B W Asw600
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0412HCC12 Subwoofer Grouptest*P
400 (APPROX) N 500 N www.bwspeakers.com N OVERALL RATING ####12
I have been lucky enough to visit listening rooms from one end of the globe to the other. And what they all seem to have in common is a set of B&W speakers in use as a reference. B&W has an enviable and terribly British reputation for making speakers that are jolly posh in every respect, from appearance to sound performance at whatever price you want. So the ASW600 comes with some promising baggage. Amongst the connectivity is a switch to choose between use or bypass of the internal crossover, to set between 40Hz and 180Hz, plus another to select between EQ curve A or B. EQ curve A is more suited for home cinema use, while B is for music-only purposes.
A small indication that the ASW600 is made to a precise price is the cheap nature of the speaker cable level screw-down connectors. A brave thing to include stereo in and out on these screw-down devices, when they are less used than other methods. The sub also has a set of stereo input phonos, a set of stereo output phonos and a last set for link out, post crossover. The mains lead is a fixed type. This sub begs to be used in a pair.
Design and construction
The ASW600 subwoofer is definitely a B&W family member. The same price as the Northridge from JBL and the Vibe Alpha 2 (reviewed elsewhere), you get a slightly smaller package than with the other brands but something more upmarket. The woody veneer is a deeper, richer hue and despite the smoother lines of the curved-jointed VIBE, the ASW600 looks classier. I cant help feeling that the 10in driver in this unit could not be a B&W design at the price, but I can confirm that the sourced driver is good enough to bear the badge. Its a huge stiff dome upon an honest paper cone attached to a very long throw suspension with
Theres no doubt that this is an impressive sub. It has an enormous excursion able to play the 15Hz wobbles on my test discs. Melodic and accurate, if not truly earth moving.
A pared-down slice of British branding. The 150W amplifier may be too weak for the woofer, but you get a compact performer which represents a very good slice of value for money audio poshness.
Class in a blast: The B&W is a 150W front-firing sealed box design
a thick top roll surround of rubber. It hangs on a 150W amplifier and fires out of the front of what is the first sealed box design in this group.
HEIGHT (365mm subwoofer)
The grille of the ASW600 is plastic and bears the smart B&W badge, as does the front drop of the enclosure beneath, for those folks who wish to see the cone wobble while playing. You can fit either hemispherical plastic or spiked feet, both supplied on a blister packed card. The manual is awesomely comprehensive, offering up 12 diagrams of single or dual usage of the unit in every possible line or speaker cable configuration you could want very impressive.
Specifications: 150W RMS from onboard amp; frequency response: 26Hz-150Hz (-3dB) Enclosure type: Sealed MDF cubic Drive unit: 10in high excursion B&W sourced paper cone with rugged dome and tough rubber surround Connections: Twin sets of plastic screw-down/4mm banana connectors for speaker level stereo in and out; three sets of stereo RCA sockets for line in, line out and link out Dimensions: 365(w) x 365(h) x 450(d)mm Weight: 19.5kg
118 H O M E C I N E M A C H O I C E
TOP 5 RANKING
1. B&W ASW600 2. JBL NORTHRIDGE E250PCH 3. VIBE ALPHA 2 4. CRANE SUBMARINER 5. LUCID POINTONE 120
The B&W is an all-round treat deep as hell, precise as can be, loud enough and beautiful to behold
In a commercial world, you have to innovate or die. Sadly, bringing up the rear is the Lucid PointOne 120, which, in fairness, is the brands first effort and most companies improve a lot in their first months as far as QC is concerned. I place the Crane Submariner fourth as, like the Lucid, it is costly for what you appear to get. What you do get is an accurate output, with sweet melodic abilities and yet lacking overall weight and might. The Submariners target audience is the owner of a glass and chrome decorated home with the ability to appreciate good sound. Third place goes to the VIBE Alpha 2. Even though it has as many stars as the Submariner, it does so through might and power, without the melodic grip or extension. It's cool, trendy and absurd for the size individualists will want this. In second spot is the JBL Northridge air-shifter. Not massively deep, but deep enough to scare, with grip beyond the VIBE Alpha 2 and power that can make a cat puke. I really quite liked it. The victor's laurels, though, go to the B&W ASW600. In spite of the absence of a company-designed driver, I consider it an all-round treat. Deep as hell, precise as can be, loud enough and beautiful to behold. One for the discerning buyer I
B&W ASW600 Slam ##### Depth #### Precision #### 400 (APPROX) OVERALL ####
Highs: Sound quality with improbable low frequency extension. Very handsome Lows: So good, you'd like to have more of it otherwise a paragon of bass perfection
CRANE SUBMARINER Slam ### Depth ### Precision #####
400 (APPROX) OVERALL #### 400 (APPROX) Precision #### OVERALL #### 400 (APPROX)
Highs: Designer looks, rigidity of enclosure leading to audiophile quality bass output Lows: Small amplifier and low piston area limit sound pressure level on action films
JBL NORTHRIDGE E250PCH Slam #### LUCID POINTONE Slam ### VIBE ALPHA 2 Slam ##### Depth #### Precision #### Depth ##### Precision ##### Depth ###
Highs: Good looking enclosure with powerful innards, producing large bass for the money Lows: Does not drop as deep as more expensive subs. The on/off LED is confusing
Highs: Sound quality and excellent remote control concepts used in setup from your seat Lows: Looks badly finished from underneath, the black routing detail is vandalism
400 (APPROX) OVERALL ####
Highs: Unique paint finish and performance. High quality port tube and driver Lows: Small size, coupled with a lack of protection circuitry, means it can unload under duress
0303wv04 B+W sub
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Active sealed-box subwoofer; 25cm paper/Kevlar cone driver; 150W amplifier; bass overload suppression system; frequency response 26Hz -33dB, 150Hz -3dB, 22Hz -40dB, 180Hz -6dB (flat equalisation); low-pass filter second order (12dB/octave); high-pass filter line-level third order (18dB/octave at 80Hz); speaker level first order (6dB/octave) at 80Hz; loopthrough connections at line and speaker level; power on/off/auto
B&W aims to revitalise its image with the ASW600. But does it deliver the low-frequency goods?
For years, most B&W subwoofers were large, port-loaded and often rather uninspired. They were also relatively bulky for the bass they delivered. Only quite recently has B&W started to take the genre seriously, and the ASW600, one of a three-strong range, is an excellent example of what this means in practice. Although no miniature, the ASW600 is a compact design, but big enough to accommodate a chunky 25cm driver in a compact sealed box. It is driven by a 150W amplifier and includes overload circuitry to give belt-and-braces protection from the worst forms of abuse. The driver itself has a composite cone, thick paper pulp reinforced by Kevlar and impregnated in resin for rigidity. The enclosure is solidly braced and well sealed to prevent air leakage. The ASW600 accepts inputs at line or speaker level. In both cases the input is looped through to sockets which can be used to drive a second subwoofer or more if required. The outputs for this purpose are low-pass filtered, the line-level output quite heavily so, and to avoid daisy-chaining
Line in L/R, line out L/R phonos; link out (for second subwoofer) phonos; speaker level in, speaker level out L/R (4mm binding posts)
450(h) x 365(w) x 365(d)mm
19.5kg B&W Loudspeakers Ltd www.bwspeakers.com
filters it may be best to run the subs independently from the amp, using a phono splitter if necessary. Switchable equalisation provides two different frequency response shapes. One is relatively flat and well extended into the deep bass. The other sacrifices bass depth in favour of a richer, fruitier-sounding mid-bass. The plain, sharp-edged, almost cubic enclosure is well finished. Because it has only a single radiating face, the drive unit should face into the room. The opposite face, with all the connections and controls, can be effectively hidden by pointing it to face the wall. But the ASW600 is quite compact, and wont be too intrusive in most rooms. It might even make a useful occasional table but no drinks please.
Its performance doesnt match the best in this roundup, but this isnt necessarily a problem given the modest price. The ASW600 works adequately as a music subwoofer, but really comes into its element with the LFE (low frequency effects, or.1) channel of a home cinema system. It is quite capable of adding some substance to medium-size systems with floorstanding main
Both line- and speaker-level inputs are provided
speakers, but the ASW600 is at its most convincing with compact stand- or shelf-mounted speaker systems, where its contribution can really be felt. With test signals, its not too difficult to trip this subwoofer up. Alarmingly, it is even possible to make the ASW600 jiggle around if its energised sufficiently with signals around 20Hz. But this is not representative of normal use, and in practice technical performance is good. The bass is tuneful and well extended, as long as its used in its Flat equalisation setting. The alternative setting is less attractive perhaps, but gives a more visceral punch of the kind that often goes down well with big films, although there isnt enough meat in either to do full justice to the boomy depth-charging scenes of U-571. Overall, the ASW600 impressively illustrates how much tidier and more controlled subwoofers have become in the last year or so. This is especially important for those who want to utilise their subs alongside compact main speakers in stereo. Luckily for home cinema fans, the ASW600 is much more at home with DVDs than hi-fi music, and is therefore one of the better budget subs on the market.
Good entry-level all-rounder; fairly punchy performance for the price
Marginally effective in a hi-fi music context; likely to detract from system transparency unless carefully adjusted
Well-balanced combination of weight, transparency and speed
SOUND.777 FEATURES.7777 VALUE.77777 OVERALL.7777
Impregnated in resin for rigidity (ie it provides tight, controlled bass)
M A R C H s W H AT V I D E O W I D E S C R E E N E N T E R TA I N M E N T
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