Yamaha DXS18 Sub; It’s All About the Bass
By Holland Davis
I am sceptical of subs in small packages. Most of the compact subs I’ve used generally make the kick drum sound like cheap cardboard, or they provide weak low end support at best. Normally, I’m even more sceptical of subs that are powered – at least until now. The DXS18 is a game changer for me. I used the DXS18 SUB in a number of applications and was pleasantly surprised to find that not only does this SUB do the job in giving you great bottom end, but it is transparent and clear at the same time. It gives you the PUNCH without the WOOF.
First impressions are important to me, and my first impression of the DXS18 was how solid it was. I opened the box to see if there was a lot of packaging and I discovered it’s all speaker. This is a heavy box which means it’s not a one – person li job and it won’t ‑ t into a Ford Focus (I tried). However, once I heard what this speaker can do, I got over it. For portable churches, the DXS18 can be outfitted with optional wheels available from Yamaha. I would stay with their recommendations as they have taken great care to maintain the structural integrity of the speaker enclosure. This is a finely tuned instrument and removing screws or drilling holes into the enclosure can cause air leaks that will result in a sub-par performance (no pun intended).
First let’s talk construction: the speaker enclosure uses a band pass type of enclosure that is designed to produce extremely high SPL (136 db) with clear undistorted sound in a small package. The cabinet itself is made out of birch plywood and coated with a patented coating that is resistant to wear and tear. e heartbeat of the DXS18 is a Class-D Amplifier that is capable of producing up to 1020 W of raw power supplying a single 18” custom designed speaker featuring a YAMAHA EXCLUSIVE… a 4” voice coil magnet that is designed to handle the power of the Class-D Amp. The 4” voice coil produces well defined, tight sounding low frequency bass with a minimum of distortion. In layman’s terms, this cabinet can THUMP and I did not hear any perceived distortion with my ear.
I was impressed by the clarity of sound in the low end when I used the cabinet in a variety of applications. Our Sunday morning service is in a school multipurpose room that seats 500. We use Djembe, Cajon and a couple Acoustic Guitars. The level of support was perfect for the application and people didn’t “notice” the sub was there. e sound was clean, not “woof.” We have a smaller venue for our midweek studies and we experienced the same level of performance. We even brought it to an outdoor event with full band and I was impressed by the ease of use and the clear, but powerful sounding bass.
The brain of the speaker is the D-XSUB Bass processing. By pushing a button, you could configure three different bass response patterns, select three cross-over thresholds that correspond to the matching speakers in the DXS family, invert the polarity of the speaker if needed and configure the speakers to be used in three different set up patterns. The D-XSUB processing is powerful. The NORMAL Mode gives you a relatively at low frequency response. It provides the highest SPL of the three settings. The BOOST Mode gives you a Tight Focused Bass response. Made for dance music, it gives a mid-bass frequency bump. The XTENDED LF Mode drops the low-end frequencies down to 32 Hz. Not quite sub frequency level (which is below human hearing at 20 Hz)! At that level you feel the low frequencies, even though you can’t hear them. A good kick drum is between 48 Hz – 52 Hz.
One of the unique features of the DXS18 is the ability to “aim” the low frequency energy toward the audience and away from the stage. Yamaha calls this the Cardioid Mode. Think like a Cardioid microphone. You need more than one subwoofer to experience the Cardioid Mode. I’ve been told that it really doesn’t matter where you put a sub because low frequencies are omnidirectional; of course I know this isn’t true. When you put subs on a stage, the low end frequencies can “muddy” up stage monitors. By linking two or three DXS18’s together in Cardioid Mode, you can direct the energy of the subs forward and decrease the stage-side sound pressure while increasing the bottom-end output directed towards the audience. is really cleans up the stage monitoring environment. We were reviewing one single DXS18 sub and we did experience the “WOOF” effect slightly on stage. It was still less than other subs I’ve used, but it was noticeable.
BOTTOM LINE… would I own one. YES. We did experience a noticeable difference in the overall quality of the sound and the audience made positive comments about the difference. They didn’t know what was different, but they noticed a big difference and I loved the transparency of the sub itself.
MSRP is $ 1949.00, but you can get it on Amazon for $ 1299.99. It is on the pricey side, but when you compare it to a comparable sub on the market, Yamaha’s pricing provides a great value at better than competitive pricing.
HOLLAND DAVIS IS A TEACHING PASTOR, VETERAN WORSHIP LEADER, COMPOSER AND AUTHOR. HE IS THE SENIOR PASTOR OF CALVARY CHAPEL SAN CLEMENTE AND CEO OF WORSHIPSONG.COM. YOU CAN FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER OR INSTAGRAM @HOLLANDDAVIS