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Core Sub hands-on: Our favorite Bluetooth speaker gets some bass

by Jacob Kleinman | March 8, 2016March 8, 2016 7:00 am PDT

Mass Fidelity already offers the ultimate Bluetooth speaker with Core, and now it has the ultimate wireless subwoofer to match. The Canadian startup is now shipping the Core Sub on Tuesday and we had a chance to try it out.

I’ll dive into the specifics in a minute, but first here’s a quick takeaway. If you already have a Core speaker and love music loaded with bass, or just need a solid subwoofer for your current home setup, this is a great option.

Unlike the Core speaker, which comes packed to the gills with cool technology, the Core Sub is a lesson in self-restraint. The design is meant to blend into the background, and every feature and spec was carefully calibrated to get the best experience for the lowest possible price.

“It’s not as complex or different as the Core speaker,” Mass Fidelity founder Ben Webster told TechnoBuffalo. “This is just, ‘you like the bass, you need this thing.’”

Setting up the Core Sub is simple. Just plug it in and press a few buttons on your speaker to connect. After that, the two devices will sync up automatically each time they’re turned on. The subwoofer connects over Mass Fidelity’s unique 5GHz dedicated music network, which provides a reliable signal but means it won’t work with other Bluetooth products.

Thankfully, the company also decided to include a physical input. That means you can plug the Core Sub directly into a wired speaker system. It can even work with your TV.

Once everything is setup, the Core Sub sounds great. It’s powerful enough to rattle whatever surface you put it on, and you get a good amount of bass considering the size. Mass Fidelity also includes plenty of controls for tweaking the sound to match any setting or situation, which is often missing from subwoofers included with all-in-one speaker systems.

“Every room is different, Webster explained. “One of the biggest improvements you can make is tuning the sound to the room. Being able to adjust the gain and frequency, that’s really really important.”

From a visual perspective, the Core Sub doesn’t look like much. It’s a plain black plastic rectangle with soft pieces of fabric stretched across the top and bottom. The company considered including a chrome detail, like the one found on its signature speaker, but decided it wasn’t worth the additional cost for a product that could spend most of its time hidden behind your sofa.

The Core Sub doesn’t include a built-in battery either. That may seem obvious for a bulky 15-pound gadget, but Mass Fidelity is billing this as a wireless subwoofer. Webster told me he actually considered including batteries, but decided against that as well. The novelty of a portable subwoofer just wasn’t worth the extra bulk and price it would have required.

Most of the time you’ll probably want to keep the subwoofer in the same spot and plugged in. It’s engineered not to draw too much power and springs into action as soon as your Core speaker turns on. That makes it a great companion to your Bluetooth speaker without stealing the spotlight.

“It’s the ultimate complement for the Core,” Webster said.

Core Sub pre-orders are shipping now, and you can purchase one online for $399. If you’re already sold on the Core speaker but want more bass, this seems like a no-brainer.

Mass Fidelity

Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...

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