the rel is the way to go. their signal pickup method and crossover /amp are far and away better than any thing else on the market. listen to any rel. and you will understand
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If you own Vandersteen speakers, I think the Vandy subs are a better choice. The Vandy subwoofer uses a special interconnect between the amp and the sub which provides the ideal interface with Vandy main speakers. On the other hand, if you do NOT own Vandy main speakers, I think the REL is a better choice. The REL Q201E, for example, has two connections from your preamp: one for music, and one for LFE used in home theater.
I own a pair of 2w upgraded to 2wq. One worked well with my Magnepan MG2bs. Adding the second in true stereo worked phenomenal. My amp is a Bryston 2b (50 watts/channel) to drive the Maggies with the subs. I like the way Vandersteen uses an x-filter between the amp and preamp. An inigrated amp is out the question and will not work. I purchased both subs used off the net and invested for the upgrades from Vandersteen. I found out you can not use a standard 2w with a 2wq configured in a stereo pair. Impedance mismatch.. The key for proper set-up is matching the x-filter in-between your amp and preamp. You hook up the subs by shunting directly off the amp with speaker cables the same as the main speakers. Cables are included with the sub. Vandy also includes a black box with dipswitches to change input impedance. You start out by setting the recommended amp input impedance and go up or down from there. You listen for the best result and purchase the selected value x-filter to replace the black box. In a nutshell, The base is phenomenal, tight and focused. I'm happy...Vandersteens web page will also shed some light. Food for thought to help in your decision...
whatever brand you choose, yo must get a pair, for accurate soundstaging; i don't care what anyone says! for value, you can't beat vmps - you can get a pair of their top-model subs, active x-over, & amp(s), for the price of *one* decent sub. and no, the entry-level rel doesn't qualify as a decent sub for audio, imho.
Hands down no comparison.
I own a Rel-201E, and a Storm.
My home theater uses the Storm.
My audio system uses the Q-201E.
I use Totem Arro speakers and the Rel.
This combo is driven by by an Audio-Refinement Complete, with Harmonic Tech cords alll around.
Thissystem sounds better than my former all Linn active system costing stratospherically more more.
All this thanks in a large part to Rel!!
The Rel and Totem Arro are amazing together.
Although, I have owned KEF's for most of my "audiophile" life, I am very fond of, and will ALWAYS be a Vandersteen fan. In fact, when the time comes when I'll be ready to upgrade and change my speakers, Vandersteens (the 2Ce Signatures.... but the endcaps will be either glossy cherry or glossy rosewood..... or if these finishes are not provided by Richard V himself, then I will insist on unfinished endcaps and then I will pick up a can or two of "minwax" and do the job myself) will be my next choice. But being the present owner of speakers from "England" (the KEF Reference 102's with KUBE Equalizer), I cannot help but think that a subwoofer from the "UK" would matchup better with my KEF's than would a sub from America. So with that said then, I would say that which sub you should buy depends on what your primary priorities are. If you tend to go for accuracy and tightness over power and brute force, then I think you sould lean toward the REL. But now, if you need a sub more so for home theater than you would need for music listening, then I would lean toward the Vandersteen then. If you already have Vandersteen speakers to begin with, then the choice is obvious already.... Vandersteen. But for me, since I already own the KEF's, I would lean toward the REL (specifically, a Strata III) personally. If I were ever to own the Vandersteen 2Ce's (which even up to THIS day, they are still MY DREAM speakers), I don't EVEN know if I'll ever purchase a sub or not. They seem to go down pretty low all by themselves (the Vandersteen 2Ce's do have a VERY DEEP bass response), so that in my book, will negate the need for a subwoofer as far as I am concern.
So, with all of the factors weighed and all, I would give a "slight" edge to REL.
I don't think you will go wrong with either one (REL or Vandersteen). Good luck with your eventual purchase.
Just a quick note on the REL connections. They do have the high impedance hookup option to go to 2 channel use. I think this is what brampy is talking about not being compatible with HT setups. However, they do also afford the option of RCA connection. This is standard for their subs. The owner has the option to use whichever one they want, so it does work well with HT. I apologize if I am overlooking someting that brampy knows, and would appreciate info if I am off base, but I think the sub is just fine with HT. After a lot of looking, I ended up with the REL Strata II and am very pleased.
I agree that the Aerial is a good sub too. I auditioned the REL Storm and Aerial sub at a local dealer last weekend(the Aerial was around 3500-don't remember the model) Both were very good. Hope this helps.
I own a Vandersteen 2W sub, which i pariedwith my norh marble 9's for a while.
It has since been replaced bya Bag End Infrasub-18, which thoroughly destroys it in terms of tonality and musicality.
The Bag is better, deeper, more musical, and stronger.
Likethe Vandy & REL, it is a music-first sub, and NOT for bone crunching SPL's for HT-
I would recommend getting a musical sub like the Vandy (or you can see I preferthe Bag End), then a second for the HT explosions if you need that.