Follow 15 Years of Subwoofer Innovation That Created T/x
T/x isn’t actually an improved REL, even though some of the parts seem fairly familiar. It’s actually more of a baby S, and that’s a really important distinction. I’ll give you an example. We were probably six, eight weeks into a very long development cycle where we’re listening critically to everything, and we stopped being able to use the T/i as references.
Normally we use it and go back and forth religiously between say T/i and a T/x or before that T and a T/i. We want to make sure that the nine is better than the older one. Nine to six weeks into this we realized we can’t do this anymore. We’re not learning anything from this. So, we started using S/510 as our working reference for all three models.
And it was because the 510 is so fast and so transparent and so dynamic. So not one of the three were duplicates of course, but it was what we had to do in order to get something that was a useful benchmark. Okay, this is what we’re shooting for. We’re done, the T/i is toast and that’s hard to say because it was easily our most popular, most successful line in history.
I realized that what had always really eluded REL was a line, not a single model that was, you know, occasionally successful, but really an entry-level line that had all the pieces of the puzzle. Where people felt really proud about owning it, not just having something that was affordable and made good bass.
Well, you know, w we’d had so much early success with the original R series that I decided to push the envelope a little bit. And so, I did this midcentury modern motif. The first T the T 1, 2, 3, and they were a fascinating piece. So, we, we developed some of the themes. We had an active driver and a passive, but stylistically we used rails. Perimeter rails around the outer cabinet, and what that served to do was elevate it and get it up off the floor, so the down firing driver had exactly the right distance off the floor. We still do those things today, but we do them with solid billet feet. Right. You either love them or you hated them. They were a huge success. They took off and, and we sold many, many, many units, but it was just funny because you realize that that if you’re building something that half the people hate and the other half love, you’re really ignoring the other half of the world. So, then the second generation came out in 2010 and they were so positively received because they were much more conventional in the styling of their appearance.
This is where you started to get into the classic form that we just got done with. The T/I’s are of a more cubic dimension, you know, high gloss lacquers billet feet. Everything was sort of now of a piece in the modern REL era. Those were very, very successful and we carried those for five years up until 2015 when we launched the T/i’s, and the T/i’s were really a bridge beyond that. We didn’t change a lot. Stylistically we sort of sharpened our pencils a little bit. Got a little bit more clever in dimensions and all the final details. By then I was much more confident in what I was doing with drivers. So, we really improved on the drivers and the entire thing was a nice clean clear-cut move upward.
And with T/x now, what we’re really doing is internally comparing ourselves to our own S’s and the success we’ve had with those in the last couple of years. It really is about a combination of virtues, right? On the one hand, the sound particularly in two channel, there are other people that do fine in theater. We have an amazing range in HT, and if what you want is a special effect fast and loud buy an HT. They’re incredible value, but there’s something unique about what T/i’s do, because they allow you to have your cake and eat it too. Most subs ask you to make a decision, right? You’re either playing louder than God, home theater. And I get it for, for some people, that’s it and that’s why we created HT. It’s fantastic, and they can be used in tandem with T/x. If you want to have this, and unbelievable really, really loud, high pressure, special effects combine the two. The TX is the first place where you start to get the magic of the high level connection. The way REL does it, where we’re bringing it in through a resistant matrix. I can’t get into too much detail, but everything that we do in that high level filter that lets you have a perfect seamless match with your main speakers. Early on in that development process we came across a magical amplifier manufacturer.
These people are so good and so nice, and they listened to everything we wanted to do. We gave them our design. They produced them to a relatively low standard, and we went through and said, okay, this isn’t how we build amps and basically tripled the size of the power supplies, improved every key part in it. Put in beautiful glass fiber boards that were telecommunications grade, the whole business and we wound up with the original T. So, we’ve used this manufacturer and this style of amplifier, this basic starting point for well over 15 years now. They are so well constructed and such high value I wasn’t willing to move away from those. We have affordable class D amps that we use in other models and they’re really good, but for some reason, these have a certain magic to them, and they work so well for so long and are also really easily rebuilt.
If something ever does happen, you can work on these boards. So, if you want to get better, but you can’t change out the amplifier, what do you do? How do we make it even for example, play louder or be more dynamic? Literally the only thing you can really do is make the cabinet volume that you’re working within a little bigger.
So, we did but of course it’s like pulling on a little stray piece of thread. So, our cabinet factory built beautiful cabinets exactly to our designs and we’re off and running because once you do that you have to completely re-engineer the drivers. All of a sudden, you’ve got a larger internal volume. How do you deal with that? Well, you have to drop the Q. So, you change the surround, and you start to hear that. Now we’ve got so much travel that the spider isn’t keeping up and literally you’re starting to get yawing of the voice coil. So now you have to go back through. It took us five different generations of spider just to get the driver to stay in itself and every part of it worked like that. We’re really proud of these T/x. You know, honestly, every time we start down, one of these paths, you start off going, exactly how am I going to keep what we do properly intact and do something more. And for us, the goal is always to get better at everything.
We’re not just trying to make it louder, for example, and the really cool thing to me about X is how much better it is at everything that matters than T/i and I would not have bet you that that was possible a year and a half ago. That to me is the real breakthrough for us that we’ve managed to just sort of elevate everything.