There is one obvious and one not so obvious impression to draw from the REL 212/SE
subwoofer. The obvious one is the sheer size of it means it is a real earth-mover, one of those
subwoofers that loosen fillings in cinemas. And yes, it can do that if that’s what you want from a subwoofer. But it’s also capable of so much more, and brings a level of clarity and openness to any good speaker system. Unfortunately, that side of it is all too easy to miss.
The 212/SE is on the big side for a subwoofer. In fact, it’s about the size of a small washing machine. This gives the sealed box 212/SE the potential for stacking two powered long-throw 300mm ‘Continuous Cast Alloy Bass Engine’ cone drive units along the front panel, with passive radiating 300mm ‘Continuous Cast Alloy Bass Engine’ cone drive units firing rearward and downward. And yet, the cabinet still has room for a 1kW of on-board amplification. It has the usual REL low- and high-level connections and controls (designed for both speaker level connection for traditional audio use, and fed by a RCA phono lead for ‘point one’ use in a multichannel context).
The REL 212/SE is more than just another subwoofer. While it has foundation-threating levels of bass energy on tap, it’s also one of the best upgrades you can do for your system, because it takes everything you like about your existing system and makes more of it: more midrange clarity, more high frequency extension, more sound staging, and a lot more speed.
The downsides are three-fold: it’s a big box, it cuts a relatively big hole in your bank balance, and it’s unlikely to stay on its own for long, as you will start eyeing up the options for a matching pair of 212/SE.
These things apply more or less universally, too if speakers that don’t benefit from the 212/SE exist, they would have to be a pair of extraordinarily meaty loudspeakers that would dwarf the 212/SE both physically and financially.
Bass is not just for bass-heads, as the REL 212/SE demonstrates, and as a result comes very highly recommended.
Reference : Reproduce from HiFi Issue 145