Décor Worthy REL Acoustics Habitat1 Subwoofer (part 2)

3/9/2014 9:47:50 PM

The high-level input isn’t just for stereo—REL recommends using it for home theater, too, in conjunction with the .1/LFE input. You set your front left and right speakers to Large in your receiver or surround processor’s menu, so the Habitat1 gets the full-range left/right signal plus the LFE signal. The sub includes two input level knobs, one that controls the high-level and full-range RCA input and one that controls the .1/LFE input. This arrangement lets you separately tailor the bass level for stereo and for surround sound. For many, this will be a useful feature; lots of home theater fans I know like to set the bass level about +3 decibels higher for movie soundtracks. Some receivers and processors, though, offer ways of presetting different bass levels for stereo and multichannel sound, without subjecting your front left and right speakers to potentially damaging deep bass.

Description: Habitat1 white top dials

Habitat1 white top dials


Because the coolest thing about the Habitat1 is that it can be wall-mounted, I went ahead and wall-mounted it. I worried this might be a nightmare, but it was more like a wonderful dream where I’m reunited with every dog I’ve ever owned then presented with a big bowl of frozen yogurt. You do have to locate a couple of wall studs that can support the sub’s 50 pounds, but once that’s done, REL’s included template makes it easy to position the extruded-aluminum brackets. Rubber gaskets are provided to prevent rattling. Once the brackets were in place, the sub snapped right on. The whole process took about 15 minutes.

Description: Subwoofer REL habitat1 emisor sin cables

Subwoofer REL habitat1 emisor sin cables

Your placement options are a bit limited by wall-mounting, because things like AC outlets and heating/air conditioning vents can get in the way. Fortunately for me, I was able to wall-mount the Habitat1 right in my subwoofer sweet spot, the place in my room where a single sub sounds best from my listening chair. The only difference was that the bottom of the sub sat 17 inches above the floor. (Of course, even when wall-mounted, the REL is no different than any other sub in its sensitivity to room boundaries and position, so the usual rules about finding the right spot still apply.)

Now I had to mate the sub with the wireless transmitter. Except I didn’t have to. All I did was flip on the power, and the Habitat1 figured out this part on its own. I disconnected the power for the sub and transmitter several times during this review, but they always reconnected with no help from me.

The Habitat1’s dual 6.5-inch woofers can’t do much to augment the bass response of a medium to large tower speaker, yet the high-level connection precludes the use of small speakers that can’t handle bass. So I started by using a pair of Hsu Research HB-1 Mk2 minispeakers with the Habitat1 in a stereo setup, using the REL’s high-level input. The HB-1’s not a full-range speaker, but I knew it could handle deep bass content at modest levels without blowing up.

Description: Subwoofer REL speaker

Subwoofer REL speaker

­For my home theater listening, I used three Sunfire CRM-2 mini-speakers for the front channels and two CRM-BIPs for the surrounds. The Sunfires, like almost all mini-speakers, are not designed to reproduce full-range signals. Feed them deep bass at high levels, and they will distort, or worse. Thus, I disconnected the high-level input and fed the subwoofer output of my Outlaw 975 surround processor to the .1/LFE input on the Habitat1’s wireless transmitter.

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