This review is a follow-up to my review on the
Onix Rocket RS
series home theater package that was published here a couple of months ago. Mark Schifter, the founder and CEO of AV123, who is also the proud creator of the
Onix Rocket brand, initially planned to ship this subwoofer to me to be
reviewed as part of the Rocket RS home theater package. However, due to some
production delays, the UFW-10 couldn't make it in time for the review,
and hence, I report my impressions about it separately here.
The Ultra-Fast Woofer-10 (UFW-10) is the first subwoofer under the Rocket brand
name. In today's subwoofer world, the UFW-10 can be considered small,
measuring only about 13" in width, depth, and height. Its appearance matches nicely with the other speakers in the Rocket RS line.
review sample has Rosewood finish on four of the side baffles with glossy
black on the top and bottom caps (MSRP $599). Two other wood finishes are
available to match your other speakers or décor, namely Ebony Macassar
(also $599) or Bird's Eye Maple ($649).
This subwoofer is beautiful to look
at and solidly built. Due to its small size, the sub can easily be
hidden, but its beauty demands otherwise and I guess most owners won't mind
putting it in an easily seen area (with pride if I may add).
The UFW-10 has a single 10" front-firing driver in an acoustic suspension
configuration. This driver has a cast aluminum frame and it is of hybrid composite
design with anodized aluminum cone and inner non-pressed pulp sub-cone for
added strength and for better acoustical damping (prevents the aluminum from
ringing). The UFW-10 is fitted with
a detachable black cloth grille to cover the driver.
The amplifier, which is rated at 500 watts, together with all the subwoofer
connectors and controls, are located in the rear. This amplifier utilizes
Tracking Down Converter (TDC) topology, which supplies a continuously
variable power supply voltage (as opposed to fixed voltage in conventional
design) depending on the input signal to the amplifier. This topology offers
several advantages, such as high efficiency, lightweight, high dynamic
headroom, high output damping, and low operating temperature. A feature
called Intelligent Parameter Control System (IPC) is integrated into the
amplifier to monitor the woofer's voice-coil condition in real-time and
sends data to the amplifier to correct and prevent over excursion of the
woofer's voice coil. Also included is a thermal overload circuit to protect
the voice coil of the woofer from overheating under prolonged use at
extremely high power levels.
The UFW-10 can accept balanced or single-ended inputs, but no output is
provided. The control knobs are of the flush type, and so
to turn it, you need to use a small coin, such as a quarter. Although this type of control may not
be as convenient to adjust as the regular type that you can grab with your
fingers, they are less
prone to accidental turn, which could mess up your carefully calibrated
On the UFW-10, you have the usual subwoofer controls and more. Besides the
continuously adjustable crossover (40 Hz -150 Hz), phase (0 to 180 deg), and
gain, there is also a single band parametric equalizer, a feature that is
not commonly found in a subwoofer at this price. The equalizer includes
control for frequency, bandwidth, and boost/attenuation level.
goes into great detail in explaining how to make use of this equalizer feature
effectively. I value highly the inclusion of the EQ, as
it can be very helpful in taming the presence of nasty peaks with the
in-room bass response. But is a single band as included in this subwoofer
enough? Well, the answer depends on your room characteristics. Many rooms
have a problematic response around a single frequency in the below 80 Hz
region. In several mid-size rooms that I have had a pleasure to set up my
audio system in and performed some measurements, I usually found a peak in bass
response due to resonance around 40 Hz - 50 Hz. For this situation, a single
band equalizer should be enough to flatten the bass response.
If you have
several nasty peaks or dips in your bass response, then obviously you'll
need more than a single band equalizer to get a flat response, but
nevertheless, the single band equalizer included in this subwoofer is still
useful to tame some of the problems. Isn't it better to have partial cure
than no cure at all? For example, in one of my rooms, which is untreated,
the bass response has a peak at about 35 Hz and a severe
dip at about 50 Hz. This dip creates a �hole� in the frequency response,
which is noticeable, and I chose to tame it using the single parametric
equalizer in the UFW-10. I was able to minimize the dip to within 4 dB,
giving me a much better overall sound. This example shows that the onboard
parametric equalizer, even though limited, is still quite helpful. Keep in
mind that the best EQ is to reduce peaks rather than trying to raise a dip,
but it does work sometimes, although a better solution might be to move the
types of feet - brass spikes and rubber - are provided. Also AV123 is thoughtful enough to include metal discs to be used
under the brass spiked feet if you have hardwood floors. For my review, I used
the spiked feet with no metal discs, as my listening room is carpeted.
For subwoofers, there are three important aspects of performance to consider:
quality, quantity, and extension. Now
let's look at how the UFW-10 fares on each of these aspects.
�Awesome' would be the right word to describe the quality of bass produced
by the UFW-10. Tight, quick, and controlled are some adjectives that came to
mind when I first listened to it. So, the name �Ultra Fast Woofer' is not
just a marketing moniker! The bass attacks and decays sounded realistic, and hence, it gave a sense of accuracy. The
combination of characteristics makes this subwoofer very
musical. In fact, the musicality of this subwoofer could put many other
subwoofers to shame, even some of the more expensive ones out there. It is
really that good!
One CD I used for bass quality evaluation was Sade's "No Ordinary
Love", from her album The Best of Sade. The quick bass notes underlying this
song could sound muddy and blurred if the subwoofer were not up to the task,
which was definitely not the case with the UFW-10. This subwoofer possessed
the speed and control to reproduce the notes with great clarity and
impact. On Christian McBride's Number Two Express CD, the UFW-10 showed that
it was also capable of following delicate acoustic bass notes with
In terms of quantity (SPL), unless you are a bass fanatic, the output of
the UFW-10 will likely satisfy your need. In fact, for such a small
subwoofer, its capability to play loud while maintaining its composure is
quite excellent. While it might not be able to play at the THX level, I
found that the UFW-10 had sufficient slam to bring immediacy with action
scenes from various movies that I tried during the subwoofer evaluation.
The only aspect where the UFW-10 lacks is in bass extension. While the
UFW-10 is a versatile little subwoofer, it doesn't go to the lowest audible
frequency regions. But unless you are a fan of organ music, it probably
won't matter to you. After all, this is not a shortcoming, but rather
a design choice. Small subwoofers are vogue right now, and the spouses love
that. In my
listening room, by playing with the parametric equalizer, I was able to get
a usable bass response within 3 dB to 27 Hz.
In my review of the Rocket RS system, I indicated that although the
performance of the RS speaker system was nothing short of excellent, I felt
that for home theater applications, a subwoofer was still needed. Well, now,
with the addition of the UFW-10 subwoofer, the Rocket RS system gives me a
more enjoyable home theater experience. There is a sense of completeness in
the overall sound of the system, which is mainly due to the coverage of the
lowest octave region by the UFW-10.
The UFW-10 subwoofer is an awesome performer in a small package. This little
subwoofer doesn't go deep into the 20 Hz regions, but it is very musical and
also quite potent, which will complete your home theater experience. Given its
excellence in performance and craftsmanship, I think you will be
hard-pressed to find a better subwoofer at $599. Highly recommended!
- Yongki Go -
Associated Equipment for This Review:
CD playback: Shanling CD-S100
DVD playback: Toshiba SD-4700
Preamplifier: Adcom GFP-750, Lexicon DC-1
Amplifier: Parasound HCA-855A, Sherbourn 7/2100
Other speakers: Rocket home theater system (RS-750, RS-250, RSC-200)
Cables: MIT Terminator 4 interconnects, MIT Terminator 2 speaker cables,
Cardas Crosslink speaker cables, Audioquest GR-8 speaker cables, Audiquest
Jade subwoofer cable.