Velodyne Impact X 12 subwoofer review

hcchighreccomendOn the surface, this £995 12in ported subwoofer doesn't scream 'AV excitement', but Richard Stevenson discovers it has hidden depths. Literally

The Impact X Series is Velodyne's take on high-value subwoofery; all the LFE spills without the frills. Available in 10in, 12in and 15in variants, the theme is front-firing single-driver subwoofers with big amplifiers in 'functionally' styled ported cabinets. The 12in model tested here is the Goldilocks of the series, combining a punchy 12in long-throw driver with a 300W class A/B amp in a beefy 20mm-thick MDF cabinet and coming to a retailer near you at just under a grand.

Yet the Impact X 12 is not without some rather fine touches, including the front-mounted LED eight-segment display that looks just as good with the grille on or off, and a remote control. The latter is nothing to write home about either functionally or style-wise, but its 'credit card with blister-button' design offers volume, 0/180 phase, crossover frequency control and the ability to dim or switch off both the front LED and rear indicator lights. This is just as well as the rear lights are bright enough to bleed onto screens behind the subwoofer. A Mode button on the handset scrolls through Music, Movie, Night Mode and Rock/Pop EQ presets.

With its purposeful brief of attention to performance if not fine furniture art, the Impact X 12 has a near-square baffle and a cabinet over 40 per cent longer than it is wide. Rounded front-back corners help smooth its otherwise boxy shape, and the baffle has lug holes for a supplied MDF-framed cloth grille. White and black versions of the cabinet's vinyl wrap finish are available.

Underneath are four non-adjustable solid feet guaranteed to cause you stability issues on seriously uneven hard floors, and a reflex port large enough to get your arm in for a feel about. Since you are asking, doing so revealed a large driver basket and magnet assembly surrounded with high-quality fibre wadding. Around the back of the sub are spring-clip speaker-level connections, RCAs for LFE, loop out and stereo input, rotary pots for crossover and gain, and switches for phase and auto-sensing power.

Hedgehog heroics
If there was ever a showcase of getting the most flavour out of basic ingredients, Velodyne would have a MasterChef champion on its hands. The Impact X 12 ranges remarkably deep without excessive bloat or wallow, goes ear-wateringly loud without losing its tuneful good nature, and does articulation and detail across a good portion of the bass spectrum that would have sealed cabinet subs searching for the rule book.

With the mind-bending weirdness that is Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Netflix), the Impact X 12 makes the most of the equally outrageous LFE from the opening credits. As the mushrooms grow and the mushroom machine engages, there is a deep rumbling that underpins the scene allied to the lows from the orchestral score. It really envelops you in the visual narrative of the sequence, with remarkable LF depth and detail, doubly so on a subwoofer with an outrageous port to boost the resonant frequencies of the cabinet.

Cranking up the volume with some regular 4K BD review staples, including John Wick: Chapter 4, the Impact X 12 does taught and punchy well, and remains in control even when pushed hard by furious action sequences. Gunfire has a decent percussive thump right into your chest, and big explosions rattle the furniture. It's no kilowatt bass monster, but it's more than enough for most movie rooms.

The sub's talents continue with music, giving 'Liberty' by Anette Askvik a warm and mellow bass tune that neatly contrasts the vocals and horns. I'd preferably go for a sealed subwoofer with more power to achieve the bass clarity and separation required to match higher-end two-channel systems, but for under £1,000, the Impact X 12 offers a very high-value experience with movies and music.

Expert engineering
When the Impact X 12 arrived, its on-paper specs, basic design and large ported architecture did not inspire sonic confidence in this reviewer. But the proof is in the listening, and its performance at the price, with no major flaws or foibles to speak of, is a testament to the expertise of Velodyne's specialist subwoofer engineering. In other words, it makes a real impact, and has got to be on any 'affordable' audition list.

HCC Verdict: 4.5/5

Velodyne Impact X 12
Price: £995

We say: This no-frills, high-value sub treats movies and music with a deep, even hand and offers superb detail and punch. Highly enjoyable.


DRIVE UNITS: 1 x 12in long-throw paper cone woofer ENCLOSURE: Down-firing ported FREQUENCY RESPONSE (CLAIMED): 29Hz-180Hz ONBOARD POWER (CLAIMED): 300W REMOTE CONTROL: Yes DIMENSIONS: 360(w) x 420(h) x 510(d)mm WEIGHT: 18kg

FEATURES: RCA LFE input and loop output; stereo RCA input; speaker level inputs; phase switch; variable crossover and gain controls; 4 x EQ presets; dimmable LED segment display