Redesigning the Flagship of HT
Designing products is a little like having children. You love all of them, but some are more special than others. –Hunter, REL
There’s something about the new HT/1510 that is special. It comes down to a combination of amazing looks, huge amounts of power, and a 15” (380mm) driver that does it all. Starts and stops on a dime, plays at remarkable levels, and delivers texture. But I am getting ahead of myself.
When we first conceived of the Serie HT, we aimed to deliver something different from traditional RELs. We wanted it to be home theatre-focused; we already make what are broadly agreed to be the most musically honest and natural sounding subwoofers at a variety of price points that do an excellent job of solving that very sticky riddle. Our traditional models also, especially of late, do an excellent job of theatre sound when setup to run both with High Level (which simply put, turns bandwidth limited speakers into full range ones) PLUS the necessary-for-home-theatre-to-come-alive .1/LFE channel. This latter is responsible for all the over-the-top, huge sonic effects so many movies rely upon. But to get everything solved and then finished superbly, better than many ultra-expensive speakers comes at a modest premium with traditional RELs. Whereas the HT is all about huge performance at lower prices.
The original HT range delivered the gargantuan output LFE fans demand AND kept the costs remarkably affordable. In previous blogs and videos, we detailed the choices that we made to build those subwoofers. The responses from customers and reviewers alike were stunning. People loved them, they loved how fast and hard they attacked, they loved the pricing and they loved that it was easy. That you just plugged them into your receiver using a single RCA cable. As easy as it gets.
And now comes HT/1510 Predator, bigger, faster, deeper, louder. MORE. And better. Not just in one area. Across the board the new Predator devours the old, which says something because the original was excellent to begin with.
We were already well along on developing the Serie T/x and that range just fell together so beautifully that we knew we were onto something special with our mix of materials and designs. While the looks may seem different from our Reference models, the Height/Width proportions of Tx are very similar by intent. So we decided to play off the basic theme established by Tx, in the materials, design and engineering of the new HT/1510.
We knew that REL HT3D, wherein HT and T/x (or Serie S models) can be used together to devastating effect was really beginning to take hold. In a REL 3D system, we cleave to pure, original Dolby protocols used by virtually every film-to-blu ray transfer studio, to deliver a theatre experience unlike any competitor can offer. HT/1510 takes this to an entirely new level. And does so with styling that makes blending combinations of T/x and the new HT/1510 so that the entire system looks all of one piece. HT/1510 overcomes the one minor criticism we faced with the original line of HT, that they looked different from classic RELs. Problem solved.
With HT/1510, we started where we always do, with the driver. Our drivers are always the crown jewels of each REL. We needed, then designed, a 15”(380mm) driver that reacts as quickly as a fast 10” driver but with 4 times the power handling. This was accomplished simply and effectively by using glass fiber for the primary body of the cone, whilst using a pure carbon fiber center cap of significant size, but that remains ultra-light. The center cap is relied upon to provide a stiff, solid structure that keeps the entire cone structure rigid and quiet even during the loudest effects. Because we use a composite structure of two different materials, the cone remains incredibly quiet allowing texture and nuance to emerge.
If you’re reading this and thinking “Nuance in a home theatre flagship sub?” The answer is overwhelmingly yes. Film makers use hyper contrast to ensure overwhelming reactions to loud scenes. The louder the money scene is going to be, the quieter and more nuanced the scene just prior is. If a sub can’t deliver both, you’re only getting half your money’s worth. Oh, and it handles 1,000 watts continuously for hours on end. Because it needs to.
The new HT/1510 amplifier bumps up to a full 1,000 watts and that allows us to push the dynamic envelope harder than ever before. Between the extra power, improved LimitLess™ volume limiters and greater cabinet volume we can deliver 4 db more output than we could previously.
And all the careful fettling of our all-analog, super quick, PerfectFilter™ input filters and judicious adjustment of limiters means remarkable sound it explodes with insane intensity. Yet it stops so suddenly it can feel as though you’ll fall off your couch. There’s the visceral somersault. Most bad ass, flagship home theatre subs have exactly one trick; they play loud. When you find one that starts and stops like this, when you discover the importance of all that plus texture and delicacy, it makes you wonder, ‘how does it do it?’ and then, before you can answer your own question you ask as did I, ‘How might this sound with music?’
Listening with the REL Airship connected via High Level (this wireless system won’t work ideally with most competitors’ subs since its incoming levels tend to overdrive their front ends, but we handle it easily) the sound in 2-channel music systems is amazing. There is a resolve to the way the HT/1510 unit delivers music that takes you farther into the music than any other sub-$2,000 subwoofer I have ever personally experienced. Part of that comes down to well- crafted big drivers in gorgeously constructed, well-damped cabinets with huge reserves of power that can deliver experiences that smaller units simply can’t. But there’s more, units that can devastate with output rarely possess gentility, nobility. Making HT/1510 one of the few that can do both, for under $2,000.
And then HT/1510 delivers its final trick. The photos can’t do it full justice, but the shrinking-disappearing act it performs in person is such that those who see 15” driver/1,000 watt amp/ super high output/Predator and presume it will be a leviathan of epic dimensions might find themselves disappointed. For the rest of us, we’ll simply smile and say “I’ll take two as they’ll fit beautifully into my average-sized room, thank you very much”. Enjoy…