£360 The pow­er­ful sub-woofer that goes where you go

Rhythm - - NEW GEAR - Words: Tom Bradley

Af­ter be­gin­ning life as a Kick­starter cam­paign, the SUB­PAC came to mar­ket in 2013 as a tool aimed at mu­sic pro­duc­ers, al­low­ing them to feel re­al­is­tic club-bass fre­quen­cies whilst work­ing within their own stu­dios. SUB­PAC has since ex­panded into many ar­eas of tech­nol­ogy in­clud­ing video games, vir­tual re­al­ity, cin­ema, fitness and even mo­tor­ing – they’ve teamed up with Peu­geot to work on a con­cept car, which in­cludes SUB­PAC tech­nol­ogy in the seats.

More re­cently the SUB­PAC has been pre­sented as a great ac­com­pa­ni­ment to stage mon­i­tor­ing for per­form­ing mu­si­cians; the con­cept has al­ready been em­braced by a num­ber of pro drum­mers. We’ve been sent the freshly-re­leased M2X model to put through its paces be­hind the kit.


Avail­able as a seat-back ver­sion or wear­able back­pack, the SUB­PAC uses hap­tic, pro­pri­o­cep­tion and bone con­duc­tion tech­nol­ogy to de­liver bass fre­quen­cies be­tween 1Hz and 200Hz di­rectly to the body. This al­lows the low-end to be felt rather than just heard. By means of a small mod­ule at­tached to the ’PAC , the sig­nal is sent di­rectly to the unit via the 3.5mm line-in port or wire­lessly through the in-built Blue­tooth 4.0. The orig­i­nal sig­nal is then sent to head­phones through the mini-jack out. This means you still hear the bass fre­quen­cies, rather than them be­ing routed ex­clu­sively to the SUB­PAC . The in­ten­sity of the pack can be di­alled in via a pot on the mod­ule, which works in­de­pen­dently from the head­phone vol­ume (this can be ad­justed from the sound source only). There are lim­ited op­tions for po­si­tion­ing the mod­ule so it’s tricky to see the con­trols with­out hav­ing to re­move the pack first. This can prove frus­trat­ing dur­ing ini­tial setup.

The M2X is the third gen­er­a­tion of SUB­PAC ’s wear­able model, af­ter the M1 and M2. Iden­ti­cal in ap­pear­ance to the M2, the lat­est ver­sion boasts an in­creased dy­namic range and over seven hours of bat­tery life – more than enough for even the most gru­elling of gigs. The pack has a cool, slim­line look and is ex­tremely light­weight at just 5lbs. It’s built to a very high stan­dard and fea­tures a com­bi­na­tion of hard matte plas­tic for the main outer sec­tion and breath­able tex­tile ma­te­ri­als for the in­side and shoul­der straps. The SUB­PAC also fea­tures a built-in chest strap, and an op­tional waist strap is in­cluded. Also in the box is a charg­ing ca­ble with mul­ti­ple re­gion adap­tors and a mini jack-to-jack ca­ble for the aux-in.

Hands On

The SUB­PAC is de­signed for mu­sic, home cin­ema, VR and gam­ing too, so I start my test­ing here be­fore head­ing to the kit. Af­ter lis­ten­ing to some of my favourite tunes by con­nect­ing to my smart­phone via Blue­tooth, I sit down and watch a movie and then in­dulge in some X-Box. Across the board the SUB­PAC per­forms out­stand­ingly well and never fails to im­merse me fully in the mo­ment. I also checked out some ‘SUB­PAC op­ti­mised’ au­dio on­line, which re­ally takes the ex­pe­ri­ence to the next level. Even watch­ing drum videos on YouTube is a whole new ball­game.

Now to test it on the drumkit. I tried out the M2X with trig­gers for a cou­ple of gigs, hooked up through a Roland TM-2 mod­ule. This worked won­ders at re­in­forc­ing the sound of

Even with­out head­phones or mon­i­tors, the feel alone is enough to greatly en­hance the playa­bil­ity of the kit

the kick and tom trig­gers through the con­nected in-ear mon­i­tors, as well as adding a rather sat­is­fy­ingly low punch through the back­pack.

Start­ing with the in­ten­sity turned all the way down (off), I set a com­fort­able lis­ten­ing vol­ume on the head­phones and dial in the bass fre­quen­cies to my pref­er­ence. At a moder­ate lis­ten­ing vol­ume, even half in­ten­sity is enough to de­liver ex­treme, gut-punch­ing bass. It feels rather ar­ti­fi­cial at first but starts to be­come the norm af­ter a while. The real test is to turn it off whilst play­ing – it soon be­comes ap­par­ent how much the SUB­PAC is adding. Even with no head­phones or mon­i­tors con­nected, the feel alone is enough to greatly en­hance the playa­bil­ity of the kit; per­fect for drum­mers who play small gigs where there are no bass bins to be found.

Although the SUB­PAC works best with all the straps pulled tight for con­sis­tent body con­tact, it does start to feel some­what re­stric­tive (not to men­tion a lit­tle sweaty) af­ter two hours of straight play­ing. And de­pend­ing on your de­sired style, the back­pack look won’t be for ev­ery­one.

One ma­jor ben­e­fit of theSUBPAC is that it can pack the equiv­a­lent punch of a mul­ti­tude of sub-woofers with com­pa­ra­bly lit­tle vol­ume to the out­side world. The price tag may seem a lit­tle steep, but that money goes a long way when com­pared to the cost of high-end speak­ers or even head­phones.

The SUB­PAC will un­doubt­edly ap­peal to those prac­tis­ing on e-kits where noise needs to be kept to a min­i­mum.It has amaz­ing ap­pli­ca­tions when mix­ing drum tracks or other au­dio too. But while the SUB­PAC is de­scribed as silent in use, this is not quite the re­al­ity. It ac­tu­ally cre­ates a fair rum­ble, sim­i­lar to the noise heard when walk­ing past a night­club. This isn’t a prob­lem for stage use, but in a record­ing sce­nario there is the risk of some noise bleed.

Bat­tery The recharge­able bat­tery lasts for over seven hours In­puts The mod­ule has an aux in­put but is also Blue­tooth com­pat­i­ble Head­phones Orig­i­nal au­dio sig­nal runs out to your head­phones via the mod­ule Also try…

Hap­tic, pro­pri­o­cep­tion and bone con­duc­tion tech­nolo­gies are used to de­liver bass fre­quen­cies be­tween 1Hz and 200Hz The M2X is the third gen­er­a­tion of SUB­PAC’s wear­able sub­woofer The SUB­PAC M2X weighs just 5lbs M2X Wear­able tech Light­weight

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