2023 Summer Blockbusters

Movies. Always Better with a Great Subwoofer

Summer Blockbuster movies are beginning to roll out, including what’s being billed as the final Indiana Jones feature, The Dial of Destiny, the next installment of Mission Impossible (launching July 12th), and Oppenheimer (July 21). Two things are fairly certain: some of these will be epic. And all of them will be available by end of summer or early fall either on Blu-ray or streaming services. Whether we acknowledge it or not, all of us who watch streaming video are now consuming entertainment designed to be played on home theatre systems.

By all means, if you can afford to, see them in a public theatre. There is something about leaving the house to see a blockbuster on the big screen that turns the act of viewing a movie into an event. Maybe it’s sharing the experience with other people (something we took for granted pre-COVID).

As fun as movie theatres can be, it is the rare public theatre that has sound quality and comfort anywhere close to what a decent home theatre delivers, and for those fortunate enough to have a good projector, the same holds true for the visual quality, as well. And, of course, the joy of curling up with the family (including the family pets in our case) on a warm summer or cold winter evening is its own kind of bliss.

As we’ve said before, watching a movie doesn’t rise to the level of home theatre until one owns a quality subwoofer…or more than one.  For me, I chose a Carbon Special for our main home theatre subwoofer. It’s fast, plays profoundly deep, and hits as loud as our house can handle (our college graduate studying to get into law school turned to me after the first huge bass transient and asked “Dad, have you guys considered requiring a legal release at the time of purchase?”) Serie S remains the core of REL’s lineup, delivering a performance that shares more with Reference than Serie T/x. This applies equally to a well-produced streaming series like The Diplomat (Netflix). All of the impact, drama, and tension is carried by the deep bass embedded in the soundtrack and Serie S delivers in spades.

RelTip: Don’t settle for a theatre that delivers bass solely from a .1/LFE channel for bass. For movies to become truly immersive, at least one channel should have a High-Level connection available. Adding a center channel subwoofer is the best place to apply this upgrade to a .1-only system. Remember to set your center channel to the lowest crossover frequency it can safely handle (in the case below it was 40 Hz.)

I was reminded of this during a recent visit to a home theatre reviewer for one of the largest, most successful home theatre reviewing websites. The reviewer’s theatre was one of the nicest I have seen, — thoughtfully executed on a limited budget. He had been using various quality subs for years, of course. Yet, 30 minutes into re-voicing his sound system, and after adding a REL T/9x to the center channel speaker using banana connectors, transformed his system. His center channel sat just a few feet away. He was simply amazed at all the detail retrieval and clarity that was suddenly being delivered. Then tanks began firing high-impact rounds and the dynamics and snap to the bass he was hearing was unlike anything he had ever experienced in home theater in systems under $200,000 (his words). His entire audio system (speakers, subs, AV receiver, and blu ray) and ultimately including 4 RELs totaled about 8% of that cost.

Watch movies, please. These days, we’re all watching home theatre–style programming on streaming video services like Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV, Paramount, and MAX. It’s just that some of us get to enjoy it far more than others because we experience the deep, fast, palpable bass the movie’s director intended. And it’s in that deep bass that all the fun, fear, tension, and excitement of a scene are conveyed.

Thank you for taking the time to read our latest blog. We hope it proved entertaining, perhaps thought provoking and educational. If you have any follow-up questions, ideas for articles, or a question specific to your systems, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at and we’ll do our best to get back to you within a few days.

Thanks again. We’ll keep doing our bit to bring our combined over 160 years of experience to making your pursuit of perfect sound a bit more enjoyable. And if you know a friend who might benefit from the guidance we shared, please pass this article along

– John Hunter, Chief Designer

June 16, 2023 - Posted in: Deep Dive Setup