I’ve been a big fan of TC Sounds drivers for almost 10 years. They manufacture some of the beefiest high-excursion drivers and passive radiators on the market. I was shocked to learn that they’ve filed for bankruptcy in spite of having such a great reputation for amazing drivers not only among the DIY crowd but as an OEM as well. I’m not exactly sure what happened behind the scenes that would put them in such a situation. Their last push was developing the Audiopulse brand which isn’t available from too many places except one for now – Parts Express.
When I finally got around to thinking about building a sub for my home theater, I checked out the specs on the EPIC 12″ dual 4-ohm driver, the only one PE was carrying at the time, and decided it would be a perfect fit for my small HT. Quick specs include 600W RMS power handling, 22mm xmax one-way (over 2″ pk-pk mech. travel), voice coil leads stitched into the linear spiders, 140 oz. magnet, and a sweet black anodized single dish alloy cone. T/S parameters make this sub suitable for either a vented or sealed enclosure. The fairly high Vas (97 L) requires a large 4th order enclosure to achieve a nominally flat response. I didn’t have room to make the box as big as the driver would like, but ended up with a 95 L box that when tuned to 22 Hz would yield only a slight +0.8 dB hump and and f3 of 21 Hz. Which is only slightly worse than if the box were nearly 1.5 times that size.
The biggest compromise I made was choosing to use a single 4″ diameter port. Below 30 Hz, the port air speed arises well above the socially acceptable level, but I just was not physically able to fit two 4″ ports in the box when each one needed to be 38″ long to tune it to 22 Hz. And the volume that the ports took up inside the box, took up precious volume I was trying to conserve in order to reach the lowest extension possible with this design. I knew the port noise would be audible, but I wasn’t too worried about it. In practical terms, if the bass is thumping loud enough to make the air chuffing out of the port super noisy, then chances are the rest of the speakers are also loud enough to cover it up. While doing sine sweeps, the air noise is quite apparent, but while actually watching a movie, I didn’t hear it near as much. Though if I had more room, I would have definitely opted for dual 4″ ports or a single 6″ port.
For now I’m powering the sub with an old Techniques stereo receiver I’ve had since I was 15. It pushes a modest 80W per channel into 8 ohms. Since this is a dual coil 4 ohm sub I had the option to either run one very conservative channel into 8 ohms with the coils wired in series, or push the amp beyond its rated capability and run one channel to each 4 ohm coil. So what do you think I did? Well, I added a fan to the amp, and then I wired both channels to each coil to get the most power possible out of this amp/driver combo. I’m not too worried about cooking this 20 year-old antique, I’ve already replaced the one big IC that makes up the entire amp from frying it, so if something happens, I can always replace it again. I don’t know what the amp is capable of pushing into 4 ohms, but it’s probably not much more than 100W per channel, so I figure the sub is seeing around 200W total. Nowhere near the 600W it can handle. A Behringer A500 is in the plans for the near future.
I ran some tests the other night with REW and did some in-room FR plots. I was very happy, after building so many sealed subs recently, to see the response nearly dead flat from 70 Hz all the way down to 20 Hz, before it began rolling off, was very exciting. And wow, that thing plays deep, even better than what it modeled like. The f3 was suppose to be around 21 Hz, instead it’s more like 18 Hz in-room. Which for me and my modest family room is plenty. I haven’t done any max SPL tests, I’ve been hesitant to do those kinds of tests ever since I cooked a brand new TC sounds driver years ago. But after watching the into to Toy Story II (my favorite test DVD) this sub just shakes, rattles and rolls the whole house. Even at only 200W. I can’t imagine what this thing could sound like with 3x that much power. Well, mathematically, it should only sound 4.77 dB louder, but that is still substantial amount of volume, and would certainly be noticeable.
So check out some of the pictures of the build for this sub. Even though it’s a somewhat compromised design as far as cubic volume and port area go, it sounds absolutely fantastic and does not take up any room in my family room, as it’s completely integrated into the entertainment center. And I know what you’re thinking, doesn’t the whole entertainment center just rattle? Well, if I hadn’t build that whole entertainment center out of 3/4″ MDF and glued and screwed every piece together, I might say yes, but the entertainment center is as beefy as the sub is. So it’s quite solid and doesn’t rattle at all. The best part is this sub gets a 10/10 for the Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF). My wife is very happy that the sub is hidden into the furniture and is barely noticeable. I have to agree, though I don’t mind big huge subs as much as she does (wait till you see my sewer pipe sub I’m building next), I still tend to shy away from anything that is overly cumbersome for the room. And this sub is definitely not that. But it definitely knows how to fill the room with lots of great-sounding, heart-pumping, movie-crunching bass.
EPIC Bookcase Subwoofer Specs:
Audiopulse EPIC 12″ Subwoofer w/dual 4 ohm coils
95L Enclosure tuned to 22 Hz
4″ PVC port 17.5″ long with 6″ flare
Flush-mounted driver with 1.5″ thick front baffle
Made from 3/4″ MDF
20-3/8″ x 26-5/8″x 15″ (WxHxD)
Flat in-room response to 20 Hz
-3 dB point 18 Hz
600W RMS capability
Painted in Linen White to match entertainment center
Check out the slideshow below for more pictures.