If you want the ultimate subwoofer for your home theater, this is probably it: the JL Audio Gotham. JL Audio, long known for their car stereo subwoofers, started to make a move into home theater a few years ago. I had the opportunity to hear this subwoofer a couple of years ago at CEDIA. Let me tell you, the bass from demo room sounded awesome outside of the demo room, and even better within. The sound was low, solid, and hard-hitting. I was impressed by how unbelievably smooth the sustained bass passages were (but I’m sure that’s in no small part due to a very well constructed demo room and not just the subwoofer.)Truthfully, I figured JL Audio would have been shipping these already, but I guess they are just now getting to dealers.
The Gotham G231 has two 13.5-inch drivers that each have 4 inches of total travel. The case is made from super-thick (1.1+ inches) fiberglass and houses a Class D 3800 watt amplifier. Of particular interest to me is the Automatic Room Optimization (A.R.O.) system, which equalizes output to match the room. Place a microphone in the in the primary listening position and it automatically measures and corrects for the room’s low-frequency acoustic properties. Of course, this will not compensate for a lack of acoustic treatments, but every little bit helps.
There are a few downsides to this subwoofer. First of all, it’s huge (standing almost 3 feet tall) and it’s very heavy (360 pounds.) Also, it is quite expensive: $11,000 MSPR.
Do I want one of these in my home theater? Absolutely. Am I going to get one? No. It’s too big and too expensive. My Velodyne HGS 15 provides plenty of bass for my home theater and I plan to eventually add a Velodyne SMS-1 Room Correction Processor to my equipment rack to equalize the bass output. Even if I were to purchase a new subwoofer, I’d probably pick a JL Audio Fathom f113 over the G213, since it is “only” $3,200 MSRP.
But I do still remember waiting in line outside the JL Audio demo room, feeling the bass and being impressed by how it could be heard throughout much of the RCA Dome (where the demo room was located.) It’s that impressive of a product and clearly set the bar, in my mind, for ultimate subwoofer performance.