The Case for Stereo 212/SE

The numbers are a little staggering; (4) 12” drivers. 1000 watts. 175 pounds each. When the topic of stereo pairs comes up, some customers are awed and a little intimidated by the notion of adding a second when a single is enough firepower to start a war.

Take a step back and review why stereo pairs work better than singles in virtually every system and room. At least here in the land of REL, pairs are not indicated for those that simply want to test the fragility of a region’s tectonic plate stability. Rather, using artfully set-up pairs—one assigned to each main speaker in a 2-channel system or a state of the art theatre–produces better, not simply louder sound. And where this is easily understood when it comes to our smaller models it is equally true, actually more so, with our best models such as 212/SE.

Remember, the better and faster the main speaker, the better and faster the matching REL must be and that drives the stereo pair conversation because it allows for better, more careful placement that stresses speed, fluidity and a perfect marriage of REL-to-speaker. Quality, not quantity.

And then there’s the quantity thing. While a few of us listen exclusively to 17th century chamber music, most listen to a wide variety of music and some of it is certainly intended to kick out the jams. When the mood calls for it, a pair of 212’s will simply get down and boogie with the best. Having that much driven surface area and amplifier power on tap means that the 212/SE is far from stressed, even when being driven hard.

If subwoofers could be reincarnated as super cars, these would surely come back to life as Bentley Continental Supersports. They share the same spirit of excess put to good use in both instances. If horsepower equates to wattage in amplifiers, the Bentley would be down a bit with “only” 700 horsepower whilst the REL surges along at 1,000 watts with power on tap beyond that figure. But the sense of effortless reserve, only occasionally being called on to deliver anything close to its maximum effort is present in both cases. Put the foot down, turn the volume right on up and simply sit back with a silly grin and enjoy. Life rarely gets better than moments like these, on offer to their lucky owners.

And 212/SE’s are simply the best tool for building out a truly state of the art theatre given that they do indeed play thunderously loud but do so with insane speed. Fast-attack bass is as important to the emotional response the director is aiming for as it is to high end 2-channel systems. Let’s examine one example.

The crack at the leading edge of an explosion is intended to make one instinctively duck. Done properly, the eyes blink involuntarily while the nervous system, in an effort to keep its human alive, forces the head and neck to compress down and away from the origin of the explosion. When a standard dull-witted theatre woofer attempts this, the leading edge is lost, as is the trailing effect of echoes and rebounding concussion waves leaving simply a loud, dull thud-boom. The owner of the competition’s subwoofer sits and watches thinking, “Oh yeah, another special effect.”  Ho hum. There’s so very much more to great theatre than simply the ability to play loud.

The 212/SE has been one of the most successful big RELs of all time, the recipient of multiple fantastic reviews on three continents and the recipient of Most Influential Products of the Past 20 Years Awards in both England and Australia. It’s no wonder more and more stores are committing to placing stereo pairs of 212/SE’s on display.

In the map below we’ve identified 13 new stores committed to stereo pairs of 212’s in the U.S. just last month. There are also locations in the UK that have them on demo. Find a store near you or reach out via email and we’ll do our best to get you a chance to audition these wonderful designs in a comfortable environment.

Enjoy the sound

July 12, 2019 - Posted in: News, System Thinking