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"The (M&K) VX-100 had a little trouble with the bottom octave of bass... In comparison the PINNACLE BABY BOOMER had even more output overall, and I found its rendering of bass notes to be even more refined and musical."

 "The BABY BOOMER achieved better all around bass then the VX-100."

 ..."it was pretty obvious that the BABY BOOMER had the ability to belt out the deepest bass with more authority then the (M&K) VX-100."

 "WHICH ONE WOULD I TAKE HOME? PROBABLY THE PINNACLE."

Pinnacle Baby Boomer
Home Theater March 1999
M&K VX-100 & PINNACLE Baby Boomer subwoofers
Indeed, great things do come in small packages.

by Joe Hageman with Brent Butterworth

I'm getting pretty sick of the whole notion that size does matter, and bigger is better--and no, I'm not talking about that! I'm talking about the all-too-common belief that if something is bigger and heavier, it's automatically better. Last year I went to a friend's home to check out his system, and his main speakers completely dominated the entire living room. They were taller and heavier than I am! Granted, they sounded great because they were designed well. In fact, I've heard bookshelf speakers that sounded just as good (minus the tons of bass) as his behemoth towers.

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.

With a 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 business. The 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.

To evaluate 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.)

On the 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 VX-100.

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.

Highlights:

  • Smooth, refined bass that is both musical and powerful.

  • Blends in well with music and movies as well as the decor.

  • Forget the cute name and cool brass feet, this sub rocks!

Testing 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

 

 

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