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Do you ‘App’n to have a Remote Mate?

We don’t get asked a lot, but occasionally someone asks why we don’t supply remote controls or smartphone applications with more of our products? After all, we make what more than one reviewer has described as the most perfect remote control ever developed; these remotes arrive with our Reference No.25 and G-1MKII. As these reside at the top of our range, it would be easy to conclude that we’re simply excluding folks not as fortunate from this presumed huge benefit. But, that couldn’t be further from our intentions, as there are thoughtful reasons we avoid the complication of these supposed conveniences.

Reason 1 – Remote Chance:

First, the historical operating premise behind most subwoofer company’s adoption of remote controls was that their devices needed to be turned up louder for movie sound and turned down for music. This actually reveals the shortcomings of their design philosophy.

All our Classic subwoofers and the latest Serie T/i, S and Reference subwoofers arrive with a uniquely high-performance special circuit called the REL High Level Input. This circuit is driven off the speaker terminals on one’s power amp, thereby building forward into the REL the exact sonic signature of the rest of your system.

To the surprise of absolutely no one familiar with RELs, the resultant sound is fantastically natural and effortless. The handoff between speakers and RELs is seamless and the sound from top to bottom becomes huge, effortless and better at everything including the midrange and high frequencies. Thus, there is no need for a remote control to turn it up for theatre and down for music. The REL correctly handles both media as they should be, without compromise. For music the subwoofer will provide the bass without sounding boomy or overpowering your speakers and for theatre the subwoofer will provide all of the output necessary. Plus, your partner will not be even a little bit sad at not having to find room for yet another remote in the coffee table basket.

Pro TIP:

While it takes some folks awhile to understand this, HIGH Level should be used in conjunction with the theatre-only .1/LFE Input. At the end of this piece, you will find attachments to several articles dealing with the optimum method for constructing professional grade, screening room quality theatre (and it doesn’t even cost a lot more than what you currently have).

Reason 2 – App-solutely Nuts:

Anyone ever received a push from Apple or another smartphone manufacturer asking them to update their phone? You go ahead and do the update, only to discover that many of the things you came to like and know how to use in various apps just went out the window. We don’t want the functionality of our subwoofers to be dependent on keeping up with the latest iOS, Android, or future operating systems.

As an app-based subwoofer ages, are their apps likely to be more, or less likely to be supported by the engineering team that created it? I vote for less likely. The technology has moved on, the engineers now use a different platform for their apps, their computers can’t even interface with those “old” subs they sold you 6 years ago. One day they write you back and explain that they’re sorry, but your unit no longer supports their latest standard. And so now, you’re stuck with having to replace a perfectly good subwoofer because of an app?

Before you write in telling me these things won’t happen, the EXACT scenario I just described happened last year while I was visiting a distributor of ours in Scandinavia. He promptly dropped every subwoofer except REL as it was the third time in a year he had gone through this little dance with his app-based subwoofers and the RELs had just destroyed the performance of his conventional subs earlier in the day.

We’ve been at this building-state-of-the-art subwoofers craft for 30 years, as of this writing. We’ve learned a thing or three during that time. One of them is to use the highest and best technology that is actually necessary to accomplish our engineering goals. Anything beyond that is puffery or worse, likely to create complication that was unnecessary and hence less reliable.

We’re here to create the best-sounding, best looking, most reliable subwoofers we know how to make. In doing so we make choices every day that take the long view of things. We weigh all the benefits and sometimes we lose a few customers temporarily enamored of a fleeting moment of technological fancy. But they usually come back, and quickly. Some of our staunchest devotees first purchased a competitor’s product and they tell us about how much better or easier to use our designs are. So, put down the phone or iPad, turn on some music or film and enjoy the experience. After all, that’s what REL ownership is all about.


May 5, 2020 - Posted in: Reconsider