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Elemental Designs A5-450 Kit Subwoofer First Look

Elemental Designs A5-450

Elemental Designs A5-450


  • Product Name: A5-450
  • Manufacturer: Elemental Designs
  • Review Date: November 17, 2009 19:40
  • MSRP: $700/each + shipping
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool

Your Kit Will Include:

What you'll need:

  • General Woodworking skills to assemble cabinet
  • Wood Glue (We recommend TiteBond 2)
  • General Woodworking Tools such as but not limited to: Hammer, Powered Drill/Screwdriver, Brad Nailer, Clamps, and etc. Basically the tools you'll need to build it
  • Cabinet is 36" Tall x 22" Wide x 24" Deep when assembled

First off, Elemental Designs (eD) is announcing a new subwoofer offering. It's so new, it isn't even on the website under its own name yet and in fact is listed under the moniker "19Ov.2 Ported DIY Kit." We're sure they'll be changing the name on the site soon. You've got to wonder about Elemental Designs' naming convention. From the outside, it doesn't seem to make much sense. But when you break it down, it does. The first letter/number combination signifies the amp while the second signifies the driver. So if you look on the eD website, the A3 amp (sold separately as nearly everything is from eD) is a 300 att model, the A5 is a 500 watt model, and the A7 is (inexplicably) the 1300 watt model. The larger the numerical digit, the more wattage. For the second set, again, larger means, well, larger. The 250, 300, 325, 350, and 450 represent the 10", 12", 13", 15" and 18" subwoofer sizes, respectively. So the A5-450 would be an 18" subwoofer with a 500 watt amplifier. Easy, see?

Where this gets confusing is that they'll (mostly) add the second set of numbers together for multiple driver boxes (so a 900 is a sub with two 18" drivers) though that isn't always the case (the dual 12" should be a 600 (300x2) but is labeled 650). If you see an "s" after the amp designation, this indicates a sealed subwoofer design - no "s" means ported. So again, the A5-450 is a ported (no s, 18" driver, with a 500 watt amp). What they haven't done yet is come up with a DIY designation which we think should be a "k" somewhere in there.

A5-450_nakedThe A5-450 is exactly that - a DIY sub kit. What you get when you order it is a driver, an amp, the wire to connect the two, and a flat-packed EFS enclosure. You'll be responsible for all the tools you'll need to put the sub together plus any veneer you may want to apply. Please don't think you'll just stain the outside because that won't work. EFS (Environmentally Friendly Substrate) is eD's answer to MDF but for your purposes, it looks the same. Paint might be OK in the right room but you'll have to be very careful with you edges and fit and finish. The enclosure isn't huge by Internet Direct standards but it does stand 3 feet tall, 2 feet deep and nearly 2 feet wide. That's a lot of box to cover and depending on how high end a finish you want, it could add considerable cost.

That being said, eD is not exactly charging a premium for this sub. If you price out the raw materials, the driver and the amp come in a $545 from the eD site. eD estimates the cost of the enclosure at $300 which puts the final price at nearly $850. As they are selling the kit for $700, you are seeing nearly $150 off. If you price out the completed sub offerings, the A7-450 (larger amp, slightly larger enclosure, and different port design) comes in at $1650! Even the A5-350 (same amp, smaller driver) is retailing for $800 ($100 more than the A5-450 kit).

eD has also striven to make this kit an easy project for even those that aren't as woodworking inclined. The enclosure features inset grooves and has very easy to follow instructions so that users won't have to guess where the port is supposed to go or how the bracing should be installed. We put together a quick graphic to show you how easy they've made it:



This isn't a product for everyone. Let's face it, there are plenty of homeowners out there that wouldn't know what to do with braid nailer and the first thing they think of when they hear the word "clamp" is an episode of MASH. We anticipate a lot of college dorms or first apartments with unfinished subs and excessive bass. The fully finished A5-350 is rated by eD down to 18Hz so we see no reason to expect that this kit would be rated as good if not better. Let's not beat around the bush, this is a serious sub. The enclosure shipping weight alone is 120lbs according to eD.

For the right buyer, this is a great deal. Those afraid of veneer, wood glue, or just moving a 100 lbs+ sub from your workshop to your home theater need not apply. For the rest, you're getting an eD sub at a serious discount (not including what you'll spend on shipping, veneer, and chiropractic adjustments) that you can custom finish. We're sure this is going to to be a popular product with a select group. All we have to say is - Pics please!

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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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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