What Makes a REL Subwoofer Different?

Learn what sets REL apart from other subwoofer manufacturers


Hi, John Hunter with REL here. Let me walk you through a little bit about what makes REL different as a super subwoofer supplier and the things that make us unique. The way we approach this entire endeavor is completely different than anybody else in the world of subwoofers. First of all, what’s really difficult to do is to get a subwoofer to seamlessly blend with your existing speakers.


To sort of chameleon-like adapt to it and simply extend the low frequencies down in a way that’s natural, holistic and allows you to hear the entire universe of that recording in a way you’ve never experienced before. How does that relate to home theater? All of it, all of it translates over to home theater. Here’s the problem with home theater sound, in many cases, the special effects you’re hearing you’ve never, if you’re very lucky, never experienced before. In many cases you’ve never heard the sound of a two 23 round going by your ear, but in the movies, we get to hear that effect.


You get to start with that big, fast crack as the gas comes out of the barrel and then you hear the zip as it goes by your ear. The concussion of a bullet exploding out the end of a gun barrel is unbelievable. And if we get it exactly right, it makes you duck.


All of those things happen when we get music right that’s the funny thing. Why? Because all of the sounds we’re used to hearing in real life have their basis in this kind of organic naturalness by doing what we do. You ground all of the movie in naturalness so that when the special effects happen, they’re startling. So, let’s talk in specifics about some of the things that make our approach to subwoofers very different than anybody else’s. Right off the bat this connector, which is different than you’re used to seeing, most subwoofers of course just plug in with an RCA into one of these.


We also offer something, it’s not unique other people are starting to copy us, it’s called a high level input. A high level input actually takes this plug connected up back to your main amplifier, to the exact same terminals that feed your loudspeakers. Why? Because that is the signal that your ears ultimately are going to hear. That’s what’s actually presenting the signal to the speakers and we derive that. And it’s the only way to get it as complete and natural as possible. There are plenty of engineers that will argue that the only way to do it is to use these little RCAs.


We offer those too, and that’s fine. And if that’s how you’d like to do it, you can do that, but it costs nothing to listen does it. And if you do it our way, we can guarantee you that you’ll hear immediately a great deal, more naturalness to the presentation of the entire system. So, starting with how we connect going through our filters, going into the amplifiers. Our amplifiers typically are not multi thousand watt behemoths.


Boy, when I read some of our competitors stuff I’m like, oh my goodness, why does that person need a 3,500 watt amplifier? Pretty simple, there are no free lunches. If the moving parts, this driver, is the element that actually makes sound right. It moves back and forth. This pistons in and out, and the moving parts of this on a REL are vanishingly light. Why is that important? Because that’s the amount of amplifier you need to excite this, to get it moving.


If we built it, like everybody else built theirs, very, very heavy, what you’d wind up with is something that requires hundreds of watts just to get it moving the first little micron. So we’re wasting energy, and we’re actually producing something that’s really slow. Why does that matter? Because your speakers are not slow. The speakers in your main speakers, the drivers in there are very light. Even on a relatively inexpensive pair, a little five and a quarter inch or six and a half inch driver in an almost any speaker that cone weighs nothing. It weighs far less than an ounce.


So when you start looking at some of these things that our competitors do, where they have these massive magnets, really rich and butch looking and you start going, wow, that’s really impressive ask yourself why they’re doing that. In many cases a subwoofer is the least welcome element in a person’s home. Why? They’re inherently larger than people want them to be. People would love them to be the size of a baseball and be hidden underneath the couch or tucked behind an occasional table in the corner.


We work as hard as we can to do that, but we work really hard to make sure that this may be the best looking thing in the living room. The physical structure of these all takes its cues from exactly what’s needed and then reinterprets them in a way that’s both functional and physically beautiful. So, what do we do?


We actually tune the cabinet’s very much like musical instruments. What we wind up with here is a piece that actually has bracing all the way up, over and down comes right through the center and just cancels all the main vibrational modes.

And why is that important? Because the pressure that’s coming back into the cabinet on the driver’s inward stroke is tremendous. It can be 40, 50 pounds per square inch of air pressure compressing back in. So, we’ve got to be able to control that and disperse it and minimize it.

Otherwise, that will have negative effects on the sound actually going out that you hear.  


So the conclusion is this, we work really hard to get you natural sounding deep bass, and the way that natural sounding deep bass works is that when you restore that, when you make a system truly full range, it opens up the beauty of everything above it.

So we work really, really hard to restore all that stuff that you’ve never known was missing, but the moment that you do hear it you can’t live without it. And that’s what REL is about.

January 5, 2021 - Posted in: Sound Insights, Videos