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Thread: REVIEW: CVA-115 15" Active Sub

  1. #1

    REVIEW: CVA-115 15" Active Sub

    Cerwin Vega CVA-115 Review.

    Being an aspiring DJ I recently embarked upon a quest to buy my first sub-woofer. For my first sub I decided to take a bit of a gamble and go with a Cerwin Vega CVA-115 cab. This is one of CV's newer lines of powered speakers, aimed at the mobile DJ from what I understand. When I was searching around for reviews on this sub Google didn't turn up much, just a few blurbs on the likes of GC user feedback section, nothing I would call "reliable information". So with that being said I have decided to write a short review on my initial opinion on the sub.

    The Specs:

    For those of you who like to compare numbers on paper between items, I have included the specs from CV's website. As I was quick to discover the numbers on paper only tell half the story about a speaker, for those who are interested in real world testing, skip ahead.


    -Custom 15" Cerwin-Vega Woofer More Bass in Less Space (15” driver in 12” cabinet footprint)
    -Built-in System Amplification (700 W RMS / 1400 W Peak)
    -4-Position High-Pass Filter
    -Sweepable Low-Pass Filter Scalable with Multiple Subs Using Master/ Slave Output
    -Cast Aluminum Grille Solid 18mm Hardwood Enclosure with Paint or Carpet Finish*
    -Top-mount 35 mm Pole Socket (for single pole / dual antler^)
    -Polarity Switch (0 – 180 degree)

    Performance Data:

    -Frequency Response: 41 Hz - 135 Hz (±3 dB)
    -Peak Power Handling: 1400 watts
    -Program Power Handling: 700 watts
    -Frequency Range: 39 Hz - 135 Hz (-10 dB)
    -Max SPL: 130 dB Crossover:
    -LPF: Continuously Variable from 65 Hz to 130 Hz
    -HPF: Selectable Output 65Hz, 85Hz 130Hz or Bypass Driver: model, SW18C, size 18" 15" Woofer with 3 " Voice Coil High Quality Coolex® Paint for Durability
    -Input Connectors: XLR/F Balanced 1/4" TRS Output Connectors: XLR/M 1/4" TRS

    Weight: 92 lbs.
    Dimensions (HxWxD) 21 " x 18 " x 21"


    I had this shipped to me by a local dealer here in Toronto so the box was only subjected to the torture of UPS for a short time. That being said it would appear the sub suffers some shipping damage despite its heavy packaging (I blame UPS). It took me longer to get the sub out of the box then it did to hook it up. The only damage was on the back corner of the sub where it looks as though the box may have been dropped. Little black paint and its not even noticeable.

    The box contains the sub, manual and warranty card and a IEC power cord. Everything you would expect in a box.

    The Physical:

    The sub comes in two finish's, black "coolex" paint and rat fur. I went with the coolex finish as it match's my tops better and I really don't like the look of carpeted cabs. The front features a large cast aluminum grill that protects the 15" woofer from damage (IE people's feet). The grill is widely spaced so you could still do damage to the woofer if you stuck a smaller pointy object in there, not sure where you would run into a situation where this is a problem though.

    The woofer itself is black with the suspension ring being red. IMO this gives it a nice contrasting high performance look which I quite enjoy. It defiantly looks like a party sub, that being said, if your planning on using this for weddings or in a professional setting it may not be the best choice of colors.

    The bottom of the sub is plain with 4 rubber feet that are bolted to the bottom. The top is flat with the exception of the 35mm pole mount socket.

    The back of the sub has all the controls required (see layout section) as well as a large heat sink for the built in amp as well as power and audio hookups.

    The Layout:

    On that back panel there are controls for gain, LPF, HPF, polarity (phase), master/slave and power. There are also L and R XLR and TRS IN hookups, L and R XLR and TRS Thru hookups, and XLR or TRS Slave out hookup.

    There are also indicators for signal, power, limit and clip.

    what does it all mean?

    Gain - Volume control, self evident what this does.

    LPF - Low Pass Filter - this sets the frequency that sub will play at. Anything below the setting will be herd, anything above it will be cut. The knob is constant from 130hz down to 40hz. Adjustments made to this knob will not affect the thru signal going to the tops.

    HPF - High Pass Filter - this is a 4 position switch that acts as a crossover for the thru outputs. Anything above the selected frequency will go to the tops, anything below it will be cut (or played by the sub depending where the LPF knob is). The options are bypass (full range to tops), 65hz, 85hz and 130hz.

    Polarity - Inverts the sound from the sub by 180 degrees. Useful if you have odd cancellation issues with your tops.

    master/Slave - Use this to pass the sub signal (after filtering) to an additional sub. This way you only need to set up one sub as the crossover and the second will match the settings. Note the slave only works in mono with the master.

    Power Switch - Self evident.

    I am very impressed by the I/O section of this sub. Other subs in the price range lack a built in crossover and LPF. The master/slave function is also very nice if you happen to run into the issue of having a pair of miss matched subs.

    The Sound:

    The sub is a bass reflex design with a 15" woofer powered by a 700w RMS (claimed) amp. For this part of the review I am drawing on my opinions of how the sub both preformed and sounded in various conditions. I am by no means an expert and can only comment on what sounds "good" to me.

    Test1: Indoors, carpeted conference room approx 250' x 50'. Used with RCA 310a tops, no external processing / EQ. Sub was setup to handle freq. below 85 Hz.

    For this setup I had the system set up in a conference room for a small reception, maybe 100 people. The clientele were college students and the evening consisted of a guest speaker, presentations, dinner and dance. For the spoken voice the sub was not used, as I use a high cut filter to eliminate the "pop pop" of people speaking into the mics.

    For the dance I felt the sub preformed quite well for that size of venue, the sub remained below limiting the whole night and I didn't have to push it to reach the SLP required for that size of room. The majority of the music was Top 40 / Hip Hop and Electronic. The sub added a nice fullness to the sound without being overbearing on the bass. It didn't feel like it was overpowering the tops at all. Normally I would use a pair of yorkville NX520p cabs for the this event, I'm glad to say the new system outperformed the old one.

    I had a several compliments on the sound of the system, I asked the client what they thought after the evening and they seemed satisfied with the sound and volume levels.

    I found this sub to be very musical, it helped out with the mid range a lot and extended the lows as opposed to making a loud "thump thump" to the bass. I find this to be much more enjoyable sound then the "hard hitting" subs that are really good at producing that 50-60hz note but not much else. Not sure how else to describe it, but the sub sounded nice a warm to me, not harsh at all. Reminded me of the analog response on an old bass guitar cabinet.

    My only problem with this sub was moving it around. Unfortunately you can't install casters onto the sub, as the frame won't allow for it. This means the dolly was used to move it around, not really a big problem but I will need a dolly with larger wheels....getting in the front door an uneven floor gave me some trouble. If you have a nice large dolly with 4" tires this shouldn't be a problem.

    Test 2: Outdoor end of year fest. Parking lot, open space outdoors, no walls.

    Same setup as before. Pair of RCF 310a for tops with the sub. Obviously outdoors is where a sub really shines, it's also where the sub was pushed the hardest. In the small area around the DJ setup the bass was quite nice, you could feel it within about 10' of the sub. After that it dropped off quickly, as is to be expected outside with no walls for reflection. I was pushing the sub harder than before, with the limit light flashing on bass heavy tracks. After about 2 hrs the sub heat sink was warm to the touch but not hot. There was no degradation in sound quality over the course of the day (4 hrs total). The tops did out power the sub outside and I had to make some adjustments to the gain structure to compensate. I defiantly think a larger sub would be required for outdoor events with no walls or reflective surfaces in the future.

    I did recommend the client use a yorkville LS720p (which I rent) for the event but the client didn't think this was necessary. Rule one: client is always right.

    Compared to the LS720p this sub is not as powerful, but it also costs 40%-50% less the 720p so I don't expect it to be. Considering that the CVA-115 was asked to perform a task it was not designed to do, I feel the sub did quite well. It's not the right sub for large outdoor events but I didn't buy it with that purpose in mind.


    Coming in at $600.00-$700.00 before tax, the CVA-115 offers entry level DJ's a great chance to add a sub to their rig while not breaking the bank. While the sub won't stand up to the likes of a yorkville LS720p or JBL PRX618-XLF it will beat the other subs I've herd IN THAT PRICE RANGE. While it is always better to save up and buy once, the ugly truth is some people just can't afford to drop $1200 into a sub in one go. At half the price of a high end sub, the CVA offers enough power for small venues and parties with the added value of having a built in crossover.

    For the serious DJ with serious sound needs, this is probably not the sub for you. But if you're looking at getting your first sub for small parties and venues requiring lower SPL then I would defiantly recommend this as an entry level sub. For my purposes this more than fills the need for bass.

    Of course, as always, the only way to tell if a sub is right for you is to demo it, which I would recommend before buying


    -Built in crossover
    -Built in master/slave and LPF
    -Looks really cool!
    -700w RMS
    -Pole mount capable
    -Small form factor (fits in a res room for storage)
    -Nice full sound, very musical


    -92 lbs (Buy a dolly!)
    -Not a professional looking sub (Red accents, not good for weddings)
    -Can't install caster wheels.
    -Not a "hard hitting" sub.

    Hope that was helpful for you guys! Hit me up with comments, constructive criticism or additional +rep!


  2. #2
    Member Al Poulin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Ontario Canada
    Great review! Thank you for taking the time to write that up for us - I know it can be very time consuming. Great detail and info. I will certainly see if I can give you some rep! Happy you are enjoying the 310As - simply amazing little cabs...

    Yamaha DXR15s - KX Audio (KV2) KX12s - RCF Art 310As - Yamaha DXR8s - Yamaha DXS12 subs (X2) - Wharfedale Titan 12A - Yamaha MG12/4 - Yorkville PGM8 - Peavey PV10 - Shure cordless - Stanton CD player - Sony Minidisc decks - LED lights - AMDJ dual SD player

  3. #3
    As you know ive been very happy with the 310a's thus far.

    Al didn't you do up a review on the 310's back on DJF 1.0? I seam to recall reading it. Might be nice to post it back up if you still have it


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Thank you for the review!

    I am very surprised that this sub is only 4.6 cuft considering that it weighs 92 lbs. That is quite a small footprint. That sub is smaller than an LS720P!

    I am in Toronto, where did you buy it?

    There is a friend of mine who is looking at a used Yorkville LS200P or a used LS720P sub because they are small.

  5. #5
    Electric sound crew in missisauga.

    Yes it has quite a small footprint, fits in my doorm room for storage. I've seen 12" subs with larger footprints then this sub.

    Although it is smaller then the ls720p keep in mind it won't sound as big and won't deliver the same spl.


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