Sold individually or with the Soundmatters Mainstage HD, the Sub Stage 100 is a remarkable little subwoofer. Its diminutive size simply does not indicate how effectively it produces bass.
Generally, small subwoofers need to compensate for their lack of cabinet volume by using ports to emphasize certain frequencies in their response. It puts more strain on the driver, but it delivers more volume at the expense of control. It’s a trick that's been used for years in small hatchbacks, the kind that produce thumping bass which comes close to rattling off the bodywork. The Sub Stage 100, however, is different.
It’s a sealed box, with what feels like two ceramic plates in the base held in place with surrounds; like a speaker cone without the magnets. They vibrate with the powerful driver in the top of the unit, effectively increasing the volume of the sub without resorting to methods that have a negative impact on the sound quality. It’s ingenious.
It makes the bass tight and responsive, with no flabby notes within earshot. The sound is very warm, suggesting an even, flat response. It worked well as part of our Hi-Fi setup and when paired to the Soundmatters Mainstage HD the difference it made was phenomenal.
It’s also surprisingly heavy and uses an unusual flat driver instead of a traditional cone. The controls, LEDs and connectors are all located underneath the unit, which makes it look very sleek.
It’s also tiny, at 20 by 43 cm and just a hair over 10 cm high, or 11.5 cm with the grill on. That means you might be able to fit one under the couch and reclaim some living room space. You can daisy chain multiple units together if you really want to shake the floor, or if you want a truly non-directional bass source.
The Sub Stage 100 is very solidly constructed, but the glue that holds the rubber standoffs to the adjustable feet at the base of the unit wasn’t strong enough. All four of them fell off our unit. We had the same problem with a rubber flange that keeps the grille in place. That’s all we could fault it on though.
Update: We have been informed by the distributor that our review unit was old stock, and has been replaced with stock with molded, not glued, feet. We are told they can be cut off, but will not fall off.
For its size, price and sound, the Sub Stage 100 is an exceptional piece of kit.