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JL Audio E-Sub e110 and e112 Subwoofers Sound Quality Tests

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Since I had the opportunity to audition both the e110 and e112 subs at the same time I decided to take a slightly different approach and allow the smaller e110 to operate in my tiny computer room paired with a pair of Fostex PM0.4 near-field monitors and being fed primarily music, while the bigger e112 would be given the heavy lifting in the roughly 3300 cubic foot home theater room and primarily fed the LFE channel from movies.

Music listening

Sting Brand New Day CDDue to the terrible weather that descended on the Ohio Valley this past winter rendering the completion of the objective measurements portion of the review impossible, I actually had the E subs for many months longer than planned and had quite a bit of time to get acquainted with them and assess their strengths and weaknesses. Instead of cramming intensive listening into a few weeks I had a chance to relax with them a bit and allow them to do their thing while I formed an opinion more slowly with a wider range of material. One of the selections used to directly audition the e110 was Sting: Brand New Day, which is a very clean recording I have long used for critical listening with bass that is unexpectedly powerful and deep in places. I listened to the entire album and was surprised when the e110 served up clean helpings of deep bass that I simply expected a sub of its stature to either skip entirely or muddy up attempting. Impressive…In an effort to see how the e110 would do with the fundamental of punchy rock drums I auditioned many selections from groups such as Rage Against the Machine, Isis and 12 Foot Ninja. The e110 sounded excellent with all of it and I found that I was able to blend it quite well with the tiny Fostex monitors, which with their 4” woofers lack any real bass of their own. The e110 added a whole new dimension to the music by adding in all of the size and weight that the 4” woofers in the Fostex’s are not equipped to provide. The e110’s pitch definition was spot on even with complex bass passages and separation of the percussion from other underlying bass content was maintained even at what were quite generous playback levels. Switching gears to a bit more bass-intensive music like Prodigy and NIN I again was surprised when deep bass effects were reproduced very well. An example being the NIN track Discipline which has an ascending bass sweep that starts below 20Hz where again the e110 went above and beyond other similar sized units I have encountered. In fact quick measurement confirmed that the e110 was solid until well below 20Hz in this room. Granted my computer room is an easy room to drive being so small, but I have had a few small subs in that room of varying price and quality and the others would not perform like this. Typically micro subwoofers simply lack the extension and power needed to reproduce these types of effects and often the real deep bass is filtered out and if not, the sub itself often starts to sound muddled or strained once you put any real volume to it. The e110 on the other hand was a little terror in this room and would dig impressively low and also provide quite a punch when called for. Even when I pushed the volume up to levels that were clearly heard throughout the rest of the house with Prodigy the e110 remained composed and never seemed flustered. The fact that it could do a legit 20Hz at a noticeable level was an unexpected and a pleasant surprise. You simply don’t expect a subwoofer the size of the e110 to pull that off. In all I had the e110 for about 5 months and it got listened to heavily. I enjoyed it and it never failed to impress me during that time. JL Audio in fact markets the E series as geared towards near field monitoring or mixing applications and I even utilized them for a bit of that. Once I got used to the e110 I could easily monitor with it in the system and make judgments about how the bass mix and individual tracks were sitting. I could see the E series performing very well in a mixing type of application.

Movie listening session

The e112 definitely got the short end of deal. It was auditioned in my basement theater room which is more than twice the volume of my computer room and much more open. The e112 was also about three times further away from the listening position and it would be asked to reproduce much deeper bass at louder levels from some of the most punishing soundtracks available. No pressure.

Flight of the PhoenixAs with the e110, I had such a long time with the e112 that it was used for a number of casual TV watching nights, movies, Rock Band, you name it. Any time the main HT system was on the e112 was providing the bass. When listening to more subdued and casual content such as background music or TV shows the e112 did exactly what it is supposed to and did not call undue attention to itself and easily reproduced whatever bass was present in a faithful manner. Let’s be honest with ourselves here…Most of us don’t buy powerful subwoofers for their low volume resolving skills.  They need to be able to kick us in the pants when called for. The e112 has this capability. While viewing concert Blu-rays such as Metallica: Through the Never or  Queen: Rock Montreal  with the volume knob generously cranked up I found that the e112 had real heft in my room and without starting to sound bloated or overdriven at the levels needed. One of the best experiences that I had with the e112 was viewing Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. I have enjoyed this quirky movie and its soundtrack since I first encountered it and the e112 really sank its teeth into this one. Most of the bass in this movie is weird, punkish, Indy rock music with the drums and bass line mixed way hot and interspersed with cartoonish, action related slams and thuds. I find it really fun to listen to. Most of the bass is hottest around the 25-50Hz octave but there are also occasional forays well below 20Hz with significant level to them. I thought the e112 did excellently with this movie. I had the master volume at -10 from what would be referenced level which honestly I thought may be a bit much for a single 12” driver, but the e112 provided a strong performance including some large effects during the later fight scenes in the movie that shook the couch and me. All of the bass in the music throughout the movie was satisfyingly thumping and the growling distorted bass guitar was especially nice. Of course I also fed the e112 a couple of demo-worthy scenes that are known to be really difficult to reproduce and will often cause problems for many subwoofers. One of these is the plane crash scene from Flight of the Phoenix which is mixed really loud and contains a mix of frequencies culminating in a very loud 30Hz drone during the barrel roll of the plane. At a playback level of -10 from what would be reference the e112 did pretty well with this scene and energized the room much better than I ever would have expected from a single 12”. I didn’t note any bad noises or signs of distress from the e112 and it may not have been quite as powerful of a presentation as I know it can be but for a small, 12” sub acting all alone, it was one hell of an effort. Another scene I decided to use for a demo was the bombing of Pearl Harbor from the movie of the same name. Specifically I look for concussive bass that appropriately conveys the on screen action and when Cuba Gooding gets on the 50-caliber on deck I listen for rapid individual pulses of deep bass energy, all of which the e112 once again punched well above its weight class on. Yet another demo scene that I like to use to judge just how deeply a subwoofer can effectively extend is in The Hurt Locker where the 50-caliber is being fired in the desert. The pulses that accompany each shot during this scene extend very deep in frequency, well below 15Hz in fact and are quite hot. The e112 didn’t quite reproduce all of the bass on these and it seemed that there was less weight and size to the gun blasts than I remember, but it also didn’t obviously make bad noises or get itself into trouble either. Another place where the little e112 again showed its mettle was the rail-gun test scene from Batman: The Dark Knight. This one isn’t particularly deep but is very loud and abrupt bursts of bass. The e112 really slammed hard with these gun blasts once again producing amounts of sound that really seem out of context to its size. As a final torture test I usually use the server room scene from the horror movie Pulse. The movie itself is almost unwatchable it is so bad, but this particular scene is one of the more demanding that has been released with loud, sustained, warbling bass centered at about 17Hz. To top it off there really isn’t a lot of accompanying noise in the soundtrack either. This scene makes a lot of ported subs, even good ones, audibly wheeze, some subs skip this sub 20Hz content almost completely and don’t even try to reproduce it. A lot of other subs cut out and go into protect or get driven into distress very easily with this content. The e112 didn’t exactly crumble the building around me with titanic output but it did make a valiant effort to reproduce the content and did not shut down. This was one of the few times that I heard distortion from either of the E series subwoofers but the e112 seemed to be in no actual danger. I did make a point to watch the e112 during some of these demanding tracks and at times the amount of excursion the driver was producing made it appear as if the cone would jump right out of the box! These E series drivers are not your average bass drivers that is for sure. The protection and overload circuitry in the E series must be exceptionally well dialed in also as even the largest most powerful and expensive subwoofers I have reviewed thus far have had trouble with some of these demo scenes.

JL Audio E-Sub e110 and e112

I was quite impressed with the E series and their performance with both music and movies. Both deliver smooth, balanced sound and offer an amount of headroom that is a bit unexpected. Both performed flawlessly with anything I threw at them.  It should come as no surprise that the e110 and larger e112 both perform and sound almost identical to each other. Listening to both back to back in the same room they were almost indistinguishable unless pushing them hard enough that the e112 could show its advantage in the deep bass where it has a bit of extra headroom over the e110 as one would expect.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

haraldo posts on September 04, 2016 09:35
haraldo, post: 1081400, member: 32412
I'm really questioning why they do this …. it seems very strange to me, I'm sure they could use damping too….

Ref Jim's review here where he opened up the sub to see no damping inside: www.hometheatershack.com/forums/speaker-subwoofer-reviews/73616-jl-audio-e112-subwoofer-review.html

This us the answer I got from Barry @ JL Audio as to why there's no dampiimg inside:
The concept of “damping material” is
a) relatively useless at low frequencies
b) really useless if there are no cabinet resonances

Even if the cabinet were to vibrate, that signal would be so far down in dB relative to the actual output that it wouldn't make any difference.

The JL subs have long throw drivers. The way the cabinets are constructed we are mainly concerned with the air pressure in front of the driver.
Majico Garcia posts on September 04, 2016 08:42
Hello Joshua.

What was it about the E Series that actually impressed you more than the Fathom series?

Is there more output?

Is the esub more musical?
haraldo posts on April 27, 2015 01:32
KEW, post: 1081373, member: 41838
Are you sure it has no detrimental consequences?
I think they could definitely use some damping!

I'm really questioning why they do this …. it seems very strange to me, I'm sure they could use damping too….

Ref Jim's review here where he opened up the sub to see no damping inside: www.hometheatershack.com/forums/speaker-subwoofer-reviews/73616-jl-audio-e112-subwoofer-review.html
haraldo posts on April 27, 2015 00:55
KEW, post: 1081373, member: 41838
Are you sure it has no detrimental consequences?
I think they could definitely use some damping![/QUOTE

I'm really questioning why they do this …. it seems very strange to me, I'm sure they could use damping too….

Ref Jim's review here where he opened up the sub to see no damping inside: www.hometheatershack.com/forums/speaker-subwoofer-reviews/73616-jl-audio-e112-subwoofer-review.html
KEW posts on April 26, 2015 18:22
haraldo, post: 1081369, member: 32412
Why is it that JL Audio employs absolutely zip damping material in these subs?
And does really not have any detrimental consequences?
Are you sure it has no detrimental consequences?
I think they could definitely use some damping!
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