INTRODUCING THE SUBPAC M2X
Since the beginning of time, man has been fascinated with sound. Humans come equipped with five essential senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. In combination, these senses enable the way in which we experience our lives, and the world that surrounds us.
There’s a reason why people spend money on sound systems — both for home theater, but also in vehicles. Similarly, there’s a reason why you spend money to go to the movie theater; the experience, surrounding, and physical environment all make a massive difference when consuming entertainment. Much like film, audio is a medium that has the ability to transform the way in which we view the world.
WHAT IS IT, EXACTLY?
The quick and easy way to describe the SUBPAC M2X is a wearable sound system that you can physically feel. The M2X is specifically designed to be worn, akin to a backpack. Except that of course, a standard backpack doesn’t harness transformative capabilities that can dramatically alter the way in which you experience sound. Thus, if you prefer to understate it by calling it a gimmicky subwoofer backpack — then by all means, but understand it’s nothing short of incredible. It truly can change the way in which you interpret music; it’s powerful, impactful, and most importantly, it’s comfortable. The SUBPAC is simply put, amazing.
The SUBPAC is not of course, limited to music or audio production. The constant evolution of technology will drive new uses for the SUBPAC, and more broadly.. haptic feedback.
I can remember when I was a young kid, dreaming of a day when video games offered a far more immersive experience. Imagine playing Call of Duty, or Mortal Kombat while wearing a vest (or something) that was capable of physically impacting your body… based on what happened in the game.
Short of a full-body haptic suit (which could be both amazing, and impractical), the M2X offers gamers an experience that’s nearly impossible to describe. If you’ve ever felt a high-end subwoofer in a car, then you’ll come close to understand. However, unlike a normal subwoofer the SUBPAC is strapped to your body – offering a far more personalized and intimate experience, one that truly connects you to the audio you’re consuming.
UNBOXING THE SUBPAC
The SUBPAC comes in a normal-sized package, with packaging sized comparably to a laptop or mid-size monitor. They’ve changed their packaging over time, so if you’ve seen the crazy cool black box from Lewis’ review on Unbox Therapy, you’ll notice a much more subdued version featuring branded cardboard.
That being said, unboxing the SUBPAC still delivers a sense of amazement. Once you lift open the inserts, you’ll stare in wonder while you behold this engineering marvel in all it’s glory.
The SUBPAC itself is in a word, majestic. If you’re fascinated by technology at any level, the physical product design is enough to bring a smile to just about anyone’s face. It’s so unique that you’ll have a hard time not experiencing a “WTF” moment when you pull it out and strap it on.
Outside of the actual M2X, there’s a handful of items that you’ll need to get started. The box includes a “line in” auxiliary cord, the power supply, an additional lower strap for additional security, and of course a quick guide for instructions and getting set up.
SETTING UP THE SUBPAC
Admittedly, I wasn’t entirely sure how exactly to go about setting this thing up. I watched a handful of videos online so I had an idea, but I was still slightly confused, or at the very least interested to see how it would work. Luckily, it’s not an overly complicated set-up. Here’s how the SUBPAC connects to your audio source:
- Turn on the SUBPAC using the power button on the amplifier. Once it’s green, you know its ready to go
- Put your headphones on, and plug the headphone cord into the amplifier area marked for audio in
- Plug one end of the auxiliary cord (provided by SUBPAC) into the amplifier, and the other into whatever is playing your music (Smartphone, tablet, computer, or other device) That’s it!
As described in the steps above, you’ll have two cords (headphone in, auxiliary out) hanging around that are needed to make the SUBPAC come to life.
If you’re a little bit concerned with the two cords, don’t worry – the M2X is also Bluetooth enabled. It’s not entirely wireless though, as you’ll still need to plug your headphones into the amplifier. However, you can eliminate the need for an auxiliary cord by connecting your device to the SUBPAC.
For me personally, I prefer the bluetooth connection when simply playing music through my iPhone or iPad. There’s one other way that I love connecting my SUBPAC that might just be my favorite use case.. more on that later.
Actual set-up time: 15 seconds
AMPLIFIER + POWER SUPPLY
The controls of the SUBPAC are all driven from the amplifier, including the power supply. To charge the SUBPAC, you’ll plug the power cord directly into the amplifier, which activates the LED indicator to blue — to let you know it’s actually charging.
A full charge will take about 2-3 hours, which enables about 8 hours of use. If you were worried that this is one of those devices that dies quickly or needs to be charged all the time, rest assured I’ve tested it thoroughly — and battery life is amazing. No issues here at all.
The amplifier itself is of course, the brains behind the entire operation. There’s a knob that controls the bass level of intenstiy, which ranges from a small tap on your back — to a full body rumble that approaches nothing short of absurdity. You may be thinking, “Yeah I like a ton of bass so I’m going to crank that thing up” but honestly, don’t. Stop it.. get yourself some help. There’s a sweet spot maybe just above the mid-point that provides considerable impact, without becoming a complete distraction.
That all being said, did I test out the maximum intensity level? Of course I did. Did I immediately realize that it was too much? Absolutely. There, I saved you the trouble.
The shell of the M2X does have a slot where the amplifier can slide down into; you’ll quickly realize that it’s better to have the amplifier secure in position rather than letting it loosely hang down.
WAYS TO USE THE SUBPAC
As mentioned before, there’s a ton of different ways to unleash your M2X, so let’s dig into a few specific activities in more detail. I’ve decided that the M2X is one of the greatest products ever made, so I’m constantly theorizing about new ways (and places) to use it. All I’m saying is, if at some point in the future you see my mowing my lawn while wearing my subwoofer backpack, don’t judge.
LISTENING TO MUSIC
Captain obvious here, the M2X is a wearable sound system, so the primary reason to buy one is to enhance your experience listening to music.
The first song I played on the SUBPAC was Matt and Kim: Like I Used to Be, and oh my goodness.. what a life-changing experience. It’s not entirely possible to describe it, other than an incredible back massage rhythmically synced to one of my favorite songs. Okay wait, a back massage is not the correct analogy here. It’s more like, a therapeutic beating of a drum that lands on your back, but that you feel throughout your entire body. Am I exaggerating? Nope.
The SUBPAC will take any song you think you like, and instantly make it a million times better. Even if you don’t share my taste in music, here’s two other songs I personally recommend trying out to fully appreciate the M2X’s capabilities:
If you don’t at least crack a little smile the first time you experience the SUBPAC, you’re not human. I’ve forced countless friends and family members to give it a go. And sure enough, every time I can see in their eyes that they’ve just discovered a brand new thing. Again, quite hard to explain. But the simple equation is this: SUBPAC M2X + Human + Music = Happiness.
CREATING MUSIC – AUDIO PRODUCTION
I’m by no means an audio producer, unless you’d count hacking away on an electronic keyboard as “producing audio”. I’d absolutely say that I have genetical musical tendencies, and learned to play the piano at a young age from the best instructor I know (thanks mom), but I’m not Dr. Dre and I don’t have a sound studio.
If you do happen to be an audio producer, I can only imagine that your life without the M2X would be utterly incomplete. Don’t believe me? SUBPAC’s social media accounts are full of brand loyalists who produce music for a living.
This gives me a sense of confidence. Knowing that this audio accessory that I so dearly love is used by professionals around the world to create amazing works of art, I feel a sense of validation. Do you have to be an audio producer to appreciate the world of immersive sound? Absolutely not. That’s why I’m a firm believer that the SUBPAC is a product for everyone. If you hate noise, sound, or hearing, then don’t get one. Everyone else, yep you definitely should budget accordingly.
There’s a growing number of devices that continue to push towards a future where VR becomes mainstream. Are we there yet? Most definitely not. But Oculus, HTC, and others are making progress by the hour, and over time VR is almost certainly going to play a role in our everyday lives.
If you have had the pleasure of experiencing a VR headset, then you’ll understand why the SUBPAC fits perfectly into that space. Again, being able to look around and see a virtual, three-dimensional digital environment is amazing in itself, but if you can’t “feel” the environment, then you’re missing out on a crucial element. In combination with the PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and other headsets, the SUBPAC bridges the gap between what you can see, and what you can feel. The only thing left is those weird haptic gloves and a not-yet-invented product that can allow you to smell and taste things in virtual reality. Not quite sure I’m ready for that, just being honest.
We’ve officially arrived at my favorite reason why you might want to consider getting a SUBPAC. I’m a bit of a gamer, so I was incredibly excited to see how the SUBPAC integrated with my PlayStation 4. Let’s just say, my excitement was warranted.
Using the DualShock 4 controller, you can plug the auxiliary line-in from the SUBPAC, and modify your audio output settings in the PlayStation settings menu to direct all audio through the controller’s output. Basically, by enabling that option and plugging the SUBPAC into my DualShock controller, every game I was about to play now has the incredible addition of haptic bass.
You’ve seen, or at least heard of Call of Duty right? Imagine feeling every part of the game, instead of just hearing loud explosions and gunfire.
Maybe you’re more into something like Madden. I can guarantee you that you’ve never felt a bone-crunching tackle before, at least without the M2X strapped onto your back.
Here’s the point: almost every game out there is going to be amazing with the addition of the SUBPAC. Racing games, RPG’s, adventure games, anything sports-related, Red Dead Redemption, Rocket League, Fortnite and so on.. you just don’t understand how much better gaming is with the M2X.
What’s also nice about the set-up I described above, is that you can play a loud-ass game in a virtually silent manner. With headphones and your M2X, you won’t wake up your wife or baby while rocking out.
Modern video games are amazing in their own right. Video games with the SUBPAC? Congratulations, you’ve achieved enlightenment.
WATCHING A MOVIE
Assuming you’ve been to a movie theater at least once in your life, then you’ve felt substantial levels of bass. This goes without saying – movies (especially action ones) are better when you can turn up the volume. Add the SUBPAC M2X, and you’ve got a nice little set-up on your hands.
SUBPAC has something else up their sleeves though, when it comes to movies.
RIDING A MOTORCYCLE
People who ride motorcycles often have music going at the same time. Not saying this is right or wrong, just as a matter of fact. If you’re already listening to music, the SUBPAC might just be a worthy addition. While we unequivocally state that the SUBPAC is in no way, shape or form a replacement for protective gear, it is pretty solid material. Not saying, just saying.
SKIING + SNOWBOARDING
One of the first things I did when I got my SUBPAC was take it on a ski mountain. Snowboarding is one of the greatest leisurely activities in the world, and I always listen to music when I’m boarding.
Earlier this year in February, my SUBPAC traveled to Montana for a few days at Big Sky Mountain. Was I worried about damaging it? Not really. What about it getting too cold on the mountain? Honestly, I couldn’t tell you but the days I used it, it was about 25 degrees on the mountain. The SUBPAC handled the weather like a champ, and made for one of the single-most memorable runs I’ve ever had on my board. If achieving a true state of bliss is possible, then I can attest that snowboarding (or skiing) with the M2X is a great way to go about that.
Let me try to paint a picture for you here: Here I was, floating effortlessly down a massive, snow-covered mountain on a tubular shaped piece of plexiglass and wood, while experiencing a whole new dimension of sound. Cold air rushed my face, snow kicking back behind me, while rhythmic bass pumped through my body. I don’t know what else to tell you.
Two things of note here: riding up a chairlift was not as problematic as I imagined. I didn’t end up taking off the SUBPAC, but some of you might opt to do that. On another note, the SUBPAC is actually slim enough to put a jacket over. My brother pointed this out to me, and might be the best way to go about it, for a number of reasons. First, I’m not sure the SUBPAC should get snow on it.. since snow melts into water. Second, generally speaking, the less garments you have separating your body from the M2X, the better your experience will be.
If you didn’t read anything I wrote above, then understand that the SUBPAC is cut out for the mountain, and the experience is utterly ridiculous.
Recently, I came into possession of an Inboard M1 E-Board, an incredible invention in its own right. E-boarding is amazing, as is skateboarding.
The obvious point here is that if you’re listening to music while riding a skateboard, be smart. Don’t turn up the volume so loud that you can’t hear your surroundings – unless you enjoy getting smacked into by a vehicle.
Again though, the SUBPAC makes just about any experience better, so riding my M1 while wearing the M2X (in a non-crowded/safely marked area) is pretty incredible.
CAN YOU FLY WITH THE SUBPAC?
This was of course, an important question for me before I packed the M2X for my aforementioned snowboarding trip.
The short answer: Yes. The SUBPAC is TSA approved and safe to travel with.
Now, even knowing that, I always mention to the TSA agent, “Hey there, as a heads up I have an interesting backpack audio device in my bag so don’t freak out when it shows up on the X-Ray.”
You might imagine that a backpack that has a box (and cord) attached to the side of it might set off some red flags, but it hasn’t been a concern and I’ve had zero issues going through security.
HOW LOUD IS IT?
There’s actually two completely unique questions here to unpack. The first is, how strong is the bass? The answer to that question is: plenty loud. It’ll go louder than you’ll be able to handle.
The second question is arguably more fascinating. If you’re thinking about buying an M2X to use in the office, you’re naturally going to be curious about how much noise it makes to the outside world, meaning your colleagues. Fear not for your cubicle neighbor Jan. Considering the SUBPAC’s kick, you’d think it would make a decent amount of “rumble noise” for everyone else around you.
Shockingly, and maybe magically, it doesn’t make a lot of noise. Like, almost no noise. I can confirm that it is in fact, a stealthy device. You almost assuredly make more noise typing away on your keyboard than the SUBPAC does pumping out bass. It almost doesn’t even make sense. This was probably the single most surprising thing I discovered about it.
Which, of course makes it the perfect addition to anyone who shuts off the world and listens to music at work. If you’re a developer, the SUBPAC can actually help you focus. It’s not distracting, it’s almost therapeutic.
This is ridiculous, but we’ll ask the question. Could you replace the subwoofer in your car by wearing the SUBPAC while you drive?
It’s complicated. Yes, this is theoretically possible, but we don’t exactly recommend it.
Allow me to ask the exact same question in a different way. Would you wear a backpack while driving? No, you wouldn’t. Did I try? Yes. Would I do it again? Definitely not.
SO, SHOULD YOU BUY ONE?
Without a doubt. The SUBPAC is an essential addition to any audiophile’s arsenal. It’s not just a wearable subwoofer, it’s essentially a brand new way of experiencing music. Considering it doesn’t make a ton of noise, it can be used almost anywhere. Even (and especially) in the office.
If you don’t have a SUBPAC M2X, I can confidently say that you’re missing out on a product that can change the way you experience music.