Nice and detailed review. Happy listeningHi Friends,
Hope you & your families are fine & safe. I am putting forth my impressions about the above subwoofer which got delivered around 12 days back. Tried keeping it short but could not omit certain aspects. Please note that this is a personal review & could be subjective despite trying my best to keep it as objective as possible. The calibration was done by Audyssey XT 32 phone app as per what sounded good to my ears in the room. I don't know how to use REW, so no measurements as such. In more knowledgeable hands, I am sure both the subs could have been optimised further. The other gear comprises of the Marantz SR 7011, Marantz CDP 6006 UK edition cd player & Pioneer bdp 180 bluray player with Dali Oberon1 fronts plus surrounds & Oberon Vokal . Please skip to the conclusion part if you don't want a lengthy read.
Reason for change : I had a SVS PC 2000 with which I was happy with movies & music. Prior to that I was a 75 % music & 25 % movie person. The PC 2000 spoilt me into watching more & more movies & gradually converted me to a 40% music & 60 % movie person. I had no issues with movies/music as I was enjoying both for my tastes on the PC 2000. The only issue was my room size being small at 14 feet L X 11 feet W X 11 feet H & not the fault of the PC 2000. The tall cylinder at 34 inches seemed a bit imposing in the room. Also in future if I were to go for a projector screen, chances are there that it would slightly overlap the screen. A bigger room with more breathing space would have done more justice with it.
The search : After enjoying it for a little over 2.5 years, my search for a new subwoofer started recently with a smaller form factor & less weight. I thought maybe a sealed sub would meet these requirements. Besides I was curious as in the past owning a passive sub, sub with a radiator, a ported one & now wanted to try out a sealed one. Had heard & read a lot about their mid bass punch & tightness. The most likely contenders were the SVS 3000, REL HT 1205 & REL HT 1508. I did have the Rythmik F12SE in mind too.
I had asked my regular dealer, Mr. Kadam - Audiotec for a demo of the above subs in Mumbai, but he said that it may not be possible to arrange, maybe I guessed due to the ongoing covid situation or they may not be having those subs for a demo. Hence I had to partially rely on the below online reviews.
A long whatsapp call with the subwoofer expert, fm Prateek (ATAS) further directed the preference towards the Rel, as he too recommended the REL HT 1508 among the other contenders. Another forum member & friend Sijusid also was in favour of the REL as I was getting it a little cheaper than the SB 3000. I searched for Rel HT 1508 users on the net for first hand experience & stumbled upon James(Jim) from Avforums who had a pair of PB 2000 pro (a single sub would be similar sounding to the PC 2000) & also a pair of Rel HT 1508. I asked him how the Rel was in comparison with the SVS & would it give me the low end for movies which I had got used to thanks to the PC 2000. For music, I had a hunch that the Rel would do good for music knowing that Rel is more famous for its musical subs. His spontaneous personal preference was the Rel & recommended me to go for it without having any doubts about low end bass for movies . Pls don't get me wrong here, he liked the SVS too & both are good at what they do. Around that time, I also read about Aman's (adeepsandhu) positive impressions about the HT 1508 demo on the HFV forum. All these impressions cemented my preference for the Rel & I paid the amount to Mr. Kadam for the HT 1508. Although he was out of town, he saw to it that I got the sub before the lockdown in Mumbai & right enough it came on monday the day the lockdown was announced. I went for the 1508 over the 1205 as I doubted if the 1205 could match the PC 2000 for movies with a smaller cabinet & wanted to avoid buyers remorse. The HT 1508 sure was heavy on the pocket too for me as it was much more expensive than the PC 2000 by 40k. For me, the benchmark in my room was the PC 2000 as it was leagues ahead compared to the ones I had earlier which were pretty modest.
First impressions of the HT 1508
The package was delivered by a driver of the "Porter" company. After seeing the big package I thanked the almighty that I am blessed to be on the ground floor. But thought to myself that how come the company did not send another person to help him lift it unless he was doubling up as Clark Kent. It weighs 36 kgs. & in no way looks small especially in this video of John Hunter with it. I misjudged the size in the below link. It seems to be a mirageThe carton was quite big & the packaging was well done with the requiste protection. I had to help him to lift it to my place. On opening up the carton, the fresh & pleasant aroma of new stuff hits you on the face. There was a quick start guide, metal couplers to connect another HT 1508 when mounted & the power chord. I had to take my wife's help in removing it out of the carton & placing it on the wooden base. Once on the base, it could be moved in a relatively easier manner by moving the base.
Lookswise, it is beautiful which is offcourse subjective. The Glass plate with the REL logo on top, apart from the cosmetics doubles up with the purpose to dampen the vibrations to the cabinet as per Rel. The black brushed aluminium finish was what I liked the most. It looks dark grey sometimes due to the play of light. It looks like a faceplate of brushed metal gear. The best part is that it does not show fingerprints or dust easily. It would have been great if this finish was there on the entire top surface. It looks gorgeous & the images in the other thread does not do justice to it. The Grill is quite heavy. The subwoofer driver too looked good & different. In short, the overall finish & build quality is terrific.
Performance of the REL HT 1508 vs the SVS PC 2000
English Tracks Played
1) God's gonna cut you down - Christian Larsson
2) Golden Brown - The Mariachis - The Strangers
3) No sanctuary here - Chris Jones
4) Color to the moon - Allan Taylor
5) Personal Jesus - Johnny Cash
7) Twist_In_My_Sobriety - Tanita_Tikaram_
8) Bamboleo - Gypsy Kings
9) Rusty Cage - Christian Larsson
10) Makeba - Jain
Hindi Tracks Played
1) Agar Tum Saath Ho_Jubin Nautiyal
2) Nazm Nazm_Arijit
3) Pani Da Rang_Anshuman
4) Shubhaarambh-Kai Po Che
5) Zaalima_ Arijit Singh
7) BHUMBRO_ Shirley Setia
9) Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai_RoopKumar
Instrumental Tracks Played
2) Ice Ice Baby_Instrumental
4) Mystic_Soundscapes_Mountain_Om_Namo - Rahul Sharma
5) Instrumental Gayatri Mantra
The subwoofer gain knob for music was at around 10:30 position & the subwoofer level in the avr was at -4 db which was the same for the PC 2000. The crossover for the fronts in the receiver was set at 90 hz. For music, the HT 1508 sounded very nice to my ears. In comparison to the PC 2000, it sounded faster , tighter with no noticeable bass overhang. I found that it added a nice weight especially for the accoustic guitar which was lesser in the PC 2000. Listening to God's gonna cut you down was total bliss as the bass weight was perfect for my ears & had the desired impact. DRUMANIA_Epic_Powerful_Drum, JAN_PEHECHAN_HO_Fotonovela_Remix_ & Ice Ice Baby_Instrumental have heavy bass tracks. With the PC 2000, bass would be a bit more for my liking & had a overhang of low rumble. The Rel sounded tighter & no overhang of bass. The Rel blended better with the speakers for most of the tracks especially in the Instrumental Gayatri Mantra, "Nick_Drake_Riverman" & " God's gonna cut you down - Christian Larsson". The bass seemed to be locked at the center. For certain tracks, I could locate the sub because my fronts are wall mounted at a height of approx 9 feet & would be difficult for any single sub to blend perfectly unless if I would go for 2 subs which was out of the question due to shortage of space. For the "Bamboleo", Gypsy Kings track, I found in the past the previous subwoofers lacking in bass that adds that little weight to the track. The Rel gave that bass which kicks in a bit later after the beginning of the track. I could have increased the gain knob behind the PC 2000 or the sub level in the receiver in the past but I did not want to hear forced bass. In short my impressions from music point of view in comparison is that the Rel sounded better with more punch, faster for music with no audible overhang. It added more life to the tracks overall if you would call it musicality. The break in period is essential for it to play well as time goes by. For the serious music listeners, the Rel "T" & the "S" series may be more appropriate from the Rel stable. There are off course other brands too that may do a great job.
We all like that thunder, explosions & tactile feel for movies. This is the area where I was skeptical whether the sealed HT 1508 would meet the standards set by the PC 2000. Honestly speaking, I was expecting around 80% performance for movies in comparison to the PC 2000 as the SVS is ported & the specs has it going down to 16 hz +- 3db. The REL is speced down to 21 hz - 6db which according to die hard movie fans wont be as impressive specs wise.
1) Underwater - Kristen Stewart
2) Jumanji- Next Level
3) Dr. Strange
4) Infinity Wars- End game
7) Alita- battle Angel
8) Spiderman- Far from home
10)Terminator - Dark fate
11)XMEN- Dark Phoenix
The fronts crossed at 90 hz, the center & surrounds at 110 hz, the subwoofer gain knob for movies was at 12:00 o clock position.
In the movie "Underwater" a few minutes into the beginning when the underwater station starts to explode, that scene has serious bass. The HT 1508 really hit out very hard at around 55% volume & I had to reduce the volume for the sake of the neighbouring flat. It hit me much harder than the PC 2000 at a similar volume that I am used to. The explosions were tight & hard hitting. The PC 2000 had sounded deeper with vibrations.
In Jumanji, you hear a thundering sound before the flock of Ostriches come in. Both the PC 2000 & the HT 1508 had similar impact with room shaking bass. Just before this the scene when Dwyane Johnson falls from the sky after losing his life by getting knocked by the Ostrich, I had felt that impact a little more in the PC2000 with the added vibrations.
In Dr. Strange, at the time of his car accident the impact was more impressive with the HT 1508. Even in the fight scene when Dr. Strange, Mordo & the ancient one are fighting against Kaecilius & his gang, the buildings turn with enormous bass rumble. In this scene also the HT 1508 excelled the PC2000 with more impact.
In Shazam, the bass was more impactful with the Rel in the end fight at the fair with Mark strong.
In spiderman - Far from home, the flooding scene has impressive bass. Especially when the bell hits spiderman, the bass is very impactful & tighter in Rel. I felt as if the bass hit me from the surround right speaker in perfect synch. Much later when the villain, "Mysterio" traps Spiderman in the illusion where green crystals & structures are falling all around him, both the Rel & the PC 2000 did great. Here I felt as if the PC 2000 had a slight edge when the ironman zombie comes out of the grave & when the statue falls with more thud & tactile feel.
In Terminator - Dark fate, the shot where the terminator catches up with Grace & Dani in the road chase to kill them. The shot cuts to Sarah Connor's foot stepping outside her vehicle & landing on the ground. On the HT 1508, that impact hits you very hard & shakes the room, much more than the PC 2000. The fight that follows later has a lot of bass effects too with tactile feel.
XMEN- Dark Phoenix has room shaking bass just after beginning when they go to rescue the crew on a damaged spaceship.
All the above mentioned movies had good bass effects in action shots which both these subs delivered with grace & ease in my room. But overall, I would say that the Rel was more impactful in most of the above mentioned movies with its hard hitting bass. The PC 2000 has a low end thunder like rumble.
Other minor observations of the HT 1508
1) While testing a low frequency sound track called "Halloweener" which starts with a very low frequency vibration where nothing is heard but only felt & goes to other higher frequencies, I noticed that the back panel where the controls are, vibrates a bit to the extent that you see the power light blur. This happens only with very heavy bass. I have emailed Rel twice & have got a ticket no. from their automated mail. 3 days have elapsed but no reply from them as yet & I am still waiting....... Would request the Subwoofer experts here with a query whether this kind of vibration is common in a sealed sub & is harmful to the sub or the amplifier components in any way. The sub is kept on a very heavy wooden base of 1.5 inches thickness where the PC 2000 use to be. I have seen the John Hunter Rel video where he suggests using Blue tack below the sub's feet when the floor level is uneven. I am not sure if that is the cause.
2) The glass plate on top will attract finger prints, dust & scratches over a period of time. Infact found few small minor hairline scratches just below the REL logo on opening up which is noticeable only at a certain angle.
3) The text on the rear control panel is a little hard to read since the base is grey & the text is white in colour. If the base is black & the text is white would have been easier to read due to the contrast. Luckily there are fewer controls so not much to locate behind.
4) The gain & low pass control knobs do not feel as good & premium as the SVS knobs. While turning the gain on the PC 2000, it felt more premium, solid & had a camera aperture like feedback. The gain knob on the Rel also gives feedback in very small increments but feels very light & not premium at this price range considering it is a flagship model.
5) The power chord does not feel premium like the SVS although both are chinese make.
6) The subwoofer looks much bigger in person & is heavy at 36 kilos. You need 2 people to lift it unless you want to take a risk with your back.
7) Wish it had a magnetic grill cover.
8) A proper paper comprehensive manual required which most of the companies skimp on these days to save on cost & expect you to download from the site & print it.
All the above points are definitely not a deal breaker for what it delivers & can be overlooked.
For me the Rel was the winner here for music & movies from a general performance point of view. It sounds good for music & hits you harder for movies, hence very versatile. The Overall volume levels have also decreased as compared to the PC 2000. Please don't get me wrong, the PC 2000 is also a great sub for the specs & price it was purchased for & I was very happy watching movies & listening to music on it. The PC 2000 will have more low end output & rumble as per its specs & being ported. The Rel HT 1508 is a much more expensive sub having a bigger driver & more amplification. Hence I had some level of expectations from it for music apart from the low frequency extension for movies in comparison to the PC 2000. I am extremely pleased with it. For those looking out for a sub in the SVS SB 3000, PB/PC 2000pro or Rythmik F12 SE range, would suggest to try hearing the HT 1508 too as the price of Rel in India is on par with the international pricing at this point in time.
For most of the generic movies with heavy bass as Jumanji, Avengers, Transformers, Kingkong, Godzilla etc, this Rel will do a fantastic job in delivering the impact & you may not crave for more bass except for the extreme bass heads. In fact Overall my volume level for music & movies has reduced further maybe due to the 15 inch driver & 800 watts rms amplification. I can't say about Edge of tomorrow since that bass was too much for me to bear when I had played the initial section on the PC 2000 at 55 % volume & had to turn the volume down.
The HT 1508 has exceeded my expectations on both fronts. Further fine tuning may go on for a while since the lockdown permits it