Before I get into how the subs did, allow me share what it took to get there.
The test vehicle is a 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cierra. A trunk car, notorious for swallowing bass. To give the SD-2s a fighting chance I removed the rear seat back. On top of that. I opted to fire the subs towards the rear after a few listening test.
These are the tracks that I used to evaluate the SD-2 8 performance.
Focal Demo Disk 1
"Sweet Sixteen" by Junior Wells
"Wishing Well" by Michael Ruff
"Improvisation" by Ron Tutt
"Spanish Harlem" by Rebecca Pidgeon
"Grandma's Hands" by Livingston Taylor
These tracks have good kick drum bottom end and/or defined bass guitar strums. The subs were able to blend well and provide the bottom end presence to complete the listening experience. In "Sweet Sixteen" both kick drum and bass guitar are well reproduced. The attack in "Improvisation" when the snare and kick are hit simultaneously was precise and tactile. No excess bloat.
IASCA SQ Reference CD
"I Will Find You There" by Michael Ruff
"Too Close" by Clair Marlo
This is another pair of tracks suited to the subwoofer's expertise, tight kicks and smooth bass guitar beats. The subs had no problem delievering the low end of the kick drum while the bass guitar played in "I Will Find You There". I enjoyed singling out the bass guitar in "Too Close". Again, clean clear bass.
And now for something a little different.
Tracy Chapman album New Beginnings
This was a fun album to listen to. The kicks are more about the low end in this album. The bass guitar is also more pronounced. I find the low end to contrast the highs of this album, making it a good canidate for evaluating performance. The subs kept up with the music never drawing attention to themselves. It was a real treat to enjoy the music through these subs. Notable tracks, the beginning of "Heaven's Here On Earth" The steady kick drums are reproduced with fullness and volume without having to crank up the volume.
Now I take the subs out of their element and see how they do out in the street.
Kendrick Lamar album Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City
"Swimming Pools (Drank)"
"m.A.A.d City" is the track I used to demo the SPL capabilities of my Suburban, read 149db on the Termlab. It starts off with about 20 sec voice intro recorded out of phase, building suspense before the bass note comes in. A single tone in the 30-40hz for 10 seconds. It's quite the experience in my suburban. How did the eights fair? They held it together.
The cones were a wanging. It's asking alot for a pair of eights to hammer out the lows, even more so for a pair of eights in a sealed box. They put out clean clear bass.
"Swimming Pools" doesnt come on as strong as "m.A.A.d City", it does have a good combination of high frequency mid-bass punches with mixed in low bass beats. The subs had no problem keeping up. The bass was defined and transitioned with frequency changes seamlessly.
Listening levels were moderate to slightly elevated for all the tracks. Once levels reached significantly elevated levels performance was compromised noted by distinct chance in tone. The distortion level of this sub is eerily low. I found myself cutting out the sub level to verify they were playing at times. Listening to the Kendrick Lamar album was eerie as well. At one point I was watching the cones wanging like no other, feeling the bass, but only hearing a rear body panel rattle. Talk about low distortion.
This is a fun little sub to play with. For a pair I would recommend hatchback and small suv installs. Trunk cars would require a more elaborate rear deck install. For my personal install I'd opt for a quartet of these subs. Clean and clear bass like this is hard to come by. A+ for the Sundown Audio SD-2 eight.