We’ve been reviewing a lot of “super subs” lately, but not
everyone can fit a giant, 100lb+ subwoofer in their home. Most people, I think,
would prefer great bass without a great big sub. That’s where something like
the RBH Sound SI-1010 comes into play. As opposed to sitting in the room, it’s
hidden in the floor or ceiling and sound passes through a discrete air vent
cover. From an aesthetics perspective, you can’t get much better than completely
out of sight. However, the question remaining for an Audioholic is, how does it
perform? And for the DIYer or custom integrator, how does it install?

SI-1010 and SA-500DSP
Overview

Two key characteristics set apart the SI-1010 from a typical
subwoofer. First, and most obvious, it’s hidden in either the floor or ceiling
of a home. It lays flat against either the ceiling/floor, between the
joists/trusses, and is screwed into the joists/trusses. The sound then passes
through a 6” x 12” cut-out in the floor/ceiling. The SI-1010 comes with either a white cold
air return vent cover for in-ceiling installations or a tan heating vent cover
or in-floor installations. When finished, your guests would have no idea that
what looks like a standard heating or air vent is actually part of a high
powered subwoofer system. Alternatively, you can use any vent cover that matches your decor, as long as it doesn’t restrict airflow.

The second key difference between a typical sub and the
SI-1010 is that the SI-1010 is passive, meaning that it does not have a
built-in amplifier. Instead, RBH uses their separate SA-500DSP subwoofer
amplifier. Speaker wire is used to the connect the SA-500DSP to the SI-1010. The
sub and amplifier can be purchased together (RBH refers to the combo as the SI-1010P) or separately. While this setup
differs from typical subwoofers, passive designs are the standard for in-floor/ceiling
and in-wall subwoofers.

in-floor subwoofer vent     in-floor subwoofer vent open

SI-1010 installed in the floor

The SA-500DSP is RBH’s typical choice for powering their
high-performance passive subwoofers. It’s a class D amplifier rated at 500
Watts RMS @ 4 Ohms and packed with a host of features. It sports balanced and
unbalanced inputs and pass-through outputs, meaning you can daisy chain
multiple amps. The unit can automatically power on/off when it senses a signal
or be controlled via a 12v trigger input. An IR input on the rear panel makes for easy integration
with control systems, otherwise the IR receiver built in the front panel works great. A rear USB port is available for firmware upgrades and a
rear mounted dial can be used to adjust the front display brightness.

A front panel LCD gives users access to a host of adjustment setup options.
First off, a night mode limits the dynamic range of amp so loud scenes don’t
wake up neighbors or family. There are five pre-set EQs (Defeat, Music, Movie,
Impact, and Dynamic). Additionally, users can set and save their own custom EQ
via a built-in 9-band graphic EQ (20, 25, 31, 40, 50, 63, 80,
100, 125 HZ +-6dB).

For maximum flexibility, the SA-500DSP offers an adjustable low-pass filter (40Hz to 160Hz), slope (12dB, 18dB, 24dB, 30dB, or 36dB), subsonic control (a high-pass filter than can be set to flat, or frequencies from 16Hz to 40Hz), and phase (0°, 45°, 90°, 135°, 180°, 225°, 270° and 315°). After the amp is dialed in, settings can be saved
to one of three memory banks. All these adjustments mean that you should be
able to seamlessly blend the SI-1010P – or any RBH sub powered with the
SA-500DSP – with your speakers.

si-1010 baffle off

SI-1010 with the baffle removed

si-1010 baffle installed

SI-1010 with vertical baffle installed

Making all of these adjustments via the two-line LCD and control dial isn’t
particularly fun, so I recommend using the included IR remote. Custom
installers will be happy to know that power on/off, mute, and EQ modes are all
adjusted via discreet IR codes (Hex keys listed in product manual).

Other than being hidden away and utilizing an external amp,
the SI-1010 is much like any other subwoofer. It’s a sealed design with dual
10” aluminum cone drivers. RBH rates the SI-1010 with a 28Hz-200Hz
(±3dB) frequency response. When compared to larger, ported subs, 28Hz isn’t
deep for a system with an MSRP of over $2k. However, considering the
size limitations placed on the design (it needs to fit in a standard floor
cavity), 28Hz is pretty low.

At 68lbs, the SI-1010 is no lightweight. Much of that weight
comes from the MDF used to construct the 13-1/2″ W x 42″ H x 9″
D cabinet. Although the sub is hidden, it’s not small, which makes installation
a two-person job.

Installation

We made a 23-minute YouTube video and wrote a full article covering
every aspect of installing the SI-1010, so I’ll keep this section short and encourage you to watch the video below.
Installing the sub is an easy task if the home is still under construction.
Installing it in a finished home is trickier, but definitely still possible.
The tools and skills required are basic, as long as the speaker wire is in
place. Running wire in a finished home is beyond the scope of this article, but
suffice it to say that there’s almost always a way to run wire as long as you
have the right tools and know-how.

YouTube Instructional Video: How to Install an In-Floor or In-Ceiling Subwoofer

The SI-1010 is either hoisted up between floor joists or
gently laid down on the ceiling, between ceiling trusses. Once it’s in
position, it’s secured by driving screws through the joists/trusses and into
the sides of the SI-1010. This is where each installation will vary. Depending
on the construction of your home, you may have to use extra lumber to secure
the sub in place. Really, unless you’re installing it in a floor with 2×10”
joists spaced 16” on-center, you will have to use a little extra lumber and
ingenuity to secure the sub. This isn’t an issue with the design, as comparable subs installs the same way. It’s just the
nature of custom installation products.

in-floor subwoofer installed

The SI-1010 temporarily in place. For final installation another set of 2x4s was used to raise the unit until it fit snugly against the floor above.

Note that RBH sells both a vertical and horizontal baffle
for the SI-1010. Changing the baffle rotates the vent 90 degrees. And don’t
worry, if you order the sub with the wrong baffle you can purchase the correct
one and swap them yourself. I speak from experience.

Listening Tests

The XX AlbumListening tests were conducted in a large, open area that includes the living room, dining area, and kitchen. To account for the natural roll off of the SI-1010, the SA-500DSP EQ was set to [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]

The XX – Coexist

Coexist, The xx’s second and latest album, is one of my favorite indie albums (Wikipedia say’s the band falls under the “dream pop” category. Maybe that’s why I find it easy to take a nap when listening to it). Many of the tracks have a powerful bass line, which makes it a great album for testing a subwoofer. I listened to nearly the entire album, and the SI-1010 sounded great. The bass lines were clearly defined and I could follow each ascending and descending note. On track #6, “Sunset,” which caused very audible distortion with the MartinLogan Vision soundbar I reviewed, I noticed some rattling when I put my ear close to the sub. It didn’t seem to be mechanical noise from the drivers, rather it was from the metal mud ring rattling against the MDF subfloor. A little foam weatherstripping would solve that issue, but even that isn’t particularly necessary as I only heard the rattle on one track and only when putting my ear close to the sub. The bass guitar, synth, and steel drums employed throughout the album sounded clear and punchy with the SI-1010. What more could you ask for?

Mad Max Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road, one of the great films released in 2015,
was an easy choice for demoing the SI-1010. I had heard it used in a number of
Atmos demos at CEDIA 2015 and have watched it at home myself.

No need to skip to the right chapter to find demo worthy
content. The opening scene is complete with large dynamic swings, sounds
swirling, and hard hitting bass. Even as the WB and Village Roadshow Pictures
logos flash on the scene, the roar of a vehicle and deep, rough sound of Max’s
voice were cleanly produced by the SI-1010. The sub had to play up to 120Hz to
blend with the soundbar I’m using at the moment, and such a high
crossover means the sub has to reproduce male vocals.
The SI-1010 performed solidly. I was impressed with how well the SI-1010 handled
Max’s voice while at the same time digging low enough to produce bass that
resonated through the house. Throughout the movie – which is non-stop
action – the SI-1010 never failed to impress. There were one or two occasions
where I knew that a bigger, ported sub like the RBH SV-1212P would have more low end output, but that’s to be expected. What was more important to me was that even when I pushed the SI-1010 and SA-500DSP to their limits in my 6,000+ cubic foot area, they kept their composure.

Mad Max Fury Road  The Lego Movie Blu-ray

Lego Movie

Next up was the Lego Movie. I bought this movie for my son, but as is often the case with modern animation, I ended up enjoying it as much or more than he did. This is a great movie to own not just because it’s a joy to watch, but because it’s a great excuse to show off your home theater.

I jumped straight to the scene where Emmet Brickowski falls into an intricate maze of underground tunnels and is bounced around like a Plinko ball. Every smack into a wall was accompanied by a tight, powerful thump from the SI-1010. I didn’t notice any distortion, compression, or other audible artifacts to indicate that this sub had met its match. It sailed through the scene and was ready for the following chase that ensues after Emmet escapes Bad Cop with the help of Wyldstyle. Again, this was no problem for the SI-1010  subwoofer. I could feel the bass resonate through the floor a bit more than with a typical subwoofer; however, I wouldn’t factor that into a purchase decision as the difference is minimal.

To round out this listening test, I skipped forward to the destruction of Cloud Cuckoo Land. The SI-1010 kept pace with the gun shots, explosions, falls, and general chaos. I replayed this scene twice, the second time I went over to my equipment rack to see how the SA-500DSP was fairing.  According to the font panel LCD, the amp went above about 90% power, so I was pushing the unit hard. I checked the temperature with my hand and it was quite cool. I don’t have an objective measurement, but it was far cooler than my Denon AVR-X4000, which tends to run pretty warm. The SA-500DSP seemed to be a good match with the SI-1010, but more on that in the measurements.

gene posts on April 06, 2016 14:33


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gene posts on April 06, 2016 14:30

The SI-1010 is one of only a few subwoofers that fill a niche in the market, consumers who want powerful bass but won’t accept even the smallest subwoofer. As opposed to sitting in the room, it’s hidden in the floor or ceiling and sound passes through a discrete air vent cover. From an aesthetics perspective, you can’t get much better than completely out of sight. However, the question remaining for an Audioholic is, how does it perform?

And for the DIYer or custom integrator, how does it install? Read on the find out and be sure to check out YouTube Install Video.

Read: RBH Sound SI-1010P In-floor or In-Ceiling Subwoofer Review