View Full Version : Dayton Reference 12HF / HPSA500 / 2.0 ft^3 Sealed - Subwoofer Review
11-04-2010, 10:35 PM
Back in November 2006 I decided the Dayton Reference RSS315HF (12") was just too pretty to pass up, so this is a little history on how my subwoofer project progressed (this was a project at the time I built it, but is now a Parts Express Kit -RS1200K (http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=300-742))
My original setup consisted of an Elemental Designs e12O.14 (http://www.foldedspace.org/jeff/archives/images/OandBox2.jpg) (car sub) in a 2.2 ft^3 sealed enclosure, powered by a Phoenix Gold ZX400ti (http://www.foldedspace.org/jeff/archives/images/PG4002II.jpg) amp (run off of a Zurich DC power supply). One advantage of such a utilitarian looking setup is that my wife actually *wanted* me to spend money to improve the looks! The next step was to order the Dayton HPSA 500W amp and the 2.0 ft^3 sealed enclosure and move the 12O over:
The 12O had been a good sub, and had decent sound quality (SQ) for the most part, but on very complex material, the O could become a bit 'tubby' -- stand-up bass was especially disappointing. The hope was that the HF would give me a little better SQ, and gain me a few Hz of low-end in the process. The 12HF has much lower inductance than the 12O, and I figured that would help transient response. I also figure a true 4-ohm driver would make better use of my amps power... seeing as how the measured ReVC of my O is 5.8 ohms... pretty much an 8-ohmer.
This hand-made graph shows an idea of what was going on with the 12O:
11-04-2010, 10:45 PM
Enter the RSS315HF...
On November 29th 2006, I ordered my 12HF for $102 shipped. It was a good Christmas that year. :D
Here are some of my initial thoughts after receiving the driver:
The HF arrived today... now I'll see if I have time to mess around with it.
It's a beautiful driver... those Taiwanese really did a nice job assembling it. :D It isn't as tall as the O or the DVC12, but it is still plenty heavy. The magnet is 7.5" dia, whereas the DVC12's is 6.5"... and it is very apparent. I will try to take pictures of all three lined up together...Here is my photo shoot with the subbies...
Side view (http://www.foldedspace.org/jeff/audio/HFside.jpg) of the 12HF
12HF & DVC12 backsides (http://www.foldedspace.org/jeff/audio/HF%26DVC.jpg)
12HF & DVC12 angle view (http://www.foldedspace.org/jeff/audio/HF%26DVCangle.jpg)
12HF & DVC12 side view (http://www.foldedspace.org/jeff/audio/HF%26DVCside.jpg)
12O & 12HF backsides (http://www.foldedspace.org/jeff/audio/HF%26O.jpg)
12HF spider (http://www.foldedspace.org/jeff/audio/HFspider.jpg)
12O spider (http://www.foldedspace.org/jeff/audio/Ospider.jpg) (glue still holding... ;-)
12HF, 12O, DVC12 top view (http://www.foldedspace.org/jeff/audio/SubTrio.jpg)
12HF, 12O, DVC12 side view (http://www.foldedspace.org/jeff/audio/TrioSide.jpg)
12HF installed (http://www.foldedspace.org/jeff/audio/HFinstalled.jpg) (but needs to be dusted)
The next step was measuring T/S parameters with my Woofer Tester:
Vas: 2.54 ft^3
Fs: 24 Hz
Re: 3.29 ohms
Le: .95 mH
BL: 14.9 Tm
Mms: 200 g
Eff: 85.73 dB @ 1w/1m
All measurements made with a Peak Instruments Woofer Tester (after a 4-hour workout with a 15 Hz tone).
Calculated Qtc & Fc in 1.6 ft^3 sealed...
Fc: 38 Hz
Fs was @ 26Hz before break-in, 24 Hz after 4-hours, and dropped to spec with a prolonged break-in session.
Swapping out the drivers was pretty easy, and I just left the 1 lb. of polyfill in the box. Here are some of my initial thoughts after installing the 12HF:
I now have a theory that the following formula is accurate... 1x12+500w=~bliss :D
My mains are Dahlquist DQ-M905's... ported 8" Vifa woofers with Vifa textile dome tweets. The Dahlquists were good down to 45 Hz (measured near-field -3dB point) on their own (and very musical, too), but they just needed that extra bit of low-end. The nice thing about the PE 500w amp is that I can use a little parametric EQing down low (around 20Hz) and get even more extension.
The 12O provided plenty of low-end thump, but it just wasn't quite musical enough... high inductance will do that. The Reference sub provides much more seamless transition from my mains... where the O was bloated and easy to localize, the Reference is lean and transparent... yet it is definitely there.
I do have the sub in the corner at a 45 degree angle (as seen in this pic (http://www.foldedspace.org/jeff/images/OforICIX.jpg) of the O setup)... I just like having the sub in the front if at all possible, even if the low freqs. are non-directional.
I worried that losing 4mm of Xmax (14mm vs. 18mm with the O) was going to mean reduced output, but I haven't even come close to reaching the limits of the sub or the amp at this point. If I ever get to the point where I do reach the limits, I will just duplicate the setup I have now.
Of course, if a sealed enclosure doesn't cut it for you, you could always port it...
11-04-2010, 10:53 PM
So, do you have it in a 1.6 cu. ft. sealed enclosure? I plan to purchase 2 of the 8 ohm s and run them parallel using my dayton 1000 watt rack mount amp.
11-04-2010, 10:55 PM
So, do you have it in a 1.6 cu. ft. sealed enclosure? I plan to purchase 2 of the 8 ohm s and run them parallel using my dayton 1000 watt rack mount amp.Yes, the PE enclosure size is 2.0 ft^3, but comes out at 1.6 after subtracting out woofer and amplifier displacement.
11-04-2010, 11:04 PM
Critical Listening Session Part I
After about a month of tweaking I decided I liked the way the sub was integrated into the system, so I did some critical listening (I'm going to do this in several posts)...
I started out with material containing bottom-feeder lows... Chiller, Time Warp, and Bachbusters (all Telarc).
First was Overture to The Phantom of the Opera (Chiller), a track that makes excellent use of a pipe organ. The sub retained excellent integration with the main system in the upper bass region, while effortlessly delivering the lowest fundamentals, which were more felt than heard.
Next was Also Sprach Zarathustra (Time Warp)... the low rumble that runs throughout this track instantly found all the rattles in my family room -- and it did a fine job of shaking the floor.
Toccata & Fugue in D minor (Bachbusters) are must have tracks for bass junkies. These digitally synthesized tracks provide the ultimate in dynamics. Towards the end of Toccata, the notes begin to step down through the lowest octaves... the HF delivered them all at a consistent level, ending with a mighty thunder that once again shook the house. The end of Fugue has some very low, quick bass hits -- and they were rendered flawlessly... no overhang whatsoever.
I also tried Diana Krall's Diana Krall's The Girl in the Other Room CD, as the stand-up bass on this disc is what first made me realize the 12O just wasn't cutting the mustard. I'm happy to report that the 12HF does an outstanding job -- never bloated or overly resonant, just sounded clean and natural while stepping up and down.
From there I went with some more conventional music, including Spies, By Way of the World (Telarc Jazz); Fleetwood Mac, Greatest Hits; and Dream Theater, Images and Words.
Spies is Fusion Jazz, and like most Telarc recordings, the dynamics are incredible. My reference track from this CD is Rite of Passage, a track that starts out quiet, but builds to a crescendo. As the tribal rhythms start to build, a thunderous bass line is introduced. With the O, the bass line just sounded like mighty thuds, but with the HF, the notes actually sounded musical.
Next I tried Tusk by Fleetwood Mac. As with everything else I threw at the HF, this track was reproduced with the utmost low-end transparency. It was obvious it was adding to the mix, but it wasn't obvious when or what... it just blended right in.
One of my favorite tracks to play with the O was Another Day by Dream Theater. This song is a little more mellow than most DT stuff, and even includes a sax. I always loved the smooth tone this track had with the O, but I didn't realize until today what it was missing. The O did a fine job producing the warm notes of the bass guitar, but failed to adequately do justice to the kick drum. The HF played the bass guitar with a lot more resolution and a little less warmth, and did an excellent job of bringing the kick drum into the mix... excellent.
11-04-2010, 11:06 PM
Critical Listening Session Part II
Up next were the IASCA test discs.
First up was the newer version produced by Autosound 2000 (circa. ~1998). This disc offers some excellent recordings, and the HF handled all of them with aplomb. In fact, I found that the HF revealed limitations of poorly recorded material, and really shined with good recordings.
Of particular interest on this disc was the 'system linearity' section. One track, FYI by Mediterranean (dmp) is played three times in a row, but at a different recording level each time (w/ 12dB diff. between each track). I was very pleased with the overall linearity of the system... with each track, the balance between sub and mains remained constant.
I also tried a few of the SPL tracks at the back of the disc, with particular attention paid to Trial of Seconds by Danny Perry. The sine sweep that plays periodically throughout this song is a great rattle test, and it provides for some tremendous output as it works its way down to ~20 Hz. I was most impressed with the way the HF handled this track. I was a little worried that I would find its limits on this track, but at my reference listening level, it never so much as hiccuped. Very impressive.
Next I put in the 1991 IASCA test disc. I tried L'Daddy by James Newton Howard, the 'SPL track' on this disc (a terrible choice for an SPL track). This track contains a lot of energy in the two octave range between 50 Hz and 200 Hz, but it doesn't have much below that. But, it did show the HF's ability to keep from exaggerating the frequencies in the upper end of its bandwidth... again, there was a seamless transition between the HF and my DQs.
Track 11 is Ain't No Cure For Love by Jennifer Warnes, one of my all-time favorites. This track has a strong bass line that can sound muddy if not properly reproduced. On the HF, the bass line was tight and solid with good impact... and not a hint of muddiness... the best I've ever heard this track reproduced.
The rest of the tracks on this disc just confirmed what I had already learned at this point... this sub is the very definition of musical. A few other tracks that passed with flying colors: Hanky Panky by Spectrum, Bright Lights by Spyro Gyra, Throughout The Test of Time by Patti Austin, Island Stomp by Michel Camilo, and Dessert Rain by David Lanz & Paul Speer.
11-04-2010, 11:10 PM
Home Theater Portion of Critical Listening Session
To make a smooth transition from music to home theater, I decided to start with U2's Rattle & Hum.
The first thing I noticed on the live tracks was how much more real the bass sounded. Having been to a U2 concert in my younger years, I know what kind of impact should be present. The O played all of the songs loudly, but it didn't always have the best impact or realism.
Sunday Bloody Sunday and Bad really showed off the bass guitar work of Adam Clayton, as well as Larry Mullen Jr.'s kick drum. The ultimate song off of that DVD is, of course, Where The Streets Have No Name. The song starts out with synthesized organ that builds as the members pick up their instruments. Clayton joins in with some incredible low notes -- some of the lowest I've heard produced by a bass guitar. The notes provide for some excellent impact, with the very last note of the intro coming in at the very bottom edge of the HF's bandwidth, but still produced with authority (better than what the O was capable of). Frickin' awesome.
Next I tried The Fellowship of the Ring. I'm not a big Tolkien fan, so I'm not going to describe this very well... but in the opening scene, when the human cuts the ring finger off the big ferocious dude, all the Orcs disintegrate as a wave sweeps through the battlefield. The initial impact is concussive, but the ensuing wave gets below what the HF is capable of... there was still plenty of stuff shaking in the room, but it was obvious that a ported enclosure or a 15HF would have done a better job here.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith provided some excellent test material, starting with the THX trailer. The warmth of the O used to manifest itself here... showing a definite response peak in the middle of it's bandwidth. With the HF, it sounded like it would in the theater... no peaks, just clean and enveloping... I got goose bumps.
The opening scenes of RotS provide some good rumble, and the HF did not disappoint here. Output equaled that of the O, but with a lot more impact and realism (if those sound effects can have realism).
Shrek passed with flying colors. Towards the end of the movie when Shrek and Donkey are riding the dragon to save the day, some very low bass notes step their way up and down, and they were produced beautifully. But, like in the FotR scene, the scene where the church windows get blown out reveals the lower limits of the HF's frequency response. It produced it, but not as well as I think it would with a sub designed for HT duties.
Last of all was The Matrix. The opening scene provides plenty of thuds and low rumbles. The HF sent a nice concussive wave throughout the room as Trinity did her slo-mo spin kick, and all of the impacts were quick and tight... no overhang.
11-04-2010, 11:28 PM
Long term update: After 4 years with this sub I still love it and have no plans of replacing it at all. I'm not willing to give up musicality in order to gain low-end grunt for movies -- it just isn't worth it to me. If you want a sub that is going to make itself known (even when it shouldn't), then this probably isn't the one for you -- it's just a lot drier and more natural sounding a lot of other drivers out there. But if natural is what you want, I recommend it. :cool:
I know some very knowledgeable forum members have advised against running this sub in such a setup, but in all my time listening, sometimes at very high volume, I have yet to hear the "oil can" sound of which they describe.
I was not the only person present at Dayton DIY 05 when Darren was actively running the Collossi with the RSS265HF in way too small of sealed boxes.
Jerry, LeoF, Shawn, Noidster, ChrisB, myself and several others witnessed the whole thing, and none of us really knew what it was at the time.
Darren came back with the conclusion of the oil-canning problem, and switched the HF to HO. Robert also tried the RSS265 HF in about 1.3ft^3 sealed, and he could even make it pop, so he installed the AP-vents to prevent it.
For lack of another description, it sounds like a clicking "AT" in repetition.
Now- I know this is not the RSS315HF, but it has happened to at least 2 people that I cannot recall at the moment. I know it takes a bit more juice to make the 12" oil-can, but it is definitely possible.
10-16-2011, 09:39 PM
Thank you very very much Jethro for the musical notes on this driver. I'm this close to ordering it for an (approx) 3.5 ft cu sealed box.
It sounds like you listen to content and at levels that are similar to my tastes. Yours is a post that I was really looking for regarding this driver. If you've had such success with a 2 cu sealed, is the addit 1.5 cu extra insurance for me against any possibility of stressing the cone on this driver? Just what is considered the optimal sealed cabinet volume for this driver? I've seen a wide range of suggestion here.
I'm using a 100w plate amp for the time being and will be upgrading to a 500 eventually.
If you'll be using a 500W, I would not seal it at all. Use the HO for that.
I think 3.5ft^3 is the minimum you canseal it for lower outputs. The 500W lends to higher uotputs and I would still not advise it. OR- get an Aperiodic vent.
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