EP500 and EP600 - The Listening Tests
The EP600 measures about 46 x 15 x 17 inches. By combining the new driver with the application of a very long tuned port (3 feet!) in a large enclosure and the assistance of the Digital Signal Processing of the response, the desired bass extension to 16Hz in an anechoic environment was achieved.
The slightly more manageable box size of the EP500 measures in at 20 x 15 x 20 inches and plays down flat to 20Hz with about 2-3dB less output than its bigger EP600 sibling.
Ian started us out with an assortment of pop rock music to hear and feel the capabilities of the new subs. He initially popped in a track with contained only female vocals. I was shocked to see the EP600 woofer get such a workout while no bass energy was present. Tom brought to my attention that many CD's have a lot of "junk" information below 20Hz. Since these amps were prototypes, they didn't yet employ a subsonic filter to squash it. Production units should have a High Pass Filter implemented at around 12-13Hz to eliminate this issue. While it looks cool to see the woofer moving frantically in and out, it is unwise to have it run free like this during the absence of real program material as it eats amplifier power and increases cone excursions which in turn can increase distortion and reduce dynamic range.
Moving on, we listened to Bobby McFarren's duet album with Yo Yo Ma. I was dumbfounded by the amount of deep articulate bass in this song. Switching off the EP600 one could really hear the difference (or to put it mildly absence of deep bass). While the M80ti's were no slouch, having them paired with an EP600 really did add significant and noteworthy impact and slam to the music. Ian had the M80ti's running full range and the EP600 crossed over at 40Hz. While this was not my set-up preference, I was very pleased with the overall sound and how well the system seamlessly integrated.
Moving on to musical references I was well familiar with, I asked Ian to pop in some Steely Dan. We started out with the title track for Aja. What a wonderful cut this is. Despite the long length of this song, we all enjoyed it in its entirety. In fact, the EP600's low extension prowess added a new dimension of excitement and enjoyment to this song. I anxiously awaited Steve Gadd's infamous drum solo to hear what the EP600 would do. I was pleased to hear no muddiness or "one notey" type bass response typical in many long excursion high power subwoofers.
Now was the time for the fun stuff. We proceeded to our torture tests with bass tester CD's typically listened to by car audio enthusiasts. Initially I heard some rattling noises and thought it was attributed to the port. Ian politely squashed my concerns and told me to look over at his kitchen cabinets. When I saw the cabinets flexing on the wall I realized he may have a point. I then stuck my head (don't try this at home, kids) up near the woofer and port and confirmed there was no port noise. I did get dizzy for a moment, but it was well worth it and all in the name of science. What I found most impressive was the well extended bass response even at low listening levels. The EP600 was still convincingly producing solid extension at low output levels.
While we were impressed with the EP600, I was more interested in hearing what the EP500 would do simply because its cabinet dimensions are more workable in most homes and will likely yield a higher spouse approval factor. Ian happily switched over to the EP500 and we went through the gamut of our previous music selections to have a listen. I personally preferred the EP500 and M80ti combo over the EP600 in the listening environment we were in. While it didn't have quite the output or extension of the EP600, it was close enough and I felt it integrated even better. I was pleased to hear and feel the might of the smaller and lest costly EP500. Ultimate bass lovers with room to spare will likely opt for the EP600, but regardless both appear to be winners and should please any bassaholic.
After an extensive listening session we decided to take a dip in the 68 degree Fahrenheit lake. While this may seem a palatable temperature to many, realize I live in Florida and swim in 90 degree water almost all year long. I had to do it. I had to suck it up, especially since they inferred someone might anonymously call me a wimp in our forums if I didn't!
I found the shock of cold water to be invigorating and surprisingly more awakening than a shot of espresso (or 120 volts of AC for that matter). I was particularly fascinated that we could still clearly hear the EP500 belting out the low tones in the distance and it wasn't even turned up.
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