REL

GREAT BRITAIN’S PREMIERE MANUFACTURER OF SUBWOOFERS AND SUB-BASS SYSTEMS.
Do One Thing - Do It Pefectly

REL Acoustics, Ltd. of Bridgend, Wales was founded in 1990 by Richard Edmund Lord.  Dissatisfied by the commercially available subwoofers of the day, Lord set out to build Himself something better. Almost immediately, word spread of a Welshman who had built this incredible sounding sub bass system and soon enough audiophiles began searching out these legendary subs that were built like no other.

Lord began referring to them as sub bass systems, because the performance he had been able to achieve was the result of system engineering. Where common subwoofers rely on amplifying a line level signal, Lord had intuitively realized that the signature of the entire system had to be built forward into a pre-conditioning signal that allowed the sub to disappear into the music. Thus, from almost the very beginning RELs used a special high-level circuit. Many of the basic elements present in modern day RELs began finding their way into production RELs in the later 1990’s.

AN IMPORTANT UNDERSTANDING ABOUT REL SUBS & MUSIC:

A basic run-down on the REL subs and why they are so much better for integartion with Music:

Typically most subwoofers have a delay in response of around 150 – 200 mSecs. to comprehend this in a pratical way - 150 milli seconds equates to over 50 metres distance !!! 200 milli seconds is 68.6m.

This is not too much of a problem in Theatre systems as the processing time of the picture is delayed anyway and so the sound has to be delayed to match with the picture, so a slow sub is not badly noticeable.... (still not good tho).

With music... there is no “buffer” to feed into, no “lip sync” delays etc.... if you put a slow sub in with fast speakers you will never get fast tuneful bass no matter how hard you try !

REL "T" SERIES SUBS: 
REL T series subs are much, much, faster than the vast majority of subs on the market at just around 15 milli seconds of response time (15 milli seconds translates to 5.14 metres). So if we want to get the sub in phase with the speakers we can do this in a normal sized room (so long as it is over 5 metres long) because the time delay is less than the length of the room in which we have the sub, so putting it out of phase with the main speakers would be the biggest adjustment that would be required.

REL "S" SERIES SUBS:
If we go up to the S series subs we get a lighter faster cone with faster electronics which drops the response time down to under 10 milli seconds (S2 is about 8, S34 is 10 and S5 is 12).

REL "G" SERIES SUBS:
Moving up to the G series we further drop it to around 4 milli seconds of group delay.
As 4 milli seconds translates to 1.37 metres, there is ample room to get them to gel in any room, and the timing will be a lot better, they will be more “in tune” with the main speakers, and the end result is one of added bass weight without the penalty of slowness. This group delay figure is at the theoretical lower limit of filter design.

I loved the following final paragraph of this communication from the owners of REL:

"At REL, they know the secret to a perfectly balanced system is their filter circuits. Evolving over several generations the REL filter circuit is considered a trade secret, To this day, REL embed them in a matrix designed to destroy the components hidden within should any competitor try to discover the ideal way to crossover. Speed is incredibly important to a sub crossover and so REL employ simple, direct and very fast-acting filters. Based on second order designs, they are intended to allow all the speed and slam of Music to emerge—and importantly, all of the subtlety—while still performing the necessary crossover filtering". 

"The filters used in Gibraltar are, to our knowledge, the fastest ever built into a production sub bass system and measure at the theoretical limit of a filter circuit at approximately 4 milliseconds of group delay. Those used in REL’s other models are still remarkably fast and weigh in at around 8-12 milliseconds. In order to properly reproduce music and film sound’s dynamics and natural qualities, REL do not offer room correction modes. While these can, sometimes, have a positive gross effect they also slow down the transient speed of the system hugely". 

“We are unwilling to destroy music or film sound in order to provide a “happy idiot” button, whereby the customer hears some difference by pushing a button, only later to discover, as they listen more critically, that the bass is completely out of time with the cadence of the music. We’re not in the happy idiot business, our customers are smarter than that.”
........John Hunter and Donald Brody

                                                          History

The modern era of REL began in 2005 when John Hunter and Donald Brody acquired REL. Almost immediately, they identified several key paths to take the strengths of the core REL philosophy and build upon them. First, the designs had to be updated and made to look as wonderful as they sounded. Second, for all their robust qualities, there was room for improvement in the area of electronics and driver technology. Accordingly, they set about on a comprehensive plan to upgrade and improve every aspect of the products; focusing on reliability, clean styling and robust mechanical construction–a path that continues to this day.
 
Today, REL is one of the fastest growing product ranges in the entire high end with strong international partnerships all over the world and acclaim coming from virtually every high end audio and home theater magazine. At its cornerstone, fundamental reliability remains its core strength, blended with a unique approach to design that results in what many consider the most musical and powerful sounding subwoofers available.
 
The subwoofer’s task to deliver musical fundamentals below the reach of ordinary loudspeakers. It’s an approach that can work well with compacts, but often works even better with large speakers…” Alvin Gold Gramophone
 
No Limits
Musicians place no limits on the bandwidth of the music they play.  Many recordings, particularly those of “live” events include acoustic cues as to the size and shape of the recording space, which constitute an important component in the recorded sound. In many instances the venue’s “sound” contains some very low frequency information as do harmonics of instruments in the orchestra. 
Strange as it may seem, it’s not only bass instruments that produce low frequencies – many orchestral notes contain low frequency components, which contribute to the defining character of their sound.
 
The Complete Truth
For pure fidelity to be realized, every part of every note in the music must be reproduced, along with the acoustic signature of the recording space.  The typical home audiophile system, sometimes chosen after hours of agonizing over which components to buy, often suffers bandwidth limitation at the lower end of the reproduction spectrum. This is especially true when playing high bit-rate formats such as 24/96 or 24/192 kHz files. Whatever format you select, there is no hope of realizing what was originally recorded, without a correctly designed sub-bass system.
 
“…bass and cello fundamentals that were only implied by their harmonics are now produced in full strength. But the benefits extend well beyond the bass, as the additional bandwidth alters the perception of midband and treble output, adding richness and a greater range of tonal colours, and adding also to image scale.” Alvin Gold Gramophone
 
The Big Picture
Accurate reproduction of low bass is especially important to film sound tracks. Directors and sound engineers rely on very low bass frequencies to impart the power of action sequences, and the sheer drama of subtler scenes. In many cases, huge expenditure is lavished on sound tracks to achieve the desired emotional response in the movie goer. The explosion of high quality sources into homes has given consumers the opportunity to experience the fidelity of wideband multi-channel recording. Every movie soundtrack has a special Low Frequency Effects channel (LFE), where all the really dramatic bass sounds are stored. But without a properly integrated audiophile sub-bass system, bass frequencies, which took hundreds of man-hours and millions to create, will not be reproduced in full.
 
REL SHOTGUN™ Both Barrels at Once!
REL sub-bass systems are optimized to deliver highly accurate, dynamic low bass in film soundtracks. This requires an ability that as of this writing, only RELs possess; the ability to deliver huge low bass originally intended for the main speakers as well as the ability to deliver effects for the .1 channel. We do this simultaneously by the following procedure. First, using the High Level input with the AV processor (or receiver) set to “Large”. This restores the low frequency balance to your system allowing the L/R main speakers to operate as a truly full range device (make certain your speakers can handle this, if in doubt check with the speaker manufacturer). This opens up the sense of space embedded in the original recording. Follow the set-up procedures in the REL set-up sequence found elsewhere in this website using music as this will produce the most accurate balance for both music and film. Next, connect the subwoofer output on your processor or receiver to the .1 input on the REL. Using a soundtrack of know high quality properties in the .1 track, adjust gain so that on the very loudest passages, with the main system set to full undistorted output, the REL fulfills the loudness requirement while itself not distorting. Now, when movies are played, your system will be capable of reproducing all the space and dynamics of movies. Almost.
 
 “No else even thinks of bass in these terms. REL remains the only company to truly study film sound and work with transfer studio engineers to unlock the promise Implicit in Dolby’s standard. Try this technique once and you’ll never go back. That’s a promise.” -John Hunter and Donald Brody
 
REL Shotgun 3D™ Bass:
If one wants to feel the depth charges exploding all around the submarine, one ultimate trick remains up our sleeves. For ultimate spatial coherence, a minimum of 3 RELs (1-main L/R, 1-center, 1-surrounds) may be used to fully realize all the performance embedded in move soundtracks. REL Shotgun unleashes the basic performance possible in a soundtrack. Shotgun 3D™ extends that benefit to all the building blocks of a theater. By extending the low bass performance of the center channel the entire front half of the theater Is opened up. No longer does the center channel struggle to keep up with the mains. By doing so for the rear channels, the theater is completed and the 3 dimensional reality of film soundtracks takes place as one’s theater is transformed into a sort of 3 dimensional aural holograph.
 
“This technique was, until recently, our best-kept in house secret. It wasn’t that we didn’t want our customers to have access to this. We simply felt that we might be perceived as too extreme—that with our older, more expensive lineup—it might just be received as too expensive and out of touch with our customers. Now, with the incredible value we have been able to build into these newest ranges it’s possible to use, for example, an R-528 for the mains, a T-7 for the center channel and a Tzero or T-5 for the rears and experience a huge upgrade for a reasonable cost. REL 3D is NOT about making more bass, it’s about better and more spatially accurate bass. REL 3D allows you to be transported inside the movie.” -John Hunter and Donald Brody
 
 The Path to Perfect Bass
One secret to a REL sub-bass system’s success resides not only in its ability to extract the deepest sounds in the mix, or in its bullet-proof reliability and conspicuous overbuild, it resides in its ability to integrate effortlessly with the main system, enhancing its sound by naturally underpinning the output from the speakers – to make them sound as if they’d doubled in size. REL defined the conditions for successful integration years  ago by following three simple but hitherto elusive principles:
 
High Level Connectivity
To ensure no blurring or other sonic degradation to the main system, the solution is to connect the sub-bass system from the power amp. REL sub-bass systems are designed to be connected to the existing power amp’s speaker terminals using the gas-tight high-level Neutrik connection supplied with virtually all RELs. In this way there is no interference or possible corruption of the main signal going to the speakers. By connecting at high level, the sub will reproduce exactly the same character of bass as the main speakers. 
The sub-bass system draws virtually zero current from the power amp because it is a very high impedance load (technically we say it is voltage driven). No harm can come to the sub-bass system whatever the power of the main amp, even a kilowatt can be accommodated with ease.
 
Dedicated Power
There is also the substantial benefit of the bass engine in a REL system being driven by its own dedicated, high current REL power amplifier – optimised for that specific driver. It is DC coupled in all but our smallest design, meaning there are no capacitors in the signal path causing phase problems and limiting its ultimate low frequency performance. REL power amplifiers are designed to produce high levels of current and built in the most robust manner practical.
 
When More Is Less
Because of this built-in high current REL amp, there is no power drain on your main system amplifier. It goes on happily driving your main speakers precisely as before, albeit with the significant benefit that because the REL is now fully energizing one’s room it is possible to enjoy the system at lower volume levels and with less sense of strain. Women, in particular, come to love this aspect of REL ownership. As counterintuitive as it may seem, restoring bass by adding a REL can result in lower average listening levels precisely because one doesn’t need to turn up the volume as high to provide the drive and pressure one is often seeking in higher volume levels.
 
Perfect Filters: Speed Kills
At REL, we know the secret to a perfectly balanced system is our filter circuits. Evolving over several generations the REL filter circuit is considered a trade secret, To this day, we embed them in a matrix designed to destroy the components hidden within should our competition try to discover the ideal way to crossover. Speed is incredibly important to a sub crossover and so we employ, simple, direct and very fast-acting filters. Based on second order designs, they are intended to allow all the speed and slam of Music to emerge—and importantly, all of the subtlety—while still performing the necessary crossover filtering.
 
The filters used in Gibraltar are, to our knowledge, the fastest ever built into a production sub bass system and measure at the theoretical limit of a filter circuit at approximately 4 milliseconds of group delay. Those used in our other models are still remarkably fast and weigh in at around 8-12 milliseconds. In order to properly reproduce music and film sound’s dynamics and natural qualities, we do not offer room correction modes. While these can, sometimes, have a positive gross effect they also slow down the transient speed of the system hugely.
 
 “We are unwilling to destroy music or film sound in order to provide a “happy idiot” button, whereby the customer hears some difference by pushing a button, only later to discover, as they listen more critically, that the bass is completely out of time with the cadence of the music. We’re not in the happy idiot business, our customers are smarter than that.” -John Hunter and Donald Brody
 
 Removing Room-Boom
REL sub-bass systems can be “tuned” to your system and room, whatever your system’s capabilities and listening room size. This is of enormous benefit, particularly if like many others, your listening room is not perfect. The REL can be positioned to pressurize your listening room below its lowest eigentone and ensure that those previously missing or masked frequencies are heard cleanly and clearly, no false emphasis or boom – you control its sound in your system. We are often asked: “Are two subs better than one?” Two subs will help iron out the usual room response undulations. Dynamic range is doubled and an even tighter and more controlled bass results. Two separated bass sources help achieve these subtle improvements.
 
Additional Benefits
If you decide to upgrade any item in your system, the REL will simply reveal more of its potential. This of course can be said about some upmarket speakers too, but rather than simply show up your systems faults, the REL is fully adjustable, thus it will never be obtrusive. Above all it will allow you to keep what is best about your existing system. With a REL there is NO compromise. The REL will only add to your already high quality sound. It will never overwhelm, but confidently underpin your main system. It is very likely the most cost effective upgrade you will ever make.
 
We still insist on testing each unit at multiple stages along the way, then performing exhaustive tests on finished units. It’s not the cheapest way to build, to be sure, but the only way we know of to ensure consistently high quality.” -John Hunter and Donald Brody 

                                                      Technology

We’re often asked, “What makes a REL a REL?” The answer is simple, but not easy. At REL We approach each music and theater reproduction issue afresh and always ask “What is the optimal way to effect the desired result?” A REL is a SYSTEM, hence the term Sub-Bass System. Many people mistakenly think that it is the simple addition of a high-level input, but there is so much more to it than that. We strive to build the most reliable subs in the industry – ask any industry-insider.  RELs are built like no others because it is quite difficult and costly to execute to our standard. But it is imperative to us that we retain our good name and that begins with products destined to last for years of happy ownership.
 
It Helps to be Well Connected
As a pure high-end company, we believe in first doing no harm with our subs. So, we offer no high pass crossovers that interfere with the bass from the main speakers. This means we sell fewer subs, but the ones we do sell make their owner’s quite happy.
 
We connect via a special high-level connection whenever possible because doing so allows the voice of your main system to be built forward into every REL. We permit crossing over quite low because our designs produce truly deep bass, where many of our competitors focus on very loud middle bass.
 
Film, Glorious Film
We worked closely with one of the leading movie sound studios to create REL’s Shotgun™ Theater Reference Circuit, wherein the low bass directed to the main speakers is reinforced by the REL all-the-while reproducing the dedicated .1  LFE channel that is the heart of thrill in a movie soundtrack. And then we worked to integrate it into one very clever circuit that means even a single REL can accomplish this trick. We provide our owners with a dedicated single phono input for film’s .1/LFE channel with its own volume control. Crossover is fixed, per Dolby specification, at 120Hz.Simply dial-in the High Level using dynamic music, as usual, then switch over to a film soundtrack and, while playing the most bombastic LFE track you can find, bring up the gain on the dedicated LFE circuit until just below clipping and you’re all set.
 
Stop Here Driver
We carefully design our drivers to reproduce low bass, with resonant frequencies that are exceptionally low, long travel suspensions to allow high output and ideal motor assemblies to energize the system. We refer to them as bass engines since this descriptive more closely defines their function. Our engines are carefully designed to start and stop quickly, since it is the quiet in between notes that defines the meaning of music.
 
Our drivers are a major aspect of REL’s performance. Where budget allows, on our Gibraltar range, we use expensive carbon fibre cones with substantial die cast frames for energy control. When we step back to Serie R, we retain the heavy duty die cast allow frames, but have designed a complex multi-layer hand thrown paper cone. Arriving at Serie T budget constraints require the use of stamped steel (rather than alloy) frames, and we again use paper, but less expensive to produce heat-pressed cones that retain excellent light weight properties while still yielding some of the structural integrity of their dearer peers.
 
Why Don’t REL use Massive Multi Thousand Watt Amplifiers?Our engineers work hard to keep moving mass as low as practical in our drivers, thereby allowing the overall design to be more mechanically efficient. Greater efficiency means we obtain more output from fewer watts of electricity consumed, which is a good thing on this steadily warming planet of ours.
 
Speaking of green, we look beyond the obvious; even the cabinet damping material used in some of our best designs is made from recycled blue jeans. First, because it is the finest, best sounding stratified damping material for bass Driver/cabinet interaction we have ever tested. Second, because conventional wadding such as fiberglass takes about 100 million years to break down – give or take a million. Our recycled blue jeans will last for several decades by which time it is our firm belief we will have developed a superior replacement for Gibraltar.
 
Instrument Grade Cabinet Bracing
All current REL designs benefit from careful hand fitting of intricate internal bracing. Borrowed from acoustic instrument design, our bracing is vastly different from the normal hard-edged windowpane braces that produce audible and evident noise when driven as hard as our designs drive the cabinet.
 
As the careful observer can identify, we have taken great pains not only to locate and quiet significant modes, but each internal surface is carefully radiused to eliminate hard-edged surfaces that produce audible noise and distortion. Gibraltar uses marine-grade laminated bracing, while Serie R uses interior grade plywood bracing and Serie T uses HDF composite bracing.
 
Our cabinets are built from substantially massive, heavy medium density fibreboard (MDF) and in Gibraltar, we specify the highest-grade Australian-sourced MDF for its superior sonic and aesthetic qualities.
 
Filter Networks
Gibraltar employs an advanced filter circuit which provides exceptional performance when coupled to the rest of the signal chain of the Sub-Bass System. A second-order variable low-pass filter utilizing a Bessel function was chosen for its linear phase response, which equates to flat group delay. This means that, unlike other filter functions, the amount of delay the signal is subjected to during processing is constant through the entire pass-band, which improves the frequency response and allows for better integration of the sub with the main speakers. An additional fixed second-order Bessel filter follows the variable filter, removing unwanted midrange signals that, if left unfiltered, might cause the midrange of the main speakers to become muddy or congested. All filtering is performed in the analog domain using high-quality components with tight tolerances to ensure the highest possible performance and consistency.
 
On Serie R and T, we employ a similar filter topology but use softer conventional butterworth filtering for primary and secondary filtering as they are better suited to the overall performance envelope of these designs.
 
The Path Less Taken
Frequently, industry types ask if we’re not worried that someone else will copy us? The answer is, to do what we do every day, takes relentless commitment to excellence. Every day, we are confronted with challenges. Every day, we are asked to build our products cheaper, or re-design them to be easier to build. We refuse to do so. No, we are not worried someone else will copy us – doing it properly ensures ours is a path few will follow.

All Products

Reviews

All Products

Sub Woofers

REL 01 HABITAT1
NZ$ 3,195.00 ea (incl. GST)
Minimalist subwoofers are every bit a REL, just designed to enhance the soundstage in the unique spaces we live. We started with the end user in mind, taking into account the challenges and...
Sub Woofers
REL 03 T5
NZ$ 1,195.00 ea (incl. GST)
T-5 produces a sophisticated blend of style and design, in a potent, compact package. Packing a single down-firing long-throw 8” driver with a high current 150W Class A/B amp allows this bantamweight...
Not very well known in Australia, but a legend in its native England, REL has been pumping out "sub...
Sub Woofers
REL 05 T7
NZ$ 1,595.00 ea (incl. GST)
Stepping up to a T-7 or T-9 produces a huge increase in performance over the smaller, less expensive down-firing models (T-zero/T-5). T-7 adds a forward-firing 10” passive, along with a high current...
Here are a couple of quotes from the review which highlight the T-7s performance:   “This is a...
Sub Woofers
REL 07 T9
NZ$ 1,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Stepping up to a T-9 produces a huge increase in performance over the smaller, less expensive down-firing models (T-zero/T-5). T-9 combines a forward-firing 10” passive with a down-firing 10” ULT...
Sub Woofers
REL 11 S3
NZ$ 3,595.00 ea (incl. GST)
Power and PerformanceThe Beautifully Balanced S/3S/3 derives from the flagship S/5 and offers a more compact footprint and much of S/5 performance for use with either slightly more modest systems or...
Sub Woofers
REL 12 S5
NZ$ 4,295.00 ea (incl. GST)
Smooth Speed & SlamContinuous Cast™ Cone Bass Engine
Sub Woofers
REL 13 S LONGBOW
NZ$ 595.00 ea (incl. GST)
LongBow™  Zero Compression 24-bit Wireless Transmission - Freedom - LongBow™ Wireless Connectivity
Sub Woofers
REL 17 G1
NZ$ 8,495.00 ea (incl. GST)
Gibraltar G-1 transforms the definition of deep bass for the home.  Whether used singly in multiples, we know of no finer ambient space and deep bass reproducer. G-1 combines shocking speed and...
Sub Woofers

Reviews

Home Cinema Choice completed their sub woofer group test review and name the REL T7 as the winner.
Home Cinema
Here are a couple of quotes from the review which highlight the T-7s performance:
 
“This is a subwoofer with excellent integration at the handover to the speakers, and the overall performance is never anything less than composed, and free of any harshness or lack of control. At the same time, the T-7 manages to conjure more aggression and excitement when it’s required”
 
“There is almost no sense of overhang or bloat to its performance, which greatly aids the sense of realism. This also means that the T-7 is the best of the pack for music use... the REL has a speed, agility and depth that the other group test contenders simply don’t combine with the same balance.” 
 
The REL T-7 features an 8” down firing woofer powered by a 200 Watt class A/B amplifier. It also has a front firing 10” passive radiator.
As with all the REL subwoofers the T-7 comes with the Neutrik speaker level connection and cable as well as the normal LFE low level input, this allows for the best possible integration into your system for both music and movies. Both high and low level can be run simultaneously to provide full range bass for your fronts as well as the .1 LFE channel from your movie.
If you really want to get the best out of your home theatre try running a REL on your centre channel as well. 
If you own a pair of stand mount speakers, or smaller speakers like the Spendors, then the REL T5 offers an excellent bass upgrade, with the added ability of summoning up the occasional blockbuster.

Not very well known in Australia, but a legend in its native England, REL has been pumping out "sub-bass systems" for nigh on 20 years. The company takes a different approach to what other companies call "subwoofers" by supplementing stereo sound instead of just supplying low-end effects. If you have a pair of stand mount speakers, or are looking to add a more "muscular" bass sound to your music, then REL wants to hear from you.

The REL T-5 is the company's newest "sub" aimed at entry-level systems. Despite the low-cost emphasis, there has been zero compromise on build quality: the T-5 is beautifully constructed. From the piano-black finish to the immaculate back panel, the REL oozes sophistication, and yet its sound engineering roots remain with its solid gold RCA terminals and thick heatsink.

Now for the tech specs: the REL T-5 features a closed design with a single 8-inch, down-firing driver. It's driven by a 125W amplifier and can go down as low as 32Hz at -6bB. The box is also compact, at roughly 300mm². A lot of power from a small box, then.

The REL's selling point is that it enables you to run a set of speaker cables in parallel with your main speakers in addition to the RCA ".1" input, and enables you to control them independently. The T-5 lets you alter the LFE effects channel level, the speaker input level and the crossover frequency. The crossover could be better labelled, as it simply starts at 30Hz and ends at 120Hz. It's difficult to hear any changes until you get to about 12 o'clock, and so a relative frequency at this point would have been useful.

Music is unsurprisingly where the T-5 performs best, with funk and rock sounding tight and tuneful. Used in conjunction with the diminutive Spender A3s, the REL filled out the bottom end nicely, and added punch that wasn't there before.

On some subwoofers, bass notes can overhang and become muddy, but the REL was able to stop and start remarkably quickly. If you're looking to buy a musical subwoofer, we've yet to see anything else compete with it for the price.

The REL T-5 may not have the deepest of bass responses, but it is able to conjure up an avalanche when called for. 

If you own a pair of stand mount speakers, or smaller speakers like the Spendors, then the REL T-5 offers an excellent bass upgrade, with the added ability of summoning up the occasional blockbuster. If you're looking for outright bass extension, though, then you should be looking to pay a lot more. A lot more.