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RBH SX-1212P/R Subwoofer Sound Quality Tests

By Joshua Ricci

The RBH SX-1212P/R was placed in the front right corner of my basement HT room facing into the wall and plugged into the system with an XLR cable. I left the gain of the amplifier at its maximum and disengaged the PGM button to defeat the internal low pass filter. I allowed Audyssey to run its auto equalization on the system and afterward checked the balance of the SX-1212P/R against the main speakers as I often find it to be off a bit. The low pass to the SX-1212P/R was set at 100Hz inside of my Onkyo processor.

Music listening

strange-cousins-from-the-westAfter casually listening to music for a while with the SX-1212P/R in the mix I decided to take a few measurements of the SX-1212P/R’s bass response in my room and as expected it was a little heavy on the bottom end below 40Hz which made it seem a bit slow and plodding.

After this was corrected with a bit of manual EQ I decided to listen to a few select tracks from the Clutch album Strange Cousins From the West. This album has excellently recorded acoustic drums and a hefty bass guitar and drum mix. With the low end of the SX-1212P/R throttled back a bit so that top-to-bottom balance was restored, I could hear the resonance of each rack tom and floor tom clearly against the bass guitar which itself often has a growling sometimes biting tone to it. Much better…On some tracks the very bottom end of the snare drum will even just start to bleed into the crossover region between the subs and mains and I thought that the SX-1212P/R, once dialed in, did very well at resolving details in the crossover region without obviously making itself known.

 For something a little more aggressive, with a hyper punchy kick drum, I listened to a few tracks from God Forbid: Determination and cranked the volume way up. This album has the kick drum mixed probably a little too hot but it can be fun with a good bass system and I’d say the SX-1212P/R qualifies because it reproduced the triggered kick drum sounds with snap and power even during dense double kick patterns. In order to switch musical genres completely to something with more of a rap or hip hop feel, I switched over to Cypress Hill: Black Sunday. I wasn’t surprised when the SX-1212P/R was unfazed by either the loud, repeatedly booming bass tones or the mellow, old school sampled R&B beats and bass lines. All of it was reproduced easily with clarity and no sense of strain. Switching gears completely again I played some selected 16 Horsepower tracks which feature upright bass. The SX-1212P/R had no trouble remaining neutral and blending with the mains as the upright bass was suitably woody, droning and thumping in character.

The RBH sub easily reproduced bass with ease and clarity with no sense of strain.

I also ran the NIN track Discipline at a very stout playback volume to see if the SX-1212P/R could reproduce the bottom of the low frequency sweep towards the end of the song with any power or clarity and I have to say it was probably one of the better reproductions of this I’ve heard lately, with clarity and ease all of the way from the bottom of the sweep, which starts to develop below 20Hz.

Movie listening session

TriangleThe movie Triangle is a strange and somewhat disturbing film but it has a ton of bass in it and a couple of demo worthy scenes, so I decided it would be a good candidate to see how the SX-1212P/R would perform with a bass heavy movie soundtrack. The first real bass event in Triangle is a doozy and one of the two demo worthy scenes contained in this films soundtrack. The small group is on a boat out at sea when a very ugly storm appears out of nowhere and unleashes on them, destroying their boat. This scene is very dynamic and loud and has significant bass which is very hot and extends down to below 20Hz with power in some places.  With the master volume at -10, which is the volume that I typically use for subwoofer reviews, the SX-1212P/R thundered out the bass during this scene in impressive fashion without any hint of strain. It also produced some shaking in my seat in parts that indicated to me that it was reproducing the content below 20Hz with vigor.

Later on when the cruise ship arrives it is accompanied by a powerful drone that is not very deep in frequency but is quite loud. The SX-1212P/R had no problem sustaining this loud bass. The rest of the movie is chock full of things like the sound of heavy footsteps on wooden decks, mechanical and engine noises and ominous horror movie drones that are used to build tension. The SX-1212P/R reproduced all of these various bass sounds, some of which are quite weighty and deep, without any issue. I have heard smaller lesser subs obviously compress or struggle a bit with some of this. Some of the “background” bass parts in this movie that are supposed to build tension are indeed mixed so loud that it can start to become fatiguing after a while. The fact that the SX-1212P/R reminded me of this tells me it was reproducing these signals whole-heartedly.

The other scene that I consider to be demo worthy in this movie involves an attack by a masked gunman with a 12ga shotgun. The gunshots are deep and loud with huge dynamics especially on the first couple of shots. The SX-1212P/R did very well here producing a visceral gut punch with apparent ease. Typically I can hear certain bass heavy moments starting to tax the subwoofer when I watch movies at this playback level. Most subwoofers, even expensive and powerful ones, will struggle a bit with these playback levels in my room, but I didn’t get any sense of that with the SX-1212P/R which tells me that it has generous amounts of headroom. 

As usual the SX-1212P/R was subjected to a battery of sub busting movie demo scenes in order to see just what it is capable of and how well it is protected. I used the same -10 master volume that I playback movies at for all of the subwoofer reviews. These are a few of the worst of the worst when it comes to identifying weaknesses or causing distress to subwoofers. You can talk about how taut and clean your sub sounds with light jazz at room conversation level all day long, pitch definition and clarity or what have you, but nothing is an utter sound quality fail quite like your sub making obnoxious noises, wheezing, shutting down, or clanking in distress in the middle of your Sunday night movie because it doesn’t have enough output to do the job your listening habits demand, or is not protected well enough to hide the fact at the very least.

First on the list was the plane crash scene from Flight of the Phoenix. This is one of the loudest bass events I have found in any movie to this date. The bass in this scene is just plain hot and contains a mix of frequencies culminating in a very loud 30Hz drone during the barrel roll of the plane. The SX-1212P/R rocked this one out and while I think I may have heard a bit of something from it, perhaps a hint of distortion, this was the most powerful and uncompressed that this scene has been reproduced by any sub that I have reviewed for Audioholics. Definitely an A+ on this one.

The RBH SX-1212P/R reproduced the plane crash in Flight of the Phoenix with greater authority than any other sub we've previously reviewed on Audioholics.

Next up was The Hurt Locker where the 50-caliber is being fired in the desert. With this scene the subwoofer is asked to produce huge amounts of bass under 20Hz accompanied by a reduced but still significant level of upper harmonics. Very few bass systems reproduce this content fully. The SX-1212P/R did pretty well here with plenty of volume but I could tell that the lowest parts of the signal were significantly below the bandwidth of the port tuning which made the individual gun blasts slightly less powerful feeling than they can be.

Demo scene number 3 was the rail-gun test scene from Batman: The Dark Knight. This one isn’t particularly deep or taxing on most subwoofers but it has very loud and abrupt bursts of bass good for judging how dynamic the bass system is in the middle and top of its bandwidth. The SX-1212P/R had no problems with this one and filled the room with concussive force. Just for fun I turned this up even louder and ran it again which resulted in an even more forceful reproduction. Excellent!

Final Note on Listening Tests

Pulse Blu-rayAs a final torture test I usually use the server room scene from the horror movie Pulse. This particular scene is one of the more demanding that has been released with loud, sustained, warbling bass centered at about 17Hz. To top it off there really isn’t a lot of accompanying noise in the soundtrack either. This scene makes a lot of ported subs, even good ones, audibly wheeze, some subs skip this sub 20Hz content almost completely and don’t even try to reproduce it. A lot of other subs cut out and go into protect mode or get driven into distress very easily while trying to reproduce this content. This scene is particularly tough for ported subs since the port tuning is usually near the center frequency of this signal and it can cause the ports to chuff or compress. The SX-1212P/R easily produced the most powerful and relaxed reproduction of this track of any of the units I have reviewed in this room. I may have heard what was a bit of port wind noise but I am not entirely sure since the SX-1212P/R was shaking my seat and the entire room at the time. Having a large flared port does help quite a bit at keeping the port air flow laminar. The port tuning being near the meat of the signal in this scene helps the subwoofer produce lots of output efficiently as well. Regardless of whether there may have been a hint of port noise or not the SX-1212P/R produced a huge amount of bass with an ease that was exceptional with this very demanding track.


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Recent Forum Posts:

AcuDefTechGuy posts on August 25, 2014 19:05
Love4Music, post: 1047843
For the price tag of $5300 I'd expect this sub to perform at that price lol

From 12.5-40Hz the SX-1212P/R produced the highest output that Audioholics has EVER recorded from any subwoofer reviewed to date

What performance do you expect at $5300? LOL.

As Irv already mentioned, unlike ID brands, expect a 20-30% discount for B&M brands, so the $5300 price goes down to $3700-$3800. For ID brands, expect 0.0% discount + shipping and handling, which is usually > $100 for each sub.

I hope the RBH SX-1212N (MSRP $1450, street price $1100) gets measured one day. It has the same volume/cabinet as the SX-1212P/R, just different drivers. I think the SX-1212N will be a great value.
gene posts on August 25, 2014 16:51
SDFamMan, post: 1047707
Hey guys, just joined the forums and am looking for some advice. I have the T2/R in FL/FR position and a 1212P/R as a separate sub. I am looking for opinions on how to set this up in the best way. I also have 6100c/r for center and 4 661/r for rear and rear surround. Arcam AVR750 decoding surround. Looking forward to the comments. thanks guys!

Nice Setup. My advice is to crossover ALL speakers at 80Hz. Run mono bass + LFE to the T2 subs and your 1212/R. Optimize location of the 1212 sub to best blend with the dual 1010s. Level match, and properly set delay to your subs if you have independent control of more than one sub, otherwise adjust level and Eq manually until all 3 subs blend as best as possible.
Love4Music posts on August 25, 2014 16:37
shadyJ, post: 1043194
Wow, the RBH sub gives much better performance than I would have expected in a smallish, dual ported 12. One thing I think would be fun is the low end peak, a little more punch in that range doesn't hurt music at all and can beef up deep bass effects noises. Now I can see acudeftechguy's attraction to these subs, they are not wimps, especially for their footprint. I also appreciate the mention of the film Triangle, this is a superb, overlooked gem. Hey Josh, if you liked Triangle, you should check out a movie called Time Crimes, a very neat movie which is quite similar to Triangle, and I think Time Crimes is even a bit more clever as a ‘puzzle’. As with Triangle, the less you know about the movie going in, the more you will enjoy it. Anyway, great sub and great review!
For the price tag of $5300 I'd expect this sub to perform at that price lol
AcuDefTechGuy posts on August 25, 2014 09:22
SDFamMan, post: 1047707
Hey guys, just joined the forums and am looking for some advice. I have the T2/R in FL/FR position and a 1212P/R as a separate sub. I am looking for opinions on how to set this up in the best way. I also have 6100c/r for center and 4 661/r for rear and rear surround. Arcam AVR750 decoding surround. Looking forward to the comments. thanks guys!

I would set it up as 3 separate subs: 1010 + 1010 + 1212 with the XO @ 80-100Hz.
SDFamMan posts on August 25, 2014 00:57
Hey guys, just joined the forums and am looking for some advice. I have the T2/R in FL/FR position and a 1212P/R as a separate sub. I am looking for opinions on how to set this up in the best way. I also have 6100c/r for center and 4 661/r for rear and rear surround. Arcam AVR750 decoding surround. Looking forward to the comments. thanks guys!
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