Funk Audio FW18.0 Sound Quality Tests
I ended up having the FW18.0 in my home for around 5 months all said and done. Largely due to winter weather and scheduling conflicts constantly delaying the outdoor testing. During that time I had a good chance to get acclimated to the FW18.0 and try it in a few different placements and rooms. I also had opportunity to try a great variety of material with it providing the low end, play with the DSP functions of the amplifier and try the various preset EQ curves supplied by Funk Audio for the unit. I very quickly decided that I preferred the “No EQ” setting for the FW18.0 which was un-surprising to me as I do not typically jump between different response shapes depending on the material. Typically I set and forget things after spending some time dialing in what measures well and sounds good to me. Most of the other response presets ranged from slightly bloated to downright boomy sounding compared to the “Flat” setting to my ear. Your mileage may vary. Initially when I received the FW18.0 I still had a different bass system being evaluated in the main room and I wanted to try out the DSP software anyway so I decided to try the FW18.0 in a tiny 1000 cubic foot computer room paired up with a set of cheap Fostex PMO.4n monitors. Certainly overkill and a bit of a mismatch but hey…Why not? It certainly was a fun pairing. The FW18.0 added about 3 extra octaves of low end extension and in such a small room it had enough headroom to completely run away from the little Fostex’s while filling the space with oppressive amounts of bass. There is nothing I would consider to be level matched or critical listening about this, but it was enjoyable to be sure. One noteworthy take away was that the FW18.0 seemed able to easily extend high enough in frequency to hand off to the little 4” cones in the monitors after modifying the low pass filter a bit.
For all of the serious listening sessions the FW18.0 subwoofer was moved downstairs to the basement HT and placed in the front right corner of the room with the driver firing into the corner about 4 inches from the wall. This places the subwoofer about 4 meters from the primary listening position. I have determined this right rear corner or the right front corner to be the best available single subwoofer placement in the room for most units.(Note: I often get asked why I fire the drivers into the wall or the corner and the reason is because it often flattens out one or two response notches that can appear from cancellation due to the reflection from the wall. Not in the deep bass where the sub does its heavy lifting and the wavelengths are too long to be affected much, but up higher in frequency around or above the crossover to the other speakers. Depending on the placement or size of the sub this does not always amount to much but it can help in the crossover region or mid-bass sometimes. Of course aesthetically most people would not make this choice.) Audyssey was run on the system to allow it to integrate the FW18.0, which was then followed by a check and recalibration of the subwoofer and speaker levels prior to the listening sessions. I do not typically use Audyssey or other auto EQ programs for my own system but is assumed that the majority of purchasers would utilize some form of automated room correction system to integrate a new subwoofer, hence running the auto equalization routine. The internal low pass filter of the Onkyo PR-SC886P processor was set to 100Hz. The FW18.0 was left in its “No EQ” response mode and with the factory DSP settings.
I spent a number of weeks listening to all sorts of material with the FW18.0 providing the low end and it never failed to acquit itself with precision. With all sorts of music, ranging from 90’s rap and hip hop, to Blu-ray concerts and folk rock, the bass foundation of the music was well presented and was simply there. Organ pedals were huge and deep, drums were big and booming or alternatively sharp and abrupt as called upon by the material. When turned up loud, kick drums took on significant punch and a tactile nature. Standup bass was gnarled and fat or could be round and soft depending on how it was being played during the recording. When very deep frequencies were present in the material the FW18.0 had no problems reproducing it such as with bass synth effects and pipe organ or just plain old bass testing tracks. As previously mentioned it also had no problems easily running up well past 120 Hz to meet up with smaller bass shy speakers. Since I had the unit for an extended amount of time I even ended up having to mix a couple of songs for a recording project and using the system with the FW18.0 in it as an overall tonal balance check between iterations. The FW18.0 did not call undue attention to itself unless that is what the track being played called for and when it was asked to kick out the jams it could deliver a substantial amount of impact. This is exactly what a good subwoofer should do is get out of the way and reproduce whatever is demanded of it with neutrality. It should disappear into the total sound of the system and room but when needed make its presence felt in a big and violent way. The FW18.0 had no issues doing just that. I leaned on the FW18.0 heavily while viewing a few blu-ray discs known for brutal LFE tracks such as Wrath of the Titans, Looper and Terminator Salvation. It had plenty of gumption to rattle some pictures in adjacent rooms at times and I never heard any obvious signs of distress or compression. If there was any occurring the protection and limiting circuits in the FW18.0 were good enough to keep me from noticing anything. The FW18.0 really did a great job of rocking the house on a few scenes in particular. One of which was during the gas station sequence from Terminator Salvation, where a giant robot runs amok for a few minutes causing explosion after explosion and thundering around. This scene has gobs of heavy bass to begin with so I cranked it up more than usual trying to see how the FW18.0 would respond and respond it did with more bass output than I expected it to be capable of. The FW18.0 wasn’t just booming out loud upper bass and ignoring the deep stuff here either, it plunged deep below 20Hz in room with useful power, as evidenced by a set of measurements I later took at the listening position using the CEA-2010 tone bursts and distortion thresholds, where the FW18.0 recorded greater than 105dB at the listening position from 10-20Hz. Admittedly I’m a bit of a bass junky so I would probably still want 2-4 FW18.0’s for the sake of headroom, but a single did a great job in my space all by itself. I enjoyed the FW18.0 with both movie LFE bass and music where it possessed composure, definition and headroom, but it really seemed to shine when allowed to stretch its legs with music whether 2 channel or concert disc. The FW18.0 offered subjectively well balanced and powerful bass reproduction that is clearly among the top tier of units I have reviewed.
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Steve81, post: 986362They actually look pretty nice, not quite as nice as the curved cabinet, but pretty sexy nonetheless. Here are some pictures.
FYI, looks like Funk is offering a lower cost variant of the 18.0 in a simpler 20“ x20” x 20" cabinet with rounded corners. Price is $2,550, which is a pretty substantial discount.