ICBM Improves Surround-sound Bass
Recognizing that many home theater fans have satellite-and-subwoofer systems, or systems that don't go very low, Durham, NH-based Outlaw Audio has introduced an add-on device to send the bass where it will sound the best: from the subwoofer. Announced October 3, the Integrated Controlled Bass Manager (ICBM) is intended "to make up for a major shortcoming of the new DVD-Audio and SACD players"---the fact that most of them lack bass management systems needed to make their audio output fully compatible with popular 5.1-channel satellite/subwoofer home theater speaker systems.
DVD-Audio and SACD players can deliver up to six channels of full-range audio intended for large speakers with plenty of low frequency extension. Such players lack a way to extract the bass to feed a subwoofer in a typical 5.1-channel system, and small satellite speakers will distort when trying to reproduce low bass. The ICBM gives such systems the capability of routing the bass to the sub, thereby protecting the satellites and making the whole system sound better.
The ICBM's front panel lets users select the rolloff frequency for each of the main speakers, for a rear center channel, and for a pair of rear/side surround speakers. Selectable "hinge points" are 40 Hz, 60 Hz, 80 Hz, 100 Hz, or 120 Hz. Each control can be set to bypass bass management when it is not needed---for example, if your left and right front channel speakers are truly full-range, you can send the full bandwidth signal to them with the ICBM's bypass feature. You can run your front speakers full range while also engaging the subwoofer, something that many bass management systems do not allow.
The ICBM can generate either mono or stereo bass signals, by summing the bass from each side of the soundstage to an individual subwoofer output. It also provides up to 10dB of low frequency boost for fine-tuning your system's bass performance. The ICBM is an all-analog design with audiophile-grade parts and is said to be sonically transparent. Price is $249 direct from the Outlaw Audio website or by calling 866-688-5297.