“Let our rigorous testing and reviews be your guidelines to A/V equipment – not marketing slogans”
Facebook Youtube Twitter instagram pinterest

REL R-528SE Subwoofer Preview

The REL R-528SE Subwoofer

The REL R-528SE Subwoofer


  • Product Name: R-528SE Sub-Bass System
  • Manufacturer: REL
  • Review Date: March 03, 2013 21:00
  • MSRP: $2799.00
  • First Impression: Mildly Interesting
  • Type: Front-firing active woofer, down-firing passive radiator
  • Active Drive Unit: 12 in., (300 mm) carbon fiber aluminum chassis.
  • Passive Radiator: 12 in., (300 mm) carbon-carbon
  • Lower Frequency Response in Room: 21Hz at -6 dB
  • Input Connectors: Hi Level Neutrik Speakon, Lo Level single phono, LFE phono
  • Gain Control Range: 80 dB
  • Power Output: 500 watts (RMS)
  • Phase Switch: Yes, 0 or 180 degrees
  • Amplifier Type: Class D
  • Dimensions (WHD): 15.5 x 17.5 x 17.2 in., (394 x 445 x 436 mm)
  • Net Weight: 58 lbs. (26.3 kg)
  • Finish: Gloss Piano Black Lacquer, Gloss White Piano Lacquer - Special Order
  • Warranty: 3 Years
Protection System      
  • Fully Electronic with SET-SAFE: Yes
  • D.C. Fault: Yes
  • Output Short: Yes
  • Mains Input Voltage: 110-120, 220-240 volts, for certain markets
  • Fuses: 9 Amp semi delay 115 volts operation 5 Amp semi delay 230 volts operation

REL may not be a name that the majority of Audioholics are familiar with, but they are a big name in Europe. REL was founded in the U.K. in 1990 by Richard Edmund Lord (R. E. L.) with the mission of reproducing bass with unparalleled fidelity, and is distributed in the U.S. by Sumiko Audio (who is responsible for the U.S. distribution of brands such as Sonus Faber and Pro-ject, among others). REL's latest offering is the R-528SE, which made its debut at CES 2013, and is the special edition version of their standard R-528. Improvements over the original include a carbon fiber cone woofer borrowed from their flagship Gibraltar lineup, improved amplification and cabinet bracing, and last but not least, improved aesthetics courtesy of nickel plated chrome badges and feet. In exchange for these improvements REL pegs the MSRP of the SE at a lofty $2,799, $600 over the price of the standard R-528. 


Carbon Fiber Woofer Shot

The carbon fiber cone of the REL R-528SE

Digging into the nitty gritty, the R-528SE boasts a front-firing 12" woofer with a reasonably meaty looking surround that works in conjunction with a 12" down-firing passive radiator, and is driven by a 500 watt Class D amplifier. It has a -6dB point of 21Hz in room, which shows that REL isn't shooting for very deep extension. In terms of overall design and appearance, the REL seems strikingly similar to the Aperion Bravus II 12D reviewed by Josh Ricci, but the Aperion costs 1/3rd of the R-528SE. With that in mind, we would suspect REL isn't going to be breaking the dB/dollar barrier with this offering. Compared to the Bravus II 12D, the REL might seem quite overpriced, but it isn't outrageous within the B&M subwoofer market; consider the case of the Klipsch SW-311, also reviewed by Josh Ricci. When you take into account the extremely nice fit and finish of the REL, its asking price doesn't seem quite as ridiculous for what you appear to get.

The R-528SE also sports a few "unique" features, the most interesting of which for two-channel enthusiasts would be their "REL Connectivity" system. REL offers high-level inputs on the R-528SE (which is becoming less common in the age of the multi-channel receiver) via a set of Neutrik Speakon connectors (cabling is included). In fact, REL suggests you utilize this connection method even if you're using a receiver with bass management built in as they claim superior integration with your main speakers via their proprietary circuitry. Fortunately, you can also utilize a standard low level input via RCA jack in addition to the high level inputs, so you don't have to undertake any special bass routing in your receiver's setup or you can skip the high-level inputs all together. 


For those primarily interested in bang for the buck, this obviously isn't the subwoofer for you. It's unlikely that the R-528SE is going to outperform (or even be on par) the Aperion Bravus II 12D, despite the fact it costs triple the price. Still, if you value small size, fit and finish, and you're running legacy equipment, i.e. you don't have a receiver/processor with bass management, the R-528SE could be an interesting option. Or, if you just love the REL name and its beautiful aesthetics, than this may be a good option for you.  REL has always been known among its fans to produce very musical subs and we have no doubt this product would continue that heritage. 

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:
author portrait

Steve Munz is a “different” addition to Audioholics’ stable of contributors in that he is neither an engineer like Gene, nor has he worked in the industry like Cliff. In fact, Steve’s day job is network administration and accounting.

View full profile