REL HT/1510 Predator Subwoofer Review

hccbestbuybadgev3REL's home cinema-centric subwoofer range returns, once again with a 'no-frills, all the spills' ethos. Richard Stevenson plays fast and deep with the 15in HT/1510

REL's dedicated Home Theatre (HT) Series subs have been winning over home cinema enthusiasts for a few years now, with a three-strong lineup in 10in, 12in and 15in guises packing 300W, 500W and 800W amps, respectively. The naming protocol is genius too; HT/1003, HT/1205 and the original flagship HT/1508 (HCC #296) came to our auditoriums with the suffix 'Predator'. So in just one word the company gives you a big clue about what to expect, the HT Series models being more affordable than REL's dual-purpose music/cinema subs, and focused on maximum LFE bangs for your buck.

Enter the new HT/1510 Predator, which takes over the top-dog spot as a tricky sequel to a stunning original that delivered on its promise in spades.

From the outside, things are a little better dressed, with a neat gloss panel now across the top surface, extending the theme from the original's glossy in-lay. The paint finish is very good, with very little 'peel' in the mirror surface, and the central REL logo is a little more restrained this time around. That surface still attracts dust like a super-magnet, but at least on the new version the dust doesn't get stuck between the top and inlay panel when you wipe it.

A brushed vinyl wrap around the main body keeps costs down, while the heavily braced cabinet's rounded edges now run on the verticals rather than the horizontals. Size-wise, the HT/1510 is about as compact as 15in subs get, making it suited for big bass in even relatively small rooms. Like its predecessor, we are talking homely rather than pretty, but hey, the cinema room is dark.

REL's rail-like feet that run from front to back remain, now with markedly less bright front-facing logos. Grippy rubber bases stop the sub from wandering off across hard floors, but on the downside there is no adjustment, twiddly feet or spike mounts in the rails, so if you have an uneven floor, the Predator is never going to sit level (at 45kg, it isn't going to wobble, though). Should the madness take you, these rails also allow stacking of up to three HT/1510s in REL's 'Line Array' configuration.


Rear plate features phono and XLR outputs for subwoofer daisy-chaining

Ready To Rumble
The forward-firing 15in CarbonGlas woofer has seen some subtle revisions, too, its glass-fibre cone with considerable carbon-fibre cap now paired with a 75mm voice coil motor designed to handle a lot more power. That power is now supplied by a 1,000W-rated Class A/B amp, delivering 25 per cent more grunt than the original.

Around the back, there is, well, not a great deal. Phase, auto-power, gain and filter controls, the latter with 30Hz-200Hz roll-off, are standard for nearly all woofers. Inputs and outputs (for daisy chaining that aforementioned Line Array) are on both RCA and balanced XLR, but REL's signature Neutrik-based speaker-level connection, oft used for stereo music setups, is conspicuous by its absence. There was, I'm told, much debate at REL about including this on the MkII Predator model, but I for one appreciate the purity of dedicated, purpose-designed products, so keeping the HT/1510 as LFE-only works for me. There's also nothing stopping you from hooking up the stereo phonos to a spare stereo pre-out and dialling the REL's filters to balance with your main L/R speakers.

The price has nudged up a little to a not-insignificant £1,800 for the HT/1510, versus the £1,600 of the HT/1508, but given that potential 25 per cent increase in power, slam and depth, it still looks pretty good value.

The Tight Stuff
If there was a defining character in the earlier HT Series it was speed, and the new Predator on the block continues the theme, only with more gas. A 15in driver pushes vast chunks of air in front of it, making speedy movement a challenge, and needs to then brake hard, overcome cone momentum and go swiftly back in the opposite direction. Yet, the HT/1510's CarbonGlas driver seemingly circumnavigates the physics, offering all the alacrity of a much smaller cone and delivering bass so tight and punchy it's got edges.