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Cadence CSX15 Mark II Introduction


csx15markII.JPGCadence is an audio brand that you may be familiar with from their 20+ year history of involvement in the mobile audio market. More recently Cadence has also entered the home theater marketplace with a line of speakers and subwoofers emphasizing performance and high value. Among their current line-up is the subject of today’s review, the CSX15 MK II powered subwoofer, which is their most powerful model, boasting a large 15” driver in a vented alignment motivated by a 300 watt rated amplifier. All of this carries a very modest price tag of $499 which puts it into a price bracket where most subwoofers will be physically less imposing and packing a smaller 12” or 10” driver. When it comes to reproducing bass, bigger is usually better as long as it fits into your space and aesthetics.

Unpacking and Initial Thoughts

The CSX15 MK II comes like most other subs, in a very large shipping box, this one emblazoned with the Cadence logo and a brief product description. I was a bit surprised at the bulk of the CSX15 MK II when it arrived as it weighs about 100lbs as shipped and I wasn’t expecting that from a $500 subwoofer. Unpacking is a simple affair entailing the usual open top, flipping over and lifting off of the outer carton. The CSX15 MK II is large and heavy but manageable by one person. The packaging quality is good with heavy cardboard, foam corner protections and a plastic bag to protect the finish. Inside of the shipping box is the subwoofer itself, the power cord, warranty card, and owners manual and quick start guide, a set of heavy duty spiked feet and floor discs, etc. As is usual it is best not to put the spiked feet on until the subwoofer is in its final position, if you value your floor that is.

Unpacked, the CSX15 MK II looks rather nice due to the moderate size, the gloss black front panel with inset grille and the dark wood grain panels. The front panel, round grille insert and screws securing the front panel add just a little flair to the appearance, but not so much as to prevent it from disappearing into a dimly lit room. Certainly the CSX15 MK II presents itself better than its modest price tag might suggest. Despite being a vented 15” subwoofer the overall size is not outlandish by any means and is comparable with that of some 12” vented units on the market. It is a chunky unit with a weight of 88lbs but thankfully the slot vent provides a convenient handle when maneuvering it. The fit and finish and overall sense of quality exceed what one might reasonably expect from a $500 subwoofer of this size.

Design Overview

The CSX15 MK II is a moderate sized bass reflex system utilizing a 15” front firing driver in a ¾” MDF constructed glued and braced enclosure with a detachable grill. The vent providing the tuning for this system is a roughly 1.5” tall slot port running across the entire bottom width of the enclosure or about 17”. There is a modest flare to the port built into the front panel. The amplifier is rated at 300 watts rms and 600 watts dynamic.

The driver at the heart of the CSX15 MK II is a moderate duty 15” unit built on a 2.5” diameter four layer voice coil on a kapton former. The motor consists of a pair of stacked ferrite magnets roughly 6” in diameter and 1” thick, an extended and center vented pole piece and a bumped back plate to clear extended voice coil incursions. The cone appears to be a heavy pressed paper that is coated with a large diameter concave dust-cap. The suspension consists of a foam half roll surround and a pair of modest sized, what appeared to be poly-cotton spiders. All of this is built on an open stamped steel frame. This is not an expensive driver by any means but appears to be quite sturdy and well suited for the purpose at hand. I have seen much lesser drivers used in far more expensive subwoofers.

csx15woofer.JPG          csx15inside1.JPG

The amplifier providing control over the 15” driver in this system is a 300 watt unit with a 600 watt dynamic power rating. Rather than the very lightweight and efficient digital amplifiers that are now all the rage for powered subwoofers, Cadence literature calls this unit a high current linear class A design, makes mention of using some better than average transistors and goes on to mention a damping factor of >400 and a slew rate of 80 volts per uS in full range operation, 33K ohm input impedance, etc. The claim of a linear class A design is interesting because amplifiers with true class A operation are very inefficient, expensive and very rarely of 300 watt capability. It is more likely that the amplifier used in the CSX15 MK II is a more common class A/B design. Unfortunately I did not remove the amplifier from the cabinet to examine it due to its construction. The leads going to the woofer have very little slack and are soldered to the driver terminals while being glued solidly at the point they pass through the internal cabinet partition. This did not leave enough slack to pull the amplifier without de-soldering the speaker terminals and breaking loose the glue at the pass through point, neither of which I felt were worth doing. The amplifier sports a rather large aluminum heat sink extending from the back of the amplifier plate which has become less common to see of late. During testing and use the amplifier did get quite warm a few times but not alarmingly so and seemed to have plenty of power for this system. Even during the extremely strenuous outdoor testing it never had any issue. Though I did not see it, I suspect that a large amount of the almost 90lb girth of the CSX15 MK II comes from a large transformer for the amplifier mounted inside of the cabinet. Externally the control scheme includes the usual: Detachable power cord, input gain control, 0-180deg phase adjust, low pass crossover, crossover defeat switch, main power switch and also a 50Hz centered bass boost EQ. There is also a 110 to 220v ac input selector which can be handy. The lone input is an unbalanced RCA style connector. There is also Cadence’s master/slave daisy chain connection which allows one subwoofer to send signal to and control the others. I would’ve liked to have seen just a little more in the way of connection possibilities but what is provided is fine for probably 95% of situations.

csx15top.JPG     csx15inputs.JPG

The enclosure of the CSX15 MK II is constructed of ¾” MDF which is wrapped in a synthetic black wood grain with a nice look on 5 out of 6 sides of the enclosure. The front panel is finished in a nice glossy black that enhances the aesthetic look of the CSX15 MK II. Functionally it mounts onto the front enclosure face behind it that the driver screws into and provides a countersinking effect for the driver, conveniently flush mounts the grille and also provides a small round over for the slot port exit. The amplifier plate is also flush mounted which is nice. Internally after removing the driver I was surprised to see that there was a solid panel behind the driver subdividing the enclosure almost exactly in half internally, effectively sealing off and devoting half of the total enclosure volume to the amplifier. This dividing panel, the doubled up baffle area and the slot port itself do provide a serious amount of stiffening and bracing to the enclosure panels, which combined with a light amount of poly batting on all of the enclosure walls resulted in a very inert and dead cabinet. However, since the panel behind the driver is solid with no windowing or cut-outs to allow the driver to “see” the airspace behind it, the enclosure volume is effectively half of what it should be. Additionally the slot port is also rather short stopping about 1.5” from the internal panel. This is a very small airspace for a 15” driver to operate in especially in a bass reflex alignment. The short length combined with the small airspace and relatively large port area indicate that this system very likely has a rather high tuning and will not be capable of much deep bass extension or output. Usually in a subwoofer effective enclosure volume is at a premium as it results in higher deep bass sensitivity, efficiency and allows for deeper system tuning with shorter port lengths. If the system is intended to use a smaller effective airspace and higher tuning the entire subwoofer enclosure could be shrunk down which would reduce weight, size, shipping costs and material costs while also improving S.O.A.F. (Significant other acceptance factor.) I have never seen a design with this much unutilized internal air space. It is very curious. Overall the component quality, packaging and fit and finish of the CSX15 MK II are commendable especially considering the bargain pricing.

csx15inside2.JPG     csx15inside3.JPG

Internal View of Cadence CSX15 MKII


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Recent Forum Posts:

theJman posts on June 22, 2012 15:07
Ricci, post: 891663
Thanks for the kind words guys. We've got another coming down the pipe shortly.

Glad to hear. Looking forward to it.
Ricci posts on June 22, 2012 14:59
Thanks for the kind words guys. We've got another coming down the pipe shortly.

Tom…Glad to see you around.
Tom V. posts on June 22, 2012 12:05
double post
Tom V. posts on June 22, 2012 11:58
spyboy, post: 891493
At Josh Ricci:

Thanks for the thorough review of the Cadence CSX 15 II. In a short span of time you have come to be highly respected for your subwoofer reviews


Tom Vodhanel
Power Sound Audio
theJman posts on June 21, 2012 15:25
spyboy, post: 891493
At Josh Ricci:

Thanks for the thorough review of the Cadence CSX 15 II. In a short span of time you have come to be highly respected for your subwoofer reviews, (unlike some professed reviewers).

Someone who thinks that suggesting the addition of an additional 8 ounces of poly fill doesn't qualify as “doing design projects”, nor does suggesting that screws be replaced with “T” nuts …

Keep up the great work. Your technical expertise in measuring critical data makes your reviews truly superior to much of what is passing for reviews that lack a single number, especially the base frequency response. For example one so-called reviewer thinks that a subwoofer with a passive radiator is an “acoustic suspension” design and doesn't know that a sub with a single driver and a single passive radiator behaves much more like a ported design rather than a sealed design.

All the other reviews – whether or not they contain numbers – greatly exceed that which you contribute, which amounts to essentially nothing but sarcasm, in this and every other forum. You really need to back off and go find something productive to do. Your incessant jabs and hollow comments have no value to anyone but yourself. Self aggrandizing has no place here. Move on already.
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