So far I have concentrated on territory unique to the SS2 and Integrator. But I’d be remiss if I failed to address the system’s performance as a pure subwoofer. To be succinct, it is nothing short of awesome. Though I enjoyed the luxury of a stereo pair of SS2s, a single unit easily filled my largish listening room with crushing bass that handily shattered the 20Hz barrier. The commendable output and extension were accompanied by the far rarer qualities of control and precise pitch accuracy. Indeed, the SS2 set benchmarks in both areas.
Two illustrative examples feature well-recorded organ music. The Bach “Orgelwerke” track from Burmester’s CD3 collection exposes any pitch ambiguity and often induces considerable subwoofer slop. The SS2 was having none of that. Through this sub, bass notes are not hinted at—they are nailed. Similarly, in the “Pie Jesu” from Telarc’s Durufle Requiem, the final low pedal note, though mostly air, had discernible pitch and set my room a-shaking. Yet despite all the commotion it was causing, the SS2 maintained absolute composure. In sum, the Integrator/SS2 combo delivers basic bass performance that’s worthy of applause.
I achieved excellent integration of the main speakers with conventional subwoofers both by chance and by careful application of time-tested techniques. The Thiel Integrator/SmartSub is the first subwoofer that enables consistent integration by design. As such, it is a landmark in the history of subwoofer development. In its present state, the Integrator lacks a few features and the last ounce of transparency. Yet no other subwoofer system brings so much needed structure to the integration process while affording such plentiful and powerful means of adapting the sub to its surroundings. Rigid yet liberating, the Thiel system resembles a fugue that, like Bach, rewards attentive listeners.