REVIEW: SUBPAC-S1 Low End Response that Opens Up a New Dimension of Sound Preface Beats by Dre. Beamz by Flo. The T-Pain Effect. These are but a few products that have been introduced to the audio production/DJ industry making grandiose claims of being revolutionary, game-changing tools of the trade. The reality is that any producer/DJ with even the slightest bit of technical knowledge (or common sense) can quickly assess based on the presented specs (or lack there of in the case of Beats by Dre) that each product is simply a gimmick preying on the wallets of the uninformed and/or gullible. Sure these products may be "endorsed by pros," but let's face reality–money sways opinions and covets truths. That being said, I couldn't help but feel great apprehension when first hearing about the SUBPAC-S1, especially after reading all the praise for it by many supporters. Much to my surprise, however, the many who started supporting the S1 were not the Top 40 Guetta types. Rather, I was seeing names such as Phaeleh, Dubfire and the likes of Rock n Roll Hall of Fame nominated Hank Shocklee. And then there's the constant stream of tweets that flood the Subpac handle from random artists ranging from High Rankin to Busta Rhymes. I read a few reviews, watched a few first reaction YouTube videos and suddenly, my curiosity was began to get the best of me--especially since my basement dungeon studio is not properly treated to handle a sub for low end. After reading about SUBPAC's 30-day satisfaction guarantee/full refund on their website, I decided to pull the trigger. And goddamn I'm happy I did. Tech Junk The S1 is a bass response system that acts like a traditional subwoofer that filters out the high-end leaving an impressive range of low end (5 to 150Hz I believe) that's quite literally "felt" within the body (more on that later). It's connected from the headphone out of your audio interface to the 1/8" input of the S1's pass-thru box--an important factor to note because it does not color the sound in any way, one of my dealbreaking requirements. It simply acts a filter to acquire the low frequencies just like a typical external subwoofer. The user then has the option to connect headphones to the "out" of the S1 box (which I have done in my setup). If the user wishes to use monitors, simply neglect to use the S1's output. The unit is powered with a simply AC connection and includes additional adapter connections for differeing power outlet types found in other countries. Battery packs are available separately. First Impression After connecting the S1 and my headphones (Beyerdynamic DT-880 Pro Headphones-250 Ohm) it was time to hear what all the fuss was about. I started by playing the Mefjus remix of Neosignal's Sequenz and once the first drop hit with the huge bassline, I had to gather myself for a moment. At first I thought that I was hearing an abundance of low end noise from the S1 bleed into my open back headphones. I ripped said headphones off in disgust, ready to return the S1 and flame the company all over the interwebz...but then realized there was actually only a whispers amount of true of audible noise emerging from the S1! What I was actually hearing (and feeling!) was the low end being injected into my body and somehow magically merging into the audio coming from my headphones to my ears. In disbelief, I began attenuating the volume control on the S1 box and suddenly, I was left with a rather flaccid sounding tune in my ears, desperate for the bass to return. The difference made in the listening experience by the Subpac was, quite simply, astounding. Right away my excitement began to build, but I kept it in check and continued to play Devil's Advocate in an attempt to find a flaw or potential problem with the S1...for the next consecutive 8 hours. The fact of the matter is that the more I explored and tested the S1 for flaws & cons, the more benefits I found. Further Observations You're now wondering "Well that's nice that is sounds great for listening, but what about producing?" With DnB, we often say that the kick resides in the chest and the bass sits below. The S1 demonstrated this on a literal level. For example, when listening to the Mefjus tune (and some other heavy DnB tracks) I could clearly "feel" the kick thumping in my mid-back area, while the bass was dominating my lower back. While this sounds a bit silly, let's apply to another scenario that I tested. I opened up one of my projects in Logic and immediately noticed something with the S1–the lack of definition between the kick and the bass that I felt with the pro DnB tunes I heard. After soloing the sub bass and the kick, I began to chip away the low end of the kick and pitched it a bit. Suddenly, I could feel the thump of the kick and the low end of the sub. I had managed to separate the two which in turn had really opened up my mix . Furthermore, the S1 allowed me to truly feel/hear the difference when adjusting my EQ gain/slope (ex. 6dB, 12dB, 24dB, etc.), and the consequential adjustments made a world of a difference–especially given the fact that for me personally, it can be hard to hear the consequence when using varying gain/slope values with relation to the overall affect on low end sounds and the mix as a whole. After A/Bing the before & after S1 mixes on a couple different audio systems, I could tell there was no chance I would be returning the S1. Another Trial With House tunes, the tendency is for the kick to occupy the low end and the bass to occupy the chest–the opposite of typical DnB sound placement. To make sure my observations from earlier weren't a fluke I demoed a few house tunes. As assumed, I felt the kick smashing my lower back and the bassline occupied my mid-back area. I was able to feel the isolated elements, yet I could still audibly hear the lowend clearly. The same results occured when pairing the S1 with my monitors (KRK6 2nd Gen). Conclusion When I finally received my S1, my goal was to maintain a "hater's" mindset. I wanted to find flaws and problems that I could share with the world. I wanted to call out Subpac and tell them they're running a scam with a gimmicky product that does nothing but act as a vibrator for my back. When it was all said and done, I just couldn't do it. I had found that the S1 had in fact now become an extension of my workflow AND monitoring. Much to my disbelief and expectations, the S1 truly is an audible & tactile low end solution for producers. It provides a two-fold benefit: much needed audible bass and unique tactile response that allows for properly placing low end elements of a mix so that they are clearly defined. I'm positive many of you reading this review are rolling your eyes and I for one don't blame you. This whole tactile response shit does seem a bit far fetched and gimmicky on the surface. The reality is, the S1 is no gimmick. It's legit, it works as advertised and it is easily the best investment I've made in quite awhile. For $299 (USD) you get your money's worth and then some. As a producer, it provides me physical cues for mixing and helps me analyze the low end, especially when A/Bing my mixes vs. pro mixes. As an audiophile, it provides audible & physical bass that quite literally puts a smile on my face and adds a new dimension to music. As a dad and someone who lives in a townhome, it won't wake up my kids when I'm making tunes at 3 in the morning nor will it cause my neighbors to bang on my front door with pitchforks and torches in hand. Subpac is a great company. They promptly respond to any inquiry you send them. To add, you have to respect a company that stands by its product to the point where if you hate it, you receive a full refund without any questions asked. Try the S1. If you don't like it, return it and get your money. Chances are, you won't. Rating 5/5 stars. Fucking Legend. Believe the Hype.