Thanks again to npdang, who has gratiously provided the opportunity for us DIYers to audition multiple drivers in this fashion!!!!!
References and other relevant reviews:
- Information on free 8” mid/bass auditions through diymobileaudio.com
- Objective test data and npdang’s comments on all the drivers
- Audiotechnology Cquenze 8" Review
- Peerless SLS review
- Peerless XLS review
- Peerless HDS 8" (830884)
- Dayton Reference RS225-4
- Dayton DC200
I just did a quick scan to compile review threads. There are many, many, other excellent review threads here, so I'd recommend anyone shopping for 8” woofers to use the search function to find more info on drivers!
top row: Morel MW 266, Aura Sound NSF8-495-4A, Peerless SLS 830667
bottom row: Dayton RS225, Seas L22RN4X/P, Tang Band W8-740C
Side view, showing relative mounting depth:
Rainbow W160 Reference 165mm mid/bass:
Seas Lotus Reference CW21EX001:
Test Set Up/Method
This test was conducted in two parts:
1) In-home listening, with drivers mounted in "optimized" enclosures with fewer environmental influences.
2) In-car (in-door, that is), as part of a 3-way front stage in a fully active mobile sound system.
In-Home Test (similar to tweeter set up rig)
Carpeted family room, approx. 12' wide x 15' deep in dimension (8' ceilings).
- Yamaha MCX-1000 as source unit (PCM playback)
- Yamaha CX-800U preamp
- Behringer CX3400 active crossover
- Adcom GFA-535 amp (high pass to mini monitors)
- Mini monitor: Seas 22TAF/G and Dayton RS-125S crossed at about 3.2KHz
- Onkyo TX-DS676 receiver running low pass to the 8” woofers
- 3/4" MDF test cabinet, sealed AND vented configurations
First, I used WinISD to calculate optimal (optimally flat) sealed volume for the drivers. Below shows a plot of the modeled response of the 6 original test woofers per WinISD.
Sealed Enclosure Modeled Response of 6 Test Woofers (Qtc=0.707)
Dayton RS225: 28.3 liters, f3=60Hz
Morel MW 266: 134.7 liters optimal, 41.1 liters used, f3=41Hz
Peerless SLS 830667: 41.1 liters, f3=47Hz
Seas L22RN4X/P: 18.6 liters, f3=51Hz
Tang Band W8-740C: 5.1 liters, f3=66Hz
Aura Sound NSF8-495-4A: 2.7 liters, f3=94Hz
I then fabricated a 41.1 l sealed enclosure with a removable front baffle. This volume represented the largest volume required (sans the Morel) for the original driver set. I also made a variety of baffles to account for the different mounting diameters of the drivers.
Test Cabinet Details, Build Pictures, Drivers Mounted:
I listened to each woofer in succession, and used bricks to reduce the volume of the enclosure to match each driver's optimal alignment. I used Acousta-stuff, per manufacturer's recommendations, ~1lb/ft^3. Drivers were countersunk as shown. Low pass crossover points were adjusted during the test, but no equalization was utilized during these sessions. Crossover frequency was varied from about 200Hz up to 1 KHz. No high pass filter was utilized on the woofers.
Below is a picture of the listening setup with the test cabinet (bottom) and monitor (top). Note that the middle speaker was not used during this test (it was just an expensive speaker stand).
In-home listening set up:
Upon completion of the sealed cabinet listening, three of the drivers were tested in a ported configuration. Again, WinISD was used to model the response, and since the enclosure was already built to 41.1 liters volume, two tuning alignments were chosen with this cabinet: 34Hz and 29Hz. Below is a plot of the modeled vented response of the three woofers tested.
Vented Response of 3 Test Woofers
Dayton RS225: tuned to 34 Hz, f3=36Hz
Seas L22RN4X/P: tuned to 29 Hz, f3=29Hz
Tang Band W8-740C: tuned to 34 Hz, f3=35Hz
Pictures of cabinet modified with 2” vent
All listening was performed in Peter's (alphakenny1) Honda Accord
- Alpine W200/H701 Combo
- PPI Art series running Rainbow Cal 27s in kicks
- JL Audio 450/4, two channels running Lotus 4.5s in kicks, 2 channels on door mid/basses
Drivers installed in-car:
The in-car listening was broken out into 2 sessions. In the first session, the Lotus 8s were listened to as a reference, and then the driver’s side woofer was swapped out. In this first session, the Peerless SLS, Rainbow, and Aura Sound were auditioned in the driver’s door, compared against the Lotus 8 in the passenger’s door. During the 2nd session, the car was initially configured with the Peerless SLS in both doors, and then the passenger side door’s woofer was swapped. The 2nd round included the Dayton RS225, Seas L22, and Morel MW 266, compared to the Peerless SLS in the driver’s door. For each woofer, at each listening session, some minor tweaking of the crossover frequency and EQ was made, but all were crossed (low passed) ~200-300Hz. High pass filters were also adjusted based on the speaker’s low f output capability.
Since this evaluation was particularly for mid-bass & bass evaluation, the following test tracks were put together for this test: (and yes, I do admit to listening to all of this music)
- (Jazz) Ray Obiedo: “No Fiesta”, “Beehave Yourself”
- (Rock) The Eagles, “Hotel California”
- (Classical) Josh Groban, “Alla Luce Del Sole”
- (Dance/Electronic) New Order, “Bizarre Love Triangle”, “Vanishing Point”
- (Latin/Pop) Marc Anthony, “I Need You”
- (Pop) Jack Johnson, “Upside Down”
- (Electronic/Pop): A-ha, “Take on Me”
- (Rock): Evanescence, “Bring Me To Life”
Note that all pictures in this thread can be viewed in full resolution here:
Rather than try to list order these drivers based on my tastes (as I did with tweeters), I’ve attempted to give 1-10 ratings on specific categories, and then verbally describe their characteristic sound. This because I believe everyone has a different application and different ideas on what will make an ideal mid/bass.
About my own biases: from my perspective, if I were describe my perfect car mid/bass it would have: good, low end extension in a car door, high ease of use (require less equalization/response shaping, fit fairly easily in a car door), a fast & “snappy” sound quality, and great ultimate output capability. I would personally seek to use an 8” to take over where a larger (4.5”) cone mid left off in a 3-way application, so I probably value the ability to play high somewhat lower in my subjective comments. Keep that in mind.
Aura Sound NSF8-495-4A
Build Quality: 7
Ease of Use: 7
Output Capability: 5
This is a very unique driver, in terms of design. To be honest, I was pretty impressed with the reverse motor mount; a very clever design that keeps the driver very, very shallow in terms of mounting depth. I gave it higher marks for build quality as a result, but thought that the exposed spider on the back side is a little dicey…. And, in as far as ease of use, the shallow mounting depth makes this a cinch to install in a door; you’re not going to find better than this if you have limited depth!
However, I was not able to make this woofer perform in a way that was pleasing to me. Both at home and in car, this woofer sounded the weakest out of the group. Take a look at Nguyen’s measurements and you’ll see the lack of low end extension. Modeled in its tiny little (optimum sealed) box, f3 is only 94 Hz, which isn’t really low enough for those of us looking for some good mid-bass output. The resultant sound reminded me of a pro-audio woofer in a (smaller) sealed box; lack of low end extension, and more emphasis going into the lower midrange. In car, the response was better, but mounting in a door free air didn’t do them justice IMO, even with cabin gain.
On the other hand, if you needed a higher playing 8”, this may not be a bad choice, and with the right sub to take over the low end, it might be quite a good performer. I’ve also heard this driver mounted in a small vented box in Steve’s (Whiterabbit) Civic, and I was impressed at how well that thing slammed. My only regret is that I did not build a small vented box for this thing in my home to test. Modeling predicts it will get down to 55Hz (f3) with only 4 liters of volume at home. My bet is that I would have been much happier with this puppy configured that way. But I wasn’t about to go and build custom enclosures for every woofer!
Dayton Reference RS225-4
Build Quality: 7
Ease of Use: 5
Output Capability: 7
I don’t think I can say more than what’s already been said about this driver. It’s an INCREDIBLE value at $43. The driver is quite beautiful with its black anodized cone & phase plug, nice rubber magnet boot, and wonderful push terminals. Dayton did a great job on the reference series all around. Looking for something that can definitely handle the lower mid range well? This would be your ticket.
My beef with this driver is that, out of the box, it doesn’t sound like a bass driver. It really does sound like a midrange. If you really wanted to use this for dedicated mid-bass duty, you’ll want to cross it lower and shape its response curve to even out the midrange and boost up the lowest octaves. Not the most easily used, so your tuning skills better be good if you want the most out of this driver. In home, I felt this driver did a lot better tonally with the vented enclosure and a low crossover point, as opposed to sealed. Even so, I felt it didn’t have that tight, thumpy sound I was expecting from it. I had such high hopes for the Dayton, and was probably the most disappointed with this one after hearing it. Sorry Dayton. Incredible value, but not my cup of tea.
Morel MW 266
Build Quality: 6
Ease of Use: 8.5
Output Capability: 6
There’s nothing really special to note about the design of this woofer, except for the large 3” voice coil, and shallow mounting depth (which make this attractive for some installs). Of course being a Morel, it’s a bit on the pricey side.
Upon first installation into my 41.1 liter sealed box, I thought the sound was pretty terrible. It sounded boxy; clearly, the volume of the enclosure was too small. It was peaky, and just not very pleasant to listen to. WinISD predicts optimally flat response with over 3x the volume I gave it. Unfortunately, I didn’t want to build a 135 liter enclosure just for this woofer, but it made me think hard about how it might work in a car…..
When I finally moved outside and installed this in a car door, it was a night and day difference. This speaker’s parameters are well suited for car door use, and for the person who doesn’t want a lot of tuning headaches, this one is a good choice. It sounds very full and surprisingly balanced without any EQ, and adjusting the crossover was a snap. It also played higher quite well, if you need that. The mid-bass was very punchy, and I don’t think many would complain about its sound quality overall.
Having said that, this woofer did run out of steam a lot faster than some of the competition here. It showed its weakness on the very lowest notes, where it ran out of excursion. And if I want to be picky, it also wasn’t as refined or accurate IMO as the best performers here. However, if you need a shallow woofer that plays high and is easy to tune, I think the Morel would be a nice choice. Just be sure to run a sub too.
Peerless SLS 830667
Build Quality: 7
Ease of Use: 8
Output Capability: 9
So this driver looks pretty unassuming: a simple treated paper cone, stamped metal basket… It honestly didn’t look too impressive on the outside. But, it does have a shorting ring inside, and the bumped back plate gives you an indication that there’s something else good in there! Just an OK looking driver, with a somewhat larger mounting depth, it didn’t strike me as an obvious choice for a car mid/bass driver.
However, from a sound quality perspective, this driver hands down impressed me the most. Starting off listening in the home, I was super impressed with the cleanliness of sound in the sealed enclosure. It really did produce bass the way I always thought it should be produced: tight (well controlled), clean, tonally correct, and best of all, LOUD! In home I could not fault it on anything, and it was heads and shoulders above everything else below 500Hz. Integration with my monitor was near perfect. So good was the Peerless that I decided upon hearing it that my planned tower project (which was to use the Dayton RS225S-8) would be rethought. (I hope this doesn’t prevent me from selling my Daytons though )
Moving on to in-car listening, the results there were just as impressive, if not more so. Even with the car’s transfer function, I thought the Peerless sounded quite good “out of the box”, and a huge amount of tuning wasn’t needed to make them sound balanced. However, more impressive was the Peerless’ ability to play VERY LOW with a very high level of output! They easily played down to 20Hz, turning Peter’s door pods into little rattle machines. Don’t even think about using these in a door unless you’ve done an exceptional job deadening, and have rigidly attached the drivers to the door metal, not the door panels.
These drivers are what convinced me to finally gut my daily driver and take a new approach. (or at least this is today’s plan ) I felt that the output was so good with these that I could see myself losing my (2) 12” subwoofers in the trunk in favor of a pair of these installed in the doors (as part of a 3-way front stage). Ambitious, yes, but I think it’d be killer from an SQ perspective. I could also gain trunk space back, which would be goodness…..
Now if I had to nitpick, the one slightly negative thing I noticed during the in-car session was that these drivers did sound a tiny less snappy in the mid (kick) bass region than the Lotus 8s, and even the Seas L22s. Now this was pretty subtle, and I don’t think I would have noticed if I didn’t listen side by side with these other drivers. On the other hand, neither of the Seas played as low or with as much output/authority. One thing I didn’t get to do was to see if I could tune the Peerless a little better, to even them out a little bit. I bet an experienced tuner could get them about perfect sounding, because they are probably just slightly bottom heavy right out of the box, in a car door. One last thing: this driver isn’t a good choice if you need something to play up to 1 KHz. Won’t do it.
Build Quality: 7
Ease of Use: 8
Output Capability: 8.5
Seas drivers are very popular amongst the DIY crowd, for good reason. This unit is representative of Seas overall standards of quality in their products. Very solid design and value. Longer throw voice coil than the prior version. ‘nuf said.
In home, this driver impressed me almost as much as the Peerless. Very smooth sound. Completely controlled and articulate. Now I’ll admit that in a sealed enclosure, this driver did sound slightly thin on the bottom end, so that’s why I decided to try it in a vented alignment. I’m glad I did. It was just the ticket to get the response shaped to my liking. This one is just all around a great driver for mid-bass.
In car, this driver also really impressed me a lot. For some reason I was thinking it wouldn’t sound as good in a car door, or that it wouldn’t compare at all to the Lotus in terms of “snappyness” in the mid (kick) bass region. This simply wasn’t true; it performed very close to the Lotus in this regard: so close that I don’t think people would tell the difference if it were tuned up properly.
For those on a budget, with enough room in the door panel for some depth, I couldn’t more heartily recommend this driver or the Peerless SLS. If you want a little more snappy sound, and either don’t mind using a sub or boosting the very low end, go for this driver. If you want to try to go sub-less and need the best low end response, at the most miniscule loss of a little kick, the SLS is the way to go.
Tang Band W8-740C
Build Quality: 4
Ease of Use: 3
Output Capability: 9.5
OK. It’s ugly. It’s big. It’s heavy. How in the HECK would someone mount this monster in a car door? Well, if someone does it, I wanna check it out! Honestly, I don’t ever see this driver being used in a car door. It’s simply too big (deep) and heavy. This thing is a monster. The magnet is so big, the driver is almost unwieldy to handle. The magnet also sends off an ENORMOUS amount of stray flux. I was holding it while on the computer one day and noticed it affected my computer CRT more than 16 inches away! And yes, it’s cheap, and probably the best value if you are shopping to optimize price/weight ratio.
So the one redeeming quality of this driver is that it is a little THUMPER. It can really pound out bass. Probably the “fun-est” driver to listen to in home, when playing “Vanishing Point” by New Order. It was a monster in the vented box, and no tame Jane in the sealed either. I never tried it in-car because we couldn’t make it fit. No way.
OK, so now the bad news. It’s a one-trick pony. It seems to play one note, really well, and really loud. I have visions of some “boomer” installing a wall of these things in his truck so that he can be heard a mile away… But this boomer better have some awesome amps because this driver is inefficient. It’s a power-monger, and you need to feed it to make it play. Funny story: as I was trying to get this to shake a rafter lose in my house, I was able to push my receiver into thermal shutdown. Yeah; it needs power. Let’s move on…..
So now, a couple of car-audio specific drivers for comparison….
Seas Lotus Reference 8” CW21EX001
Value: 2 (practically impossible to buy now)
Build Quality: 9
Ease of Use: 9.5
Output Capability: 8.5
Thanks to Peter for letting me audition these wonderful speakers, and also use his car for the in-car test!
The reference standard for an 8” car-specific mid/bass. Obviously only listened to this one in-car, and it lives up to its fine reputation for quality of sound. The punchiest (snappy) driver of the test group, and also very easy to work with as it is obviously designed for car door use. Doesn’t play as low as the Peerless, but that’s no big deal; if you own these, you probably have the finest subs money can buy in your trunk too.
Good luck finding a pair.
Rainbow W160 Reference (165mm)
Value: 1 (I think you need to sell a kidney to buy a pair of these)
Build Quality: 9 (at least perceived)
Ease of Use: 10
Output Capability: N/A
This famed driver came courtesy of Steve (Whiterabbit) who I would like to thank sincerely for untrusting this to me for this test!!!!!
OK, so these drivers sure LOOK amazing, even though I don’t know anything about the motor design or inner workings. Inside a small sealed enclosure in my home, they obviously sounded terrible…. No surprise, so we took them out to the car, and they really shined when mounted in a door.
Out of the box, probably the most tonally correct out of the test group. Balanced, with good control and extension. Not the least bit heavy on the low end, like the Peerless was (slightly). This one gets top marks on usability because of its small size (yes, not fair to compare a 165mm driver, but oh well!) and great “out-of the-box” sound. I doubt it would score well on output capability, for obvious reasons. I did not test for fear of having to buy one of these beauties.
I would say that I would never indulge in a speaker like this, but hey, if you’ve got the bucks and want the very best money can buy, I can’t knock these speakers. I really wonder though, how they would compare to something like the Extremis or other long excursion 6.5s/7s….. That would be another interesting test…..