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Elemental Designs A3-300 and A5-350 Subwoofers

eD A3-300 and A5-350 Subwoofers

eD A3-300 and A5-350 Subwoofers


  • Product Name: A3-300 and A5-350 Subwoofers
  • Manufacturer: Elemental Designs
  • Review Date: April 25, 2009 00:35
  • MSRP: $600 and $800
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool


Driver Size - 12"
Driver Quantity -1
Driver Excursion - 25.4mm (one way)
Total Driver Linear Displacement - 1645.92cm³
Room Tuning - 20Hz
Frequency Response (+/-3dB) - 18-100Hz
Amplifier RMS Power - 300W
Cabinet Type Vented Shipping Weight - 86 lbs
Internal Size - 2.40ft³
External Size - 4.16ft³
Width - 18.00"
Height - 20.00"
Depth - 20.0"
Vent Size - 4"
Amplifier Voltage - 115V
Included Crossover - Yes
Crossover Frequencies - 35-180Hz
Phase Switch - Yes
Line Level Input - Yes
RCA Level Input - Yes
Level Control - Yes


Driver Size - 15"
Driver Quantity - 1
Driver Excursion - 23mm
Total Driver Linear Displacement - 3331.04cm³
Room Tuning - 20Hz
Frequency Response (+/-3dB) - 18-100Hz
Amplifier RMS Power - 500W
Cabinet Type - Vented
Shipping Weight - 108 lbs
Internal Size - 4.70ft³
External Size - 6.37ft³
Width - 19.00"
Height - 25.00"
Depth - 24.75"
Vent Size - 2 x 4"
Amplifier Voltage - 115
Included Crossover - Yes
Crossover Frequencies - 35-180Hz
Phase Switch - Yes
Line Level Input - Yes
RCA Level Input - Yes
Level Control - Yes

Elemental Designs has been in the subwoofer game for quite some time. While many people may have heard about them from forums on through word of mouth, their presence hasn't been very widely known. Those that do know of them, however, have been in a unique position - they've been heard. Elemental Designs has prided itself in being responsive to their customers. Up until now most of their inventory has been "build-to-order". With the recent email we received from the company announcing the redesign of the A3-300 and A5-350 subwoofers, ED is now stocking these units in quantity for their consumers.

Initially conceived and released as down firing subs, Elemental Designs (eD for short) listened to their customers who asked for changes. The biggest, and more dramatic was the switch from a down firing configuration to a front firing. Says Brett Bell of eD, "Both the A3-300 and A5-350 were actually down firing cabinets up until this redesign, and we got a lot of feedback on migrating our designs to front firing designs. It seems that a lot of people do enjoy the opportunity to see the subwoofer." Too true. Nothing is more impressive during one of those loud bass passages than to watch your sub go crazy.

eD_ampNot that you'll have much to worry about with the new eD subs. Part of the redesign was new amps. The A3-300 sports a 300 watt amp and the A5-350 is powered by 500 watts. What is nice with these new amps is a larger crossover range (formerly 50-100Hz, now 35-180Hz). This will help in integration with a larger range of bookshelf or satellite speakers. In addition, the subs both sport a variable phase control which is something we don't often see on subs at a much higher price range. The only thing I'm not pleased with is a way to defeat the auto-on function. With subs in this price range, I expect Off/Auto-On/On options. The decision to only include the Auto function means that eD has to absolutely get it right. Too often subs with this function won't kick in on the more subtle passages or will clip the beginning of the track. An Auto-On function should be seamless and invisible to the listener. The obvious solution for the finicky is to have an "Always On" function. eD decided against this so we'll have to see how well their Auto-On function works.

eD has moved away from traditional MDF with these subs in favor of something called EFS (Environmentally Friendly Substrate). Reportedly more dense than MDF, it doesn't contain urea-formaldehyde which is a carcinogen and is also built using whole wood logs not suitable for construction in raw form, wood chips, and sawmill waste. Plus you don't have to kill fuzzy bunnies to make it (we're just kidding about that last part, you actually do have to kill fuzzy bunnies - but what are a few Leporidae when you're saving the planet?) The enclosures are well braced and that bracing is inset into the cabinet, no longer floating as they were in the older models. There are actually 3 parts of bracing internally in the A3-300 and A5-350. All of the braces do inset and are linked together as the cabinet is built. This greatly increases the structural strength of the enclosure and helps to cut down on reverberation of the cabinet. This combined with the use of EFS allows the use of 3/4" walls and bracing strategically to create an extremely dampened enclosure.

eD_bracingThe A3-300 sports a 12" woofer and one port while the A5-350 has a 15" and two ports. The subs are quite large (the A5 is 19" W x 25" H" x 24.75" D and the A3 is 18" W x 20" H x 20" D) so you'll want to take that into account when ordering. We often suggest building a cardboard box the dimensions of the sub so you know exactly what it will look like in your room. Tape measures just don't do a 25" high sub justice. You'll also want to take into account the weight, which again is substantial. The dense material, bracing, and size all contribute to a 75 lbs A3 and nearly 100 lbs A5! That's right, you'll probably want to tip your UPS driver or at least pay off some friends with some beer to help you set these up.

While many companies give options of spikes or rubber feet for their subs, eD has decided to go just with rubber feet. The decision was based on customer feedback and confusion. The new feet are a rubber composite based foot that is threaded directly using an insert into the cabinet. The threaded insert is nice in that it does allow for aftermarket spikes or other options rather than a sticky or permanently mounted design.

These are powerful subs with a frequency response that goes down to 18Hz spec'ed for both models though we suspect the A5 may dip a little deeper. You're not exactly going to have a problem pressurizing a room with either or these two behemoths. The finish on the subs are painted in house and have a slightly textured feel. They are seamless and water-based, again keeping with this new "green" eD.


a5_350_grillOffThere are a lot of people that could benefit from a better sub... most of the world in our opinion. The problem is finding one with the performance and price that you can live with. What often gives in this equation is size. You can make a good, inexpensive sub but it'll be big or you can make a small, well performing sub but it will be expensive. eD is definitely taken the former road. This is not a knock in any way but if you are limited in placement of your new sub, you really need to make sure the eD offering fits your room and not only your wallet. At $600 for the A3 and $800 for the A5, you're getting a ton of performance for your dollar. Most subs in this price range can't even see 20Hz much less break it. If our previous interaction with the A7S is any indication, these subs should be a very large bang for the buck.

For more information, please visit www.edesignaudio.com.

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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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