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Arendal Sound 1961 1S and 1V Subwoofers Measurements & Conclusion

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1961V outdoor testing 

Testing on the Arendal 1961 subs was conducted with the microphone facing the woofer at a 1-meter distance and then scaled back to 2-meters in our graphs by subtracting 6dB in output. The temperature was recorded at 62F degrees with 84% humidity. The subwoofer’s gain was set to maximum, phase was set to 0, and the low pass filters were left off (except in a noted instance).

1S EQ responses 

1V EQ responses 

The above graphs show the measured frequency responses for the Arendal 1961 subwoofers. For this set of measurements, I did accidentally leave the low-pass filter set to 80Hz on the 1V and didn’t realize it until well after concluding testing (oopsy-daisy). Later near-field mic testing showed that the 1V had a flat response that extended well-past 300Hz much like the 1S. Both subs have a very neutral response and largely reproduce the signal in the same way the signal was sent.

These measurements show that the EQ2 setting high-passes both subs to cut off some of their low-frequency extension. The only case that I can think of where that would be useful is in instances where room gain is massively boosting the low-end of the sub. Even so, there is an adjustable subsonic filter in the DSP settings where frequency and filter slope can be attenuated, and that would be a better solution to taming excess room gain. Users are better served by the 1EQ setting, and I am not even sure why the 2EQ setting even exists in the 1V. The EQ2 setting in the 1S does resemble the natural slope of a sealed subwoofer more than the EQ1 response, and the EQ1 response looks to be more heavily shaped by DSP filters. One minor benefit to that is that the response will not be altered by compression quite as early at higher playback levels.

As with many other higher-end ported subs, the 1V includes a port plug, so I tested its effects on the response as a matter of academic curiosity. It performs as expected by kneecapping the low-end response. There is no real value of the port plug, and the subsonic filter can do almost everything it does without greatly reducing headroom. The only advantage of the port plug is that it can cancel the latent output of the port, but in a subwoofer with such a deep port tuning frequency, that has no audible benefit. As always, this poses the question of why buy such a large and heavy subwoofer if the ports are not going to be used?   

1s cea 2010 table  1v cea 2010 table

Bassaholic LargeThe above CEA-2010 measurements are short-term bursts that show the subwoofer’s clean peak SPL before heavy distortion sets in. Our measurements have been referenced to 2-meter RMS, which is 9dB down from the standard requirement for the measurements to be shown at a 1-meter peak. However most publicly available CEA-2010 measurements are shown at 2-meter RMS, so we followed that convention. The numbers for the 1961 subwoofers are good, especially in mid-bass. Our numbers track the posted measurements by Arendal pretty closely although we managed to capture just a bit more mid-bass output. Since the 1V has acoustic emitters on different sides, it is difficult to measure it in a way that fairly captures its output with respect to most other subs, so it might have a bit more output in-room with respect to other subs than what we have measured. The deep bass output from the 1V is decent, but there are similarly priced subwoofers that do offer more but at the cost of a substantially larger enclosure. Its deep bass output is good for the size, but if Arendal allowed a bigger cabinet, they could have netted additional deep bass headroom. Nonetheless, 97dB at 16Hz is nothing to sneeze at. Using our Bassaholics Room Rating protocol, the 1V is certified for a “large” room, and the 1S achieves certification for a “medium” room. That means the 1S should be sufficient for a 1,500-3,000 cubic foot room and the 1V should be sufficient for a 3,000-5,000 cubic foot room for most listening uses.

The harmonic distortion quantities are relatively low as well. At 31Hz and above, the 1V can not be pushed past 10%THD no matter what. It looks to me from comparing the 1S and 1V burst output numbers that the 1V has a very low port tuning frequency, possibly around 16 or 17Hz. I also think that it could have had more output had it not been so strictly limited at port-generated output, but I am guessing that the limiters were set up such that the port is not allowed to get into any serious port chuffing. Indeed, much like the 1723 2V, the 1961 subs refuse to make an unwelcome sound. Most ported subwoofers can be driven to produce more port chuffing than I was able to induce in the 1961 1V.

1S compression sweeps

1V compression sweeps

Testing for long-term output compression was done by first conducting a 20-second sweep tone where 50Hz hit 90 dB with the subwoofer 2 meters from the microphone. We then conduct further 20-second sweeps by raising the gain by 5dB until no more output could be wrung out of the subwoofer. These tests show us the long-term continuous headroom that the subwoofer is capable of. Here we can see how the DSP filters shape the 1961s’ response until the signal reaches the subs’ limits. Both subs can hit a continuous 110dB of mid-bass and that ought to give plenty of punch for most people’s tastes. We do see the low end get quashed a bit, especially in the 1V, as levels go up. With a larger enclosure and ports, it surely could have been less subject to deep bass compression. However, it is probably already reaching a size limit maximum for a lot of people, and pretty much anyone who buys it is going to be happy with the headroom that is seen here.

1S THD

1V THD

The above graphs show the corresponding total harmonic distortion to the long-term output graphs. Essentially, they depict how linear the subwoofer remains for the corresponding drive level seen in the long-term sweeps. The quantity being measured is how much of the subwoofer’s output is distortion and is shown here as a percentage. The 1961 subwoofers turn in an excellent showing here. At nominal levels, harmonic distortion is extremely low, and can’t really be made to exceed 10% until near 10Hz. Crank things up, and distortion rises, but only in deep bass frequencies. However, the distortion profile remains very good, and the subs just can’t be pushed into a lot of distortion above 30Hz even at maximum drive levels. One interesting thing to see is how the 1V keeps a lid on being completely overdriven until well below its port tuning frequency where there is very little output at all. In most subs distortion skyrockets at around port tuning, at which point output is going down but is not completely gone. This indicates that the 1961 1V is a bit better behaved than most ported subs. The 1S shows a very typical sealed subwoofer THD graph, although distortion doesn’t really take off until frequencies lower than normal for a sealed design, again indicating this sub is on a tighter leash than most in its class.

 1S harmonics

1V harmonics

The above graphs depict measurements of the constituent harmonics from the long-term output sweeps and are what the total harmonic distortion measurements are composed of for the 2nd and 3rd harmonics. These individual harmonics can give us a clue as to what might be the cause of some quirk or non-linearity. We are only showing the 2nd and 3rd here because they more or less reflect the higher even-order and odd-order behaviors, although higher-order harmonics tend to be much further down as a percentage of distortion compared to the second and third.

Here we see that the THD comes from a mixture of odd and even order distortions. Some subs mainly have just odd-order distortions as the main ingredient of their THD. The advantage of this distortion profile is that even order is less audible than odd order, so the overall distortion produced by the 1961 subwoofers should be a bit less audible than some others, but it doesn’t matter very much since the subs don’t even produce much distortion until the highest drive levels, and even then it isn’t completely out of control. If I had to guess I would say that the even-order distortion is resulting from the suspension having slightly more tension in one direction rather than inductance since it doesn’t seem to rise at the same rate at all drive levels. Furthermore, these subs have an exceptionally low odd-order distortion level so the nonlinear restrictions on their excursions must be occurring in a partly asymmetric fashion.

1961 group delay 

Group delay is the measurement of how much time it takes for individual frequency bands of an input signal to be produced by the speaker. It can indicate that some frequency components are developing slower than others or are taking longer to decay. It is generally thought that 1.5 sound cycles are needed for group delay to be audible at bass frequencies, although there is an argument that group delay should remain under 20ms to be completely unnoticeable, but that is likely meant for mid and upper bass frequencies.

Both 1961 subs have outstanding group delay performance, as can be seen. They don’t cross our worst-case threshold of 20ms until below 30Hz, where hearing acuity is very poor and delayed energy is unlikely to be audible. The 1V doesn’t cross one cycle of delay until 20Hz which is far too low for such levels of group delay to have any significant audible effect. It’s interesting to note that, until around 30Hz, the group delay levels are effectively the same between the 1S and 1V, and this should be seen as ever more evidence that the time-domain performance between sealed subs and ported subs can be the same for any practical purpose. The only difference is a narrow spike of group delay at about 140Hz that is a result of a pipe resonance from the port, but that will likely be filtered out for any typical crossover frequency and so will never be heard. Both subs have excellent time-domain performance, and the “quickness” or “speed” or “tightness” or whatever vague adjective that audiophiles want to assign time-domain behavior will be indistinguishable from each other as well as any other competently designed sub whether ported or sealed.

Conclusion

Arendal logo

In bringing this review to a conclusion, we will briefly go over the strengths and weaknesses of the products under review, and, as always, we will start with the weaknesses. There is so much to like about the Arendal 1961 subwoofers that it isn’t easy to make a list of their weaknesses. It might be said that there are subwoofers of a similar pricing that have more SPL headroom, but there is always a trade-off in this respect. You can have more output in the 1V, but the cost is a larger cabinet and likely a less well-constructed sub with a lesser feature set. What is more, for a medium-sized subwoofer, the 1V is already quite heavy at nearly 80lbs. Increasing its size by 50% would easily tip it over 100 lbs. as well as making it too large for many people’s tastes. Arendal is trying to squeeze a lot of performance out of a well-built and modestly sized enclosure, and that is what they do here. So complaints about SPL headroom versus subs that are twice the size are missing the point.

1961V hero

if you want serious bass performance in your room without a huge box, the 1961 subs are a great choice.

That brings us to discussion of their strengths, which are many. Like we mentioned above, they pack a wallop for their size. If you need a subwoofer that brings serious bass performance to your room but isn’t huge, the 1961 subs are a great choice. They are also a terrific choice for those who don’t wish to sacrifice fidelity even at very high drive levels, so if you like the idea of the subwoofer keeping its composure in all circumstances, the 1961s are well worth consideration. Their overall performance is very good, with clean 110dB+ mid-bass punch combined with solid extension to well below 20Hz in the 1V’s case. The 1S staves off over-driving artifacts to lower frequencies than most sealed subwoofers. The group delay performance of both subs is better than average, so if you want a sub that is sure to be free from any overhang or sluggishness, these will fit that criterion nicely. They would make for a great low-frequency base for a two-channel system for those who are hypercritical about sound quality.

 1961 pair hero

exceptional build quality is characteristic of everything we have seen from Arendal so far.

Outside of the performance, there is the exceptional build quality that is characteristic of everything we have seen from Arendal so far. They just don’t take shortcuts anywhere in the design of their products and these subs are true to that convention. The styling of the subs is simple yet smart-looking, and they should fit in almost any room’s decor because of this. The finish is fairly smooth yet also durable and fingerprint resistant, unlike true satin or gloss finishes which are fingerprint magnets. The amplifier is packed with far more features and tweakability thanks to the innovative user interface with the LCD screen. This sub is much more adjustable with much greater fine-tuning ability than subs that use the traditional knobs on the amp plate. It has a 3-band parametric equalizer which should be enough to take care of all major room-induced peaks, so no outboard equalizer is needed. The equalizer in conjunction with the subsonic filter and EQ modes enables the user to shape the response to almost any tonality that they could want.

 1S outside

In the end, I would say that the 1961 subwoofers are well-conceived and well-executed subwoofers. There isn’t anything that is particularly lacking with them, and they are solid well-rounded products. In this sense, they are boring in that they don’t give me anything to complain about. If I had size restrictions to deal with, they would be among the top of my list of subs to choose from. Most people do have size restrictions, and that makes them very compelling products for most circumstances. If you have a dedicated home theater and don’t need to worry about the size of the sub, there are better options, but even then the 1V would not be bad. However, if you or other household dwellers don’t want a gigantic sub eating up a big chunk of your family room or bedroom, the 1S or 1V is sure to provide a rock-solid foundation to the entertainment system of the room, and I could easily recommend them for any situations like that. 

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStarStar
FeaturesStarStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarhalf-star
ValueStarStarStarStarhalf-star
Attached Files
About the author:

James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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Recent Forum Posts:

lovinthehd posts on January 30, 2022 21:36
dutchholic, post: 1535725, member: 96854
Okay let me clarify this: This is only the case if you're running long length's or running the RCA cable together with other wires/other equipment that create noise. If this is both not the case, then you probably don't have an difference indeed. So “extremely degraded by an rca connection” is indeed not always the case.

But since most cables just “run somewhere” together with audio equipment/computer equipment/power cables etc.etc. an balanced connection is always better and a degradation in signal is practically always the case with unbalanced, simply because unbalanced is unshielded(the shield is part of the signal). Maybe audiable, maybe not, true, but it's not optimal and it should be avoided.

Maybe you never had GND hum issues with unbalanced connectors, but many others had. So there is not a single reason not to include XLR, it's simply an better connection, all these issues are avoided by simply chosing for balanced connections. The big Arendal's and most other big/huge subwoofers have XLR's, only the small sub's don't have XLR which is a shame, this is a shame since not everyone has a huge living room but some still love to have good equipment while also having a living small.

The expansion makes more sense than your original statement. I have not had particular issues with long runs of sub cable, but my longest runs tend to be from just the amp to the sub (most of my subs having external amps).
dutchholic posts on January 30, 2022 21:14
lovinthehd, post: 1535720, member: 61636
Seriously, performance of the signal is “extremely degraded by an rca connection”. Whut?

Okay let me clarify this: This is only the case if you're running long length's or running the RCA cable together with other wires/other equipment that create noise. If this is both not the case, then you probably don't have an difference indeed. So “extremely degraded by an rca connection” is indeed not always the case.

But since most cables just “run somewhere” together with audio equipment/computer equipment/power cables etc.etc. an balanced connection is always better and a degradation in signal is practically always the case with unbalanced, simply because unbalanced is unshielded(the shield is part of the signal). Maybe audiable, maybe not, true, but it's not optimal and it should be avoided.

Maybe you never had GND hum issues with unbalanced connectors, but many others had. So there is not a single reason not to include XLR, it's simply an better connection, all these issues are avoided by simply chosing for balanced connections. The big Arendal's and most other big/huge subwoofers have XLR's, only the small sub's don't have XLR which is a shame, this is a shame since not everyone has a huge living room but some still love to have good equipment while also having a living small.
lovinthehd posts on January 30, 2022 20:57
Seriously, performance of the signal is “extremely degraded by an rca connection”. Whut?
dutchholic posts on January 30, 2022 20:15
shadyJ, post: 1535421, member: 20472
The controls are too vulnerable underneath the sub. What is more is that is a very poor place due to heat dispersion. You never want to put a plate amp on the bottom of any sub. Furthermore, any cables will need a 90-degree bend on the connecting terminal. A better solution would be to mount the driver on the bottom with a metal grille to protect it. That way you can have left/right symmetry, if that is what concerns you.

This is not true, the connections don't have to be vulnerable underneath the sub. You can make the controls fit DEEPER inside the sub then the bottom itself. As I said: Google image the Kef T2 and you see that there is zero problem regarding this subject when you have the connections on the bottom(you can even put the connections 5-10cm deeper then at the T2 of course).

About the controls I also gave the clear solution: app control, like for example SVS has a great app. That is the future, no buttons are needed then at all. The B&W subwoofers also have a app, and many others do to. I never need to touch the buttons of my current subwoofer since it's all app controlled. I don't understand how that is an issue at all.

About the heat issues, this is also not true if you think out of the box: The connections can be easilly connected to the AMP's if you put the AMP on top of the subwoofer. The AMP doesn't need to be at the bottom at all? I don't see why you think that this must be the case. For example if you create the same subwoofer with an massive aluminium top panel, the cooling+the amp could be on top and that would be perfect for cooling, even better then on the back, this while the connectors stay on the bottom of this subwoofer, the connections on the bottom could be easilly connected with wire. This is no issue at all!

So it's all easilly doable for a good designer as you can read. You simply need to think out of the box. I shared those idea's already with Arendal, they appreciated this feedback so much that we will maybe see such an optimized design in the future. When this is the case, then you know where it came from

Edit: And an another solution is as B&W solved it, with the SA1000 + CT SW subwoofers of their CT700 series, external amp's. So many way that are possible to achieve this.

shadyJ, post: 1535421, member: 20472
I don't know why most people would care about balanced inputs very much. Balanced cables are better at reducing electromagnetic noise but that only becomes an issue at a long running distance in a noisy environment. It isn't qualitatively better otherwise. Plus, you have to have an LF source that has a true balanced output for it to work, and how many people have that? The people who have balanced LF outputs are either in a pro-sound environment or someone with a high-end processor- and anyone with a high-end processor is probably shopping for a higher-end sub than the 1961 subs like say the 1723 subs which do have balanced inputs.

I look at this the opposite way. The performance of the signal is extremely degraded by an RCA connection. XLR connections of subwoofers are cheap to make, even 150 euro studio subwoofers are equipped with XLR inputs. Only consumer subwoofers are equipped with an stone age connector called RCA. Unbalanced signal should be avoided at any time. You guys here at audioholics always focus on maximum performance/measurements, then why don't you guys see this as a negative aspect. So many people have dealt with GND/hum issues with subwoofers, just google on it, it's not a small number. Besides that: you degrade the performance of the DAC massively for no reason at all. So why not add this simple feature? I don't understand how you could be against this and how this isn't a negative point of this subwoofer? Their bigger brother even has it, but that one is to big for my living room.

I don't agree that “anyone with a high-end processor is probably shopping for a higher-end sub” at all. I am such an consumer, so it's not “anyone”. There are ZERO high-end subwoofers with XLR inputs that are small enough in terms of depth of the housing. I have an high-end processor with balanced connectors but there is simply no suitable small depth case subwoofer available with room EQ and good measurements that fit my living room. All are RCA subs or come without any room EQ controls.

Besides that: This Arendal subwoofers measure close to perfect for their size, so WHY should someone with an “high-end processor” shop for an more expensive subwoofer? There is no logic in this.

This subwoofer is high end enough for me if it ticked the 2 boxed that I mentioned. All more expensive subs with XLR's are simply to big. Except the B&W DB3D maybe, but that's performance wise not that high-end since it has only 2x 8 inch.. and is way overpriced imo for what it is, the Arendal has much better value.
Eppie posts on January 30, 2022 13:42
I was surprised by the plate amp location, which traditionally is at the back. I don't want my connections visible either. I can understand the design as this obviously reduces the depth of the cabinet, but it almost calls for a left and right mounting option to keep the amp hidden. That complicates production and stocking and is unlikely.
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