Choosing Sub-woofers. Please advise ASAP.

Finally, I have committed to the new home theater system and need sub-woofers. My listening and theater space is about 16' x 14' but then total open space (kitchen in the back) is 16' x 32'. I would like to listen to non-dealer advise. Thank you.

Mcintosh MX160
Mcintosh MC1.2Kw x 2
Mcintosh MC205 x 2
Wilson Audio Alexia - Front Left and Right Speakers
Wilson Audio Mezzo - Center Speaker
Wilson Audio Sophia - Side and Rear Surround Sound Speakers
Origin Acoustic D88 - Atmos Speakers

I like the REL and the JL Audio but JL Audio is my primary choice. The question is 2 x 12" or 2 x 10" or single Dual 12"? The stereo dealer told me 10" would blend in better with music while HT dealer says 12" will have better effect because even my listening space is mall but overall room is large.

Your thought please? I need decision by tomorrow so I can close the final piece. Thank you.
Multiple subs tend to lead to more even bass. As for the 10 or the 12, that only you can decide after a good demo in your listening space.
+1 on multiple subs if your space can accommodate them. Since rooms can have so much of an impact on low frequencies, I'd look into sub options that have DSP that can correct for the room. This also gives you more placement options for your sub(s).

Haven't been in the market for a sub since these DSP designs hit the market, so I can't make any specific recommendations for particular manufacturers or models. 
Your speakers are pretty full range so you'll need 12 inch or larger to extend lower if needed at all.  Two are better than one for balance across the room. 
@ mapman. I thought so too. That is my original idea but shaken up a little when spoke to the dealer. He suggested his 2 used 10" subs at super crazy discount....

Also the room size is OK for 2x 12" subs?
That 10" subs sound better for music is a myth perpetrated by those who don't know how to integrate them well.

Without a doubt, 2x 12" is the better way to go. However, with all this spend, who is doing your room acoustics and subwoofer integration?

You should have that all done for you.

My point at the end is, subwoofers are fabulous when well fed, and evil monsters otherwise. If you are getting pro help integrating them, great, otherwise it can be a real learning curve and chore.

Two 12s are best but yes may take work to integrate well. 

10" is good with limited range speakers like monitors.  But good 12 done right still better.  

    You obviously have invested in some very good amps and speakers.  Getting a good bass system in place will complete the audio portion of your home theater.

     I think I'm the 3rd person to recommend multiple subs for the best bass performance both in terms of ensuring bass sounds good throughout the entire room (no bass peaks or weak spots at some seats) and quality bass impact. 

     A very good solution for you would be what's called a 'Distributed Bass Array System'.  If you google this name, there is a lot of info on this; the theory behind it explained by the acoustic engineer, Dr. Gettis,who 1st proposed it,  explanations of how it is applied and sellers of these systems..

     I purchased one of these bass systems for $3,000 called DEBRA from Audio Kinesis in Utah.  I was so impressed I started a thread here on Audiogon that describes my system and asks for input from others that have employed it.  Unfortunately, there aren't many current members who use it.  A good place to start would be to read this thread.  Here's a link to it:

      I was originally considering solutions like you are.  2 subs along the front wall at spots that are convenient.   I was looking at Hsu, Rhythmik, REL and JL that would be good for music and ht.  Fortunately, I discovered the distributed bass array system before I decided on specific brand and model of subs.  Here's a link to the site I bought the Debra at:

     I was skeptical at first but, after many emails and phone conversations with James Romeyn, I decided to give it a try.  I justified the cost by rationalizing that 2 high quality subs would likely exceed the $3k cost of the array.

     The system consists of 4 67 lb  4 ohm  subs that are relatively small with 8" woofers that are ported.  The subs are powered by a 1,000 watt class A/B amp that has a variable  cut-off frequency control. There is an extensive and detailed setup procedure that instructs exactly where to place each sub in your room and how to wire the subs in-series to the amp.

     I know 8" woofers seem small but the 4 summed together produce excellent bass for both music and ht.  It's very versatile and can reproduce taut and nuanced bass for music and reproduce wall- shaking deep, powerful and sustained bass for ht that makes ht effects sound very real which can  be startling at times. The added bonus is that you won't have a bad seat in your room for great bass response and you'll have no need  for bass room treatments or  digital signal processing systems.

I'm not a dealer and I have no financial interest in distributed bass array systems or companies.

Just a big fan of this method,


     I need to make 2 corrections to my reply post earlier tonight about my DEBRA distributed array bass system:

1. Each sub contains a 10" woofer, not an 8" woofer.

2. The subs are connected in-parallel, not in-series.

2x 12" it is.  Yes. My stereo system will be setup and professional tune for my listening area with acoustic treatment too. 

home theater will be setup by another HT and Mcintosh specialist.

i hope all work out well.

now, I just need to wait. Wilson will ship my speaker mid January! 
" Your speakers are pretty full range so you'll need 12 inch or larger to extend lower if needed at all.  Two are better than one for balance across the room. "

" @ mapman. I thought so too. That is my original idea but shaken up a little when spoke to the dealer. He suggested his 2 used 10" subs at super crazy discount....

Also the room size is OK for 2x 12" subs?"

Not true. If you buy subs with 12in drivers, the only thing you can be sure of is that your subs will have 12 in drivers. Are all 12in drivers identical? Better yet, if you have one of the drivers blow in your Wilson's, are you going to run down to your local Radio Shack for replacement? People may disagree with me on this, but I think the quality of the speaker is a factor in how it sounds. 

If you want to make bass, you can either move a large driver slow or a small driver fast. If all other factors are equal, there'a no difference. Not only that, a high quality 8 or 10 in woofer, can easily outperform a low quality 12 in unit. 

If you want to make bass, you can either move a large driver slow or a small driver fast.
That doesn't make any sense. A driver's movement corresponds to the frequency it's asked to reproduce. If it's a pure 32 Hz tone, the cone will move at 32 cycles per second, regardless of the cone's diameter.
Well, the frequency (i.e., the period between when the derivative is 0) won’t change based on driver size but cone velocity will, for a given output. A smaller cone moves less air and has to travel further between peaks for the same output as a larger driver.

i’ve always understood it this way, but I’m here to learn so I’m happy to be proven wrong. ;)

Well, the frequency (i.e., the period between when the derivative is 0) won’t change based on driver size but cone velocity will, for a given output.
The "cone velocity" is the driver's frequency. If asked to produce a 32 Hz tone, the cone should move at 32 cycles per second, regardless of the diameter of the cone. It's simply not true that:
If you want to make bass, you can either move a large driver slow or a small driver fast.
The key is for a given output.  A cone can cycle at 40 hz, but the distance between stops (i.e. Where derivative is 0) will vary depending on the amplitude of the signal. A smaller cone has to travel further to move the same amount of air as a larger driver.  So a large cone might move 5 mm back and forth to produce a given output at a given frequency.  But a smaller cone might have to move 7.5 mm.  And do so in the same period of time to keep the signal at 40hz.  

If im wrong, show me the maths!  :)

go for the REL. Happy Listening!
Driver must move at frequency to reproduce however smaller drivers have to move more i.e. At greater amplitude to deliver same SPL. as larger driver else you need multiple drivers.  
Agree with mapman.  
I actually bought a pair of JL Audio E-Sub E110. Originally I was looking for decent HT system and saw this pair of brand new at great deal, so I got them. Then it seems like the more dealers I see, the bigger the system gets. Now, I also wonder if e-sub is enough to match the Wilson? I tripled my original budget so..... trying to save now!

" If you want to make bass, you can either move a large driver slow or a small driver fast. If all other factors are equal, there'a no difference. "

" That doesn't make any sense. A driver's movement corresponds to the frequency it's asked to reproduce. If it's a pure 32 Hz tone, the cone will move at 32 cycles per second, regardless of the cone's diameter. "

That's not true. The lower the frequency, the more air you need to move. If you make an 8in speaker move the same amount of air as a 10in speaker, then you get the same frequency. That means the 8in speaker has to move faster than the 10in speaker. 

Check the specs on some speakers. Quite often you'll see speakers with smaller drivers that can go just as low as speakers using larger drivers. A good starting point would be to have a look at Carvers Sunfire Sub. He does a way better job of explaining this than I do.
The lower the frequency, the more air you need to move.
Of course!


     " 2x 12" it is.  Yes. My stereo system will be setup and professional tune for my listening area with acoustic treatment too.
home theater will be setup by another HT and Mcintosh specialist."

     Well, you made your decision and you'll soon know the consequences.  .   Are you saying one team is going to setup and  tune your room for music (including room treatments) and then another team is going to come in and setup the same area for HT?   

   If so and unless these 2 teams are working as 1 team from the onset and have a plan that understands the compromises that are inherent to having 1  area sound good for both, you may be headed for disappointment at the results.  
Will the setup, professional tuning and room treatments be geared in favor of music or HT?

Will the setup be geared to sound good at only 1 listening position or will it be geared toward sounding good at all seating positions in the area? 

How will the  2 subwoofers be positioned in the room to avoid the inevitable peaks and nulls that result from having only 2 sources of low bass frequencies in a room?  

Sound waves behave much differently in a room at 200 hz and below than they behave at over 200 hz.

 Attempting to produce accurate and extended bass performance throughout a room with only 2 subs (no matter what size subs or room), room treatments (no matter how extensive) and DSP (digital signal processing) has proven to be not only expensive but likely futile.  

Attaining good and evenly dispersed performance in your room on frequencies above 200 hz is going to be a piece of cake compared to attaining the same on frequencies of 200 hz and below. 

The inconvenient truth is that attaining good and evenly dispersed bass performance on frequencies of  200 hz and below in your room with only 2 subs is not going to happen.  

I'm sure you're skeptical but that's healthy and I was skeptical, too.  The proof will be evident once your setup has been completed; just play some content with repetitive bass and listen to the bass in each of the seats in your listening area.
 If the bass performance varies by seat position (bass is more prominent at some seats and lacking or even nonexistent at others) that means you have bass frequency standing waves in your area that result in peaks (overemphasizing the bass), nulls (underemphasizing the bass) and possibly cancellations (no bass percieved).

Okay, now the good news; When you realize the bass response varies by seat position, this is solvable through setting up a distributed bass system in your area that will result in consistently good bass response at all positions in your area.  Unfortunately, this means you're going to need a minimum of 3 subs (will work with 10" or 12" subs) and possibly up to 4 subs setup in a precise distributed array method.

This is all just the result of physics and  wave propagation laws that cannot be avoided.  Bass wave propagation within a room have been studied extensively by acoustical engineers such as Dr. Gettis and Dr. O'Toole.  They have published numerous white papers on bass wave behavior and experiments in various room sizes with supporting empirical results that have been independently verified multiple times.

The gist of their experimental testing conclusion is that the most effective method for reducing bass peaks, nulls and cancellations and attaining good bass response in any room is the use of distributed array bass systems.  The found that the more source points for bass (subs) in a given room, the better the quality and dispersion of bass becomes in that room.

Obviously, there is a practical limit to the number of subs in any given room.  Fortunately and crucially, they discovered there was a threshold of 4 subs in a given room that resulted in reducing the vast majority of peaks, nulls and cancellations in a given room and beyond which additional subs only resulted in  marginal improvements.  This is why the better distributed array bass systems typically consist of 4 subs.  

Hopefully, your setup teams will be familiar with the distributed bass array system procedure.  If they need assistance, I detailed the procedure in my linked thread on my previous post on this thread.  You can ignore the parallel wiring section since my system uses 4 non-amplified subs while yours will use amplified subs.  They'll just need to follow the sub positioning procedure and run line level cables to each sub and connect  the power cord to an electric outlet. I'd suggest hiding the connecting cables for aesthetic reasons ( I drilled holes in my floor and ran all cabling in the crawl space below. 

My motivation in posting on your thread and others is solely in sharing my knowledge about the effectiveness of distributed bass array systems and how well  it works in virtually any room to such an impressive degree.

  I consistently notice many threads that imply that they believe they can achieve good bass in their room if they only use a certain brand or size sub but rarely consider the number of subs and their precise positioning.  I increasingly think this is the case because of the simple truth is that most people don't know about distributed bass array systems and how well they work while  having the additional benefit of not requiring any room treatments, room analysis, equalization, DSP or any other tools and software many people believe is a good solution for achieving excellent and well dispersed bass performance in any given room.

     Again, I'm not a dealer of anything and have no financial interests in distributed bass array systems.
     I'm just an audio enthusiast who stumbled upon a great bass system method who wants to share the wordwith my fellow audio enthusiast brothers and sisters,   
Tim, thanks for providing us all with some excellent inputs and food for thought.

On a different note altogether, I would ask the OP in all seriousness if he has considered the ability of the listening room floor, and its support structure, to handle the weight of all this stuff. By my calculations, including the not particularly heavy E-110 subs the equipment that has been listed weighs a total of about 1600 pounds. And given that the kitchen is adjacent, the listening area is apparently not in the basement.

Seems like a lot of stuff and a lot of weight to be putting in a 16 x 14 foot room, in addition to equipment stands and racks, source components, furniture, and people. And even more so if you were to go to larger subs and/or more subs.

-- Al

It is a lot of stuff in a smaller room sound wise as well. Benefits of proper subs with good full range speakers and amps to drive them is more marginal but still real.   It's all a matter of how much of a total assault is really needed or desired.  
Hi Al,

     Good point about the weight, 1,600 lbs is no joke.

      I have no idea what the weight capacity of a typical living or family room above a basement would be.  I would think it all depends on the supporting structure underneath.  If there were a few steel i-beams that are supported by a number of steel posts that are anchored into a basement's concrete floor, the weight capacity might be substantial.

      Do we know for certain there even is a basement below his room?
     If it's on a slab, the weight capacity could be extremely high.  

   Truth be told, the op is starting to tick me off.  I'm getting the impression he's not even reading my replies so I seriously doubt he'll listen to my advice and add 2 extra subs. I think he's asked for assistance but already has his mind made up of how he wants to do things.  .

     I'm fairly certain he's going to be disappointed in the results but I can only lead a sautan904 to water, right?.  If the yahoo doesn't want to drink, then he probably deserves a room with poor bass response.  

@ Al

I have a wood floor on concrete so not an issue with weight. :b

@ Tim

I read your post then I got lost. English is my third language and when I see super long writing, I got lost. Thank you for trying to hhelp. Anyway, one dealer will help setup stereo and another will help setup HT. Eventually the Wilson Dealer will do the final tuning for both. I just have to give the HT dealer the job cause originally I went to him for budget system but then I change my mind and I could have bought all Mcintosh gear and wilson from the Stereo dealer but I feel bad cause HT dealer helped me so ended up I split up the purchase.

I hope they will do great job for me.
I have a wood floor on concrete so not an issue with weight.

Another factor that should be considered is how all this equipment will be powered. Assuming 120 volt AC the four McIntosh amplifiers have specified current draws (presumably when outputting maximum rated power) that total 44 amperes, although under typical listening conditions I would expect that number to be much less. But the current draw of multiple subs on high volume bass transients will add to the total considerably, at least for brief instants.

So it would seem probable that dedicated runs from at least two 20 amp circuit breakers will be necessary.

-- Al
@ Al

Yes, I have scheduled electrician to install addition 6 outlets on top of the current 2. Individual circuit breaker for every 2 outlets.

Now, nothing related to sub but anyone know good decent Flat cable for my surround pair where I need to hide under the rug. I originally want to raise the floor so i can hide all cable underneath but the Wilson dealer said NO NO. Raising floor will degrade the sound quality because it will be holo and bass will reflect. I guess it's true?
" Now, nothing related to sub but anyone know good decent Flat cable for my surround pair where I need to hide under the rug."

Not a good idea. Use a real pair of speaker cables. You don't have to go with anything really expensive, but you don't want to run cheap install cable to a $12,000 pair of Wilson's. Get something higher quality that matches the front speakers (It doesn't have to be exactly the same, just go down 2-3 steps in the same brand). As far as running it goes, figure something out. Maybe run the cables down the side walls and cover it with molding.

When I redo my listening room, I'm going to install the molding with a gap in it large enough to fit cables. Then all I have to do is run a wire snake through the gap and pull the wires through. For high speakers (Atmos), you can do the same thing with crown molding.
Cable. I found Nordost and they are pretty expensive but not sure how it will work. Will check with local dealer but anyone have any experience with flat cable?
Hi Sautan,

If you're looking at JL Audio and REL, give Velodyne a look as well - their digital drive series is fairly comparable in quality/price/performance and they have a lot of options that may suit your needs. As far as size is concerned, I'd go with a 12" over a 10" because the difference in "musicality" is negligible (in my opinion), and a 12" will tend to have better bottom-end extension. I run a HT company in Atlanta, so if you aren't already working with a local dealer, let me know and I'll be glad to help in any way I can.

Take care,

I used to like Velodyne and they look great too. But I think I pretty much lock in JL Audio right now.

New question. Does the single unit w/ dual drivers subwoofer works the same as having 2 separate single driver subwoofer?
I can give you some personal experience. I use two JL Audio's F112v2's in my 14' x 18' room along with Mac MC501 amplification and Wilson Sophia 2's, Watch center and Watch surrounds. Had the room professionally set up and it works beautifully. I don't think you will need any more bass than that!
Cool. I was thinking of single F212v2. Well, I will stick with my original plan F112v2 then. Thanks 
The following article has been posted before and is rehashed again below - one of the finer reads in the subwoofer selection tree discussing this....

Draw your own conclusions. ... subwoofer/

"…And Why a Really Good Subwoofer is so Hard to Find

Audiophiles and music lovers are missing out on one of the most dramatic improvements they can make to their audio system: Powered Subwoofers.

Most audiophiles won’t even use the word “subwoofer” in public, let alone plug one in to their precious systems. There is a kind of snobbery that exists in the world of high-end audio aimed primarily at receivers, car audio, home theater and especially subwoofers. As a matter of fact, subwoofers are responsible for many people disliking both car audio and home theater, since it is the subwoofer in both of those situations that tends to call attention to the system and cause many of the problems.

The truth of the matter is that subwoofers have fully earned their bad reputation. They usually suck. Most of them sound boomy, muddy and out of control with an obnoxious bass overhang that lingers so long as to blur most of the musical information up until the next bass note is struck.

We have all had our fair share of bad subwoofer experiences, whether it’s from a nearby car thumping so loud that it appears to be bouncing up off the road, or a home theater with such overblown bass that it causes you to feel nauseous half-way through the movie. You would think that high-end audio manufacturers would be above all of that, but you would be wrong. In many cases, their subwoofers are almost as bad as the mass-market models because they too, are trying to capitalize on the home theater trend that is sweeping the land.

You see, it’s very difficult and expensive to build a good subwoofer. One reason is that a sub has to move a tremendous amount of air, which places big demands on the driver (or drivers). Moving lots of air requires a lot of power and that means an amp with a huge power supply, which can cost huge money.

Finally, in trying to move all of this air, the driver (or drivers) which operate in an enclosure, create tremendous pressure inside of the box itself. The cabinet walls must be able to handle this pressure without flexing or resonating. Building such a box involves heavy damping and bracing which gets very expensive. When you consider these requirements, you quickly realize that it is virtually impossible to build a really good subwoofer (I mean good enough for a high-end music system) for under $1000. Yet most of the subwoofers out there sell for between $500 and $900. Manufacturers do this because their marketing research has shown them that that is what people want to spend on a sub, never mind the fact that what people want to spend and what it takes to get the job done right may be two different things. The result is that even most high-end manufacturers are putting out poorly constructed subwoofers that just don’t sound very good.

I don’t want to give you the impression that anyone who really wants to can build a good subwoofer so long as they are willing to throw enough money at the problem, because that really isn’t true either. There are some pretty expensive and well-constructed subwoofers out there that you would never want to plug into your music system because they would most certainly make the sound worse.

Why? Because of their crossovers.

A crossover is inserted into your signal path in order to remove the lowest frequencies (the deep bass) from your main speakers so that they no longer have to do all of the dirty work. The deep bass will instead be dealt with by the subwoofer.

The #1 benefit of adding a high quality subwoofer to your system is not how it further extends the bass response, but how it can dramatically improve the sound of your existing power amp and main speakers from the midrange on up. That, my friends, is by far the most compelling reason to add a sub to your high-end music system. Once your main speakers are freed from the burden of making deep bass, they will sound cleaner, faster and clearer, especially in the midrange and midbass.

They will also image way better because there will be far less air pressure and therefore resonance and vibration affecting their cabinet walls.

And since the power required to make the deep bass is provided by the subwoofer’s built-in amplifier, your main power amp will be free from that burden and begin to sound like a much more powerful amplifier.

The one big problem with all of this is that you need a crossover to roll off the deep bass in your system and achieve all of these benefits. And the crossover that comes with almost every subwoofer on the market will cause more damage to your signal than can be overcome by these benefits. That is the main reason that audiophiles refuse to consider adding subwoofers, even very expensive ones with well built cabinets.

Enter the Vandersteen 2Wq 300 watt powered subwoofer. This is the only subwoofer that is specifically designed to be inserted into the highest of high-end music systems without doing any harm to the precious signal.

So how does Vandersteen do it?

Simply. In fact his crossover scheme is so ingeniously simple that it’s a wonder nobody else thought of doing it the same way. I’ll spare you an in-depth description and just say that the only thing you end up inserting into your system is a couple of high quality capacitors. That’s it, nothing more!

No additional wires or gadgets enter your signal path. Hell, you don’t even have to disconnect the wire between your amp and speakers to add this subwoofer. The model 2Wq sub uses the same basic crossover scheme as the $15,000 flagship Model 5As. As a matter of fact, you can even run the specially designed Model 5A crossovers (M5-HP) with the 2Wq if you want the most transparent sound imaginable.

So what about the other reason to add a subwoofer to your system: for more powerful and extended bass? I don’t care how big your main speakers are, they’re no match for a good subwoofer in the bass.

A really good subwoofer can run rings around the best floorstanding speakers when it comes to bass extension, power and control because it is designed to be good at that and nothing but that, whereas main speakers have to be good at higher frequencies as well. Ideally, you want two subwoofers so that you have true stereo separation down deep into the bass. Stereo subs can also help to lessen room interaction problems by providing two discrete sources of bass information. Remember, if you can’t afford to buy two subwoofers at once, you can always add the second one later. Adding a pair of 300 watt powered subwoofers is exactly like adding a pair of 300 watt monoblock amplifiers to your system and upgrading to a pair of better main speakers at the same time. The beauty is that you don’t have to replace your main power amp or speakers to do it.

But there is a problem here as well.

Everything comes at a price, and the price you pay with most subwoofers is that when you add them and their built-in amplifiers to your system, they don’t tend to blend or integrate well with the sound of your power amp and speakers. This is especially true if you own a tube amp, because the character of your amp is nothing like the character of the big solid-state amp that is built into most subwoofers.

The result is that your system sounds split in half. You can hear where one part of the system leaves off (namely your amp and speakers) and where the other part takes over (the sub and its amp). This is a HUGE problem for audiophiles who aren’t willing to destroy their system’s coherence for additional power and bass extension.

Fortunately, Vandersteen has the perfect solution for this problem that is, again, so simple, I wonder why nobody else thought of it first. His solution is to build a very powerful 300 watt amplifier that strictly provides the huge current needed to drive the subwoofer. You can think of this amplifier as only half of an amplifier; or just the power portion of an amplifier. The release of this power is controlled by the signal that is provided by your power amp. Vandersteen’s amplifier needs a voltage to modulate its current output, and what better place to get that voltage than from your main power amp? This way, your power amplifier is directly responsible for the sonic character of the deep bass coming from the subwoofer because it provides the necessary voltage signal. This voltage signal contains the unique and characteristic sound of your main power amplifier and insures that that character is maintained in the sound of the subwoofer itself. The beauty of it is that your amplifier is only providing a voltage reference and no actual current, so it is not taxed with the burden of “driving” the subwoofer in any way. As a matter of fact, your amplifier doesn’t even know that the sub is connected to it. The 2Wq’s potential is almost unlimited given that it will ratchet up its performance as you improve your power amp. Remember that you always want your subwoofer to sound just like your power amp. No better, no worse. NO DIFFERENT!

After having spent time with the amazing Vandersteen Model 5A loudspeakers with their 400-watt powered, metal cone subwoofers, we were reminded of the sound we had with the awesome Audio Research Reference 600 mono power amps. With the Ref 600s there was a sense of effortlessness, openness and unrestricted dynamic freedom that we have only otherwise heard with live unamplified music.

Listening to those monstrously powerful amps made us realize that all other systems sound compressed by comparison. Only when we heard the new Vandersteen Model 5As with their hugely powerful built-in subwoofers, did we again have a strikingly similar sonic experience. The reason is that the Model 5As provide a total of 800 high-quality watts, to which you have to remember to add the power of the amp we were using, the ARC VT-100, at 200 watts.

This means we were listening to about 1000 total watts of amplifier power – not far from the 1200 total watts provided by the Ref 600s. With the Vandersteen subwoofer crossover and amplifier, you are able to get those hundreds of subwoofer watts to blend seamlessly and even take on the character of the ARC VT-100. It’s amazing! What’s even better is that the price of the system with the Model 5As and the VT-100 is under half the cost of the Ref 600s alone! Since this discovery, we have achieved the same kind of unbelievable dynamics and seamless blending with ProAc loudspeakers and twin Vandersteen 2Wq 300 watt powered subs.

So, if you want the sound of Ref 600s but cannot afford them, buy a pair of Model 5As or your favorite pair of ProAcs plus a couple of 2Wq subwoofers and mate them with a VT100 and you’ll get surprisingly close.

You can cut the cost even further by running a pair of Vandersteen 2Wq 300-watt subwoofers with your existing speakers.

Or mate a pair of 2Wqs with your favorite ProAc. In any case, it is the magic of SUBWOOFERS that allows this to happen.

It is for all of the above reasons that there is only one subwoofer in existence capable of integrating seamlessly into a high-end music system, allowing you to reap all of the benefits of having a subwoofer, with none of the drawbacks.

And the Vandersteen 2Wq is the one. And just in case you think I am a biased source, our correspondent Blaine Peck (who, for all you know is also a biased source) recently wrote the following, with no discussion between us about the topic prior to his sending us his comments.

Whether reproducing the plucked string of an acoustic bass or the sound of an analog synthesizer, the Vandersteen 2Wq subwoofer is a seamless extension of any system. Nothing else need be added! With its internal 300-watt power amplifier, it is the perfect compliment to any sound system. Designed to take on the characteristics of your main stereo amplifier, the amp in the 2Wq will not sound foreign in your system. Also, through an extension of the Vandersteen design philosophy, a unique gradually sloping crossover system is implemented so you simply do not know where your main speakers stop and the 2Wq begins.

Now that your main speaker/amplifier combination need not concern themselves with those power demanding low frequencies, they are freed up to work in a more comfortable range. Yes, now what is coming from your main speakers will sound better than ever.

The 2Wq is not just another subwoofer. It consists of three 8″ floor-facing drivers, each with a massive motor. So why not a more typical single 12″ or 15″ design? Well frankly, the mass of a larger driver will not allow it to respond as quickly as the Vandersteen 8″ drivers to today’s demanding recordings. The 2Wq’s 8″ drivers are designed to handle the content but be “fleet of foot” at the same time. Concerned about where to put them? You need not worry. With the control of both its respective level and the “q” (how loose or tight the low end is) you have the flexibility to place them in a location that fits your living environment and not sacrifice performance. The simple beauty of this product will soon become an addition to your room.

So whether on orchestral music, hard rock or something in between, the Vandersteen 2Wq will exceed your expectations...."


     I enjoyed reading your post on the Vandersteen 2Wq sub system  and I think it could be a very good bass system with a few modifications.  I especially like the subs taking their signal from the main amp in order to better integrate the overall sound with the main speakers..  Your post states:

" It is for all of the above reasons that there is only one subwoofer in existence capable of integrating seamlessly into a high-end music system, allowing you to reap all of the benefits of having a subwoofer, with none of the drawbacks."

       In order for this statement to be true, however, I believe the Vandersteen system would need to utilize 4 2Wq subs and utilize a much more precise distributed array method for locating each sub.  There was no mention of where to place their subs and simply placing them at convenient locations in the room will inevitably result in uneven bass performance throughout any given room.
       The only currently proven method to eliminate bass peaks, nulls and standing waves (providing accurate and even bass response throughout the entire area) in any given room is to use a minimum of 3 subs, ideally 4 subs, with each sub positioned according to the distributed bass array procedure.  
     I think the Vandersteen 2Wq system, with 4 subs and setup in the distributed bass array method, could perform equally as well or possibly even better than the Swarm or Debra bass systems.



I have Vandersteen Treo's.  I believe I just sold them and I'll be getting the Quatro's.  Why?  The subs are built in and they have an 11 channel EQ.  I have yet to hear any sub that sounds as good IRT musicality.  They will shake the room.  That said, he's also making a sub that matches with the 7 mk2's.  It's not cheap, but it's special.  Richard will tell you that if you want to move as much air as possibly, that you can just add a sub to each channel, including the surrounds.  

"Your speakers are pretty full range so you’ll need 12 inch or larger to extend lower if needed at all. Two are better than one for balance across the room."

I would think the exact revese to be true. A full range speaker should sound better with a smaller sub by virtue of its FR and the fact that it’s producing decent bass on its own already. Conversely, a small speaker should benefit from a bigger sub to cover a wider range.
"A full range speaker should sound better with a smaller sub by virtue of its FR and the fact that it’s producing decent bass on its own already. Conversely, a small speaker should benefit from a bigger sub to cover a wider range."

It doesn’t work that way. Here’s the "old school" principles:

Smaller woofers/subs are TYPICALLY more limited in extreme low frequency output than larger woofers/subs. Since the presumption is that the OP has "full range" speakers already and wishes to further enhance the ultra-low bass output of his system, the larger woofer/sub SHOULD go lower, providing more ultra-low frequency enhancement, all things being equal.

Further, if the OPs "full range" speakers already have a strong mid/upper-low frequency output, adding a smaller (higher frequency output) woofer/sub will create boominess in that range (major overlap in the midbass). Worst of all worlds IME.

Conversely, a smaller woofer/sub should TYPICALLY be quicker and more tuneful in the mid/upper-low bass frequencies, thus easier to integrate with a "smaller" speaker, assuming that the latter’s low frequency output rolls off a significantly higher frequency than a "full range" speaker (minor mid/upper-low frequency overlap of the smaller speaker with the smaller sub’s higher output frequency). Ultra-low bass will not be enhanced as with the larger woofer/sub, but that is irrelevant if integration is poor.

Many potential exceptions to this are experienced in the real world as it depends heavily on the cabinet size/design of the sub, crossover adjustment flexibility, design (ported vs sealed), amplifier’s power/characteristics/ability to control the woofer, and placement. Also the newer concept of digital room equalization/correction built into the sub’s digital electronics (a’ la’ JL Audio and a few others) negates the "old school" rules to some extent, allowing a larger woofer/sub to integrate well even with smaller main speakers by tuning/contouring the sub’s output (increasing or reducing the output at certain frequencies based on system characteristics/room acoustics as measured by a microphone and processed by the sub’s digital circuitry).

Subs can also be used for entirely different purposes than "bass enhancement". I use two REL Stadium III sub’s fed via the high level inputs from my amp with the subs’ crossovers set to "out-of-phase" mode to cancel standing waves due to room bass nodes, actually reducing the perceived bass heard at my listening position, and to enhance the soundstage (by loading the room with sound pressure from the subs) as my main speakers need no low-bass enhancement, but actually the opposite in my room. Works quite well.



     Very interesting how you're utilizing your 2 REL subs set to 'out of phase' to reduce bass standing waves in your room.  I haven't heard of this  before.  

     You state that this has actually reduced the perceived bass at your listening position but, due to the subs loading your room with low frequency sound pressure and your mains ability to go deep, this has resulted in an enhanced soundstage at your listening position.  

     I'm not completely clear on this but, since it's working so well for you, I want to learn more about this method.  A few questions if you don't mind:

1. How did you decide where to position  your subs, through a set procedure or trial and error?

2.  Can you be more specific concerning the sound qualities that result in your perception that the soundstage  being enhanced?

3.. Did you set it up so bass is best at your listening position, or so bass is good throughout the entire room?  

Hi Tim,

Glad to give it a shot.

What I said was that I use the RELs out-of-phase to cancel standing waves due to room bass nodes. The improvement in soundstage happens due to the sub(s) loading the room with sound pressure, either "in-phase" or "out-of-phase". Works both ways if your sub(s) is capable of true ultra-low frequency reproduction and the crossover is set properly (at the lowest crossover frequency setting in my case).

To set up the sub(s) for soundstage enhancement, adjust the crossover frequency and output levels so that the bass enhancement effect of the sub(s) can be felt but not heard. The best way to do it is sit in your preferred listening position and have someone turn the sub on and off (or use the remote if applicable) and adjust crossover and level controls until you don’t notice much difference in the bass level when turning it on, but the soundstage collapses somewhat when you turn it off.

I positioned the RELs by ear. Lots of time and moving the subs to find the best spot by trial and error. One trick for finding the best starting location is to place the sub where you sit and move about the room until you hear the sweet spot, then move the sub to where you were standing (or even better, squatting) when you found that sweet spot. If using two, do it again with the second while the first, already optimally placed, is on.

My experience is that it is impossible to place a sub where it will sound its best "throughout the entire room". You can certainly compromise for a good "all-around" placement but it will only perform optimally in one location in your room for a given listening position.

I hope this helps some. Let me know if not.

Hi Dave,

     Thanks for the explanation.

     The method you used, playing the sub at your listening position and then walking (squatting) around the room to find the spot where the bass sounds best and then locating the sub to that spot, is the exact same method in the distributed bass array system procedure that I used to place my first sub.

      Doing it again for the 2nd sub placement, while the optimally placed 1st sub is playing, is also the step#2 that I followed.

     However, I disagree with your statement : " You can certainly compromise for a good "all-around" placement but it will only perform optimally in one location in your room for a given listening position."

     I think you're correct if only 2 subs are utilized in the room.  The DBSA (distributed bass array system)'s use of 4 subs in a given room is the key and I found it has the remarkable and empirically proven affect of eliminating all bass standing waves in a given room.  The result is optimal bass response evenly distributed throughout the entire room.  

     The only reason your good bass is limited to a single optimum listening spot is because you stopped halfway through setting up a DBAS in your room.  I am reasonably certain that adding 2 more subs, following the exact same positioning method you used for sub# 1 and 2, will result in the very good bass response, that you're now enjoying only at a single optimal listening position, expanded to every possible listening position in your room. 

     I'm a huge advocate of the DBAS only because I use it and know how amazingly well it works.  It is a system developed by 2 PHDs in Acoustical Engineering, Dr. Gettis and Dr. O'toole, that is based on math and physics and been scientifically and independently proven to be effective numerous times in various rooms.  

     Their published White Papers on their research and experimental results state that as the number of sources of bass wave propagation (subs) in any given room increases,   the number of standing bass waves in the room decreases.  They mention their realization that there is a practical limit to the number of acceptable subs in any residential or commercial space.  

      In a crucial statement about their findings as it relates to home and commercial usage, they also stated that they discovered that a minimum of 4 sources of bass wave propagation (subs) are required to eliminate the vast majority of bass standing waves in any room tested in their research results with any additional subs only resulting in marginal improvements.  This is the reason  most DBAS utilize 4 subs.

     My opinion is that the above is critical information for the original OP, sautan904, to consider when setting up his new system. I'm not sure whether he understands  the info, believes it  or has just chosen to ignore it, however, since he has opted to go with just 2 subs.  My concern is that he doesn't realize the results are completely predictable and inevitable regardless of your room dimensions.  

      When he discovers his 2  sub system results in numerous bass standing waves and resultant uneven bass response in his room, the good news is it'll still be solvable by an extra couple of subs.  

Nice to know Tim. Nothing like being set up by someone with an agenda to push posing as a real person with genuine interest in learning. Shoulda known.

I only listen from one position as I am only one person at any given point in time. As for having four subs, I am probably already in the extreme at having two. I am sure there are a few audiophiles that are able to overcome the expense and freedom from real-life constraints (WAF and such) that can or will take advantage of your recommendations. Bet you can count them on your fingers.

You can stop trying to solve the issue for the OP as he went a different direction. One more finger in reserve. Keep counting.



     You stated:" Nice to know Tim. Nothing like being set up by someone with an agenda to push posing as a real person. Shoulda known."

    My wife has often accused me of 'posing as a real person' but I didn't expect this from you!

     I'm such a big fan of DBAS that I've probably seemed a bit too enthusiastic to some readers.  I actually can understand how some may question my agenda.   My only 'agenda' is spreading the word on DBAS due to its extraordinary effectiveness in generating great  bass performance in any room due to its ability to eliminate bass standing waves without the need for ANY of the usual expensive but comparatively ineffective tools such as bass traps, room analyzing microphones, room analyzing software, bass compensating software or bass compensating equalization.

     However, I can assure you I have absolutely no financial association in the manufacture or sales of distributed bass array systems. After many phone calls and emails communicating with James Romeyn, the owner of James Romeyn- Music and Audio LLC in Utah where I purchased my DEBRA DBAS, I do consider him a friend but there are absolutely no business agreements or arrangements between us.  

Dave, you stated: " I only listen from one position as I am only one person at any given point in time. As for having four subs, I am probably already in the extreme at having two. I am sure there are a few audiophiles that are able to overcome the expense and freedom from real-life constraints (WAF and such) that can or will take advantage of your recommendations. Bet you can count them on your fingers.   You can stop trying to solve the issue for the OP as he went a different direction. One more finger in reserve..".

     I understand the OP decided to use 2 JL F112-V2 subs in his system.  For current and future readers of this thread, however,  I'm going to list the main reasons I believe this was not a good choice for many who are considering the best choice for low bass performance in their rooms and also to refute some of your comments in your quote above.:


     I know the JL F112-V2 are very good subs. My issue is not with the quality of the subs the OP chose but the quantity of subs and their positioning.  As I've stated multiple times on this thread, it has been scientifically proven that 4 subs setup in the distributed bass array system method is the best solution discovered thus far at eliminating bass standing waves in any room regardless of the room's size and dimensions. This results in very good bass response  that is accurate, smooth, extended and these qualities are consistent throughout the entire room.  

The JL F112-V2 manual also recommends the use of 4 subs for best results.  Here is the exact quote:

" Research indicates that the smoothest bass response for a large listening area can be achieved using four subwoofers, placing one at the midpoint of each of the four walls (although using two or three subwoofers can be almost as good) "

     This quote is accurate with the exceptions  of the positioning recommendation and that 'using two or three subs can be almost as good".  .  The JL positioning  method is rather rigid and may not work in every room.  The distributed bass array method is much more specific and is customized to each  room.
     I am not aware of any scientific proof that two or three subs perform almost as well as 4 subs at reducing bass standing waves.  I'm  not stating this statement is false, just that I'm currently unaware of any scientific verification.of this statement.

     To be fair and honest, I think 4 JL F112-V2 subs would likely outperform 4 Audio Kinesis subs (probably in deeper bass extension) if both were positioned using the same distributed bass array method.

   However, using just 2 JL F112-V2 subs could possibly sound good at 1 listening position if both subs are positioned using the distributed bass array system procedure with the listening position treated as the reference position  But this will also unavoidably result in multiple bass standing waves at numerous other spots in the room that will cause bass perception at these positions to be exaggerated(peaks), diminished (dips or nulls)or even non-existent(cancellations).  Not a problem in your situation but is much more important to many others.


2. WAF-

     We all know this is variable by user dependent on the quality and nature  of your 'W'.  My opinion is that most wives would be more amenable to the look, size and discreetness of the Audio Kinesis subs than the JL subs. Here are some facts and I'll let each reader decide based on their own W's likely reaction:

Each JL F112-V2 weighs 117 lbs. and is 15.1"W x18.5"H x17.8"D
Each Audio Kenisis weighs 67 lbs.and is 14.5"W x 23.75"H x 10.375"D

JL F112-V2, I believe, is only available in black gloss finish
Audio Kinesis subs are available in a wide variety of wood finishes

My opinion is that the Audio Kinesis subs, being smaller and available in numerous wood finishes, would be considered by most wives to be more discreet than the larger and gloss black JL subs

     After following the progressive setup procedure, my front 2 subs sounded best located along the front 16' wide wall of my 23' long by 16' wide living room.  Each front sub is located about 1' away from each side wall, hidden from view by a 6' high by 2' wide Magnepan panel speaker that is positioned about 3' in front of each sub and also 1' away from each side wall.  From my listening chair located in the middle of the back 16' short wall  opposite  the front, both front subs are completely hidden from view.
     Sub#3 sounded best along the 23' long left wall about 1' away from the back wall.  Sub#4  sounded best along the right 23' wall about 1' away from the back wall.  Sub#3 is hidden from view by a large leather recliner and sub#4 is hidden from view by a large wooden end table that is between sub#4 and my listening chair.  Overall, the 4 subs do not call attention to themselves and, therefore,  very discreet.


The complete Audio Kinesis DEBRA system(:4 subs and a 950W amp) is priced at $2,990.

 The mrsp of 4 JL F112-V2 subs(optimal performance according to JL) is $14,800, although a buyer buying 4 would likely to get a significantly reduced price of I would estimate at about $12,000. The OP would be very fortunate to have struck a deal for 2 JL F112-V2 subs for twice the price of the Audio Kinesis system. Clearly, using 2-4 of the JL subs is significantly more expensive. than the Audio Kineses complete system.

     I would think more than a handful of audiophiles would be interested in a bass system solution that outperforms 2 high quality subs, has a higher WAF and costs thousands less.

" One more finger in reserve.."?




"One more finger in reserve.."?"

Meaning that the OP went with a different solution, not the middle finder salute. :)

I am sure that you have discovered something of merit, Tim. If anyone will listen, that's another matter. IME, doesn't help to oversell.



"One more finger in reserve.."?"

    Cool.  Thanks for clarifying.

     I just wanted to put my thoughts down.  I know I have no control over what readers do with the info I give and that's fine with me.

     I think I'm just still a bit amped up on how well this system works for music and HT that I'm a bit too anxious to share the knowledge.

      I keep thinking my excitement of how well it works
will wear off.  But I've now had the bass system for about a year and it still makes me smile every time I listen.

FYI Tim:


     Thanks for the link.  Unfortunately, I found Raul's posts somewhat incomprehensible at times.  But that didn't stop me from posting a lengthy post on his thread earlier this afternoon spreading the word on distributed bass array systems.  I can't seem to help myself and you are now officially an enabler.


That thread should keep you busy for a while. ;>)

Best to you Tim,