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JL Audio 13W7-D15 1-Way 13.5" Car Subwoofer
7 consumer reviews
Average Product Rating:
Another overpriced product that doesn't live up to the hype...
Aug 28, 2007
Review by fredfunktified
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:W sandwich cone, push-pin terminals, woven tinsel leads, long stroke
Cons:Over-rated, over-priced, RMS power ratings are over-rated, foam surrounds, large space requirements
The Bottom Line: Look at Digital Designs or Image Dynamics and don't waste your time and money on this product.
I don't mean to be offensive to anyone who believes that this woofer from JL Audio is God's gift to this green Earth. Instead, I am going to be truthful and honest with you so know what exactly you think you are buying. I am certified through JL Audio to sell and install all JL Audio products and even have the "W7" certification. I have built many systems over the last ten years and swear by their w6 v1/ae and w3 v2 lines. However, I must say that I am very disappointed with the w7 line and to show you why I have broken this review into easy to follow sections for your convenience.
Recommend this product?
Packaging and Warranty:
All JL Audio w7s arrive in a double boxed package that is well protected for your piece of mind. These woofers weigh in the neighborhood of 40-55 lbs and the extra packaging is needed to make sure that they don't get damaged or cause any damage by falling through the bottom of an unpackaged box. JL Audio actually states on the packaging and in the paperwork that is included not throw away any of the packaging. Failure to do so will mean that you have voided your warranty. They tell you that exactly what I mentioned earlier about the hazards of such a heavy woofer and use it as an excuse for the packaging being needed to honor your warranty. One other thing to note is that they will not send you a new product if you ever have any problems with your speaker. Instead they will opt to repair your product or if deemed necessary send you a refurbished product. However, if they feel that you have abused your speaker (i.e. over and under powering, clipping, distortion, ect) they will consider that abuse and not be obligated to help you. About the only thing good I can say about the packaging is the MDF cutout that is included with the speaker. Why? Because when you unmount the speaker from the board the circular cutout is the perfect sized template to use to draw the holes of your enclosure.
It is difficult for the average consumer to install this product for mainly due to the fact that the mounting screws are underneath the surround making it very hard to access. Another problem that most people should be aware of the depth of this driver. Its mounting depth is almost as great as its diameter. Ouch. Not great in the automotive environment where space is limited and that is not including the enclosure. The amount of space this woofer takes up in the recommended enclosure is enough to fit two or three of its w6 or w3 line subs. Why would you want to do that? I will explain a little bit later.
In store testing / car testing:
If you go to an authorized dealer and request to "take a listen" to these pieces (as JL puts it) you should be told a few things by the sales people. It sounds better in the car and it sounds louder in the car. The second, by the laws of physics is true given a good electrical system with the same equipment that is used on the floor. However, when the sales person has to face the JL HO112w7r-3 enclosure around to hide the distortion at high volumes, something is wrong.
After all, JL Audio specifically states that this woofer "barely exceeds the 10% distortion limit at 1000 watts and anything at or below this limit is in audible". Sure. If this is true then I have one question for you JL. Why do you brag about having the cleanest class D amplifiers on the market if nobody can hear the difference. If you can't hear the difference an MTX class D amplified that is rated at a full 1% would do the job just fine given a good electrical system, one band parametric eq, and a 24db per octave crossover. Right?
Now that the sales person has told you that "it sounds better in the car" let's take it out to the car and see what he have. We are going to test it three vehichles with three different enclosures and six amplifiers.
The first install is a JL High Output 13w7 enclosure with an MTX 1500d (1500 watts RMS)in 2000 Chevy Suburban with a pioneer head unit and an upgraded alternator, battery, and cap. The customer in this situation wanted a system with loud and undistorted bass. I did tell him that his amp would definatley be the weakest link in his quest for perfect sound (10% distortion). In his vehicle the setup sounded
muddy, boomy, and lacked definition. This was like I said due in large part to his amplifier. But according to JL you can't hear the distortion because anything at or below 10% is in audible. He sure heard it and we swapped the amplifier out for the JL 1000/1 (1000 watts RMS). I have to admit that we both heard a big difference in sound when we did this and that was with the one band parametric eq and subsonic filter off! When we set both items to what JL recommends it sounded even better. However, it still wasn't loud enough and even worse this box took about 65% of his cargo area.
He was disappointed but still opted to keep everything because he felt that in the future he was going buy another speaker and run it off the same amplifier. An amplifier, which by the way, that was way too strong for this speaker. This speaker bottomed out at higher listening levels with the equalizer setting set flat and loudness/BBE turned off!
Installation number two was with my old 1998 Mercedes c230 kompressor. In it I have an Eclipse 8v high voltage low impedence cd player with no amplifier and a copper plated chasis, a jl 300/2 going to mb quart premium refference components, a 1000/1 (rated at 1000 watts RMS)going to a 13 w7 in a custom-made slot vented enclosure, with M series monster cable used through out, and a deep cyle battery. This is a mercedes and I just wanted "something good to listen to". I was pleased with everything except for the speaker. It wasn't loud enough at low volumes, too assertive at higher volumes, and it over emphasizes low frequencies just like the last installation. While the extra oomph is nice it just has no place in music. When you go to a live performance and they are using a $400,000 sound system this extra bass is not there. If it isn't there in concert on such an expensive system or isn't there in a live musical symphony it shouldn't be there. JL thinks that trying to fool us into thinking that it was missing that we are all dumb enough to re-evaluate what fidelity sound is supposed to sound like. Says who. A company that has never made a pro audio or home audio product that can be used by proffesionals. More importantly the sound doesn't blend in with anything else in your system it is just there. A lot of loud low frequency extra sound that most of us call distortion.
My third and final test installation for this review was in a friend's 1994 Dodge Ram truck. We built a custom vented box for his 13w7. He had a Kenwood eXcellon Cd player, MB Quart Q series components, a Phoenix Gold titanium amp going to his components, 0guage power and ground cables, a deep cycle battery, a phoenix gold bass cubed, a phoenix gold 10 farad capacitor, and a Phoenix Gold MS2250 amplifier (rated at 1080 watts RMS)for the sub. How did it sound? It sounded better than the 12w7 in the last two installations, but the sub still couldn't handle the juice as noted by it bottoming out at higher volumes with the voltage only dropping down to 13.2 volts. It sounded a lot deeper than the 12 given it is only an inch and a half larger. Next amplifier, a phoenix gold tantrum 1400.1 amp (Rated at 1400 watts RMS). More distortion than the last amplifiers but a little more juice. I also noticed that the bass cubed had to be used sparingly with this amplifier as opposed to the last one mainly because of the increase in power and distortion. By the way the gains on the amlifiers were set according to the input voltage from the deck. The bass of the amps were turned all the way down and the bass cubed was set for sound quality. The final amplifier was the stuff dreams are made of, the Lanzar OptiDrive 2500 (before Pyramid bought them and turned them into a flea market brand 250x 2 rms LOL). This amplifier produced the highest SPL out of the bunch at a modest 500 watts. Keep in mind that when this amp was introduced it was banned from IASCA because of its modest rating. It actually produces an excess of 2000 watts. Keep in mind this is class AB power and not D. This kind of power has less distortion but will drain your electrical system more than a class D would. The end result: the 13 w7 nearly blew with this last amplifier.
The secret to SPL:
In performance racing there is an old saying "there is no replacement for displacement" and in SPL competition the same holds true. There is only so much one speaker can do. Bass is just a speakers ability to move the air around it. Two or three good woofers will move more air than one high-end woofer. For example two 12w6 v1/ae or two 12w3v2 will sound louder and or have more untimate potentail than one
12 w7. Even JL Audio states this in their literature. They actually say that three 10w0s will sound louder than one 10w7. just because a woofer has a long stroke doesn't mean that it will beable to move more air. There is more to it.
If we look at the case of the w7 it has one of the longest excursions in the industry, unfortunately it can't move all that air fast enough to sound like three entry level speakers. As it is moving forward and back, the lesser woofers have already moved forward and back and average of 2 to 3 times. Also keep in mind that force by which the speakers move the air is almost the same. The lesser woofers also take up the same space as the w7 and are more efficent with power. One final note, if a speaker cannot rebound fast enough (like the w7) then it cannot articulate bass well enough to be considered an SQ sub.
The old saying "a picture says a thousand words" can be translated to "listen to your ears" when it comes to audio. Simply put, listen to it before you decide to buy it. If you listen to this product, as opposed to other similar products, you will more than likely come to make some of the same conclusions as I have. However, everyone is different and sometimes people can hear or see things that others can't. I have a very trained ear for high fidelty audio from spending a lot of time listening to and performing live music, not to mention selling and installing car audio and home audio products for many years. One thing that I have learned is that a $100,000 pair of speakers isn't any better than a $100 pair of speakers if none of your clients can hear the differnce.
Let your ears be the final decision maker before you go out and buy into a high priced item such as this. Give the w6 v1/ae and w3v2 lines a listen and or try Image Dynamics ID Max woofers if you want something other than JL.
First and foremost, I don't mean to offend anyone who believes that this woofer from JL Audio is God's gift to this green Earth, however, I have to tell it as it is. I am certified through JL Audio to sell and install all of their products including the "W7" line. I have built many systems over the last ten years and have sworn by some of their earlier products like the w6 v1/ae and w3 v2 lines. When I first heard the rumors of this product line I was excited to say the least, however, after putting the entire W7 line to the test I must say that I am very disappointed with it. JL had something years ago and appeared to be "ahead of the curve" but the industry caught up to this once great company and in many instances has surpassed it. It is almost like watching an older Mike Tyson climb into the ring hoping that the magic will be there but knowing that the glory days and the opportunity to rekindle them have long past. To give you an inclanation as to why I feel this way I went ahead and broke this review down into easier to follow sections for your convenience. Enjoy.
Packaging and Warranty:
All new w7s arrive in a double-boxed package that is well protected for your piece of mind. Keeping in mind that these speakers weigh in the neighborhood of 40-55 lbs the extra packaging is needed to make sure that they don't get damaged during shipping or cause any damage by falling through the bottom of an unpackaged box. Whatever you do DON'T THROW AWAY OR MISPLACE ANY OF THE PACKAGING!!! Why? Well because JL Audio actually states on the packaging and in the paperwork that is included to keep it. Failure to do so will mean that you have voided your warranty. Oh, and they also mention exactly what I mentioned earlier about the hazards of such a heavy speaker and use it as an excuse for the packaging being needed to honor your warranty. And what a warranty you are getting...Tell them what they have won JL. Well according to our limited warranty we will not send you a new product if you ever have any problems with your speaker. Instead we will opt to repair your product or if deemed necessary send you a refurbished product. However, if we feel that you have abused your speaker (i.e. over/under powering, clipping, distortion) we will consider that abuse and not be obligated to help you.
About the only thing good I can say about this section of my review is that in the packaging is an MDF cutout/mounting plate that is included with the speaker. Why is this good? Well let's see...when you unmount the speaker from the board the circular cutout is the perfect sized template to use to draw the holes for your enclosure.
"Holy installation problems, Batman!"...lol. That is exactly what the average consumer trying to install this product is going to say when they try to do it themselves. When I worked in the industry I sold a ton of these to the MacGyver types. Even Macgyver would have trouble installing and or unistalling this speaker due in large to the fact that the mounting screws are underneath the surround making it very difficult to access. Not convinced? Think about this...you have the type of ride that "Pimp my Ride" dreams are made of. Custom everything including a custom enclosure that is a combination of plexiglass and fiberglass that is custom painted to match your car. No comes the hard part...your speaker is blown and it is time to buy another one. The only problem is that your beautiful box is almost impossible to remove without having to destroy part of your setup. Since you don't want to destroy your setup you decide to take it out the hard way... from the trunk/cargo area. Instead of being able to just readily unbolt this speaker you are going to have to remove the clip and ring, lift the surround as specified by your limited warranty, and then proceed to unbolt. Just be careful when you get to the last bolts, because if you aren't careful the weight of the speaker alone might destroy your custom enclosure. So make sure to support the speaker while cramped up in the back of your ride before proceeding to unbolt the rest of the remaing bolts.
Another problem that you should be aware of the depth of this driver. The mounting depth is almost as great as its diameter. It definately is a "12 in every sence" like JL mentions. Unfortunately, in the automotive environment space is limited and you still need an enclosure to go along with this speaker and the amount of space it takes up in the recommended enclosure is insane. It is enough to fit two or three of its lesser expensive w6 or w3v2 lines in. You might be wondering why anyone would want more lesser speakers versus this one and I will explain it to you a little bit later.
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