Adante SUB3070 Subwoofer reviewed by Brent Butterworth
- Written by Brent Butterworth
Elac Adante SUB3070 subwoofer measurements can be found by clicking this link.
For the past couple of years, the Andrew Jones-designed speakers from Elac have ranked among the most discussed products in audio — as were the Pioneer speakers designed by Jones in the years before that. What haven’t been talked about as much are the subwoofers Jones has come up with — from the low-budget favorite, Pioneer’s SW-8MK2, to the technically advanced Elac Debut S12EQ. Elac’s new Adante SUB3070 may be the subwoofer that at long last draws attention to Jones’s work in the bottom two octaves of the audioband.
At $3749.98 CDN, the SUB3070 is far more expensive than the Debut S12EQ ($01099.98), but it’s a lot more subwoofer. It has two side-firing 12” drivers in a sealed, trapezoidal enclosure measuring 20.39”W x 17.13”H x 18.75”D and weighing 77 pounds, powered by a BASH high-efficiency amplifier rated at 1200W maximum output. Its cabinet is solidly built, finished in gloss white or gloss black or rosewood veneer, and stands on thick metal spikes that look as if they could probably support an SUV. It’s the kind of sub you’d expect to see paired with speakers costing $5000 to $10,000/pair USD.
The most interesting feature of the SUB3070 isn’t even part of the sub itself — it’s the smartphone app used to control it. The app lets you access three key equalization functions: auto EQ, parametric EQ, and EQ modes. It also controls minor functions, such as auto on/off, and the low-pass filter frequency for the built-in subwoofer crossover.
Auto EQ works much like the same feature in Elac’s Debut S12EQ sub. To operate it, you first hold the smartphone near the sub and press an onscreen button. The sub then emits a sweep test tone, which is picked up by the smartphone’s internal microphone — a process that compensates for any inaccuracies in the phone’s microphone. You then sit in your primary listening spot, hold the phone near your face, and run another sweep. The phone calculates the appropriate room-correction curve and loads it into the sub. You can then use the app to activate or deactivate this EQ curve. One limitation: auto EQ works for only one listening position; there’s no way to optimize the sound across several seats.
The parametric EQ is really slick: eight bands of EQ, each with center frequency, bandwidth, and gain controls. Each filter’s center frequency can be set from 20 to 200Hz, and its gain from -10 to +10dB. (The bandwidth control is unmarked.) If you have measurement gear, you can use the parametric EQ to equalize the sound for multiple listeners, or to blend with a second subwoofer, or pretty much whatever your system, room, or tastes demand. I strongly recommend that anyone buying this subwoofer — or any sub — invest about $75 in a Dayton Audio UMM-6 USB microphone, and use the free Room EQ Wizard software to run measurements and optimize the sub’s positioning and EQ.
The SUB3070 offers four EQ modes: Flat, Cinema, Music, and Night. Read my Measurements section to find out how these modes affect the sound.
On the rear panel are stereo XLR balanced and RCA unbalanced inputs, plus binding posts for speaker-level connection to the left, center, and right channels. There are no outputs. There are also controls for power on/off and volume, as well as a button and indicator light for pairing with Elac’s optional wireless transmitter.
I tested the SUB3070 mostly in my listening room’s subwoofer sweet spot: against the front wall, between the right and center speakers. (Your room’s sub sweet spot will probably be elsewhere.) I also ran it for a while in the corner, which tends to make subs sound boomy and indistinct, thus presenting a tougher challenge for any auto EQ processing. I used the SUB3070 in a 2.1-channel system with a Parasound Halo P 5 preamplifier, two Outlaw M2200 monoblock power amps, and a pair of Revel Performa3 F206 speakers; and in a 5.1.2 system with a Sony STR-ZA5000ES receiver, Sunfire CRM-2 and CRM-BIP speakers, and Focal 300 ICW in-ceiling height speakers. With the 2.1 system, I crossed the Revels over to the SUB3070 at 80Hz; with the 5.1 system I used 110Hz, to suit the Sunfire speakers’ smaller woofers.
When I see a compact sub with 12” drivers, my first instinct isn’t to watch a movie on BD whose soundtrack has ultra-low bass tones. First, I want to hear what the sub can do with music, and especially with auto EQ engaged. Auto EQ should smooth out the response, and make the various notes in melodic bass lines sound more even.
I began with “Falling,” from the synth-pop group Olive’s Extra Virgin (16-bit/44.1kHz WAV, RCA). The bass line starts with a few notes in the midbass, then drops down for a couple of heavy punches in the low bass. Ideally, if your sub can handle the low notes and is properly positioned and/or EQ’ed for your room, this bass line should sound fairly even, with no notes standing out, no notes vanishing, and each note sounding distinct. That’s exactly what I heard with the SUB3070 with auto EQ engaged.
The title track of Steely Dan’s Aja (16/44.1 WAV, Geffen) features studio ace Chuck Rainey. His electric-bass line is super-smooth, with every note at essentially the same volume, making this track a great test of a subwoofer’s midbass response, of a room-EQ system, and of the smoothness of a sub’s crossover. With the SUB3070 in my room’s sub sweet spot, Rainey’s line in “Aja” sounded almost perfectly even. More important, it sounded almost as even when I placed the SUB3070 in the corner.
When playing melodic bass material such as Steely Dan tunes and the Christian McBride Trio’s Live at the Village Vanguard (LP, Mack Avenue), I noticed that the SUB3070 seemed to have no sonic character of its own. Although it’s a sealed-box design, it didn’t deliver the extreme, exaggerated punch that seems to be the signature of some of today’s high-end, sealed-box subs. I think that’s a good thing — that extreme punch is not something that comes out of a double bass or even most bass-guitar amps, and I don’t want Chuck Rainey’s smooth Fender-bass tone smacking me upside the head. But the SUB3070 didn’t do this, nor did it boom like a ported or passive-radiator sub with a high-Q tuning designed to maximize output. It did what any sub should do: with or without auto EQ engaged, it delivered natural-sounding bass without substantially altering the character of the recorded bass sound.
When I finally began to listen to film soundtracks through the Adante SUB3070, I figured I’d start by using the sub as I’d most often use one: by watching a movie I’d never seen before. I’d been saving Thor: Ragnarok (1080p HD, Marvel/Amazon Video) for my next subwoofer review, so I cranked up the volume on the Sony receiver and settled back.
Even with the volume set high, and the subwoofer level set 3dB above that of the other channels, the SUB3070 never seemed to strain or distort, and never seemed in distress. Though this was the first time I’d seen Thor: Ragnarok, I suspected that, in the scene in which Thor battles the Hulk in an extraterrestrial arena, the colossal impacts of two of the universe’s most powerful beings slugging it out might have shaken my floor and chair a bit more than they did.
To learn more, I switched to a movie I know so well I can recite most of its dialogue. I use U-571 (BD, Universal) for every subwoofer review because it presents such a wide range of bass tones. With the firing of the titular submarine’s deck cannon in the chapter “Face to Face,” and the explosions in “Depth Charged,” the midbass kick of that other sub, the SUB3070, practically drove me back in my chair. I know — only a few paragraphs ago, I complained about subwoofers having too much midbass punch. But in that case I was talking about subwoofers adding punch that’s not part of an instrument’s natural sound. In the case of U-571, the SUB3070 was accurately conveying sound effects in the film — or, at least, conveying them as well as most of the much larger subs I’ve tested.
What the SUB3070 didn’t do was shake my chair when the submarine passes under the destroyer in “Face to Face.” The sound of the U-571’s engines, followed by the sounds of the destroyer’s propellers beginning to turn, is made up of intense low tones that many small subwoofers can only barely reproduce. The SUB3070 could certainly reproduce these tones, but couldn’t do so with the power of larger home-theater subs.
The SUB3070 clearly wasn’t intended to compete with the more home-theater-oriented powerhouse subs from the likes of Hsu Research, Power Sound Audio, and SVS. It’s much smaller and prettier, if less muscular. Those companies don’t even make products in the SUB3070’s price range. In my opinion, none of those products can match the power, versatility, and ease of use offered in Elac’s control app for the SUB3070, but while the SUB3070 can slug it out with the best of them in the midbass, those companies’ larger subs can easily out-punch the SUB3070 below 40Hz.
It seems to me that the SUB3070’s main competitor would be a more audiophile-oriented subwoofer, such as the REL Acoustics S/5 SHO, which costs $100 more and has a single 12” driver powered by a 550W amp and augmented by a 12” passive radiator. I haven’t measured the S/5 SHO’s output — neither, apparently, has any other reviewer — but it seems highly unlikely that it could deliver more output than the SUB3070. The S/5 SHO lacks the SUB3070’s technical sophistication — it has no EQ function — but it does have the nice speaker- and line-level inputs and mix control that let you blend the two. In my experience, REL subs are among the easiest to blend with a two-channel system whose preamp lacks a built-in subwoofer crossover. Not having tried the S/5 SHO, I can’t say which sub is better, but the S/5 SHO’s price certainly makes the SUB3070 look a little more affordable.
Elac’s Adante SUB3070 is a beautifully designed, technically sophisticated subwoofer with the most capable and friendly control app I’ve ever encountered in a sub. It has the smooth, well-defined sound a subwoofer needs to blend well with a high-end music system, and its app allows it to be tuned to near perfection, even in situations in which the optimal subwoofer position must be compromised for the sake of visual aesthetics. While it’s not the kind of powerhouse sub that serious home-theater aficionados tend to choose, it maintained its composure in tough deep-bass tests, delivering tremendous impact with explosions and other high-intensity sound effects.
The Adante SUB3070 is one of the rare subwoofers that audiophiles can love — and that doesn’t complain when pressed into playing the occasional film soundtrack.
. . . Brent Butterworth
- Speakers — Focal 300 ICW, Revel Performa3 F206, Sunfire CRM-2 and CRM-BIP
- Preamplifier — Parasound Halo P 5
- Amplifier — Outlaw Audio M2200 monoblocks
- A/V receiver — Sony STR-ZA5000ES
Elac Adante SUB3070 Subwoofer
Warranty: Three years, cabinet and driver; one year, amplifier, repair or replacement.
Elac Americas, Inc.
11145 Knott Avenue, Suites E & F
Cypress, CA 90630
Phone: (714) 252-8843