I've run expensive professional studios, visited many friends' small home project studios, and at home I have what you might loosely call a studio. I've heard incredible music produced in home studios, and I've also heard (and personally produced) utter garbage in both. In my opinion, there's no piece of gear that'll guarantee a great recording. Music is one part technical, and maybe as much as eight or nine parts inspiration, emotion, and passion. The technical side of this process can make an enormous difference, but there's certainly much more to it than specs. Maybe this is a roundabout way of getting to the point, but I'm trying to lay a foundation for talking about a subwoofer. I know people who've made both incredible and horrible music with and without a subwoofer. My home studio didn't have a subwoofer for many years, and I like a lot of what happened in that studio. But now, after installing a subwoofer in my studio I really wouldn't want to sit down at my monitoring rig again without one. A subwoofer can clearly paint the picture of what low frequencies are actually doing; the importance of which can't be over-stated. It can also be massively inspiring - adding the kind of soul-moving (both literal and figurative) feeling that evokes emotion.

The PreSonus Temblor T10 sits in a really sweet spot as far as price and performance for studio use (whether pro or home). It features a 10-inch woofer with a 250-watt amp and is packed with extremely useful features - all at a price point as low or lower than its competition. It's listed frequency response is 20 to 200 Hz, and produces a clean, clear low end that is genuinely surprising. I took the T10 out of its box and randomly pushed it under my desk - crooked and in no particular location. The overall sound was excellent.

I've got a pair of Adam A7s [Tape Op #57] in my home studio that I've never particularly loved. In fairness, I'm not enamored with ribbon tweeters in general. To my ears, the A7s' high end is harsh and fatigue sets in fast. Like many nearfield monitors, I feel the needed low end is lacking my monitors, but the simple addition of the Temblor T10 has transformed my A7s - they're now surprisingly comfortable for me. I can listen longer, and the highs seem less sharp when used with a subwoofer. Either way, I enjoy mixing far more with the subwoofer. I'm now getting really clean low end without distortion or over-stated boominess.

The T10's controls make set up dead simple. A flexible input gain (-30 dB to +6 dB) sets the preferred amount of subwoofer into the mix (which could vary for me from session to session based on song type or personal preference) - I adjust day-to-day depending on mood. I like to use the T10 in a subtle way, so I tend to set the low-pass filter (adjustable from 50 Hz to 130 Hz) in a way that assigns only the lowest frequencies to the subwoofer. For me this is a good setup for clarity. An On/Off high-pass filter allows for removal of frequency content below 80 Hz (less work for the monitors). Phase reversal, balanced and unbalanced inputs, and a Ground Lift switch are also provided. A unique feature of to the Temblor T10 is a balanced Sub Out port that allows for the connection of a second subwoofer.

My single favorite thing about the Temblor T10 is that not only does it have a bypass connector for a footswitch - the footswitch is included! Nothing else I found in the T10's price range includes a footswitch, which I use constantly as a way to either rest my ears or to audition what the mix might sound like on systems that don't reproduce the lowest frequencies well. This integrated bypass feature is critical enough to my workflow that I wouldn't recommend buying a subwoofer without it. For that reason alone, I'd recommend the T10 over the T8 [#117]. A footswitch isn't an enormously expensive piece of gear, but having it come in the box with the subwoofer you just bought is awesome!

In practice, the Temblor T10 is incredible. I've heard truly expensive subwoofers that I've avoided using because they seemed to take away from the music more than reinforcing it. I've heard cheap subwoofers that exaggerate the low end in a way that makes it sound worse than music that's missing low end. With the Temblor T10 I can quickly dial in sub frequencies to taste, and better than that, my mixes translate well - I was grinning ear to ear the first time I auditioned a mix on another test system that had come from the rig with the subwoofer attached. Solid, powerful, and clear low end with nothing exaggerated or misrepresented. For many years I was frustrated with mixing at home, only to find that the low end of mixes were distorting (or missing) on legit systems. Some say that they can mix low end frequencies on headphones, but I've spent thousands of dollars on every pair of headphones known to man (obvious exaggeration) and was personally never happy with the outcome.

The PreSonus Temblor T10 is rock solid, sounds incredible with very little fiddling, and is packed with useful features that its competitors don't have, or can't implement as well. If you have full-range monitors and aren't complimenting them with a subwoofer, this one is screaming your name. In my opinion, there's just simply nothing in this price range that gives as much quality and versatility as the Temblor T10.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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