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SubPac Personal Subwoofer | Exclusive First Review

We featured SubPac’s Kickstarter announcement a few weeks back when it went live. With just four days left and already having beat their funding goal by nearly $10k, it looks like this backrest bass booster will be making a ton of home studios more neighbor-friendly. We had a chance to experience one of the prototype units here in the DJTT HQ, read on for an exclusive review from both Mad Zach and Markkus, our tech editor!

Today’s review is a special two-perspective piece on a prototype unit of the SubPac – the performance of the final manufactured unit will likely be similar but not identical to the descriptions below. Markkus is our Tech Editor and handles most of our software and hardware reviews, while Mad Zach is our artist-in-residence with a passion for serious bass explosions.

SUBPAC REVIEW – MARKUS ROVITO

From the fiscally-democratized world of Kickstarter comes something for the DJ/producer with everything: an upholstered subwoofer that you lean on while producing, mixing, or listening to music. It may strike you as an obscure device at first; at least, it did to me. But its proposition to musical types made some immediate sense: Transfer low frequencies to the body so you can also feel the music, not just hear it. As such, the SubPac can give you a better idea of what the effectiveness of the bass in your music will be in a club environment, whether you’re mixing with a simple pair of earbuds, headphones, lousy computer speakers, or even studio-grade monitors.

When one of the first final SubPac prototypes landed at the DJ Tech Tools office for a tryout, the results hit our backs at the speed of sound. You just plug in your sound source and headphones (or monitors) to the SubPac’s AC-powered breakout box, and sit against it propped against the back of a chair or couch. It was immediately clear that the SubPac could help out with a problem that countless producers run into: “how will this track come off at a club?”

Unless you’re blessed with high-end monitors and huge subwoofer wattage in your studio (and oftentimes even then), it can be tricky to gauge how the bass levels in your music will transfer to such a boomin’ system. Some experienced producers know from trial and error how their studio system will equate to a club system while they’re mixing, but even then, the SubPac hits you with the visceral physical vibrations that you don’t really get even from a slammin’ subwoofer. Plus, if you have noise-sensitive neighbors, the SubPac can keep you mixing effectively with just headphones at all hours.

And there can be other casual benefits to it, as well, like contributing to the immersive experience of gaming. Personally, I found the vibrations against my back to be relaxing, too. There’s probably some stress-relief aspect to the SubPac that its creators, StudioFeed, could latch onto.

The first run of SubPacs on Kickstarter will cost you $350 each, so it’s not just an impulse buy, but rather a pretty sizable investment that you’ll want to have a real need for. I can testify though that the first time I played out after having used the SubPac, I wasn’t happy with how a remix I’d done sounded over the PA. I’m pretty sure the SubPac could have at least helped me shape the bass to sound better in the club.

SUBPAC REVIEW – MAD ZACH

I love bass. The kind that rumbles your chest and makes you slightly concerned for your heart health. So when I “turned it up” at my little SF studio apartment for the first time, I was more than a little disappointed that not one, but three of my neighbors called the landlord to complain. Shit.

So I’ve been making due with my KRK Rokit 8s on half power and little imagination. But when push comes to shove, it’s just not as fun to make music when you can’t hear the sub, especially if you make music for sound systems.

Enter the SubPac. This exciting new Kickstarter project is aimed to bring bass to all the frustrated renters and bored gamers around the world who are looking for a more visceral audio experience.

At first it looks like one of those massage chairs that you get at the Sharper Image. But plug it in and you’re in for quite a bit more than a robotic shiatsu. The experience is unlike anything else.

Sandwiched between your back and your chair, I would describe the SubPac as alarming, deep, and satisfying. In terms of accuracy, I wouldn’t call it a “precision device” but it’s pretty sweet and could be used to make a late night headphone session quite a bit more creative.

I tested it out on Pandora and the first thing I noticed is that Clorox advertisements have a lot of bass! Movie trailers too… Holy cow. They say the reason people get “addicted” to bass is that when sub-frequencies hit your temples it releases endorphins. The SubPac does not deliver bass to your temples – but rather to your lower back, a dangerous zone for nefarious frequencies such as the mythological brown note (so be careful).

It is not exactly silent, but rumbles a bit like a low rider with its license plates aren’t tightened all the way (the slight rattling sound). My “neighbors” at the office were still aware that I was listening to music, but it wasn’t that noticeable until the bass was up to the highest faceback-melting setting. I wish my real neighbors were that cool.

Overall, the SubPac is a ridiculous and awesome invention for anyone who wants a bit more bass in their urban prison and is willing to add a slim jet pack massage to their chair for hours at a time that delivers sub frequencies injected into their lumbar. Awesome.

Learn more about the SubPac on Kickstarter or on SubPac’s official site

  • JustATheist

    oh I can’t wait to feel it …. you see, I have been doing it wrong all these years … I haven’t been feeling it … I can’t wait to sit in a chair that vibrates to really feel the music in a way I could only imagine. I’m so happy the next generation is gonna be able to feel it …. it’s what we have been missing in this life.

  • Audiophile93

    The Subpac S2 is awesome! I was skeptical at first but I went to Chuck Levin’s to try it out and it was sweet. They also have the lowest price on it anywhere if anyone is interested. http://www.chucklevins.com/products/subpac-s2-seatback-tactile-bass-system.html

  • skillsss

    “Accurate, immersive, and portable” –A very cool product indeed. I heard you can pre-order a Subpac S2 Seatback Tactile Bass System at ChuckLevins.com

    http://www.chucklevins.com/subpac-s2-seatback-tactile-bass-system/

  • Shawnyd

    Hey DJTT I made a unboxing of the SubPac M1 in case you are interested. Here is the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Jg8oOHs7Fo

  • This is fascinating. I feel that is could be useful in many other ways. What about the Deaf community? Wouldn’t it help them to perceive music better? This has a lot of potential.

  • cinema

    that seems like a really cool product.
    and the logo looks really familiar to the controllerism.com logo too lol

  • atom12

    It’s look to me that all you guys are to young to remember the Aura Bass Shakers of the 90’s

  • chris m

    They have something similar for car audio, called bass shakers. Pretty much for people that can’t have big speakers. I would still recommend at least a powered subwoofer with headphones, over that. But, if you want to know what one of your songs would sound like in a club, you have to hear it through decent speakers.

  • Rhapz

    “I can testify though that the first time I played out after having used
    the SubPac, I wasn’t happy with how a remix I’d done sounded over the
    PA. I’m pretty sure the SubPac could have at least helped me shape the
    bass to sound better in the club.”

    “In terms of accuracy, I wouldn’t call it a “precision device” but it’s
    pretty sweet and could be used to make a late night headphone session
    quite a bit more creative.”

    If I’m not mistaken from the article, it sounds like it feels good but not actually helping as much as I would expect it to in regards to music production than using regular speakers.

    Or am I just reading this article wrong?

    • Dubtronix

      It helps with monitoring low frequencies more accurately than a sub because you feel the relative difference between subbass/kick/bass and other low frequencies. I used one in London. You really understand what is going on in the low end

      • Rhapz

        Thanks for the reply! So from your experience, you would say it helps enough in music production to spend 300$ on it? I live in Japan and I can’t crank my music up past 33% without getting a noise complaint so this might be a good option for me….

        • Dubtronix

          Yes. It is an amazing solution for anyone that needs to experience bass.

  • Midinoob

    what is that mix board in the first photo?

  • Pdang

    Hmmm.. At first I was looking at the actual Subwoofer speaker in the image but this product is absolutely f*%king amazing!. And I love RogueDJ’s idea of a backpack! Imagine combining this will the Hot Hand USB Wireless MIDI controller and you’ve got yourself a self-made massage apparatus in your studio or a hard-core fat burning performance set on stage!! – And think about the social aspects when you want your friends to “feel” your music.. Brilliant. Now I’m dreaming of a full bodysuit 😀

  • Anonymous

    Now make a version that I can wear as a backpack so that I can stand and DJ while feeling the BASS!!!

  • That thing is sweet!

    Looks like sub packs are all the rage:
    https://www.etsy.com/listing/73003322/speaker-vest-with-8-subwoofer

  • Mike

    Can someone identify the console in the pic?

    • Looks like a sweet little Neve board. Maybe a 5088?

  • I was about to say I wouldn’t use this for mastering, but apparently it’s meant for the purpose and good at it! Would love this as well. I live in an apartment and have a 300 watt sub as part of my monitoring setup I can rarely use…. this looks awesome.

  • Getting this ASAP!!!! Really nice little invention!!!

  • Brian Wallace

    I have had a demo unit for enough time to do a bit of mastering and mixing on this. Hands down this device is the most precise tool for measuring bass in a mix. It takes all the guesswork out of the low end perception. This is a game changer for music production. Here is a link to a record I mastered on the Subpac in December. http://www.theexpanders.net/download/

  • Jake1983

    I went to the Demo in LA, it’s absolutely the solution I am looking for as a producer !! Absolutely killer !!

  • Nisoundni

    That’s an awesome product. I’m recently dealing with the same problems with my neighbors. I just can’t resist the sweetness of bass, I definitely need to feel the bass through my body! That’s seems to be the Solution!

  • bwek