So never considering myself a Subwoofer expert I figured after being floored by the Martin Logan Descent i that it was time to give their new BalancedForce 212 a go. Check that I mean two 212s a shot!
We placed them towards the center of the room facing each other. With their high gloss black and control panel under a tinted glass panel they scream pure elegance. After getting them connected using XLR cables which are a must for subwoofers (using RCA subwoofer cables many times can lead to hum) I was ready to fire them up. And before you say your Receiver or pre-pro doesn't have XLR out for sub you can always get a RCA to XLR cable here and then connect a XLR cable. Monoprice makes them and they work perfectly fine. I am currently using a McIntosh MX151 (Reviewed here) which has one XLR out and one RCA out for LFE. For the Martin Logan 212s I ordered a XLR Y Splitter (here) which works exceptionally well. The RCA LFE out I send to my Dayton APA 150 which is connected in series parallel to my Aura Pro Bass shakers in my Venetian home theater seats (Reviewed here) which you feel instead of hear! As for hearing, the BalancedForce 212 subwoofers have created the most realistic movie LFE I have ever heard. The Descent I which I recently had was superb with Music and very good with movies. Especially when a song would break into the movie's soundtrack. The 212s hold their own with music but instantly became an integral ingredient with all of our movies!
MARTIN LOGAN BALANCEDFORCE 212 SUBWOOFER
REVIEW with PBK
So what helps make the 212 an outstanding subwoofer? When you first turn it on you are impressed with its start up performance. To go next level it is a crime if you do not do Martin Logan's Perfect Bass Kit (PBK). This room correction technology measures the acoustic output within a room and optimizes performance to compensate for unique (and sometimes challenging) characteristics of listening environments. After doing PBK it is ear opening to do demo tests. I first would do the first 5 minutes of Oblivion or a particular scene in
Robocop 2014 or Lone Survivor with the 212 in its regular setting then do them again with Room EQ engaged. Wow what a difference! I can't put it in words but I will try. Our home theater room instantly became a real cinema theater. Voices have such an accurate inflection that you'd expect to have to buy a movie ticket to hear. The PBK procedure took just a few minutes. Make sure you are not using Windows 8 since they are not compatible yet. I had the included microphone (pic to the right and below) on my seats and away I went. Just make sure you do not pull out the connections on both the 212 and your laptop. I was careful as I moved about my room. You get a really cool Analysis/Correction chart which shows exactly how effective the Perfect Bass Kit system is. Again this procedure is simple to do. Just follow the instructions. At the end of Lone Survivor the Peter Gabriel song Heroes has to be the best sound we have heard. The entire movie is demo material. Same for Robocop 2014. You feel like you are on his motorcycle with him! Both movies transformed the theater into a warzone...
"Voices have such an accurate inflection that you'd expect to have to buy a movie ticket to hear."
The Control Panel is easy to access. Control knobs are simple enough to adjust. The Room EQ light lets you know you are using your PBK correction. Pic below shows using the ML USB Flashcard (included with the 212) to do firmware updates. You can match your fronts from ML like their Theos. Of course PBK should get priority.
Checking out the specs you can see these bad boys pack a huge punch with 3400 watts. Just don't let that number intimidate you. This is a very disciplined bass that knows when to come in strong and then fade away perfectly. It also knows when to blow away your room! Hearing and feeling LFE has never been so good. Our ears are not taxed at all like they can be with other subwoofers. ML states the 212 represents the culmination of an intensive, dedicated research program directed toward creating a world class reference subwoofer design using advanced technologies without compromising durability, reliability, craftsmanship or aesthetics. It uses a duel, custom, high-excursion drivers in a BalancedForce configuration which dramatically reduces cabinet vibrations allowing deep, tight, well-defined bass. Powerful propriety amplifiers drive the output stage with precision and extremely high efficiency. The materials in the 212 are high quality. The cabinet is made from the highest quality wood, composite, and aluminum materials for acoustic integrity. I would just like to add the Martin Logan BalancedForce 212 will be the last subwoofer you will own. Try one. With the current cost of a drink and popcorn you can't afford not to!
EQUIPMENT USED FOR THIS REVIEW:
Sony VPL-VW1100ES, McIntosh MX151,
Simplay Labs DVDO DUO VP, Pioneer SC-79 Receiver/pre-pro, DirecTV Genie, Xbox One, Monster Power HTS 5100, Oppo 103D Blu ray, Monster/Optoma, Sony 3D glasses, Parasound HALO A51 AMP x 2, Antec Component Coolers, Vutec SilverStar Curved 3D 133" Screen, Speakers: MARTIN LOGAN STAGE X Center, THEOS (Left and Right), VANQUISH (Surrounds & Heights), AXIS (Backs), Subwoofers- Martin Logan BalancedForce 212 X 2, DESCENT i, Dayton APA150 Sub AMP x 2, 8 Aura Pro Bass Shakers, 8 Black Seatcraft Venetian Home Theater Chairs, Remote: Harmony 1100. Monster 1000 HDX Ultimate HDMI cables top to bottom. And two Monster 35 foot HDX Hyperspeed HDMI cables.
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Thanks again (and again) to Audio Video Interiors Chicago for getting me time with a 212 which led me to want to purchase. If you are ever in their area (by Oakbrook Mall) stop in and check them out. You can also have a nice lunch at Ditka's Restaurant which is within walking distance. Give Noah a call at (630) 607-0054 and tell him hello from me.
Click below to go to Martin Logan to learn more about the BalancedForce 212...
Special thank you to my awesome Wife Jaclyn for her love and support. Her patience while I spend time "down there" is proof second chances with love can happen. Hoping we have a blast this Summer!