In audiophile terms, full-range performance is considered to be from 20Hz to 20kHz, the range of human hearing. It’s nothing whatsoever today for a loudspeaker to have clean, extended highs to 20kHz and even far higher, but very few speakers can extend down to 20Hz with full output and low distortion, and the ones that can are often extremely large and expensive. This is why people who want full-range sound turn to subwoofers, which are specifically engineered to reproduce deep, clean, accurate low bass.
One subwoofer that’s long been considered the state of the art, as well as the “one to beat,” is the Gotham g213 ($12,000 USD), which has resided at the top of JL Audio’s subwoofer line for several years, with no indication that it will be replaced or surpassed anytime soon.
When JL Audio conceived the Gotham, it was meant to be as much an engineering exercise to create the best possible subwoofer and thus prove what the company is capable of as to be a commercial product. According to the folks at JLA, during development there was no talk of a retail price; the engineers were simply told to come up with the best sub they could. They began with a clean slate, and pulled out all the stops with regard to cabinet materials and shape, electronic design, and driver development. This exercise included building many different prototype cabinets, made of this or that material, before the final design was arrived at.
The result is a stunningly built, 360-pound device of formidable size, made entirely in the US, with a fiberglass-based enclosure with nonparallel walls that measures about 34”H x 21.5”W x 24”D and is available only in high-gloss black. The Gotham g213 has two 13.5”, very-long-excursion, low-distortion, W7-based woofers driven by a massive amplifier that the company says is capable of 3800W peaks. Doug Schneider and Jeff Fritz visited JLA’s factory in Florida in February, where they saw the company’s cabinetmaking, assembly, and testing areas, which they summed up as “first-class all the way.”
JL Audio says that the Gotham g213 will play authoritatively down to 19Hz, -3dB, which means the speaker system it’s used with will qualify as “full range” -- to say the least! We’ve heard nothing to dispute that claim. Besides the very deep bass that the g213 provides, it has a plethora of controls -- including those for the company’s Automatic Room Optimization (ARO) system, which is included to help properly blend the g213’s output with that of virtually any loudspeaker and room.
Jeff Fritz wrote about his experience of successfully using two Gotham g213 subs with Rockport Technologies Altair speakers, in an Ultra Audio article titled “Integrating Super Subwoofers into an Ultra System” (published April 2008). According to Jeff, “After listening to tons of bass-filled music and lots of film soundtracks, I can tell you that, when integrated into a very-high-end audio system in a very good room, the Gotham g213 had essentially no sonic limitation or shortcoming. I’m sure that I’m using only a small fraction of the subs’ output capability -- I don’t think you could ever fully test their limits in a domestic environment. But in my case, what were most impressive were the g213s’ quality of sound and their perfect integration with the rest of my system.” More than three years later, Jeff still feels as strongly about the Gotham g213 as when he first wrote about it -- a testament to a great product that has stood the test of time.
To achieve full-range sound down to 20Hz, you either have to use extremely large speakers capable of reaching that low, or a subwoofer capable of reproducing these deep frequencies. These days, most people choose subs. Luckily, there are plenty of subwoofer options in all price ranges from a large number of manufacturers. But if you want to have the very best -- a sub that can reach that low with ease and power -- the number of contenders shrinks to a mere handful, and a name prominent in that short list is JL Audio’s Gotham g213. This reference-level subwoofer should be considered by anyone looking to achieve true full-range sound from a state-of-the-art stereo system.
Manufacturer contact information:
10369 N. Commerce Parkway
Miramar, FL 33025-3962
Phone: (954) 443-1100
Fax: (954) 443-1111