|Rythmik Audio F12 in black. There's an awful lot of technology inside the 12 inch aluminium, high excursion driver, controlled with Direct Servo Technology, all inside a big, rigid, sealed box.|
Sub woofers are mainly avoided by audiophiles who deemed themselves as purist of the two chanel bunch. Sub woofer based (otherwise popularly referred to as 2.1)systems are often controversial, as witnessed by the late Unker Vic, who was a champion of the cause(he went as far as 6.10, meaning six stacked speakers and 10 sub woofers, I think). I've also seen that there is no middle ground when it comes to 2.1 systems, one either loves it or hate it!
Let's come back to the product at hand, the Rythmik Audio F12, which made quite a bit of a splash amongst the hifi forum circles and has just arrived at Malaysian shores, courtesy of Maxx Audio, a popular Seremban based Hifi and AV retailer. The black veneered reviewed sample looks very solid, and is certainly very heavily built. It took the muscle flexing of both Maxx and Big E to lift it up to my first floor man cave. There wasn't much to marvel at, other than the various controls and knobs on the plate amp, mounted on the rear panel of the sub woofer. I did not try to lift the cloth grill covering the 12 inch driver, as it seemed pretty tightly locked in place. I didn't want to ruin Hifi-Unlimited's perfect record for non damaging of review equipment on our hands.
|The supplied spike feet c/w coasters(not shown).|
There was only three things to do with this sub. First, screw in the spike feet provided for all four corners, coasters are provided should one does not wanna damage their nice floor finishing. Being the manly commando that I am, the coasters are not used due to it's positioning on top of carpet. I thought long and hard about finding the best optimal sub positioning, but ended up sitting it right smack in the middle of the room. There's only so much floor space available in my 10 x 12ft room. Lastly a pair of interconnects signal(Belden, if you must know) cable and power cord(drawing juices from the Torus Power PLC) was connected.
I know the positioning is less than perfect, but since it's just a short two weeks stay, let's see what I can do to integrate a sub to mate with my PMC Fact 8 main stereo speakers. I've some known limitations that will ultimately dictate the setting adjustments of the F12, such as the Fact 8s roll off sharply after below 28Hz, and with consideration of my room mode peaking at 48Hz, I'd do well to keep the F12 working way low, frequency wise. There's six main knobs to manipulate so that the sub mate well to one's main speakers. There are Gain, Bandwidth and Frequency on the top row, followed by Delay/Phase, Crossover and Level on the row below. The rest are set and forget toggle switches. Also included is a rumble filter which I did find useful when playing LPs. It's use will filter out most of the sub sonic noise once the cartridge hits the groove. The 12 inch driver would flap wildly, as I discovered when I did not switch on the rumble filter. It remain on during the whole review period.
|The plate amp became too hot to touch after my Metallica session, just like my Pass Aleph 0 mono block heat sinks. I observed that the plate amp drew as much as 1.7 ampere of peak current. I used the generic power cord provided.|
I played around with the settings using mainly kick drums, double bass and bass guitar tracks and do a final once over with male vocal(as advised by Jim Smith's Get Better Sound book). The reasoning is simple, while we'd like to get maximum bass impact out of the bass musical instruments, there must be a balance where the bass tuning is not over done to the point of smearing the male(and some deeply voiced female too) vocal range, which could reach quite low. There's a fine line to balance between too much and too little. However, thanks to my years of helping out at IASCA Auto Sound Challenges, dialing in the F12 was not too hard a task if one knows what to look for. By the end of my second day's listening session, I had more or less settled with the sub optimization and just enjoyed the sonic bounties the F12 brought to my music. Having said that, I think with some familiar music, add some time and effort, one should not find it too big a challenge to do the same.
With this review, I think it'll probably sound more like what happens when a sub is properly integrated in to a stereo system more than about the F12. However, I must add that if the Rythmik sub did not possess the talents, it would not have being at all possible. Some years ago, most audiophile's issue of contention in regards to sub woofers are:
1) Sub are slow and usually off pace when compared to the main speakers.
2) The bass notes re-produced by sub woofers are one note, normally the HT flavoured BOOM, BOOM type.
3) There's always a phasy kind of bass, which can sound poorly integrated.
4) The main speakers do not sing in sync with the sub.
I am happy to report that all the four concerns above have been addressed by Rythmik Audio, despite my quickie dial in and set up time, I managed to get the sub to sound as one with my main PMC Fact 8 speakers, helped no doubt, by the versatile adjust ability and speed of the F12 sub. All I heard was the slightly extended lower bass notes, more articulate and confident bass note to note transfer, especially the double bass, which can sometimes have long overhang time. Bass guitar had more realistic tonal texture and definition. Kick drums kick harder and more distinctly too. However, there's more to gain than just on the bass spectrum only. I heard my system sounding more confident and at ease during the musical peaks, especially the orchestral works and metal music. I played Metallica's self tittled album, or more popularly known as "The Black Album", now available on HD tracks as 24/96 hi-rez download file. The first track called Enter The Sandman is one highly challenging tune to sustain on rock concert volumes but with the F12 sub woofer as part of my system, I managed to sustained musical peaks at 105dbs according to my iPhone's SPL meter app. While it's easy to play loud at ear straining levels, it's not everyday one can play at the same loudness, with an effortless clean sounding twist! That's the main difference that the F12 brought to the plate, it's called head room, and lot's of it. As expected too, the musical dynamic range of the system was brought up by a few notches.
Another un-expected bonus that came with a well integrated 2.1 system is the sound stage, which seems to open up and present music with more elbow room between the musicians. This is especially true with high quality church choir recordings, like the Rutter:Requiem-Pie Jesu, track 5 on the Arabesque by Crystal Cable CD. The big choir ensemble in the back row of the sound stage seemingly open up with more elbow room between each member, each with a distinctive voice, rather than a tightly bunched up group of voices as I am used to hearing them. The air organ's rumble is now more pronounced not by what I heard, but what I felt! That 20Hz rumble is un mistake able once experienced. By the third day, I was totally immersed in each listening session, looking for the most challenging tracks that I have in my music collection to impress the audiophile in me while full filling my musical cravings. I did not felt compelled to look out for the bass impact anymore, and by the end of two weeks I started to take the effects of the F12 sub woofer for granted. The music did not seem faster or slower, the tonal quality of my audio system never changed, but my musical enjoyment was improved. I am glad that I had to do some travelling and be away from my system for a while after the review period, which otherwise I might be face with another period of withdrawal symptoms, once the F12 was picked up by Maxx.
|Boom, Boom, Room! The F12 sits in the middle of my cave. Place as such, it made a decent vibrating foot message too. OSIM and Ogawa, back to the drawing board please!|
A friend of mine asked me why I choose to return the Rythmik Audio F12 if I liked it so much? My first reason being I am in no financial position to make another hifi purchase at this point in time. The next being in the form of an Audio Physic Rhea remote controlled sub woofer, which I've had the good fortune to hear at a friend's place. I must however, point out that I am being very cruel to the Rythmik Audio F12, which only retails for RM$3,299.00 each , to even compare it against a high end reference sub, costing many times more. The flip side of the argument is that given the price disparity between the two products, and the very much cheaper(and should I say exceptionally good value too?) F12 can be mentioned within the same page is already a great testament to the accomplishment of Rythmik Audio.
Rythmik Audio is sold by Acoustic System, contact CN Lim at 012-3393738.
Rythmik Audio also sold by Maxx Audio, contact Maxx Loh at 017-6778820.