B&W is finally shipping their new in-cabinet subwoofer they previewed almost a year ago. Subwoofers can sometimes be a real challenge. Without deep bass you do not get the full effect of a great movie soundtrack. If your main speakers for music are not physically large, a subwoofer is needed to get the bass extension that keeps the music from sounding thin and tinny. The challenge is, a good subwoofer is usually a large black box that may not look that great in the environment we need to place it in. Many times the best place to hide a subwoofer is in a cabinet. This has its own set of challenges. Bass, below a certain frequency, is omnidirectional, which means you cannot detect where it is coming from. If we properly vent a cabinet and pad the doors so they do not rattle, positioning a subwoofer inside a cabinet offered a pretty good compromise.
We always wished someone would design a subwoofer that was just made to go inside a cabinet. It would need to vent out of the cabinet and use some kind of push/pull woofer configuration to minimize cabinet resonance. Well, our friends at B&W have done just this! The ISW-3 uses dual drivers with a vented cabinet. The cabinet is designed so it can be placed either vertically or horizontally. The vent, which looks just like a floor HVAC register, can be painted to match your décor.
The amplifier for the sub is a separate component, which has three advantages compared to placing a subwoofer in a cabinet. First of all, we only have to get a speaker wire to the cabinet; there is no need for electrical power at the subwoofer. Secondly, there is nothing in the cabinet that produces heat. Finally, it’s always been pretty inconvenient to adjust a subwoofer sitting in a cabinet with its controls located on the back. With the separate amp, all adjustments are right on the front of the amplifier!
Not only is the ISW-3 a great problem solver, it’s a pretty awesome subwoofer. The cabinet is actually fairly large. This combined with the dual 6” drivers equals really fast deep bass. This is no one note boom-box, it’s a very serious musical subwoofer capable of subtle nuances of bass and shaking the walls with an action movie soundtrack.
If you have wanted great bass a room where you could just not fit a subwoofer, the ISW-3 may be the perfect fit for you. The ISW-3 is $995. The companion amp, which can drive two of these, is also $995. B&W ISW-3 page