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JL Audio Fathom F113 (v2)

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Any plans to test the JL Audio Fathom F113 V2 (or even V1 which is 8 years old now)?

Many review sites award it one of the best compact, sealed sub out right now (commercial)... but so little objective measurement data.

 

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First, welcome Blake.  This is a great board, every once in a while there is some drama, but the people are really great.  I've met several in person and many more through posts and private messages.  This is definitely one of my favorite boards.

 

Realize I recently started a company offering subwoofers so you're welcome to take my comments with a grain of salt but JL Audio isn't really in the ball park of what most people on data-bass use for subwoofers.  For many on here, a midbass is 15", a sub is at least 18", and a sub system is multiple subwoofers.  And considering the JL Fathom with 1 13" driver and a 2500w RMS (short term, specific spec would be nice) is $4,300, it doesn't fit the value proposition when many people on here build their own sub systems.  And the more popular subwoofer brands often discussed on this board would be JTR, Seaton, Funk Audio, PSA, Reaction Audio, as well as my subs and the value and performance just doesn't stack up in JL's favor.  I'm also somewhat neglecting the ID companies that make smaller subs such as HSU Research, Rhytmik, and SVS Research since they make smaller subs and data-bass is all about reproducing deep bass.  I'm not saying JL produces a poor product, far from it, but the value and performance just doesn't compare with DIY or many of the Internet direct brands.  And finally, JL would have to send Josh Ricci a subwoofer to test and ask him to test it.  I doubt the JL would stack up well against dual 15", 18", 21", and 24" subs so if I was them, I wouldn't put my sub in the mix.  Many of the Internet direct brands, definitely speaking for myself too, want Josh Ricci to test our subs because he has a stellar reputation and it is a good form of marketing.  From a marketing perspective, JL Audio is so far beyond all of the Internet direct brands I've mentioned, COMBINED, that JL Audio has no need for Josh Ricci to test their subs.  My opinion anyway.

 

Now of course we as consumers would like to see every subwoofer tested by Josh so we have a Data-Bass of subs.  My guess is the only way Josh Ricci would test a JL sub is if a user sent him their personal sub to test.  But Josh is a busy guy and I'm not sure he'd want to do that when there will be people like me paying him to test my subwoofers later this summer.  Of course, Josh doesn't charge enough for the time and effort the testing takes as well as running this great site but that's a different discussion.

 

Do you already have the Fathom F113 or are you looking to purchase one?  If you don't own one yet, you've got many people on here with many different subwoofer systems and we can definitely steer you in the right direction if you're open to other subwoofers.  Just tell us what you're looking for in terms of bass reproduction (music, movies, a system for movies and sub-10/15/20 Hz bass), the size and shape of your room, any space constraints for subs, as well as a budget.  Also let us know if DIY is an option because that opens a whole bunch of options for a tremendous bass system at many price points.

 

David

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David - interesting take, thanks for your perspective.  

 

No, I don't own any JL Audio products yet. I was considering Fathom F113, as they have been highly praised as top-tier subs (overtaking Velodyne) on some other large AV forums.  It certainly does appear the sub landscape is changing, as you point out.  You are right, this is only a (smaller) 13.5" driver, but there is 4" woofer excursion giving 6.3L (386 cu inch) of effective displacement, which outperforms many larger size drivers.

 

I do want to stick with a sealed sub (not a massive ported) as there is a degree of WAF/asthetic requirements.  Need two subs in a couple corners to smooth out some low frequency dips in the room I have identified with REW.  Use is 70 % home theater / 30% music.  Space is L-shaped room, total 3600 cubic feet (but open stairwell to upstairs). Primacoustic London 12 acoustic treated space (bass traps and absorbers as highly reflective room).  Listen at -10 dB reference.  (ability to achieve THX spec 115dB peaks @ 30-60Hz would be awesome)

 

DIY is not an option (maybe one day..).  

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You are right, this is only a (smaller) 13.5" driver, but there is 4" woofer excursion giving 6.3L (386 cu inch) of effective displacement, which outperforms many larger size drivers.

 

I think that is a bit of rather misleading marketing to put it mildly.

 

If you look at http://www.jlaudio.co.uk/13w7ae-d1-5-car-audio-w7ae-subwoofer-drivers-92116 (which afaik the fathom is based on, at least a refined version of it anyway) then you will see quoted xmax of 32mm and a suspension that is capable of 4" peak to peak travel (so 2” one way). They appear to have taken that 4" suspension peak to peak and turned it into a displacement figure when applying it to the fathom.

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Actually there is objective data and detailed measurements on the first generation F113. Illka tested it thoroughly over at HTS forum back in probably 2009 or so. It's probably buried in an old archived thread there. I seem to remember someone else also doing a pretty thorough set of measurements on one. There is no reason to doubt that data.

 

JL has updated to a version 2 of the Fathom line, but a quick glance shows that the driver size is the same and the driver appears unchanged. The amplifier rating has seen a modest bump to 3kW peak up from 2.7kW which is less than 0.5dB of difference. The rest of the change appears to be to the auto-EQ system. There could perhaps be some tweaking to the dsp in the amplifier as well. Performance of the v2 could perhaps be slightly better than the original but it will be a very subtle advantage and not anything huge. I've seen and heard the F113 before. It is a capable subwoofer especially considering its size. That is its main claim to fame is the output it has relative to its size. It also is built very well (USA made), uses quality parts and looks great in person. I'm not a fan of the HPF employed below 18Hz as that sort of defeats one of the main advantages of a sealed system. Otherwise it is a capable performer but very expensive.

 

Dgage is right...I could possibly approach JL Audio about them sending a unit in to be evaluated but that is not something that I do. I've got more than I can handle already from other parties who are already prepared to send their products. I'd rather work with those who are interested rather than try to persuade a company to be interested if that makes sense? I get an email about once a week from a random person that says something like..."Do you plan to test the SuperWoof 9000? Please test this sub. I really want to see how it does. Thanks." What these types of people should be doing is emailing the manufacturer about it not me.

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unfortunately the graphs seem to have gone AWOL -> http://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/subwoofer-tests-archived/8152-jl-audio-fathom-f113.html

 

not sure why HTS didn't host the graphs themselves, seems a bit of an error

 

 

Wow...I figured they would have had that stuff taken care of. Perhaps they do and are unaware that the links are broken. If not that is unfortunate as I don't see Illka fixing all of that a decade later.

 

AVtalk was the other test of the F113 as I thought. It appears that forum itself is gone. Might be able to look it up through the wayback app.

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Wow...I figured they would have had that stuff taken care of. Perhaps they do and are unaware that the links are broken. If not that is unfortunate as I don't see Illka fixing all of that a decade later.

 

AVtalk was the other test of the F113 as I thought. It appears that forum itself is gone. Might be able to look it up through the wayback app.

 

Its a shame all that sub work Illka's did is down the drain.  Apparently it has something to do when HTS transitioned to new server. I messaged the HTS admin to advise them of this but have not heard back.

 

Is the google imaged "Maximum Output Level" FR curve for F113 measured groundplane ?

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For some, myself included size is important.  Using data-bass I plotted all the sealed, active, small and medium sized subs. I also added the measured data for the JL F113 linked above.   When looking at  the plot of CEA-2010 20Hz max SPL vs size the JL subs (E110, E112, F113) are clear outliers offering higher 20Hz output proportional to their size (volume)  

 

subs.jpg

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Yes the JL's do have good output for their size especially among commercial products. This is their biggest attribute and selling point. If size is less of an issue they quickly lose the horsepower war with larger subs but for those who really need something small they are a good option. You do have to pay for it though. 

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On 7/30/2019 at 5:04 PM, Wayne said:

and including all active small and medium sized subs (ported and sealed)

subs.jpg


The JTR S1 actually puts a serious smack down on the JL F113 in this metric (output per cubic foot centered at 20hz) being ~5dB less than the S2 but only slightly larger than the JL. The size difference between the two may as well not even exist.

 

19.25x19.25x16.5 for JL

21x21x18 for the JTR. So not even 2" larger in any dimension (as in, even the wife won't notice unless they are sitting next to each other), but sitting around 107dB at 20hz. So 1 actually pretty much would beat two f113s.

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On 8/14/2019 at 10:47 AM, STL D said:


The JTR S1 actually puts a serious smack down on the JL F113 in this metric (output per cubic foot centered at 20hz) being ~5dB less than the S2 but only slightly larger than the JL. The size difference between the two may as well not even exist.

 

19.25x19.25x16.5 for JL

21x21x18 for the JTR. So not even 2" larger in any dimension (as in, even the wife won't notice unless they are sitting next to each other), but sitting around 107dB at 20hz. So 1 actually pretty much would beat two f113s.

I don't see any measurements for the JTR S1 on Data-bass but would be happy to add to the plot.  As far as the size difference not even existing, the JTR S1 is 38% bigger in volume than the JL F113 (4.6 cubic feet vs 3.5 cubic feet)  and based on a simple linear regression on the 3 JL datapoints, I would expect it to do 106dB at 20Hz to be on the same trend as the JL subs.  If it measures at 107 dB for the same test is would be 1dB better than the JL trend.  

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Honestly this seems like splitting a lot of hairs.  The CEA scores use a fairly arbitrary distortion thresholds that are only maybe approximately at the limit of the actual usable output of the sub.  The CEA score won't tell you how fast distortion drops as level is decreased, or does it tell you how much additional travel may be present in the driver in which distortion continues to rise but not as rapidly as another sub.

The decision to buy a JL vs. a JTR sub should come down to a lot more than just CEA scores.  Seriously, 3.5 vs 4.6 cubic feet?  If they are the same 3D shape, this is going to be a tiny difference.  In reality if space is very tight, one may fit the dimensions of the room better than the other.

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I really like this idea and concept of comparing output vs size. I think one shortcoming with this graph is that SPL is on the decibel scale which is not linear, but we can think of box volume as linear. What we should do is convert SPL to Sound intensity (assume sea level for air pressure -- close enough). Once we have a linear scale for output and a linear scale for volume, I think the graph can have more meaning.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Kyle said:

I really like this idea and concept of comparing output vs size. I think one shortcoming with this graph is that SPL is on the decibel scale which is not linear, but we can think of box volume as linear. What we should do is convert SPL to Sound intensity (assume sea level for air pressure -- close enough). Once we have a linear scale for output and a linear scale for volume, I think the graph can have more meaning.

 

 

I’m not a speaker designer but I see no reason that the max 20hz output should be linear with volume.  There is a lot more going on here (e.g. the amps have different capabilities, driver excursion is different , etc.) looking at the 3 JL subs which have similar designs the output in dB looks pretty damn linear with volume.

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6 hours ago, SME said:

Honestly this seems like splitting a lot of hairs.  The CEA scores use a fairly arbitrary distortion thresholds that are only maybe approximately at the limit of the actual usable output of the sub.  The CEA score won't tell you how fast distortion drops as level is decreased, or does it tell you how much additional travel may be present in the driver in which distortion continues to rise but not as rapidly as another sub.

The decision to buy a JL vs. a JTR sub should come down to a lot more than just CEA scores.  Seriously, 3.5 vs 4.6 cubic feet?  If they are the same 3D shape, this is going to be a tiny difference.  In reality if space is very tight, one may fit the dimensions of the room better than the other.

1). If you don’t like to compare CEA scores , what measurable quantifiable data do you suggest?

2). I don’t have data for the jtr s1 (I see other ,larger jtr subs on data-bass)

3).  I suspect that most would rather look at max 20hz (or a lower frequency) output vs cost rather than size.  This would lead to a different set of overachievers.  I find it interesting to see what speaker designers can do with a constrained size, seems like a good design challenge and I wonder if the best subs are close to the limit of what is possible in a small size. All things being equal wouldn’t you prefer smaller subs (at equal performance) as you could fit more of them in your room.   Yes, Hoffman’s iron law says something’s got to give and that would be sensitivity which could be offset with very powerful and efficient amps.

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9 hours ago, Wayne said:

I’m not a speaker designer but I see no reason that the max 20hz output should be linear with volume.  There is a lot more going on here (e.g. the amps have different capabilities, driver excursion is different , etc.) looking at the 3 JL subs which have similar designs the output in dB looks pretty damn linear with volume.

Sure, by no means is this wrong and everything on the y-axis is relative so it does work, just means means its windows to a set of dB that makes sense which is already done. Josh has wanted to add this data to the site for a long time now, maybe its time to get it baked in

 

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On 3/21/2016 at 7:07 AM, Ricci said:

Actually there is objective data and detailed measurements on the first generation F113. Illka tested it thoroughly over at HTS forum back in probably 2009 or so. It's probably buried in an old archived thread there. I seem to remember someone else also doing a pretty thorough set of measurements on one. There is no reason to doubt that data.

 

JL has updated to a version 2 of the Fathom line, but a quick glance shows that the driver size is the same and the driver appears unchanged. The amplifier rating has seen a modest bump to 3kW peak up from 2.7kW which is less than 0.5dB of difference. The rest of the change appears to be to the auto-EQ system. There could perhaps be some tweaking to the dsp in the amplifier as well. Performance of the v2 could perhaps be slightly better than the original but it will be a very subtle advantage and not anything huge. I've seen and heard the F113 before. It is a capable subwoofer especially considering its size. That is its main claim to fame is the output it has relative to its size. It also is built very well (USA made), uses quality parts and looks great in person. I'm not a fan of the HPF employed below 18Hz as that sort of defeats one of the main advantages of a sealed system. Otherwise it is a capable performer but very expensive.

 

Dgage is right...I could possibly approach JL Audio about them sending a unit in to be evaluated but that is not something that I do. I've got more than I can handle already from other parties who are already prepared to send their products. I'd rather work with those who are interested rather than try to persuade a company to be interested if that makes sense? I get an email about once a week from a random person that says something like..."Do you plan to test the SuperWoof 9000? Please test this sub. I really want to see how it does. Thanks." What these types of people should be doing is emailing the manufacturer about it not me.

I asked an engineer at JL about 2 months ago for a Gotham... somewhat jokingly  (I think its $13,000 or something) 

negative on that unit so far.

 

:)

 

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37 minutes ago, Kyle said:

Sure, by no means is this wrong and everything on the y-axis is relative so it does work, just means means its windows to a set of dB that makes sense which is already done. Josh has wanted to add this data to the site for a long time now, maybe its time to get it baked in

 

Here is all active commercial subs on data-bass (plus the F113) . Looks to me that linear volume vs log SPL is a decent fit.  The r squared is 0.6684 or a correlation of 82%.  The JTRs also outperform the trend on output at 20 Hz vs size.

 

image.thumb.png.68dbc302cc2509a53b54d246e02a6176.png

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11 hours ago, Wayne said:

1). If you don’t like to compare CEA scores , what measurable quantifiable data do you suggest?

Well, for subs measured by Data-Bass, there are the max long-term output, power compression, and harmonic distortion plots.  For DIY systems there're also impedance and raw driver response plots which offer at least some hints as to how inductance effects may impact sound quality.

Of course none of these things can be conveniently distiled down into one SPL "output" number, but so what?  If you want the best, you're not going to find it by looking at a single chart or a single metric.  That kind of "make everything quantifiable" BS is a major error, perhaps even at the root of some of the major problems facing our society right now.  (Serious!)  BTW I say this as an engineer who specialized in study of computational science.

Also, why CEA at 20 Hz?  Many small rooms have a lot of room gain by then.  My room in particular dramatically boosts sub efficiency there.  The air starts noticeably rippling before the "signal present" lights even come on on the amp.  Tell me what the sub can do at 10 Hz, and then I'm interested.  But of course for someone who need something small to fill a large room, maybe 30 Hz is the money spot.

12 hours ago, Wayne said:

3).  I suspect that most would rather look at max 20hz (or a lower frequency) output vs cost rather than size.  This would lead to a different set of overachievers.  I find it interesting to see what speaker designers can do with a constrained size, seems like a good design challenge and I wonder if the best subs are close to the limit of what is possible in a small size. All things being equal wouldn’t you prefer smaller subs (at equal performance) as you could fit more of them in your room.   Yes, Hoffman’s iron law says something’s got to give and that would be sensitivity which could be offset with very powerful and efficient amps.

Hoffman's Iron Law can be overcome with brute (motor) force.  The limitation then is how much magnetic flux you can ultimately focus on a coil, and whether the end result is remotely affordable.

FWIW, I spent an excruciatingly long time deciding on which subs to buy for myself.  I had a very specific location and space budget, and wanted the best I could possibly get with that space.  I had to make a custom design.  There was no chart that told me which driver would work best.  I had to consider all the possibilities individually.

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