Sunfire True Subwoofer, Signature Edition

      Date posted: November 24, 1998

Sunfire True Subwoofer Signature Edition

Sugg. Retail: $1895 U.S.
Size: 13″H x 13″W x 15″D (Driver surrounds included in the latter measurement)
Distributor: Evolution Audio Group, 580 Granite Court, Pickering, Ont. L1W 3Z4 (905) 839-8041
FAX 839-2667

(Reprinted from the 1999 Almanac Issue)

      Bob Carver’s unconventional approach to the subwoofer has been both derided and copied, but most important, it’s also sold like crazy, making a real mark for the little Snohomish, Washington company he founded several years ago after leaving Carver Corporation. The son of Sunfire sub is bigger, but uses the same amplifier and operating principle, with active and passive drivers, the latter mass-loaded. We reviewed the original True Subwoofer in Winter 97, and have been using a pair since reviewing the Mk II version (Wtr 98), these in the audio room with a pair of Energy EAC outboard electronic crossovers for listening chair control.

      I went back to the original True sub review for a look at then and now, and was struck as much as anything by how much more refined and consistent our subwoofer measuring techniques have become since then. Practice makes perfect. The main differences seen from the bigger drivers in the larger box are smoother and more extended deep bass response. In its highest crossover setting the Signature is a truly remarkable +/-1 dB from 20 to 60 Hz, and down only 2 or 3 dB at 16 Hz, rolling off quite steeply below that. These measurements, at full, half, and minimum crossover control rotation, are among the most linear I’ve yet managed from a sub, with just about the best combination of low end extension and subsonic rolloff I’ve seen. That is, the Signature will give you a 32-Hz pedal note, and do it clean and loud, but will not cause acoustic feedback with a turntable unless really cranked, an ideal situation for LP-loving bass freaks like me. Sunfire True Subwoofer Frequency Response

      Below these curves are those with the Video toggle switch engaged. Frankly, I couldn’t see much difference, except that at the lowest crossover setting there seems to be a bit of a knee of boost around 25 Hz. The attenuation below 30 Hz seen in the original model does not happen here.

      What is gained in the Signature Sunfire is a quite dramatic increase in dynamic range, as well as a few Hz at the bottom. Equally as dramatic is the reduction in harmonic distortion or doubling; and I couldn’t make it dance, either, the active and passive drive units literally maintaining their equilibrium at all frequencies. I guess we can also apply the “practice makes perfect” adage to Bob’s design abilities, since he’s got it really right the third time out.

      The Sunfire Signature subwoofer is not an inexpensive product, especially in Canada, but it is one that is unique in its performance-to-size ratio, a superb deep bass reproducer that seemingly defies the laws of physics. It doesn’t quite move air like the Mammoth subs do, but it does go a little deeper in a somewhat flatter arc across its range. It is also a truly great subwoofer.

Andrew Marshall

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