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RBH Sound I-12 and I-12/e Subwoofer Preview

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RBH I-12/e Subwoofer

RBH I-12/e Subwoofer

Summary

  • Product Name: I-12 and I-12/e Subwoofers
  • Manufacturer: RBH Sound
  • Review Date: July 14, 2015 09:00
  • MSRP: $499 (I-12) and $699 (I-12/e); Free Shipping
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
  • Buy Now

I-12 Subwoofer

  • 12" (305mm) Aluminum Cone Subwoofer
  • Amplifier Type: Class D
  • Voltage: 110 and 220
  • Amplifier Power: 350 Watts RMS
  • Frequency Response: 23Hz-200Hz ±3dB
  • Low-pass Crossover: 40Hz-150Hz (continuously variable)
  • Line Level Input: Yes
  • Balanced Input: Yes
  • Speaker Level Inputs: No
  • Speaker Level Outputs: No
  • Phase Control: Yes (0/180 Degrees)
  • Dimensions: 17-1/2" W x 22-3/4" H x 22" D ( 445mm W x 578mm H x 559mm D) 
  • Weight: 65 lbs. (29.48 kg)
  • Cabinet Color: High-gloss Red Burl or High-gloss Black Ash
  • Grille Color: Black

I-12/e Subwoofer

  • 12" (305mm) Aluminum Cone Subwoofer
  • Amplifier Type: Class D
  • Voltage: 110 and 220
  • Amplifier Power: 500 Watts RMS
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-200Hz ±3dB
  • Low-pass Crossover: 40Hz-150Hz (continuously variable)
  • Line Level Input: Yes
  • Balanced Input: Yes
  • Speaker Level Inputs: No
  • Speaker Level Outputs: No
  • Phase Control: Yes (0/180 Degrees)
  • Dimensions: 17-1/2" W x 22-3/4" H x 22" D ( 445mm W x 578mm H x 559mm D) 
  • Weight: 65 lbs. (29.48 kg)
  • Cabinet Color: High-gloss Red Burl or High-gloss Black Ash
  • Grille Color: Black

Executive Overview

RBH Sound, has long been on our Audioholics short list of high performance, high value subwoofers.  RBH's years of experience in the home theater space places it in prime position to deliver low cost and high value solutions to the entry-level home theater enthusiast. RBH's Impression Series subwoofers are the company's answer to that high performance, high value tradition.  RBH has positioned the Impression Series to compete directly with entry-level subwoofers from all the big name brands.  

RBH's Impression Series consists of two models, the $499 I-12 and $699 I-12/e.  The I-12 is powered by a 350 Watt RMS Class D amplifier while the I-12/e features a 500 Watt RMS Class D amplifier.  These are continuous rating power figures, not peak like some subwoofer companies often specify. 

RBH 12

RBH 12" Aluminum Subwoofer Driver

 

As their model numbers suggest, both the I-12 and I-12/e both feature 12” drivers. Unlike some of the competition, RBH Sound’s drivers are aluminum, not paper, and stem from RBH’s proprietary aluminum cone driver technology, which helps use the aluminum cone’s natural heat sink properties to keep heat generated away from critical components; namely the voice coil.  We should also note that aluminum drivers are normally found in subwoofers costing many times the price of the Impression Series.  In fact, according to RBH, using aluminum for the driver allows for higher performance and more accurate frequency response than the materials typically see at this price point.  This stamped basket aluminum cone driver shares a common heritage with other RBH products and it's quite a capable performer.

Both models have line level inputs, balanced and unbalanced inputs, phase control and a continuously variable lowpass crossover from 40Hz-150Hz. There are no speaker level inputs or outputs available on either model.  

At $499 for the I-12, you get a frequency response that is rated for 23Hz-200Hz ±3dB.  At the $699 price point, the RBH Sound I-12e’s frequency response is rated at a jaw-dropping 20Hz - 200Hz ±3dB.  These subs are nothing to snicker at, weighing in at a hefty 65lbs each.  

The Impression Series subs don’t feature automated, on-board room correction.  They do, however, give you the flexibility to tailor them to your specific environment.  These subs are a tri-ported design with three, rear-firing, 3-1/2 inch ports.  Users can fine-tune the sub to suit their tastes and their rooms with the included port plugs.  

 

Port Plug Options

Port Plug Options on the Impression Series subs and the corresponding Frequency Responses

Maximum output for 25Hz and above can be achieved by leaving the subwoofer’s ports unplugged.  Maximum extension below 25Hz can be achieved by plugging a single port and leaving the remaining two unplugged.  Maximum damping, which is the least amount of output below 30Hz, can be achieved by plugging all three ports. This driver is actually designed to work well in a ported or sealed enclosure so if you prefer the performance of a sealed sub, you'd want to plug all three ports.

RBH sent us some preliminary measurements (viewable below) for the subs and the measurements are very impressive for subs at this price point.  Typically, you would need to spend many times the price of the Impression Series to get SPL level measurements like this in the 20Hz - 40Hz range.   One important item to note is that these preliminary measurements provided by RBH Sound are ground plane measurements at 2m and do NOT represent maximum output.  Using the subs’ vented alignment, you'd realize considerable gain below 40Hz if the sub were to be placed close to a rear wall.   

RBH I-12/e preliminary measurements

Preliminary Measurements of the RBH I-12/e Subwoofer courtesy of RBH/RBH

For those needing to balance aesthetics along with performance, you have two choices for the cabinet finishes.  Finishing options include either a high gloss red burl or a high gloss black ash.  From what we’ve seen the photos that RBH supplied us with, both finishes appear to be of high quality.

RBH I-12 Sub Measurements

Preliminary Measurements of the RBH I-12 Subwoofer courtesy of RBH/RBH

Give it a Try

Like all of RBH Sound’s products, the Impression Series subwoofers come with the company’s 100% satisfaction guarantee.  You can try the subwoofers for up to 30 days in your home and if you’re not completely satisfied you can return the units back to RBH Sound in like-new condition for a full refund, minus return shipping.  

All in all, the specs and initial measurements of these subwoofers continue to show that this is a great time to be a home theater enthusiast.   With high performance, high value options like the RBH Sound’s impression Series available, there’s no reason why the average consumer cannot build a high performance home theater and multichannel audio system without needing to take out a second mortgage on their home.  Imagine pairing this sub with their R55ti towers for a fullrange 2.1 offering the level of performance one would normally spend considerably more to achieve.

We’re certainly excited by the specs and feature of the Impression Series subwoofers and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to take these models for a spin first hand.

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About the author:

Theo is a serious audiophile and home theater enthusiast—a passion he's enjoyed for over 20 years. He heads up many of our speaker system and receiver reviews as well as covering the latest in streaming technologies and Ultra HD video.

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Recent Forum Posts:

Rick Ross posts on August 22, 2016 18:35
What happened to the full review of this sub that was supposed to take place earlier in the year?
Transmaniacon posts on May 10, 2016 07:54
gene, post: 1098633, member: 4348
RBH is sending me one after CEDIA to check out. I will pull a few measurements and do a YouTube video overview and then send it to one of our guys for a full review. Stay tuned…

Hey Gene, are you still planning on doing this review?
Transmaniacon posts on October 02, 2015 18:08
KEW, post: 1098649, member: 41838
This all depends on how you look at FR for a sub.

Measurement in an anechoic chamber is the lab standard because it is repeatable.

Many people look for a flat FR out of a sub in an anechoic chamber (or using measurement techniques to approximate an anechoic chamber). Personally, I think this is a misguided approach. However, for people that do look at it that way, I suspect these subs will roll off significantly when measured in an anechoic chamber.

The in room response of these subs is most impressive because of the lack of bass nodes and nulls. You could see some treatments in the room, and I suspect some time was spent tuning the room in order to obtain such flat in-room response.

Understand that none of this is a criticism of RBH or this sub. They look to be excellent musical subs and I would be looking strongly at them if I was in the market.

I appreciate seeing in-room response because I have had subs that measured anechoically flat down to 20Hz and it was not possible to get the bass in the lower frequencies properly balanced once I put the sub in my room. The room gain on the low end was too great for Audyssey to smooth out!

Yeah I agree that the in-room response is nice because it's more applicable to the average user. Granted that room is treated, but impressive nonetheless!
Transmaniacon posts on October 02, 2015 18:07
gene, post: 1098633, member: 4348
RBH is sending me one after CEDIA to check out. I will pull a few measurements and do a YouTube video overview and then send it to one of our guys for a full review. Stay tuned…

Thanks for the update! I know a lot of people on AVS are waiting for some third party measurements, looking forward to seeing what you guys think.
KEW posts on October 02, 2015 17:20
Transmaniacon, post: 1098596, member: 43298
Any update on when we can expect the review? That video seems very promising though, in a 6000+ cubic square foot room, it was digging down into the high teens. In a normal sized room you would see even better performance, I think once we see the numbers there may be a new $500 champ.

This all depends on how you look at FR for a sub.

Measurement in an anechoic chamber is the lab standard because it is repeatable.

Many people look for a flat FR out of a sub in an anechoic chamber (or using measurement techniques to approximate an anechoic chamber). Personally, I think this is a misguided approach. However, for people that do look at it that way, I suspect these subs will roll off significantly when measured in an anechoic chamber.

The in room response of these subs is most impressive because of the lack of bass nodes and nulls. You could see some treatments in the room, and I suspect some time was spent tuning the room in order to obtain such flat in-room response.

Understand that none of this is a criticism of RBH or this sub. They look to be excellent musical subs and I would be looking strongly at them if I was in the market.

I appreciate seeing in-room response because I have had subs that measured anechoically flat down to 20Hz and it was not possible to get the bass in the lower frequencies properly balanced once I put the sub in my room. The room gain on the low end was too great for Audyssey to smooth out!
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