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Hsu Research VTF-2 mk5 Subwoofer Conclusion

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Taking stocVTF2 conclusion pic 1.jpgk of the Hsu VTF-2 mk5, we might judge it in comparison to its similarly priced competition. At its price point, I don’t know of any other subs that can quite match its overall performance. There are some subs of similar cost that do have more mid bass output, but they do not come close to the VTF-2’s deep bass output or flat frequency response. I cannot think of any other subwoofer in this price bracket that can match its deep bass performance. Move the budget up a couple hundred dollars and you can grab a SVS PC-2000, and you can get more output capability under 30 Hz, but you do lose maximum output capability above 40 Hz. There are some subwoofers that have a smaller size and nicer finish for similar cost, but they do not come close to its performance. Then again, not everyone can handle a subwoofer the size of the VTF-2 mk5, and that is a compromise some people must make.

Another yardstick by which to measure the VTF-2 mk5 is how does it compare to its predecessor, the mk4. According to Hsu’s CEA-2010 measurements for both, the mk5 beats the mk4 by roughly 2 dB in burst output below 40 Hz and by about 3 dB at 40 Hz and above. That is a very substantial margin; effectively a 25% to 50% boost in performance for a subwoofer that costs a bit less. However, one factor in those higher measurements may be partly due to the mk5 having both ports and driver on the same surface, which is different from the mk4’s design. This can be advantageous for this type of testing, but it does not nearly account for the full extent of the gains being seen here, not even close. In comparing the mk5 to the mk4, it should be said that the mk4 did have a finer satin black finish than the mk5’s vinyl black, and the hidden driver and ports gave it a sleeker appearance. On the other hand, the mk5 does look brawnier without the grille, which is perhaps not something everyone can appreciate but is an aesthetic that this reviewer digs.

VTF2 conclusion pic 2.jpg

Large BassaholicIt is difficult to find something reasonable to complain about with this subwoofer. One thing I mentioned to Hsu Research was that the gain knob is a bit sensitive, as it rises at a logarithmic rate. They agreed, and future models will be seeing a more gradual gain structure, so even that tiny nitpick is now moot. Another area of improvement that it would be nice to see addressed in the VTF-2 mk5 is the bracing. While the paneling is sturdy and there is a piece of bracing midway in the sub on the lower half of the cabinet, I wouldn’t mind seeing something that reinforces the cabinet at the midsections on all the free panels. However, this critique is more for peace of mind than anything sensed during actual listening, since, as noted previously, I didn’t hear anything that I thought might be cabinet resonance, and the cabinet does not feel to be flexing when touching it during playback of loud content. It’s worth mentioning here that the protection filters work very well on the VTF-2 mk5; this is a subwoofer that will not overdrive easily. Unless the user turns the gain knob to maximum level, and blasts some 10 hz test tones at full volume, there is no way to bottom out the sub. In other words, the user would have to deliberately be trying to overdrive the subwoofer in order to accomplish that task. 

To bring this review to a close, anyone looking for a subwoofer in the $600 point ($539 + $60 shipping for continental US) would do very well to consider the Hsu VTF-2 mk5. Its overall performance and feature set is one of the best, if not the best, that can be had at this price. It achieves our Bassaholics “Large” room size recommendation in the ported modes (meaning it is suitable for rooms from 3,000^ft3 to 5,000^ft3), except the sealed mode, which nets the “Medium” room size recommendation (room sizes of 1,500^ft3 to 3,000^ft3). The VTF-2 mk5 is the least expensive sub to capture the “Large” room size recommendation, which is a nice new precedent for those looking for the most bang for their buck (more information can be learned about our Bassaholic Room Size Rating.) The VTF-2 mk5 also carries a feature set that is uncommonly good for subwoofers in this price range as well. Along with the hardware, the buyer also gets Hsu’s well-regarded customer service, a 2-year warranty on the amp (upgradable to a 5-year warranty for an additional fee), a 7-year warranty on the driver, swift shipping, good packing, and a subwoofer with manageable size and weight that isn’t an eyesore and doesn’t need a two-man team to move around. I have to give the Hsu VTF-2 mk5 a strong recommend for what it brings to the table for the cost, and if I were shopping for a subwoofer at its price point, it would very likely be my first choice.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStarStar
FeaturesStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStarStarStar
Attached Files
About the author:

James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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Recent Forum Posts:

eralimited57 posts on October 07, 2020 07:56
shadyJ, post: 1423683, member: 20472
For output tests, the Q was set to 0.7. The ‘EQ’ switch was set to ‘2EQ’ for two ports open and sealed, and ‘1EQ’ for one port open.
I set Q to 50, switched to EQ1, 1 port plugged, 1 port open.

One more comment on the SVS subwoofer that I tried out. It sounded flat and boomy with no musicality to it. The HSU sounded just the opposite.
shadyJ posts on October 06, 2020 23:21
paulgyro, post: 1423567, member: 92131
I just got a c-stock VTF-2 mk5 and call me impressed.

Looking at the AH review in detail on this sub, the measurement charts don't say what Q control and EQ settings were used. I know this review is old now but it would be nice to know.
For output tests, the Q was set to 0.7. The ‘EQ’ switch was set to ‘2EQ’ for two ports open and sealed, and ‘1EQ’ for one port open.
paulgyro posts on October 06, 2020 22:39
eralimited57, post: 1423680, member: 84364
That's strange I don't smell any BS here, must be coming from your end.
Thanks for that, I was just wondering what the Audioholics review used for the EQ and Q settings, it only mentioned what ports it used.
eralimited57 posts on October 06, 2020 22:37
eralimited57, post: 1423571, member: 84364
Give Dr. HSU a call or send him an email. He is extremely helpful and responds in a very timely manner.
You can also go to the HSU website and pull up the manual for the subwoofer you're interested in and in there it will explain in detail the functions therein.
eralimited57 posts on October 06, 2020 22:35
That's strange I don't smell any BS here, must be coming from your end.
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