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BK Monolith - owner reviews

Discussion in 'Subwoofers' started by sonic65, Jun 8, 2005.

  1. sonic65

    sonic65
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    Initial Testing of the BK MONOLITH

    I had no problem unpacking the weighty Monolith on my own as I actually followed the instruction leaflet supplied by BK.
    Build quality is extremely good and looks like a £800 sub in the cherry veneer with the corner fillets particularly attractive.
    I was very happy to see an optional XLR balanced input. Don’t see this on many subs.
    I set the frequency control to LFE and the volume to 11 0’clock with all other settings remaining the same as for the XLS200.
    On music the first impression was one of effortless ease. This sub goes LOW.
    I used the CD “Between the Sheets” by 411 (pronounced four-one-one as corrected, courtesy of my Granddaughter) which I use on all my subs and know the bass lines extremely well. The sub followed relatively fast tracks with ease. The title track bass sounded like a sledge hammer causing vibrations in my listening chair.
    I also scanned down the SKY music channels finally ending up on Classic FM
    my favourite. On classical music the refined nature of the Monolith really became noticeable as did the seamless integration with the main JBL control monitors. Bit of luck with the settings here I think. Fatigue after four hours of listening? No none at all. The unit was tested on the carpet no spikes or vibrapods, as yet, but no ornament rattling was heard.
    Compared against the XLS200?……Unfortunately I have sold my XLS200 to make way for the big boy so cannot carry out AB testing for direct comparison. However it is not easy as the XLS200 is an excellent sub and good on music. In my very limited four hours of music listening on the Monolith the depth was there plus a certain excitement. Can I put it this way I liked the music on the XLS200 but love the tonal sound of this giant, but other ears may disagree. It was effortless in giving the impression of vast amounts of power in reserve, it just sails along, and has deeper bass at lower volume. Basically it is what you might expect from a larger driver and a much bigger box.(Sorry, veneered enclosure) It was very easy to forget at times that the sub was indeed active. Personally I particularly like this characteristic. Further comparisons in due course as I have yet to test on AV. Now that will be an experience.
    Also electronic testing for those of us who are interested in such things but……….
    WARNING! May contain technical language.
    I hope the above helps those considering a Monolith but it is my opinion and musical tastes are personal and vary greatly.
     
  2. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    Nicely balanced review. :thumbsup:
    I can't wait for the more technical comments to back up what you've already said. Still don't think I'll be trading up my pair of XLS200's though. :)
     
  3. Stano

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    My spl meter finally arrived, set it up on a tripod in my listening position at ear height, unfortunately my signal generator is out of calibration but I was able to use it for sweeps, I spent a lot of time listening to single tones whilst watching the spl meter through the 16hz to 50hz range.

    There is no doubt the Monolith does all thats claimed of it, none of that bloated one note thump that seems to be demonstrated by too many, at times you wonder if its working, truth is if true bass is there you will hear it and when its low you feel it, at no time does the bass appear to come from the Monolith I had it set to one side of my listening position and swore the sound came from my Spendors each side of the tv.

    My lounge is open plan but the Monolith still pressurizes very convincingly, at the moment I am moving the Monlith to yet another position which according to the spl meter should give me lower bass or with more power, it still produces below 20hz fireing down the length of my lounge, being a newbie I am a little unsure with the spl meter as I understand there are some compensation figures for the Tandy analogue meter but others say not to use them?

    If others would like to advise on how to test please do so or if someone knows how to callibrate a Tech te22d audio generator??

    stano
     
  4. sonic65

    sonic65
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    Thanks eviljohn2 for your comment.
    I did consider getting a second XLS200 but this was inhibited by WAF.
    Any way the look on her face this morning when the Monolith was delivered was a picture. It was in a huge cardboard box strapped to a pallet. Pleased I made a cardboard replica of the actual size though before ordering.
    Listening to the Monolith has re-awakened memories of the bass reflex's I built years ago. They do seem to have a fundamental difference in timbre to a sealed box.
    May I have your opinion?
     
  5. PJTX100

    PJTX100
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    Good review Sonic. :thumbsup:

    Want one!

    But my little XLS200 is producing some amazing low grunt while I'm listening to Kraftwerk's Minimum Maximum hence it lives to fight another day!...PJ :)
     
  6. sonic65

    sonic65
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    Sorry Stano I didn't see your thread otherwise I would have tacked on to yours rather start another one. Must have been posting at the time.
    I use a Neutrik type 3382 calibrated microphone into an Alice Matchamp with the waveform displayed on an oscilloscope and read off on a DVM. The voltage ratios are then converted into dB. and plotted on log paper. Tedious but reasonably accurate.
    I am going to try and calibrate or rather determine correction values for my Tandy SPL meter.
    Your review is very interesting as what you say is very similar to my findings so far.
     
  7. sonic65

    sonic65
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    You are quite right the XLS200 is a brilliant unit not to mention the high WAF it can command.
    I was very sorry to see mine go but had to sell whilst the opportunity was there. I needed to finance the Monolith. You can imagine how relieved I am at the initial test results. Also Stano's results look good.
     
  8. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    Opinion of what?
    My preference is for sealed subs as I prefer the rolloff characteristics and find them easier to integrate.

    I doubt my pair has the same extension as the Monolith but I like the tweakability of the pair and the other characteristics that they exhibit such as the markedly reduced distortion compared to a single unit. :)
     
  9. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    I find that the correction values provided on the SVS site work well. I imported them into TrueRTA to calibrate my system. :)
     
  10. sonic65

    sonic65
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    Thanks for that often pondered on the benefits of twin subs.
    Apart from intensity and pitch a musical sound has a distinctive character. From testing the Monolith and my own sealed subwoofer the sounds appear different in character.
    Think I need to read up on colouration etc.
     
  11. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    Ported subs will generally exhibit different phase characteristics around the tuning frequencies. You'll find that at the tuned frequency virtually all of the sound output is actually from the port rather than the driver itself. This will also lead to slightly different dispersion characteristics.

    In response to actually using 2 subs, if they're colocated (as mine are) then you gain an enormous amount more headroom and can run each sub more quietly which helps reduces distortion by several times. With sealed subs this can often lead to an increase in extension as the additional headroom can go into powering the subs whilst with a ported design the response rolloff is usually too steep for it to be of any help. 2 subs can also be placed seperately in the room and with a bit of care can provide a much larger sweetspot that is achievable with a single unit. Also, having 2 10" drivers provides more pistonic area than a single 12" driver!

    As I have my units stacked it also means that I retain the small footprint. However, trying to set 2 subs up can be a real pain in the arse so in general I would recommend spending the same amount on a single better sub than getting 2 of a lower calibre. There are a good number of forum members using several subs, Steve.Ex has 4 Servo 15's and I've come across one guy in the US who has an array of about 8 SVS tubes (he's actually a member here)! :)
     
  12. Stano

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    Great minds sonic65.
    Looks like you are well used to the tedious job of speaker testing and look foreward to your findings, I bought the spl meter as eviljohn quite rightly suggested it is better than guessing,
    I found it of value just setting up the Monolith controls and integrating with my main speakers, I will carry on with my modest testing methods as I am sure I will get even better results from my third Monolith move, do you have yours on spikes or the cabinet feet?
    Above all else the Monolith is a great sounding sub especially considering the price and deserves to be set up with a little precision, at a later date I will be setting up the Monolith with my music system of valve cd player and valve amp, I have no doubt the Monolith will rise to the challenge.

    stano
     
  13. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    Glad you're getting on well with the SPL meter, most people think that they'll only ever use it once to set their system but I seem to be getting mine out at least once a month for a bit more tweaking.

    Can't wait to hear more about the Monolith. :)
     
  14. Stano

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    Thanks eviljohn2 I have them downloaded with a great list of films and music for bass content.

    stano
     
  15. Stano

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    I believe tweaking is never ending, perhaps you could start a tweaking sticky although there are so many variables due to various equipment, location, and an individuals expectations, where would you start? anyway time to try a different speaker cable.

    stano
     
  16. Ian J

    Ian J
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    I take the opposite view and having set up my sub to integrate well with my speakers two years ago I haven't found it necessary to fiddle with it any more. If you get it right first time I don't see why one should need to keep on fiddling.
     
  17. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    I take the balance between the 2 viewpoints. Tweaking is very important once you first get a new piece of equipment, there are often hundreds of different settings which can be used and it's important to try them all and get an idea of what they change, how they change it and why it happens. Once you're familiar with the available settings through tweaking it should no longer be necessary as you can get your setup right correctly without too much hassle (hopefully). Whenever I do tweak something these days I almost invariably decide that it was better how it was before and go back.

    Only through tweaking can we finally be happy at not tweaking. :)
     
  18. sonic65

    sonic65
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    That's interesting, it is amazing what can be learnt on this forum. You have got me going on twin subs now it seems quite a challenge.
     
  19. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    Sonic, if you havn't read it this thread should make interesting reading as it covers my learning curve with dual subs.

    In the same way as I wouldn't go back to a ported sub I don't think I'd go back to a single sub either. I think that's just my musical preferences coming through though. :)
     
  20. sonic65

    sonic65
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    Yes it is interesting, and that part about tinnitus. Have book-marked it for later digestion. Incidentally I checked my Tandy SPL meter against a calibrated laboratory instrument at 1KHz. and it was within 2dB. I use it mainly for keeping SPL below 90db. for long term safety, but I am going to have at go at producing correction levels for it to help out testing the Monolith. Isn't it easy to wander off-topic.
     
  21. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    I'd be very interested in your efforts at comparing the Ratshack meter to more professional equipment so keep us informed.

    I find that threads only wander off-topic when something interesting is being discussed or when an argument descends into fighting. We're waiting for your next review installment anyway. :)
     
  22. Roam

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    Sure am :)
     
  23. Stellavision

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    I would tread the dual-sub route carefully.
    Where Evil John, Steve EX and El Cid have had success with their multi sub set ups, there have also been people who have gone down this route and not been so fortunate.
    Rags for one tried two ASW750's and after dissapointing results finished up selling them both in favour of one ASW850.
     
  24. sonic65

    sonic65
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    Stano my XLS200 used to make the ornaments tinkle like a full-blown vibraphone. Fitting spikes made some improvement but did not cure it. The Monolith is currently just on the carpet pending testing and so far is not inducing rattles anywhere. Perhaps this is due to the solidity of the enclosure or more likely the room position. I don't like the idea of spikes on such a heavy piece of kit as it will have to be lifted into one of three very awkward positions. I am going to try type 5 Vibrapods which are easy to place. If these fail to work then spikes may well be tried.
     
  25. Steve.EX

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    I agree, i have no doubt that in absolute terms a single subwoofer ideally matched to a room etc should, on paper, be the "winner". Yet no matter how much i have debated with myself that i want a single monster monster super expensive sub, in the cold-light-of-day i really am stuck with the general satisfaction that is acheived with dual etc subs - plain and simple. I'm wholeheartedly with EvilJohn here, generally speaking i have prefered sealed over ported and adding an additional sub really can make a substantial difference.
     
  26. Stellavision

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    I have only had a couple of ported subs, one of which was an SVS 25-31 PCi, and while performance was impressive, I have also found more pleasing results with sealed units. From my experiences the sealed subs seem to produce a tighter sound.
     
  27. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Last year the well respected Ultimate AV magazine tested many of the world's best subwoofers over three editions publishing extensive data en route to the summary in which the Genelec HTS6 was found to come out top of the pile in terms of "tonal neutrality, stability of response at all playback levels, very low distortion, expolisive dynamics and utter unflappability" despite it being ported :D

    The ported Snell ICS Sub24 was voted "best Bang for the Buck" The ported Wilson Watch Dog won the "hardware Drool" award and was described as being "a very good performer in absolute terms and shockingly good considering that there's only a 12" driver and two narrow slotted ports at the business end"
     
  28. Ian J

    Ian J
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    I think that is more to do with the fact that they are two completely different subwoofers rather than the fact that one is sealed and the other ported.

    According to some sources the SVS PC Ultra and 20-39 PC Plus subwoofers have a completely different sonic character and they use identical casings with only the drivers and amps being different.
     
  29. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    Ian, I think you may have established why we prefer sealed units - all of those models that you mention are in the top price brackets. :)
     
  30. Stano

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    sonic at the moment I do not consider the spikes necessary, the bass is very solid with none of the woolly sound often associated with not using spikes.

    stano
     

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