are subwoofers anti-audiophile?


I have been into this hobby 25 years now and have noticed not a lot of us use Subwoofers in our systems.

I have 2 systems, one which is a Celestion SL700 with their Celestion System 6000 subwoofer pair with a outboard crossover-----my other system has changed quite a bit, but with always large floorstanding speakers. I have also always had adequate power to the speakers.

My floorstanding system cannot match the realism i get from my Celestion/subwoofer system. In my floorstanding system, it is almost like the bassist is backstage playing, while the rest of the band is front stange and center. This leads me to my question. Why don't most of us use subwoofers? I am a member of an audiophile club and we do system hops and no one has a subwoofer in their 2 channel systems.
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A good sub, set up the right way, should not even be noticed.....untill you turn it off. People don't even know I have a sub on most of the time. I'm not a "bass freak" by any means, but when I listen, if I turn the sub off, the room seems to get hollow. If you want to hear the thumping, any piece of junk can do that. Just listen to the kids next to you at a stop light sometime. I asked a young co-worker a while back what that noise was. He said "bass" I then asked him what instrument makes that sound. He was clueless. I don't think it's hard to get right. Some subs are more musical than others, for sure, but with a little effort, you should get good results. I use one in every room that has music.
Agree with Jmcgrogan2 100%. Subs for hometheatre can embellish the enjoyment of a Movie watched but are very hard to get right and usually expensive for musical bass that does not overwhelm the room or the MIDRANGE! Cheers
I have often wondered about this myself. I certainly understand the concern that a sub might sound slow, bloated, or one note. But it seems to me that there is ample evidence available to audiophiles that manufacturers like REL, Velodyne, and JL make subs that have few or none of these problems. So the question remains, why do so few audiophiles seem to use them? Maybe it is a prejudice, left over from an era when musical subs were few and far between. Maybe it's that many audiophiles value system simplicity, and they view subs as adding unnecessary complexity.

I use a sub in my 2 channel system. I initially decided to use it as a solution to space limitations, but now that I have, I'm not sure I would give it up if my space limitations were to change. Among the biggest advantages, as I see it, is the fact that the sub has a powerful, optimized amp to drive the woofer, which left me free to choose a low power, sweet sounding amp for my satellites, without having to worry about the amp's ability to balance both muscularity and finesse.

Of course, some manufacturers, like YG Acoustics and Evolution Acoustics, use powered sub modules in their tower speakers, which is essentially like having subs that act as stands for your satellites, integrated and optimized by the manufacturer. I think that is a very intelligent approach, and I often wonder why more manufacturers don't adopt it.

Among the downsides of using a sub, as others have mentioned, is that it is very difficult and time consuming to integrate a sub properly in a system. It took me several full days of experimentation, microphone measurements, and computer assisted equalization. Proper integration also requires a high quality crossover, which are expensive and somewhat difficult to find. As a result of these difficulties, it is rare to hear a system in which a sub is truly well integrated. Perhaps this explains some of the reluctance on the part of audiophiles to embrace subs.

Ultimately, the standard against which success should measured is your INABILITY to hear the contribution of the sub until it is turned off. If you can reach that level of integration, the results can be very musical, IME.
I have been running right and left B&W subs with my N802's for the last decade and just feel it is icing on the cake. I have a second system that I just added a single sub with my B&W 9NT's and it just took it up a notch in musicality. If they are set up properly which isn't difficult with a frequency test disc and a SPL meter (Radio Shack).
I think it depends on what kind of music you listen to and how you like it reproduced.

If it's full scale symphonic or any genre with a big sound, a sub will add depth and realism to the presentation. You also need to be able to match and integrate the main speakers and sub/s for full effect.

However, for more intimate type of music such as acoustic or small venue jazz I would tend to agree with what Jim and John have said. I had tailored my system to reproduce this type of music and never was able to integrate a sub without ruining or clouding the lower and middle midrange.

Using ProAc 2.5s I found the sub masked too much of the articulated bass even when set to its lowest crossover setting and barely a modest volume level. With ProAc 1SCs I also has to tune the sub way down which lead to big hole in the mid bass. Raising the crossover point on the sub muddied the mid bass driver of the monitor.

I think certain speakers and musical genres are less conducive to sub integration while others especially those speakers that do home theater well are more accepting of subwoofer blending.