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Digital Designs DDLE312 Ported Enclosure

Slot-ported ready-made enclosure with single speaker wire connection point and single 12in driver. Rated conservatively at 250w RMS power handling. Grey carpet covered with embroidered Digital Designs logo in red. The box is quite large as it is tuned to a very low 31Hz. The subwoofer driver cone is protected by tubular steel bars, fixed onto the box front.

- Frequency response: tuned at 31Hz
- Power Handling: 250w RMS 500w max (tested at over a kilowatt briefly)
- 70Oz magnet on woofer
- Four-layers of spider suspension for huge linear excursion
- Single 3.5 Ohm voice coil
- Voice Coil Diameter: 2 inch (50mm)
- Gold plated 4mm banana plug terminals
- Model badge near speaker wire terminal cup
- Embroidered enclosure with slot port and Allen-fixing secured tubular steel grille bars
- Net box volume: 2.21Cu Ft
- Port area: 23sq in
- Efficiency: not quoted
- Fb: 31Hz
-Dimensions WxHxD (US product!): 28 x14.3 x 14.7in

Review by Adam Rayner

This may well be one of the cleverest examples of filtered-down tech I have ever seen. With Digital Designs you get product made for an extreme market and they know who their fans are – nutter bass heads! Their top product, the Z18, has an hilarious spoof description on their site, full of bizarre tech all by way of making their incredible hardcore high power speaker R&D look less geeky!

The site has stuff like, “The Z series represent the pinochle (that's pronounced 'pee-knuckle' Ed.) of transducer archaeology. The unique design dates back to the precocious era of unequivocal magnetism and the vector planar research of underwater acoustic proliferation” whereas the 'real' description starts, “The Z Series speakers feature the revolutionary motor structure which maximizes both energy delivery and cooling efficiency. Research into these next generation motors began about 10 years ago where magnetic topologies of every kind were machined, built and tested for strength and long term cooling ability. Some of these ferrite motor prototypes weighed over 160 pounds and measured nearly 18 inches in diameter.”

So DD are REALLY into their woofers and in dollars, that 'Z' one is nine Big Ones – thousands. But that is the ninth of nine levels of excellence (or insanity) and what this box houses, I gather, is a 500 series woofer of the 2008 specification from their very first entry level series. Rated at 'just' 250 watts, I decided it would be 'interesting' to hook it up to the resident reference bass amplifier, the mighty JBL GTO24001. This is rated at 1,700 watts into four Ohms, although it is made to play over two kilowatts into lesser impedance! (Oddly, as I write this, JBL just made the arrangement permanent, so TA mag keeps it forever! Thanks, Guys!) As I made the test rig up and played some stuff through it for the video clip, I could remember only 1,400 of those watts and thought that with the huge current draw and the Odyssey battery holding just 11.5V at highest suckage of current as seen on the multimeter, that I was getting around a solid thousand watts. And I figured I'd be careful.

But she's rated at 'just' 250w! And in the event I was as 'careful' as any bloke who has ever sworn he would pull out in time and gave it the lot, all the way to the hairs.

I flung the Most Offensively Deep Bass CD Of All Time in the slot of the Sony MEX DV1000 and yet again enjoyed the dour warnings as to how this material will kill badly made sub bass systems while the chap suggested I was the most vile of Oedipal deviants. The odd thing was that even at well over, nay thrice over the power limit this speaker was rated at, it played it, played it well and barely complained! (I did take it to the point where the coil got smelly…but I think I might have an issue here that needs some therapy involving blowing up woofers. Or a psychiatrist.)

Of course in the interests of extreme audio fans everywhere, I did take the poor thing to hell and back but I think it had sexual relations with the Devil while it was there as it managed to keep its soul and didn't die of it.
It has no fewer than four layers of suspension, a feature that was a really big deal to even have even had a second one of back in the 90's. I recall an early Earthquake sub called the CPDS (Cast Pro Dual Spider) that made 157dB in Steve Wong's golf (he used a layer of steel in between two layers of MDF to get the box rigid enough) and the Big Deal was the second spider. This has four and their biggest baddest subs have even more.

But that's the entire point. This product comes from a firm that make nine THOUSAND Dollar woofers and yet this speaker enclosure is sold for �165. For one, I reckon this would be a �250 product in a normal, less recession-hit market, as it is most certainly worth that, making the price an 11 for VFM out of ten. For another, it is tuned way deeper than sanity might suggest, as it is centred around 31Hz! When you consider that 'Bass Boost' for normal makers' amps is nearly always at 45Hz, you can see that these guys are depth hounds.

OK, so you don't get a massively rigid box but you do get something you can put in your car without crippling it. A really hardcore DD install can mean new suspension after all! You get smart looking, you get individually serial numbered product and you get a really sexy-looking design. I adore the touches on the outsides, like the bar-protectors being on two neatly Allen-headed-fixing secured base plates and the nice dense embroidery on the outside.

It is quite a big box and will eat some boot space but the sheer level of bass it can make is stupefyingly loud for the money. It tracks notes well and drops like a rock when you want it to. It mightn't be too good on classical music and doesn't really like the upper bassy tones, preferring the lower zone, note-by-note for volume and indeed hated some of the upper bass line stuff on the ridiculous Bass CD. But I was using far too much power!

If I did over-drive it, it let me know with a very mild unload and nary a hint of any clacking or rubbing, so awesomely able is the suspension on that cone. They call it EROM, or Extended Range Of Movement and are very rude about other brands' use of 'wideboy inner tube' surrounds as they reduce cone area, add weight to the moving mass and reckon theirs is taller, better and allows more cone area.

And I have to agree. One other lovely feature is that once run in, the box can play quietly, too! Some Big Audio Boomers simply sound crap at low levels – I had some bad ass home THX-spec speakers here for the surround reviews in Home Cinema Choice Magazine whom I also write for and they rocked when loud and went all poofy when quiet. This bass box holds real authority and weight even when playing sotto voce, which indicates a speaker of high efficiency.

It's good looking, it's for hardcore bass fans rather than audiophiles looking for some underpinning and it is amazing value for a really big slice of big bad bass performance.

I have always had expensive tastes and yet never enough money to indulge them but with this on offer, I'd spend my own money, confident in the knowledge that my love of deep, rich, and above all low bass is shared by the manufacturer and that many features of the product are there solely to do better at that job than most makers can manage.

I love it and happily score it high enough in lots of directions for it to get a Talk Audio Recommended Award.

Sound Quality 7.0
Build Quality 8.0
Power Handling 10.0
Efficiency 9.0
Value For Money 10.0
Overall rating 8.8

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