SubPac S2 review: is this the ultimate low-end monitoring solution?

subpacs2SubPac’s latest offering provides you with powerful low-end without disturbing your neighbours, but how does it work, and why might it revolutionise home recording?

The SubPac S2 is essentially a body vibrator, designed to let you ‘feel’ the bass from any audio signal by reproducing it through your back. In practice, this has an effect similar to the powerful, weighty, chest-thumping sub you feel when you’re at a club or concert… but without the need for a ludicrously large, heavy subwoofer that’ll shake plaster off your neighbour’s walls.

The unit itself looks like a sort of sci-fi pillow, or maybe some sort of Harvester-inspired modular augmentation from a dystopian future. To use the SubPac, you need to attach it to the backrest of your preferred chair using the straps. Once affixed, you simply plug in your sound source or connect via Bluetooth, and then plug your headphones of choice into the SubPac’s control unit. Hit ‘play’, and all of a sudden you’re transported to an Ibiza dancefloor, front row at Glastonbury, neck-deep at the West Indian Centre. Powerful, tuned, rhythmic vibrations will grip your torso, giving you an immediate, physical understanding of how powerful sound systems will recreate the bass frequencies in your mix. It’s been suggested that you could also sit on it – some people might even prefer to – but that’s not what the manual recommends.

giphy (9)

This little guy understands…

The main thing I took away from using the SubPac was the depth of clarity it gave to analysing the low frequency content in your mix that can so often cause problems. I remember the first time I heard one of my rough mixes on a large club sound system – scoping out the venue before DJing at an event – I was shocked by the swamp of sub, low and low-mid frequencies all competing for attention, resultantly sucking all the energy out of the track. If I’d had the SubPac 13 years ago, it would have been a doddle to identify the trouble frequencies on particular instruments and trim the fat, as it were.

People that aren’t use to the price of pro audio monitoring systems might balk at the ~£300 price tag, but a quick glance at the competition reveals that they’re actually at the lowest end of the spectrum, and about 10% of the price of the primo, top-end stuff. All of a sudden not so bad, eh?

So, let’s recap on some of the points here:

  • Quick & easy to set up
  • Affordable, especially when compared to other low frequency monitoring solutions
  • Accurate, powerful sub monitoring
  • Pretty fun
  • No need for bass traps, diffusers, etc
  • Happy neighbours
  • Bonus: makes first-person shooter games pants-wettingly good.

One question that comes up with pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to about it is “is it bad for you?”

The short, vague answer is “it’s absolutely fine for most people”. Based on all the information I could find on PubMed, you shouldn’t expose your body to prolonged, powerful vibration if you’ve had a stroke or have a diagnosed heart condition, a blood clotting disorder or DVT. So for the majority of people, there’s no need to worry.

All in all, a totally great, unique product that I would absolutely recommend to anyone who needs to monitor their low frequencies, but for whatever reason isn’t able to use a traditional subwoofer.

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Guy Perchard

Digital editor & recording specialist at Red Dog Music
As well as being the marketing man-about-town at Red Dog Music, Guy is a busy, award winning record producer and mixing engineer. He is also partial to a chorizo stromboli for elevenses.

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