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RBH Sound I-12/e Subwoofer Conclusion

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Aluminum coneFor years I've been suggesting that RBH Sound build an affordable HUGE subwoofer to compete with the ID subwoofer greats.  Not only has RBH succeeded with the I-12 and I-12/e subwoofers, but they've managed to do so in an attractive package that goes beyond just the standard square box.  Although the I-12 sub is large, it looks quite attractive, especially when placed in a corner and used alongside their matching Impression series loudspeakers.

While there are some comparably priced ID subs that play a bit louder and deeper, the RBH I-12/e arguably makes up for it in aesthetics and possibly musicality thanks to the low mass driver and flexible tuning modes. 

The fact that RBH Sound gives you a 30-day in-home free trial with free return shipping when ordering from them directly, gives little reason NOT to try this subwoofer out in your own home to see if you agree with our assessment.

RBH Sound I-12/e Preview and Testing


Impression I-12/e Subwoofer
MSRP: $699 (includes shipping)

RBH Sound
Mailing Address:

382 Marshall Way
Layton, Utah USA 84041-7318

Phone and Fax:
Toll-free: (800) 543-2205
Phone: (801) 543-2200
Fax: (801) 543-3300

Email Address:
[email protected]

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 QualityStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
FeaturesStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStarStarhalf-star
About the author:
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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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Recent Forum Posts:

Rick Ross posts on January 17, 2017 20:14
Some problems I have with Gene's review. In the video, he stated he would probably do testing from 2M, obviosuly due to the port and driver orientation. Then in the actual review it was done at 1M. As has been mentioned, this can kind of “short change” a sub with ports on one side and driver on the other.

Then, to further add to the unfair treatment of the I-12/e, it's compared to dual JL E112's, which are around $1800/each. What in the world is this all about? Would have made MUCH more sense to compare it to a single, comparable sub like the PB-2000 or HSU VTF-2 MK5. That's like comparing a Chevy Malibu to a Corvette ZR1 that has even been heavily modified.

I can also attest to the outdoor numbers, from the questionable testing method, don't reflect the same in room. I have the I-12/e and can say the difference in 3 port to 2 port output at 20Hz does not drop off so steeply in 3 port mode. The difference is actually very minimal. The sub with the ports reinforced by the wall keep the output much stronger than the over 7dB drop from the max burst test.

Finally, how this sub only get 4/5 stars in this price range for fit/finish and build quality is hard to fathom. The I-12/e is easily 5 stars in these categories for this price range. One of the best looking, well built subs you can get for less than $700. Needless to say, a lot of this review doesn't reflect the true character of this sub.
shadyJ posts on January 09, 2017 18:10
One more thing I want to add is the I-12/e wouldn't be an easy subwoofer to fairly measure with respect to some other subs in its class because its ports on the opposite side of its driver. I am not a hundred percent sure of the method used to measure it, ie the sub's orientation, any type of compensation used, or the environment and mic positioning, -these things will all affect the test results- but if the tester just placed the mic 2 meters in front of the driver and ran the bursts and the long term sweeps, that type of testing puts this sub at a disadvantage in port-generated sound. This can knock off a significant amount of dB measured in deep frequencies. The I-12/e may just be a bit more potent in-room than what is shown the measurements in this review.

The problem of measuring subwoofers that have ports or passive radiators on different sides than the driver can be mitigated a bit by placing the mic further away from the subwoofer, so the extra output that the mic gets from being closer to the driver is reduced by closing the distance gap from the ports. Another thing that can be done is using a sub with a single point of acoustic emission, ie. a sealed sub with one driver, testing it outdoors to establish a reference point for its performance, and then placing it indoors and running the same tests. This establishes a compensation curve that can be used for further indoor testing with other subwoofers. By doing this, the total output of any sub from all points of acoustic emission, no matter where they are on the subwoofer, can be more fairly measured.
shadyJ posts on January 08, 2017 22:56
nickboros, post: 1164935, member: 19021
Nice review Gene. I agree with your assessment that RBH might want to be a little less aggressive with the limiter on this sub. The direct competition for this subwoofer seem to be the Hsu VTF-2 mk5 and the SVS PB 2000. If the RBH sub can eek out about 3 dB more without significantly increasing the distortion, then it is pretty comparable to the Hsu sub. While the Hsu sub is cheaper, the RBH looks much better. I would definitely spend the extra money on the RBH sub for the nicer looking finish, if the performance between the two are quite close. If the performance of the Hsu it a bit better in terms of raw output, then the extra cost of the RBH becomes a tougher sell. Also of note, the price of the RBH sub is very close to the SVS PB or PC 2000, which has a lot more output, that is clean. But, it doesn't have port tuning capabilities. I am only comparing these two subs to the RBH subwoofer, since they were recently reviewed and measured on Audioholics.

Yet another comparable subwoofer would be the Rythmik LVX12, that also has port tuning capabilities and is quite close to the price. The finish isn't as as nice as on the RBH, but I think it has more output and has servo technology in the sub. This leads me to believe that the Rythmik might just be a better sub in a least a couple of performance areas. The subwoofer market is a competitive market right now. This is excellent for us thinking about purchasing subwoofers, since each year the subs that we could get per dollar is getting better and better and sometimes there are even more budget friendly options like the RBH that also look great.
Not much is known about the LVX12, so I am not sure why you would think it would have more output. The I/12-e is not doing badly in this area. In many frequencies it is neck-to-neck with the subs you mentioned in burst testing. The standard I-12 looks to be an interesting value proposition since that extra 150 watts isn't likely to amount to much more than 1 dB difference, yet it is $200 less expensive.

As for the limiter, on a sub like this it has to be aggressive because there isn't a way for the sub to know how many ports are plugged. If RBH had a way to adjust the amplifier to know how many ports are plugged, they could better optimize the performance for those operating modes (let's see that feature on a mk2 model, RBH!)

Another thing, that nice gloss finish is not likely to be cheap. If you wanted to beef up performance and keep the same price, something has to give. Hsu made this trade-off going from the VTF-2 mk4 to the mk5, they discarded the satin black for a black vinyl finish.
nickboros posts on January 04, 2017 12:56
Nice review Gene. I agree with your assessment that RBH might want to be a little less aggressive with the limiter on this sub. The direct competition for this subwoofer seem to be the Hsu VTF-2 mk5 and the SVS PB 2000. If the RBH sub can eek out about 3 dB more without significantly increasing the distortion, then it is pretty comparable to the Hsu sub. While the Hsu sub is cheaper, the RBH looks much better. I would definitely spend the extra money on the RBH sub for the nicer looking finish, if the performance between the two are quite close. If the performance of the Hsu it a bit better in terms of raw output, then the extra cost of the RBH becomes a tougher sell. Also of note, the price of the RBH sub is very close to the SVS PB or PC 2000, which has a lot more output, that is clean. But, it doesn't have port tuning capabilities. I am only comparing these two subs to the RBH subwoofer, since they were recently reviewed and measured on Audioholics.

Yet another comparable subwoofer would be the Rythmik LVX12, that also has port tuning capabilities and is quite close to the price. The finish isn't as as nice as on the RBH, but I think it has more output and has servo technology in the sub. This leads me to believe that the Rythmik might just be a better sub in a least a couple of performance areas. The subwoofer market is a competitive market right now. This is excellent for us thinking about purchasing subwoofers, since each year the subs that we could get per dollar is getting better and better and sometimes there are even more budget friendly options like the RBH that also look great.
gene posts on January 03, 2017 02:21
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