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MartinLogan Dynamo 1500X Listening Session


1500x  downfiringThe Dynamo 1500X was auditioned in the down firing configuration and was placed in the front right corner of the roughly 3300cubic foot listening room, an XLR cable run from the Onkyo PR-SC886P to the 1500X and the internal low pass filter of the Onkyo set to 90Hz which I know from previous experience usually results in the best match to the CF-4 mains for a single subwoofer placed in the front right corner location. Since the PBK system was also provided with the 1500X I opted to listen to the 1500X for a bit without it first and then run the PBK auto equalization system on it, rematch the levels and listen to the same material again. Without the PBK equalization the 1500X sounded a little hollow and bottom heavy. This is not surprising to me since I have measured the response from this corner of the room many times. This placement delivers generally good response for a single subwoofer but the biggest issue is a large room induced notch centered at 65Hz at the main listening position that mucks up the response. This typically results in the kick drum being sucked out in this range if not filled in a bit with EQ and the result is that the deep bass seems a little heavier than usual. Thankfully most subwoofers have their maximum output capabilities close to 65Hz so headroom after some equalization is not usually an issue. Running the PBK system is not very difficult at all. In short it involves loading the software on your pc, running a few cables and placing the microphone at a couple of listening positions and waiting while the PBK system analyzes the data. It really is quite simple and only takes a few minutes to setup and run. Additionally the instructions provided are quite good as well. After running the PBK system the notch near 65Hz was filled in somewhat and the response overall was much improved with better smoothness at the listening position. The kick drum punch returned to music as did some of the bass line fundamentals which had previously fallen into the notch and gotten smeared or lost. I left the PBK’s settings in effect for the rest of the listening sessions. As I noted in my review of the Paradigm Sub2 the PBK system a very effective and easy to use system that is the best of the auto equalization schemes I have encountered to date. At a cost of $100 it is a steal and highly recommended if your subwoofer is compatible

Music listening Session

Left Lane Cruisers: Junkyard Speedball

Left Lane Cruisers are a pair of back-woods Indiana boys making a whole lot of racket with just vocals, a drum kit, a beat up Stratocaster and the occasional washboard. This is a low fi band and recording with nothing modern or digital about it and the only real bass on the album comes from the kick drum, but it is a round and fat kick drum sound and since it isn’t fighting for space with many other things in the mix it gave a good opportunity to gauge just how much tromp and thump the 1500X was capable of and it turns out that is quite a bit. I listened to most of this album at a rather generous level and the 1500X sounded composed and powerful while hammering away. 

Gojira: L’Enfant Sauvage

I selected this album from French metal band Gojira in order to see how the 1500X would do with highly compressed sampled metal drums and the occasional 30Hz bass drop. It did excellently. The kick was represented with a punch and tightness that was spot on while the bass boom at the big change towards the end of Explosia was rendered with power at a not insubstantial volume level. More atmospheric parts with less busy drum arrangements allowed the fundamentals of the distorted bass lines to come further forward in the mix and the 1500X reproduced these easily.

Blu-Ray Concert: Porcupine Tree: Anesthetize

I often use this disc for speaker and subwoofer reviewing because it is one of the best concert mixes and performances I have in my collection with excellent separation of instruments, ambience, and dynamics. The 1500X again did very well anchoring the bass range and reproducing the complex and sometimes frantic drum and bass guitar arrangements. Again I was impressed with the amount of punch the 1500X was capable of for such a compact unit in a large room and while also easily tracking some nuanced bass lines behind the kick drum to boot even while being asked for quite a bit of output.

Movie listening session

After a really good performance with music I was interested to see how the 1500X would do when presented with the much heavier lifting required to reproduce the LFE channel of modern action movies.

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This animated movie is one of my favorite low frequency mixes as it has a variety of different effects including events that are very deep bass only, powerful effects down to 10Hz and below, wide bandwidth effects, upper bass effects and plenty of more “typical” 25-40Hz rumbles, thuds and booms. It also offers large dynamic contrasts with the largest most powerful bass events occurring towards the end of the movie rather than the one rumble, everything maximum loudness mixes of some movies. One part that I usually look for to gauge a subwoofers useful extension in 9 is towards the beginning where #9 finds the doctor and there is a gust of wind accompanied by some very low bass centered below 20Hz with very little accompanying sounds higher in frequency. The 1500X hinted at this event at a master playback level of -10 from reference, but did not produce it with the weight it should have and missed most of it. Later when the robot cat attacks 9 in the can the 1500X did a good job of shaking the couch and matching the on screen action with hefty rumbles and thuds.

When the flying creature later attacks the group the 1500X again did a decent job of conveying the bass events but I could sense that some of the deepest bass was a bit muted when the creature was destroyed in the propeller. At the end of the movie when the large cannon is fired and also when the ammunition explodes I could tell that the 1500X was not producing the very lowest portions of the events as well as the upper range of the spectrum and the output peaks seemed compressed somewhat compared to what this track has sounded like previously with much bigger subwoofers. The bridge collapse and death of the machine were much the same. The 1500X put out a hefty amount of rumble and shake but I could tell that it didn’t have the room quaking authority that I have heard with this soundtrack before. That said this is a monster of a soundtrack to ask one small sub to handle in a room this size and one compact subwoofer just cannot faithfully reproduce it in all its glory in reality. So…While the 1500X may not have plumbed the absolute depths or tracked every signal peak to the last 100%, it also did not elicit any concern for its safety or anything that sounded offensive. This is actually a very important and laudable point because subwoofers are often pushed harder than any other speaker in the system and while someone very familiar with a certain soundtrack and room can perhaps tell if the output is a little compressed or the deepest bass isn’t there, those unfamiliar will have no idea that anything is missing. A subwoofer that gets pushed too far and makes some bad noises will alert and distract everyone from the movie. I later watched X Men: First Class with the 1500X with much the same result. The 1500X sailed right through giving a capable performance even if some of the most difficult bass passages may have been limited or reproduced with less power. Again I have to stress that you really can’t expect one compact sub, even a very good one to reproduce everything on some of these movie soundtracks in a good sized room.


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Recent Forum Posts:

everettT posts on February 10, 2018 15:57
AVphile, post: 1233076, member: 17100
So can you confirm 1500X is made in Canada? I thought only the Balanced Force and ESL subs were, and entire range of Dynamos were China, but this might actually make sense since it has PBK and the smaller Dynamos don't.
Why does it matter if they are made in Canada? SVS Canada and Funk Audio should be your choice for higher end.
theJman posts on February 10, 2018 15:22
You do realize this thread has been inactive for 2 1/2 years, right?
AVphile posts on February 10, 2018 14:14
copmagnet82, post: 1012413, member: 68154
2 months later, but…

when you factor in the fact that 1500X is made in Canada and not China

So can you confirm 1500X is made in Canada? I thought only the Balanced Force and ESL subs were, and entire range of Dynamos were China, but this might actually make sense since it has PBK and the smaller Dynamos don't.
DaMaster posts on August 15, 2015 14:39
Cant tell by the pictures which OEM manufactures their woofers. Looks like a Dayton or Morel cone but the frame is different .
copmagnet82 posts on January 23, 2014 04:33
shadyJ, post: 994028
I don't know what you are looking at but the SB12 does not approach the output of this sub, it looks like the ML maintains about an average 5 dB lead over the SB12 across the entire measured frequency range. You would need at least two SB12s to match a single 1500X. I don't think this sub is a bad deal when you consider its size, and remember the street price is likely to be lower than the MSRP.
2 months later, but…

I just wanted to second that. I'm in the market for a sub now, and I don't know why some people don't give this sub the credit it deserves. It seems like the general consensus is that if it is not a SVS sub, it is not an good sub. Don't get me wrong, SVS, Hsu, Rythmik and other internet companies have great products, in fact if I wasn't getting the deal I'm getting on 1500X, I'd most likely get a SVS sub, but even then a comparable SVS sub is SB13-Ultra, which is the price of 1500X (albeit in satin black finish vs piano black), so it's really not as overpriced as some people say it is. Also, when you factor in the fact that 1500X is made in Canada and not China like SVS and some of the others (which is probably the reason for a higher price of the 1500X), then I really don't think it's that bad of a deal …and of course I'm not implying that Canadian made subs are better than Chinese ones, but I'd rather pay a little more and support North American economy (…and I am not Canadian ).

my $0.02
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