Unpacking and Appearance
As usual, Arendal’s packing was exceptionally good. They arrived at my home in heavy-duty boxes that were wrapped in a shipping plastic sheet with the edges covered in security tape. Inside the box, the subs were sandwiched by some thick polyethylene foam pieces and covered in a drawstring sack made from a rayon-type fabric, protecting them from scuffs and moisture. The packing included cotton inspection gloves so that the subs can be removed without getting fingerprints on the finish.
Once unpacked, the 1723 1S and 1V revealed themselves to be a pair of gleaming monoliths with a stylish austerity but not completely minimalist. The units that I was sent had a gloss black finish, and it was a high-quality gloss with no orange-peel texturing that I could see. The vertical edges were beveled which emphasized the height of the subs almost as an architectural styling cue. The lowest inch has a narrow groove that makes it seem like the subs are resting on a base. The cones are sunk into the cabinet with some beveling along with a trim ring to hide the driver frame. The cones themselves have a matte black texture with an Arendal logo printed on a concave dustcap. They can be hidden with a magnetically attached circular grille for those people who just abhor the sight of a loudspeaker cone, but I think these subs look better without the grille. The grille still may be useful in protecting the cones from curious kids who could damage them.
The 1V is substantially larger than the 1S, and most people would consider it a fairly large sub. Although the 1S is not a micro sub by any measure, it is pretty modestly sized, and people who can not handle a big sub would probably find it to be acceptable. The 1S would be a lot easier to hide than the 1V for those who need the sub to be out-of-sight, or at least not very noticeable. The subs can be had in gloss white, gloss black, matte white, and matte black finishes. Arendal’s matte finishes are so nice they really ought to be called satin finishes. Obviously, the gloss finishes are going to be a lot more noticeable than the matte finishes, so if you want the sub to be inconspicuous, go for the matte finish.
The 1723 1S and 1V share most of the same components and are separated by only one real design feature, but it is a major one: the 1S is a sealed subwoofer and the 1V is a ported subwoofer.
The drivers are powered by Arendal’s Avalanche amplifier, a class-D design that is controlled by a 2.6” color LCD screen with a selector knob, a menu button, and an enter button. This enables a lot more control over the sub than the usual array of knobs that most subs use. You can adjust how each input is controlled individually. Aspects of control include different crossover slopes, as well as high-pass slopes, wake-up times and wake-up sensitivities, operating mode selection, and even a 7-band parametric equalizer. Connectivity consists of a pair of RCA inputs and outputs and balanced XLR inputs and outputs. The outputs can be handy for daisy-chaining subs in a multi-sub setup, as well as running the signal to active speakers. A subwoofer needs highly sophisticated processing to deal with all of that, and the Avalanche amp has that with a 32-bit microcontroller. The microcontroller also constantly monitors performance parameters so that the sub is always operating in safe conditions. Some of the parameters monitored include output voltages, power supply rail voltages, and amplifier temperatures. If it senses anything amiss, it immediately shuts down the unit to prevent damage.
All the same settings from the LCD screen on the 1723 1S and 1V subs can be controlled by an app (on iOS and Android devices), for those who don’t want to have to get up off their sofa to change the settings of the subwoofer. One nice thing about the app is the graphic display of the parametric equalizer, for those who want to see the effect that their changes have on the response. The app also features a test tone for when you want to make sure it can produce a signal and a time delay setting that can be changed by 0.25ms increments out to 50ms, which can come in handy for situations in a multi-sub system where the subs have different distances. The ability to change time delay can synchronize all the subs so that their arrival of sound hits the listening position simultaneously.
With a 7-band parametric equalizer, each Arendal 1723 subwoofer has a great deal of flexibility in taming the response from the inevitable damage inflicted by typical room acoustics. What is more, a multiple 1723 subwoofer system can be globally controlled as subwoofer groups in the Arendal sub app, so that equalization can very easily be extended to multiple units. This is the best way to equalize low frequencies in a multi-sub system, instead of having a different equalization for each sub. That feature, plus the ability to set delays in such fine increments on each sub, essentially does away with the need for external equalization in a multi-sub system altogether. All the user has to do is measure the system response and make the required changes in the app. As with Arendal’s other products, the enclosures for the 1723 1S and 1V are made from HDF (high-density fiberboard). HDF is stronger than MDF, and as a result, it weighs more, so these subs are not lightweights.
Overall, the design of the 1723 1S and 1V meets the expectations set by the other Arendal subs that we have seen. That bodes well for how the subs will handle real-world use, and since there is no substitute for experience, let’s see how they do in practice…
The recording of “Fugue in G Minor” in “Bach to the Future” album provides a nice example of the need for a light touch in bass as well as good integration between the speakers and sub. The lower-pitched voice of the repeated melody of this famous piece weaves in and out of the body of the composition, and it dives into subwoofer band frequencies but not with tremendous force. A good sub is needed to not overdo the bass in this particular track. Otherwise, the organ will sound disconnected instead of singular. I gave both subs a go at this track (individually, not simultaneously), and neither sub exhibited any problems in this regard. The following track, the pipe-organ staple “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” brought a more extravagant use of bass, and both subs obliged the recording’s low-frequency tumult. Both the 1S and 1V sounded the same for the tracks that I compared them on in this album; switching between the subs didn’t seem to make any serious audible difference. I reasoned that this album probably didn’t dig deep enough in frequency to exploit the 1723 1V’s port advantage. I wouldn’t have expected any difference outside of the frequency range of the port’s contribution which would have been below 40Hz on the 1V. Hardcore pipe organ devotees will want the 1V, in a choice between the two, for those recordings that dive into the deep end with gusto, but the 1S is certainly no slouch if a smaller sub is needed. Both subs helped to bring the Cavaille-Coll organ back to life by providing a lifelike low-frequency foundation to the monumental instrument’s sound, and organ music lovers are sure to be delighted with either one.
“Dune Sketchbook” hits deep bass hard early on in the first track, “Songs of the Sisters,” with a throbbing bassline that cuts in under a female chant, an appropriate way of signifying the power of the Bene Gesserit, a matriarchal religion with formidable political influence within the Dune universe. I listened to this track on the 1V, and it gave a powerful presentation that had a physical dimension as well as an aural one. Subsequent tracks also had plenty of moments of heavy bass that were authoritatively reproduced by the subs. I alternated the 1S and 1V from track to track, and the difference was subtle. The 1V might have had a bit more force in the lowest notes, but that might have been expectation bias coloring my perception. It was impressive that the smaller sealed 1S sub could keep up so well with its larger, ported brother. The track “Shai-Hulud” did have some very deep bass effects where the subs were more easily differentiated, but both subs delivered a very strong performance. My theater room is not tiny at about 3,500 cubic feet with openings to hallways, and either sub was able to fill the space with a potent bass sound. These subs were able to give this epic score the big sound that they were meant to have.
The 1723 1S had no trouble reproducing “They Shall Wake” and thunderous sound, and this small sub affected a sensation of an enormous environment in my listening room. The track “Realms” is where our plunge into the abyss really starts. Continuous drones, along with a distant rumbling sound, are used in part to form a spacious but foreboding setting, and both subs gave these elements enough delineation to keep them distinct. Our journey continues in the track “Sentience,” in which a sequence of chords in the lowest octave of a piano permeates the song. I had the 1S active for this track, and it had enough pitch definition to track the melody rather than smear it into a mere sound effect. I switched back to the 1V for the last few tracks, and while they didn’t have ground-shaking bass, they did have pervasive low-frequency sounds that were given a clear-cut form by the subwoofer. Listening to “They Shall Wake” with the 1723 1S and 1V affirmed that they can deal with fine-drawn bass, as well as thicker and more obvious stuff as well.
For something to see what the 1723 1S and 1V subs could do when pushed hard, I selected the recently released epic drum’n’bass compilation “Together With Ukraine.” I started listening to the album with the 1S, and it could belt out a forceful low end in track after track. Kick drums were given punch, and basslines buzzed with tactile vibration. Switching to the 1V didn’t produce much difference that I could sense. It still sounded great, but I had to think that this music wasn’t quite digging low enough in frequency to kick the 1V’s port into action. It’s possible that some of these tracks could have dug deep enough to differentiate the two subs, but I wasn’t about to do an A/B comparison between all 136 songs to find out. Some people might go for the 1S based on the myth that sealed subwoofers have ‘quicker’ bass, but the truth is that both subs had excellent transient response. The kick drums and toms started and stopped on a dime. Bass sounds with rapid attacks and decays were always razor-sharp. The alignment of the enclosure didn’t make any difference that I could tell. While it’s true that port output generally does have a waveform cycle of lag behind the woofer’s output, the fact is that subs with a very low tuning frequency like the 1723 1V do shift that delayed output to frequencies well below music ranges. There are other reasons why sealed subs don’t necessarily have a qualitative advantage, and we will discuss them when we take a look at their group delay measurements. While I haven’t yet had time to listen to the entirety of this album, what I have heard so far with the 1723 1S and 1V has left me impressed by the beatdown they can provide to the listener with a penchant for loud electronic music. Some of my favorite tracks so far: “Orbiter” by Askel & Elere, “Berehynia” by Billain, “Chain of Command” by Black Sun Empire, “Backbackback” by Bukez Finezt, “Hlafjung” by DJ Ride, and “Gutenberg” by Gyrofield. But there are just too many great tracks to list them all in this all-killer and no-filler compilation.
I first watched “Jurassic World Dominion” using the 1723 1V and then went back and rewatched some scenes with the 1S to see how it compared. With the 1V, each footstep of the larger dinosaurs landed with a subterranean thud. The guttural growling and roars of these giant creatures delved into infrasonic regions at times, and the 1V made it sound like a seven-ton creature was right next to me. The many vehicle crashes, explosions, and other catastrophes were given a visceral slam by the 1V. The more memorable moments consisted of fights between the Tyrannosaurus and Giganotosaurus. The stomping and charging of the dinosaurs rumbled my room, and I could hear the ceiling and doors shake. Rewatching some of the bass-heavy scenes and flipping back and forth between the subs did illustrate their differences. The 1S was not able to realize the earth-shaking rumble as well as the 1V. The 1S produced an impressively deep sound for its size, but the 1V had an infrasonic thunder that made the dinosaurs a bit more realistically frightening. That deeper bass added a touch of immersion that the 1S couldn’t quite match. Of course, this was all perfectly predictable given the design differences, and most people would be quite happy with what the 1S can do for movie night. However, those setting up a dedicated home theater should spring for the extra size and cost of the 1V. For movies like “Jurassic World Dominion,” it’s worth the premium.
Another recent release that I checked out with the 1723 1S and 1V subs was “Ambulance,” Micheal Bay’s latest effort in flash and bombast. It ended up having tons of bass, and both the 1723 1S and 1V handled it with aplomb. The many car crashes and explosions were delivered with a thunderous impact, but Lorne Balfe’s music score had at least as much low-frequency verve as the effects’ noises, and the subs reproduced it with seat-shaking power. His score was half synthesizer and half orchestral, and it pulsated underneath the action which gave the movie a propulsive and engaging energy. The massive bass ability of the subs helped to make the ridiculous action set pieces a lot more fun than they would have been otherwise. Midway through the movie, I switched from the 1S to the 1V, and while there was a difference in low-end oomph, it was not huge. I did prefer the 1V’s addition of infrasonic grunt, although I would have been quite content with the power and imperturbability that the 1S was capable of. While “Ambulance” was overlong and over-the-top, it proved to be a rare thing: a Micheal Bay movie that I could watch. The Arendal subs helped to make it enjoyable, and the movie greatly benefited from their capabilities.
Check graphs and read more about measurements HERE.
Before bringing this review to a close, I will briefly go over the strengths and weaknesses of the products in question, and, as usual, I will start with the weaknesses. The 1723 1V and 1S are such well-rounded and well-designed subwoofers that they don’t give me much to complain about. I could complain that the 1V is very large and heavy, but you can’t have a deeply-tuned ported sub without its corresponding size penalty. They can incur some distortion in deep bass when pushed hard, but they have fairly ambitious low-frequency extension performance targets, at least in their ‘EQ1’ mode (which is the mode I would run them in), and it would be difficult to achieve those with zero distortion. I didn’t hear any distortion in my own listening of either sub. Some might criticize them for not having the most possible output for the price point, but these are not ‘output-above-all’ designs, and if they were shooting to win all the SPL drag races against its competitors, they would suffer in every single other respect–not a worthwhile trade-off, in my opinion. So, in my view, any would-be criticisms are met with reasonable counters.
Let’s now go over their strengths, and since these are such well-rounded designs, it is difficult to decide where to begin. As subwoofers, their main mission is to reproduce low-frequency sound, and they do this very well. They are highly linear and well-composed subs with very good dynamic ranges and bass extensions that rival or exceed their competitors. Most sealed subs in the same class as the 1723 1S use high-pass filters to create a much steeper roll-off, but those response shapes don’t get as much in-room deep bass. The 1V’s sub-20Hz port tuning frequency gives it real output into infrasonic ranges, and it managed to hit 90dB at an ultra-deep 12Hz in our burst testing. The dynamic range of these subs is nothing to sneeze at either, with both delivering 115dB output in mid-bass, and that is a fierce amount of punch. Their excellent time-domain behavior keeps all of that bass buttoned down, and the 1723 subs don’t have a hint of overhang or delayed response.
Aside from the sound quality, the 1723 1S and 1V’s greatest strength is their build quality. HDF construction and extensive bracing make them tank-like. Their sheer solidity, together with their elegant industrial design, raises them to luxury-class products. Their attractive appearance is another asset of theirs. The modest size of the 1S enables it to fit in many more domestic situations than the much larger 1V, but the 1V’s handsome styling makes it a more acceptable addition to the room than if it were a plain black box like so many subs. What is more, the dimensions of the 1V make it a perfectly well-disguised end table, especially if you wanted some near-field punch with its side-firing driver facing toward the listening position. It will provide a tremendous amount of slam from being in such close proximity to the listener.
The feature set on the amplifier is among the best that can be had. Left and right inputs and outputs for both balanced and unbalanced connectors make the 1723 1S and 1V versatile and accommodating of a wide variety of setups. The ability to EQ these without the need for an outboard equalizer makes these a great candidate for simpler setups that don’t have automated room correction systems. The ability to fine-tune every parameter both onboard the amplifier plate as well as from the user’s phone or tablet makes the 1723 1S and 1V exceptional. Most other subs with app control can only access many of their functions from the app and not the sub itself.
The pricing for the 1723 1S and 1V subs is not inexpensive, but you get well-built, high-fidelity, stylish, feature-rich, versatile subwoofers in return. When you factor in the 10-year warranty, top-notch customer service, and shipping costs included in the price, I would say it is a very good deal. Arendal allows a 60-day trial period and will cover the not-insignificant return shipping costs if the user does not wish to keep the product for any reason. I think they can afford to offer such a generous program since few people will be returning these once they hear what they can do.