Shiva Subwoofer - The Destroyer Has Arrived!

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What the Heck is a Shiva??

Shiva has been the subwoofer on the minds and drawing pads of thousands of DIY'ers for over a year now.  So what the heck is Shiva?  Probably one of the best 12" drivers in its class for DIY Audio.  I started reading about Shiva when the driver was still under production, early January of 1999.  That's actually around the time this web page came together.  I wrote Dan Wiggins, President of Adire Audio (formerly Avatar Audio) and said, Hey Dan, I want two of your drivers!  At the time I had just finished building a brand new pair of 12" subwoofers for my home theater.  The drivers I had originally bought were made by Aura and cost me a mere 50 bucks a piece.  Yet I didn't let the cost of the driver deter me from building an awesome enclosure for it.  Cheap drivers in a good box can sound remarkable.  However,  the vice-versa of that it true also.

The Original Aura Subwoofer

Using the specs for the Aura sub, which still flaunted 8 mm of Xmax (which used to be considered pretty good), I designed two sub enclosures for each.  The design was basically a QB3 alignment tuned to 28 Hz for a maximally flat response.  The internal volume of the box was targeted for 3.0 cubic feet (80 L).  The 3 cubic feet also came from the fact that it's the largest enclosure you can build two of out of a single sheet of 4' x 8' MDF.  I maximized every cut and every side so that not a single piece of wood went to scrap.   Even all the little pieces I used to brace all the panels to reduce any and all unwanted vibration.

The Results

After I finished the enclosures and painted them in a piano black lacquer I dropped the drivers in and gave the new system a whirl.  I was totally blown away by these sub's performance.  I had never heard such powerful and deep amounts of bass in my life.  The subs were being driven with a Craver M1.5t capable of pushing 600 watts RMS into each sub.  I lived in a small apartment complex at the time and the bass was so intense it physically shook nearly all of the 24 surrounding apartments to the point that every one would come barging out of their quiet dwellings to find out why their flatware was falling out of the cupboards and shattering on the floor.  Yes, and most of these people lived all the way down the hall from me.  After that, I was hooked.  Hooked on the power of deep, teeth-shattering, mind-boggling bass.  Using my Radio Shack SPL meter, I was able to hit 120 dB almost anywhere in the room with various rap artists and boom CD's.

Never Satisfied

That was when I decided I needed more.  I needed more power.  I had an amp that wanted to push these speakers too far.  If I wasn't careful I could get those subs to bottom out like mad.  Very loud popping sounds would protrude from the cone often times.  It was a nightmare.  I knew the only way to combat the problem would be with a driver that could handle more power and had more xmax.  That's when I ran across Shiva.  A driver that would beat out my old Aura's by a landslide.   I drooled and drooled until 8 months later I had two of them arrive on my doorstep.  That's some patience I tell you.  I was very impressed with the looks of these drivers.  I'd never seen anything so big, massive, and just plain huge.  Although I do have some gripes with this driver now, that I've worked with it for various projects, I still believe it to be a great driver and subwoofer that will work awesome for many applications.  And the price is definitely right.

Moving on to Shiva

By the time my new Shiva's had arrived, I had moved to a small condo with only 2 other condos on either side of us, so the worry of bothering the neighbors was reduced to a minimum.  Well, as opposed to having a hundred people mad at me there would only be a dozen or so.  The Shivas frame was a smidgen on the large side and didn't quite fit in my 11" cutout I'd made for the Auras.  It wasn't that the frame edge was too large, it was that the frame edge was too deep.  The cutout I had made with a jigsaw had the slightest inward taper on the cutout, reducing it's interior dimension to just under 11".  So I took a file to it and 10 minutes later my new Shivas were resting nicely in their new little homes.  They looked beautiful and beefy as could be.  I wired the coils in a semi-permanent 4 ohm load because I only had one binding post terminal on the enclosure.  There was no need for wiring it any other way, since I'd planned on running a stereo amp into each sub at 4 ohms.

The First Few Runs

The first few test runs were something impressive.  By this time I had moved on from just listening to music to watching movies on my DVD player with my brand new Sony ES receiver.  So I fired up some of my favorite movies and watched and listened to my new Shiva subwoofers.  I believe it was The Mask of Zorro that impressed me most.  The intro with the fast tap dancing and Zorro walks out and cuts a Z in the screen.  The bass was so intense.  It shook everything in the house and completely blew me and my family who was watching totally out of our seats.  The bass seemed to envelope the entire listening area.  It crept in from all around and surrounded you.  It shook the floor, it shook the seats, it caused your hair to vibrate on your head and your pants to shake on your legs.  There was not a part of your body that didn't hear and feel the extreme low frequencies that came out of those subs.  I also remember watching Last Man Standing with Bruce Willis (no, I didn't actually watch the movie with Bruce) and feeling the powerful impact of gunshots blasting through the room at life-like levels.  As anyone whose ever shot a .44 Magnum knows, when you pull the trigger on that sucker,  not only is it loud as all hell, but the acoustical shock almost puts a whole through your chest.  I've felt it in real life, and I've re-lived it with these speakers and this movie.  Some other great movies that I enjoyed thoroughly with my Shivas were The Mummy, The Rock, Terminator, Godzilla, Backdraft, 5th Element, and the list goes on and on.

The Shiva Driver

For anyone who is serious about subs and home theater, the Shiva gets 4 stars in my book.  Of the two enclosures I've used Shiva in, I'd say that these performed the best in the smaller ported enclosure versus the larger EBS passive radiator enclosure.  They can handle a lot of power, they're loud and play plenty deep, and the enclosure doesn't take up half my living room. Each sub was cable of delivering well up to 120 dB SPL within a few feet and both subs together delivered an impressive 121 dB average SPL for overall in-room response.  Yes, they sounded great.  Yet every great sub still has its pitfalls.  With Shiva, I'd have to say the few downsides were only little things that Adire intentionally skimped on to make the driver less expensive.  Such as the paper cone, the stamped frame, the foam surround, the flimsy spider and especially those dang, horrible tinsel leads that would slap against the spider-riser-frame and make rather loud and obnoxious noises.  Other than that, this driver has set a new standard for long throw subwoofer on the market today.  Keep your eyes peeled for the new Shiva Mark II Subwoofer which Avatar is developing right now.  Which may cost a little bit more, but if they've re-engineered any of their previous designs, and don't skimp out on anything, I'm sure for anyone who is serious about DIY will be happy to pay the extra pennies to get a driver that's totally and completely top-of-the-line.  

 

The Making Of

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Almost Done

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Painted with Auras

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New Drivers...Shiva!

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Measured Response

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This page last updated on July 24, 2013.

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