Sunfire’s HRSIW8 High-Resolution Series In-Wall SubwooferI have to admit to feeling a tinge of guilt when agreeing to review Sunfire’s latest sub-sonic effort, the HRSIW8 high-resolution series in-wall subwoofer. We’ve been giving a lot of review love to Sunfire’s subs lately, and not a lot to its competition, which does sort of cast a shadow of partiality. The thing is, though, when Sunfire stops making innovating, unusual, wonderfully performing subwoofers, I’ll stop reviewing them. Promise.
As its name implies, the HRSIW8 is designed for mounting much like a standard in-wall loudspeaker, which is the first of many things that sets it apart from the in-wall version of the SubRosa flat-panel subwoofer I reviewed a yearand- a-half ago.
Like the SubRosa, though, the HRSIW8 comes with its own rackmountable amp–in this case a 520- watt (into 4 ohms) Class D model positively packed with DSPs and filters, as well as support for balance or unbalance inputs. It doesn’t, on the other hand, feature the advanced auto room calibration functionality of the SubRosa, but given that whatever preamp or receiver you’re using almost certainly has room correction these days, that’s hardly a knock–especially given that the HRSIW8 sells for significantly less, at $1,700 for the amp and subwoofer.
The sub itself boasts dual 8-inch fiberglass drivers, Sunfire’s StillBass anti-shake technology (doubly important when you’re attaching the subwoofer directly to sheetrock), and a handy rear channel for tucking away speaker wire.
As a matter of full disclosure, I should admit that I didn’t actually mount the HRSIW8 in my wall because Sunfire included a handy stand for the review. Given that the cabinet is completely sealed, that shouldn’t have any significant impact on audio performance, although it did allow me to play around with the subwoofer in several positions against the wall.
But before that, I connected the amp to the LFE output of the Anthem MRX 700 receiver in my secondary theater, ran Anthem Room Correction, and gave the HRSIW8 a good listen a few feet from the side wall.
Immediately, the sound reminded me of Sunfire’s own ATMOS mini-subwoofer, which is a compliment of the highest order. There was the same effortless, undistorted bass and the same beautiful integration with the rest of my speakers. The biggest difference between the sound of the two is that although the ATMOS, with its 1400- watt beast of an amp, felt pushed right to its limits in my bedroom system, the HRSIW8 still had plenty of headroom left in its 520-watt amp when cranked to positively pajama-flapping levels.
Sunfire’s HRSIW8 high-resolution series in-wall subwoofer comes with its own rack-mountable amp–a 520-watt (into 4Ω) Class D model that is packed with DSPs and filters, as well as support for balance or unbalance inputsDespite having an incredibly uncluttered front panel, the HRSIW8’s amp gives you access to oodles of settings via its clicky knob. Give it a simple twist and you can easily adjust the output, but poke it before pressing, and you can adjust things like EQ presets, from which you can select flat, music, movie, impact, or dynamic. Each has its own sonic signature, and I can confirm that music mode does add some welcome warmth to bottom-heavy tracks like Beastie Boys’ “Hey Ladies,” without robbing cuts like “Hotel California” of their musicality; and movie mode does add a little oomph to the stomping footfalls of the Mûmakil in the climactic battle sequences of Return of the King, but after a few days of fiddling, I put the EQ back on flat and left it there. It’s really the best of all worlds, with wonderful performance no matter what’s thrown at it. Granted, with bass extension down to just 33Hz, my go-to scene for ultra-deep bass–the final showdown in The Incredible Hulk–didn’t extend down to the deepest depths to which it’s capable of digging, but everything else I threw at it positively rocked.
Also accessible via the menus are easy settings for auto-off; external triggering via the 12v input on the back panel; phase settings of 0, 45, 90, 135, 180, 225, 270, and 315 degrees; crossover frequency and slope settings (which are bypassed if you select “LFE” mode); and a handy night mode.
I also played around with placement quite a bit, moving the cabinet closer to the corner for more impact from movies–it sounded fantastic, especially with action flicks–and back toward the middle of the room for more musical tightness–also simply sumptuous, although I did have to drive the sub a lot harder to get the same satisfying bottom end. Once again, however, I moved it right back to where it started: about two feet from the front corner of the room, just to the right of and below my front main satellites speaker. In that spot, it integrated so gorgeously with the rest of my system that it nearly sonically disappeared as a source. I tend to find that this room really wants two subwoofers for even coverage, but one HRSIW8 in the right position just beautifully pulled the room together in a way that few subs ever have.
If you find that you do need two HRSIW8s in a room, keep in mind that you’ll also need two amps, since each amp only has one set of binding post outputs and is only designed for one cabinet.
Speaking of the cabinet: even though I didn’t actually carve up my sheetrock, I did play around with the HRSIW8’s securing clamps, which are opened up and tightened via screws on the front of the cabinet. They feel wonderfully solid and smooth, although I can see how easy it would be to over-tighten the clamps and wreck your clients’ walls, so be careful with that.
The most astounding thing about the HRSIW8 is that–issues of sheetrock clamping aside–the fact that it’s an in-wall subwoofer is almost a nonissue. It positively smokes most in-room subs I’ve auditioned in this room, with tons of presence, oodles of features, and most importantly, positively seamless integration with the rest of the sound system. If you think in-wall subs are a compromise, I encourage you to give this one a serious listen.
The HRSIW8 high-resolution series in-wall subwoofer is another winner from Sunfire: a beautifully performing, fully featured sub that just so happens to blend invisibly into the wall with a paintable grille.
If you’re expecting this one to belt out the ultra-lowest bass frequencies, you might be a tad disappointed in the HRSIW8’s 33Hz bass extension. Other than that, there’s nothing to complain about.
• Height: 24 5/8 inches (H) x 12 1/16 inches (W), 3 3/4 inches (D)
• Cutout: 23 5/16 inches x 10 13/16 inches
• Frequency Response: 33 Hz - 150 Hz (-3 dB)
• Max Power: 520 watts rms
• High cut filter: adjusted from 40 Hz - 160 Hz, with an LFE bypass position, and 12 - 36 dB/octave adjustable slope
• Max Output: >106 dB peak SPL (includes room gain) at 1 meter, anechoic
• Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.5 percent at 500W into 4 ohms