Velodyne Impact-Mini 6.5" Subwoofer Review - Testing

Testing

Our testing methods included normal usage through a wide-range tests.  We watched a variety of movies and shows, listened to all genres of music, played games, and put it through frequency sweep tests.  We gathered independent opinions from a handful of team members, several of which are musicians, and we value their inputs on the bass production of the Impact-Mini-6.5".  The subwoofer was placed in the left front corner of the room we did our listening tests, about 8 feet from where we listened, the phase was set to zero degrees, and the lowpass crossover frequency set to the lowest setting.  We will provide perspective of a typical home theater user, and less of an audiophile-centric analysis which centers around accuracy.  Most individuals are less concerned with how accurately a sound is produced, and more-so about how enjoyable it is to listen to.

 

Music

We listened to nearly any genre we could think of from a wide range of artists within each genre.  We did not single out "bass-heavy" tracks, either, as the best bass is at times the one which subtly compliments the song.  Classical or movie scores didn't push the Impact-Mini 6.5 hard, but cellos and deep sounds reverberated cleanly and crisply from the cabinet.  A great aspect of Velodyne's Impact series is that the bass is very clean, and its less as though the sound is being forcefully driven from the box in the corner, but it's more a part of the room, in that is cleanly felt and heard in a full fashion as though the walls themselves are producing the bass.

 

Rock sounds fantastic, as the 300W of output created by the small box delivers a satisfying "thump" when a kick drum is hit.  Again, I feel as though I should stress that even when the volume is all the way up, a powerful kick drum hit doesn't produce ugly, distorted bass, but the smaller aluminum drivers remain clean, even at very high levels.  Other bass-heavy genres such as hip-hop or dubstep are fantastically complimented by the Impact Mini 6.5, as the sound really comes alive when the full depth of the low and mid-range bass is felt and heard.  The limitation of the smaller 6.5-inch driver is that the ultra-low frequencies are attenuated abruptly below the rated 38Hz low range, so if you're especially conscious of low bass, the Impact 10 provides a low-end frequency rating of 32Hz with the larger driver, at a significant cost in terms of the footprint.

 

The volume knob on the unit itself allows quick and easy adjustment of the subwoofer levels so you may tune it to fit how you want to listen.  It's incredible the amount of power the Impact-Mini 6.5 delivers, and it does take you aback a bit to see what the small box in the corner produces.  This does mean that it's fully capable of engulfing the sound coming from your speakers, so if you want a more subtle contribution from the sub, a quick knob adjustment is all you need, apart from potentially-complicated equalizer or level adjustments of your receiver.

 

Movies

We watched a variety of movies and shows from thrillers and war movies to musicals, and the Impact-Mini 6.5" doesn't leave much more to desire from such a small package.  Saving Private Ryan came alive more than I'm used to, coming from a lesser-quality 10-inch subwoofer, and each explosion or gunshot has "volume" to it, and really adds an extra element.  Even softer movies such as a musical is subtly complimented by smooth, clear bass, without being overpowered.  Action flicks with car scenes and explosions have an additional element of life as well.  During getaway scenes, the rumble of a high-powered engine is felt as you expect it to be, and the downfiring subwoofer diffuses the bass cleanly across the room.  It is even fantastic how characters with deep voices are pleasantly embodied by a clean, powerful bass response.

 

Games

Video games offer a similar experience to watching movies, as elements of the game feel far more lively.  FPS games are accompanied by full-sounding and feeling explosions, and each shot has a light concussion associated with it.  Firing a tank shell in Battlefield 3 has a shock associated with it which makes it feel far more involved and personal.  Music-based games such as Guitar Hero and Rockband also have a much greater element of a live performance, especially when hearing drums or a bass guitar.

 

Frequency Tests

We utilized a variety of frequency sweeps and bass tests to isolate the subwoofer and analyze its performance at various frequencies and volumes.  We were able to perceive bass down to about 25Hz, but it was severely attenuated.  Bass was still full at around 36Hz, and began to attenuate quickly as it got lower.  The penalty you pay for the smaller driver is the low-frequency performance, but for a 6.5-inch driver, 36Hz operation is quite impressive.  We then cranked the volume and really pushed the Impact-Mini 6.5 and observed its distortion characteristics.  The bass remained very clean through very high volume levels, largely due to the relatively small aluminum woofer cones, and the room itself actually became a distraction before the unit began to distort itself (which occurred at, honestly, uncomfortably high bass levels).  Non-secured items began to rattle and vibrate before we observed any appreciable distortion from the sub, and it really is incredible how much bass the small cabinet emitted.  We throttled back when things began to slide off of shelving, at about 85% of the total power we could feed the Impact-Mini 6.5... it is truly impressive.  We did observe at these levels that the woofers were beginning to become overextended and the bass became a bit ripply and distorted, but even for medium-to-large rooms, the bass was impressively powerful, especially for such a small unit.

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