We tested the Velodyne Digital Drive Plus 18 subwoofer!

The Velodyne Digital Drive Plus 18 is a DSP-controlled, active, reference subwoofer. The Digital Drive Plus technology makes automatic volume adjustment, cross switching and phase setting possible, moreover, a versatile integration into a given sound system is also allowed. Velodyne engineers have been developing subwoofers for almost three decades. The result is a high precision monitoring technology: the movement of the cone is tuned nearly 16,000 times per second, keeping the distortions below 0.5%; which is quite extraordinary suffice it to say. The amplifier is more than 95% efficient and devotes virtually all of its power to produce deep sounds. This way, operation is kept as ergonomic as possible, which contributes to a longer lifespan.


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

 Digital Drive Plus 18 model


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 minimises 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. Another huge innovation of this subwoofer is that not only can the settings of the device be made digitally, but also be calibrated manually from a computer. This vouchsafe us more precise settings and even more personalisations.

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 drive, the huge and extremely strong magnet, the 460 mm diameter Kevlar subwoofer logged in a die-cast aluminium frame, the Rohacell composite cones, as well as the stable, rigid, double-layer MDF housing also guarantee resonance-free, clean, high performances.

velodyne-DD-18-back panel

For fast and precise membrane movements, 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 aluminium 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. The subwoofer is available in Black, Ebony, Satin, Cherry and Walnut finishes. The Energy Recovery System results in 95% efficiency. The maximum sound pressure is 121 decibels.

Advantages and disadvantages of an active subwoofer

An 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 additional 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 sounds.

Sound testing

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

We opted for the war movie Midway for our tests, released in cinemas in 2019. Velodyne produced accurate, clear, lively and spacious sound and powerful basses, in the combat scenes we really felt like we were in the middle of the war. Using the manual EQ, we were able to make more ideal and accurate settings in order to actually calibrate the subwoofer to the characteristics of the room and the sound system.

We also tried the subwoofer for music. We listened to Kygo / Miguel’s 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 as the subwoofer was to intense.

In summary

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


Written by Róbert Polgár

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