02/05/15 - Sunfire XTEQ12 Summary
Sunfire have finally released the new range of EQ subwoofers in the UK after a brief hiatus, in the form of the XTEQ8, XTEQ10 & XTEQ12. Over the last few weeks I have set up an XTEQ12 in the shop and at home to see how they perform compared to their old Tru Sub counterparts which they replace and it's peers at this price point.
The first thing that strikes you other than the 5 shipping boxes and two protective bags, is the size. Barely bigger than the drive unit it encases. Included in the box are a spare fuse, 12v trigger plug, side cheeks and also the hefty EQ microphone for use with the on-board room correction. Its handy a spare fuse is included as the initial batch came set to 110v straight from the USA. Obviously I ignored the huge sticker telling you to change the voltage, and in my excitement blew the first fuse to smithereens. A quick email to the factory and all UK units will now ship pre-switched to 240v.
The unit has the traditional array of inputs and outputs including RCA & Balanced connections, along with a handy master/slave for running dual woofers. While the unit usually runs on its Auto power setting feature with no permanent “on” setting, in a smaller room I found the unit very sensitive with the Yamaha RXA-3040 I initially tried it with, and subsequently not sensitive enough on the Anthem MRX310. A much better solution was to employ the handy 12v trigger plug included. This gave perfect control at all times with both amplifiers, a route I would definitely recommend to employ.
With the driver/radiator configuration, Sunfire do recommend ideally corner loading the subwoofer to get the best response from it. While maximising performance, this can also include problematic nodes into the sound. Handy then, that Sunfire include an on-board EQ unit to nullify these problems. Even though this is a pretty basic EQ system, this did a very good job and while is not as adept as Paradigms famous PBK to visually graph the results, looking at the raw data from the MRX310 graphs the on-board EQ had done an excellent job on its own in both of my rooms and needed little adjustment from the MRX. Should you wish to disable the internal EQ completely and use an external system such as DIRAC or ARC1m, Sunfire have now added a handy switch on the back to do so.
Once set up and ready you are instantly hit by the ultimate clarity and speed of the subwoofer which clearly comes from 2 things; its build quality and its astonishing 3,000 Watt tracking down converter amplification. Playing the opening chapter of my tried and tested Casino Royal PCM Blu Ray shows instantly how fast the subwoofer can respond during the quiet dialogue passages interspersed with the fight scene in the mens washroom. The speed of which it can go from start to stop is terrifying and is like nothing I have experienced before from a subwoofer of its size and price. A quick change to AC/DC Live at Donnington (again with a PCM soundtrack) makes you realise this is a subwoofer which is in that rare bracket, superb for movies but also phenomenal with music. Something confirmed with a CD playing back Dave Brubeck's, classic "Take Five". This is probably the most difficult thing for a subwoofer to accomplish in my opinion, as the tolerances for a subwoofer to fit into a hi-fi system are much tighter than that of an AV system. A rare beast indeed.
Sunfire have long done great subwoofers, but most of the time the price has been just ahead of their true performance. They have addressed this directly with a much lower RRP and in turn increased the performance of their product which is no mean feat. Hearing different subwoofers every day for the past 16 or so years, I have to say it is by far the best subwoofer up to £2000 I have heard for some time. No small boast when its peers are the JL Audio Esub 12, Paradigm's Seismic 110/Studio 12 & SVS SB13 Ultra, which was my current favourite. Suffice to say the XTEQ12 will be at home in my set-up for some time and I may go totally crazy and get two.