The subject of this review is the Cadence CSX12 Mark II, which turns out to be quite the mouthful to say. The CSX12 Mark II -- know simply as the CSX12 from here on out, for the sake of brevity -- is a bass reflex (ported) style of subwoofer. Measuring in at a large 20"H x 17.5"W x 18.5"D, and weighing in at a hefty 64 pounds, this is no small beast. It's actually closer in size to most 15" subwoofers then it's 12" brethren (it's only about 12% smaller then the Cadence CSX-15 Mark II).
The driver is front firing with a slot port running virtually the entire width of the front panel. The amp is Class A and is rated at 225 watts RMS, 450 watts peak. The quoted frequency response is 25Hz-250Hz. The sub has a 2 year warranty.
Cadence has been in business for approximately 20 years.
Cadence is an Internet Direct company, so as their name implies they sell directly to the public. You can technically purchase them from other places, like Amazon, but the order is fulfilled directly by Cadence themselves. The review unit was supplied to me by the manufacturer, so I didn't utilize the standard distribution channel.
The unit came double boxed directly from Cadence. That's always an encouraging sign, and starts things out on the right foot. Both boxes have designs and logo's printed on them, which gave a very professional appearance. The sub was protected at all corners with good sized styrofoam blocks that extended part way down the side of the cabinet. Additionally, there were styrofoam sheets on both the top and bottom of the sub, further protecting it. The sub itself was in a cloth bag, which in turn was inside a plastic bag. If that's not enough the front panel -- which is a high gloss plastic type of material -- was protected by another sheet of plastic. Obvious care was taken with how it was boxed, protected and presented, so in this area Cadence gets an "excellent".
Accessories are limited to adjustable carpet spikes, which appear to be of high quality, and something unusual; an adapter for use in European countries (220 volt, 50Hz). I'm accustom to seeing a 110/220 switch on subwoofer amplifiers now, but this is the first time I've seen a manufacturer include the necessary adapter as part of their standard package.
The manual is small, but professionally created. The wording and grammar are first rate, and I found no evidence of the typical translation issues so common with less expensive subwoofers. It is rather sparse though, and covers both the CSX12 and the CSX15, so pay attention when reading it. I did find some inaccuracies too.
For example, the manual says it's better to face the port so it fires into a corner. It goes on to say that in some installations facing the woofer cone into the corner might also enhance the bass. Since the port and woofer are both on the front panel it would be an either/or situation; either the port and driver face the corner or they don't. It was as though that section -- and one or two others -- were written for a sub physically configured in a different manner (like front driver, rear port).
The cabinet is fairly unique in it's design, due primarily to the fact that it has a high gloss faceplate over the front panel. The vinyl wrap is otherwise nondescript -- appearing a bit dull with a slight hint of silver hue in the pattern -- but with the addition of that faceplate the CSX12 takes on a completely different appearance. The vinyl on the review unit (which was clearly brand new) had a couple of minor smears that I wasn't able to clean off. They were small enough that I had to look closely to find them, so I doubt they would present an issue for most people.
Initially I thought the CSX12's appearance was somewhat odd, but as time went on I grew to like it. Kudos to Cadence for going the extra mile and differentiating their sub from a sea of bland, generic looking clones. Were it not for that front panel it would probably look like just about every other low cost subwoofer, but this one stands out from the crowd. And I say that in a good way.
The ubiquitous "knuckle rap test" comes back sounding hollow, not surprising given the fact that the inside is like a huge cavern. It's devoid of bracing, with only a very thin layer of damping material attached to all the interior walls. Some of my listening tests infer that the use of thicker damping material to line the walls might provide benefits, not the least of which would be to make the sound a bit more rich and full. Damping can also be used to "fool" the driver into thinking it's in a larger cabinet then it really is, thereby allowing a manufacturer to make the cabinet smaller without loosing anything in the process. That might behoove Cadence too because the cabinet is larger then most of it's competition -- bordering on huge, actually -- and would only disappear in a good sized room.
The cabinet itself is .75" MDF on all panels except for the front one, where it's 1". Cadence doesn't mention the fact that the front panel is thicker then the rest of them, but I checked and double checked my measurements. Oddly, on their website Cadence says the cabinet is "¾ High Density MDF Fiber Construction". MDF means Medium Density Fiberboard. Based upon their description the cabinet is made from "High Density Medium Density Fiberboard". Somewhat of a contradiction, and a bit confusing.
There are strong indications that attention to detail was an integral part of both the design and construction process. The amp, for example, is housed in it's own separate compartment. Few budget subwoofers go to that length. The damping material, what little of it there is, has been evenly and completely affixed to all the inside walls; it's obviously not just slapped on haphazardly. The speaker wires are the only thing going between the amp enclosure and the driver section of the cabinet. They run through a dollop of silicone where they exit the enclosure, ensuring that the two compartments remain isolated.
Looking further one notices other details, like the amp faceplate fits the exterior cabinet cutout perfectly. The high gloss faceplate on the front is the exact same size as the cabinet, so even if you run your finger around the edge where the cabinet and the faceplate meet there's no variation. Small things like that add up to give a positive impression, and in so doing project quality. Even when I scrutinized the little details, as I'm wont to do, I found almost nothing that made me scratch my head and say "what were they thinking?". It's evident that someone at Cadence was doing their homework.
The grill uses a very transparent material, implying that the sound is not being hampered by the grill at all. The frame is constructed from .5" MDF, and turns out to be surprisingly rigid. It fits perfectly into the cutout of the high gloss faceplate (attention to detail again). Two screws on the amp needed maybe an 1/8 of a turn, while half of the driver screws needed about a 1/4 of a turn. Everything else was tight.
The driver is in a stamped steel basket, with some type of hybrid foam/rubber surround; it looks like foam but feels more like rubber to me. Cadence says it's "Double Laminated", whatever that means, but it's clearly not just foam. The cone is paper based and treated with a top coating. The suspension is not very stiff, but that's often what I've found with ported subs. The magnet is of the double-stacked variety, with a bumpout for extra excursion. It's vented and weighs in at 90 ounces. The driver itself is attached with 8 machined screws and threaded inserts. The latter is yet another example of the attention to detail Cadence has engineered in; most budget oriented subwoofers use wood screws directly into the front panel. Threaded inserts are more time consuming and costly to install, but they show a greater degree of quality on the manufacturers part.
The port is not a traditional round type, but is instead a slot port that runs practically the full width of the unit. It extends from front to back as well, affording a tremendous amount of air volume (something I found out first hand, as you'll see a little further on).