Secrets Benchmark Product Review
 

Klipsch RT-12d Subwoofer

Part IV

December, 2006

Ed Mullen

 

With Movies

I played several action-oriented DVDs, evaluating the RT-12d for mid-bass dynamics, audible artifacts (muddiness, cone cry, rattling), deep extension and output compression. My overall subjective home theater ratings for the RT-12d are provided in the table below, with a rating of 5 being the best score:
 

Evaluation Criteria

Rating (1-5)

Summary Comments

Mid-Bass Dynamics

4.00

Muscular mid-bass output, with plenty of punch.

Audible Artifacts

4.50

Minimal artifacts, even at high playback volumes.

Deep Extension

3.75

Digs to 22 Hz in-room before roll-off.

Deep-Bass Compression

5.00

Outstanding; does not compress deep bass dynamics prior to electronic limiter engaging. 

Provided below are screen shots and spectral color charts from a few bassy scenes in the movie I, Robot. These spectral color charts were electronically recorded directly from the DVD, and show where the deep bass occurs on a given passage, with dark red and pink colors being the highest amplitude.

To determine the maximum audibly clean output of the RT-12d on these scenes in my 2,000 ft3 evaluation room, I increased the master volume until I noted either audible artifacts or a loss of dynamic headroom. Then I backed off until an audibly clean and dynamic presentation was restored. Peak sound pressure levels were monitored at the listening position with a B&K SPL meter set to C-weighted Fast.

Detective Spooner finally spots Sonny robot hiding in the parts bins. Sonny responds dramatically, bursting forth and jumping over the startled Spooner as parts fly everywhere. The RT-12d didn't disappoint on this scene, exhibiting lively dynamics and punching out a quick burst of sound pressure.
 

Scene Description

Time Stamp

Maximum SPL

Sonny robot bursts from parts bin.

0:20:14

106 dB


 

Suspecting the injured Sonny robot will return to USR for repairs, Spooner makes haste for that destination in his hot-rod police cruiser, blowing past the viewer down a highway tunnel. This scene contains strong content across the entire usable bass spectrum, and is a good test of broadband dynamic output capability. The RT-12d passed with flying colors, hitting loud and hard with no audible strain or compression.
 

Scene Description

Time Stamp

Maximum SPL

Transport car blows past in tunnel.

0:22:08

105 dB


 

Hell-bent on eliminating the meddling Spooner, the demolition robot activates and swings into action. This scene contains a brief but very loud blast at 50 Hz, followed by strong content in the 65-75 Hz region. The big Klipsch had me ducking for cover on this scene, displaying excellent upper bass dynamics.
 

Scene Description

Time Stamp

Maximum SPL

Demolition robot activates.

0:39:31

108 dB


 

Spooner's luck turns for the worse as two USR robot carriers execute a flanking attack in the highway tunnel. Containing 35 seconds of continuous broadband bass content, this scene is a torture test for any subwoofer. As I pushed the master volume to commercial cinema playback levels, the RT-12d shook the room with authority. At 52:45, a USR carrier sweeps past the screen. This event features a strong 28 Hz impulse in addition to the already heavily saturated bass mix. This mondo LFE hit caused the electronic limiters in the RT-12d to briefly engage to protect the subwoofer from overload. The limiter is effective without being intrusive; the RT-12d simply stopped getting louder without any signs of audible distress.
 

Scene Description

Time Stamp

Maximum SPL

USR carriers approach In tunnel.

0:52:12 - 0:52:47

104-106 dB


 

After suffering a major beating at the hands of the renegade robots, Spooner finally loses control of his cruiser and slams into a concrete wall at high speed. The RT-12d walloped the room hard on the collision, feeling very strong in the mid-bass regions.
 

Scene Description

Time Stamp

Maximum SPL

Spooner's car hits wall.

0:55:11

106 dB


With Music

I evaluated the RT-12d on several music selections for balance, definition, pitch, coherence, and deep extension. As stated previously, the auto-EQ feature really improved the sound quality of the subwoofer (especially on music), and I highly recommend the use of this feature for critical music listening. My overall subjective music ratings are provided in the table below.
 

Evaluation Criteria

Rating (1-5)

Summary Comments

Balance

3.50

Good octave-octave balance.

Definition

3.50

Decent mid-bass articulation.

Pitch

3.00

Pitch is well-preserved at normal playback levels.  At high playback levels open E is slightly pitchy. 

Coherence

3.00

Adequate coherence and rhythm & pace.

Deep Extension

3.75

Fine for all popular music, only lacking the 17 Hz extension required for pipe organ.

Provided below are some listening notes from a few CDs.

1) For Duke - Bill Berry & the Ellington All Stars, Miller & Kreisel Sound Corporation, 1978 Original Master Recording, 1995 20-Bit High Resolution Digital Master. This is a wonderful classic jazz CD. Perdido features Ray Brown plucking his way through one very funky upright bass solo. The RT-12d handled the upright bass well, realistically conveying the timbre of this instrument, however at live jazz club playback levels I found open E to sound slightly pitch-altered.

2) Everything Must Go - Steely Dan, Reprise Records High Resolution DVD-A, 2003.
"Godwhacker" opens with a well recorded bass kick drum, and the RT-12d sounded tight and focused, with just a hint of overhang.

3) Still Bill Bill Withers, Columbia Records 1972, Legacy Records 2003. Almost everyone over the age of 35 recognizes the keyboard hook in Use Me Up, and this famous song is still popular in current movie soundtracks. The RT-12d played the funky bass foundation and the complex single/double syncopated kick drum line well. Bass guitar timbre was realistic and each kick drum strike was easy to differentiate and sounded suitably percussive.

4) 1,2, To The Bass Stanley Clarke, Sony Music Entertainment, Epic Records, 2003. I challenged the RT-12d to keep up with Stanley's amazing unplugged bass solo Touch recorded live at the famous Yoshi's jazz house and Japanese restaurant. Rhythm and pace were acceptable but not outstanding on this very difficult recording, with some minor blunting of bass transients noted.

5) The Globe Sessions Sheryl Crow, AM Records 2001, DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete. The RT-12d provided a solid emotional foundation to the soulful tune Crash and Burn, sounding natural and realistic on the subtle bass guitar and gentle tom-tom strikes.

6) Sound Hound Classical Organ CD - Artist Unknown, 2003. I popped in this internet forum cult-classic recording to see how well the RT-12d handled 32 foot pipe organ music. Track 9 Be Thou My Vision contains a sustained 17 Hz note at the 1:30 mark which was simply too deep for the RT-12d to accurately and cleanly reproduce. Other pipe organ notes in the 22 Hz and above region were played much better, with usable sound pressure and tactile response.

7) Time Out - The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Columbia Records/CBS, 1959 (1997 Direct Digital Remaster). Eugene Wright displays masterful finger work on Three To Get Ready, and the RT-12d stayed detailed and lively, blending well with the mains and staying pitch accurate on low E up to moderately loud playback levels.

8) Kiss My Axe - Al DiMeola, Rhino Records, 1988 (1991). The RT-12d displayed good attack on the extremely dynamic mini-kettle strikes, with a powerful and realistic decay signature.

Click Here to Go to Part V.

Copyright 2006 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

Go to Table of Contents for this Issue.

Go to Home Page.

 

About Secrets

Register

Terms and Conditions of Use

 

PAGEFEEDBACK
Our Vault pages may have some display quirks. Let us know if we need to take a look at this page or fix a bug.
SUBMIT FEEDBACK
Connect with us
  • Instagram
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
Secrets "Cave"
Facebook
Close