Published on November 6th, 2011 | by James0
Audio Week: More Boom For Your Buck With BIC
Subwoofers are an integral part of any home sound system. Not only do they add that extra thickness to the sound of whatever you're watching, but they also can let your neighbors know that you value your entertainment more than their sanity. So I was pleased to receive the BIC Acoustech PL-200 and F-12 subwoofers for my reviewing pleasure and neighborly shadenfreude.
I'll start with the Acoustech PL-200. It's a Front-firing 12″ Long-Throw Powered Subwoofer, boasting 1000 watts of dynamic peak output and 250 watts RMS continous power with adjustable crossover so you can tweak the frequency response to play nicer with your mid-range speakers. Yes, you read those numbers are real- and definitely audible. Aesthetically, because this is important with anything you're going to be showing off in your living room, it looks pretty standard (in a good way) so it just blend nicely with any other components you already have in your home audio system. It's not quite as attractive as one we've previously seen, but classy.
The sound coming out of this unit is pretty amazing, especially considering the relatively low cost. I first like to run some audio calibration software through my computer to get everything tweaked to my liking. I then decided to play through a various mix of musical genres as was pleasantly surprised at the clarity coming out of this sub. There wasn't any of the muddiness or explosive hits I've heard from some other lower priced units, but instead it was a nice thickness that complimented the rest of the sound rather than overpower it (with the exception of dubstep, but that's the genres fault, not the subs). I then decided to pop in a copy of the Matrix on blu-ray and lo-and-behold, I got the same exceptional results. The lows came through clearly and without distortion or muddiness.
At 52 pounds, this beast takes up a bit of space, and certainly feels solid. We hooked it up through a couple of receivers, and paired it with our Orb Audio 5-speaker setup.
Sadly, the BIC Formula F-12 fell a little flatter in our tests. Though it has similar specs to the Acoustech PL-200- both offer Dolby Pro Logic & Dolby Digital/DTS inputs, gold-plated connectors, and are similar sizes- some of the tests yielded a slightly garbled blandness that the PL-200 didn't have. The former is lighter and a little smaller, but looks and feels similar in most respects. It's a shame because I had higher hopes for this line.
The F-12 is magnetically shielded unlike the PL-200, which is an advantage in some situations, but we didn't notice or need that particular feature in our setup.The warranties are also a little different, though both are fairly generous- five years on the F-12 and a slightly odd mix of eight years on the driver but only two on the amp and electronics, likely thanks to the included BASH amp on the PL-200.
If you're on a budget and don't mind doing some tweaking to your system, the F-12 may be right up your ally with street prices below $200 (far below the MSRP of $449). I would enthusiastically recommend the PL-200 to anyone with a mid-range budget who is looking to add some solid punch to their sound system without breaking the bank. At $300 or so available online, it's the best subwoofer we've yet tried, and a great value.