February 25, 2007

Rocket UFW-12

I was lucky enough to win one of the gracious prizes given out this past holiday season by Secrets, a Rocket UFW-12 subwoofer. This is a 12" sealed design in an enclosure with internal volume somewhere around 4.5ft3. It's powered by a 1000W RMS plate amplifier that includes one band of parametric EQ, and is veneered in South American Rosewood with piano black top and bottom caps. It also weighs 137 pounds. I replaced the Velodyne SPL-1200 Series II subwoofer I was using upstairs with the UFW-12. This is sort of a horizontal upgrade, rather than a vertical one.

The reason I consider this more of a horizontal upgrade is because while I think the UFW-12 provides better performance than the SPL-1200 Series II, it also includes a 23Hz, 10th order subsonic filter. I believe the SPL-1200 Series II incorporates a slightly lower filter, possibly set around 20Hz. The difference in frequency response can be seen in the Secrets UFW-12 measurements and a brief statement in the Audioholics SPL-1200 Series II conclusion. So you get better performance above 25Hz and one band of PEQ with the UFW-12, but the SPL-1200 Series II goes a little lower.

Irrespective of the above, the UFW-12 performs excellently from 25Hz and up. It seems to reproduce sounds with more authority than the SPL-1200 Series II, although perhaps they are fairly equal in terms of distortion and maximum SPL. Certain low frequency sounds simply sounded better and clearer with the UFW-12. But the difference in low frequency extension can be audible. I found my in-room response matched very closely the measurements at Secrets, although with some peaks and dips due to the room.

The included PEQ may help tame a peak if you have a large one, but you need closer to five or seven bands to produce a really flat response in most rooms. Having to select the center frequency, Q, and amplitude via analog dials means you do have to go through some trial and error to get your desired filter set up. I used the PEQ to fix one of the 5dB boost, but overall the response was very good even without EQ and it would have been good even without that filter.

Overall, I find the UFW-12 to be a good subwoofer for its current duty, which is as part of our secondary system used for video games. I would not, however, be satisfied with it or even a pair of them in our home theater setup. This is mostly for cutting out so quickly around 25Hz, because above there I think the performance is excellent as long as you have enough of them to meet your SPL requirements without distortion or compression. I think for most music the UFW-12 would be an excellent choice, but you need something that goes lower if you enjoy large drums, pipe organs, or electronic music with deep bass lines.

Cosmetically, the UFW-12 is beautiful. It's also large and could be used as a low end table if you wished. The only drawback is it makes the Castle Avon speakers look too small.

Posted by josuah at February 25, 2007 11:20 PM UTC+00:00

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