We are already used to a lot and maybe are a little spoiled when it comes to testing equipment. We already know so much and have seen many highly referred candidates stumbling in practice. What we experience here with the first notes is new, terrific and unique.
The deep bass reaches the Stratosphere and pushes bass waves through the room, which can be felt all over the body. We literally bathe in structure-borne noise when the SMSG32 pounds with the membrane. Deep, deeper the deepest: The AIA SMSG32 really pulls out all the stops and peps bass sounds into the listening room, which are second to none. Incredibly dry, controlled and contoured acts the powerful 6,000 Watt subwoofer. From such a monster we expected a spongy sound - mass instead of class, so to speak. But the AIA SMSG32 teaches and quickly better and shines in all respects. The 2.1 system (2 x Black Swan Single + 1 x SMSG32) of AIA sounds very spatial, and creates a large and high soundstage, which fits perfectly in the cinema. Voices seem to come from the screen, with great depth and the best voice reproduction. The horn system sound aggressive when needed, otherwise they behave and deliver just the best music quality …
Brute active subwoofer from AIA with huge 32-inch driver and powerful 6,000 watts. When it comes to powerful and straightperforming subwoofers, we very much like to think of the Ascendo models, or, more precisely, AIA - Ascendo Immersive Audio. Their SMSG 15 already has played well in our reference cinema and its agile style caused alot of enthusiasm among us. Now AIA wants to get to the point byproviding a huge subwoofer with an immensely large 32-inch driver. What this monster woofer can wreak in a home cinema system, give it a read in this detailed test report.
The company AIA from the South German town of Ansbach has been very diligent since our last subwoofer review in issue 5/6-2016, and has developed and launched many other loudspeaker models. The company’s biggest subwoofer, which they presented to the public at the High End show in Munich two years ago, caused quite a good deal of excitement. A phenomenally50 inch large conestuck in the huge subwoofer cabinet, which caused the walls to quake, though the coneeven barely moved in operation. But this monstrosity was more than just an exhibition gimmick to please the visiting audience: it was and is to be taken as a seriously subwoofer for very special applications. Of course, this woofer is much too big and too expensive for common home use, but for AIA this is an important model to be used for the development and research of subwoofer technologies. Large diaphragms sized beyond the 18-inch rangecannot be sourced on the fly from the shelf of a Chinese supplier, who is used to run a high-quality mass production in no time at all. As a speaker manufacturer you have to make a lot of efforts, if you want to find something useful. From time to time you are able to source drivers up to 21 inches, but this then is the end of the story. In Ansbach the drivers are developed, researched, thoroughly tested, and eventuallyoutsourced for being manufactured in close cooperation with the selected suppliers.
Technology & Features
The subwoofer SMSG 32 tested here is an active subwoofer, which is ought to hold the world record for maximum linear stroke: Breaking 90 millimeters of excursion is offered by this gigantic driver and thus moves as much air as no other subwoofer system known to us. With a displacement volume of 16.6 liters (gosh!), the SMSG 32 can move as much air as about 15 conventional 18-inch subwoofers, each allowing around 20 millimeters of stroke. This of course requires an ultra-stable enclosure, amplification power without end and a driver that is able how to implement the offered power of 6,000 watts without damage. The cabinet of the "seismic monitor subwoofer" is comparatively thin-walled, so that a reasonable way of transportation is no issue. Nevertheless, the SMSG 32 weighs 160 kilograms due to its numerous internal bracings and the, of course, enormously heavy driver. For setting up the beast, you should invite a few muscle-bound colleagues and also organize some stable transport castors to move it. At the publishing house, we let the subwoofer slide slowly from the back of the van ontoa dolly. This enabled us to roll it "comfortably" into the reference cinema room, without endangering the health of the helping volunteers. Due to optimized parameters, the subwoofer operates in relation to the driver size in a comparatively small closed cabinet. Nevertheless, it’s huge: 95 centimeters wide, 120 centimeters high and 55 centimeters deep. So, the ideal playground for it should normally be large-capacity cinemas. At our place it is allowed to take his workplace on the side wall, as it otherwise would obstruct the view to the movie screen. The AIA SMSG 32 is designed for invisible installation and finished with a robust textured paint for tough professional use. If you have lots of space, and you are looking for the extraordinary and you are able to afford it as well – the basic version of this subwoofer though sells for 14,900 euros –then you have the possibility to order an optional 12-coat paint in real piano finish at extra cost.The driver of the subwoofer is enormously massive and the voice coil with its diameter of 160 millimeters is really huge. Measured at the basket’s edge, the chassismeasures 840 millimeters in diameter. Its cone has an effective diameter of 710 millimeters. The sturdy paper cone is double-stitched and glued to a mightysurround, which would also cut a good figure as a tire on my mountain bike. Again, it should be underlined that the maximum linear stroke is enormous 90 millimeters.
The Graphic User Interface (GUI) runs on every browser and operating system. The most comfortable way is the operation using a tablet pc. It allows for extensive calibration of the SMSG 32 in order to adjust the subwoofer perfectly to the room acoustics and the listening tastes.
The power amplifier has been specially developed and is located on the active module on the back of the cabinet. The SMSG 32 can be connected via Ethernet AVB or via the two analogue XLR inputs. If there is no suitable XLR connector, you have to use an XLR to RCA adapter. The AIA subwoofer is controlled using a browser-based interface using a tablet pc or a smartphone or a computer. Whether it is PC, Mac, Linux or Android, it does not matter - everything works. The user interface (GUI) is almost self-explanatory and the functions are easy to use. Five memory locations allow the owners of the SMSG 32 to change the sound characteristics of the subwoofer at the simple "touch of a button". The first preset has alinear characteristic and comes set from the factory, while the customers’ personal preferences or different listening situations can be stored on all presets and recalled at any time. When purchasing this subwoofer in Germany, Switzerland or Austria, the AIA takes over the task to professionally calibrate the subwooferon site at the customer’s house. The respective room is then measured to determine the existing room acoustics. If a calibration is necessary, which likely is the case in most situations, then a ten-band 1/3 octave equalizer with a level adjustment from +6 dB to -12 dB within the range of 15 to 120 hertz is at disposal. The subsonic filter can be infinitely adjusted from 15 to 80 Hz, as well as the crossover frequency from 40 to 200 Hz. The phase is also infinitely adjustable from 0 to 180 degrees. The selectable filter characteristics and slew rates of the subwoofer go well beyond the usual adjustment tools. The subsonic filter and crossover frequency can be implemented as Butterworth filters of first to fourth order. Alternatively, Bessel filters of second to fourth order can be set. That alone is sufficient to overstrainthe one or other buyer. But the control in real-time and the possibility ofcomparison between multiple presets makes it easy to comprehend the effects of the filters right there on the listening position. Room and sound can be perfectly adjusted by the multi-DSP controller, which also perfectly matchesthe subwoofer to existing loudspeaker systems.
Twenty-four massive screws serve to fix the 32-incher in the scratch-resistant textured paint-coated baffle
Technology: Ethernet AVB
Currently, Ethernet is the network standard used for computers and others. The sender sends out Ethernet packets, which hopefully will arrive at some point. A guarantee that it actually reaches the recipient cannot be given. To ensure the arival, the same data packet is simply sent again. Such a "best effort network" may be well suited for office applications and the Internet –but, unfortunately, it is not really suitable for real-time audio and video. The standard streaming of AV contents (Youtube etc.) only works when both data is cached and there is only one single player (eg smartphone), which receives all audio channels at the same time.
AIA is already using Ethernet AVB, for which the Ethernet protocols are extended. Now, a guarantee can be given that the data reaches the receiver, and also when they do so. Audio and video data are played synchronously, with all participating AVB devices synchronizing to a master clock. Thus, AVB can build the most complex loudspeaker systems with up to 100 channels without problematic latencies. This standard is considered the future standard for next-generation vehicle networks, for example, to enable autonomous driving.
The SMSG 32 wows with ultimate depth in the lows and can be perfectly matched to the Black Swans, which show off in our listening room with a superlinear performance
This could hardly be better: Stefan Köpf from AIA is absolutely thrilled with the performance of his system in our acoustically elaborately optimized reference cinema room
This inconspicuous active module on the back of the subwoofer delivers real 6,000 watts of power and enables the SMSG 32 to tremendous dynamics
AIA Black Swan
In order to give such a potent sub-subwoofer an adequate sparring partner, Stefan Köpf from AIA has brought along a pair of his "Black Swan" horn systems. Initially also a center speaker of the same kind should have been added, but the long van, a Ford Transit,ran out of space by hosting already the two satellites and the subwoofer. Okay, let's play our test music in a classic 2.1 setup – that’s not bad at all.This speaker modelis brand new and available in two versions. One is the Black Swan Single, as we got it for testing purposes, with one 15-inch midwoofer and the 2.5-inch coaxial horn on top. The other is the Black Swan, each unit equipped with two 15-inch midwoofers, which are paired to the big horn. Both systems are intended for invisible installation behind movie screens. Visually, they need getting used to - the oval, handmade horn in resonance-free build is likely to overstrain many customers. Die-hard horn fans and purists, on the other hand, will surely be thrilled. The fully active speakers with an amplifier power of 2,000 watts per unit will retail for 12,450 euros per piece. But what you get for the money is a time-coherent horn speaker system that renders 55 to 25,000 hertz with up to 129 dB of sound pressure – and that, mind you, in the Single version.
Our reference home theater offers AIA's systems a perfect venue, as measurements on-site reveal. The reverberation times are within the ideal range, the waterfall spectrum is perfect and the parameters for speech intelligibility are even excellent. Without any interference from a preamplifier or the AIA equalizer adjustments, the speakers provide an absolutely linear frequency response at the listening position with a slight decrease towards the high frequencies.The subwoofer perfectly fits the scene below 60 hertz and performs in our listening room linearly down to below 16 hertz. At this point, the measuring limit of the room acoustics software is reached. However, presumably it even playsdown to the manufacturer's specified cutoff frequency of sevenhertz at -3 dB. That's just terrific!
Two active amplifier modules with each 1,000 watts of power provide sufficient reserves for even brute volumes. 500 watts are distributed to each of the coaxial compression drivers, while the midwoofer claims 1,000 watts for itself
The Black Swans are even higher and deeper than the mighty subwoofer, despite having the same width
Very best prerequisites: During the measurements in our reference home cinema, the listening room is certified to have excellent speech intelligibility – as demonstrated by the STI value
The cone is glued and for safety reasons double stitched to the mighty surround
After calibrating and adjusting the exact distances to the speakers, we start the listening test.We are already used to a lot and maybe are a little spoiled when it comes to testing equipment. We already know so much and have seen many highly referred candidates stumbling in practice. What we experience here with the first notes is new, terrific and unique.The deep bass reaches the stratosphere and pushes bass waves through the room, which can be felt all over the body. We literally bathe in structure-borne noise when the SMSG32 pounds with the membrane. Deep, deeper, the deepest: The AIA SMSG32 really pulls out all the stops and peps bass sounds into the listening room, which are second to none. Incredibly dry, controlled and contoured does the powerful 6,000 Watt subwoofer perform. From such a monster we expected a spongy sound - mass instead of class, so to speak. But the AIA SMSG32 quickly teaches us for better and shines in all respects. The 2.1 system (2x Black Swan Single + 1x SMSG32) of AIA sounds very spatial, and creates a large and high soundstage, which fits perfectly in the cinema. Voices seem to come from the screen, with great depth and best voice intelligibility. The horn systems sound aggressive when required, otherwise they conduct themselves and deliver just the best music quality.Of course, we feed the player with "Godzilla" and "Tron: Legacy" to explore the dynamics of the system. It hardly takes a few minutes, and curious onlookers from the other editorial offices have gathered in our home cinema room. The "acoustic wrecking ball" pushes its sound waves over two floors through the entire building - even our colleagues from the top floor are able to track the events happening in our cinema.The SMSG32 from AIA delivers a performance that is second to none.
The SMSG32 from AIA is an elemental force and embodies might and power in our home cinema like no other subwoofer before. Anyone who experiences the 32-inch model with its 6,000-watt amplifier live will fall prey to it completely. He acts fast and crisp, plays ultra-deep and powerful and delivers sound levels that make house walls tremble. Without exaggeration, the 32-inch by AIA is the best subwoofer we've ever tested - sheer madness!
AIA SMSG 32
approx. 14,900 euros
AscendoImmersive Audio, Ansbach, Germany
+49 981 20862651
Black matt with durable structuredpaint, 12-layer piano lacquerat extra cost
950 x 1200 x 600 mm
Output power (RMS)
810 / 710 mm
(via web browser)
(via web browser)
Low levelinput / output
– / –
High levelinput / output
2x XLR / –
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AIA SMSG 32
+ controlled via webbrowser
Test rating: 12/1-2019