We tested the Velodyne Digital Drive Plus 18 subwoofer!

A member of the Velodyne Digital Drive Plus series is an active, DSP-controlled reference subwoofer. With Digital Drive Plus technology, you can automatically adjust the volume, switch, phase and integrate into the sound system. Velodyne engineers have been developing subwoofers for almost three decades. The control monitors and controls the movement of the cone nearly 16,000 times per second, keeping the distortions below 0.5%, which is quite extraordinary. Its amplifier is more than 95% efficient and devotes virtually all of its power to producing deep sounds. This way, you don’t waste energy on anything at all, which contributes to a longer lifespan.

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All subwoofers in the Digital Drive Plus series have a huge 1250 watts of power and 3,000 watts of dynamic power. And the advanced 8-band car EQ Plus program provides not only low distortion but also the most accurate bass. With this software, it is very easy to integrate the subwoofer into your sound system. Thanks to their extremely low frequency response, they are capable of truly impressive power. The subwoofer’s frequency response can be calibrated automatically or even manually with the 8-band parametric equalizer connected to the computer via the USB port.

 Digital Drive Plus 18 model

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Thanks to the High Efficiency Class “D” power amplifier, the subwoofer can produce up to nearly 3,000 watts of output power. the digital High-Gain Servo circuit minimizes distortions by sampling and calibrating at the already mentioned 16,000 times per second.

The subwoofer, 8-band Auto EQ Plus and DSP room acoustic correction system are capable of precise adjustments using a microphone auto calibration program. What is really a big step forward with this subwoofer is that not only can the settings of the device be made digitally, but also calibrated manually from a computer. This allows us to make settings even more precisely and even more personalized.

There is a switchable LED display on the front of the subwoofer, which indicates the volume mute and phase selection functions, which can be controlled with the infrared remote control. The Velodyne subwoofer also has a night mode and a dynamic limiter function. The large cast iron basket motor, huge, extremely strong magnet, 460 mm diameter Kevlar subwoofer, die-cast aluminum frame and Rohacell composite cones, as well as the stable, rigid, double-layer MDF housing also guarantee resonance-free, clean, high performance.

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For fast and precise membrane movement, the device is equipped with a large 6-layer winding swing coil. The crossover is adjustable, the frequency transmission is between 14.4 Hz and 12 Hz, the subwoofer weighs 64 kg, has symmetrical and asymmetrical XLR / RCA, LFE (Low Frequency Effect) inputs and a microphone, as well as RS232 inputs and outputs.  There is also a 12V Trigger, Ethernet port, S video jack and USB port on the Digital Drive Plus 18. An aluminum heat sink and a spare condenser ensure that the device does not overheat during operation. The inside is lined with poly filling to reduce resonance. The distortion-free sound is promoted by the conical side walls. Available in Black, Ebony, Satin, Cherry and Walnut. The Energy Recovery System results in 95% efficiency. The maximum sound pressure is 121 decibels.

Advantages and disadvantages of an active subwoofer

The active subwoofer system consists of a filter, an amplifier and a speaker. Active subwoofers work very well in automatic mode and do not necessarily require any other settings, but this also depends largely on the price of the subwoofer. Subwoofers that produce really good quality sound usually fall into a higher price range.

Overall, it can be said that the sound is smoother with active subwoofers and the bass range sounds better. In addition, the active subwoofers have a variety of settings to produce even more precise sound.

Sound testing

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The subwoofer was tested in a movie room where we could test the performance of the subwoofer with the Pioneer SC LX-901 amplifier and the premium Harman Kardon Citation Tower speaker pair. In the not-too-large room, bass traps were placed in the corners to avoid the unpleasant disturbing predominance of deeper sounds.

In 2019, the war action movie Midway was released in cinemas, so we launched the rehearsal. Velodyne produced accurate, clear sound and powerful bass, in the combat scenes we really felt like we were on the spot too, we had a lifelike and spatial sound. We found that using the manual EQ, we were able to make more ideal and accurate settings, so we could actually calibrate the subwoofer to the characteristics of the room and the sound system.

We also tried the instrument in the field of music. We listened to Kygo / Miguel’s current song Remind me to Forget. We were happy with the stereo sound, but the dynamics were not always adequate, we missed the music a bit in the subwoofer production.

In summary

The Velodyne subwoofer is capable of delivering astonishingly intense and clear bass, we did not experience any distortion at higher volumes. Overall, it can sound realistic and clear, but we weren’t completely happy with the dynamics, so we recommend watching movies instead. It is better to choose another device for listening to music. Another disadvantage is that it weighs a lot and makes it very difficult to move the subwoofer. The price is also quite high, not everyone can afford it. There are too many setting / calibration options, which can be confusing. However, the manually adjustable EQ is a major advantage, as it allows us to integrate the subwoofer even more precisely into our existing sound system.

Written by Róbert Polgár