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Digital Designs DDLE-mini8 Passive Subwoofer

Product Details
Manufacturer: Digital Designs
Distributor: Aayush Ltd
Website: http://www.ddaudio.co.uk
Typical Selling price: £145.00

What It Is
One of Digital Designs’ LE products, for Loaded Enclosure – as Digital Designs also sell branded boxes without drivers for putting their woofers in as well. It has the following description on the DD website: “The DDLE300 Series loaded enclosures are the easiest way to plug in and upgrade your ride. These enclosures are tuned to DDBox specs and feature a high efficiency 300 series driver. The 300 series drivers are built specifically for our loaded enclosures with 70 ounce, double stacked magnets, multi-layer laminated lead wire spiders and direct connect wiring to produce the lowest and cleanest bass from modest amplifier power. The combination of a high efficiency DDBox and DD woofer outperforms the output of conventional double woofer systems while occupying 30% less total box volume. Our LE boxes use higher quality materials and construction, our hand assembled woofers give better sound quality and the durability DD is known for.”

This is their smallest, the DDLE-mini8 at £145. The other models, LE-308, LE-310 and LE-312, cost £160, £175 and £200, respectively.
What you are presented with upon opening the carton is a neat and dense lump of MDF with a distinct centre-of-gravity-issue as you can feel the weighty driver up one end. It is beautifully embroidered with the Digital Designs brand logo on the top. The front has the grille-bar system held onto the box with snazzy Allen headed bolts, while the driver has a rubbery gasket piece around the top with four more DD branding marks. The driver has a massive dust dome and large surround and the actual ‘cone’ visible is in fact a small ribbon a whole millimetre less wide than the strip formed by the edge of the top suspension roll, where it adheres to the cone. Then you get the dust dome. It’s so heavily built, with such a huge four-layer coil that the driver looks all dome-and-roll with scarcely any cone. On the end of the box we find the big port mouth, held in place again with the nice bolts and the speaker cup with squeeze post terminals.

Full Specifications
Series DDLE-mini8
Dimensions (Inches/mm): 10.5w x 17d x 9.5h 267w x 432d x 242h
FB (a.k.a. Box Tuning frequency): 43Hz
Magnet Weight: 70 Ounce
Net Box Volume : 0.55 cubic Feet
Nominal Impedance: Single 4 Ohm
Port Area : 14 sq in
Port Length : 6.5in
Power Handling RMS/Peak: 250w/500w
Suspension: 4-layer
Voice Coil Diameter: 2in
Woofer Diameter: 8in
High quality Nickel plated squeeze post speaker terminals with red/black polarity markings

Editor Review : DDLE-mini308 Passive Subwoofer

How Is It Made?
With one full inch of MDF, which is pretty bonkers at this scale of things and is a feature that DD rightly brag about. The speaker posts are as good as they get and can be used to bite down on eight gauge wires if you wanted to – or you can even shove banana plugs up ‘em, they are so expansive. (But not recommended for a secure connection – use bare ends with this type of terminal.)

The carpeting and embroidery are tight and beautiful. The branding on the cone and gasket is neat and I loved the use of Allen headed (Hex) bolts to hold the sexy bits of hardware in place. I checked with an extending dentists’ mirror up the port tube and a small LED torch and can tell you that the sexy gas-flowed curvy mouth of the port seen externally is echoed internally and the same exponential flare to the inner end is seen as the outer. This makes for more laminar air flow and less chuffing. In fact, while I was able to find the limits of the system I was using, I never made this box make any port noise at any frequency.

The speaker terminal cup is smart too and the end panel with the branding and the place for the serial number was a gorgeous thing. What was tragic was that this was not square on the box and bit drunken-slanted and meanwhile, in what must be a cost-saving effort, that neat last-forever plaque that is clearly marked to bear the serial number of each box (mine was 11070145) was no longer used, in favour of a paper label with the model and serial number upon it, stuck across the top of the port. This is such a shame and is a spoiler for what is otherwise a deeply desirable item. I discovered this was a very new item, finished quickly to get it to me, so I will forgive that…

How Well Does It Work?
I played this mighty atom of a bass box with the new HAT Unity component speakers (and I can tell regular readers that I am deeply and hugely impressed by them already) upon the last four channel amplifier I tried – an Alpine of great sonic purity, and a farking great JBL GTO 2400 mono bass amp. I confess that my once mighty Odyssey battery now floats around a mere 12V and needs more help from the charger these days. In fact for this test, I found a big hike in quality when I cobbled another set of 12V leads into the StreetWires clever multi-way power/earth distribution fuse box and allowed the charger to be part of the party.

And I played a whole selection of tunes, from chunks of ‘normal’ material to deep into the audiophile territory and thence off into bass madness bit by bit. The very first thing was that this box is rated at a ‘mere’ quarter kilowatt or 250w RMS, with a 500w peak rating. Now even with its nuts in a vice on poor voltage, the current was still enough to be dumping oh, let’s say just under a third of the 1,700 watts it is good for into four Ohms. The 2400 in the name is the rated RMS into two Ohms if you have the current. So, the power this woofer was getting was at least double the amount it was supposed to be able to use and it didn’t care. It didn’t smell, it didn’t chuff, it didn’t complain in any way at all and seemed a great fit for the current I had available in any case. And especially so, once I had the charger chugging away in the midst of it all as well.

The sound was preposterous.

Like that moment on Britain’s Got Talent when a small and pretty kid steps up and then turns out to have the hugest diva-like voice, the almost absurdly petite DDLE-mini8 acts like a big sexy 12 in a big sexy ported box. In fact it frankly slaps most boxed woofers I have tried in the price brackets up to around £250.

It is deep rich, sonorous and melodic. No one-noter, it can drop, growl, hold a note or track a complex bass line. Also, being just a tiny wee eight inch driver in a bang tidy box, it is as tight as a duck’s bottom end. And that’s watertight. It holds with a vice like grip that had me heading off to the favourite testing tracks for the finest woofers in the world.

The depth this box will growl to was impressive. I got all over excited and came to write the rest of the review before sticking the evils of Track Six from More Bass More Boom More Bottom by Power Supply, up its multi-layered coil. So here goes, the track with the warnings about speaker death.
And may I just say before I go on that I checked which exact model I had, the DDLE-mini8 or the DDLE-308, both eight inch designs, due to a label issue on my example. I had rated this a 10 for VFM while thinking it was the DDLE-308, since that was printed on the serial number sticker, at £160. But it’s just £145 as it the DDLE-mini8, so damn me, I gave an eleven for VFM. “And that’s One More, isn’t it?” to take it from a ‘mere’ Best Buy status to a loftier ‘Recommended’ Talk Audio award. Now, let’s go shove low Hertz up this mighty spudney and see what happens…

OK, I’m back and can report that the tuning of the Loaded Enclosures is aimed right at the likes of the extreme audiophile. Deep enough to impress, yet still at enough of a tone to really make some serious SPL for its size. It simply played all of the Woofer Excursion Test track and as the note dropped madly below the admittedly deep-and-capable passbands this box can make, instead of farting or complaining, it just played the note a bit less loudly. Now I was puzzled and really spanked the poor thing and the amp was warm and the power supply was running and the voltmeter told me we were running at a nice 12.68V, so it must have had at least 750 watts. Yet the thing didn’t even make its glue warm. I stuffed my big foodie’s snout into their port and pushed the cone. No trace whatsoever of the aroma that was once described as ‘like the railway’ that says electrically burnt coil.

It sounds fabulous and rich and sweet and will be wicked for a small car or one where you want to use no space, add minimum weight yet have disproportionate expectations for the result. This was mad on my test system, it’ll be all the more potent with the Transfer Function of your car’s cabin taken into account.

I love it to bits and can happily recommend it to anyone. It gives JL Audio a real run for their money and as I said above, got a ten out of ten for Value For Money when I thought I had the DDLE-308 – but it is just £145, which is ridiculous for a one inch thick MDF box, with a huge and absurd eight inch driver that thinks it’s a twelve, with a double gas flowed port and cool grille bars that make Alpine’s look like an afterthought. (Mind you that’s because the Japanese have problems envisaging the world of rubbish and general shite some of you have crapping around in your boots. (You know who you are – go on, fess up below!)

An utter bargain.

Overall 9.0
Sound Quality 9
Build Quality 9
Power 9
Efficiency 8
Value For Money 11

In A Nutshell
A small bass box that you need an amplifier to drive (a ‘Passive’ as against self amped, or ‘Active’ bass box) rated to 250 watts. Very pretty and neat and the rating is absurdly conservative, as we ran ours at at least 500w. Very good potency and high sound quality at the same time from an incredibly well designed and dual-ended gas flowed ported box. A very aggressively keenly priced item, designed to kick butt from very little space with all but nil sonic compromise. It’s a Talk Audio Recommended item.

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for more information, appropriately enough, e-mail info@ddaudio.co.uk