advice on possible (REL?) sub for PSB Imagine B speakers

I know nothing about subwoofers! I have a couple specific questions and a couple general questions. Here goes.

The context: I recently said goodbye to my old Maggies (1.5), which I loved. I picked up a pair of PSB Imagine B speakers. I'm not sure they're a long term solution but, for a few reasons, I'd like to give them a run for a year or two. I like them! Still, I really miss the Magnepan sound; the fit, literally, just isn't right in my house. For that matter, a floor-standing speaker wouldn't be ideal. Big windows, big view--so perhaps not big speakers. (I love my wife!)

I'm wondering if a subwoofer would open up the sound of my speakers, give it more "air," more warmth and immediacy. I play primarily classical and rock; not surprisingly, it's the classical that I want to enhance. I don't care a whit about rattling windows or big booms. I want something that is "musical" and that gives more presence not only to the lows (organ, double bass) but to the mids (cello, bassoon). As is often said, I don't want to hear the subwoofer when I'm listening. Finally, I want more from these speakers now but I would also want a sub that could work with future speakers.

Almost everything I've read about REL sounds promising. I'm looking at the S3 SHO (still available with a little searching) or the S510. I did read something, somewhere, that the REL subs are designed to complement high-end speakers and not bookshelf speakers. So perhaps it wouldn't be a good fit? I'm open to other subs but REL seems to be saying the right things. Also, smaller is better, space-wise.

Here are my questions:

1) While I realize it might be odd to spend twice as much on a subwoofer (say $2000) as on speakers, is my approach otherwise nonsensical? Should I put to rest the subwoofer idea and save the money for better speakers down the road? Would a well-matched sub have the potential to open up my speakers now? (I do know that placement, etc, is crucial.)

2) More specifically, would the REL work well with the PSBs? Is there a reason they might not be a good fit for bookshelf speakers?

3) More specifically still, the speakers are ported--would I need to block those ports? 

Thank you all so much!


Showing 4 responses by bubinga

Hi northman,

I have the REL T7i with the Joseph Audio Pulsars.  Wonderful coupling.

1)  Makes perfect sense.

2)  Oh yes.  Once properly placed and adjusted, you'll be a very happy camper.

3)  No If placed and adjusted properly.

Other thoughts.  Depending on the size of your room,  you may not need the S3 or the 510.  A smaller model might be a better choice so you don't overload the room.  And buy from Amazon, Cruthchfield, or Music Direct.   Can return for full refund.

Good luck.   Your headed in the right direction.
Hi northman,

What is the size of your room? What kind of music do you listen to and how loud? I have a 25’ X 30’ room and my single T7i (corner loaded) energizes the room quite well. Yes, you can overload the room with too large a sub.

Regarding setup, I found it fairly straight forward but you’ll need to listen and tune by ear.

And I have my Pulars on stands about five feet from the back wall. These type monitors (including yours) perform best that way versus putting them on the shelf.

Finally, I was considering upgrading to 3SHO or the 510 and decided not to do that.  Unless you have a large room, I would recommend you start with the T7i (not the 5i) and buy from Music Direct.  They offer a 60 day money back gaurantee.  That way, you can audition and determine if it's the right size for your room.  If not, return and try the next model up the chain.

Regarding the Pulsar audition.

I’d call Jeff Joseph directly and see what he can do. Yes, you can talk to the "man" himself. He does sell direct and I would certainly ask for an audition before purchase. And FWIW, over the last 25 years or so, I had four different Martin Logans before I switched to the MBL 116’s. Suffice to say, I was very skeptical regarding how close the Pulsars would come to the 116’s but found they got me close enough in all performance parameters so I was not, am not wanting for much. The REL contributed significantly to this outcome. The Pulsars and REL, assuming appropriate gear and optimum speaker placement, are stunningly good. By the way, I listen mainly to jazz and classical but still enjoy Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, etc. on occasion.  The combo performs well on all genres and can play surprisingly loud for their size.

Also, be advised that you can pick up a used pair of the "legacy" Pulsar for somewhere around $4K. Current model has the graphene coated woofer and retails for $9K. I would not discourage you from buying the legacy model since you can upgrade to the newest model (in the future) for $2,300 which I plan on doing this summer. Can’t imagine what the improvements will be because the original model, with the REL, is superb and performs well above its price point.
Please do.  Willing to share what I know and will help as best I can.