Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it is no longer available. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Elemental Designs (eD) is a factory-direct manufacturer of audio products of all sizes, applications and prices, including home subwoofers. For the audio enthusiast with a limited budget, they’ve created the Elemental Designs A3S-250 to provide an excellent sub at an unbeatable price. Since it comes to you directly from the manufacturer via free FedEx shipping, there are no middlemen taking a percentage of the purchase price, which enables eD to sell the sub for less than their competitors.
It has a 300-watt Class D amplifier with a 10-inch, front-firing powered subwoofer inside a sealed cabinet with a removable grill. It has rotary controls to adjust the volume, phase and crossover frequency that make it easy to integrate their home subwoofers into your stereo or home theater system.
Like our number-two product, the Emotiva Ultra Sub 10, and our number-one product among home subwoofers, the BIC F-12, the A3S-250 is capable of great sound fidelity, especially for music. It ranks third because it falls short of the capabilities of the F-12. Like the Ultra Sub 10, it has a sealed cabinet with no port, and it is similar to Emotiva home subwoofers in many other ways, including power output, although it is slightly more powerful than the Ultra Sub 10. The A3S-250 has a more limited frequency-response range in the higher frequencies, though it does dig down to 25Hz like the best home subwoofers. The differences between the top subs are slight, but the A3S-250 has fewer features and a slightly more limited warranty.
The eD A3S-250 has a smaller frequency-response range than our top home subwoofers. It, too, can reach down to 25Hz, but it only reaches up to 100Hz instead of 200Hz. Its peak power output is greater than either of the top subs, but the maximum output volume in decibels is comparable. Overall, this powered subwoofer hangs with the best but doesn’t lead the way.
The A3S-250’s sealed cabinet is a masterpiece of solid engineering and designed for durability and longevity. It is comparable in size to the Ultra Sub 10 from Emotiva and is cubic in shape, with a black proprietary finish that protects it from scratches and spills and a removable grill that allows you to display the front-firing woofer cone if you want to see it move with the beat.
The 10-inch, front-firing woofer is driven by a blend of the Elemental Designs 11Kv.2 and 110v.2 drivers that are manufactured in-house by eD proprietary methods, with no parts coming from other manufacturers. The amplifier that powers the subwoofer speaker is also an in-house model that is manufactured by eD called an LT.300.
Because the A3S-250 is housed in a sealed cabinet, it favors musical fidelity over raw, thundering low-frequency re-creation, although it is definitely capable of that as well. The sheer power put out by its amplifier is sure to satisfy your need to be shaken in your seat through the thrill ride of modern movies.
Elemental Designs home subwoofers handle bass notes with sharp clarity that maintains the fidelity and musicality of the tracks you love. Audio subwoofers with sealed cabinets tend to be better at handling musical frequencies than they are with deep, low-frequency boom and blast sound effects because cabinets with venting ports can throw deep atonal sounds further with more force. Still, the difference is pretty negligible unless you’re a well-versed audiophile, so there’s no reason to reject a sub with a sealed cabinet out of hand.
The A3S-250 has many of the same features shared by our top products that make it easy to set up and use alongside the other components of your home audio system.
This sub has a signal-sensing automatic on/off setting in addition to the on and off positions on the power switch, but it lacks an LED power indicator for quick reference as to which mode the sub is currently in.
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Like the other top-ranked home subwoofers we reviewed, this sub has three rotating dials that control the volume, phase and low-pass filter frequency. This sub has a wider crossover range than its frequency response range, which negates the benefit of such a highly adjustable crossover. The variable phase control dial makes setting up and integrating your sub into your home audio system much easier than a zero or 180 toggle switch, since you can fine-tune the phase setting incrementally.
Elemental Designs’ home subwoofers have LFE RCA left and right input and output ports to connect them directly to your AV receiver via a sub out, provided your receiver has one. They also have two left and right RCA speaker-level inputs if you prefer to connect your speakers to your receiver through the sub rather than directly.
Although we would like to see Elemental Designs expand the online help available to their customers, especially since they are a factory-direct audio manufacturer, their live chat support is a great feature that other companies don’t offer. In terms of value, the eD A3S-250 is an excellent option for people looking for home subwoofers at a very reasonable price that even includes the shipping cost! Overall, we think its bombastic musicality will satisfy even the most bass-craving listeners.