Price: $4200 USD
Dimensions: 31"W x 21"H x 16"D
Weight: 83.5 pounds
Warranty: Five years parts and labor
- Two 12" aluminum ribbed woofers
- 500W (manufacturer rated) MOSFET switching amplifier
- Servo technology
- Can be used as low-frequency companion to rear speakers
- Buffered LFE output for daisy-chaining multiple subs
My new home theater was under construction
for the past several months. When it was finally completed, I turned to the boxes of gear
waiting to be reviewed, and eventually got to the Genesis Advanced Technologies S2/12t
subwoofer ($4200). While Id heard of Genesis, I knew little about the company, and
nothing at all about the S2/12t. I grabbed my razor knife and opened the box to take a
look at what I thought would be just another subwoofer.
What I discovered was that the S2/12t is not just
another subwoofer. Even at first glance, it looked unique. In fact, due to its black color
and lack of right angles, the S2/12t looks like something right out of
Lockheed-Martins Skunk Works program, home of the U2, the SR-71 Blackbird, and the
F-117 Stealth Fighter. I was intrigued. Then, rummaging through the user manual, I
discovered that the S2/12t had a few unique features that told me it meant serious
business. So out of the box it came.
Servo technology and features
A visual inspection of the
S2/12t reveals, in addition to its unique appearance, two 12" woofers of ribbed
aluminum. According to Genesis, this allows them to be lightweight, yet stiff enough to
exhibit no flexure or resonance from 16 to 140Hz, the frequency range within which the
S2/12t is designed to operate.
Behind the scenes, the action is in the S2/12ts servo
bass system (the "S" stands for "ServoSub"). This system employs an
accelerometer to constantly compare the woofers output to the input signal. As
needed, a signal is then applied to the woofers to correct any discrepancy. Servo systems
are often used in subwoofers because with very-high-impact signals -- from a kick drum,
say -- the cones momentum can keep it moving even after the signal has stopped. The
result can be sonic overhang, bloat, and loss of definition.
According to Genesis, servo systems virtually eliminate
woofer distortion. In fact, Genesis states that even at moderate levels, non-servo woofer
systems often have distortion levels that exceed 10%. Genesis asserts that its servo
system reduces distortion to less than 1% at almost any output level. They also assert
that this system drives the woofer at constant acceleration, thus making its response
nearly flat within its frequency range.
Servo systems require a lot of current to ensure that the
woofers are precisely reproducing the signal. Therefore, they are very demanding of
amplifier power. For this reason, class-D switching amps, which are highly efficient and
create little heat, are often used in servo systems. The S2/12t uses a discrete MOSFET
switching amplifier rated at 500W and with output capability of up to 1kW, thus allowing
for high damping and thermal stability at high volumes.
In addition to taxing amplifiers, servo systems typically
place a significant burden on transducers, which convert electrical signals into
mechanical cone vibration and, hence, sound. The transducers used in servo systems must be
robust, yet light enough to quickly and gracefully react to changes in the signal where
necessary. According to Genesis, the transducer used in the S2/12t has been carefully
developed to strike an uneasy balance between weight and rigidity.
At $4200, the S2/12t is not something youd recommend
to a casual hobbyist. But beyond its big-ticket price, the S2/12t has some unique features
that make it clear that only hardcore home-theater and music aficionados need apply.
First, the S2/12t can of course be used to reproduce either
the LFE channel in a home theater, or to provide low-frequency extension in a two-channel
music system. However, it can also be used in multichannel music systems to provide
low-frequency extension for the rear speakers. In fact, through something that Genesis
calls LFE Blend technology, the S2/12t will simultaneously reproduce the LFE track and
the rear-channel content. Genesis claims that by blending these signals in this manner,
you can achieve significantly better bass management.
Second, the S2/12t not only has an LFE input, but an LFE
buffered output as well. This allows you to daisy-chain multiple subs through an RCA or
XLR cable, and dispenses with the necessity of splitting the LFE signal out of your
processor. Genesis recommends pairing the S2/12t with one of its other subwoofer models,
each of which will perform best in a different part of your room.
I connected the line-level LFE output on my Integra DHC-9.9
A/V processor to the LFE input on the S2/12t. I then adjusted the bass gain to zero and
set the LFE gain to setting 6, which is the halfway position. This would best allow the
software in my surround processor to automatically dial in the appropriate LFE level. I
set the phase to 0. In order to complement the frequency response of my MartinLogan
Vantage speakers (which contain active woofers), I adjusted the low-pass filter to 40Hz.
Not having either a 20-long sub interconnect or similar lengths of speaker cables, I
was unable to test the S2/12ts prowess as a low-frequency complement to my rear
Prior to positioning the S2/12t in my room, I spoke to Gary
Koh, CEO of Genesis. He advised that if I was using only one S2/12t, I shouldnt
place it in a corner. Doing so, he said, would excite every bass mode in the room. Indeed,
experience has taught me that in positioning a subwoofer, a corner will generally afford
more bass output than placement elsewhere.
Nonetheless, being the know-it-all that I am, and realizing
that the acoustics of any room are hard to predict, I at first ignored Kohs advice
and placed the S2/12t in the front left corner of my room -- and discovered that the
output from there was indeed too explosive; it sounded boomy at about 50 and 120Hz.
Because digital room-correction software can do only so much, I ate humble pie as I
crawled around my room with my ears near the floor, eventually deciding to position the
S2/12t along the left wall.
A final word on setup: I absolutely love the looks
of the S2/12t, and my guess is that you will too. Just be aware that, unless your home is
decorated in Late American High-Tech Military Style, with lots of stealthy black-on-black
tones, the S2/12t is likely to have a Spouse Acceptance Factor equal to that of a
I first tested the S2/12t with the Blu-ray version of Iron
Man, in which Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark, a wealthy arms manufacturer,
inventor, and playboy who is captured by terrorists after being betrayed by sinister
elements within his own company. To escape from the terrorists cave, Stark uses
spare weapons parts to develop a powered suit of armor that gives him superhuman strength,
a full complement of firepower, and the obligatory ability to engage in subsonic flight.
In chapter 11, the S2/12t demonstrated iron-fisted control
over the LFE content it was fed. The rumble of Starks flight was both muscular and
detailed. When he took aim at a weapons depot that had fallen into the hands of the
terrorists, the resulting explosions were deep, clean, and visceral, each explosion
clearly heard as a separate event. In fact, as a result of the S2/12ts subterranean
reach, I could strongly feel the explosions as well.
In chapter 14, Stark fights a bad guy who, of course, wears
his own superpowered suit of armor. Cars are tossed around, buildings crushed, roads
pulverized. With the S2/12t on the job, it seemed as if it was all taking place right in
my listening room. Amazingly, the S2/12t didnt break a sweat as it helped to fully
dramatize these scenes.
I also tested the S2/12t with the Blu-ray version of The
Exorcism of Emily Rose, whose title sums up the main story plot. The meat of the movie
occurs during chapters 10 and 11, when the exorcism of this young girl occurs. Without the
S2/12t, Emilys exorcism would undoubtedly be less frightening, as the sub brought
home the realism of various scary low-level sounds, including the repeated sharp and
violent sounds of lightning that occur during the ritual.
Next up was the Blu-ray Live at Montreaux 2003, from
the classic rock band Yes. This disc focuses on Yess classic hits, not their later
work. Chris Squires bass work in chapter 11, "The Fish," is nothing short
of a tour de force. Even considering that this is a live recording, the S2/12t rendered
Squires bass in a refined and natural way. Superb leading attacks and lack of
noticeable overhang caused each note to be clearly delineated. The timbre was very
convincing, and dynamics were impressive.
I compared the S2/12t to my MartinLogan Descent i servo
subwoofer ($3495), which, with similar technology at a similar price, seemed a worthy
opponent. The Descent i has three 10" aluminum-cone drivers positioned in a balanced
configuration, each powered by its own 250W amplifier, for a combined total output of
750W. Actually, the Descent i has three servo systems, one for each woofer.
Picking a favorite wasnt easy. At the end of the day,
however, the Genesis wasnt able to play quite as loudly as the MartinLogan -- though
it took excessive, even unrealistic volume levels to reach this conclusion. On the other
hand, the S2/12t reached ever so slightly deeper than the Descent i. But keep in mind that
Im talking about subtle differences that I wouldnt have noticed at all if not
clued in by the resonating structural weaknesses of my room. Both subs will likely go
lower than youll be able to hear. With music, the comparison was a proverbial
toss-up. The S2/12t and Descent i were both very articulate and, at the end of the day,
both offered all-around top-notch performance.
Based solely on its stellar sonic performance, the S2/12t
warrants critical recommendation. However, when you also consider its features,
versatility, and cutting-edge appearance, it can fairly be said to be among a handful of
exceptional subwoofers at its price. The S2/12t may look like something out of a
classified military-weapons program, but it should not be kept a secret from serious
home-theater buffs and music lovers. Easily recommended.
|Speakers - MartinLogan
Vantage (mains), MartinLogan Stage (center), MartinLogan Script i (surrounds), MartinLogan
Descent i (subwoofer)
processor - Integra DHC-9.9
|Amplifier - Halcro Logic
- Marantz DV9600 DVD player, Denon DVD-2500BTCI Blu-ray player
|Power conditioners -
Synergistic Research PowerCell SE, PS Audio Noise Harvesters, DIY parallel filter
and power cords - Synergistic Research
|Isolation devices - Bright
Star Audio Big Rocks and Little Rocks, Black Diamond Racing cones and pucks, DIY amp
treatments - Synergistic Research Acoustic Art system
|Display devices - Epson Home
Cinema 6500 UB projector, Stewart Filmscreen Luxus Communicator screen