Velodyne SPL 1200 Ultra Active, Sealed Subwoofer Test
The American company, Velodyne was founded by David Hall in 1983. The company specialises 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 sealed, active subwoofer has been given a simple, eye-catching, minimalist design. Available in black and white, the device is a 22kg, measures 39.4 x 38 x47cm. The compact subwoofer received a he hand-polished, glossy MDF speaker housing that is quite solid and stable, which prevents unwanted resonances. The large, easy-to-read LED display on the front panel illuminates all necessary information in 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 theatre. 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 calibration 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. The performance is very convincing also and it provides an extremely smooth transition from the subtle soft whispering to pounding explosions. 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 concave membrane made out of multi-layer kevlar fabric is attached to a cast aluminium rigid basket with a strong ethyl propylene rubber strap, which is a much more durable material compared to rubber.
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 basses.
Positioning the subwoofer is very important for optimal sound
The subwoofers provide the best bass sounds. By placing more subwoofers in the rooms better performance, and a much smoother bass sound can be achieved with them. Accommodating a total of 4 subwoofers is optimal, but it is worth buying at least a pair of them. Also make sure to choose subwoofers 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 be ready to remedy eventual phase neutrality two subwoofers may produce by proper positioning and phase settings. It is very important to place the subwoofers at a minimum distance of 30 cm from the walls and to set an equal volume for both!
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 basses, the Brooklyn Bounce band Take a Ride did the job well. We were absolutely pleased with the performance of the SPL 1200 Ultra, we could hear extensive sound, tight, powerful basses, and we did not experience any distortion at higher volumes.
Subwoofers with sealed enclosures 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 than for subwoofers with ported enclosure. 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 subwoofers with sealed enclosure system 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 had a clean, tight and percussive range of bass sounds. 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 basses. The exterior of the SPL 1200 Ultra is suitable for almost any home theatre 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. Subwoofers with sealed enclosure system 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