A little goes a long way when it comes to this bijou bass box
When it comes to bass, bigger is generally better. After all, hitting low frequencies at high output requires large drivers able to shift plenty of air, and said drivers obviously need to be mounted in sizeable boxes. In an ideal world, we'd all have 18in woofers the size of a Smart car.
But that utopia is unrealistic. More often we crave subs that'll do justice to a movie's LFE channel yet fit snugly into our system; trading in a few Hz bass extension for a manageable form factor and a sensible price tag.
Artison's Nano 1 takes that craving to the extremes. Billed by the US marque as the 'world's smallest high-performance subwoofer,' it is insanely compact (just 19cm wide) yet employs dual, active 6.5in bass drivers – thus claiming the same surface area as a single 8in woofer – scared into life by a 300W amp and DSP engine. The rigid aluminium-based enclosure and internal design aim for a vibration-free, inert box, and it claims a frequency response down to 32Hz (-3dB).
In use, the Nano performs admirably, with musicality a strong point. From the disturbed drum 'n' bass of Ed Rush & Optical's Sick Note to the frothy pop of Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass, this diminutive woofer grabs on to a track's low-end and runs with it. Its output is fulsome and inviting, tight rather than bloated.
And with the Châlus Castle attack sequence in Robin Hood (2010, Blu-ray), the Nano handles the chaos well. Falling French archers hit the ground with morbid thuds; wooden siege equipment rumbles along with believable body. It goes reasonably loud, too, and free from any disagreeable cabinet rattle.
Ultimate extension is as advertised. This sub drops deep, but not to subterranean depths. The delicious slow-mo bass drop that marks Tom Cruise's tumble into the deserted library in Oblivion loses its authority the lower it goes. But elsewhere in that sequence, the Nano easily adds scale to the soundmix as Cruise fends off a bullet-happy drone.
Of course, if it's real depth you seek, the Nano isn't for you. And this wee woofer works well in other areas. Moved from movie room to office, it became the ideal partner to a pair of Simple Audio desktop speakers. And I can envision it making a neat ancillary to a soundbar/base with a subwoofer output.
Operation isn't all plain-sailing: the Nano is a bit of a sleepy-head. It takes a good while to wake up (the manual suggests 30 seconds is normal as the onboard microprocessor boots), and while I appreciate having a remote control, the woofer wasn't quick to respond to this either. Going from low to high volume is no quick tap-tap-tap.
There's a wireless transmission kit available (£125), and this takes a while to pair, too (and on occasion took more than one try). For installations where tidiness is paramount (certainly one of Artison's targets) the wireless add-on will make a good buy; others will make do with careful cable management.
By no means budget, Artison's Nano 1 is a niche-filling sub that elicits a surprising amount of low-frequency fun from its Ant-Man body.
Artison Nano 1
Price: £800 approx
Highs: Compact form factor; tight, fluid bass delivery; optional wireless transmission kit
Lows: Bigger, deeper bass is available for less; operation a little sleepy
Drive units: 2 x 6.5in bass drivers
Frequency response: 32Hz-160Hz
On board power: 300W RMS
Remote control: Yes
Dimensions: 190.5(w) x 203(h) x 228(d)mm
Connections: LFE input, via 3.5mm adaptor; phono line-level input; built-in wireless input for optional transmission kit
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