Editor’s Note: As usual with our equipment and product reviews, this is not a paid endorsement. The review below is a genuine response from Headphone Commute.
I’ve got the SubPac and I aint never turning back! This seemingly simple looking piece of technology literally opens up another dimension of music, which all of a sudden you’ve missed all your life. And, although I really hate to use the word “literally”, in this case I actually mean it. In summary, SubPac transfers low-frequency directly to your body, in this case your skeletal structure via your back (because you’d be leaning on it on your chair), and in doing so, it reminds you the act “listening” to music is performed with more than just your ears. It’s truly a whole body experience.
As I’m writing these words, I am listening to the latest bass-heavy release from Tempa (yes, of course it’s from Tempa), by Truth, and my entire monitor appears to vibrate with the bass, as if it is sitting atop a subwoofer. But the reality is far stranger than that. In fact, it’s not the monitor that’s vibrating, but rather my entire torso, teeth, and in this case eye balls, making the world and the words seem to be blurry on the screen. In fact, there is a party in my body, volume cranked to high decibels, delivering high-end frequencies perfectly separated from the lows. But outside of my perceptions it’s incredibly quiet: I’ve only got my headphones and the SubPac against my back.
“SubPac transports you to a club or festival experience in the comfort of your own studio, home, coffee shop, or wherever you go – anytime. Any place.”
In fact, if I lean away from resting my torso on the SubPac and continue listening with my audiophile grade headphones (Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 in this case), it feels as if the music is not only missing the bottom end, but is nearly empty of all lows. How could this be? This is my most prized pair of headphones which has satisfied all my cravings for nearly all genres of music. I switch off the pair and put on a heavier pair with more bass (Denon AH-D7000). Still, with the SubPac in off position, the music is deep and heavy in my cranium, while as I slowly turn up the “intensity” knob on the SubPac’s break-out box, this deep and heavy feelings encompasses my body. And that’s what I mean by literally adding another dimension to the music. It’s as if all “MONO” first turned into “STEREO” and now turned into “WITHIN”.
The SubPac is more than just a vibrating padded surface. It actually produces the frequencies of the recording, going beyond (below?) the limitations of your headphones, and yes, actual human auditory perception, which kind of drops around the 20 Hz. Is it the time to rethink our sampling rates again? Using its “high-fidelity tactile bass system”, SubPac is able to deliver frequencies unheard and only felt, going as low as 5 Hz! Is it time for the producers to rethink their sonic range again? In fact, a lot of performing artists have already been doing just that, mostly targeting the club PA systems with expensive and powerful subs, which can turn the crowd into a puddle of vibrating zombies. Well, now you can bring that physical experience into your bedroom, without the smoke, the sweaty shoving, and arguably, with a better selector of tunes.
The SubPac can be connected to the power outlet, which also charges its lithium-ion batter for up to 8 hours of ‘unplugged’ use. This will certainly solve some of my issues with having a cable coiled around my chair. The SubPac connects via a 3.5mm line-in as a source; thankfully, my DAC has two separate outputs, so I am able to dedicate a separate line source to the SubPac, while listening to my headphones through a tube-amp and its own volume control, uncompromising the signal path.
Listening to music with the SubPac I feel like that very first day when I put on a nice pair of headphones – I had to go back and re-listen to everything from the past! Once again I am hearing (feeling?) things I have missed, even on the most intimately familiar recordings! No wonder all the heavy-hitters love it. The SubPac has been already endorsed by the likes of Richie Hawtin, Dubfire, Plastician, Kode 9, Flying Lotus, Mala, TeeBee, Scientist, and many others. And now HC is giving it two pulsating thumbs up!
Words by HC