Velodyne Digital Drive Plus 18 (DD18+) Subwoofer Review

A

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Audioholics Robot
Staff member
Ratings
1,632
#1
Velodyne's Digital Drive series is legendary for its technologically advanced sealed designs, active servo control and high fidelity, low distortion output. If the DD18+ is any indication Velodyne has significantly raised the bar with the new "Plus" series over the previous Digital Drive subwoofers. Greatly increased output headroom, better cosmetics and fit and finish being a few major areas impacted. Velodyne has also packed an extreme amount of hardware into the unit with on board EQ, remote control and more connection possibilities that seen on most any other subwoofer. The DD18+ achieved our Audioholics "Extreme Room" rating and is the first sealed subwoofer to do so. It was also the recipient of our 2011 Subwoofer Product of the Year Award. This new found sense of might comes at no cost to fidelity as the DD18+ exhibited the excellent sonic reproduction typical of Velodyne's sealed servo subwoofers and was utterly unflappable no matter what was asked of it. The new curved side panel cabinet design is more robust and the review unit looked absolutely fabulous in the gloss black finish. All of this technology, attention to detail and overall high quality does of course carry a very hefty sticker with it. $4,999 msrp is a lot of money but if it is within your budget you can be assured that you are buying one of the finest subwoofer systems available.


Discuss "Velodyne Digital Drive Plus 18 (DD18+) Subwoofer Review" here. Read the article.
 
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F

FirstReflection

AV Rant Co-Host
Ratings
893
#2
Well, I'll ask the obvious question:

How does this Velodyne DD18+ manage to win the Product of the Year award for subwoofers when Audioholics' own measurements indicate that it isn't as linear, can't reach as low, can't play as loud and has considerably more distortion than several of the MUCH less expensive subs that were reviewed?!

What is Audioholics' award saying? That all measureable metrics are meaningless so long as you cost more?

Sorry, but it's just plain weird.
 
GranteedEV

GranteedEV

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
2,355
#3
FR - if you want true 10hz performance you have to be willing to sacrifice

1) output from a single sub (you DO need multiples for sufficient displacement, unless it's a $13,000 Thigpen Rotary in an infinite baffle installation... and for sufficient sensitivity this low you can't really use a light driver... though i'm curious about the Focal Electromagnet Woofers and whether that's just marketing)
2) resonators. (no vent/passive radiator will get you performance down to 5hz.. only sealed will)

You also need to factor in that rooms have different gain functions. What doesn't look linear here, might be perfectly linear in a room where the bottom end is boosted and must be EQ'd down. The vice versa is not true - a resonant alignment can't pressurize a room the same way because it is effectively dipolar below its tuning.

So the answer to your question is, if cost was no object, would you rather have four DD18+ or four PB13U?

Because headroom above 25hz at that point (four subs) becomes a total non factor.

And as for a one to one comparision - I don't feel anyone with the money to afford a DD18+ should limit themselves to just one - it just doesn't make sense.

Only the Velodyne out of all the subs tested managed to pass the 10hz CEA sweep. That justifies it as the sub of 2011.

Now if you feel 10hz performance is less important than 40+hz performance (which is normally dominated by the room anyways and best dealt with by multiple subs at which point headroom also becomes a less significant factor) - feel free to. Everyone has subjective opinions. But objectively only one sub passed the CEA test at 10hz (and 12.5hz)

As for the final point - whether cost is or isn't an object - i do challenge you to find a less expensive competitor's subwoofer that can pass a CEA 10hz sweep. I can think of one that could, but that wasn't a product that was tested (Funk Audio 18.0 w/ 4000w DSP Amp & new 18" driver). The LMS-5400 and Re XXX should also have passed these tests off the top of my head, but those are drivers alone that cost as much as most of the subs that people buy. So if cost IS an object you probably aren't messing with any sub using high end drivers like that. If cost ISN'T an object then you already accept my above argument for multiples. If you disagree that's your call.. it just seems to be influenced by bias rather than hard facts.
 
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D

Dionyz

Banned
#4
Cunfusing review

I am confused by your high rating of this subwoofer.
Please look at the distortion chart.

This sub is pure distortion - anything below 40Hz, distortion goes through the roof. It has distortion characteristics of a cheapo sub. I would not put a sub with these kind of distortion levels into my system even if it cost only $499.

Completely unacceptable for a sub costing this much.
Please reconsider your ratings of this sub, because it truly make no sense and you compromising your reputation.
 
Warpdrv

Warpdrv

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
1,367 17
#5
Distortion is what RUMBLES and SHAKES the heck out of your room, giving the user the feeling that the sub has enormous output.

Some people prefer that in their bass.... Some don't
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
Ratings
4,585 23 9
#6
I am confused by your high rating of this subwoofer.
Please look at the distortion chart.

This sub is pure distortion - anything below 40Hz, distortion goes through the roof. It has distortion characteristics of a cheapo sub. I would not put a sub with these kind of distortion levels into my system even if it cost only $499.

Completely unacceptable for a sub costing this much.
Please reconsider your ratings of this sub, because it truly make no sense and you compromising your reputation.
High distortion (ie. 20%) at low F can still sound very pleasing and be inaudible, unless its port chuffing which in this case doesn't exist b/c its a sealed sub. While the DD18+ doesn't have as much output as a ported sub such as the fabulous PB13-Ultra, it does have excellent sound quality and the most diverse setup options on a sub we've ever tested.

It was a tough call awarding Velodyne this award b/c the SVS PB13-Ultra does have more output and lower distortion and is a much better value, but Josh really loved the DD18+ and I feel the same way about my DD15+ subs. I also felt its good to pay homage to a different manufacturer each year whenever its possible else we would quickly become SVS fan boys :D

Honestly, its hard to beat SVS for performance/price ratio and they tire me with their awesome products, same as Oppo and Emotiva. These guys are ruining it for everyone else :D
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
2,787 8 7
#7
High distortion (ie. 20%) at low F can still sound very pleasing and be inaudible, unless its port chuffing which in this case doesn't exist b/c its a sealed sub. While the DD18+ doesn't have as much output as a ported sub such as the fabulous PB13-Ultra, it does have excellent sound quality and the most diverse setup options on a sub we've ever tested.

It was a tough call awarding Velodyne this award b/c the SVS PB13-Ultra does have more output and lower distortion and is a much better value, but Josh really loved the DD18+ and I feel the same way about my DD15+ subs. I also felt its good to pay homage to a different manufacturer each year whenever its possible else we would quickly become SVS fan boys :D

Honestly, its hard to beat SVS for performance/price ratio and they tire me with their awesome products, same as Oppo and Emotiva. These guys are ruining it for everyone else :D
That's rather lame reasoning, Gene. If the SVS is objectively better then you should have said so.

It was difficult to compare the SVS charts with the Velodyne's because most of the tests were not identical. For example, some of the Velodyne charts are for 115db of output, while the SVS charts are for 105db. Also, I'm trying to figure out how these measurements correlate to those in this test:

Velodyne DD-18+ Subwoofer
 
D

Dionyz

Banned
#8
Distortion is what RUMBLES and SHAKES the heck out of your room, giving the user the feeling that the sub has enormous output.

Some people prefer that in their bass.... Some don't
There are sub that cost significantly less, that have tons of output below 20Hz without this ridiculous amount of distortion.

I have Epik Conquest, (18" portesd sub) which has solid output down to 12Hz with distortion of less than 4%.

Now that is a sub with quality output. It is no longer manufactured, but it cost $1,600 couple of years ago.

I am sure that there are other high quality subs out there that outperform Velodyne at a fraction of the cost - i.e. JTR, Submersive, etc
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
Ratings
4,585 23 9
#9
That's rather lame reasoning, Gene. If the SVS is objectively better then you should have said so.

It was difficult to compare the SVS charts with the Velodyne's because most of the tests were not identical. For example, some of the Velodyne charts are for 115db of output, while the SVS charts are for 105db. Also, I'm trying to figure out how these measurements correlate to those in this test:

Velodyne DD-18+ Subwoofer
If our critics spent more time actually reading the reviews and studying the graphs, they could easily directly compare measurements. I even attached an excel spreadsheet to the main page of each of the reviews tabulating all CEA data yet hardly anyone noticed. We follow a consistent and well documented measurement protocol for every subwoofer tested to it.

See: Powered Subwoofer Testing: Outline and Procedures Overview — Reviews and News from Audioholics

Sorry there are some folks that don't agree with our picks but I respect the opinion of my review staff choices far more than keyboard commandos with a post count lower than their IQ's.

You cannot correlate any of our measurements to the ones done at Secrets b/c they measure in-room and don't follow any type of controlled measurement procedure to determine max SPL output of products.
 
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gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
Ratings
4,585 23 9
#10
There are sub that cost significantly less, that have tons of output below 20Hz without this ridiculous amount of distortion.

I have Epik Conquest, (18" portesd sub) which has solid output down to 12Hz with distortion of less than 4%.

Now that is a sub with quality output. It is no longer manufactured, but it cost $1,600 couple of years ago.

I am sure that there are other high quality subs out there that outperform Velodyne at a fraction of the cost - i.e. JTR, Submersive, etc
Really, OK show me a sealed sub with full disclosure of CEA data to prove that.
 
Adam

Adam

Audioholic Jedi
Ratings
12,205 49
#12
...I respect the opinion of my review staff choices far more than keyboard commandos with a post count lower than their IQ's.
How about from a commando with a post count much higher than his IQ? :D

Just kidding around :) - I'm not about to get into the mix on whether it's worthy or not. Question, though, and one that maybe has been asked before. This looks like the Funk Audio 18" from the pictures. Are they similar designs?
 
GranteedEV

GranteedEV

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
2,355
#13
This looks like the Funk Audio 18" from the pictures. Are they similar designs?
Both are sealed long throw 18s that work in pretty small cabinets with lots of amplification on hand.. but beyond that there are no similarities. different drivers AFAIK, different amps, different intended market (although that part may be off... i don't quite follow how exactly velodyne's business workz currently... i do hope the DD+ isn't I.D.
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
Ratings
4,585 23 9
#14
How about from a commando with a post count much higher than his IQ? :D

Just kidding around :) - I'm not about to get into the mix on whether it's worthy or not. Question, though, and one that maybe has been asked before. This looks like the Funk Audio 18" from the pictures. Are they similar designs?
take my derogatory comments as tongue in cheek. I still have NY Italian blood in me and often vent frustrations and then I'm fine moments later. Perhaps a post pad would be a more appropriate venue :)

Velodyne driver is proprietary so I seriously doubt it shares any tech with Funk Audio.

Again people need to realize we don't pick winners based solely on MAX SPL. If that were the case, we would likely pick DJ speakers over home theater speakers for that category.

There are a lot of great products out there. We do our best to pick our favorites of the year from stuff we've actually reviewed or had direct product experience with. Velodyne DD18+ is NOT a value product. SVS PB13-Ultra is. For those with not so deep pockets, pick up one or two PB-13Ultra's and be done with it.

There are folks that prefer sealed subs and are loyal to the Velodyne name and like the computer interface and features it offers. For those folks, you will really love the new DD+ series. It's a HUGE improvement over the original DD line which is yet another reason why I felt it necessary to pay homage to them.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
2,787 8 7
#15
If our critics spent more time actually reading the reviews and studying the graphs, they could easily directly compare measurements. I even attached an excel spreadsheet to the main page of each of the reviews tabulating all CEA data yet hardly anyone noticed. We follow a consistent and well documented measurement protocol for every subwoofer tested to it.

See: Powered Subwoofer Testing: Outline and Procedures Overview — Reviews and News from Audioholics

Sorry there are some folks that don't agree with our picks but I respect the opinion of my review staff choices far more than keyboard commandos with a post count lower than their IQ's.

You cannot correlate any of our measurements to the ones done at Secrets b/c they measure in-room and don't follow any type of controlled measurement procedure to determine max SPL output of products.
Yeah, I read that awhile back. It still doesn't explain why the charts don't correlate in between the SVS and the Velodyne.

Thanks for the explanation of the Secrets test.

As for being a keyboard commando with a post count lower than my IQ, that's lame too. I'm not the one that asserted the SVS measured better, you were. I was just responding to your reasoning.

I'm a DD18+ owner, and if I had the capability to measure it the way you do, and I did, I would not be giving it awards. On the other hand, I subjectively agree with your reviewer. I'm thrilled with it. Nonetheless, it does make me wonder what I have in my listening room.
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
Ratings
4,585 23 9
#16
It still doesn't explain why the charts don't correlate in between the SVS and the Velodyne.
I don't understand how the charts don't correlate between the SVS and Velodyne reviews? The measurement procedure is identical and all documents, the graphs and scales are all the same. :confused:
 
GranteedEV

GranteedEV

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
2,355
#17
Gene i thjnk he was sayi g that the svs distortion sweeps were done at 105db and the velodyne distortion sweeps done at 115db?

I have Epik Conquest, (18" portesd sub) which has solid output down to 12Hz with distortion of less than 4%.
and the actual ground plane measurements are where?


Besides that... what are the physical dimensions of the conquest?


Now that is a sub with quality output. It is no longer manufactured, but it cost $1,600 couple of years ago.
good su or no...Maybe there's an economical reason it is no longer produced by epic.

I am sure that there are other high quality subs out there that outperform Velodyne at a fraction of the cost - i.e. JTR, Submersive, etc
Outperform in which way? prpbably not WAF....especially with four in a living room...

.. is it distortion at infrasonic frequencies that is significantly different in a real room where fundamentals can be boosted significantly (on the order of tens of db) while harmonics are not boosted?

... is it sub 10hz performance which is the holy grail of HT? Because tuning a vent to be wide and long enough with adequate bandwidth would be quite the feat. A passive radiator will work better but is still limited by its volume displacement and beyond that point can have serious mechanical noise. it's probably the best bet if only ~12hz is necessary but also remember that this speaker will weigh 3-4 times as much as it probably require heavy bracing if it is expected to play higher in frequency, and require lots of internal volume for adequate efficiency. and below its given tuning point, combined with protection circuits and natural rolloff you're looking at 48 to 60db/octave rolloff.

So it comes down to sealed subs. the submersive might be great... but where are the measurements?????? what kind of throw/extension do its higher efficiency 15" woofers have?

.. is it subjective sound quality...? How do we define this? How do we identify this in a room where frequency response is dominated? Or do we listen outdoors which is not a real world scenario? Do personal preferences matter?

Look, I think the JTR and Seaton and SVS and Epik and HSU and Rythmik products fill their own niches ;;;very;; well but I don't think you understand that every product will have its own individual issues. The velodyne isn't the right thing for a lot of us. But what it does it does well - excellent dsp limiting, deep 10hz extension, and relatively small size - are big things to some people. Don't get too caught up in distortion numbers at very low frequencies / high spls because they show us some things that may not be audible in a real room... pay them mind but don't dwell on them. the linearity / power compression test and the subjective note that the sub made no mechanical noises are the main things to look at. the sealed sub also stays within one cycle in its decay whereas the vented subs fail to do so eventually... though again at infrasonic frequencies that too is less relevant.

Measurements are fun but if you can't correlate them to your perception then it's just silly to harp on em. The CEA standards do exist as a guide for what is considered acceptable. There's dozens of tradeoffs you need to be ready to make. Use the review as a guide for whether the product appeals to you and if not move on. It's a LOT more info than you'll get from some guy on avs sticking a sub in a corner with zero eq and then comparing it by memory.

I trust Josh's analysis both subjectively and objectively - his sub setup with quad Re XXX is like my dream system along witb warpdrv's so I think he knows what he's talking about when he gives this sub an extreme room rating.
 
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gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
Ratings
4,585 23 9
#18
I have Epik Conquest, (18" portesd sub) which has solid output down to 12Hz with distortion of less than 4%.
and the actual ground plane measurements are where?


Besides that... what are the physical dimensions of the conquest?


Now that is a sub with quality output. It is no longer manufactured, but it cost $1,600 couple of years ago.



Outperform in which way? prpbably not WAF....especially with four in a living room...

.. is it distortion at infrasonic frequencies that is significantly different in a real room where fundamentals can be boosted significantly (on the order of tens of db) while harmonics are not boosted?

... is it sub 10hz performance which is the holy grail of HT? Because tuning a vent to be wide and long enough with adequate bandwidth would be quite the feat. A passive radiator will work better but is still limited by its volume displacement and beyond that point can have serious mechanical noise. it's probably the best bet if only ~12hz is necessary but also remember that this speaker will weigh 3-4 times as much as it probably require heavy bracing if it is expected to play higher in frequency, and require lots of internal volume for adequate efficiency. and below its given tuning point, combined with protection circuits and natural rolloff you're looking at 48 to 60db/octave rolloff.

So it comes down to sealed subs. the submersive might be great... but where are the measurements?????? what kind of throw/extension do its higher efficiency 15" woofers have?

.. is it subjective sound quality...? How do we define this? How do we identify this in a room where frequency response is dominated? Or do we listen outdoors which is not a real world scenario? Do personal preferences matter?

Look, I think the JTR and Seaton and SVS and Epik and HSU and Rythmik products fill their own niches ;;;very;; well but I don't think you understand that every product will have its own individual issues. The velodyne isn't the right thing for a lot of us. But what it does it does well - excellent dsp limiting, deep 10hz extension, and relatively small size - are big things to some people. Don't get too caught up in distortion numbers at very low frequencies / high spls because they show us some things that may not be audible in a real room... pay them mind but don't dwell on them. the linearity / power compression test and the subjective note that the sub made no mechanical noises are the main things to look at. the sealed sub also stays within one cycle in its decay whereas the vented subs fail to do so eventually... though again at infrasonic frequencies that too is less relevant.

Measurements are fun but if you can't correlate them to your perception then it's just silly to harp on em. The CEA standards do exist as a guide for what is considered acceptable. There's dozens of tradeoffs you need to be ready to make. Use the review as a guide for whether the product appeals to you and if not move on. It's a LOT more info than you'll get from some guy on avs sticking a sub in a corner with zero eq and then comparing it by memory.
You're HIRED MAN! PM me if you want to do product reviews! :D
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Ratings
4,634 34 17
#19
Between the PB13 and DD18+, if you asked me which is the nicest subwoofer overall, I would have to say the DD18+. At the frequencies that matter most, 30 hz and above, the PB13 only has a 2 db advantage. But look at all the features that the DD18+ has which the PB13 does not. Also, which is likely has better sound quality? I'm guessing the DD18+. On top of all that, the DD18+ looks much nicer. If I could have one between them, I would go for the DD18+.
 
Ricci

Ricci

Bassaholic
Ratings
117
#20
Well, I'll ask the obvious question:

How does this Velodyne DD18+ manage to win the Product of the Year award for subwoofers when Audioholics' own measurements indicate that it isn't as linear, can't reach as low, can't play as loud and has considerably more distortion than several of the MUCH less expensive subs that were reviewed?!
What is Audioholics' award saying? That all measureable metrics are meaningless so long as you cost more?

Sorry, but it's just plain weird.
:confused:...Which subs would those be? I see none.

The only one that is close is the PB13-Ultra and in sealed mode it does perform a little worse as regards THD. The DD18+ is effectively the deepest reaching commercial offering that I have tested thus far and while it may not be the absolute loudest it is up near the top despite being a sealed subwoofer. Also bass reflex subs have a large advantage in output down to tuning, it is not surprising at all that large ones would have advantage in output down to tuning over a sealed subwoofer. Any practical sealed subwoofer is going to require EQ to maintain a flat response to deep frequencies where bass reflex's will not necessarily. All of the EQing and the fact that a sealed subwoofer relies solely on driver excursion mean that they will run out of headroom and start limiting where the response is EQ'd, first. This has been shown in virtually every sealed subwoofer test. Vented subs can maintain shape better due to the flat natural response not requiring EQ boost and requiring less driver excursion above tuning. Vented subs typically suffer from high levels of port compression and noise and lack of useful output below tuning though and are typically larger.
 

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