Hsu Research TN-1220HO Review

Francis Vale


The laws of physics would seem to dictate that DEEP bass needs BIG subs. This is not always the case, of course, as there are some excellent 13” cube subs out there that will rock the house, like Sunfire’s True subwoofer line. But you don’t get something for nothing, and these cubic bad boys will set you back close to $2,000. There are, however, other subwoofer products out there that will cost you about half that amount and will still rock your crib, including the chandelier in the next-door apartment. One deep solution comes in the unusual form of the TN-1220HO from Dr. Poh Ser Hsu, an industry legend for getting your max wavelength buck from subwoofers.

The 51” tall (with spikes) TN-1220HO, available direct from Hsu Research, looks like something Iraqi WMD inspectors would have been thrilled to find buried deep in Saddam’s sands. Of course, the inspectors would have been bummed to discover that the only big boom-boom the TN-1220HO makes is in your audio system. But had they played it at maxed out SPL's it still might have soiled their paranoid pants—An even more likely scenario if they had found two big mother TN-1220HO’s, which can run off a single 500 watt Hsu Research amp.

The reviewer Tom Nousaine, another you-can-never-have-enough-deep-bass freak, inspired the TN-1220HO’s design when he decreed yet another yardstick for subwoofer success: square footage of floor taken up by the subwoofer. Nousaine must be pleased, because the TN-1220HO takes up less than 1 square foot of floor space and still easily bangs out stomach churning 20Hz salvos at 110+ dB.  If that isn’t enough to wake up little Fluffy, then take her to the pet cemetery, as she’s probably dead.

The tall, 12-inch diameter, black fabric covered TN-1220HO can easily fit in a corner, where it should not draw much House Beautiful ire from the missus. If she still throws a hissy fit, you can also lay the TN-1220HO on its side and hide it behind the sofa, where its deep sonic rumblings should provide a stimulating, butt-rocking experience.

A 12-inch driver is located on top of the subwoofer cylinder and moves a tsunami worth of air though a very large port located on the TN-1220HO’s bottom. According to Hsu Research, this long port acts something like a huge flute to boost the deepest frequencies. All I can say is that if any more low distortion air rushed out the bottom of this tall black sonic missile it might have achieved living room liftoff.

The TN-1220HO comes in several available product configurations.  You can buy just the sub for $499 and use it with an external amp and crossover, like those found in a home theater receiver. Note that the TN-1220HO sub needs at least 200 dedicated watts from your receiver; otherwise, all you will probably get is a wimped-out phhhart. Or you can spend one hundred dollars more and get the TN-1220HO with Hsu’s Bass Optimizer, a small equalizer box that allows you to still achieve the best and flattest response results from the sub while using your own amplifier.


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