Starke Sound SW15 and SW12 Subwoofer Review

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shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
SW pair angle3.jpg
I have had an awareness of Starke Sound for a few years now, but I wasn’t familiar with their product lines, so when they invited me to review their products, I went to their website to see what they had that I would be most interested in. Among a plethora of intriguing speakers, amps, and subwoofers, a couple that caught my attention was their SW12 and SW15 subwoofers. These were fairly normal-looking sealed subwoofers but were very competitively priced for their specs. I inquired about getting these subs in for review, and Starke Sound gladly obliged. What I wanted to know was how much subwoofer can you get from Starke Sound from the surprisingly modest pricing that they had set. The driver, amplifier, and industrial design all looked solid: at the set prices, what was the catch, or maybe there was no catch and they just have a straightforward good product for a reasonable cost? Let’s dig in these subs to find out the answers to these questions…

READ: Starke Sound SW15 and SW12 Subwoofer Review
 
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rrj

Enthusiast
@shadyJ ,

Great review. How would the SW15 compare to the HSU ULS-15 MK2 (in EQ2)? I know the HSU has more power, but the Starke seems to go deeper. If you had to choose between the two which would you recommend since they are pretty close in price?

Thanks in advance.
 
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NINaudio

NINaudio

Audioholic Samurai
If you compare to the HSU review, the ULS-15 MK2 seems to perform better and have more headroom with 7-8dB more output below 20 Hz.

Edited to add: Also, look at the difference in the compression sweeps. I'd definitely pick the Hsu if it were my money
 
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rrj

Enthusiast
@NINaudio,

Thanks for responding. I was looking at the FR for both (EQ2 mode for HSU for even comparison) so thats why I asked to see what he thought. But you are absolutely right about SPL levels down low.
 
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Reckel

Audioholic Chief
I have had an awareness of Starke Sound for a few years now, but I wasn’t familiar with their product lines, so when they invited me to review their products, I went to their website to see what they had that I would be most interested in. Among a plethora of intriguing speakers, amps, and subwoofers, a couple that caught my attention was their SW12 and SW15 subwoofers. These were fairly normal-looking sealed subwoofers but were very competitively priced for their specs. I inquired about getting these subs in for review, and Starke Sound gladly obliged. What I wanted to know was how much subwoofer can you get from Starke Sound from the surprisingly modest pricing that they had set. The driver, amplifier, and industrial design all looked solid: at the set prices, what was the catch, or maybe there was no catch and they just have a straightforward good product for a reasonable cost? Let’s dig in these subs to find out the answers to these questions…

READ: Starke Sound SW15 and SW12 Subwoofer Review
Nice review. So what do you think about running 4 of the sw15’s?
 
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Reckel

Audioholic Chief
That would be a great system. The SW15s are a solid sealed 15" for the money.
Well this goes back to my thread I started a few weeks ago. Would I be stupid getting rid of my 3 vtf3s for 4 of the sw15’s?
 
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shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
Well this goes back to my thread I started a few weeks ago. Would I be stupid getting rid of my 3 vtf3s for 4 of the sw15’s?
You would be losing deep bass output, but might gain a slightly smoother response. You would probably break even on mid-bass output. Not altogether stupid if the VTF-3s have to go on account of their size.
 
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XaVierDK

Audiophyte
Thank you for a nice review of, arguably, simpler subwoofers than what most higher-end manufacturers are putting out these days.

They look to produce very decent performance generally, but I notice a significant peak in distortion at 31.5 Hz in your CEA-2010 measurements.
Do you have any idea why this might be? Resonant frequency of the drivers maybe?

Best Regards
 
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Schrodinger23

Audioholic Intern
Well this goes back to my thread I started a few weeks ago. Would I be stupid getting rid of my 3 vtf3s for 4 of the sw15’s?
Unless you have a buyer or buyers lined up to give you a decent price on the vtf3s, I’d stick with what you have. Or pick up a 4th one if you have a sealed rectangular shaped room, where you know that you will get better seat to seat variation, from day the midpoint of opposing wall or corner placement options.
 
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shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
Thank you for a nice review of, arguably, simpler subwoofers than what most higher-end manufacturers are putting out these days.

They look to produce very decent performance generally, but I notice a significant peak in distortion at 31.5 Hz in your CEA-2010 measurements.
Do you have any idea why this might be? Resonant frequency of the drivers maybe?

Best Regards
The peak in distortion is just the driver getting stressed. It's certainly not a resonance- if it were a resonance, there would be a big reduction in distortion, not increase. The reason why you don't see higher distortion in lower frequencies is that the low-pass filter is kicking in and limiting output. The distortion at 31Hz is relatively high because the filters haven't really kicked in hard yet, although it's still a pretty deep frequency and tough for a sealed sub to play at a high level.
 
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XaVierDK

Audiophyte
The peak in distortion is just the driver getting stressed. It's certainly not a resonance- if it were a resonance, there would be a big reduction in distortion, not increase. The reason why you don't see higher distortion in lower frequencies is that the low-pass filter is kicking in and limiting output. The distortion at 31Hz is relatively high because the filters haven't really kicked in hard yet, although it's still a pretty deep frequency and tough for a sealed sub to play at a high level.
The more you know.
Thanks for the detailed reply.
 
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utopianemo

Junior Audioholic
Those drivers look an awful lot like the Dayton Ultimax drivers…..I’ve got two UM18’s and they’re destructive.
 
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shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
They are not the Dayton drivers. They only have that same type of cone. Everything else about them is different.
 
CajunLB

CajunLB

Senior Audioholic
These subs are on Black Friday sale for 489/629 for the 12/15” models.
 
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Reckel

Audioholic Chief
Unless you have a buyer or buyers lined up to give you a decent price on the vtf3s, I’d stick with what you have. Or pick up a 4th one if you have a sealed rectangular shaped room, where you know that you will get better seat to seat variation, from day the midpoint of opposing wall or corner placement options.
Don’t have any buyers lined up, haven’t listed them to sell yet. Although my area is rectangle, the left side of it opens up to the rest of my basement
 
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shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
These subs are on Black Friday sale for 489/629 for the 12/15” models.
Somehow I missed this before. $629 is a ridiculously good price for the SW15. They really should be flying at that price. It's a good basic sealed 15".
 
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