Velodyne SPL-800 Ultra review

This accomplished subwoofer full deserves each of its five stars and should be firmly on your audition list Tested at £1000.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Performance alone is enough to secure the Velodyne five stars – the looks and finish gild the lily


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    Compact dimensions

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    superb build

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    hard-hitting, agile sound


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    Not the last word in articulacy

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‘Preeminent': eminent above or before others; superior; surpassing.

Where subwooofers around the £1000-mark are concerned, B&W's PV1 is the preeminent product, as six back-to-back What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision Awards testifies.

Velodyne is nothing if not an enterprising company, though, and this SPL-800 Ultra subwoofer seeks to shift the PV-1 from a perch it has, at times, seems superglued to.

The SPL-800 Ultra certainly looks intriguing. It's an uber-compact sealed box, gently curvaceous and polished to a glossy white sheen. It's tricked out with a 20cm, forward-firing driver and is packing an almighty 1200 watts of amplifier power.

Rudimentary auto set-up
There's a little remote control that allows adjustment of volume and phase (0-270), and a rudimentary auto-set-up feature that uses a microphone and test-tone to calibrate the sub's EQ characteristics to your room.

In performance terms, there's little worthy of censure. Where great big action-movie bangs are concerned, the Velodyne digs very deep and hits with the sort of implacable solidity that can get the pictures on your wall rattling.

There's reasonable tonal variation on offer, decent speed and attack, and the kind of dynamic headroom that means the SPL-800 Ultra can switch from a whisper to a bellow in an instant.

Enjoyable with music too
It's just as enjoyable with music too, which is by no means a given with subwoofers regardless of price. That out-and-out wallop and drive means the Velodyne hammers out a dance tune like a superior nightclub sound-system – the pace and timing helps no end too.

It's true that the preeminent subwoofer offers a little more fluency along with the attack, but for unyielding low-frequency punch the SPL-800 Ultra is well worth seeking out.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test