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VTF-3 MK3 First Impressions



Life for Hsu Research began in 1991 with the introduction of a 7 foot (!), tubular subwoofer that featured a 12” driver perched at one end. From that beginning, they’ve grown over the years under the guidance of MIT - educated Dr Poh Hsu, to offer a variety of products. Mostly well-engineered, high value-for-dollar subwoofers, they’ve recently entered into a new market area with the introduction of non-subwoofer speaker products, such as the HB-1 bookshelf speaker, HC-1 center channel speaker, the Ventriloquist VT-12 system and the diminutive VY-254. Today, we’ll be looking at the Hsu VTF-3 Mk3 subwoofer, sporting an updated version of the Class- A/B output, tracking power supply amplifier included with the system.

First Impressions

PortsRight out of the box, it’s obvious the VTF-3 Mk3 is a no-nonsense, no-frills sub. Nothing more than the very most basic – that is, essential - controls, processing features and so forth are found on the unit. Nevertheless, we do see some hints as to what its performance capabilities are and where the real value of the sub lies. Take, for example, the pair of 4” ducts (seen at right) found just above the amp’s control panel on the back of the sub. 3” ducts could have been used, but narrowing the diameter would have increased the air velocity within the ducts, (under normal operating conditions) in turn increasing the likelihood of wind noise. In terms of unwanted noise, the quieter a sub, the less it calls unwanted attention to itself, allowing one to better the enjoy the music listened to or the movie being watched. The gray disk seen in the photo, perched as it is between the two external ports, is the plug inserted into one of the ports when you want to switch from max. output mode to max. extension mode. Hence the “VT” or “variable tuning” in the VTF-3 Mk3’s name.

The finish, too, is a no-nonsense, no frills classic black look with a texture reminiscent of the black tolex often seen on pro audio gear. It’s pretty scuff-resistant and easy to clean. The black finish helps minimize the visual impact and being about the height of an average end table, the WAF is respected.


BoxesHsu Research wants their products to arrive intact! They’ve taken the carton-within-a-carton approach and you’ll find instructions on just how to unpack the unit pre-placed along the way. Once unpacked, you’ll have quite a collection of packing material (as seen at right) that you’ll probably want to hold onto. You’ll also have before you, of course, the VTF-3 Mk3, instruction sheet & manual, along with the sub’s power cord. Time to get busy setting the thing up!

As with any sub, positioning the VTF-3 Mk3 is an important step in maximizingthe system’s performance in your listening space. As these things go, the VTF-3 Mk3 isn’t all that big. Still, moving it around in order to determine the best final position might get a bit cumbersome or awkward for you. One suggestion to make moving the sub around easier (illustrated in the manual) is to place it on a blanket or something similar. This’ll make it quite a bit easier and help make placement of your set up go quicker.

ManIn my case their really wasn’t much need to experiment with positioning as all I needed do was swap out the sub I currently use (Klipsch KW-120-THX) for the VTF-3 Mk3. Initially arriving at the position now used by whichever sub I happen to be using at the time however did take quite a bit of work. For the larger subs too heavy/bulky to carry safely I tend to use a hand truck to get the unpacked item to the listening space, then once unpacked, I tend to use the blanket trick.

For this review the VTF-3 Mk3 was teamed up with a Klipsch THX Ultra 2 speaker system, powered and/or managed by a Denon AVR-3806 AVR, all driven by a Toshiba HD-A20 DVD/VD transport. Measurements were taken using LinearXs LMS.

Once situated, it didn’t take long to integrate the VTF-3 Mk3 into the rest of the system already in place in the home theatre where all the listening evaluations took place. The Denon AVR-3806 AVR was tasked with the job of bass management. Audyssey was used throughout (engaged while watching movies, set to “Flat” when listening to music). For the sake of thoroughness, the part of the setup process that took place at the Denon end of the signal chain was run twice: once with the sub set to run in the max. output mode and then once again when the sub was run in max. extension mode.


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Recent Forum Posts:

j_garcia posts on February 26, 2013 11:28
ooobbbccc, post: 953911
Yea sort of. But I'm looking at the VTF-3.4 I heard they were the same.

Well, they are not the same, but I'd expect them to be similar in room size rating. The LFM-1 EX is closer to the VTF-3 MkII I believe.

I guess the question then is how big is your room? Unless you have a massive area to fill, this one should do well. I've heard the MkIII in a good size room (~15'x24') and I thought it sounded great.
ooobbbccc posts on February 26, 2013 08:59
shadyJ, post: 953895
Look at the review for the Outlaw Audio LFM-1 EX, the performance will be similar. Under those guidelines I would expect a VTF3 to rate a large room.

Thanks for help
ooobbbccc posts on February 26, 2013 08:58
j_garcia, post: 953894
Looking to pick one up used? Because the review and thread are rather old.

Yea sort of. But I'm looking at the VTF-3.4 I heard they were the same.
shadyJ posts on February 26, 2013 02:15
Look at the review for the Outlaw Audio LFM-1 EX, the performance will be similar. Under those guidelines I would expect a VTF3 to rate a large room.
j_garcia posts on February 26, 2013 01:49
ooobbbccc, post: 953695
Can someone please tell me the Bassaholics ratings is this certified “Medium” or “Large”?

Looking to pick one up used? Because the review and thread are rather old.
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