We are constrained by our biases and prejudices. Too often, when exploring those prejudices, we find they are baseless. So it is with the audiophile’s intrinsic dislike for subwoofers. REL’s subwoofers are one of the few that get under the radar, but we regularly have to refresh people’s memories as to why they are so useful. This review of the R-328 is partly that re-explanation.
In fairness, perhaps it’s not hard to see why subs get such short shrift with music lovers. They are commonplace in home theatre systems where they are almost invariably set too high for audio use. They might boom and bang and make whomping sounds when the gunplay happens and the starships clash on screen, but we often want a bit of subtlety and finesse, not simply noise and grunt.
In musical usage, a good subwoofer should be like a Victorian child – seen and not heard. So, what would be the point of a subwoofer under such conditions? Paradoxically, absolutely not what you’d expect.
In a way, we blur two kinds of bass reinforcement together, and home theatre systems are after a different kind to most audiophiles. Carefully – and I mean, really carefully – installed and set-up subwoofers act to help control stray in-room resonance and boom in a room, acting as an active bass controller more than a bass provider.