I put on the third “Volcano” movement of Hovhaness’s Mount St. Helens symphony [Telarc, multichannel SACD] to listen to the eruption passages and was floored (almost literally) by the tautness of the BG Radia’s sound as it reproduced the low percussion drum thwacks the composer uses to symbolize the violent force of the volcano’s self-destruction. Many good subs can capture the bass weight and impact of those drums, but few can do what the BG Radia system did, which was to go further to capture rippling “skin sounds” of the drums along with the booming body of their notes. As the eruption unfolds, Hovanhess introduces a low brass theme while keeping the bass percussion motif going to suggest the downhill flow of lava and debris. Even when reproducing multiple layers of complex bass content, the BG Radia system kept things clean, clear, and well defined (a feat not many subs could duplicate).
Similarly, on the “Blues for Junior” track from Ray Brown, Monty Alexander and Russell Malone’s eponymous album [Telarc, multichannel SACD], there is a wonderfully expressive Ray Brown bass solo where Brown walks up and down his instrument’s fingerboard creating runs of notes that, as it happens, pass up and down over the crossover point between the subwoofer system and the main speakers. What wowed me about this solo was how beautifully integrated the subwoofer sounded, so that there were essentially no textural discontinuities to be heard (though in truth, if I had had even more time to play with very small phase adjustments, I think I might have been able to achieve an even tighter sense of bass focus). But even as things were, Brown’s solo bass exhibited a pleasingly balanced, “cut-from-whole-cloth” sound that is very difficult to achieve with most subs. And that’s where the BG Radia system really proved its merits.
In writing this review, one of my fears was that readers would come away thinking, “’sounds like BG Radia’s subwoofer system is pretty good—for an in-wall design.” It is a great in-wall design, but the fact is that it goes much further than that. In truth, the BGX-4850 system is a world-class subwoofer that just happens to also comport with in-wall form factors. This sub does it all: deep bass, high output, terrific definition and clarity, and smooth and even distribution of bass throughout the listening room. Even though the BG Radia system’s form factor is unorthodox, I would encourage anyone seeking a top-tier subwoofer system to hear it before making a final purchase decision. It’s that good.
BG Radia BGX-4850 THX Ultra2 subwoofer system
Driver complement: Four SM-1250 in-wall woofer modules, each with twelve 4-inch, long-throw bass drivers.
Outboard power amplifier: 2200 watts
Dimensions, SM-1250 woofer module (HxWxD): 26.75” x 14.5” x 3.5”’
Dimensions, SM-1250 grills (H x W): 28” x 7” (new construction grill), 29.5” x 15” (retrofit grill)
Dimensions, BGA-2104 subwoofer amplifier (HxWxD): Not specified
Weight, SM-1250 woofer module: 30 lbs., ea.
Weight, BGA-2104 subwoofer amplifier: 20lbs.
Warranty: Lifetime, parts and labor, for the woofer modules; five years, parts and labor, for the subwoofer amplifier.
System price: $6995