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Published on November 6th, 2011 | by James

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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.

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