Philips PSQ301 12” Enclosed Subwoofer
After a few years on hiatus, Philips is back in Australia with a new range of source units, amplifiers, speakers and subwoofers. Here we take a look at their very affordably priced PSQ301 12-inch pre-loaded subwoofer enclosure.
- Saturday 20th August, 2011
Great value, sounds well balanced and natural given compact overall size, well built considering the price.
Modest SPL potential.
When I mention the name Philips you probably associate the company with the Philishave or Sensotouch shavers, right? That’s probably due to these being some of their most heavily promoted products in Australia. What you may not know is that Philips is the company that actually invented such significant things as the audio cassette tape, the compact disc, the laser disc, the digital versatile disc (DVD), and the Blu-ray disc. Yep, Danish company Philips is a very serious player in the electronics business; in fact they are one of the largest electronics companies in the world. So, releasing a competitive car audio range should be a pretty easy task, and actually Philips have been making car audio for decades - having already been established in Australia throughout the 1990s.
So, here we have our first product for review from the revamped Philips range, and it’s the rather handily priced PSQ30112-inch subwoofer enclosure that is all yours for the princely sum of $199RRP. It’s a ported alignment enclosure, so the circular port tube mounted into the side of the enclosure allows the rear wave energy of the subwoofer to interact with that of the front to enhance output at certain frequencies. All in all it’s a well built (to a price) enclosure that’s neatly wrapped in carpet with the Philips logo proudly embroidered into the top.
If you compare the press image we’ve taken from Philips’ website to the image of the enclosure that was supplied for review you’ll note a few key differences between the two. Obviously the press image is either a first version or ‘artists impression’ since the actual version has the wall for the woofer on the slant whereas the press version the slanted wall is the rear wall. Why is this significant? Well because you are inclined to face the slanted wall against the slanted firewall or rear seat in your car, yet the way the subwoofer faces has a significant bearing on the output and frequency response. I prefer the sound and added cabin gain afforded by rear loading, but the slanted front version doesn’t suit this quite as well. Oh well.
Another aspect of note is the position of the port on the opposing side to the connection terminals. This obliges you to mount the enclosure, as I’ve done, against the near side quarter panel of the boot or hatch area so that the port is unobstructed, which in turn hides the wiring.
The subwoofer housed in the enclosure is the CSQ1205 model (also sold separately for $99RRP) that is a single 4ohm design. I whipped out my cordless drill and removed the ten mounting screws securing the driver in place so I could take a closer look at its innards. While considered an entry-level standard driver, the CSQ1205 still adheres to the best basic architecture principles of subwoofer design. The pressed steel frame offers a wide mounting platform for a large flat spider and is stepped deeply between here and the magnet to avoid the spider bottoming out during inwards excursions. Likewise the back plate features a deep bump to allow the voice coil to achieve higher excursions without whacking abruptly into it. A nice large vent is also machined into the pole piece to allow for better cooling of the four layer wound voice coil. For basic attributes it certainly ticks all the important boxes.
Besides this Philips have used a single ferrite magnet as a motor structure, plus they seen fit to use nice screw down type connection terminals which I’m happy to report connect internally to nice chunky speaker cable. While this subwoofer system is affordable Philips haven’t cut any corners during design and construction. Good work guys.
Around the front you get a polypropylene cone that’s finished in a metallic look to give the subwoofer a modern appearance, while the edge is bonded through a butyl rubber surround. A nice silver trim ring attaches to the front to finish it off neatly.
My tape measure revealed the enclosure to measure spot on 40-litres (minus the port) internally, which when loaded with a single 10cm diameter port that’s 33cm in length arrives at a neat 40Hz tuning frequency. Here Philips has made a clear compromise of overall size and weight versus linearity. Sure, a larger enclosure would offer lower tuning and smoother response, but for the most part popular music doesn’t plumb below 50Hz anyway so making the choice to have a smaller enclosure simply makes the PSQ301 more attractive to more buyers. Makes sense really, so long as it sounds good.
And so it does.
But there’s a slight twist here. You see, Philips also sell amplifiers, and logic dictates that anyone who would consider purchasing a Philips subwoofer would also consider connecting it to a ‘matching’ Philips amplifier. It’s also worth considering that the continuous power handling rating of this enclosure is just 150WRMS, and given this I felt it pertinent to review the system as Philips intended – though I wasn’t sent an amplifier for this review.
Now my normal amplifier for testing subwoofers provides between 400 and 800WRMS depending on the impedance load, however this time around I opted to use something more akin to what someone buying a PSQ301 would actually use. I matched this subwoofer with an amplifier that makes around 250WRMS when bridged into 4ohms, which is very close to the kind of power either of Philip’s own amplifiers can produce. I ended up connecting it bridged to two channels of an old favourite 4-channel amplifier I have called a Soundstream Reference 604. Meanwhile, its other two channels powered the OEM speakers in my Skoda Octavia wagon test vehicle with around 75WRMS per side. The source was JVC’s KD-DB56 DAB+ CD tuner I reviewed recently.
Settling in for a cruise around Sydney for a thorough audition I began with setting the low pass filter, which was a second order 12dB per octave slope that kicked off at 80Hz but eventually ended up down closer to 60Hz after I’d scanned through a few tunes. I crept up on the volume level as the woofer broke in, mindful of the modest 150WRMS power rating that Philips recommend. Still, as I applied more and more gain the PSQ301 obliged with more and more output, up until a point at which I’d come to what would be the obvious limits of its excursion potential when powered by comfortably more than its suggested power input.
I’d describe the sound as on the warmer side, and it’s definitely a ‘ported sound’ that adds roundness to the bass notes. I tested a few of the more complex passages at my disposal to see how the system could discern between synth bass tones being underplayed by strumming bass guitar lines and everything was clearly evident and showed nice control and composure. From a pressure wave perspective the system was able to generate sufficient enough bass in the largish station wagon cabin. I’d consider this a great every day driving bass level, and Philips have done a great job at creating a modestly sized, ported enclosure that won’t gobble up your boot space but still provides very good overall linearity. It's quite clear that the enclosure is well designed and tuned for the application, not just a pre-existing design off the shelf.
So I think we’d all agree that Philips isn’t the sexiest car audio brand in the world. They don’t have cartoon Martian mascots or scantily clad models promoting their products, and they don’t have the chest-beating in-yo-face attitude associated with so many Yankee brands. That’s just not their way. But just because they don’t shout about their prowess like others or use false imagery to sell their brand doesn’t mean they don’t make great products.
The PSQ301 is not just a great sounding subwoofer system - its genuinely well built, well engineered, and at $199RRP I reckon it’s a bloody good buy. I’d suggest powering it with something more than the suggested 150WRMS if you want to feel and enjoy its full potential (and avoid clipping), and around 300WRMS would be spot on as any more than this will be somewhat wasted. If you’re on a tight budget you should definitely have the PSQ301 on the audition list.
Check the MEA Directory for Philips Retailers.
- Fs (free air resonance): not stated
- Vas (equivalent compliance): not stated
- Qts (total driver Q): not stated
- Qes: (Q, electrical): not stated
- Qms (Q, mechanical) not stated
- Re (DC resistance): not stated
- Le (inductance): not stated
- Z (nominal impedance): 4ohms
- Xmax (one way linear excursion) not stated
- Efficiency (1W/1m): 88dB
- Pe (continuous power handling) 150WRMS
Philips is distributed in Australia by:
TDJ Australia Pty. Ltd.
78 Mills Road Braeside, Vic 3195, Australia
Phone (03) 8587 8889