Disclaimer: This is an entirely subjective review, and a reflection of how I perceive how the driver performs in my particular situation and install. Everyone's situation is different and results can't always be replicated. Iím not what I consider an SQ snob, but I do find myself critiquing the way subs sound in particular installs especially one like this where nothing was optimized for the driver and userís end goal. I try to describe my impressions to the best of my ability in a situation that would be similar to many consumers. I didnít spend any time playing with the DSP and did minimal adjusting at the HU. This was very much a drop in install which seems to be the most common type of install for most people so take that for what it is. There were no objective measurements made because the hundreds of factors that go into an install vehicle, enclosure, placement, etcÖ could create different results for every user. I chose to do this review because I didnít find too many descriptive post about IA products in general. Most posts were one liners that didnít really say much. I always enjoy reading/hearing about other peopleís experience with products when I look to buy, so in case anyone is like me hereís is a review you may read.
Well I've been playing around with this sub for a while now. In short I really do enjoy this sub. For comparison I have run the following single 12" setups in the Lexus ES300 they've been a Brahma, Eclipse Aluminum (TC9 based platform), Fosgate Hx2 (punch and power), Sundown SA-Ultra, and a Sundown neo xbl^2 prototype. They have all been played using a box I picked up from Boomsday/Chauncy with the exception of the Fosgate which were used with a ~2.20 box tuned to ~33 Hz using an aero-port to the side. The current box is ~2 cubes after displacement and tuned to ~35Hz with a slot port on same face as the sub. Power was a Cactus Sounds PF 300.1 run at 1 ohm (likely ~1500W RMS in this situation). Sub and port were forward pushed as close to the back bumper as possible. When sub and port faced backward bass was considerably louder and peakier which made the music way too bottom heavy for my tastes. I was lazy and didnít mess with tune beyond playing with HU settings and rough tuning by ear since Iíve have been busy with other stuff.
When comparing the DP to the Brahma or the Sundown Neo XBL^2 it gives the impression of sitting in front of a bonfire. It has a gentle warmth that hints at the hidden SPL potential this driver has. In my setup I found its tones to create a comforting embrace that elicits a childlike delight with some songs. Notably I find myself thoroughly enjoying Disturbed's newest album as well as songs by Hall and Oates, Foreigner, Staind, Collective Soul, Billy Squire, Maximo Park, The Real Mckenzies, Beck, and Boston. Compared to the SA Ultra and Power Hx2 I found its sonic signature mellower and certain notes (especially certain drum notes) definitely sounded more damped and controlled. Not that the SA Ultra or Hx2 were bad, but I did notice I found the DP handled these notes slightly better. One genre I found myself getting caught up in was country/hick hop. Kip Moore, Zac Brown Band, Little big town etc. The same reasons I liked the DP for rock were extended to country. It was very easy to sit there and just enjoy listening to the music.
On the flipside there were a couple of instances where the DP didnít seem to distinguish itself from the other overhung drivers Iíve used. U137, Fink. Imagine Dragons, NEEDTOBREATHE, Eisley, Margot and the Nuclear So and Soís, along with a couple other artist I found myself slightly missing the Neo XBL^2 during some of these songs. Thereís a definite possibility that you could change tuning/setup and get the DP to sound better. In my situation I found the DP to be just average with the majority of these artistís work, but I would like to point out it wasnít terrible itís just wasnít as enjoyable listening experience compared to an xbl^2 driver I would imagine most people would find its performance more than adequate in the areas I felt were the installís weaker points. As Iíve gotten older my experience with higher quality headphones has made me slightly pickier about how subs should sound, but I know myself 5 years ago would have been ecstatic about the DPís performance.
Rap/Dance/hip hop, this sub sounded good. The warmth carried over and gave music considerably more energy. It was very similar to the SA Ultra in this regard, but where the SA Ultra had a bit of a bite like Evan Williams on some songs the DP went down smooth like Jack Danielís Honey. I donít know if it was the relative power to performance ratios or that the tuning was slightly better suited to the DP, but I found myself slightly preferring the sound to the SA Ultra and found it considerably more enjoyable compared to an Eclipse Aluminum or Punch Hx2. It vibrated my eardrums with a silent power that almost left me in post coital bliss. Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, Young Jeezy, and a few others all took their turns torturing my trunk and car. Even still I felt as if the DP was begging for more power to do its job right. Earlier this week I threw a couple small AGMs in the back and tested it with a T2500-BDCP for a couple days and the extra power definitely opened it up way more. The bass was even more alive and warm and really bass heavy songs were definitely brutal to my modest standards.
If youíre looking at this driver you canít really go wrong. Itís an amazing woofer and you definitely feel as if you got a solid product that was superbly designed. It handled most everything I threw at it with poise and grace. I would definitely make sure you have at least 2000W on tap if not closer to 2500 or 3000. I know the DP definitely is tempting me to drop the time into properly beefing up the Lexusís electrical.
In the end I feel the performance of the DP has lived up to my expectations of IA as a whole. At some point in the near future I would love to get my hands on some more of their products and play around with them, but for now I can safely say the Death Penalty is a solid contender if youíre considering subs in this power range. Itís loud, sounds good, and Made in the USA which in my opinion make it an exceptional choice. Nick and IA did a great job designing this driver
PS CA.com needs better emoticons.