Velodyne SPL 1200 Ultra active, enclosed subwoofer testing
The American company, Velodyne was founded in 1983 by David Hall. The company specializes primarily in low-frequency audio and subwoofer technology, has expanded its product range with headphones since 2012, and currently offers a number of audio products.
The SPl 1200 Ultra’s enclosed, active subwoofer has been given a simple, eye-catching, minimalist design. Available in black and white, the device is a 22kg, 39.4 x 38 x47cm, compact subwoofer. The hand-polished, glossy MDF speaker housing is quite solid and stable, which prevents the formation of resonances. The large, easy-to-read LED display on the front panel illuminates blue. There are 2 switches on the front panel, and the input socket of the measuring microphone is also located here.
The rear panel features gold-plated, mains, symmetrical asymmetrical XLR / RCA inputs and a dedicated LFE (Low Frequency Effect) connector for home theater. The device is also capable of DSP signal processing. An infrared remote control about the size of a credit card also comes with the subwoofer.
With the included microphone, room calibration is possible with the help of the eight-band auto EQ room acoustic correction system, which is extremely useful and easy to use. You can also adjust the volume, phase, and crossover frequency. The subwoofer has a powerful, integrated 2400 Watt, Class D amplifier. Its performance is very convincing and it provides an extremely smooth transition from a subtle soft whisper to a pounding explosion. The frequency range is between 21 and 135 Hz. The device also has night mode and mute functions.
The 30cm bass drive is equipped with a heat-resistant 7.6cm voice coil and a large ferrite magnetic circuit ensures proper operation. The SPL 1200 also has an automatic on and off detection function. The multi-layer kevlar fabric is attached to a concave membrane, cast aluminum rigid basket with a strong ethyl propylene rubber strap, which is a much more durable material compared to rubber.
The driver, the ERS (Energy Recovery System), is capable of a continuous output power of 1200 Watts and, at dynamic peaks, up to 2400 Watts. The Velodyne subwoofer can cover up to full bandwidth with bass sounds.
The automatic calibration emits about 12 tones between 20 and 150 Hz in about a minute. Night mode is especially useful for listening to late night music. In the case of the surface-pass filter, we found that it mostly only limits the bass level and does not filter. There are four basic settings to choose from, the best of which in our experience was Jazz mode, but Rock, Games and Movie modes are also available. In these, the middle deep ranges sounded best, with fast and accurate membrane movement achieved by winding the large swing coil in 6 layers. In practice, it can be said that this subwoofer is capable of flawless and clean distortion-free, tight bass.
Positioning the subwoofer is very important for optimal sound
The subwoofer provides the best bass sounds. They produce more subwoofers, better performance, and a smoother bass sound with them in the rooms. The placement of the 4 subwoofers is optimal, but it is worth getting them with a minimum pair, no more subwoofers are needed. Also make sure to choose deep presses of the same brand and type if possible, as both setting and adjustment will be much easier. If two subwoofers are used, the listening position and their level must be coordinated very carefully, and we can also expect that two subwoofers may have a phase shutdown, which can be eliminated by proper placement and phase settings. It is very important to place the subwoofers at a minimum distance of 30 cm from the wall mount and to adjust the volume so that neither is louder than the other!
The testing was performed in a living room of about 20 square meters. The Focal Sopra floorstanding speakers and the Denon AVR-X3600 amplifier proved to be an excellent combination. We chose a song that really abounds in bass. We launched the Brooklyn Bounce band, Take a Ride. We were absolutely pleased with the performance of the SPL 1200 Ultra, we could hear extensive sound, tight, powerful bass, and we did not experience any distortion at higher volumes.
Enclosed subwoofers have no openings in the cabinet, in an enclosed system the air dampens the movement of the diaphragm, so these types of subwoofers provide the most precise, detailed, tightest sound, but much higher amplifier power is required to achieve proper sound pressure, such as a reflex subwoofer. In any case, the output level must be limited in order to reduce the distortion, since at low frequencies the increasing sound pressure forces the membrane to move more intensively, and thus distortions may occur. This is why enclosed system subwoofers usually have speakers with larger diameters.
Velodyne’s high-performance, high-power subwoofer convinced us that the American company really got the optimal sound for low ranges. We got a clean, tight and percussive bass range. Due to the compact size of the subwoofer, it is most recommended for medium-sized rooms. If you really want to achieve an ideal sound, you need to pay attention to fit the size of the room. The automatic room calibration system is extremely useful and easy to operate.
Of course, the acoustic treatment of the rooms should not be neglected either! In an untreated room, even the best subwoofer will not produce the result we would expect. In order to prevent reflections and interferences, we should also provide acoustic treatment of walls, ceilings and window surfaces, as room calibration systems are not able to do a perfect job in a room with poor acoustics.
Subwoofers are very dominant when watching movies or listening to music, as they provide smooth and really intense deep bass. The exterior of the SPL 1200 Ultra is suitable for almost any home theater or hi-fi system. We recommend it primarily for listening to music. Thanks to the enclosed system, we can get less phase shift, lower delay, less decay. Enclosed-system subwoofers can emit more accurate, tighter, more detailed sound, the frequency response is flatter and balanced, and the dynamic output value is lower.
Written by Róbert Polgár