Evaluating audio components such as speakers can be arguably the most difficult job an installer has when considering products to represent. Subwoofers are especially hard to evaluate because much of their performance is subject to the room environment in which they reside.
On top of those major points, another point when it comes to audio and subwoofers is realistically there is no way to fudge the law of physics. This means bigger is usually better.
There are cases however, where well executed designs can maximize or mitigate the limitations of size. This is exactly the case with the new Vanco Beale Street Audio brand in-room subwoofers.
Proving their worth, the company sent me a pair of the 8-inch version BPS-80 subwoofers. Using the Beale Street subs in my immersive home theater I listened to music and movies and was quite surprised at how well these small footprint subwoofers performed with stereo, surround and immersive content.
Beale Street Subs Features and Setup
Outlining the BPS-80’s features, as I noted the small-footprint sub complements a wide range of applications.
Internally, the subwoofer utilizes an 8-inch Kevlar woofer, along with a butyl surround. The 4-ohm impedance, 90dB sensitive subwoofer is driven by a built-in 220-watt amplifier. Unique to Beale Street Audio products is the company’s proprietary Sonic Vortex technology.
It’s hard to describe this technology—but think of it as Beale Steet Audio’s version of transmission line technologies, which are used by high-performance companies such as PMC. Summing up the Sonic Vortex design concept, the company’s engineers have developed a carefully designed chamber/port system that incorporates openings along the chamber to force air through the chamber at a high rate of speed within a sealed, tuned enclosure.
Controls on the BPS-80 are located on the sub’s rear panel and they include mono and stereo line-level inputs, along with speaker level and passthrough; audio sensing options, LEF, and adjustable subwoofer crossover and phase capabilities.
According to Beale Street Audio the BPS-80 offers a frequency response of 28Hz to 300Hz.
The Beale Street Audio BPS-80 is easy to unbox and handle. Once the subs arrived at my home, I slid them from their boxes and placed them in my listening room, which is 12 feet by 23 feet with an 8- foot ceiling. My room is configured in a Live end/dead end configuration with my AV system taking up about 2/3 thirds of the room on the “dead side.” The final 1/3 of the room is the “live end” and it includes guitars, guitar amps and music gear.
CE Pro Features
- BPS-65 features 6.5-inch woofer and BPS-80 incorporates 8-inch woofer
- Both models employ built-in 220-watt amplifiers
- The subs offer stereo and mono (RCA) line level, stereo speaker level and passthrough; LFE, audio sensing, subwoofer crossover frequency and phase adjustments
- Beale Street Audio points out that both subs also incorporate its Sonic Vortex technology
- Externally the subs use solid-wood cabinets and black grille cloths
- See Vanco for pricing details
Since my room is laid out and treated, I have a good idea of how the room performs acoustically. With that knowledge I have placed the Beale Street subs in locations that are conducive for smooth, responsive low frequencies.
It’s also worth noting that I use a total of four subs set up in mirrored pairs: two 10-inch subs that reside on the border of the live side and two 12-inch subs in the middle of the “dead” portion of the room.
Replacing one 12-inch and one 10-inch (the subs that reside on the back wall) I inserted the Beale Street subs in their place.
The audio portion of my system includes an Onkyo receiver, a Panasonic Ultra Blu-ray player, a 4K Apple TV, as well as left, center and right Aerial Acoustics speakers, Atlantic Technology height speakers (one pair that sit on top of the main left/right speakers) and side and rear bipolar/dipole Emotiva speakers.
I do keep things simple and use the LFE inputs and I set the volume by listening to music, video content and test tones. It didn’t take long to install the subs. They are simple to setup and install.
Performance and Final Thoughts
After I felt comfortable with the volume levels of the subs, my first impression was I did not hear a noticeable drop off in output or low-frequency frequency extension. Realistically it would be difficult to notice a dB or two drop off, but I was still pleasantly surprised by the 8-inch subs ability to just about match the levels of the bigger subs they replaced.
One of the advantages besides the small footprint of the subs is that smaller drivers tend to respond to transients better than larger woofers. Listening to the subs in my system I thought they would work well with music and I found that integrated into my complete system, they played well down to 40Hz, which is good extension for the reproduction of music and instruments like kick drums and bass guitars.
Digging deeper into the subs’ performance I set the BPS-80 subs up by themselves and played them with pink noise test tones.
I measured the Beale Street subs as standalone solutions and as part of my home theater system. By themselves the pair of subs in the locations that I mentioned within my room they played down to 31.5Hz. The subs did have more usable output at 40Hz and I found their output smooth from 40Hz to 80Hz. Adding the Beale Street subs to my system with my existing subs I did add a few dB of output to my system and a slight bit of frequency extension at 25Hz and more volume at 31Hz.
My takeaway from the test tones was what I had heard listening to music and movies with the subs: The BPS-80 delivers nice levels of output and extension from a small-footprint sub that includes an 8-inch woofer.
Through the BPS-80’s ability to deliver solid output down to 40Hz, I think the sub could be used to augment stereo systems to provide high-performing 2.1 systems, such as soundbar-based and traditional left/right speaker systems with richer sound.
I will add that I am an advocate of multiple subwoofers, and in the case of the BPS-80 this sub can be used to produce home theater systems that don’t take up lots of room and deliver good, detailed low frequencies with nice levels of attack and punch.
The only thing I’d like to see Beale Street Audio and Vanco do based on my experience with the BPS-80 is to make bigger versions of this design. I think 10- and 12-inch versions of this design would really deliver the thump that home theater and bass enthusiasts are looking from their AV systems.
My recommendation is to try the Beale Street subs out for yourself in music and surround systems. I’m sure that if the subwoofers are properly located within a listening space that you’ll be as pleased as I was with my experience with the subwoofers.
CE Pro Verdict:
- Small footprint allows the sub to go into places larger subs can’t
- The transient response of the BPS-80 is fast to support its use with music
- With proper room placement and set up the BPS-80 delivers a nice level of punch for a small sub
- More color choices would help dealers win over clients on its aesthetic merits
- This isn’t a con, but just a wish: It would be nice to see 10- and 12-inch versions of these subwoofers