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Fathom f112 Conclusion

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The JL Audio has produced a very serious subwoofer in the Fathom f112, the smallest sibling in their home audio line. Considering that fact, its big brothers must be dead serious. This is a powerful sub capable of prodigious deep bass output. Make no mistake; if the reader has loose objects in the house, this sub will locate them and point them out. Also, be prepared to find interior partition walls complaining into adjacent rooms. For the best possible listening experience, find all loose items and secure them.

This is a well-built subwoofer with a solid cabinet and a high quality finish. For those who select the gloss finish, it is easily smudged, but that is the nature of the finish, not a shortcoming of this particular manufacturer. The cabinet is well braced and solid, which will keep it from making music of its own to the detriment of the reproduction.

The Fathom f112 subwoofer represents a significant challenge to companies traditionally associated with high end home theater subwoofers. It is certainly not hacked gear translated from car to home. The reader will be hard pressed to find a sub that can belt out more clean low end output unless they turn to the bigger JL Audio subs.

Is the Fathom a good value? It depends on how one looks at things. At $2700 a sub, it is roughly 10 times the cost of common HTiB and 50 times the cost of the cheapest. Products in this price range are not really intended as bang for the buck. On the other hand, considering the prices of other top end subwoofers, I believe this sub will perform well against more expensive competition so in that sense, it can be considered a value.

For those who have not experienced a subwoofer capable of generating bass to the limits of human hearing, one with substantial output capabilities down into the subsonic range, do so. It can be argued that a subwoofer without significant capability below 30Hz is no subwoofer at all, but merely another woofer. It is not uncommon for tower loudspeakers to play down to 30Hz, and there are high-end speakers can make it lower, albeit with some compression at high SPL.

Another word of advice for those who are pondering budgeting for a LFE actuator to accompany a sub, do not compromise on the subwoofer to accommodate the cost of an LFE actuator. When planning, consider this: sound quality will suffer from performance lost in the sub and tactile output comes with the kind of sub that can hit the deepest bass. If consideration of an actuator is neighbor driven, structure borne sound transmission will likely invalidate this as an argument. There are sounds in movies that cannot be heard, or felt, with a +30 Hz sub. If you can afford quality in both devices, that’s nice, if not, focus on the sub. Even better yet, spend the LFE actuator budget on a second sub. It will kill some room modes and increase the total output, both of which will boost LFE rumble. The JL Audio Fathom subwoofers should be on the short list.

I am pleased to say, the f112 will be making a home in my reference system. It makes for a fine benchmark against which other high performance subwoofers will be judged.


JL Audio Inc.

10369 North Commerce Parkway
Miramar, FL 33025-3962
USA
Telephone: (954) 443-1100
Fax: (954) 443-1111 (general)
Fax: (954) 443-1108 (tech support)

www.jlaudio.com

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 ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStarStar
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStarStar
FeaturesStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStarStarhalf-star
About the author:

Professionally, David engineers building structures. He is also a musician and audio enthusiast. David gives his perspective about loudspeakers and complex audio topics from his mechanical engineering and HAA Certified Level I training.

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Recent Forum Posts:

clubfoot posts on April 08, 2007 16:37
Review - broken link

The correct location for inf-rooms_3: http://www.infinitysystems.com/home/technology/whitepapers/inf-rooms_3.pdf
clubfoot posts on April 08, 2007 12:24
billy p, post: 260136
driving home on Friday a commercial from a local Toronto retailer made mention of the the new JL's having arrived. They went as far, as to call them the subwoofer of the Gods. Auditions will be for serious audiophiles only and by appointment only.
Then, again I'm not surprised because I would line up to have a listen .
Ps: I am serious, just don't have that kind of money.

Billy p
The local Toronto retailer would be Kromer and I just auditioned the f113 yesterday for a possible purchase at the end of the month. To me the f113 is not a WOW sub (spl) it is more of a “I didn't know those sounds/effects were there!” It is one of those rear audio components that reveals “stuff” that you could not feel before, because with this sub you do not need tactile transducers.

Go listen/feel for yourselves.
billy p posts on April 02, 2007 08:37
Hehe

driving home on Friday a commercial from a local Toronto retailer made mention of the the new JL's having arrived. They went as far, as to call them the subwoofer of the Gods. Auditions will be for serious audiophiles only and by appointment only.
Then, again I'm not suprised because I would line up to have a listen .
Ps: I am serious, just don't have that kind of money.

Billy p
jaxvon posts on March 28, 2007 20:23
gene, post: 258726
David's review and forum response has inspired me to request a review sample of their Gotham sub. Problem is I loath carrying a 300lbs sub up two flights of steps to my theater room, and knowing me, I'd want at least two of them

That's what JL's own top end demo room uses. Bryston electronics, PMC speakers, and two Gothams on the front soundstage.
no. 5 posts on March 27, 2007 20:06
billy p, post: 258756
I fully concur with post 14 & 18. Well said, no.5

Oh, stop… you'll make me all embarrased.

Thanks though.
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