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  #1  
Old 10-06-2012, 04:18 AM
MrLeadFoot MrLeadFoot is offline
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Default Subwoofer Question

I need a sub for smaller gigs, like indoor clubs, small outdoor winery concerts, tent weddings, etc. Large outdoor venues are handled by a sound crew.

I am hoping a single 15" would work, especially since we have 15" mains. Luckily, I have a Mackie m1400i which has Subwoofer capabilities, and more than enough power for one sub, or even two (if I need to go that route down the road). I have transportability to consider, though, so I'd like to go with a single sub, and stay away from an 18", as well. Being that I have a good amp already, a passive sub would be great; since they are lighter, it will be easier for me to transport, and passives are a LOT cheaper. :-)

For small outside performances, we're usually on a stage, so I think placing a single 15" down on the floor, center stage, would work. I'm thinking that indoors, placement will be less of a concern it due to acoustics with walls and a ceiling.

I'm eyeing the Carvin LS1501, but then the Seismic Audio stuff caught my eye. Based on specs, it almost seems like they are very comparable. They are both a little light on the specs when it comes to speakers, but they do both say they have a 2.5" coil, and Seismic says they use a 50 oz. magnet, so I wonder if they use the same speakers. For that matter, does speaker weight even matter? I wonder if the Seismic Audio stuff is cheaper simply because they have no "name" behind them.

http://www.seismicaudiospeakers.com/...-p/sa-15ss.htm

http://www.carvinguitars.com/products/LS1501

Notice that the Carvin uses full vents at the bottom, while Seismic uses dual ports. Does the difference matter? Incidentally, I am currently using a single borrowed Mackie SRS1500 (which seems to do the job), but it has both dual ports and vents, but is otherwise completely enclosed, so I wonder if porting vs. venting matters at all.

Anyone have thoughts or experience with either of these subs, or a single-15" setup they care to share?
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Old 10-08-2012, 01:30 AM
MrLeadFoot MrLeadFoot is offline
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

Forget about the comparison question above; how about this question instead:

I want a single sub, and I want punch. I don't want boomy bass. Would a 15" sub be better than an 18" sub in this case? Of course, I don't want to end up with a "thud" either, you know, the kind that sounds like you're maxing out a speaker. :-)

Yes, I know it's a matter of opinion, and I'd like to hear all. :-)
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Old 10-08-2012, 01:54 AM
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

I think that in your case I would go with the 15" sub.
One sub should be enough for small rooms.
You don't want to rattle the windows at most gigs.
You just need some low end to enhance the sound.
You can adjust the sub to fit the room and control the thump.
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Old 10-08-2012, 04:02 AM
MrLeadFoot MrLeadFoot is offline
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

I notice that Carvin also has an 18. Interestingly, the specs they list for the enclosure are exactly the same as the enclosure for the 15. Leads me to believe they made the 18 sub first, then came out with a 15 and stuck a 15 speaker in that same cab. I wonder why. Do .15s sound that much different? There must be a real reason, especially since the cost is only $50 less for the 15. Oh, and the 18 weighs 5 lbs. less, and given the fact that the 15's magnet is 160 oz., the 18's must only be 60 oz., because that's about a 5 lb. difference.

Bobadruma, do you think a single 15 will still help a bit outdoors, at a wedding type event?
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Old 10-08-2012, 04:07 AM
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

When you go outdoors things change. Just ask any bass player.
There are many factors when outdoors. The weather, the wind, amount of people, under a tent, etc.
If you have any doubts then buy the 18. You can always adjust the sound as needed.
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Old 10-08-2012, 04:30 AM
MrLeadFoot MrLeadFoot is offline
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

Yes, I realize things are completely different when outdoors. I figure all bets are off when outdoors, but outdoors, even a little help on the bottom is better than none at all, right? ;-)

I'm mstarting to wonder if the reason Carvin used the same cab for the 15 is because the larger enclosure adds a little more fullness to a 15 withot losing the punch. I mean they are Carvin, so they could have easily made a smaller cab for the 15, you know what I mean? If I am not mistaken, an 18 requires significantly more power to drive the speaker, which means it will be harder to get a good punch out of an 18 without turning it up. Might be the reason Carvin came out with the 15.
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Old 10-08-2012, 04:37 AM
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

An 18 inch speaker will move more air and deliver a more powerful punch.
The cabinet size probably doesn't matter that much once you get to a certain size and that is why they use only one size cabinet for both speakers.
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Old 10-08-2012, 05:26 AM
brentcn brentcn is online now
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

It seems like years ago it used to be that any sub smaller than 18 inches was going to sound bad. But then companies started making the drivers out of better materials, and now 15" subs are everywhere, and the active ones seem unusually lightweight. I recently heard a pair of EV 15" active subs that were just wonderful. Not crazy powerful, but clean sounding and enough for small rooms where being super loud isn't the goal. I would love to have one for gigs where a small vocal PA is all you have.

I looked up those EV's, and they were listed for about $800 each. Steep price, yes, but hey, they sounded better than good. And EV is a well-regarded brand. Carvin might make some good stuff, but they've historically been a "budget" brand.
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Old 10-08-2012, 07:44 AM
MrLeadFoot MrLeadFoot is offline
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

Thanks for the thoughts, BRENTCN. I actually have in my possession a friend's Mackie SRS1500 right now, and it sounds great indoors. I'm going to try it outdoors tomorrow, just to see what happens. But, at 90lbs., it's not fun to transport.

I initially modularized everything, even what I put in racks, to ease transportation weights. It seems like we're always doing things where the load-in/out distance is farther and farther. (Or, is it that I am getting older and older?)

I would also prefer the amp for the sub to be separate, because by virtue of the amp being integrated into the cab, the amp then becomes proprietary because of fit issues, and when an integrated amp fails, you're stuck trying to find the right amp, which will likely be costly as models get discontinued, if not like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

So, while there are quite a few active 15" subs around, passive 15" subs seem to be hard to find. Carvin is one of the few folks that make them. While Carvin may be more "budget-priced", I'm not so sure "top quality" is all that important in a subwoofer. My thoughts are if the speaker is decent and the cabinet is designed to match the speaker, I think it's OK to compromise somewhat because subs emit low frequencies that are felt more than heard, as opposed to compromising on, say, a crappy main that puts out what the human ear can easily hear and discern, you know what I mean? As a matter of fact, I have Carvin 832 15" mains and 742 15" monitors for my secular band, and they sound better than the Yamaha 12" Club series mains and monitors that equip several of the worship houses I also play for, and Yamaha's Club series are supposed to be better. Go figure. And, my Carvins have held up VERY well; the craftsmanship is actually quite good. Even Peavey has taken a downturn in that regard.

At the church I played at today, they had two passive 18" Performance Audio Systems subs. I asked the sound guy at the church to turn them up after the service, and had someone work the kick for me. While I did heard the lower frequencies one would expect from subs, they were very "boomy", and seemd as if they had no punch at all. Imagine my surprise to later find out those passive subs are $750 apiece! That single Mackie 15" sounds WAY better than both those 18" subs! Not sure if it's because it's Mackie, or because the Mackie is a 15", so I really am hoping my test tomorrow with the Mackie gives me some more definitive answers, like whether or not a 15" is indeed punchier, and whether or not I'd even hear a 15" sub amongst the sound of a full band outdoors. I will be trying it in my HUGE garage, and outdoors, so the neighbors can get involved in my decision. :-)

All in all, it's a tough call. I'm sure you can understand how it can be when you're so close to something you're trying to make a decision on; you tend to think one-dimensionally. Comments like yours help me see different perspectives, so I appreciate it:-)
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  #10  
Old 10-08-2012, 08:15 AM
brentcn brentcn is online now
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

Ah, my memory sucks! Here's a link to those subs I heard. They're passive, 12" (!!!), and $479 each. This might be exactly what you're looking for!

And also I noticed that they've been reviewed 5 times, and everyone just seems to love them. I'm not surprised.

Good luck!
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Old 10-08-2012, 06:44 PM
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Garvin Garvin is offline
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

My band used the 18" Carvin for the first time on Saturday. I don't know enough about all that stuff to say one is better than the other, but I can tell you that it made playing the gig soooooooooo much nicer. Subs are great.
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Old 10-08-2012, 06:59 PM
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PacifRick PacifRick is offline
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

My band has two 18" Carvins and they rock. Nothing like being able to feel that kick in your chest!
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:59 PM
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

Outdoors is really tough. The worst situation is putting two subs on either side of the stage. It creates an effect known as Power Alley. You hear a ton of low end right down the middle, but directly in front of either sub there's a huge hole. And then you hear bass again off to the side. That's why at outdoor festivals they often run the subs across the front of the stage. Just sticking them in the middle or a couple feet apart works much better than on either side. If you put them less than a half wavelength apart, they will sum and increase the apparent output. I used to use 4 single 18s and could play games steering the bass at street festivals to keep it in the street and out of the stores.

There is a small sub called a Growler that uses a 12 in a small tapped horn cabinet. It puts out as much as most front loaded 18s. If you can stick a couple next to each other they're really do it. There is also a similar but older design from EAW, and the Danley (who invented the tapped horn) boxes which are truly pro level.

There is also a DYI box called a Cubo 15 which is a small tapped horn. I built the 18" version, and with 18Sound LW1400 drivers (same driver as an EAW Sb1000) and a Crest Pro 9200 I can outrun multiple dual 18s. Each box puts out the same as a front loaded dual 18 but is only a 24" cube. The 15" version might be the ticket if you can build it or have someone who can.
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Old 10-09-2012, 06:42 AM
MrLeadFoot MrLeadFoot is offline
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

Thanks to the users of Carvin subs for chiming in here. Nice to hear some real-wrold feedback.

My bass player and I did some testing today, and compared the Mackie SRS1500, which is a powered 15" sub rated at 600 watts, to, get this: one of my Carvin 832s, which is a 15" main, powered by my Mackie m1400i in Subwoofer mode.

Obviously, not a fair comparison running a main as a pseudo-sub, but the results of the tests were astonishing. We tested both indoors and outdoors, and were quite surprised by our findings.

The most surprising thing was that the Mackie sub's built in amp had to be powered all the way up, and the mixer levels had to be VERY high for it to compete with what was being sent to the mains, even when the mains were run at a level that was lower than what we'd normally be at it in a small venue. On the other hand, the Carvin 15" main powered by the Mackie amp in bridged mono provided much more sound, and we tested it at both 125Hz and 63Hz cut-off. While that might not be surprising since the m1400i is rated at 1000 watts @ 8 ohms when bridged, what was surprising was how good that 15" Carvin sounded, and remember, that Carvin is a main cabinet only 14" deep with a horn taking up quite a bit of room.

For grins, at one point during our outdoor test phase, we switched the m1400i from bridged mono back down to regular un-bridged mode, which is rated at 300 watts per channel @ 8 ohms. And, again at both 125Hz and 63Hz cut-offs, the Carvin main acting as a sub seemed outperformed the Mackie powered sub! And, for the life of me I can't explain why. It just doesn't make sense to me. Anyone care to enlighten me?

As a matter of fact, that Carvin main acting as a sub sounded pretty darned good outdoors all by itself, even when just set down on the grass. We then stacked the other Carvin main right on top of it (no speaker pole), sent a full-range signal to the top main, and put the level up to what we would normally set it to for a crowd of 700. Again, the Carvin pseudo-sub on the bottom sounded great.

In the end, we were utterly shocked to discover that a single 15" sub is definitely something to reckon with, even outdoors. At least, that Carvin main acting as a sub did. Suffice it to say that while I previously thought that Mackie sub was great, as indicated by my previous comments, I now think that Mackie sub sucks!

I can just imagine how great a true 15" subwoofer would sound in a cabinet that's designed specifically to be a subwoofer cabinet. Speaking of which, I spoke to Carvin today, and they said that even though the outer dimensions of their 15" sub cab is the same as their 18" sub cab, the cab is in fact tuned specifically for the 15" speaker. The baffle is different, as are the vents. So, it only makes sense that the 15" Carvin LS1501 will run circles around the 15" pseudo-sub we concocted out of the Carvin 15" main. If the pseudo-sub Carvin main was that good, I suspect the LS1501 will undeniably blow the Mackie SRS1500 out of the water.

I would also venture to guess that because the Carvin 15" sub is in a cab that is larger than the cabs on other 15" subs I've researched, it probably provides some of the boom that would normally not be present in a 15" sub, thus might actually be better at providing a full punch linearly across a wider volume range than 18" sub. What I mean is that 18" subs obviously require more juice to get them moving, which I suspect means they have to be turned up louder to get the sound I'm looking for. Obviously, that's not always a bad thing, but since we do a wide range of venues and types of gigs, I want to be able to get a good punch at low volumes, too. ;-)

As to Aeolian's comments in regards to outdoors and sub placement, that explains what we experienced when we used both Carvin 15" mains as a pair of pseudo-subs. While two of them indeed added volume, it almost seemed like we lost some "presence" and "directional concentration" of the punch", if that makes sense. I would liken it to phase cancellation of sorts.

So, so far, from what I've learned from my "experiment" is that my hesitation to the pull the plug on a 15" for fear of might wanting an 18" later, is all but gone. I think for now a single 15" is a good choice, and if I want I can add another 15" later, because, at least I now know that 15" subs can sound darned good.

But alas, someone recently pointed me to the 18" Peavey PV118 for $289 shipped. Must I now research that one, just because it sounds like a heckuva deal? Nah, who wants to lug around 20 more lbs. because of the MDF construction? mean, while MDF is supposed to be better acoustically, wouldn't I be smarter to get something made of ply, which is ligther and more durable? Incidentally, the Carvin sub cabs are made of Poplar, in case anyone wants to know, or wants to comment. :-)

While I have considered building by own cab, from what I learned from building my own rack, it might not be worth the headache. While the rack might have saved me a little cash, and I was able to get exactly what I wanted, I don't know the first thing about tuning a cabinet for a speaker, let alone how to tune one for subwoofer frequencies. Since I can get a sub quite reasonably priced from a company that has no doubt tried different configurations, not to mention build them with American craftsmanship, I believe it's in my best interest, and not worth my time and headache, to just get one from people whose profession it is to make good sounding stuff. Even if it might not be the best, I bet it's better than what I can make. I mean, you saw what I did turning a main into a sub! :-)
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Last edited by MrLeadFoot; 10-09-2012 at 06:59 AM.
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Old 10-09-2012, 07:35 AM
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Aeolian Aeolian is offline
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

As far as building a sub, only do it from existing plans for a particular speaker. Check out Speakerplans.com for tons of subbage. You are correct in that tuning a front loaded speaker can be done with a simple computer program, there is more involved than you may want to mess with. Trying to get a low response may just allow the speaker to bottom out and won't make the kick drum carry any better.

A larger cabinet volume will lower the resonant frequency, much as a larger drum has a lower pitch. The thing is that for live sound reinforcement, you don't need super low frequencies. Most high end PA's are cut off at 35-40Hz. There is a subsonic filter on the Mackie amp that I remember was also around 35Hz. For the most part, you don't need anything below 50Hz. I know that a low B on a 5 string bass is 35Hz, but very few of those 4-10 cabs are reproducing it. Mostly it is an upper harmonic that you are hearing.

The very popular JBL SRX subs that are used for lots of outdoor festivals by regional sound companies have a big bump in the response at 60Hz. It is a characteristic of the driver used. That sounds really deep and thumpy when a kick drum comes though it.

So don't get carried away with response charts showing output down to 25-30Hz. You can't get that anyway outside because of the lack of boundary reinforcement. Those measurements are faked by putting the speaker in a corner. And in the rare case of very expensive subs like the Adamson where it's real, you really don't need it unless you're doing Dubstep festivals.

What you want is something with a good thump in the 60-80Hz range and good efficiency. The Cubo 18s I built have something like a 6 dB gain at 60Hz which is like having another speaker for free that you don't have to carry.

Also, don't compare knob settings in judging output. The knobs are completely arbitrary. If you get the Yamaha Sound Reinforcement Handbook, the math is in there to work out exactly how much level you can get from a particular amplifier gain and output power, and speaker. The knobs on the front of the Mackie are attenuators or pads. The gain factor of the amp stays the same. The knob only changes how much input voltage is needed to get full output. Having it at halfway and the mixer up is the same as having it up high and the mixer turned lower. Shout louder into the mic and you still get the same difference in level as long as you don't run anything in the chain into clipping. This is an aspect of PAs that many folks don't get as it seems counter intuitive due to all the volume knobs. But they are really just arbitrary trims to optimize the signal to noise ratio of the system and have nothing to do with how loud it ultimately plays (unless you obviously turn all of them down low).
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Old 10-09-2012, 10:53 PM
MrLeadFoot MrLeadFoot is offline
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

Thanks for the additional info. Very helpful. ;-)

Re: level control settings upon comparison:

I normally wouldn't be so concerned with where level settings are when comparing things, but I had to crank everything for the Mackie. I had the amp on the sub max'd, and I had to double our "normal" mixer levels, as well. Not only should I not have to max the Mackie amp, having the mixer levels nearly pegged doesn't leave me much room to turn up. And, I certainly don't want to run such hot signals. It's almost as if that Mackie was designed for a hi-fi application as opposed to live reinforcement.

Interestingly, I found a lot of posts on the web where people were blowing everything from the amp to the speaker in that particular model. Now I know why. I know it's an older model, but Mackie's site currently says the SRS1500 was replaced with the SW1501. I wonder how quickly they did that.

In either case, it sure puts a bad taste in my mouth on Mackie speakers. While I love their mixers and amps, I don't think I will be touching any one of their subs soon, that's for sure.
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Old 10-09-2012, 10:59 PM
MrLeadFoot MrLeadFoot is offline
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by brentcn View Post
Ah, my memory sucks! Here's a link to those subs I heard. They're passive, 12" (!!!), and $479 each. This might be exactly what you're looking for!

And also I noticed that they've been reviewed 5 times, and everyone just seems to love them. I'm not surprised.

Good luck!
You're right. Killer reviews, but I can't see how a single sub that small in a plastic enclosure can sound all that good. I suspect there are too many compensations that have to be made to try and simulate the throw and resonance of a wooden box, and reduce the frequency of resonating plastic, like more stuffing and the like. I think going with something like that would force me to have to run 2. While the weight savings is nice, I think I would rather have a single larger wooden sub than have to carry 2 lighter smaller plastic ones.
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Old 01-15-2019, 03:24 PM
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

I know this old thread...but just my two cents...

it depends on the low-end capability of the mains, as well as the cross-over point.(or Hi-pass filter on the mains).

Speaking in very general terms, an "average" 12" main, when used with a sub, might be handling everything from 100Hz and up, and the sub handles everything below 100Hz. It varies depending on brand/model, but typically, it's can vary between 90Hz (JBL PRX for example) to 120Hz for lesser brands.

Some mains are more capable than others when it comes to handling low-end frequencies (Yorkville NX55P for example https://soundrating.com/best-12-inch-subwoofer/ ), while others can start rolling off those lows prematurely. Many designs add a "bass-boost" function to the mains in order to compensate for the loss of low-end, but the implementation of that design can vary dramatically. The K-series boxes for example, have a bass-boost function called "DEEP*", and this function boosts everything below 250Hz (if I'm remembering correctly). Unfortunately, this has a very negative effect on vocals. (loss of intelligibility). I prefer to see a bass-boost function that doesn't alter anything above 125Hz.

One of my pro-sound buddies runs the EVELX-12's; great intelligibility, but he finds that they generally tend to be lacking in low-end capability, and a decent sub is required in order to provide depth and punch.

Last edited by Cilesel; 01-22-2019 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 01-15-2019, 04:26 PM
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Default Re: Subwoofer Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cilesel View Post
I know this old thread...but just my two cents...

it depends on the low-end capability of the mains, as well as the cross-over point.(or Hi-pass filter on the mains).

Speaking in very general terms, an "average" 12" main, when used with a sub, might be handling everything from 100Hz and up, and the sub handles everything below 100Hz. It varies depending on brand/model, but typically, it's can vary between 90Hz (JBL PRX for example) to 120Hz for lesser brands.

Some mains are more capable than others when it comes to handling low-end frequencies (Yorkville NX55P for example ), while others can start rolling off those lows prematurely. Many designs add a "bass-boost" function to the mains in order to compensate for the loss of low-end, but the implementation of that design can vary dramatically. The K-series boxes for example, have a bass-boost function called "DEEP*", and this function boosts everything below 250Hz (if I'm remembering correctly). Unfortunately, this has a very negative effect on vocals. (loss of intelligibility). I prefer to see a bass-boost function that doesn't alter anything above 125Hz.

One of my pro-sound buddies runs the EVELX-12's; great intelligibility, but he finds that they generally tend to be lacking in low-end capability, and a decent sub is required in order to provide depth and punch.
The ELX12 is not a sub. It does not contain a low end woofer. EVA1121 or 2121 are 12" subs, and contain woofers that are meant for lows. I build these for a living. The lows are tested from 20-1000Hz, then the crossover switches to the high frequency driver on the horn from 1000 to 20,000Hz. All of this is tested and checked via computer.
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