I'm glad to
see that this crazy "bigger is better" notion is fading in the
subwoofer market. Bob Carver proved
that bigger is not always better with his Sunfire True Subwoofers, which, given
their size, put out an astonishing amount of bass. Not to be outdone, here comes the M&K VX-100 and PINNACLE®
Baby Boomer, to prove once and for all that size doesn't matter.
footprint of less than one square foot, the M&K VX-100 features a
long-throw, 8-inch, downward-firing driver that vents out the back, and also
out the bottom when the spikes are in place.
The woofer is powered by an internal 100-watt amplifier. One feature I have always loved about
M&K subs that made it onto this one is the low-pass filter bypass option,
which is the best way to hookup a sub to a Dolby Digital system. The VX-100 has a low-pass filter that is
adjustable between 50 and 125 Hertz, a phase switch, and line-level RCA inputs. There are no speaker-level connections, and
no line-level outputs. The cabinet is
unassuming and yet attractive, with a gloss lacquer bead finish available in
black or white for $795. Don't let the
Baby Boomer's size and cute little name fool you--with two 8-inch poly cone
woofers powered by an internal 600-watt amplifier, this PINNACLE® sub means
Baby Boomer is an
acoustic suspension design (sealed) with the two drivers in a bipole
(in-phase) configuration. The Baby
Boomer features line-level RCA inputs,
volume control, and a low-pass filter adjustable between 75 and 180 Hz. There are also really nice gold-plated
speaker cable binding posts to hook it up in a sub/sat configuration; the
speaker-level connection has an 80 Hz high-pass filter to keep the bass out of
your satellite speakers. The Baby
Boomer is modestly priced at $895, and includes solid brass isolation cones to
get the sub up off the ground.
these two subs I used the filters built into my preamp/processor to high-pass
all the speakers at 80 Hz, so the subwoofers were reproducing everything at 80
Hz and below, including LFE information.
I bypassed the internal crossover in the M&K, and turned the
crossover all the way up to 180 Hz on the PINNACLE®. I placed both of them in the corner, and was careful to match the
levels as closely as possible. (Given
the widely varying frequency responses of subwoofers, though, it's usually
impossible to get a perfect match.)
bass-heavy track "Falling", from Olive's Extra Virgin CD, the VX-100 quickly displayed why M&K is so
well-known for making kick-ass subwoofers.
The bass output that comes out of its single 8-inch driver is
unbelievable--upper and mid-bass definition is excellent and transitions
between octaves are fast and clean. The
VX-100 had a little trouble with the bottom octave of bass, but still made a
valiant effort. In comparison, the
PINNACLE® Baby Boomer had even more output overall, and I found its rendering of
bass notes to be more refined and musical.
The bottom octave hit much harder and smoother with the Baby Boomer than
with the VX-100. On other music CDs I
listened to, the VX-100 produced deep, punchy bass, and the Baby Boomer had the
ability to belt out the deepest bass with a little more authority than the
On movies, the
two subs proved to be closely matched rivals.
When I watched Desperado on
DVD, the Baby Boomer's refined bass reproduction was not a detriment, but an
asset. Explosions and gunshots had
excellent impact and realism, and the Baby Boomer blended very well with the
rest of the system. The Baby Boomer
achieved better all-around bass definition than the VX-100, although the VX-100
produced superior mid-bass punch--I could really feel the impacts of crashes
and gunshots better with the VX-100.
The VX-100 really roared to life when the bookstore blew up in Desperado; the LFE information in the
soundtrack sounded particularly explosive and dynamic.
On T2 the two subs once again proved
themselves extremely powerful despite their small footprints. On the THX trailer that precedes T2, the M&K and PINNACLE® both
handled the heavy bass effortlessly.
The VX-100 sounded especially powerful and punchy--Arnold's shotgun
blasts filled the room and the tiny sub never lost its grip when the semi truck
exploded during the canal chase. The
PINNACLE® mustered even more output, transitioning quickly from upper to lower
bass, and managed to shake the room without overpowering the other speakers.
Now comes the
big questions--which one would I take home?
Probably the PINNACLE®. There is
no doubt that the M&K's bass has more punch, which might make it the better
choice for a pint-sized movie-oriented system, but I found myself drawn to the
Baby Boomer's blend of musicality and deep bass extension. I would sum up the PINNACLE® Baby Boomer by
saving it's a lot like James Bond--It kicks ass in a civilized manner. I suppose some might call it a subwoofer for
audiophiles, but I wouldn't, if only because I loath that expression--like the
kids in the Fruit Loops commercials, I like what I like, and I don't need a catchy
title to justify it. The M&K VX-10
goes after, and achieves, what I think most people that read this magazine are
looking for; it's an inexpensive subwoofer that blows you away on movies and
sounds good on music, too.
I know you're
probably looking for, "Buy this
one because blah, blah, blah", but this review simply wasn't that
straightforward. Both of these subs
sound great and will appeal to different people for different reasons. And you shouldn't think that the choice is
easy because the M&K is 100 bucks cheaper, or because the PINNACLE® has cool
brass feet. If you are contemplating
either of these subwoofers, you're gonna have to go out, audition them both,
and decide for yourself.
refined bass that is both musical and powerful.
in well with music and movies as well as the decor.
the cute name and cool brass feet, this sub rocks!
System: AMC AV81HTc-DD pre/pro, AMC 2N100-5 amplifier, Sony DVP-S3000 DVD
player, Monster Cable speaker wire and interconnects
Home Theater March 1999