I'm not a big fan of really small subwoofers. Not that the little ones can't make deep bass -- the best of today's mini subs can deliver lots of low-end oomph, but the quality of the bass won't be anything to write home about. The bass is usually sloppy and poorly defined, so individual bass notes blur together. That's not such a big problem when reproducing the sound of explosions and special effects, but most small subs are less adept with music.
The Anthony Gallo Acoustics TR-1D ($599) sub is fairly small, but still handles home theater and music with equal prowess. The sub features a proprietary 10-inch ceramic anodized aluminum woofer, and a 200-watt Class D amplifier. Instead of the usual medium-density fiberboard cabinet, the TR-1D is built around an 11-inch diameter steel cylinder enclosure. It's 12 inches deep and weighs a hefty 33 pounds. While most subs have bass ports, the TR-1D does not, it's sealed and like all Gallo products, the sub uses patented S2 technology that increases the amount of bass generated from a small cabinet. S2 really works.
Connectivity options are extensive and include stereo RCA and speaker-level inputs and outputs. The TR-1D's speaker output jacks are filtered, so they provide the sort of bass management typically found in AV receivers. True, the TR-1D's isn't as flexible as a receiver's, but the fixed 100Hz filters might come in handy when the sub is used in two-channel home theaters where the amplifier lacks bass management capability. The TR-1D also has a separate, two-position deep bass boost switch.
The sub's bass goes deep, but definition and clarity is never sacrificed. When I played Steven Wilson's high-resolution Grace for Drowning Blu-ray there was a palpability to the texture of the bass that few small subs can match. I was listening to the TR-1D with my KEF LS50 monitor speakers, and the match was perfect (I also used a pair of Gallo Strada II speakers). The bass foundation was solid and had lots of muscle for home theater hijinks, but the TR-1D's size limitation did become apparent when I played the system really loud; the sub buzzed and rattled at very high volume. Gallo's larger TR-3D might be a wise upgrade for buyers who like to play loud.
No, the TR-1D's forte is clarity and precision, just like my KEF LS50 speakers. The rumbling, deep bass passages that open Philip Glass' Koyaanisqatsi CD were spectacular in their dimensionality and presence, the Gallo TR-1D brought it all back home.