Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Image Dynamincs ID10 Ultra Low Frequency Car Subwoofer Review


When it comes to trucks, crew cabs and extended/king cabs are getting really popular. The days of single cabs are not gone, but they are few and far between. If you want extra bass, you’re limited by the space you have under the rear seat. While many will give you enough space where a true shallow mount won’t be required, you also won’t be able to get a high power sub with a huge magnet under the back seat. For those of you in this boat, you want a fairly shallow mounting sub that can still handle a decent amount of power and play sufficiently loud and deep. This desire is also had by many non-truck owners, as compact vehicles also do not have much trunk space. Up for review is the Image Dynamics ID10.

Features and specs:
Imp 2/8 ohms:                         Nominal Resistance
Re  1.8/7.2 ohms                     DC Resistance
Fs  23.2Hz                               Resonant frequency
Qes  .387                                 Electrical "Q"
Qms  3.714                              Mechanical "Q"
Qts  .35                                   Total "Q"
Vas  2.43 cuft (69 liters)         Equivalent volume
Xmax  17.0mm                       One way linear
Sd  350 cm2                            Cone area
Spl  86.5db                              Sensitivity
Pwr  250rms/450max              Power Handling

 

I love the design of the Image Dynamics ID10. At only 5.12” mounting depth, it is shallow enough to work in most applications. As a 10 inch driver you can get away with using it in a smaller enclosure with as little as 0.40 cubic airspace! Rated at only 250 watts RMS, it also doesn’t take a lot off power to push them. So a small sub amp that can be mounted under the front seat would work. Also, the sub channel on all 5 channel amps will be able to push it as well.

The best part I think is its frequency response. Image Dynamics actually calls it an Ultra Low Frequency Transducer. I was actually shocked by it’s specs! Most 10’s in a ported enclosure can be tuned to the low 30’s in a fairly large enclosure, or in the 40’s in a sealed enclosure. But in a 1.14 cu ft ported enclosure it will go down to 32hz, or 23hz at -3 db in car! And a 0.40 cu ft sealed will get down to 21hz in Car!! That is seriously low. While most bass is in the 50hz range, what this means that you won’t miss any of your music, no matter what style of music you listen to.

The Image Dynamics ID10 came in a nice looking color printed box, with images and specs of the subwoofer. And given it’s specs, it is definitely a subwoofer! I really liked the power range chart on the box. While it’s rated to 250 watts RMS, it looks like if you keep it under 400 watts of clean power you’ll be ok, according to the chart.

Opening the box revealed a well protected subwoofer held in custom cut out cardboard. While this is Image Dynamics entry level subwoofer, it is still Image Dynamics. This is not a entry level driver. The basket is stamped steal, but it does have some great features, like the push style terminals, sewn-in tinsel leads, poly/mica cone and santoprene surrounds. Aside from not having a cast basket, the rest of it does not look entry level. And at it’s power rating, the stamped basket works just fine.

This Image Dynamics ID10 has me very excited. As a musician, I listen to all music types, including classical. So low bass output is important to me. I like to get as close to 20 hz output as possible. That is extremely difficult, especially for a 10 inch driver. I haven’t found any other 10 inch driver with as shallow of a mounting as the ID10, that will play that deep. So we are really excited to review the Image dynamics ID10. For you truck owners, the back seat is a perfect place for a pair of ID’s. So we are reviewing a pair of ID10’s.

When it comes to performance, ported will play louder than sealed. It also tends to play deeper. But ported doesn’t have that dynamic tight impact that you get with sealed. So the Image Dynamics ID10 in a sealed enclosure will give you the dynamic tight bass, and also give you the ultra deep base. And reviewing two subs, should give the output of a single ported subwoofer. So let’s now see how they perform.

I started things out on our test bench with some sine waves.  We used a sealed enclosure with .82cu ft per sub.  Even without any cabin gain, we had some great output, especially at its recommended 250-350 watts RMS.  We pushed things just a tad and fed 400 watts RMS to each sub.  And on the bench we measured frequency response down to 26hz at -3db.  For a 10 inch driver in a sealed enclosure....very impressive!  Now it's time for the music.

I turned things real deep right out of the gate with Also Sprach Zarathustra.  This is the popular track from 2001 A Space Odyssey.  The low rumble at the beginning of the  track was really clean, well sustained, and the cone was well controlled by the motor.  And it played not only really really deep, but also played with very good authority.

Next up was New Order: Blue Monday.  As expected from a sealed enclosure, the quick beats at the very beginning was very quick, clean without skipping a beat, or having a hint of muddiness.  They also were nice and tight with very good impact.  Next the beats got some added depth, and the ID10's continued to impress with the low end extending.  The bass was still nice and clean, and played loud with good authority.

Now it was time for another great bass track, Katy Perry: Dark Horse.  Here the bass was even deeper.  Yet the ID10's played really clean, with very deep extension, and smooth bass.  And they hit really hard. 

Last but not least was one of my all-time old school favorites, Techmaster PB: Activate, and Time To Jam. These tracks can cause fits due to the deep base and high output.  As we expected, the Image Dynamic ID10's continued to impress.  Beats were quick, clean, and not a hint of muddiness.  The beats not only were really deep, but they hit hard and played with very good authority. It's just the kind of quality bass that I love to hear.

I had to keep reminding myself that I was only pushing 400 watts to each subwoofer.  Of course it did not have the kind of bone rattling output that a massive power handling sub, like the 1000 watt RMS IDMAX10.  But they still played better than expected for the power they were given.  Output however is only part of the equation.  Sound quality is also important, and Image Dynamics has you covered here as well.  Not only did they play loud for the power given, they were also very musical as well!  And that's probably the best compliment you can give a sub.  Based on their design, features, quality, and performance, the Image Dynamics ID10 has earned our Highly Recommended Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.imagedynamics.net.  



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Monday, September 3, 2018

Massive Audio Boom 88 Powered 8 Inch Car Subwoofer Review


I love car stereo. And I’m a bit of a bass head. I grow up using dual 12’s in my car. Not only did my whole car shake, but people heard me coming down the street. I have since converted to 10’s. I no longer want people to hear me coming, or know what I have. But that much bass isn’t for most people. Factory car stereo systems have come a long way. But they still don’t have much bass.

For many, they may think that extra bass, more than what came with the factory radio is not needed. I agree that a ton of bass isn’t for everyone. But look at it this way; imagine going to a movie theater to watch a movie, and the subwoofers were not working. The whole experience would be lacking. Bass does add to the experience. For those who don’t need or want a lot of bass, but want to add to your music enjoyment. There is a simple solution. Ender the Massive Audio Boom 88.

Features and specs:
  • 8" driver
  • 4 Ohm 400 Watts Max Power
  • 200w x 1 RMS
  • 0 - 12dB @50Hz
  • 250mVrms ~9mVrms
  • 50Hz~150Hz @-3dB
  • Class A/B Built-In Amplifier
  • Built-In OEM Hi Level Inputs
  • Heavy Duty Aluminum Heatsink
  • Hi-Fi Capactior Filters for Cleaner Sound Reproduction
  • Variable Low Pass Crossover: 50Hz ~ 150Hz @ -3dB
  • Ground Loop Isolator
  • Reverse Voltage & Over Voltage 5 Way Protection
  • 13.4" x 9.8" x 2.8"
The Massive Audio Boom 88 came in a nice black box with features and specs printed on the box. Opening the box revealed a well protected subwoofer sitting well protected in custom cut out Styrofoam. Pulling out the Massive Audio Boom 88, I was very impressed. Materials used in the construction was mostly aluminum with some plastic on the controls. Quality of materials used as well as the quality of construction is very good. And it felt very solid in hand. Also included is the owners manual, mounting screws and bass remote.

 


I love the design of the Massive Audio Boom 88. All of the connections and controls are on one side, the all aluminum design is well made. With the built-in OEM Hi-level inputs, it's simple to splice into your factory wires if you don't want to have to deal with the RCA's. And I love the brushed aluminum top plate. The sides are ribbed for cooling and the woofer is top facing. And with a power rating of 200 watts RMS, 400 watts max. That’s a good amount of power for an 8 inch sub. It has the makings for great performance. Let’s see how it actually sounds.

AC/DC Back in Black: Kick drum had nice low end extension and a very nice punch. It played nice and deep, with good authority.

New Order-Blue Monday : The beats really shined! In the intro, they were very quick, hit like a hammer, and were both dynamic and really crisp and clean with great pitch definition, and spot on with out missing any beats or any signs of muddiness. The following beats really extended the depth, and still played really clean and with lots of authority and impact.

Techmaster PB – Activate: the bass here pushed it ot it’s limits, but it still preformed well. Bass beats were extended, played very deep, but still played with good authority and just a little bit of muddiness. This track is brutal on standard subwoofers, but the Massive Audio Boom 88 hung in there and played nice output and depth, moreso than I expected.

I must say I was more impressed with the Massive Audio Boom 88. I’ve never been interested in the small under seat powered sub. I knew I would want more. But Massive Audio takes that design…massive! The Massive Audio Boom 88 performed much better than expected. It filled the vehicle with nice low end extension. It wasn’t bone rattling, but it did the job. For someone like me, it’s perfect to put in the family car, so I can enjoy some bass when driving that vehicle. My wife, also a musician, loves it. It provides some nice low end bass, but isn’t too much. If this is how you like your bass, go now. The price is currently only $100 on Amazon! It would be a good deal at $200. Based on it’s design, features, quality and performance, the Massive Audio Boom 88 has earned our Highly Recommended Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.massiveaudio.com. Reference gear used: Kenwood Reference Series DDX9905S, Audio Control DM-810 Processor, JL Audio 6 channel amp,  German Maestro 3-way component speaker system. And I think Ferris Bueller said it best after the end credit of that movie; “You’re still here? ..... Go.” For only $100, go, and buy it now!



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Audio Enhancers NTX165 2004-2018 Nissan Titan Dual 10 Inch Subwoofer Enclosure Review


Pick-up trucks are getting more and more popular it seems. And I can understand why. They do provide a lot of functionality with the truck bed. And with crew cabs or extended/King cabs, you get the seating capacities of cars. But with no trunk, those bass lovers are limited to under the back seat for your subwoofer. The key is finding an enclosure designed for your truck; that will also maximize the space available to give maximum airspace for your subs. Enter Audio Enhancers with their NXT165.

Features and specs:
♦Dual 10" Subwoofer Box
*Will Not Hold a 12" Subwoofer
♦Down Firing Enclosure
♦Platinum Spring Loaded Terminal
♦100% American-made GREEN enclosure
Installation: Fits under rear seat. Will not interfere with the use of the back seat.
Width
Depth
Front H
Rear H
52"
10 3/4"
8 1/2"
6 3/4"



  


The Audio Enhancers NXT165 came in a standard brown cardboard box. Being an enclosure, there was no padding. It is a pretty durable enclosure. Taking it out of the box showed a well made enclosure. Only one corner was just slightly damaged due to shipping, being squished a little, maybe due to being dropped, but it was fine. Materials used in the construction was 5/8” MDF, carpet, glue, paint and long staples. Quality of materials used was very good, as well as the fit and finish. It was a well made enclosure.


Being the son of a cabinet maker, I have received some education on woodworking. Upon inspecting the enclosure, I was able to see that it was well made, the wood cuts were precision cuts. Assembly was done with both glue and long staples, to ensure a tight seal for a sealed enclosure. The carpet was well done with perfect coverage and clean cuts. The platinum spring terminals are also of premium quality.

All of the measurements were…mostly correct. The woofer cut-outs were correct, as were the front and rear heights. The depth however per specs was 10 3/4 “, but was actually 11 3/4”. The vehicle used is a 2017 Nissan Titan King Cab 4x4. I can’t speak for the previous years before the redesign, but it fit even though it ended up being 1 inch deeper. I was able to slide it back a tad, so it still didn’t stick out from under the seat. So it still works for my vehicle, no problem. I spoke to the manufacturer, and confirmed that it was a typo, and the 11 3/4" is corrected.  So it made sense that it still fit under the seat.

The specs also show a driver mounding depth of 6 3/4 “. The front is taller then the back. So while the front is 7” deep, the rear is only 5 5/8” deep. The middle of the cut out was right at 6 ¼”. So depending on the size of your driver’s magnet, the enclosure could handle up to a 6 1/8”, maybe 5 ¾: if it has a wide magnet.  Seeing that the front of the seat was taller than the rear of the seat, I was glad to see that Audio Enhancers included the front height and rear height of the enclosure, that way I could make sure it would fit. Other manufacturers didn't do that, so there was no way to make sure it would fit before it was received.  The Audio Enhancers NTX165 had the most airspace of boxes for the Nissan Titan that I could find, and it also gave specific front and rear measurements so you know it will fit. If you are looking for a subwoofer system for your Titan, I would get the box first, and then find a sub to fit.

I loved the down firing design. I would have preferred to see the end wood pieces extend down to function as legs, but the included 4 rubber feet work, and give a 1 ¼” clearance for the woofer mount and excursion. But with the flexibility of the truck floors carpet, I would suggest you also use speaker grills. The feet push the carpet down, but the carpet can come back up. The good news is Audio Enhancers also offers a 10” speaker grill model BBAR10, which would work perfectly. And it can be found for around only $20.

The Audio Enhancers NTX165 is a great subwoofer box. It’s well made of great quality components. A couple of the measurements were a little off, but it still fit great under the rear seat of my 2017 Nissan Titan King Cab 4x4. And it still sat completely under my rear seat. I also loved the fact that it is a 100% American made green enclosure. And they have a larger air space per driver than other competitors that I've seen. Being able to find it online for under $200, including shipping is a bargain. Based on their design, features, quality and performance, they have earned our Highly Recommended Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.AudioEnhancers.com.




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Monday, August 27, 2018

Westone Elite Series ES80 Custom In Ear Monitor Review


Westone has been doing audio products for over 50 years. All of this experience has provided some extensive know how in creating excellent products. The best of which is their Elite Series. They have a new eight driver IEM design, and their best of the best is the custom version which is their new flagship model, the Westone ES80. MSRP starts at $1,899, before any customization.  After customization the review model came to $2,187. 
  

Features and specs:
·         Westone Custom-Fit Technology
Fully custom earpieces are cast, sculpted, and polished by hand from actual impressions of your ears, resulting in the best fit and acoustic seal possible.
·         Balanced Armature
Westone’s proprietary balanced-armature drivers provide enhanced sonic detail and frequency range that extends well beyond typical in-ear solutions.
·         Flex Canal
This body temperature reactive material provides increased comfort and acoustic seal.
·         Cold Pour Acrylic
Earpiece shells are cold-poured in acrylic for a thicker, more robust acoustic enclosure. This process increases durability and provides a more luxurious appearance.
·         Deep Open Bore
The Deep Open Bore design provides a smoother transition between the monitor mix and the ambient sound and also increases comfort and acoustic seal.
·         Precise Acoustic Symmetry
Left and right earpiece responses are matched to an extraordinarily tight +/-2 dB tolerance.
·         Replaceable MMCX Audio™ Cable
Durable, supple, light-weight cable features low resistance and minimal cable noise.
·         Designed and Hand-crafted in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
All of Westone’s products are meticulously assembled by a staff of dedicated artisans and lab technicians.
·         Sensitivity: 111 dB @ 1 mW

·         Frequency Response: 5 Hz - 22 kHz      
    
·         Impedance: 80 ohms  
       
·         Passive Noise Attenuation: Over 25dB  
        
·         Driver: Eight, Balanced-Armature Drivers, with a 3-way Crossover     
     
·         Cable: Replaceable MMCX Audio ™ Cable, 52”/128 cm    
      
·         In the Box: Monitor Vault III, desiccant, cleaning cloth, cleaning tool, Oto-Ease™, Owner’s Manual, and 2-year warranty          

·         Warranty: 2-year warrany.

The Westone ES80 came shipped in an excellent water resistant plastic case. On the front of the case is a custom printed label with the Westone logo, my name, serial number, and manufacture date. Opening the case showed off the excellent Westone E580’s sitting in cut-out foam molding. Materials used in the construction was mostly plastic with some metal. Quality of materials used was excellent, as was the fit and finish. It’s their top of the line product and it shows. Also included was the owner’s manual, a cloth carry case, cleaning tool, a tube of oto-ease, a microfiber cleaning cloth, and an extra cable. 

I love the design of the new Westone ES80. The body is made of hard acrylic for durability, and the bottom section that actually goes into the ear cable is actually a silicone, so it got a little softer as it warms up, to give you more comfort and a better seal. The tuning has also changed to a more audiophile neutral sound. And there’s something about having custom IEM’s that are made custom fit to your ears. It is just so cool. It reminds me of the scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, where he’s talking about the Ferrari. I think Ferris said it best, “It is so choice.  If you have means, I highly recommend it.” The same is true of the Westone ES80.
  
Ordering the Westone ES80 was simple. There are tons of options in styles, colors and face plates. I opted for the silver, and pacifica face plate. The silver looks like pieces of silver in the body, and the pacificalooks like a shell. Very cool looking. Once you decide on the look, you print out your design, and find an audiologist. Westone has an extensive list that they work with. Print out your design, pay for it, and bring your design sheet with you to the audiologist, who will ship your design to Westone along with the ear impressions. And Westone’s website also walks you through the whole process. Once they are built in Westone’s facility in Colorado, they get shipped to you. Now let’s see how they sound.

Eric Bibb: Why are People Like That-Vocals were so silky smooth like honey, and the texture and timbre are excellent. Piano sounded very natural. Bass had excellent depth and played with excellent authority. Percussion was crisp and clean with excellent impact. And dynamics that had to be heard to be believed. Harmonica also so clean with excellent dynamics. Soundstage had good depth and really wide.  Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue-Clarinet was silky smooth with excellent resolution to hear the woodiness of the reed and tonguing technique. Piano was extremely natural sounding, very dynamic, provided excellent low level harmonics. Bassoon had excellent midbass extension and texture. Brass was smooth, extremely dynamic without being edgy, and not too brassy. Imaging was spot on, and the soundstage was both deep and wide.  Earth, Wind and Fire; Let’s Groove-Vocals were as smooth as a Dove chocolate bar, with excellent resolution of the texture and timbre. I felt like I was right there in the recording studio. The realism was just bananas. Bass was good and full, with great impact and authority. Percussion was crisp and clean with good dynamics. Claps were also crisp and very dynamic. Imaging was spot on. Soundstage was deep and very wide.  Katy Perry; Dark Horse-Vocals were so silky smooth, with excellent resolution of the texture and timbre. Bass was very deep, really clean, and hit like a sledge hammer with excellent output. Claps were also really crisp and dynamic.

Just when I thought the sound couldn’t get any better from a pair of in ear monitors, it did with the Westone Elite Series ES80. Using eight drivers, four of which are for the highs, I would have expected the sound to be overly bright. But the sound is actually neutral, and the realism and resolution is bananas!! It has to be heard to be believed! Based on their design features, quality, and performance, the Westone Elite Series ES80 has earned our Editor's Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.westone.com.



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Ultimate Ears UE II 4-Way In Ear Monitor with Dedicated Subwoofer Review



As an avid car audio fan, I tend to be a bit of a bass head. So I like a lot of bass. The Ultimate Ears UE ll appears to have that covered. They are a custom IEM with a 4-way design. This means that in addition to the standard highs, mids, and bass design, where there is a driver dedicated to each of those frequencies, there is also a dedicated subwoofer, with a driver dedicated to deep lows. 
 Features and specs:
  • Input sensitivity:  119dB @ 1kHz, 1mW
  • Frequency Response:  5Hz - 22kHz
  • Noise Isolation:  -26 decibels of ambient stage noise
  • Impedance:  18 Ohms @ 1kHz
  • Internal Speaker Configuration:  4 proprietary balanced armatures with 3-way crossover
  • Input connector:  1/8" headphone jack; compatible with all systems


The Ultimate Ears UE ll came in a simple yet elegant black box. On the side of the box was a white rectangular sticker that showed my name, the model number, the serial number, and an employees initials that is passed quality control. Opening the box, the owners manual was sitting on top, and a white thank you note. Nice touch. Under the note and manual, I saw an aluminum tin cylinder that was sitting in a custom cut out that was covered in black silky cloth. On top of the tin was the UE logo, and my name engraved on it. Another nice touch. Opening the tin, I saw a soft cloth bag that was holding the custom IEM. At the bottom of the tin was a wax loop. Opening the bag, I saw the custom IEM. Materials used was mostly plastic, with some metal. Quality of materials used was excellent, as was the fit and finish.
  
When it comes to the design of custom IEM’s, it doesn’t get much better than that. To get the sound from a pair of IEM’s you need a good seal. That’s where it all starts with custom IEM’s: a trip to an Audiologist. There you will need to get custom moldings made. These can be made a couple of different ways. The old school way is to have silicon squeezed into your ears, wait a few minutes for the mold to harden, and then pull it out. The molding is then sent to Ultimate Ears, where they will use it to make your custom IEM. The other way is the newer, more modern way that not all doctors are using yet. That is to use a computer and a handheld scanner, and scan the inside of your ear to make a digital map. This digital file is sent to Ultimate Ears, for them to use to make your custom IEM.

The next step is to order your custom IEM. Since they are made especially for you, you can also customize it, with different colors and designs. I went with a clear plastic for the body, to more easily see all of the internal components. The top end piece I went with a clear blue, with the UE logo. It came out looking really cool! And since they are custom fit exactly in my ears, I get the best fit for the best sound. And speaking of sound, let’s see how they sound!


Eric Bibb: Why are People Like That-Vocals were silky smooth like honey, with excellent texture and timbre. Piano sounded so natural. Bass was really deep, and played with excellent authority. Percussion was so crisp and clean, with excellent resolution and impact of the drums and cymbals. Harmonica was so dynamic. Soundstage had good depth and was really wide.   Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue-clarinet was extremely silky smooth with excellent resolution of the woodiness of the reed and tonguing technique. Piano was extremely natural sounding with great harmonics. Bassoon had nice midbass extension, output and texture. Brass was extremely dynamic and not overly brassy or edgy. Flute was very airy. Imaging was spot on, and soundstage had great depth and width.  Earth, Wind and Fire: Let’s Groove-vocals were as smooth as honey, with excellent resolution of the timbre and texture. Bass was incredibly full, very deep, and hit like a sledge hammer with ton of authority. Percussion was really crisp and clean and dynamic. The claps were also extremely clean and dynamic. Imaging was spot on, sound stage had good depth and was really wide.  Katy Perry: Dark Horse-Vocals silky smooth with excellent resolution for the texture and timbre. Bass was nothing short of massive, with excellent depth and hit like a juggernaut! Claps were also really clean and dynamic.

The Ultimate Ears UE Pro II takes aural bliss to a whole new level. They are an overall neutral sound with excellent resolution, and dedicated subwoofers for exceptional bass performance that had me grinning from ear to ear.  And having a pair of custom in ear monitors like the rock stars....that's way cool.  At $1,199, you are definitely getting what you pay for.  Based on their design, features, quality, and performance, they have earned out Editor's Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at pro.ultimateears.com.



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