SMRSunfire - A True Subwoofer

John R. Potis Jr. was invited to audition the new Carver Sunfire sub-woofer.
Suitably impressed, his review describes this diminuative monster.

'Sunfire - A True Sub-woofer'


I got a phone call while at work today. It was Richard from my local stereo shop. "I know you're probably busy, but I had to tell you that Bob Carver is here!". At first, what I was doing seemed real important, but after a moment's thought, there wasn't anything that I was doing that someone else couldn't do. They would most likely do it better too! So I was off like a shot.

I entered the store and heard Richard calling me, so I headed toward 'the voice'. I went into the room where I instantly recognized Bob Carver standing and listening next to a man I did not recognize.

Hooked up and playing through a pair of B&W 805's was the Sunfire amp, the source being a California Audio Labs CD player. Now, I have heard the 805s about a hundred times, and I knew what I was hearing was no non-augmented effort! I kept looking around but couldn't find the sub!

Sunfire True Sub-wooferWell, finally, there it was, a small 11inch square box in the corner! It kinda looked like someone had stashed my first power amp in the corner (those familiar with the Carver line know which one!). Had I not been familiar with what I was looking for, I would have let my eyes pass by this little box and continue on looking for the source of the, quite literally, wall, floor, and chair shaking bass.

Oh, as it turns out, the other man standing next to Mr. Carver was none other than the very congenial Mr. Joseph M. Cierniak of the Sensible Sound. It seems that Mr. Cierniak was doing the very first review of the little Sunfire Subwoofer. You may want to check it out!

What followed was a two and a half hour demo of this little monster. It is a monster too. It honestly has a growl like I have never heard before. Now, I have what I think are a couple of excellent subwoofers in my M&K MX100, and my Velodyne ULD 15. But I would trade both in for what I saw and heard. I have never felt a room pressurized by bass the way I felt it today. True, much of the demo was performed with the sub turned up much too loud in relation to the satellites, and the whole system was turned up louder than what I'm used to, but the power of this little sub must be experienced to be appreciated. I was continually struck by one thing. It never got in the way of the music.

With both of my subs, I'm restricted as to how loud I can turn up the volume by the fact that sooner or later, the sound of the sub starts mucking up the midrange. I start hearing a 'howling' if you will. Not with this little sub. The louder the sub was turned, the more disjointed the bass became from the music, but however disjointed the two became the midrange remained almost completely undisturbed. The bass was solid and powerful beyond compare, and the little B&W's sounded as clean as can be. The reason for this seemed to be the 36dB/octave filter Bob uses. The frequency is variable, and I believe they had it set around 40Hz. You know, I say it was disjointed, but that's really not accurate, lets just replace that word with 'unnatural'. I think it was my own preconception of what the music was supposed to sound like that makes me disjoin it.

When we pulled in the reins on the sub, and put on some music, there wasn't much to say. It was solid bass, with excellent texture and detail, and never a sense of strain. We were throwing everything we could find at it too. When I walked in, they were playing a pipe organ recording. With the rotation of the level control on the back of the sub, we had instant 'disco' level bass with slam galore! It was Amazing. "No," reminded Mr. Cierniak, "That was his speaker!".

Then something fun happened. The seed for the thought seemed to have been planted the night before. One of the store employees was sent in search of the tallest tiptoes/spikes he could find. What they wanted to do was turn this little 40 some pound box 90 degrees so that instead of the woofers firing front and back, they were firing up and down. Now, the excursions of these woofers is 2.4 inches, and the surround already looks like the inner tube from a bicycle glued to the front of the woofer. So a very tall spike was needed to prevent the driver from slapping the ground! Once found and fastened to the box, it was turned on its face.

Once again, amazing. Without the aid of measurements, the acoustic output of the box seemed to have been cut back somewhat, but the floor was shaking beyond belief. At one point, with a Michael Jackson cut playing, I actually had to walk over to the CAL player, pick it up from the rack and suspend it in my arms in order to keep it from mistracking! And it was, up until I did that, mistracking continuously! We all agreed that this was something that would be great for home theater. We had all heard T-Rex coming up from over the trees, but now it would be felt! There was but one problem. At times, this thing was actually jumping up off the ground! When it did, it wasn't hard to hear the effect on the bass, and this wasn't good! So Bob said that he was going to look into ways to couple this thing to the floor. We all agreed that bolting it to the floor would work, but probably wouldn't pass the WAF test. Perhaps a lead filled frame which could be attached to the box would work. Well, that's for Bob to figure out if he wishes.

Now, the finer points on the sub's performance would have to be observed over a longer period of time, and in a more familiar environment. But I had a couple questions answered for me today.

1) Is a little box with two 8 inch woofers and a 2700 watt amp really capable of moving as much air as my 400 watt/15 inch Velodyne? You'd better believe it, and more.

2) Is there a better home theater sub available on the market? I really don't think so. This thing was so clean, powerful, and with such a steep low pass filter, it would be my pick of subs today. I haven't even talked about how small (albeit kinda heavy at around 40 lbs) it is, making it easy as pie to move around to experiment with positioning! You could place it in one location for music, then in another for theater (accuracy Vs. raw power).

Check it out!


Good luck and listening,



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