Klipsch SPL-150 subwoofer review

hcc_recommendedKlipsch's SPL-150 subwoofer is certainly big, but is it clever? And does that really matter when this bass beast sells for just £850? Richard Stevenson investigates

Hold the phone, is that a 15in subwoofer with a 400W amplifier for less than £1,000? I believe it is, and quickly scrolling to the SPL-150's entry on Klipsch's website leaves little room for product positioning ambiguity. Under the heading 'Badass Bass', is the statement: 'We've been pissing off your neighbours since 1946 – why stop now?' I love it already.

In an effort to deliver maximum bass-bang per buck, Klipsch's SPL series eschews fancy finishes and frivolous features in favour of big drivers, big amps and big, slot-ported boxes. The flagship reviewed here comes in at a whopping half-a-metre or more on every dimension, and its design makes no apologies for its 15in driver by giving it a stand-out copper colour finish. It wants to be seen.

This is Klipsch's largest 'Cerametallic' driver, with a long-throw coil and bulbous rubber roll surround. We're told the cone is remarkably light but very rigid, with exceptional LF response and very low distortion – but I'm yet to hear a subwoofer driver described in any other way. While the metallic copper finish is eye-catching, should the look prove too much for your visual sensibilities you can tame it with a supplied grille. The steel mounting posts are on the cabinet and not the grille, and hence stick out if the grille is not fitted, which is a little odd.

The cabinet is a square-edged cube wrapped in ebony black wood-effect vinyl, with a front-facing slot port for bass-loading rather than a traditional tuned tube. A slot port can reduce the port chuffing associated with a tube, and front-facing ports make a subwoofer easier to place in corners or near a back wall. The reason few subwoofer manufacturers opt for slot porting is that they are trickier to tune to specific frequencies, and the larger opening area can lead to a bit of gung-ho boom and bloom deep down.

Inside, there's a Class D amplifier rated at 400W RMS and 800W peak. Combined with the high-efficiency driver and voluminous cabinet, the SPL-150 is said to hit 122dB. Back panel controls, handily positioned near the top, are knobs for gain and variable low-pass, and switches for 0/180-degree phase and on/off/auto power. Connections are just line-level inputs and a DIN-port for the optional Klipsch WA-2 wireless kit, which will set you back £130.

Loop throughs, balanced connections, EQ systems or even a remote control are conspicuous by their absence, although many other sub-£1,000 woofers (and more expensive ones) don't offer these either.