While not an homage to Meghan Trainor, this review is all about that bass–specifically, the Infinity by HARMAN Reference 1200S Subwoofer. An award for unique style and design should go out to the Infinity car audio engineers that came up with this unique, space-saving, low-profile subwoofer that brings excellent bass reproduction, selectable impedance, and small enclosure requirement.
Infinity is another brand under the family umbrella of HARMAN International these days, and has been in the car audio business for several decades. This new Reference Series subwoofers are offered in 10 and 12-inch sizes and are built with a compact, shallow mount design. When I pulled the 1200S review sample out of the box I was intrigued to say the least, and a bit skeptical. As a bass purist from way back I was a bit hesitant to give my blessing to this funky looking disc.
The beauty of this subwoofer driver is more than skin deep. It’s shallow design (a mere 3-5/16”) allows for the use of shallow enclosures in a host of mounting locations inside vehicles. Engineers built the Reference Series to require very small enclosures, and the first sealed box I built fit under the rear seat of a crew cab pickup, yet played bass as low as subwoofer systems that are much, much larger.
Infinity recommends sealed enclosures for the Reference Series subs but they can be used in ported (vented) boxes as well as bandpass enclosures. I built the latter and while the output was substantially higher (louder) than the sealed box, I did not like the resonant “boom” that comes with this type subwoofer enclosure. As I said, I am a bass purist and I want the frequency response to be as flat and low as the audio spectrum and human hearing will take it. With the 1200S having a free-air resonance of 27Hz, it’s low bass characteristics are quite capable.
The driver (speaker) itself is a flat piston design, meaning the portion of the speaker that converts electrical signals to sound waves is flat as opposed to the more traditional cone design found in most woofers. The rear of the flat piston polycarbonate driver is reinforced with a honeycomb design. Driver rigidity is a key in sound reproduction at low frequencies. A traditional rubber surround attaches the piston to the frame that holds the speaker magnet internally, with the large voice coil being vented at the rear and a mesh screen over that for protection.
The Reference Series subs feature HARMAN’S proprietary Selectable Smart Impedance switching. What the SSI does is offer the installer the choice of using the driver in 2- or 4-ohm impedance mode allowing for flexibility in system building and expansion as well as perfect mating to the output requirements of the subwoofer amplifier. I used the driver in 4-ohm mode as my Class AB amplifier prefers that impedance matching with a subwoofer for optimum sound and signal stability. The SSI system also allows car audio dealers to only have to stock one unit for the customer to choose from.
By the numbers, the Infinity Reference 1200S is a 12-inch (300mm) subwoofer offering power handling of 250W RMS and 1000W Peak. Sensitivity is 92dB and it’s 2-inch voice coil offers the selectable 2 or 4-ohm impedance settings. Frequency response is 27Hz-175Hz and the MSRP is $149. The packaging comes with specifications for optimum box design for sealed, vented, and bandpass enclosures.
I admit again that I was skeptical when I first saw this subwoofer, but no sooner did I install it in a box and place it in the vehicle and hook it up that it won me over. The sound reproduction is as good as any subwoofer I have installed in vehicles over the years. I auditioned this driver with both the factory speakers in a pickup, sedan, and hatchback as well as pairing it to the JBL GX600C component speakers reviewed recently. It’s performance was outstanding in all applications, with my favorite sound reproduction coming from the small sealed enclosure setup in the rear of the pickup truck. I varied the crossover frequencies for the bass amp and sub and ended up using 90Hz most of the time. It felt like my head was inside the kick drum on stage with Rush and the low organ notes from Don Dorsey’s Bachbusters were strong and unwaivering.
Good things can come in small packages and the Infinity Reference 1200S is a prime example of that. Whether your space requirements are limited or not, this is a great choice for subwoofer for enhancing your car audio system, and even better is that it does not need a lot of power to do so. It’s all about that bass, baby.
Source: Infinity Reference 1200S review sample provided by manufacturer.
What I like: Compact design; smooth sound reproduction; flexible installation options.
What can be improved: Nothing at this time.