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REL’s New ‘Serie HT’ Subwoofers Deliver High-Value Home Theater Thrills

REL Serie HT

REL Serie HT


  • Product Name: Serie HT/1205 and HT/1003
  • Manufacturer: Rel
  • Review Date: January 21, 2019 00:00
  • MSRP: $699 - Serie HT/1205, $499 - HT/1003
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!


  • Design: 12” front-facing driver, sealed cabinet
  • Power Output: 500 watts (RMS)
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 15” x 16” x 15.7”


  • Design: 10” front-facing driver, sealed cabinet
  • Power Output: 300 watts (RMS)
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 12.5” x 13.7” x 13.8”

The British subwoofer specialist REL Acoustics has been building audiophile-approved subs since 1990. One key feature of every REL sub has been the use of a “High Level connection,” which derives its input signal from the final output stage of the system’s main amplifier. Instead of receiving a line-level signal of low frequencies from a receiver’s (or surround processor’s) preamp section, REL subs are designed to accept the same full-range, high-current signal that the power amplifiers send to the main speakers. According to REL, this arrangement (which allows the main speakers to run full-range) helps REL subs blend in with the main speakers and achieve a more natural, seamless sound on two-channel music. A separate line-level input handles the “.1” low-frequency effects (LFE) channel for surround-sound material, but the company has made it clear in the past that this connection scheme was not the preferred way to use a REL sub.

Editorial Note about Line Level Subwoofer Connections:

Connecting a subwoofer speaker level does NOT put additional strain on your AV receiver amplifier since it's a high impedance connection and doesn't draw significant power like a passive loudspeaker would.

Now, for the first time, REL has introduced a line of subs that fully embrace the LFE channel in all its glory. The new Serie HT (short for Home Theater) subwoofers abandon the High Level connection and shift focus from music playback to high-octane home theater power.

We needed to revisit the entire premise around home theater and how we can best accomplish the needs of many customers. Our theater customers need access to ruggedly reliable, truly affordable, high-value subwoofers for pure theater use.

- John Hunter, REL’s Head of Design and Acoustics

The Serie HT subs are intended to deliver chest-pounding, house-shaking low-frequency effects, and the effortlessly explosive dynamics required for a cinematic home theater experience. While other REL subs are tasked with recreating the “beautiful and almost impossible-to-execute decay patterns as a note descends into echoing silence in a large hall,” Serie HT narrows the performance objective in order to deliver an affordable product that excels at just one thing: home theater muscle with classic REL quickness.

Rel Ht.jpg

REL may have abandoned the High Level connection on its new subs, but many classic REL values can be seen in the “CarbonGlas” drivers, which employ carbon fiber (over 60% of the driver’s surface) backed by lightweight fiberglass. These new drivers were engineered to combine low mass with maximum stiffness in order to deliver the fast transient response for which REL subs are prized. The sealed cabinets are topped by a 12mm-thick top plate, which helps to damp vibrations, according to REL. Newly-developed home theater input filters and high-power class D amps are said to allow the relatively compact Serie HT subs to produce extremely flat bass well below 30 Hz. Finally, an optional accessory called “HT-Air” delivers what REL calls a “zero-compression” wireless signal to the Serie HT subs, allowing for increased placement flexibility without sacrificing dynamics or speed (delivery latency is in the 16-20 millisecond range).

Rel Ht rear.jpg

REL HT/1003 Backpanel View

REL Battles it out with ID Companies?

REL subs have traditionally been on the pricey side, so it may come as a pleasant surprise that the Serie HT models are very reasonably priced. The $699 HT/1205 combines a 12” long-travel driver with a 500-watt class D power amplifier. For smaller spaces and lower budgets, the $499 HT/1003 delivers 300 watts to a 10” driver. These prices and specs place the REL Serie HT subs in direct competition with highly respected models from the likes of SVS and HSU Research.

Will REL become the new go-to brand for affordable home theater subwoofers? 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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