Acoustic Elegance SBP15-4
Pe............500 (continuous) (thermal)
The Acoustic Elegance SBP15-4 is the successor to the presently retired IB15 series of infinite baffle subwoofers. Each sub is hand-built by John Janowitz as it is ordered – for those of you who are frustrated from having not received your sub(s) yet, keep this in mind.
I ordered the sub last July from John and was fortunate enough to receive one of the first SBPs that were made. Unfortunately I had the sub sitting in its box since September of last year, but it has since been installed in my car in January 2012. After nearly four months of playing time, I’d be lying if I said I had any complaints thus far.
I know many of you are waiting eagerly on your own pair of these subs, and since it appears to be taking some time, I hope to be able to give you more insight into what exactly you are about to receive. I will say this, it is worth the wait.
It's a bit of a read, but there is much to praise.
Transient response. Despite pushing the sub to its limit, the SBP-15 has never shown signs of lethargy. A good example of this is Brombo, by Brian Brombers and Akira Jimbo. The song consists of a drum set and bass, but I only listened to the first 1.5 minutes in which there is a solo drum set. The pace is quick and the drummer is really slamming on the drums which make for a strong, hard-hitting bass impact from the kick drum. The AE handles this with great ease, never missing a beat. You can clearly hear and feel each separate impact’s attack and decay from one beat to the next. The sub does an outstanding job of playing only what it is told to play and nothing more – there is no overhang or muddiness. Due to its lightweight paper cone and stronger motor (over the IB15), I have yet to hear a song where sub bass accuracy hasn’t lived up to expectation.
Efficiency. Simply because the sub is infinite baffle doesn’t mean it can’t get loud. I am giving my SBP15 the rated 500w. With the right EQ, I have found the sub is very capable of being almost overwhelming – if you so wish to make it. I am no super-heavy basshead, but I have found it surprisingly easy to get a single infinite-baffle 15” to go from a normal listening level to holy-shit-turn-it-down loud with very little adjustments.
That said, I’m now going to compare the SBP15-4 to the McLaren MP4-12C. And here’s why: the McLaren is an incredibly well-built sports car that performs outstandingly on the open track, and it is also a VERY forgiving machine. There are so many electronic safety controls you have to purposely turn off to really endanger yourself or the car. Otherwise, if you make a mistake, the technology is there to save your butt. The SBP15 is similarly a VERY forgiving subwoofer. You can, of course, make it sound bad, but that has got to be your ultimate goal. Barring that, it’s hard to make the sub sound bad even with EQ flops. For example, boost it too much and it will still sound clean and composed. It seems counterintuitive, but that has been my experience.
Low frequency extension. The sub plays cleanly well into the low sub bass frequencies without distortion. A fine example of this is Bass I Love You – the song dips down below 10hz. While watching and listening to the single SBP15 at high volume, there was NO distortion, each cycle is still felt independently and the driver showed no signs of struggle or strain – it was happy doing its thing.
Sub-to-midbass transition. Since demoing the sub’s abilities, I’ve had numerous listeners give their compliments to the sub-to-midbass transition. As I mentioned above, the SBP15 has no trouble blending seamlessly into your midbass range. Even crossed at 120hz I was surprised at how well the transition blended together.
The sub can handle anything you throw at it, from Brad Paisley’s I Wish You’d Stay, to the extreme lows of an organ, to fast-paced, hard-hitting dubstep and everything in between. The kick drum in Alice in Chains’ No Excuses will hit you so hard it is painful. The sub always moves with authority. In Metallica’s One, the double-bass towards the final half of the song are clear and extremely distinguishable – you can hear and feel each full, individual strike of the drum in perfect time. Limit to Your Love by James Blake begins abruptly with absurdly quick pulsating bass, which the SBP keeps up with perfectly. When the pulsating stops on a dime, so does the sub. This song is a magnificent test for any subwoofer, and the sub passes it with flying colors.
As is with any rear subwoofer, without time alignment, lower notes will of course reveal the location. With proper time alignment, this only occurs with drawn-out low frequencies and the great majority of the time you will forget the sub is even back there.
I will summarize this long post to say this: although the SBP15-4 was only my second subwoofer, it will without a doubt be my last.
Here's the sub installed in my trunk: