What is the Power Sound Audio S1512?
The Power Sound Audio S1512 is a sealed subwoofer with a 15-inch forward-firing driver and 960W of ICEpower amplification. Although if you’re wondering who Power Sound Audio are, don’t worry you’re not alone. I wasn’t familiar with this particular manufacturer until the S1512 arrived at my door.
After a bit of digging I discovered that Power Sound Audio (PSA) is an American speaker manufacturer headquartered in Mineral Ridge, Ohio. It was founded by Tom Vodhanel (the ‘V’ in SVS), who brings his 20 years of audio experience to bear on a range of products that includes some very beefy subs.
The company’s goal is to deliver class-leading products at affordable prices. That’s a noble ambition, although at £1,499 as at the time of writing (August 2020), the S1512 certainly isn’t a budget product. However, the specs look impressive on paper, so let’s see if this particular PSA reaches its audience.
The Power Sound Audio S1512 might look impressive on paper, but the unit itself is far from a looker. By its very nature a sealed subwoofer is basically a wooden cube, so opportunities to 'bling' one are limited, but even by these standards the S1512 is basic.
What you get is a matte black cabinet that’s constructed of CNC-machined MDF and is finished with a non-reflective and extremely durable textured material. The forward-firing 15-inch driver is covered with an acoustically transparent fabric grille, which is attached using studs.
This sub won't win any beauty contests, but the emphasis is on discretion, durability and build quality
The S1512 might not win any beauty contests but the overall build quality is excellent, with the enclosure heavily braced and assembled with rabbet joints for strong structural integrity, and the amplifier mounted on the rear baffle. Considering it uses a 15-inch driver this sub is surprisingly compact, measuring 440 x 440 x 460mm (WxHxD), and weighing in at 29kg.
Connections and Control
The Power Sound Audio S1512 has a basic set of connections at the rear, with a single pair of RCA phono inputs for right and left, with the latter pulling double duty as the LFE input, along with a pair of left and right balanced XLR inputs.
In terms of control there’s a bit more choice, with power selector for off, auto and on, along with a corresponding indicator LED (green, red and off). There’s a gain control for adjusting the output level of the sub, and a delay control from 0 to 16ms for acoustically aligning the S1512 with the left and right speakers. There’s also a crossover control that goes from 40 to 150Hz (along with an LFE setting), and a room size control that shapes the lower end of the sub’s response to compensate for excessive room gain.
Features and Specs
The Power Sound Audio S1512 is a great example of the company’s approach to subwoofer design, with a look and feature set that's all business. It might not be pretty, but since it’s going to be hidden away in a home cinema, does that really matter? It might not have many connections, but again the majority of users are simply going to run a phono cable to the LFE input and that’s it.
Instead of frivolous designs and pointless features, Power Sound Audio has concentrated on building a compact, sealed subwoofer designed to produce deeper bass extension, increased output, and better overall sound quality.
The S1512 is powered by a claimed 960W RMS (2100W peak) built-in amplifier with ICEpower audio technology. The controls use a DSP-based feature board that allows users to properly integrate this subwoofer into their systems.
This sub is light on features but uses a 15-inch front-firing driver backed by 960W RMS (2100W peak) of ICEpower
Despite its compact proportions, this sub sports a 15-inch extreme duty wooofer, with improved thermal handing and increased motor strength for powerful and accurate bass reproduction. The claimed frequency response is 19-200Hz (+/-3dB), with an in-room extension of 7-14Hz.
Setup and Operation
The size and simplicity of the Power Sound Audio S1512 makes placement, setup and operation relatively easy. In terms of placement, corners generally work well, particularly if there are no large openings in the room near the corner. Alternatively you could go for near field placement, with the sub as close as possible to the key seating position (such as directly behind a sofa).
However, every room is different, so a degree of experimentation might be required. One method that often works well is to place the sub in the key seating position and then walk around the room while playing a bass-heavy piece of music or scene from a film (or test tone if you have access to one). Then all you need to do is place the sub in the position where the bass sounded the best.
I placed the S1512 in the front right corner of my room, a location that I know works well in terms of producing balanced bass. I then connected the LFE output on my reference Lyngdorf MP-60 AV processor to the corresponding input on the sub. I used an SPL meter to set the delay so that the sub was blended with my main speakers, and selected LFE on the crossover control.
This is a flexible sub in terms of installation – not only placement but also integration with your system and room
The room size setting is interesting, and in my room (which isn’t huge) the middle setting seemed to work best. However, moving the control towards small did increase the tightness of the overall response, while increasing the control towards large resulted in deeper bass. As I’ve already mentioned, every room is different and each person will have their own preference.
The Power Sound Audio S1512 immediately revealed its heritage, with a powerful and forceful delivery that’s sure to please fans of SVS subs of the past. The more recent offerings from that company have tended to be almost subtle in terms of their delivery and, while that’s not a bad thing, it might disappoint anyone who likes a bit of low-end blunt force trauma.
This is certainly the case with this little beauty, and it's amazing PSA has managed to cram a 15-inch woofer into such a compact cabinet. But at the end of the day any speaker is just moving air, so the bigger the driver, the greater the impact. The company's approach is equally as straightforward when it comes to the woofer's composition, going for tried and tested materials rather than peeling something exotic off the bottom of a space shuttle.
This simplicity extends to the amplification that's actually driving the woofer, with the ICEpower amp delivering some serious welly in the shape of 960W of grunt and peaks up to 2100W. As a result, this sub not only has the ability to go deep in terms of bass extension, but it can back-up that low-end heft with an ability to perform at unsociable levels.
This sub's low-end prowess was apparent from the frightening bass notes at the very beginning of Edge of Tomorrow. The S1512 delivers an incredibly deep and sustained infra-sonic presence that overwhelms you and gives the film's opening a palpable sense of dread. The big bass moments at the start of Blade Runner 2049 are equally as well served by the PSA.
This powerful performance gives the drums in Whiplash a driving percussive kick, but it would be fair to say that the S1512 isn't quite as tight or 'musical' as some of its contemporaries. That's not to say that the delivery isn't controlled or responsive, and this sealed sub is certainly faster than a comparable ported model. But this isn't a subtle approach to bass, and the PSA's ability to mine the subterranean depths is certainly better suited to today's blockbuster movies.
A good example is Terminator: Dark Fate, which boasts a soundtrack that makes extensive use of its LFE channel to make even the smallest punch feel like a swinging sledgehammer. The S1512 helps give the battling terminators and augmented humans a genuine sense of weight and power. As a military transport plane deliberately crashes into another, you can feel the bass generated by the impact in your chest.
- Fantastic bass performance
- Controlled and responsive
- Simple and flexible setup
- Great build quality
- Not exactly a looker
- No remote control
Power Sound Audio S1512 Subwoofer Review
Should I buy one?
The Power Sound Audio S1512 largely delivers on the company’s stated ambition of producing a subwoofer that combines performance and value. While an emphasis on quality components, as opposed to design niceties, results in a sub that’s far from ‘lifestyle-friendly’, this shouldn’t be an issue when placed in the corner of a darkened home cinema.
Considering there’s a 15-inch driver behind the grille, it’s surprisingly compact and discreet, and this sealed sub is also flexible when it comes to placement. There’s a reasonable set of connections, and for most people a mono LFE will suffice. It's not exactly feature-packed, but there are some useful controls for effectively integrating the S1512 with your system and room.
Most importantly, it delivers the kind of depth and power that will delight fans of old-school SVS. This sub not only produces exceptional low-end extension, but manages to do so with a degree of control. Having said that the S1512 is responsive rather than responsible, and it’s not exactly refined either – but who wants that anyway? It's a nostalgic throwback to the days when subs kicked your teeth in with overwhelming infra-sonic bass, as opposed to trying to sound ‘nuanced’ or ‘musical’.
PSA might consider the S1512 ‘affordable’, but it’s still not cheap compared to much of the competition. Having said that the large 15-inch driver allows for lower distortion and higher volume than comparable subwoofers that use smaller drivers. Ultimately, if you’re looking for subterranean shock and awe, you won’t be disappointed with the service from this diminutive brute, and that’s an announcement worth making public.
What are my alternatives?
The competition is varied at this price point, but the SVS SB-3000 would make a good alternative. This particular subwoofer is a great example of where SVS are these days in terms of design and features. The sealed cabinet is beautifully made, and the piano gloss black finish is especially eye-catching. There's also a removable non-resonant steel mesh grille, that sets this particular model apart from other subs at this bracket.
There's a high-tech rear panel, which SVS has christened the Intelligent Control Interface, along with Bluetooth control using a dedicated app. The latter not only allows you to setup and control the sub from the comfort of your chair, but also provides plenty of flexibility in terms tuning the performance for your system and room. However, in terms of connections the SB-3000 is hardly any better than the S1512, with only stereo phono inputs and a matching pair of outputs.
The SB-3000 is also a great performer, with deep bass extension that is both controlled and precise. It retains a pleasing refinement and musicality, while still delivering plenty of low frequency energy. The S1512 has greater depth and more raw power, but at the expense of a degree of subtlety. So if you like deep bass combined with agility and an accurate sonic signature, then this latest example of SVS's sublime subwoofery is sure to please.
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