Infinity CSW-10 series
Few audio companies with a lineage as revered as Infinity Systems' are able to transition to the mainstream with their high-end principles intact. But Infinity certainly makes a case with its updated Beta series, a line that ranges from the Beta 10 bookshelf monitors ($330 per pair, SRP) to the Beta 50 tallboy speaker ($998 for a pair, SRP). Where does the CSW-10 subwoofer ($999 SRP) fit in? Well, even though it doesn't carry the Beta name in its title, this 10-inch boomer is designed to be matched with Beta-series speakers.
The standout feature here is Infinity's Room Adaptive Bass Optimization System (RABOS), which can notably improve the CSW-10's sound, especially in problem rooms. Packed with the sub is the RABOS test and measurement kit, which includes a precision calibration microphone, a test CD, and test graphs. We think the setup procedure may be a little too advanced for neophytes, who will likely need the assistance of a knowledgeable friend or a helpful dealer. That said, we predict many Infinity CSW-10 buyers will live happily ever after without tweaking the RABOS controls--we didn't feel the need.
The 10-inch woofer's massive rubber surround looks like it means business. The woofer employs Infinity's patented Ceramic Metal Matrix Diaphragm (CMMD) driver technology, originally developed for Infinity's high-end Prelude MTS models. CMMD drivers are said to be lighter and stronger than conventional paper, plastic, or metal drivers. According to Infinity, CMMD drivers produce lower levels of distortion for a more transparent and detailed sound.
Considering its prodigious bass capabilities, we think the CSW-10--which is available in black and cherry vinyl wood-grain finishes--is downright petite: it's just 14 inches tall, 13.25 inches wide, and 15.3 inches deep. But don't let the reasonable dimensions fool you. This little fella weighs a hefty 52 pounds.
Since the CSW-10 doesn't have speaker-level inputs, the only hookup options are the stereo line-level RCA jacks. That said, most users will just use one of those connectors from the subwoofer output jack on their receiver.
The CSW-10's ultradeep bass easily extended the Beta 50 tower speakers' already potent bass, and the sub also proved itself to be a synergistic match with the Beta 20 bookshelf speakers. The CSW-10 had remarkably powerful bass for a 10-inch subwoofer, easily on a par with that of most 12-inchers we've tested. We literally sensed its presence when we played the Alien vs. Predator DVD, and the CSW-10 easily pressurized our large home theater with room-shaking bass. Bass-heavy CDs were revelatory in that we could actually discern pitches and notes--a lot of otherwise excellent subs just supply undifferentiated bass bloat. On Peter Gabriel's Play DVD, the bass took on a palpable presence and texture, and the drum had astonishing impact. So yes, the Infinity CSW-10 is expensive, but its combination of power and finesse makes it a serious value.