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Subwoofer Review: Elite Four Fifteen


Client impressions and subwoofer review of the Elite Four Fifiteen prototype. the C415.

This subwoofer is probably the most intense desing I have done to date, with the Cassini 218 in a neck and neck race. When we are targeting efficiency to such an extreme level, giving the listener all the benefits of real stroke and the resulting wicked SPL with peerless fidelity in perfectly matched perportions, the engineering needs to be as extreme. So in light of our own ambitions and extreme enginnering, please enjoy what Brian has to say about the result.









"Performance verification and findings.



The Journey:


Our adventure initially started nearly two years ago via conversations with Nathan Funk and Cody Hiebert with a desire to replace my pair of JTR Cap 4000 subwoofers in our living room. The Caps are significant subwoofers besting most subs with their tremendous output. My goal was to improve fidelity, reduce size, improve aesthetics and maintain substantial output.



The wait for these beautiful beasts was painful at times and even tested my patience on a few occasions. It took just over one year from time of concept, order & payment to finish & delivery, and are now in their production stable. To be fair to Harbottle, there were several circumstances (company/personal move, fires, cabinet finish design modification, etc.) which were out of their control which delayed completion significantly. Furthermore and from what I understand, most complete subwoofer designs rarely hit production on prototype #1 or even #2, and can take two to three years with no guarantees of actually working as intended, and with manufacturers typically not selling their prototypes. Harbottle guaranteed minimum performance goals prior to tooling or design, and ended up exceeding those goals my 33%! Cody was outstanding with both written & verbal communication and completely candid at every step of the process. I don’t imagine that most companies would be so responsive in updating their customers throughout the process. I had to remind myself at times that this was a prototype project when my anxiety got the best of me, and that this process would require my patience, flexibility, understanding and grace. The results and long term enjoyment FAR outweigh the brief moments of frustration.



Cassini Branding:


I’ve been informed that these were the prototype for Harbottle’s new premium Cassini line and will be named the Elite Four Fifteen, so this is essentially serial number 1&2. I am proud to have partnered with Cody for this new concept and to now be part of the that family.



The Looks (Beauty):


Dang, my expectations are so far surpassed with the looks of these! These are honestly the most gorgeous pieces of audio equipment I have ever seen. Absolutely stunning! The Deep 6 carbon fiber finish is a sight to see as pictures don’t capture the tremendous depth of the carbon fiber which seems to be far below the surface. The carbon fiber weave appears to shift as you move around, sort of like the shimmering of a snake’s skin scales. It exhibits a seductive allure that confuses the eyes if you look directly at them too long at a close distance, it’s a strange sensation where looking away for a moment to reorient one’s vision resolves the illusion. I wasn’t expecting that, but I love it!



Sideshow Fabrication and Paint performed laborious surface preparation sanding, five layers of the world’s most expensive (according to Cody) gloss paint application, wet sanding & pre ceramic polish work. After the surface preparation Devine Shine completed the mirror polishing and final ceramic finish.



The four (4) 15” drivers are made from beautiful carbon fiber cones with large 6” anodized black aluminum dust caps. The driver surround rings are also black anodized aluminum that were CNC’d for a premium finish to set them apart over the typical rubber or paper surrounds. The large 4,800w RMS amp with vertical heat sinks and digital programming access at the rear of each cabinet are meaty & stylish. They appear much darker in the room than the photos.




The Sound (And the Beast):


Cody informed me that he was struggling to find the limits of these subwoofers in his exhaustive testing. In my room they proved to live up to his findings. Thank to both Cody and @fattire (Jeff) for their help with tuning the subs to my room and improving their performance! This took many days and I appreciate them both. During initial REW sweeps they made the structure components of our house groan like I have not heard before, even with a pair of JTR Cap 4000s. The Elite Four Fifteen are so powerful that I had to reduce gain in my processor by -10dB, an additional -3dB in each sub DSP and the room calibration cut the gain by an additional -13dB. Cody estimates that they can produce 135-140dB in my room at full tilt. I’m not interested in damaging my hearing or our house, so I will not be pushing them anywhere close to those levels. But Cody did push their limits for his testing that flexed the door frames from across their 72K CF shop. We determined that for my use and in my room, I could probably have fulfilled my needs with a single fifteen based on the capabilities of his subwoofers. The engineering is so incredible that something so small could provide so much powerful clean output. The nuanced sonics are super clean with zero distortion or compression at any volume or octave, even with multiple octaves at once. Music sounds completely natural with a ton of slam when demanded easily resonating through my body at 10-20 feet away. Nenad Vasilic’s Bass Drops track is a real treat with each pluck of the bass strings seemingly present in the room while natural and nuanced. Several more tracks tested proved fun like Tiesto’s Boom, Trentemoller's Chameleon and most everything from Deadmau5. The pressurization of the room makes movies a ton of fun too as you can feel the impact which seems to have an immediate start and stop, fast. We watched several of our favorite demos scenes and Mad Max Fury Road in entirety. The roaring of the cars engines and explosive battles had many nuances to the details that pulverize our bodies pulling us into the movie. We also watched Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning where the car chase impact of the SWAT truck’s growl and crashes was visceral. I’m looking forward to rewatching so many movies that I have been putting off until these subs arrived. We’re anticipating copious nights of enjoyment.



Final Thoughts:


My goal expectations have been surpassed in every measure. The sonic fidelity with no distortion or compression is incredible, the smaller size is about 1/4 of the previous subs, they are sexy as hell, and I believe that they produce even more output. I honestly believe that these are the best subwoofers on the planet! These are just too much fun and add tremendous happiness for our lifestyle via the aesthetics & sonics. We will experience decades of enjoyment with these beauties. Thank you Harbottle for allowing me to be part of your process and creating these amazing custom subwoofers based on our requirements. I am over the moon!"


 

"Dang, my expectations are so far surpassed with the looks of these! Crazy how the carbon shifts as you move around sort of like snake skin, but with tremendous depth."


 


"It’s been another many weeks since I posted my initial impression of the Elite Four Fifteen pair. @fattire and @User100011110101 helped me further fine tune them for my room with various filters, delay and inversion. Whatever brief moments of delay frustration I experienced is a distant memory as now I am enjoying them every single day. They sound so good now.


They are so clean with effortless detailed impact. Music is as accurate as I have ever heard with distinct various bass notes up and down their tasked spectrum. It amazing to hear various specific notes all at once without any sense of muddying together into any single sound. The separation is impressive.


I’ve also now had a chance to watch various movies which are just as impactful. The phrase, “I am hearing things I haven’t before” is so overused, but dang it’s hard not to notice the additional detail which severely enhances the immersion experience. I am revisiting so many music tracks and movies for the intimate improvements.


And the looks, WOW. I keep falling in love with them each time I lay eyes on them. They are like a beautiful Ferrari SP90 Stradale which alludes a refined sexy green-eyed Italian model with her beautiful olive skin, silky jet black hair, perfectly sculpted long legs with hourglass curves inviting the softest caress while being the prospect of the most passionate lover. Oh sorry, I’ll come back to reality now, LOL. Did I say how happy I am with them…"

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1 Comment


Guest
Apr 28

Living the dream, ain't no wrong with that! Enjoy!

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