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Mordaunt-short MSW20

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      09.05.2002 17:51
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      It could be said that a subwoofer is more at home with a home cinema setup than as part of a chain of hifi components, but in my case the subwoofer is part of my main hifi. The fact is, I was a bit disappointed with the bass response from my Tannoy main speakers once I got them home, so I looked into subwoofers and bought this one, and what a great buy it was. Before I even listened to it I was very pleased with the way it looks, in its nice light-coloured beech finish and with its perfectly cubic shape and black grille it looks very good sitting to the left of my left main speaker stand. (You may or may not be aware that the source of very low-frequency sounds cannot be determined by our ears, so it matters little where you put your subwoofer.) Somebody asked me once if it was a heater. It's an active subwoofer, so it contains its own amplifier. It takes input at high or low level, ie, speaker level output or phono output; it mixes left and right, and puts out a unified single channel of bass. I chose to input to the subwoofer at speaker level, from the speaker B outputs on the amplifier, the reason being that, when necessary, I could in effect switch off the subwoofer simply by switching off the B speaker output on the amp. There are various controls on the back panel, the first three of which determine how it sounds: Main output level, in other words, the volume. I'm usually around 30% - 50%, with the amp bass output at flat. If you turn the volume up very much above 50% the coffee table begins to walk across the room and the water in the toilet starts to boil! Crossover point, or rolloff, which determines below what frequency level the subwoofer handles bass. Too high and muffled voices and guitars come through, too low and you only hear the very lowest bass guitar notes. The control needs to be set for personal taste or the type of music being heard. Phase. I have always kept this at zero, but I ca
      n't say that it seems to make any difference whichever way you set it. Auto/on switch. On "auto" the subwoofer will power down its amplifier after a period of receiving no signal; the "on" setting means the amp stays lit up all the time - a must for those who insist an amplifier should never be switched off! Main power switch, unnecessary if you set the above switch to Auto. The subwoofer was a great purchase and gives me the bass I love to hear. I find that I do need to fiddle with its volume and rolloff point when I switch from say folksy singer with guitar to a more poppy guitars and drums genre or to classical. It will take you a little while to learn what to tweak when you switch genres. But certainly, the combination of my Tannoy main speakers and the Mordaunt Short subwoofer provide an admirable speaker experience. Finally, one very important consideration to bear in mind should you decide to go the subwoofer route to increased bass: many subwoofers permit either line level or speaker level input. It is important to remember that if line level is used, then the signal that reaches the subwoofer is flat, and totally unaffected by the amp's bass control setting. This is NOT the case if you feed the subwoofer from speaker level outputs, as I do; if you turn up the bass on the amp you will pump more bass across to the subwoofer, and similarly, turning up the main amp volume will send more bass over. However, the benefit of using high level input from the speaker connection is that as you increase your amp volume, your subwoofer keeps pace, which of course is not the case with line level. Experiment and take your choice.

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