Looking for a subwoofer to amplify and enhance those lower frequencies for your home theater system?
Make sure you take a look at the Klipsch R-12SW and the R-120SW. Both offer high-fidelity sound and quality for a budget below the $1000 mark.
Before you read further, though, you should know that these subwoofers are primarily aimed at consumer enthusiasts and home-theater system owners.
If you are a music producer looking for something for your studio, we suggest you check out the Yamaha HS8 or KRK S8.4 instead.
The Klipsch R-12SW and the R-120SW essentially come with near-identical features. This includes frequency response and amplifier power. But the Klipsch R-120SW is a newer model and a little pricier. It also comes with a new look with copper screws and sounds minimally tighter and crisper. The Klipsch R-12SW looks essentially the same, albeit sans visible copper screws. It’s also been discontinued, so you'll have to be quick to grab some of the last models online!
Let’s have a closer look at both now.
The Klipsch R-12SW comes with a sleek design that will look equally at home amidst modern minimalist decor as it will in a more conservative setting. Housed inside an MDF cabinet finished off with black polymer, a copper-spun front-firing woofer is covered by a black cloth grille that comes off easily. So you can actually choose between two different looks to suit your tastes: one black, another golden.
An LED indicator on the front switches lights up when switched on. This gives it a bit of a techy look which some like and others find disturbing. A quick DIY hack for the latter is a strip of black duct tape over it for a pitch-black atmospheric setting to enhance your home theater experience.
Dimensions: 14×18.5×16 inches
Driver Diameter: 12 inches
Sound Output Direction: Front
Equally sleek and versatile, the Klipsch R-120SW comes with (IMF) (injection-molded graphite) woofer cones that give you distortion-free, smooth bass, even while being extra light and hard. Like its sibling, it's front-firing as well. The MDF construction on the cabinet ensures protection against moisture and scratches. It's also easy maintenance since dust isn't easily visible, unlike the gloss finish on some speakers. The cloth grille is similar to that of the R-12SW. It comes with an LED indicator as well.
Dimensions: 19.2×14×16.5 inches
Driver Diameter: 12 inches
Sound Output Direction: Front
Here are some tips on where to place your subwoofers.
Have you ever noticed that there often tends to be quite the opposite opinions about a speaker?
I can understand this for more "personal taste" kinda products like clothing, for example.
But for engineering products like speakers? Personal tastes and preferences probably still play a role. But shouldn't it be less?
Why is it that we can't set a universal metric for sound quality?
First time I asked this question to myself has been a pivotal day.
Because it turns out that in the mid 90's, Electrical Engineer PhD Floyd Toole came up with a method called Spinorama. This is exactly what he accomplished with this. Turns out that his book Sound Reproduction is like the bible of audiophiles.
Put it simply, Spinorama is a set of measurements that gives a comprehensive overview of a speaker's performance from various angles.
It allows you to compare the performances of different speakers before even laying your ears hands on them.
Isn't that amazing?
This is why Spinorama was apparently groundbreaking news for audio industry. Hence in the mid-late 2010's, most brands and magazines began publishing Spinorama measurements, despite the challenges of making such measurements.
Fortunately, now we have the Spinorama data for a bunch of quite popular speakers. Pierre Aubert put all this untidy data together and put it into https://www.spinorama.org/. This is a stunning source. Pretty valuable stuff from him right there.
All good up to this point.
Now there comes a caveat.
Since the sound speakers propagate are in the form of omnidirectional waves, all measurements are obtained in anechoic or semi-anechoic chambers (a super-quiet room where soundwaves don't bounce back, here's how different that room sounds [a mind blowing time-adjusted video]).
This is a problem because it means that Spinorama alone, unfortunately, won't give us all we need. Placement and reflections play an equally important role there too.
This is why most A-class brands (like SVS, Bang & Olufsen, etc) often come up with room correction features, adjusted either manually or automatically. The EQ adapts itself to the placement (room, corner, center, etc) for a better (deeper and more accurate) sound. Which is great.
Additionally they often emphasize the importance of placement, here is an example: https://www.svsound.com/blogs/subwoofer-setup-and-tuning/75365187-the-art-of-subwoofer-placement
The source code under Pierre Aubert's work is licensed under GPL (General public license). He didn't perform any of the measurements himself, and instead he compiled all of them into one place, so that makes sense.
At this point, I thought that if there was a tool that combined both the Spinorama with the room acoustics data, it'd be extremely useful.
Unfortunately, it turns out that there wasn't any.
This is where I stepped in and partnered with an Acoustics and Audio Engineering PhD in order to achieve this.
We combined Spinorama data with room acoustics and came up with Soundton. A very simple, 2D online tool that allows you to:
- Reveal optimal speaker positions in a room,
- Test with real speakers from real brands,
- Compare different speakers and different positions in the room.
It can be very valuable for the vast majority.
The colormap provides you the locations with the best (green) and worst (red) listening experience.
It works the best with subwoofers since Soundton processes low frequency response waves only.
- Soundton is going to be, say, 80% accurate. Not 100%.
- Because, other parameters such as the age/materials of the building, furniture/windows in place also have an impact on room acoustics.
- If you want absolutely the most detailed room analysis, then what you need is an acoustics consultant. Mind you that's going to require deep pockets and patience though... assuming you find the right person and they get the job done.