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Emotiva Ultra Sub 10 Review

Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it is no longer available.

Our Verdict

Emotiva combines quality and value into a great-sounding, compact subwoofer.

For

  • The Emotiva Ultra Sub 10 combines excellent value with quality performance.

Against

  • It's only available directly from the manufacturer.
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This image shows the Emotiva Ultra Series Ultra Sub 10 with its speaker grill.

This image shows the Emotiva Ultra Series Ultra Sub 10 with its speaker grill.
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This image shows the exposed woofer of the Emotiva Ultra Sub 10.

This image shows the exposed woofer of the Emotiva Ultra Sub 10.
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This image shows the Emotiva Ultra Sub 10 from a side angle, without its speaker grill.

This image shows the Emotiva Ultra Sub 10 from a side angle, without its speaker grill.
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This image of the Emotiva Ultra Sub 10's back panel shows the XLR and RCA inputs as well as the volume, phase and crossover frequency controls.

This image of the Emotiva Ultra Sub 10's back panel shows the XLR and RCA inputs as well as the volume, phase and crossover frequency controls.
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The Emotiva Ultra Sub 10 has spiked feet for carpeted rooms, shown in this image.

The Emotiva Ultra Sub 10 has spiked feet for carpeted rooms, shown in this image.
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For placement in rooms with hard floors, the Emotiva Ultra Sub 10 comes with rubber shoes for its feet, shown in this image.

For placement in rooms with hard floors, the Emotiva Ultra Sub 10 comes with rubber shoes for its feet, shown in this image.
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This is an image of the Emotiva Ultra Sub 10's woofer casing, revealing the back of the driver.

This is an image of the Emotiva Ultra Sub 10's woofer casing, revealing the back of the driver.
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This is an image of the Emotiva Ultra Sub 10's woofer, shown from the side.

This is an image of the Emotiva Ultra Sub 10's woofer, shown from the side.
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This image shows the electronics inside the Emotiva Ultra Sub 10's amplifier.

This image shows the electronics inside the Emotiva Ultra Sub 10's amplifier.

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.

The Emotiva Ultra Sub 10 is the smaller of the two home subwoofers in the Ultra Series. It has a 300-watt Class D amplifier with a 10-inch, front-firing powered subwoofer inside a sealed cabinet. The Ultra Sub 10 costs significantly less than other home subwoofers that are comparable in performance but outside the price-range of the subwoofer speakers we reviewed.

Like the top-rated BIC F-12 and our number-three product, the Elemental Designs A3s-250, this home subwoofer delivers excellent sound quality at an affordable price. It ranks lower than the F-12 because it isn't capable of equaling its sheer power and volume output, in part because it is contained in a sealed cabinet with no port, though it does come pretty close for a model with a smaller woofer and driver. The Ultra Sub 10 beats out the Elemental Designs sub because it has a wider frequency-response range, a few more features and a slightly better warranty.

Ultra Sub 10 home subwoofers have a frequency-response range equal to the BIC F-12, which is rivaled only by the Lava LSP12, but the Emotiva Audio Subwoofer has a smaller crossover-frequency range and slightly lower maximum output level due to the smaller amplifier. Although its continuous power runs at a higher wattage than the F-12, the amp’s peak power output is significantly less than the BIC amp. The fact that its max output level is only 6dB less than the F-12 speaks to the talent of the Emotiva engineers and the quality of the Ultra Sub 10’s design.

At a volume level of four out of 10, this home subwoofer can powerfully recreate the dynamic sound effects from your favorite movies with chest-compressing force and can handle the rich and rhythmic bass frequencies in bass-heavy music with precision. In short, this sub easily handles the whole low-end spectrum.

The Ultra Sub 10 home subwoofers utilize a sealed cabinet with no ports that allows them to blend in better with the other components of your audio system, although sealed subs can react differently to the lowest frequencies, especially the deepest lows in a movie soundtrack. They generally produce tight, accurate bass with a flat frequency-response curve. Ported subwoofer enclosures, on the other hand, tend to produce louder bass and give you more control over the frequency response. From what we can gather from the limited number of reviews written by the owners of this powered subwoofer, however, the Ultra Sub 10 manages to outperform expectations in this area, managing to perform solidly within the limitations of a sealed cabinet.

The relatively compact cabinet belies the power of these home subwoofers, making them a great option for people with limited space. It is available in a black finish that reveals the wood grain beneath the paint. It has a removable grill to conceal or reveal the front-firing, 10-inch woofer cone constructed from para-aramid – an ultra-strong fiber used in high-tech applications like aerospace and bullet-proof body armor fabric. The woofer is operated by a long-throw, high-BL (bass locus) driver that is powered by a Class D amplifier.

Whether responding to musical tones or low-frequency rumbles, this sub handles either task with highly defined clarity and surprising force. No matter what application you plan to use your home subwoofer for, whether movies or music, the Ultra Sub 10 home subwoofers can handle the task with ease and remarkable fidelity.

If properly integrated into your speaker system, it will blend well with the other components for a seamless, full-frequency sound. Those who have reviewed this subwoofer speaker praise it for its versatility and precision.

Ultra Sub 10 home subwoofers have a number of excellent features that give you a high level of control over the sound and make it easy to adjust parameters and integrate the sub into your audio system. The sub can be turned on and off or set to a signal-sensing automatic on-off setting using a toggle switch on the back panel. In auto mode, the sub will turn on when it senses a signal and shut off after a period of inactivity. The bi-color LED status light indicates whether the unit is in standby or active mode.

The volume level can be set using a rotating dial on the back of the sub. The ideal setting for powerful bass that is not overwhelming is roughly four or five out of 10, which means that at full volume this sub can literally break precariously placed glass items. These Emotiva home subwoofers have serious volume potential.

With the low pass filter on, the crossover frequency can be easily adjusted with a similar dial located beside the volume knob on the back of the sub. The crossover frequency sets the cutoff point for frequencies routed to the subwoofer speaker. In other words, if the crossover is set at 50Hz, only frequencies at or below 50Hz will be routed through the sub. A higher crossover allows more frequencies to be processed and played through the subwoofer. The purpose of a subwoofer is to reproduce the lowest frequencies that loudspeakers can’t effectively handle on their own. You should set the crossover frequency at least 10Hz above the lowest frequency your other speakers can handle, although every stereo component and the size of the room affect the sound of your audio setup, so this is a guideline and not a rule.

Adjusting the phase is just as easy using the rotating dial to select a phase anywhere between zero and 180 degrees. This variable phase dial gives you more control over the phase setting than a one-or-the-other toggle switch, which makes it easier to put the sub in phase with the other speakers – so that every speaker cone moves in and out in synch – to achieve ideal integration and the maximum bass boost that home subwoofers can provide.

This home subwoofer has fewer options for connecting it to the rest of your system. It has no outputs, which means it can only be connected to your AV receiver and not to any other speakers in your array. It has unbalanced, summed RCA line inputs that can be connected to a left and right output port on your receiver or to a single sub out connector since both input jacks are mono. Or you can use a Y cable to split the mono signal from the receiver between the two inputs for a summed effect.

The other input, unique to this sub among other home subwoofers on our lineup, is an XLR balanced connection. Provided your receiver has an XLR out, this is the most stable option for connecting your sub to your system. Incidentally, XLR is the typical input/output connection for microphone cables.

For a factory-direct audio company, Emotiva offers great products at many different price levels. Emotiva Ultra Sub 10 home subwoofers are an offering to audiophiles on a budget that doesn’t cut corners on quality. It is definitely one of the best subwoofers available in its price range, and it's sure to impress even sophisticated listeners.