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The second generation WATCH Dog subwoofer has undergone the most radical redesign of any of the WATCH system components. Specifically, it has been transformed from an active subwoofer (with a built-in amplifier), to a passive, unamplified unit. Two considerations drove the design change: Quality and Flexibility.
There's a widespread myth that since subwoofers operate in the low to subsonic frequency range, the sonic quality of the amplifier used to drive them is not critical. Couple that with the fact that the FTC-mandated criteria for power amplifier specifications don't apply to active subwoofersa loophole which allows manufacturers to make wildly inflated performance claims for what are, in many cases, and with no pun intended, severely sub-standard amplifiers built into their subwoofers.
Superior low frequency performancewhether as part of a home theater system, or in a two-channel music systemdemands high quality, high current amplification. The active WATCH Dog certainly provides both. Nevertheless, listening tests clearly show that the most cohesive systems are those with matching amplifiers driving all of the loudspeakers, including the subwoofers.
The new passive WATCH Dog provides the most cost-effective and flexible approach to that goal, whether in a single unit or a multiple unit configuration. Key to this flexibility is the new external WATCH Dog Controller, highlighted in the next section.
A true subwoofer, capable of clean, distortion-free sub-frequency response, has to be sufficiently large to move the volume of air which visceral frequencies require. As hard as some manufacturers may try, there's no getting around the laws of physics on this one. The good news is, the passive WATCH Dog is 40% smaller than its predecessor, while maintaining the same internal tuned volume. So the new WATCH Dog is easier to place in your listening environment with no sacrifice in performance.