Subwoofers tend to fall into two categories: on the one side, there are the bigger boxes that can move a lot of air but which aren't particularly living-room-friendly; and on the other, there's the smaller kit which is easy enough to hide behind your sofa but which, with a few exceptions, tends to sound as small as it looks.
B&W's ASW610XP is designed to offer the best of both worlds. A sibling of the company's acclaimed £400 design, the ASW610, the 'XP is small – just 32cm tall – but thanks to its ultra-stiff, long-throw 25cm drive unit and formidable 500w Class D power amp, it sounds genuinely massive.
As with all recent B&W subs, the 'XP is a sealed-box enclosure, its complex Kevlar/paper drive unit ensuring minimal deformation under even the most extreme duress: push the B&W very, very hard, and it'll maintain a stringent accuracy that few rivals can equal.
However, there are limits to what a conventional wooden subwoofer cabinet can achieve, even one as stiff as this.
The occasional murmur of protest
For all the brilliance of the drive unit and power amplification, we occasionally drew a murmur of protest from the ASW610XP's cabinet as it struggled to contain the massive physical forces thundering through its innards.
Its sibling design, the B&W PV1, remains a cleaner, less coloured listen in this regard – but bear in mind, we are talking about comparisons with a notably more expensive sub, and also about listening conducted in a big listening room at volumes that your neighbours would find distinctly unfriendly.
Rein the volume in only a little, and you'll find the ASW610XP has all the real-world weight and authority most living rooms and listeners could ever wish for.
It's agile and expressive, too: the sound fairly teems with energy, blending cohesion and formidable extension in equal measure. You might question the price – £300 seems quite a premium over the essentially similar '610 – but otherwise, there's nothing to find fault with here.