Pros: Cheap, Boomy If You Like It That Way, Powerful
Cons: Cheap Enclosure, Distortion Is Plenty, Cerwin-Vega! Is Better (Extra $100)
When I decided to buy subwoofers for my home theater systems, I hesitated at the prices. "These things are expensive!" I said. Well, I found this one that I loved, the Cerwin-Vega! LW12 12" subwoofer. I got it on sale for $299. I also saw the KLH ASW12-120 12" subwoofer for only $199. Compared to all the prices that I have seen, I thought that this was an amazing price. You won't really find 12" of raw power for $199 these days. So anyway, I decided to try out the KLH ASW12-120. Here's what I found:
With $200, I'm guessing that you can go wrong. KLH and Cerwin-Vega! both have similar goals, "Making louder loudspeakers." There is one aspect that sets them apart though, build quality. The Cerwin-Vega! LW12 wasn't much more expensive, only $100 more. If you want a truly high quality subwoofer that can integrate very well with the music, then this thing isn't for you. If you don't care for quality and listen to heavy metal, then the KLH ASW12-120 will suit you. The Cerwin-Vega! LW12 and the JBL PB12 are both in the same class, and the JBL and Cerwin-Vega! are both superior. You can find the Cerwin-Vega! LW12 for as cheap as $279, and the JBL PB12 floor firing subwoofer for $265. At this point, I don't think that you should try to save a few bucks, buy a subwoofer that you won't go wrong with. The JBL and Cerwin-Vega! are clearly superior. The KLH ASW12-120 when you look at it from this perspective is not worth it. The quality is simply poor, and this thing will never surpass the other brands.
Looks and Styling:
The KLH ASW12-120 looks alright. It looks just like my Cerwin-Vega! LW12, but the frontal enclosure is quite cheap. The KLH ASW12-120 is an average looking front firing sub. I personally think that the best looking subwoofer at this price is the JBL PB12. It looks simply incredible.
The build quality on the KLH ASW12-120 is much cheaper than the quality on the Cerwin-Vega! LW12 for instance. The Cerwin-Vega!'s rear panel is a piece of art, while the KLH ASW12-120's rear panel is dirt cheap. KLH makes much cheaper garage speakers. The quality will simply not surpass any brand like JBL, Cerwin-Vega!, or Velodyne.
Attatch the KLH ASW12-120 to the reciever or whatever using preferably monster subwoofer cable. Monster subwoofer cable works best. You can get 12ft for around $35.
I personally found the sound quality to be quite poor. In the low range, this thing had much harder sound than the Cerwin-Vega! The sound was also a lot more distinct, the bass was unable to integrate very well into the system. After about half-way, the KLH ASW12-120 started to have very distorted sound. The bass was very harsh, good for heavy metal, but bad for me. I don't have a liking for heavy metal, I'm more into classical rock, that requires a powerful but clean subwoofer such as a Cerwin-Vega! or JBL. With classical music, the 'good' brands were able to integrate perfectly, and they wouldn't hurt or interfere with the actual acoustics. The KLH ASW12-120 however was loud the whole time. It would even make a Marantz reciever sound bad if you're not listening to heavy metal. The sound overall is poor on the KLH ASW12-120, very distorted, and distinct. For $100 or even $65 more, you can go a long way. I'm not talking about a 8" subwoofer, I'm talking about a 12" monster.
The KLH ASW12-120 however does not lack power at all. The amp on this thing can really pump, this can get much boomier than a Cerwin-Vega! LW12 or JBL PB12. But, for me, I love strong but clean bass. The KLH ASW12-120 gives you strong but distorted bass, while the others give clean bass the whole way through. If you're really into distinct, boomy bass, and heavy metal or hard music, then the KLH ASW12-120 is for you. If you don't like these things, then the KLH ASW12-120 should be passed up for a better brand.
Ease of Use:
The KLH ASW12-120 was an average subwoofer to use. I didn't have any problems using the backpanel. The backpanel isn't as great as one that you'd find on a Cerwin-Vega! or JBl though. Those are much easier to use, and better quality.
The KLH ASW12-120 is a very cheap subwoofer. If you love huge bass and heavy metal music, then you should buy the KLH ASW12-120. If you want great clean bass, then you should look elsewhere. You can get the JBL dirt cheap for $265 at www.etronics.com, much cheaper than the $400 retail price. The KLH ASW12-120 is a great value if you don't buy electronics off the internet. Crank this thing up, and you get distortion and power. Music can drown the distortion, but really loud music, heavy metal... If you're a metal lover, don't pass this up for $200... If you're into quieter music, don't buy the KLH ASW12-120, look elsewhere.
Overall, it's not worth it, unless you like the afformentioned reasoning of heavy metal and loud bass, then buy it.