seen, that can only be considered a starting point. We covered six of the latest super subwoofers, but these aren’t the only choices as far as commercially available extreme subwoofers go. If the pace continues of the launching of new monster subwoofers, it may not be long before we do another roundup of these titans.


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Recent Forum Posts:

jubi posts on December 23, 2015 15:41

thank you for your patience!

I have noticed me after thinking that there was a switchable asymmetrical input with a jumper

2 Vrms 0.9 Vrms
shadyJ posts on December 23, 2015 12:37
I don't fully understand your question. There is a 0.9 volt version but also a 2 volt version of the miniDSP 2x4. I would go for the 2 volt version as it allows more headroom for the signal, however, many people have used the 0.9 volt version with no problem.
jubi posts on December 23, 2015 04:34

You could confirm me if it is OK for the MiniDSP 2x4 audio USB processor the level of

entrance being 0.9 volts!

Thank you
jubi posts on December 22, 2015 14:45
thank you for the information!

I have it 2 kms from home

It could go?

MiniDSP BOX 2x4 USB Audio processor 2 to 4 channels Asymmetric

shadyJ posts on December 22, 2015 12:52
BoredSysAdmin, post: 1109626, member: 28046
No. It's Apples and oranges. One is level matching and later one is sophisticated and programmable DSP
+1, the samson is used to convert unbalanced line-level signals into balanced line-level signals. It won't work here.
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