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McIntosh’s PS2K Monster $50K Subwoofer Is Absurd!

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McIntosh PS2K Powered Subwoofer

McIntosh PS2K Powered Subwoofer

Summary

  • Product Name: PS2K Powered Subwoofer
  • Manufacturer: McIntosh
  • Review Date: December 14, 2023 00:00
  • MSRP: $50,000 each
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Buy Now

  • Power output: 4 x 500 watts
  • Drivers: 4 x 13-inch Multi-layer Carbon Fiber Cones
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 25-5/16" x 78-5/8" x 28-7/16”
  • Weight: 458 lbs

McIntosh PS2K Subwoofer - a Bassaholic Dream?

There is no shortage of huge, expensive subwoofers in the world. The theater in the Audioholics Smart Home has recently been upgraded to include the RBH Sound Unrivaled 21-SF/R Subwoofer, a 21-inch behemoth that’ll set you back $10,000. But in some circles, that’s considered small. Earlier this year, our friend Shane Lee checked out Ascendo Audio’s The 80, an 80-inch subwoofer that costs six figures and weighs a bit more than Andre the Giant, at 573 pounds. In the Ascendo, the voice coil is 21 inches. While the RBH sub is more of an all-rounder, the Ascendo is built specifically for infrasonic bass. You might be surprised to learn how many audio companies make subwoofers that cost as much as a car (I’ll name-drop a few more later). Now, McIntosh has joined their ranks, delivering what the Binghamton brand calls “a masterclass in precision, power, and passion.” This new monster of a subwoofer is the PS2K Powered Subwoofer ($50,000 each), promising “unparalleled bass performance.” If you’re in the market for a subwoofer in this ludicrous category, McIntosh expects that you already have an “awe-inspiring home audio system,” but the PS2K is designed to “elevate the listening experience… by adding new depths of low frequency perfection.” Naturally, the awe-inspiring systems most likely to partner with the PS2K are McIntosh’s own Reference Two-Channel and Reference Home Theater systems, which use the company’s towering XRT2.1K ($140,000/pair) or XRT1.1K ($70,000/pair) loudspeakers, powered by the 2,000-watt, three-chassis MC2KW monoblock amplifiers ($43,000 each). But McIntosh says the PS2K isn’t just for the brand’s fanboys — it’s also “the perfect complement to high-output loudspeakers from other manufacturers” because the PS2K sub “will not run out of steam at the high volume levels.” Interestingly, McIntosh hasn’t yet revealed the PS2K’s frequency response our CEA-2010 max output stats, so we don’t know precisely how deep (or how loud) it can play.

ps2k-drivers

Mcintosh PS2K Subwoofer Design Details

So what do you get for $50K? The PS2K is a tower-style sub, packing four 13-inch woofers into a cabinet standing just slightly taller than Michael Jordan, at about 79 inches, and weighing in at a menacing 458 pounds. Inside the gloss black monolith, the drivers use massive magnets and benefit from McIntosh’s patented Low Distortion High Performance (LD/HP) Magnetic Circuit Design, which “significantly reduces distortion while increasing the driver’s power handling and efficiency,” according to the company. The performance of the drivers was optimized using Finite Element Analysis (FEA), resulting in “extreme linearity” and reduced distortion. The voice coil is described as “extra long,” and the specially-designed long-excursion suspension reportedly delivers “longer linear capability than most drivers.” The cones themselves are made from multi-layer carbon fiber (which McIntosh says flexes less than single-layer carbon fiber), making them strong enough to withstand long, extended excursion travel. The cones also have an integrated formed joint with the voice coil, resulting in “extreme rigidity and high power handling capability,” according to the company. 

ps2k rear panel

Each of the PS2K’s four drivers is powered by its own 500-watt Class D amplifier, giving the sub a total power output of up to 2,000 watts. McIntosh tells us that the amplifiers are “meticulously calibrated to minimize distortion and produce clear, tight bass with astonishingly low distortion in even the most expansive listening spaces.” The amps reside in a module at the base of the tower, which is adorned with a power output meter showing the total output of the PS2K.

ps2k meter

ps2k-frontThe classic McIntosh meter, combined with the sub’s gloss black finish, carbon trim, and aluminum base, will be sure to please fans of the brand and its iconic styling. The front baffle is nearly 1.5 inches thick, promising “ultimate rigidity and low vibration.” Unlike many large subs, the PS2K is a sealed box design. Around back you’ll find balanced and unbalanced stereo inputs and outputs, as well as balanced and unbalanced subwoofer inputs and outputs, with daisy-chaining capabilities. There are adjustable low-pass and high-pass filters, plus two fully adjustable parametric EQ filters and a phase adjustment knob. Unfortunately these are analog dials which lack the precision of digital control to adjust frequency and Q.

McIntosh vs Other Super Subs

Finally, the PS2K benefits from two of McIntosh’s proprietary protection technologies. Power Guard monitors the audio input signal coming into the amplifiers and “makes real-time, near speed-of-light adjustments to prevent harsh sounding clipping,” when necessary. McIntosh says such adjustments are imperceptible to the human ear, so there is no loss of sound quality. Meanwhile, Sentry Monitor is the company’s name for its fuse-free protection circuit, which disengages the amplifier’s output stage before current exceeds safe operating levels, and then automatically resets when normal operating conditions have returned.

Even in this frankly absurd price category, the McIntosh PS2K will face competition within the world of super-high-end subs. REL’s new flagship sub, the No. 32, sells for merely $10,000 each — but these subs can be stacked, and are often sold in packs of six for large systems. The Magico Titan 15, which packs a pair of 15-inch drivers inside its 390-pound aluminum cabinet, will set you back $32,000 each. The Divin Sovereign is an 18-inch subwoofer from the German loudspeaker manufacturer Göbel High-End, and comes in at $29,500 each. Wilson Audio’s Subsonic will set you back $39,000 each, and you’ll have to provide your own amplification. Most buyers will take home at least a pair of any of these. A more frugal bass fanatic could purchase the JL Audio Gotham V2 ($20,000 each) or the downright affordable — by comparison — Perlisten D215S ($10,000 each). Have even more money to blow on bass? The enormous YG Acoustics InVincible 21.2 packs a pair of 21-inch woofers and 6,000 watts of power, all for the eye-watering price of $120,000. Will the McIntosh PS2K deliver the necessary performance to attract users of super-expensive speakers from these other brands, or will it be purchased only by the wealthiest of McIntosh devotees? We suppose time will tell as this behemoth of a sub just started shipping back in October, 2023. Share your thoughts in the related forum thread below.

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

About the author:
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Jacob is a music-lover and audiophile who enjoys convincing his friends to buy audio gear that they can't afford. He's also a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles.

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