Rythmik L12 vs RSL Speedwoofer 10S

D

Dober

Audiophyte
I recently picked up the RSL Speedwoofer 10S after researching subs in the ~$500 department. I was in analysis paralysis between this and L12 which is $559 (which can be had out of b-stock for 519). As b-stock with Rythmik is few and far between, I finally pulled trigger on the 10S ($400) after watching/reading a number of reviews and ultimately the RSL Speedwoofer manual (very witty and informative, I knew they we proud of their product). The 10S was delivered last week, and sure enough the sub is very articulate and brings the bottom end of music and movies to life in my living room that is a long rectangle with doors at each end and a large opening toward front left to dining room. I couldn’t believe my ears, but I was also replacing something that was very under-powered/-sized sub.

I know I could/will be happy with this sub, especially with it being about $170 less than the L12. It is remarkable within its specifications. There’s even a shot taken at servo subs in their manual basically saying, if you build the cabinet right then, a sub shouldn’t need a servo to manage cabinet distortion. They have certainly achieved this with their masterfully crafted/patented compression guide technology.

It here’s the rub, the extra $170 won’t break the bank, and I have read countless comments that say get the best sub you can afford that hits as hard and deep as possible. The 10S drop 6db from peak when it gets to 24hz (and plummets about another 6db to 20hz). While there is output those levels, and Plenty of volume left for sub to go louder, it would just require turning up every in 32hz and above way too loud.

The siren of only 3db drop from peak all the way to 18hz (and 6db to 12hz) keeps calling me with the L12 from Rythmik. So much so that I decide to just order the L12 (at full price) so I can do a shootout for myself. RSL will pay for return shipping if the L12 wins, but Rythmik does not. Should the RSL sound quality stand supreme for everything 30hz and up, I’ll be out about $80 in return shipping to Rythmik, but will have peace of mind that I did about as good as anyone can for this price range. (I know monolith, HSU, and SVS are out there with worthy contenders; they did not make my list after weighing pros/cons of each of their offerings, and I’m not looking for comments about other options in this thread).

The L12 arrives this week; I’ll be sure to post back with more details if any interest is shown for this thread. I don’t have any sophisticated measuring equipment — just YouTube tests, levels on apps on my phone, and my ears. I’m open to ideas suggestions if anyone has them.

Regardless of outcome, I will certainly be going to RSL for my next set of speaker purchases (a quality bookshelf offering at an incredibly fair price) — I just love the way that company rolls.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
The 10S drop 6db from peak when it gets to 24hz (and plummets about another 6db to 20hz). While there is output those levels, and Plenty of volume left for sub to go louder, it would just require turning up every in 32hz and above way too loud.

The siren of only 3db drop from peak all the way to 18hz (and 6db to 12hz) keeps calling me with the L12 from Rythmik. So much so that I decide to just order the L12 (at full price) so I can do a shootout for myself.
I think it is great that you are taking this approach to evaluating the subs and am looking forward to your observations.
Certainly Umik and REW are the best way to properly compare.
One of the most important things I have learned when making subjective A-B comparisons is to set up instant level-matched switching between A & B.
Get one of these ($17) and hook the sub out from your amp to the R channel output (that's right, we're running it backwards, it doesn't know the difference, it is just a dumb switch between two sets of contacts), then hook the RSL to the R channel Input 1 and the Rythmik to the R-channel input 2.

Use the level controls on the subs to match the levels - expect to take some time doing this as our hearing is not great at the lower frequencies and the subs will have different frequency characteristics. If possible, use white/pink noise to do this.

I don't know if you normally use a roomEQ system such as Audyssey, but unless you have two equivalent AVR's to set up (which would not require the switch box), I'd consider it a reasonable assumption that whichever sub sounds better before roomEQ will sound better after EQ and disable any type of EQ or tone controls at the AVR.

It will still be a sloppy test from a scientific standpoint, but I think it is about as good as can be expected without making a major project of it!

Additional notes:
1) Check you CD/DVD player for an A-B loop option that allows you to specify point A and point B for your player to loop between. It is a feature on many units that you would never use. I forgot mine did it until I saw the button on my remote marked "A-B". I find this very useful as you can find (for example) a 3 second passage that you think sounds different between the subs and have it repeat "forever" (as required) as you verify the nature of the differences you hear switching subs over and over.
2) Understand that F3 at 24Hz was probably based on an anechoic or quasi-anechoic measurement (IOW, the response in an anechoic chamber where there are no sound wave reflections). For low frequencies, it is very likely that the influence of reflections and in-room resonances will be significant and that is generally likely to give you back the 3 to 6 dB you are down in the low 20Hz range. Just be aware that the published FR is not that good of a predictor of your in-room response.
3) Do your best to tune either sub before the comparison in the room using each sub's control options. If you have not dome the sub crawl, it is useful not only in determining the best position of the sub, but also giving you a good sense of what you are listening for and how different locations result in different character of sound quality! Obviously you cannot locate both subs in that special "sweet spot", so the best option is to locate them as close as possible to sharing it. Once you reach your conclusions, swap the subs and revisit the bits of music where you heard decisive differences (take good notes) and make sure that the characteristic is attributable to the sub and not the position in the room!
4) Run the initial setup routine with both subs to see how much delay/distance gets assigned to each. I don't know if these two have DSP systems or not, but if so, the conversion to the digital domain and back will delay the response. For bass, I don't think we are very astute at detecting when the sound starts with precision (don't believe me, unplug your speakers and only listen to your sub playing some of your favorite tunes)! Usually the attack of that bass note or dinosaur stomp is actually defined by higher frequency constituents/harmonics (like the sound from the brass string "snap/slap" when an impactful note is played on the bass guitar - again, listen to the sub by itself if you are not sure you believe what I am saying)! But it is reassuring if both subs measure within a few feet for distance.

LOL, I hope you can appreciate that I have tried to keep it to reasonably practical measures to give you an optimal result from a less than optimal pretense (subjective evaluation)! Whether or not you follow my suggestions to the hilt, having the awareness of these aspects should be useful.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Not in Canada its not. That mic is selling for $234 Cdn
How about if you order direct from minidsp? For me it would be 75 plus 22 shipping (USD)....
 
XEagleDriver

XEagleDriver

Senior Audioholic
The L12 arrives this week; I’ll be sure to post back with more details if any interest is shown for this thread.
Please do report your comparison findings, scientific or not.
These are the two subs I am contemplating as well.
Thanks,
XEagleDriver

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk[/QUOTE]
 
diskreet

diskreet

Junior Audioholic
Funny, I went through this decision making earlier this year. Needed a white subwoofer and eventually landed on the Rythmik (not just for the rated performance and measured tests, but also because I love the idea of a servo sub, especially in this price range). Ultimately I felt the performance in the lowest frequencies it can reach to be a benefit, and I was doing dual subs either way.

Good luck, I hope it works well for you!
 
D

Dober

Audiophyte
I think it is great that you are taking this approach to evaluating the subs and am looking forward to your observations.
Certainly Umik and REW are the best way to properly compare.
One of the most important things I have learned when making subjective A-B comparisons is to set up instant level-matched switching between A & B.
Get one of these ($17) and hook the sub out from your amp to the R channel output (that's right, we're running it backwards, it doesn't know the difference, it is just a dumb switch between two sets of contacts), then hook the RSL to the R channel Input 1 and the Rythmik to the R-channel input 2.

Use the level controls on the subs to match the levels - expect to take some time doing this as our hearing is not great at the lower frequencies and the subs will have different frequency characteristics. If possible, use white/pink noise to do this.

I don't know if you normally use a roomEQ system such as Audyssey, but unless you have two equivalent AVR's to set up (which would not require the switch box), I'd consider it a reasonable assumption that whichever sub sounds better before roomEQ will sound better after EQ and disable any type of EQ or tone controls at the AVR.

It will still be a sloppy test from a scientific standpoint, but I think it is about as good as can be expected without making a major project of it!

Additional notes:
1) Check you CD/DVD player for an A-B loop option that allows you to specify point A and point B for your player to loop between. It is a feature on many units that you would never use. I forgot mine did it until I saw the button on my remote marked "A-B". I find this very useful as you can find (for example) a 3 second passage that you think sounds different between the subs and have it repeat "forever" (as required) as you verify the nature of the differences you hear switching subs over and over.
2) Understand that F3 at 24Hz was probably based on an anechoic or quasi-anechoic measurement (IOW, the response in an anechoic chamber where there are no sound wave reflections). For low frequencies, it is very likely that the influence of reflections and in-room resonances will be significant and that is generally likely to give you back the 3 to 6 dB you are down in the low 20Hz range. Just be aware that the published FR is not that good of a predictor of your in-room response.
3) Do your best to tune either sub before the comparison in the room using each sub's control options. If you have not dome the sub crawl, it is useful not only in determining the best position of the sub, but also giving you a good sense of what you are listening for and how different locations result in different character of sound quality! Obviously you cannot locate both subs in that special "sweet spot", so the best option is to locate them as close as possible to sharing it. Once you reach your conclusions, swap the subs and revisit the bits of music where you heard decisive differences (take good notes) and make sure that the characteristic is attributable to the sub and not the position in the room!
4) Run the initial setup routine with both subs to see how much delay/distance gets assigned to each. I don't know if these two have DSP systems or not, but if so, the conversion to the digital domain and back will delay the response. For bass, I don't think we are very astute at detecting when the sound starts with precision (don't believe me, unplug your speakers and only listen to your sub playing some of your favorite tunes)! Usually the attack of that bass note or dinosaur stomp is actually defined by higher frequency constituents/harmonics (like the sound from the brass string "snap/slap" when an impactful note is played on the bass guitar - again, listen to the sub by itself if you are not sure you believe what I am saying)! But it is reassuring if both subs measure within a few feet for distance.

LOL, I hope you can appreciate that I have tried to keep it to reasonably practical measures to give you an optimal result from a less than optimal pretense (subjective evaluation)! Whether or not you follow my suggestions to the hilt, having the awareness of these aspects should be useful.
Thanks for the tips @KEW — I was planning on running calibration on L12 to ensure distance was close to RSL 10S. The RSL sub allows for phase adjustment on LEF channel, but the L12 does not (although phase control is enabled on other inputs). Instead, when running LEF, the Rythmik site says to make micro adjustments to the distance setting in the calibration to bring phase into line with the front channels. My plan is to get phase aligned with L12 and then use actual phase knob on 10S so that both are delivering as evenly as possible through the crossover.

Even though sub will end up in a corner, I’m gonna avoid testing them stacked as that likely gives the advantage to the smaller L12 being raised up. The plan is to place subs side-by-side where output is as true as possible. My main objective is to see if there is a compelling difference to the sound reproduction/feel of music. I have already heard firsthand how moving sub around produces gain in lowest frequencies for 10S — below 24 hz being inaudible in some placements, while having noticeable output in others. Output below 24 hz is certainly there on L12 wherever it is placed.

Funny thing is that I thought I would be getting the stink-eye when a second sub showed up with a plan to pit the two against each other. However, my spouse is now intrigued by the selection process, and wants to see if she can hear the difference and have a consistent preference between the two.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
@XEagleDriver: Shootout planned for this weekend when the A/B analog switch arrives from amazon.
[/QUOTE]

Mind explaining your intended use of the switch and protocols for your comparison?
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
@XEagleDriver: Shootout planned for this weekend when the A/B analog switch arrives from amazon.
Mind explaining your intended use of the switch and protocols for your comparison?
[/QUOTE]
I believe he is getting the switch on my advice in post #5.
If we get over-analytical about eliminating sources of error, it quickly becomes impossible to do an A-B comparison, but I gave him my best advice on how to do a practical comparison with the primary objective of having instant level matched switching between subs.
If you have suggestions or see anything I missed (or think I'm full of crap) discussion/refinement is always a good thing!
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Mind explaining your intended use of the switch and protocols for your comparison?
I believe he is getting the switch on my advice in post #5.
If we get over-analytical about eliminating sources of error, it quickly becomes impossible to do an A-B comparison, but I gave him my best advice on how to do a practical comparison with the primary objective of having instant level matched switching between subs.
If you have suggestions or see anything I missed (or think I'm full of crap) discussion/refinement is always a good thing!
[/QUOTE]

I forgot about your post and didn't look back to reread the thread, thanks. The level matching is by ear or does he have a way to measure?
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
I forgot about your post and didn't look back to reread the thread, thanks. The level matching is by ear or does he have a way to measure?
Obviously measured is better, but if he doesn't use something steady like pink noise, I, personally think music by ear is better than using a single test tone (which could be a low spot in the FR of one sub and a peak for the other) with a meter.
But I had not gotten that specific.
If you have some quick and easy way to get this done "more better", that is great!
I am just trying to be mindful of not "overtasking" Dober (not knowing what his threshold of OCD is for audio).
At 6 days since I had posted, I figured my suggestions had scared him away!
(Glad to see you're still hanging in there, Dober).
If he was comparing many subs, I would not expect him to hear much difference, but the Speedwoofer seems to have a rather unique port design and gets impressive performance for a 10" sub, and the Rythmik is a sealed 12" sub. I have heard neither, but expect there to be some clear differences.
As you know, his final preference is liable to be which sub's FR fits his room response better, rather than which is an inherently better subwoofer (I think we can assume both are competent in their design)!
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Obviously measured is better, but if he doesn't use something steady like pink noise, I, personally think music by ear is better than using a single test tone (which could be a low spot in the FR of one sub and a peak for the other) with a meter.
But I had not gotten that specific.
If you have some quick and easy way to get this done "more better", that is great!
I am just trying to be mindful of not "overtasking" Dober (not knowing what his threshold of OCD is for audio).
At 6 days since I had posted, I figured my suggestions had scared him away!
(Glad to see you're still hanging in there, Dober).
If he was comparing many subs, I would not expect him to hear much difference, but the Speedwoofer seems to have a rather unique port design and gets impressive performance for a 10" sub, and the Rythmik is a sealed 12" sub. I have heard neither, but expect there to be some clear differences.
As you know, his final preference is liable to be which sub's FR fits his room response better, rather than which is an inherently better subwoofer (I think we can assume both are competent in their design)!
Gotcha. For something like basic level I'd think pink noise would be better, even with a phone app (and agree about single tones vs music). Comparing the two dissimilar subs....meh
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
Comparing the two dissimilar subs....meh
I don't follow your intent here! Are you saying you don't think there is much point, or are referring to something about my comment relative to room response?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
I don't follow your intent here! Are you saying you don't think there is much point, or are referring to something about my comment relative to room response?
To an extent, but if it helps the OP make up his mind, then it might be useful as far as those two subs go....off the top of my head don't remember why these two particular subs were the finalists for consideration either :) Memory ain't what it used to be and haven't scrolled past your previous post....

@Dober curious, what advantage were you referring to here "Even though sub will end up in a corner, I’m gonna avoid testing them stacked as that likely gives the advantage to the smaller L12 being raised up." ? Might slighty effect room modes differently, as could your side by side positioning, tho. Generally being omniradiators probably not a lot of difference but....
 
D

Dober

Audiophyte
Sorry for the delay in my follow-up. Has been difficult to find time to do a fair comparison. Thanks again for your feedback @KEW — the A/B switch proved to be the most valuable tools in the arsenal for this comparison.

Summary: Ultimately I decided to stick with the Rythmik L12. The sound was cleaner (more details further down), and it had enough output for my needs. I also liked the flatter response curve into deep bass (<30 hz) knowing that most listening would be done at moderate levels. However, it was still a tough choice as the RSL Speedwoofer was by no means a bad performer. It significantly outmatched the L12 in output — and at $400, offers realistic, shake-the-room home theater impact and does a commendable job with music.

@lovinthehd was correct to call out that they are dissimilar. RSL is a ported output monster (for a 10 inch sub) and L12 is entry level sealed servo; a more direct matchup between the RSL compression guide design and Rythmik servo tech would be with the L12F (their ported entry level). The L12F gains the output efficiency of a ported design, but I’d be interested to know if this sacrifices anything terms of detail/clarity — many say a well designed port shouldn’t; however, this mentality is what brought me to believe the RSL and L12 shouldn’t sound much different given both subs’ claims/reviews of accuracy and quick response. There is also a size consideration that comes into play for the ported Rythmiks — they are substantially bigger than both the RSL and the L12 and that factors into consideration for a multi-purpose room.

On to the details...

Looks/Design: the RSL is very boxy and the matte finish on outside feels a little slapped on, but has better connectivity in the back (stereo speaker wire integration for 2.1) and allows for phase control on LFE input. The L12 has a much more refined appearance with rounded edges (looks especially nice in gloss white which comes at a price premium), it has phase control but it is disabled for LFE and company recommends adjusting speaker distance in A/V for phase (minor inconvenience). Both companies offer decent warranties with 5 years on the speaker, but Rythmik bests RSL on electronics with 3 years over 2. All other details you need are readily available in spec sheets/other reviews.

Output/Movies: The RSL (“conservatively rated” 350 watt) trounced the L12 (300 watt) on output given its ported design. I realize this can be observed in a wide range of specs/reviews, but I’m new to this and had no reference for what the 2 - 5 db (over 30 - 80 hz) of headroom would sound/feel like. My room is long (24L x 12W x 7.5H) with connections to various other rooms (so not ideal for containment), but the RSL had no problem dominating without degrading in performance. The L12 routinely had to be about 2.5 - 3 hours ahead of the RSL on the gain knob, and certainly bottomed out/knocked well before the RSL (which I never actually heard knock even at significantly higher volumes). The thunderous and well managed response from the RSL was very tempting for movies, but unrealistic for my situation with children at home. Enrico at Rythmik forewarned me that the L12 was likely too small, and it certainly struggled to take over the room. However, it delivered plenty of impact, and I found the sound slightly more realistic when operating at my expected listening levels. I wish I had more time to measure comparative power consumption; would have been nice to see/know the additional draw needed for L12 to keep up.

Sound/Music: This is where the L12 shined. The detail/precision that it delivers is remarkable. The RSL does a very good job, just not as nuanced. Listening to electronic or hip/hop, the two sounded pretty similar, although my wife noted she felt like the RSL was adding extra pressure/resonance in certain situations. Where instruments and effects are combined, the L12 gave a bit more separation to really deep rumbles that appeared beneath the main bass line. Listening to Modeski, Martin, and Wood “Shine it”, both produced the tone of bass notes accurately, however the L12 brought each pluck to life. Listening to Phish “Meat”, Mike Gordon lets long bass notes hang in air while Jon Fishman’s kicks keep time. Again, both faithfully reproduced the tone and overall feel of the music, but the L12 did a better job capturing what I would call the “shape” of the note — to elaborate you could hear the subtle way a single pluck/note changes over time as reverberations run up/down the sting. Finally, I cycled through a bunch of Vulfpeck/Fearless Flyers/Cory Wong to see what happened when varying combinations of Joe Dart/Cory Wong on bass and Nate Smith/Theo Katzman on drums came together. The music is jazz/funk with tons of complexity at and below the crossover point, I wanted to know if the sub could keep up. The L12 did not disappoint. To ensure I wasn’t biased or letting the integration with rest of system fool me, I took the rest of the speakers out to the mix so just the sub was playing bottom end. When I went sub only, the L12 simply sounded like a big speaker (when not being pushed to it’s peak output), virtually nothing was added/subtracted — reproduction with brilliant clarity. The RSL would do well in most situations, but faltered when trying to manage intricate instrumental bass lines coupled with speedy drum kicks. Putting the rest of the speakers back in, the RSL certainly became more convincing as the harmonics at/above crossover point were able to compensate.

Final Note: In the end, there’s likely nothing new to see here for a wily veteran with lots of prior experience. I probably would have kept the RSL if our use was primarily for movies and we had ability to crank the volume on a regular basis. All differences in terms of sound quality are the result of very critical listening, so keep in mind the RSL is no slouch with music — no one is every going to question its quality in middle of dance party/social gatherings because they will be too busy enjoying it. The L12 won for being smaller and sounding a bit more convincing because of extra low end extension, separation, and clarity.
 
D

Dober

Audiophyte
Funny, I went through this decision making earlier this year. Needed a white subwoofer and eventually landed on the Rythmik (not just for the rated performance and measured tests, but also because I love the idea of a servo sub, especially in this price range). Ultimately I felt the performance in the lowest frequencies it can reach to be a benefit, and I was doing dual subs either way.

Good luck, I hope it works well for you!
@diskreet: did you compare the two subs, or just go straight for L12?
 

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