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Emotiva Ultra 12 Subwoofer Review

Emotiva Ultra 12 Subwoofer

Emotiva Ultra 12 Subwoofer


  • Product Name: Ultra 12 Subwoofer
  • Manufacturer: Emotiva Audio
  • Review Date: October 31, 2006 08:25
  • MSRP: $499
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
  • Buy Now
  • Power Output: 300 watts RMS, 500 watts peak
  • Frequency Response: 22Hz to 200Hz (in-room)
  • SPL: 110 to 113db (in-room)
  • Balanced Input: 1V
  • Unbalanced Input: 500 mv.
  • Phase Adjustment: 0 - 180 degrees @50Hz
  • Low pass Crossover: 50-150Hz variable, 24db/oct
  • Warranty: 5 year transferable
  • Dimensions: 14.5" W x 14.5" H x 15.25" D
  • Weight: 38 lbs.

Executive Overview

Editor's Note: This is our video review of the Ultra 12 Sub. For our complete review with measurements, please see the Emotiva Ultra 12 Subwoofer Full Review.

"Subwoofer" - it's like a magic word around here and makes all of us audioholics have little dreams of black boxes that cause our walls to crack, dishes to rattle, and rock our children to sleep... from the other end of the house. Some people think a good subwoofer will go down to 2 Hz, cost $200 and live in a box the size of a small laptop computer. Others go for size, wanting nothing less than a small refrigerator that will smack them around like a rag doll. We take a slightly more balanced approach, so when Emotiva announced their affordable Ultra 12 sub, we were intrigued.
But can a $500 12-inch subwoofer really compete? We weren't sure, so we got one and hooked it up. But first we looked at the specs. The Ultra 12 sub sports a 300watt Class D amp that will put out 500watts of peak power. It has a die cast woofer frame with a huge magnet, and utilizes long throw drivers. The woofer is constructed out of a triple-woven synthetic product used in bulletproof vests. We didn't shoot it, but in fairness we're pretty certain they're going for stiffness, not defensive measures. The surround is constructed out of butyl rubber and the boxes are sealed, rather than ported.

Speaking of the box, it's constructed out of MDF with a 1" thick baffle and extensive bracing and dampening throughout to make sure the sub only makes noise from its driver and nothing else - even the grill mount includes rubber boots so it won't rattle. The sub includes both rubber and aluminum feet, so you can use it on carpet or hardwood and tile floors. The Emotiva Ultra 12 Sub comes in a Black veneer and honestly, it's nothing to write home about, but it works.

On the back you've got both balanced (a rare find on any consumer subs, especially at this price) and unbalanced inputs. There is a Low Pass Filter switch to defeat the internal crossover, which goes from 50-150Hz. Variable volume and phase adjustment are also available, as is a switch for setting the sub to continuous, off, or auto-sensing mode. In Auto it draws 2 watts and goes standby after 10 minutes of no sound.

The Ultra Sub 12 is essentially a compact 15" cube and weighs 38lbs. It extends all the way down to 22Hz with typical in-room output of about 112dB and it really has a satisfying sound that plays low enough to hit you in the chest, but doesn't sound distorted or boomy. This sub is tight and will do well in any type of room we can imagine. Your only limitation will be output and we recommend getting more than one if your room is larger or it opens up into a bigger space.

At the price Emotiva is selling this sub for, those specs are pretty compelling, even more so after we heard the Ultra 12 in some of our reference rooms. It's nice to see that a company known for its amplifier design can branch out and make an equally compelling subwoofer product. We can recommend this sub to anyone interested in a value product that will deliver tight, musical bass in small to medium-sized rooms.

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

lietuvis91 posts on June 13, 2011 09:54
I like my my ultra 12 a lot as well, I think it's definitelly a very nice sub for the money. One big thing I noticed is that cable quality really makes a difference to this sub. I originally had a monoprice 13ft sub cable on it and the sub was loud, but somewhat droany… and boomy. I was able to tune most of that out playing with the phase settings and also changing the location of the sub.

but then…

I bough a used teralabs cable from a forum member and holly molly! This made the sub sound VERY nice, no more droan or boominess, just nice clean deep BASS!!!!!

anyway… cables seemed to make a difference…
tattoo_Dan posts on June 01, 2011 19:47
kfessler, post: 813591
I bought one of these subs last month, and all I can say that it blows my older sub to smitherines! And I got it for the $429 price shipped.

As time goes on and it keeps breaking-in, it just keeps getting better and better!

yep ! I love mine too !
kfessler posts on June 01, 2011 15:22
Emotiva Ultra 12

I bought one of these subs last month, and all I can say that it blows my older sub to smitherines! And I got it for the $429 price shipped.

As time goes on and it keeps breaking-in, it just keeps getting better and better!
tattoo_Dan posts on February 15, 2011 20:57
KrellAV, post: 792762
“112dB is an in-room spec from Emotiva across the Freq spectrum. This is a small sub, it can't do that kind of output down to 20Hz. If you read our review, I list that as a con and also discuss it in the measurements section.

Despite that, it still has the most output of any box of that size we've tested. It has way more output than the Lava sub we just finished reviewing. It's only competition is the little SVS sub which we plan on testing in the near future. However, the SVS is more costly, especially since you have to factor in shipping while the Emo shipping is free.”

Thanks Gene!

Follow-up, I am looking at maybe getting 4 of the U-Sub 12s to place in corners of a fairly large (~6000 cuft) room, My concern is being able to get significant output at 20 hz from this setup for HT. Room gain will likely factor in but what is your guess. Construction is concrete floors with carpeting and vaulted ceiling. My speakers are full range so the crossover would be about 40 hz for HT.

I talked to a guy at emotiva today before I made the order,and he did say on top of the $429 shipped price is a sizable discount for buying more than one also !
KrellAV posts on February 15, 2011 20:04
gene, post: 792778
If your primary concern is true 20Hz extension at meaningful output levels, get the SVS PB12 Plus DSP or the Rythmik FV-15HP we recently reviewed.

The Emo 12 is designed to be small, cheap and powerful but it rightly limits output down to 20Hz to keep the product clean and stress free.

Thanks again! That is what I thought but hoped from a WAF perspective that 4 smaller subs would do the trick. Oh well, as they say, there is no replacement for displacement.

I know you reviewed the FV15HP but I am not a fan of ported subs nor the size requirements. Would the F15HP approach the output and performance for clean bass with the 20 hz extension? I will be getting 2 of these subs for room balancing.
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About the author:
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Andrew Gash was the online personality for Audioholics' video reviews back in 2010. He's an accomplished video editor and scriptwriter and enjoys masochistic events such as entering 48 hour film festivals each year, for which his last several attempts have placed in various nominations and awards.

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