Same advice as with any other speaker. Subwoofers are children of the devil. Well integrated, fantastic, and few integrate them well.
What they are NOT is a plug and play solution.
What they are NOT is a plug and play solution.
I don't understand why so many hate subwoofers. Since bass is largely a room pressurization/depressurization effect, few speakers can compete with a subwoofer in this regard. I have a JL Audio F113 subwoofer, and yes, it did take a little work to get it to blend in seamlessly with my single-driver speakers, but music doesn't have the same impact without it. I cannot imagine music without it. Well, yeah, a lot of music doesn't have low bass but I can hear some spatial cues that go missing when I turn the sub off.
What I have found is that the lower the crossover point, the better the integration between the sub and satellite speakers. This probably makes sense since the lower the frequency, the more the frequency takes on a 4 pi wavefront and the more difficult it is for your ears to locate the position of the sub. I have seen demonstrations at audio shows that indicate the effect. I once saw one that used an Eminent Technology rotary woofer that uses blades to chop the air into frequency waves similarly to a helicopter blade, which can go down essentially to 0 Hz, i.e. DC. I have also heard systems that attempt to cross the sub and speakers at a point over 100 Hz and it was pretty easy to hear the sub banging away in a corner.
@rlawry Yes, it's a known effect that the frequency at which sounds can be localized for humans is around 100-120Hz. This is why the THX reference crossover frequency is around 80.
When I say Integration, I mean two things. Speaker integration means that the frequency response and amplitude from the subwoofer to the speaker is measurably seamless. The measured response should be like measuring one large speaker, not a speaker plus a sub.
The second, much more difficult part is to integrate into the room. While managing the radiating patterns of a speaker as it goes from omni to directional is important, at the low end almost all speakers are acting as omnidirectional radiators.
Subwoofers however are purely omni. At 80Hz the wavelength is approximately 15' or around 5m.
The bigger issue for subs, or any full-range speaker is the way rooms behave. As you go down in frequency you find room modes. Peaks and valleys that the room acts like a bell and rings. It's more than just about radiating direction. This is why parametric EQ's and bass traps become so important. I've measured over +-20dB variations in modest living rooms under 80 Hz. That's the equivalent of 20x more or less power output. A 200 watt sub may sound like it's a 4000 watt sub at certain frequencies.
Unfortunately most attribute these problems to any number of mythical goblins which aren't really to blame. My favorite is "Electrostatic speakers are too fast for a subwoofer." Bunk.
That ET subwoofer with the blades, didn't chop up the sound. It acts like a fan that could change direction very rapidly (for a fan).
Look at it this way. There's no difference between a desktop fan and a speaker in terms of producing positive air pressure. A woofer pushing towards you produces the same effect as a fan turning so that air moves towards you. At 0 Hz we don't call it sound, we call it "wind" . :) What your desktop fan cannot do very quickly is change directions. My ceiling fan takes about half a minute to do this, so for all practical purposes I am limited to a 0 Hz output.
The bladed subwoofer is a very cool idea, which is to use a fan with a DC coupled motor that can change direction nearly instantly (compared to my ceiling fan). To produce a positive going output, the blades turn one way. When it reaches the peak, the blades turn another.
One big advantage of this is that there is no maximum excursion limit. With a woofer, you have a maximum amount of movement, measured in millimeters and often spec'd as Xmax. Beyond this damage will occur, but even before this there is significant non-linearity in travel. A fan based subwoofer however can turn infinitely in one direction, allowing for a genuine 0Hz wind.
But I digress....again! :)
I heard a couple of pairs of the YG Carmels at the Newport Beach Show and was very impressed at the coherence and immediacy of these speakers, approaching what I like about single-driver speakers. I think YG did a great job balancing bass response and nimbleness. That being said, I think it is difficult to say whether you need a sub. As I and others previously mentioned, virtually any speaker can be improved on the bottom end with a sub if you are careful, especially since bass frequencies involve moving a lot of air and the (7" ?) bass/midrange driver of the Carmels are limited by physics in how much air they can move. If you design them to move more air then the sonics will be compromised elsewhere, likely in midrange clarity. There are also many other factors such as the size and dimensions of your room, where you sit, the type of music you play, how loud you play it, your tastes in bass, and so on. Personally, I used to deny that I was a bass hound, when in reality I am and love what subs do, especially the well-designed ones from REL, JL Audio, Velodyne, Wilson Audio, and others. I try to dial in mine so that it sounds as if the low bass from bass drums, bass guitar, tubas, bassoons, etc sound as if they are in the somewhere in the middle of the soundfield and the only way you can determine its contribution to the music is to go turn it off to now realize what is missing. This is not what I hear at a lot of audio shows where the bass is turned up TOO LOUD.
If it were me, I would buy a relatively inexpensive but good sub, used on Audiogon. I had a REL Storm III and it was super simple to just set it and forget it. Yes, it was not as good a sub as my current JL Audio, but the JL also took a lot more adjustments to blend it it successfully with my speakers. If you listen primarily to LPs and/or monophonic music, you can get by with one sub as LP bass signals are often summed into mono. With digital recordings, this is not always the case. Also, some people swear by using one sub for each channel and there are some good arguments for this.
I own YG Carmels. The bass is tight and articulate. Which some say is a negative "review". I mostly listen to Classical and acoustic jazz and some late 60s/70s don't bogart that joint rock. The Bass is very adequate. I have since purchase upgraded speaker cables, AC chords, rack shelves and various anti resonance and vibration doodads. All custom made commensurate with the cost of YG Carmels. It negated the need for a sub woofer. Now not only do you hear a clean, NON wooly bass no matter what I play, but you can FEEL it in your diaphram. These changes took the Carmels to another dimension. The guy who made this stuff is a genius with degrees in just about every engineering field. I've never been to an audio show, but at 72 years old, I have the best sounding system I ,personally, ever heard. Oh, and I'm a lifetime working musician. Sounds better than any live. band equipment in my experience.
i agree with your assessment regarding be Carmel's bass. I am very satisfied with the bass quality. The bass is tight, tuneful, precise and goes down to the sub 40hz range. It's just that on some material I believe the Carmel's are lacking in bass volume in the sub 40hz range, there is only so much air a 7" mid/woofer can move. I am assuming this is the most significant difference between the Carmel and its bigger brethren. I am only considering augmenting the Carmel's with a subwoofer because the quality of a sub today may make it possible to integrate a subwoofer without effecting the Carmel sound as long as the crossover for the sub is in the sub 40hz range. I think more volume in the very low bass frequency would lock in the soundstage to provide an even greater illusion of