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The REL HT/1205 MKII is the new mid-range model in the brand’s line-up of dedicated home theatre subwoofers, and sits between the entry-level HT/1003 MKII and high-end HT/1510.

When the HT/1510 was launched REL nicknamed it the ‘Predator’, a suitably macho moniker for what is a very muscular sub. This naming convention proved popular, so when REL updated its other home cinema models by incorporating technologies first introduced on the HT/1510, it christened the new MKII subwoofers the ‘Cannon’ (HT/1205) and the ‘Hammer’ (HT/1003).

The ethos behind these movie-centric subs is to move away from REL’s usual emphasis on a more ‘musical’ approach to bass for something that’s harder-hitting and primarily aimed at multichannel film soundtracks. As a result the brand has dropped the high-level Neutrik Speakon connectors usually found on it’s subwoofers, replacing them with simple phono inputs instead.

The upgrades on the MKII subs include new CarbonGlas drivers that benefit from a lightweight, stiff and cost-effective carbon fibre/glass fibre composite, an updated NextGen5 Class D amplifier, a series of improved filters for better bass response, and restyled cabinets.

In the case of the HT/1205 MKII this cabinet is sealed with a front-firing 12in driver partnered with amplification that’s sufficient to deliver a claimed 500W of continuous power. As you’ve probably noticed the model number is essentially a shorthand identifier of an HT sub’s primary specifications – so the HT/1003 MKII uses a 10in driver powered by a 300W amplifier.

REL has added bigger magnets and upgraded suspension to help push the overall output further, and as a result the MKII can run 50% louder than its predecessor, but with greater precision and subtlety. To help achieve this goal custom filters are able to minimise any distortion caused by soundtracks with very low frequencies that extend below the limitations of the 12in driver.


The REL HT/1205 MKII is the perfect example of the brand’s approach to subwoofery, where the emphasis is on delivering bass with control and precision, as opposed to some brands that simply chase ever lower frequency responses to claim in their marketing specifications. REL knows its bass onions, and balances output with a dynamic low-end that’s also subtle and fleet-of-foot.

Running through my usual bass-testers the HT/1205 MKII handles the incredible low frequency notes at the start of Edge of Tomorrow with great skill, going deep without distorting or sounding ragged. The REL may not mine the depths of some rivals, but it’s more than sufficient for most systems, adding weight and scale to soundtracks by laying a solid foundation of bass.

What’s equally impressive is the HT/1205 MKII’s ability to deliver its low-end heft in a way that’s as tight as a proverbial drum, and what better way to prove this than with the film Whiplash. This tale of a drumming student and his abusive teacher includes plenty of percussion, obviously, and the REL weaves its way through the music with the precise timing of a syncopated quartet.

While REL hasn’t lost its touch when it comes to bass ‘musicality’, the primary goal of the brand’s HT range is to cater to dedicated home theatre setups, and here the 1205 MKII continues to impress. The combination of depth and speed give gunfire and explosions a perfectly-timed kick, while the bass rumble that heralds the T-Rex attack in Jurassic Park is equally unnerving.

Ultimately the HT/1205 MKII is a cracking all-rounder that can handle any type of content with a grown-up attitude towards bass delivery. If you’re looking for blunt-force trauma look elsewhere, but if you want a more focused approach to bass delivery this particular cannon offers a laser-guided low-end that makes it the perfect addition your home cinema’s low frequency arsenal.


The REL HT/1205 adopts a redesigned and compact cabinet that’s lower and sleeker than the previous generation. The corners are now curved, and the cabinet is clad in a horizontally-streaked, line-grained composite that’s finished in matte black. At the front there’s a black fabric grille that attaches using studs and completes the overall look the restyled MKII.

The top panel is immaculately finished in piano black lacquer, embossed with a discreet REL logo, which also appears on the four large silver feet that provide solid support and improved isolation. The HT/1205 is certainly attractive, although the lacquered top is very glossy and depending on where it’s positioned might reflect whatever’s on your TV or projector screen.

The controls are all located at the rear, and REL identifies them using writing that’s both right-way-up and upside-down, making it easier to use them when peering down the back of the the HT/1205 MKII. These controls are fairly basic for a modern subwoofer with a level dial, another for selecting a roll-off between 30 and 200Hz, and a switch for choosing 0 or 180 degrees phase.

In general it’s normal practice to move the crossover control to the maximum setting and then let your AV processor or receiver handle everything else. However, REL recommends experimenting with a lower crossover at around the two o’clock position for a more dynamic delivery.

The HT/1205 MKII’s simplicity extends to its connections, which are composed of basic low-level stereo and LFE (low frequency effects) phono inputs, along with outputs for daisy-chaining more than one subwoofer. REL also offers the optional HT-Air wireless system for anyone who doesn’t want long cable-runs snaking around the room.

Unlike much of the competition there’s no EQ setting, room correction system, remote control, or remote app but that does make the HT/1205 MKII easier to install. By concentrating on correctly sized and solidly-braced cabinets, REL feels its subs can be effectively installed into any room without needing to resort to electronic gimmickry, leaving that to your AV processor or receiver.


The REL HT/1205 MKII might appear rather simple when compared to similarly-price competitors, but that makes it easier to install and setup. An elegant and room-friendly design also helps, and if you’re looking for bass with power and dynamism this mature and responsive subwoofer is just the ticket. It’s also extremely nimble, and what this sub lacks in low frequency depth, it makes up for in precision and attack. Ultimately this is a capable bass-maker that’s worthy of consideration.


Black Adam (4K Blu-ray)

The Rock plays the titular DC anti-hero in this comic-book adaptation, and the LFE track is as muscular as its leading man. Deep bass is liberally sprinkled throughout the film, making it ideal for testing your sub’s ability to deliver a sustained low-end presence.

Tenet (4K Blu-ray)

Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending temporal thriller may only have a 5.1-channel mix but the LFE track is epic, with deep extension from beginning to end. The scene where a 747 crashes into an airport terminal will challenge a sub’s ability to mine the depths.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

(4K Blu-ray) With its sequel currently in cinemas, now is the ideal time to revisit this animated classic, and it doesn’t disappoint. There are insane amounts of LFE that frequently dip well below 20Hz, pushing even the biggest subwoofers to breaking point.

What the press say

Why you should buy it

If you’re looking for a classy subwoofer that boasts muscular delivery and percussive attack when handling today’s blockbuster movies the HT/1205 MKII is the kind high-calibre cannon that will blast your home cinema with a broadside of bass.

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