Velodyne Optimum-12 Subwoofer

Velodyne Optimum 12 Subwoofer


I remember marveling at the sound being produced by a pair of small bookshelf speakers during a recent visit to a local high-end dealer's shop. I asked the salesman, "The bass extension on these speakers is amazing for their small size. How do they do it?" "Technology" was his reply. I sat there stone faced for a second while the wheels turned. Great bass extension with useable output is still governed by the laws of Newtonian physics. Technology can't violate those laws. The designer must work within the framework of the laws to produce a design that will fulfill their objectives.

One critical parameter in subwoofer design is that you need to be able to move lots of air for relevant output in the lower registers. This means that the smaller the driver, the greater excursion you will need to achieve a given output goal. It's very difficult to increase a cone's excursion and still maintain low distortion and linear output. Furthermore, a smaller cabinet indicates a higher tuning frequency that would also work against the designer's overall objective. The Velodyne Optimum-12 subwoofer under review here aims to produce substantial output from a cabinet that's roughly the size of an old-school 17" CRT computer monitor. How did they do it? More importantly, did they pull it off? Please read on.


  • Design: Sealed Enclosure
  • Driver: 12" Forward Firing; 3" Voice Dual-wound Coil; 21.6 Pound Magnet
  • Amplifier (Class D): 1,200 watts RMS; 2,400 watts Dynamic
  • MFR: 22 Hz -120 Hz ± 3 dB)
  • High Pass Crossover: 80 Hz (6 dB/octave)
  • Low Pass Crossover: 40 Hz - 120 Hz (12 dB/Octave Initial, 24 dB/Octave Ultimate)
  • Phase: 0°, 90°, 180°, 270°
  • Digital EQ: Movies, Jazz/Classical, Rock/R&B and Games
  • Dimensions: 15.4" H x 15" W x 16.25" D
  • Weight: 40 Pounds
  • Available in Black Lacquer or Cherry Veneer
  • MSRP: $1,899
  • Velodyne

Velodyne Acoustics is so strongly associated with the powered subwoofer product category, that I was kind of surprised to learn they were "just" founded in 1983. I learned this fact as I prepared to review the newly-released Optimum-12. Velodyne produces powered and passive subwoofers at every conceivable price point. Whatever your bass production needs and budget are, odds are you can find a Velodyne model that can fill the bill. Their product ranges include large, small and mini freestanding subs as well as powered and passive in-wall models. They even make an active sub parametric equalizer with on-screen display capabilities, the SMS-1.

The Optimum-12 subwoofer is the largest and most expensive of 3 models in a new product line recently launched by Velodyne. The other models in the new line are the Optimum-8 and the Optimum-10. The Optimum models replaced the popular SPL series of subs and sit just below Velodyne's top of the line Digital Drive series of subs. Velodyne touts the Optimum subs as having "tiny cabinet dimensions". As mentioned earlier, the Optimum-12 is roughly the same size as a 17" CRT computer monitor (which is indeed compact), but I would not place it in the class of ultra compact woofers that have become quite popular over the last few years.