Tuesday, September 21, 2010

JL Audio CS112RG-W3v3 Subwoofer Review

When it comes to subwoofers, there are a lot of choices to pick from. Not only do you have many manufacturers to pick from, but there are also many different sizes and styles. Subwoofer sizes range typically from 8” to 18”. The size of the speaker typically will tell how deep the subwoofer will play. After all, an 8” will typically not play as deep as an 18”, but then again, speaker size is only one part of the equation.

Up for review is the JL Audio CS112RG-W3v3. It is a 12” subwoofer in a sealed box made specifically for the driver. With subwoofers the most popular types of enclosures are sealed and ported. Typically, ported boxes will play louder than sealed. This extra output also will usually come at the expense of not playing quite as deep. The type of box design is solely the preference of what is more important to you – louder or deeper.

The driver in the JL Audio CS112RG-W3v3 is from their W3v3 series, and feature some excellent JL Audio technologies. These technologies include:
1) DMA Optimized Motor System
2) Vented Reinforcement Collar
3) Insert molded suspension/Coil/Terminal Sub-Assembly
4) Elevated Frame Cooling
5) Floating Cone Attach Method
6) Surround Stress Relief

No matter the range of stroke and input power levels, the DMA-optimized motor system delivers constant performance. JL Audio’s patented VRC (Vented Reinforced Collar) increases reliability by reducing failures due to glue breakdown and provides stress relief to the spider material during high excursion. The Insert Molded Suspension/Coil/Terminal Sub-Assembly uses an all new hybrid-weave progressive roll flat spiders onto a composite carrier for the best suspension alignment. Elevated Frame Cooling creates a pathway for air to cool the voice coil. Floating cone attach method improves piston motion through independent cone and surround alignment from the spider/coil assembly. Surround Stress Relief helps maintain the surround performance at all power levels.

All of these technologies are the thanks of JL Audio’s proprietary DMA (Dynamic Motor Analysis) modeling system. The cone itself is a mineral filled polypropylene upper cone body. The driver is designed for small sealed or ported boxes. The power handling capability is rated at 500 watts. The enclosure used for the CS112RG-W3v3 is sealed for rear firing dark grey carpeted enclosure with a black steel mesh grille. The enclosure and driver weigh just over 30 lbs, and the wedge design measured 14.25 x 24 x 11.75 x 6.75 inches.

For the listening test, I turned to Bachbuster – Toccata and Fugue in D minor, Dead or Alive – You Spin Me Right Around, and Techmaster Bass Computer – Activate. Bachbusters Toccata and Fugue in D Minor proved to be very musical. The W3v3 driver in it’s prebuilt enclosure showed great output and low end extension of the pipe organ. Dead or Alive –You Spin Me Right Round is a great track to test the responsiveness of a subwoofer. A large cone and large motor structure are often not a great combination when it comes to fast bass beats, which can come off sloppy sounding, and muddy. The Dead or Alive – You Spin Me Right Round track not only provided excellent output, it also showed how responsive the cone and motor structure is. Often times a 12” driver is not quite up to the task, and the bass beats come off sluggish. With the JL Audio CS112RG-W3v3-4, it was only a tad sluggish. I then turned to Bass Computer – Activate. It is an old school bass CD, but is a great torture disk for those subwoofers that are not up to the task. The JL Audio W3v3 driver again delivered in spades. The output was accurate, deep, and with lots of authority. The bass was very clean sounding with a lot of impact.

Overall I was very impressed with the sound quality and output from the subwoofer. While low end extension showed it can play down to around 20Hz, useable output is really in the 30Hz range. For a small sealed enclosure I was impressed. Reference gear used was Kenwood Excelon KDC-X991 and Kenwood Excelon X1200M Class D amp. While the output was not quite equal to my high output reference driver, I was not expecting this level of performance from a small sealed enclosure, especially with an MSRP of only $350. The performance has earned it our “Highly Recommended” award. For more information and complete specs, check out their website at jlaudio.com.