Most consumers only think about “bass” when they hear the term “subwoofer” and that’s a huge failure on the part of the hi-fi press for not doing a better job of educating potential customers about their other benefits. SVS and REL Acoustics are two of the leading brands in the category and it’s clear from their websites and educational videos that they understand it is their job as well to do some of the heavy lifting. It’s not enough to just introduce new products like the REL HT/1003 MKII “The Hammer” ($699) and the HT/1205 MKII “The Cannon” ($849) subwoofers for home theater.

You have to explain to people why they need them. How many consumers even understand the rationale for using a stereo pair of subwoofers and why that might work better for them in their room than one larger one?

REL HT/1510 Predator II Home Theater Subwoofer Front and Rear
REL HT/1510 Predator II

REL has been manufacturing high performance subwoofers for decades and done remarkably well with its best-selling T/x series product line, HT/1510 Predator II and No.31 and No.32 reference subwoofers which are designed to augment the world’s best hi-fi and home theater systems. The T/x models have always been rather affordable but the vast majority of consumers who purchase them are thinking about 2.1 stereo systems or 2.1 home theater rigs; home theater fans often turn to brands like SVS or Klipsch when it comes to 5.1 or 5.2.4 Dolby Atmos systems.

REL has announced new entries into its HT subwoofer line, which seem to offer rather affordable alternatives to the competition.

One thing we often neglect to consider with subwoofers is that their purpose is not only to provide impactful bass, but they should also add balance to your home theater setup by sonically integrating smoothly with the other speakers in your system. You should not perceive any gap between the subwoofer and the rest of your speakers.

One benefit from our experience with REL’s subwoofers is that they do sonically vanish once properly installed, improving both the dynamic range, clarity, and soundstage of your existing loudspeakers.

REL’s subwoofers are a particularly great complement for 2.1 music systems, but they are also a great addition to a home theater setup.

REL HT/1205 MKII Subwoofer Front Angle Grille On
REL HT/1205 MKII Subwoofer with Grille

HT/1003 and HT/1205 MKII Overview

The HT/1003 MKII and HT/1205 MKII subwoofers are updated versions of REL’s previous HT/1003 and HT/1205 subwoofers. In general, some of the improvements include:

  • New Class D amplifiers that provide greater headroom. REL claims that the HT/1003 MKII can play twice as loud as its predecessor while the HT/1205 MKII can play 50% louder. 
  • Tweaks to the components used in the construction of the CarbonGlass driver of each sub including upgraded suspension.
  • Additional tweaks to supporting circuitry that limits distortion and improves frequency response clarity.
  • Tweaks to the exterior cabinet design including a new black lacquer finish for better integration with room decor.  
REL HT/1003 MKII Subwoofer Front and Rear
REL HT/1205 MKII Subwoofer Front and Rear

HT/1003 MKII and HT/1205 MKII Shared Features

Amplifier Type: Class D (Next Gen 5)

Driver Material: Long throw carbon fiber cone with inverted carbon fiber center cap.

Enclosure: Closed box with a front-firing driver.

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REL HT/1205 MKII rear panel
Rear panels are the same on both subwoofers

Level Control: Variable

Crossover Control: Variable from 30 to 200 Hz.

Phase Control: 0 or 180 degrees switchable (used to match the in/out motion of the subwoofer driver to the rest of the speakers in your system).

Inputs: Low-Level stereo RCA or LFE RCA

Outputs: Low-Level stereo RCA or LFE RCA

Signal Turn On: Selectable always on or Standby (aka Auto Detect).

Auto Turn Off Time: 30 minutes

Voltage Selector: 110/120V or 220/240V

Wireless Capable: REL HT-Air system sold separately ($119 at Amazon)

REL HT-Air
REL HT-Air Wireless Transmitter/Receiver

HT/1003 MKII and HT/1205 MKII Subwoofer Differences

Model HT/1003 MKII HT/1205 MKII
MSRP $699.00 $849.00
Power Output (RMS) 300 Watts 500 Watts
Driver Size 10-inches (250mm) 12-inches (300mm)
Low-Frequency Extension (-6B) Down to 24Hz Down to 22Hz 
Dimensions (WHD) 14.25 x 13.25 x15.25-inches (362 x 343 x 387 mm) 16.25 x 15.25 x 17.25-inches (413 x 387 x 438mm)
Weight 34.2 lbs. (15.5kg) 43.2 lbs. (19.6kg)

Pricing & Availability

All are available direct through REL or authorized REL dealers at the following prices:

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