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Subwoofer Demo Material - Bring the Boom

May 11, 2009 By Dennis Burger

Put your system (and your foundation) to the test with these spectacular subwoofer Show-Offs

Sure we all enjoy a carefully crafted surround sound mix that oozes ambience and paints a pretty phonic picture in the air, but what we all really love is head-slamming, rump-shaking, rafter-rattling bass.

With that in mind, this installment of Show-Off is all about giving you the lowdown on the lowest of the low—Blu-ray subwoofer demos certain to pin you to your seat, part your hair (assuming you have any) and rattle anything that isn’t nailed, bolted or Gorilla-glued to the walls or floor.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Best Chapter: 18 — “The Army Awakens”

Hellboy II: The Golden ArmyThis sensational, supernatural sequel is a stupendous Show-Off disc from beginning to end, replete with thrilling three-dimensional surround sound and a bottom end that digs so deep it must surely be knocking on the doors of H-E-you-know-where in a couple of scenes.

The only question is whether or not your home theater is tough enough to take it. If you’re willing to risk it, fire up the film’s penultimate scene and see for yourself.

Even before the scene kicks into high gear, the score hits like Thor’s hammer, setting the stage for thousands of huge gears that grind and grumble with an oomph that’ll send your more skittish guests scurrying for cover, followed by the awakening of thousands more gigantic golden goliaths, each packing enough punch to rearrange the silverware in your neighbors’ kitchen.

Best Chapter: 15 — “Off Track”

WantedThis mile-a-minute comic book action-fest from the director of Night Watch may not boast the deepest bass in the bunch, but if you’re looking for a hard-hitting surround mix that packs the power of a two-ton jackhammer, you’d have to look hard to find much better than this.

Check out the film’s climactic locomotive showdown for a taste of the movie’s butt-kicking prowess.

You’ll swear every punch is going to knock out windows and every bullet is sure to blow the fillings right out the back of your head, but you ain’t heard (or felt) nothing until the train derails and slams into a cliff face with all the power and fury of a drug-addled, two-ton gorilla kicking the underside of your seat. 

Just be sure to pause after the railcars fall if you or your guests have never seen the flick all the way through: major spoilage quickly follows.

King Kong
Best Chapter: 34 — “Ann Disarms Kong”

You think a kick in the pants from a two-ton gorilla is something? Try having a lovesick 20-ton ape rip through your room on a rampage.

King KongAfter a somewhat slow start, Peter Jackson’s lengthy remake kicks into high gear and doesn’t let up on your subwoofers until they’re on the verge of rolling over and playing dead.

Of course, you and your guests have probably already been blown away by the Brontosaurus stampede, the T-Rex battle and maybe even the Ceratops attack from the extended edition ad infinitum on DVD or HD DVD.

But if you really want to show off the power of this new Blu-ray’s lossless DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, shake things up and queue up the scene where Ann soothes the savage beast with her acrobatic antics. If Kong’s subsonic growls, hoots, hollers and poundings don’t have your subwoofers bouncing around like a Pomeranian begging for a YipYap, your system seriously needs a tune up.

Band of Brothers
Best Chapter: 3, from Episode 2 — “Day of Days”

Band of BrothersUnlike so many TV series and miniseries—which have ended up on Blu-ray with beautiful imagery, but not much in the way of a sound upgrade—HBO’s World War II epic blasts its way into high-definition with a raucous DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that spanks most theatrical releases handily.

Every legendary battle bulges at the seams with ear-blistering surround effects and bombastic bottom end.

But if you’re just looking to show off your subwoofers, check out the aerial sequences early in the second episode. Even before the fighting begins, the bombs bursting in the distant clouds send shockwaves through the room like thunder with anger-management issues. 

Then the clouds break, the bombs begin bursting all around you and the rumbling is so relentless it’s like a shiatsu massage that you’re simply too ashamed to admit you enjoy.

Best Chapter: X

If you’re looking for something a little more escapist, give a look (or a listen and a feel, for that matter) to Joss Whedon’s big-screen follow-up to his brilliant-but-ill-fated space western TV series, Firefly. As with its forebear,

Serenity Serenity takes it sound design seriously, having the courage to avoid sound in space—which makes science geeks giggle with glee, but, I’ll admit, tends to leave surround sound demo junkies jonesing for a fix when the action turns toward the stars.

Not that there’s any shortage of sonic action on the ground: the film is packed with boom from beginning to end, but because of the usual celestial silence, it’s the film’s climactic space battle, which takes place inside the atmosphere of an ion cloud, that’s really going to blow your hair back.

Imagine having your head strapped to a kettledrum playing the Second Movement of Beethoven’s Ninth, but packed with explosives, in the middle of an earthquake. But, you know, in a good way.

Best Chapter: 14 — “Fire Power”

For a final showdown that’s a little closer to home (although, let’s be honest with ourselves here, no more realistic), see if you can stomach this final installment in the numerically challenged Rambo quadrilogy.

RamboI’ll admit, I can sit through some heinous horror movies, but even I can’t stomach the wanton violence at the end of this one with my eyes open. Fortunately, the sound mix is so seamless, so cranked to eleven—so saturated with savory subwoofer action—you’ll get the picture even without peeking at the blood and yuck splattered all over the screen.

What I love best about the sound here is that it beautifully shows off your system’s ability to handle all sorts of bass at once, from machine gun fire that flirts with the crossover point between subwoofers and main speakers, to mortar fire that hits so hard it sucks the air right out of the room, to limbo-winning flamethrower torrents that are felt more than heard. And all of it blends together into a symphonious subsonic assault that neither you nor your system will get over anytime soon.


Thanks for the comment, Zing. You're right! That's a fantastic scene. In fact, I'll almost certainly be including it in my upcoming Halloween Show-Offs, which I'm working on now.


In my opinion, the granddaddy of all subsonic goodies (and I do mean subsonic because there's absolutely nothing to hear) is the 2007 Rob Zombie release of Halloween. Chapter 10, "Mikey's Last Day at the Sanitarium", puts the sub in subsonic and separates the men from the boys in the world of subwoofers.

About 48 minutes into the movie, Michael attacks a caretaker and repeatedly submerges his head in some sort of tank or sink full of water. Each time he pulls his head out of the water, there's an intense rumble - one you won't hear but I'd bet you'll think it's a real life tremor. Some are more intense than others but I think the best one occurs at Timestamp 0:48:51.

If you've got a sub capable of delving into the teens with authority, this one is a real crowd pleaser!

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