Anthem Audio | SONIC FRONTIERS Processor 3 | Definitive Technology SuperCube I Subwoofer - High

With bass that is large and in charge — Definitive Technology’s new
SuperCube I is a well dressed new player in the tiny subwoofer market.
Definitive Technology SuperCube I Subwoofer
™
“The Definitive Technology
SuperCube I is the best subwoofer
that I have auditioned in its class …
At $1200 this sub is a bargain.”
Definitive Technology’s SuperCube I
By Bryan Southard, October 2002
Introduction
Several design philosophies differentiate today’s
better subwoofers from one another, yet they share a
very common attribute: they are designed to shake the
fillings from your teeth. A high-performing subwoofer
can supply the necessary energy to make the common
onscreen outbreak at a local dinosaur park feel as if
T-Rex has unmistakably made his way to your home.
Subwoofers can range in size from monstrosities that
resemble your refrigerator to products only slightly
larger than a soccer ball.
“provided the best sub integration
I have heard in my system”
The SuperCube I is the most recent subwoofer
offering from Definitive Technology. The SuperCube I
is an ultra-compact powered cube that measures just
a hair over 14 inches in any direction and is driven
by a mighty 1,500-watt amplifier. Although small in
stature, the SuperCube I weighs a dense 60 lbs. and
has a retail price of $1,200.
From a distance, the SuperCube I looks like many
cube-style subwoofers. However, close examination
“rock solid bass … the reproduced
low frequencies were tight and
extended”
reveals a couple of touches that make it distinctively
more attractive. The most popular of the cube subwoofers uses a semi-gloss paint over the exterior
surfaces. The SuperCube has attractive black fabric
stretched over the entire cube, accented with a top
plate, painted to perfection in piano black. This look
is in line with the rest of Definitive’s speaker line.
With the combination of its diminutive size and
modern styling, this sub should fit in with virtually
every modern décor.
Finding the perfect subwoofer is not an easy quest.
In fact, acquiring a sub that not only performs well,
but also blends in seamlessly with your audio/video
system as well as your décor, can be a laborious,
agonizing process. The typical A/V consumer who
purchases a 5.1 speaker system containing a subwoofer never really compares the sonic performance
to any other manufacturer’s product. Why is this?
It’s because there is an implication that the product
that blends best is obviously manufactured as a
complete system — right? Well, not necessarily.
Many factors contribute to the elusive synergy we
all desire. There’s the room and of course the set-up,
yet nothing contributes as much to a subwoofer’s sonic
integration as its performance. However, there are
several other factors to consider. What makes a subwoofer so special is its ability to move air. One philosophy for achieving this is to use a very large driver with
a short throw, a design that can provide great accuracy if
“The SuperCube can really slam you ...
tanks were as real as life … more
importantly it has the quickness to
blend with music”
perfectly implemented, but one that often comes in a very
sizable package. Another philosophy is to use a smaller
driver with an extended throw distance. The SuperCube
is part of a growing trend towards smaller cubes with
long-throw drivers. This configuration is space-conscious,
and can provide the abundant air movement that movie
and music lovers desire.
Technology
The SuperCube I is constructed from Medite, an ultrarigid material similar to MDF that provides even greater
strength and resistance to vibration. It incorporates a
front-firing 10-inch long-throw driver, and two sidefiring passive drivers that are also constructed from
Medite. These side-firing passive drivers serve to allow
the active driver the available volume to operate in a
sealed enclosure, but additionally provide a great deal
of bass themselves. Definitive Technology has chosen to
use the Medite material in its passive drivers to provide
overall control and additional rigidity to the enclosure.
“The fact that it blended so well with
my $20,000 Revel Salons is ample
testimony for its accuracy.”
This subwoofer has a very low frequency response of 1
4 Hz to 150 Hz. The SuperCube uses a very efficient
1,500-watt Class D amplifier, facilitating the power to
move the driver piston very fast and recover quickly from
long throws. For connections, it has low-level RCA
inputs, as well as high-level speaker cable inputs, which
allows you the ability to limit the low frequencies that
your main loudspeakers experience, thus lightening the
load to your receiver or amplifier if necessary. It also provides a LFE RCA input for connecting directly from your
preamplifier or processor. The SuperCube is well outfitted
when it comes to controls. It provides variable high-pass
and low-pass crossovers, both fully adjustable from 40 to
150 Hz. A significant feature is the fully variable 180degree phase alignment knob. This gives you the ability
to dial in the phase and obtain the most seamless integration with the rest of your system, which in turn gives you
the ability to ensure that information from the sub reaches you in phase with the main loudspeakers. Many subs
provide a phase switch allowing zero, 90 or 180 degrees.
This fully adjustable pot is an outstanding feature, one
that allowed me to better integrate the SuperCube into
my system. A fuse and a volume control knob round off
the rear panel.
“driven by a mighty 1500-watt amplifier
… the SuperCube undoubtedly provided
all the necessary weight of a live
performance”
Music and Movies
Very few speakers provide enough bass to truly
emulate a live musical performance. Most speakers are
not full-range, due to the huge cost and lack of efficiency
involved. Even full-range speakers lack the air movement to
accurately recreate the rock bottom lows that you hear at live
events, from symphony performances to rock ‘n’ roll concerts.
Let’s light it up a little with
the Godsmack Live DVD
(Universal). This DVD-V proved
to be a great demonstration disc
for subwoofers with its heavy
driving beat and abundance
of low frequency information.
In the song "Awake," the SuperCube undoubtedly provided
all the necessary weight of a live performance. I listened to
this cut at extreme volumes and managed to integrate it
with my Revel system remarkably well. Initially, I struggled
with position and phase alignment. This is a something that
is required for all new subwoofer installations. At first, the
sub information was directional and boomy. Through trial
and error and a few hours of playing, I managed to dial
the phase so that the SuperCube sounded integral to the
rest of the speaker system. The song "Sick of Life" was
powerful and had deep plentiful sub bass, yet I heard no
undesirable fatness.
“The SuperCube is very small and looks
great, making it a welcome addition to
practically every home décor.”
In a rock ‘n’ roll mood, I went for the heavy beats
of System of a Down from their DVD-V Toxicity
(Sony Music). I played the opening cut "Toxicity," a
studio video performance, at extreme volumes. This
performance is very high energy with enormous bass
information. This is not a multi-channel release,
so I played with a couple of DSP modes as well as
two-channel. What I found was that the reproduced low
frequencies were tight and extended, no matter what
matrix I chose. If a subwoofer is not quick and accurate,
extended sessions of sustained bass can saturate the
room, turning your room into a rumbling mess of low
frequency. The SuperCube maintained control and
provided rock-solid bass support.
“The SuperCube I provides great
flexibility with its infinitely variable
phase control and high and low pass
adjustment features.”
Mellowing out a tad and stepping back a couple
decades in its origin, I loaded Sammy Hagar & the
Waboritas live DVD concert (Image Entertainment)
and chose the song "Rock Candy," originally released
on Montose's 1975 debut LP. The drum intro was
physically moving. The SuperCube can really slam
you. I remained very excited about this performance,
even after repeating it a half dozen times during my
evaluation. Set-up played a big role in the performance,
yet there was no questioning the SuperCube's quickness
and agile reproduction. What makes this even more
impressive is that the SuperCube maintains its control
even at the lowest frequencies, which at 14 Hz is
amongst the lowest available at any reasonable price
point. The fact that it blended so well with my $20,000
Revel Salons is ample testimony for its accuracy.
Yearning to feel the sonic and physical impact of a war
film produced to virtual perfection, I went with Saving
Private Ryan (DreamWorks). This Steven Spielberg
classic, which earned him 1998's Best Director Oscar, is
home to some bone-crushing low-frequency thrills. In the
scene where the Americans attempt to save the coveted
bridge, tanks were as real as life. This provided the best
sub integration that I have heard in my system. Having
spent three years of my life stationed in Europe in a
peacetime combat battalion, the sound of squeaking
tracks provided a chilling memory. The Definitive
SuperCube made the tanks sound almost too real.
Let’s play with some
multi-channel music from
Don Henley’s The End of
The Innocence release
(DTS Entertainment). I listened to the tune “Give Me
What You Got” and found
the SuperCube to again
provide a pleasing blend of
power and nimbleness. The
sub bass information was abundant, yet not overbearing
or fat in any way. It’s a subwoofer’s ability to slam you
like an undersized hockey forward, and then seductively
draw you in, that makes a subwoofer good. The Definitive
Technology SuperCube I did both very well. In the title
track, “End of Innocence,” there was no real need for
abundance yet in a credit to the folks at DTS, the sub
information was accurately placed and the SuperCube
handled it well.
“This subwoofer has a very low frequency
response of 14 Hz to 150 Hz … The
SuperCube I simply made me excited
about my music and movies.”
The Downside
Is there a downside to a piece performing at the very
top of its price class and the one above? The SuperCube
I provides great flexibility with its infinitely variable
“ability to slam you like an undersized
hockey forward, and then seductively
draw you in”
phase control and high and low pass adjustment features.
My concern, however, is that the owner’s manual doesn’t
get the average consumer anywhere close to a perfectly
optimized set-up. Even with my experience, this was a
challenge. Since the ultimate performance of a product is
assessed in your home and not at the manufacturer’s lab,
I think that additional set-up information is necessary.
If you are purchasing this product either in a 5.1 system
or separately, I recommend that you insist that your
retailer come to your home to assure optimal set-up.
If that doesn’t work, the owner’s manual generously
invites you to call Definitive Technology direct where
they can answer any questions that you may have. As
a rule, if you cannot fool your ears into believing that
your main loudspeakers are producing the bass, then
your set-up needs work.
“performing at the very top of its price
class and the one above”
This has never been more important than now, with the
impending multi-channel formats in the visible future.
At $1,200, this sub is a bargain. The SuperCube I simply
made me excited about my music and movies.
Every year audiorevolution.com
honors “The Best High-Performance
Audio/Video Products You Can Buy.”
In 2002, the Category Winner for
Subwoofers, Subwoofer-of-the-Year, was
the Definitive Technology SuperCube I.
Associated Equipment
Amplification
Power
• Sonic Frontiers Power 3 (SE)
• Proceed HPA 3
• Proceed HPA 2
• Richard Gray's Power
Company 400S (4 Units)
• PS Audio P600
Preamp
Cables
• Sonic Frontiers Line 3
• Sunfire Theater Grand II
• Conrad-Johnson Premier 17LS
• Anthem AVM20
• Transparent Reference
Speaker Cable
• Transparent Audio Reference
Balanced Interconnects
• Transparent Premium
Component Video
• Transparent Premium
RGB Video
• AudioQuest Dragons SE
• Kimber Select KS-1130
• Nirvana Digital
Digital
Conclusion
It is safe to say that every audio/video system needs
reinforcement from a subwoofer regardless of the low
frequency rating of your main loudspeakers. Even if
your speakers reproduce ultra-low frequencies, they
are simply unable to move the masses of air equal to
that of a sub. The Definitive Technology SuperCube I
is the best subwoofer that I have auditioned in its class.
Having reviewed the Sunfire Architectural Subwoofer,
and having spent many hours with the Sunfire Signature
Subwoofer, both incredible products that were reviewed
very favorably in the Revolution, I simply felt that the
SuperCube I performed at a higher level in my system.
It blended superbly with my Revel Salons, a formidable
task to say the least. The SuperCube is very small and
looks great, making it a welcome addition to practically
every home décor. It has ample connections and has the
controls to integrate it very well with your 5.1 system.
More importantly, it has the quickness to blend with
music playback. This is not trivial in that most subs fail
to combine an abundant amount of air movement with the
swiftness and agility to reproduce your music accurately.
• Linn Sondek CD-12
• Camelot Roundtable
DVD Player
• Sonic Frontiers SFT-1 (I2S-E)
• Sonic Frontiers Processor 3
• Audio Research CD2
• Sony DVP S530D DVD
• Kenwood DV-5700
Movies & Music
Video
• Sony VPH 1270Q
• Faroudja NR Series (800x600)
• Silicon Image DVDO I-Scan Pro
• Stewart Filmscreen Studiotek 130
• Stewart Filmscreen Greyhawk
• Godsmack — Live DVD
• System of a Down —
Toxicity DVD
• Sammy Hagar & the
Waboriats — Live DVD
• Saving Private Ryan
• Don Henley - The End
of the Innocence
Additional
• Black Diamond Racing Cones
11433 Cronridge Drive
Owings Mills, MD 21117
(410) 363-7148
www.definitivetech.com
Audio Revolution, www.audiorevolution.com, October 2002.
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