Endless debate: monitor + sub vs floorstanding

Have made a simple system with Peachtree Inova and Proac Sig 8 Tablettes on sand filled stands. Lovely sound I am quite pleased with though I'm considering either supplementing my beloved Tablettes with a sub bass (most likely the new Rel T5) OR grabbing a pair of full range floorstanders (likely used Proac as well).

Any thoughts on the relative merits of the two setups in terms of expression, detail, dynamic spectrum, musicality and also flexibility? Intuitively, it seems I may have more opportunities to play with and fine-tune the experience using Tabletttes plus sub.

I realize there is probably no perfect answer here. Unfortunately, my opportunities for a good side by side listening comparison of the two systems is pretty much nil.
Get a Rel sub. I have 2 setups - one room with Monitors and sub, the other with full range floorstanders. They are very different in character which is owed to much more than the monitor vs full range difference, but both setups are great. You already have and love the monitors - so it's an easy upgrade you won't regret. Later if you get the itch you can try a floorstander . . .
I'd vote for the sub route. Although full range speakers are great, they do take some grunt to keep the bottom end in control, plus placement becomes more of an issue. A sub gives you some flexibility in bass volume and placement.
monitor + sub is the way to go. I have proac 1SC's used with dual subs (a Jim Smith must). Great sound. I also have Proac 140's, floor standers. I give the edge to the 1SC's + subs, which have more focused presentations and yet the subs add the missing bottom. Everything is driven by tubes, expect the subs which are solid state drive amps.
I say go full range most all subwoofers are highly compromised designs over small cabinet and driver, needing massive excursions and power. Requires reinforcement from room. Not the best way to generate deep detailed low distortion bass. Just a compromise for all those unable or unwilling to set up proper loudspeakers. But we can always fool ourselves into thinking its the best way when its not.
What about "full range" monitor like Totem mani II, AMR, Dynaudio C1, Focal mini diablo? Would speakers like that be an option.

Also does you (pre)amp have a pre out. I don't think a sub should be connected to the high level output. To be honest I think a sub can be used in 2 channel audio but only if if you have some way to keep the low frequensies from going to you front speakers. A way to cut of your current speaker from recieving any signal abouve 60hz and let the sub handle the below 60hz frequensies.

I hope I make sense
This is an excellent question Marburg. I can tell you about my experience. Over the last five or so years I have used Magnepan 3.6's, Avalon towers, Linn Ninka's, Dynaudio. I now use Merlin TSM-mme's with two (2) sunfire subwoofers. I was able to dial this system in and have no desire for anything else. I found the stand mount monitor easier to place. It also has the ability to get the Orchestra image correct in my odd shaped room.

I could never get the floor standing full range speakers to do what the monitors and subs can. They get a lot correct but not all of it in my system.
All very helpful comments. Many thanks. The damn Rel went up by 100 bucks, but I still think I'll grab one.
It depends on what you are trying to achieve and the size of your room. If your room or listening area is small then sub is the way to go. It will reinforce that low frequencies and give more body and weight to the overall presentation. A caveat -blending the sub to the mains is a tricky one as poor or incorrect setting up will often cause *unwanted* bass to stick out like a sore thumb.

If the room or listening area is large you will still get an improvement if adding a sub to the main speakers. However, you won't get the scale and a large sound with the diminutive Tablette Ref 8 Sigs. That is where floorstanders with larger drivers come into play.

Good luck bidding on the REL sub.
[quote]03-27-11: Buconero117
monitor + sub is the way to go. I have proac 1SC's used with dual subs (a Jim Smith must). Great sound. I also have Proac 140's, floor standers. I give the edge to the 1SC's + subs, which have more focused presentations and yet the subs add the missing bottom. [/quote]

The 140 floorstanders have inferior drivers compared to the 1SCs. A properly implemented high quality monitor+sub setup is always more desirable than an inferior pair of floorstanders.
03-27-11: Buconero117
monitor + sub is the way to go. I have proac 1SC's used with dual subs (a Jim Smith must). Great sound. I also have Proac 140's, floor standers. I give the edge to the 1SC's + subs, which have more focused presentations and yet the subs add the missing bottom.

The 140 floorstanders have inferior drivers compared to the 1SCs. A properly implemented high quality monitor+sub setup is always more desirable than an inferior pair of floorstanders.

ok..if I'm not beating an already debilitated horse here...

I found to my surprise, a local Proac dealer who adamantly insisted that "most people can't set up 2 speakers properly let alone three. A floorstanding speaker like the D18 will completely demolish any monitor + sub arrangement. "

Any thoughts on that? Is this at all accurate or is the guy another hardened criminal?
I'm partial to a good pair of 2-way with a pair of subs. This way you tune your monitors for best sound staging and imaging and tune your subwoofers for best bass response. Most of the time they are never best in the same location, but set up time is longer than floor standers.
Agree with your proac dealer
A pair of capable monitors and multiple subs will have less peaks and nulls in the bass region.
John Marks has some interesting observations on this topic here:

Interesting article. I knew that there seemed to be a two-way bookshelf camp, but I'd never read an argument for the point of view.
I'd attribute your ProAc dealer's remarks to the fact that he's a ProAc dealer.
IME, properly set up subs are a revelation. Of course, that part about properly set up is important. Few full range speakers can produce clean measured response in the deep bass ala Rythmik, JL, SVS. Further, properly placed subs will create much smoother bass response, although this can also be achieved with room correction like Audyssey.

Either way, uncorrected bass response from a floor stander out in the room just doesn't cut it for me anymore.

I'd stay away from REL at all costs. If have any problems with your sub you have to deal with Sumiko and they are a bunch of azzholes.
Anymore comments on this matter? I have Tyler Acoustics Decade D4 floorstanding monitors with Ty's 12" sub. I am wondering if I should either buy another sub or go to a floorstander like maybe the Linbrook System II's.
Well...I took the plunge and got the diminutive Rel T5 to go with my Tablettes. It sits unobtrusively in the corner like a starving timber wolf, waiting for unsuspecting low frequencies, which it pounces on and devours, emitting the digested remains in an unearthly howl from the underworld. Pretty neat.

What I particularly love about this set up is how amazing it sounds at LOW VOLUME. Even when listened to quietly, the sound retains a certain pregnancy. I'm still playing and adjusting---listening to everything from Justin Bieber to Iannis Xenakis, augmented with heavy doses of Luigi Nono and Anton Webern. The system just BREATHES all over you, like a sexual deviant on a subway platform.
WOW what a description...LOL. Certain pregnancy and sexual deviant on a subway platform???
Me thinks you have been reading to many "Harlequin" romance novels.
Sounds like the sub has put him into "The O Zone" lol :)
In the cost-no-object arena (ca. a 20K+ sub/monitor or full-range speaker)--- I'd say both set-ups can be great. That said, trade-offs exist at reasonable cost. A sub/monitor combo at a combined cost of 5K vs a fine full-range speaker at 5K --- now I'd go with the full-range speaker more often than not. Subwoofers at the 1.5K range are typically boomy, slow and do not integrate well and the coherence of the full range speaker will win out far more often than not. This is especially true when trying to mate a sub with a planer speaker (Maggies, or the like).

I have also heard many try to mate a modest subwoofer (or multiple subs) with lowthers and other horns --- man... I would take a full range speaker over that almost any time as the incoherence is a problem.

That said... with a high performance, really good sub or an array of such subs one can do quite well.

The point... it all depends --- as system cost goes up the two choices become more equal --- at lower cost the trade-offs are manifest (bad coherency, unnatural sound in the sub/monitor combo and bass control in the full range --- to varying degrees.

I have owned systems of both types and generally prefer the full range speakers.
Generalizing here...

I'd take two fullrange speakers over two monitors + one sub. If it's two monitors + two subs vs two fullrange... well it's close, but probably the two + two. And I'd take two monitors + fours subs over the two fullrange speakers. In each case, I'm favoring the system that gives me the greater number of and flexibility with independent bass sources; as a general principle, the more in-room bass sources you have, the smoother the in-room bass response. This according to Earl Geddes, whose ideas about subwoofers I use with permission. The nice thing about starting out with one sub is, you can add another without having to recreate your entire system.

You should use subs (2,3,4) even with floor standers. By having the super lows go into a powered sub, you are saving your amp from straining....a good thing.
You should use subs (2,3,4) even with floor standers. By having the super lows go into a powered sub, (((you are saving your amp from straining....a good thing.)))
Only if he was able to High pass the main amp.
Forget all the previous suggestions and get a large room with Magico Q5s and Boulder amps. Otherwise a used REL sub...I've had all the above mentioned options (except the Magico/Boulder thing...I only heard that in a shop) and in the last year my little used REL Q150 with some modest but well regarded small towers has made me a believer...in my current room anyway.
A lot of good suggestions and thank you all.

The reason I went the floorstanding monitor route with a sub is I basically downsized my system somewhat. I figured using a nice tubed integrated (Rogue Tempest II) pushing the monitors only would free up the amp and let the sub take care of the bass duties. I have the sub crossed at a little below 50HZ and the monitors are full range down to around 42HZ I think it is. After a lot of tuning the sub or trying to integrate it, I know I am close but the bass is a little different than my previous full range floorstanders. In some ways its better because I am getting those bottom octaves :) The bass now is right in the center or centerstage. "Some music" might be overlapping a tad with the monitors. I am going to turn the volume down on the sub some more to hopefully cure the bass hump. A buddy of mine awhile back brought over a test CD and his IPhone had an app to measure frequency response. My bass response was pretty darn even so I know I am close. I am wondering if another sub would help? I do like the idea of my integrated pushing the monitors and letting subs take care of bass duties but not oppossed to an efficient full range floorstander.
I had a choice between the Coincident Pure Reference (floor standing)and their Extreme version which splits the speaker into a mini monitor and sub seperates.The drivers are identical.I was able to listen to both at the same time on amps identical to my own. The Extremes had ever so slightly better focus and a small improvement in the bass but honestly, the differences between the two were minor.

Not much to debate . Two way monitor , coherence . Floor standing , frequency extension . Lets not even talk about subs .
Wait...I want to talk about subs!
Me too. Where is yours located and what is x-over set at? Mine is on the left just behind the speakers and about 10" from the side wall and a little over a foot from the front wall. It fires inward. Crossed over around 48Hz.
After trying a few different locations, my REL Q150E (ebay $150 last year...lucky score) ended up in a smallish corner created by a fireplace (fake) firing forward behind my left speaker. I put an angled Speakon plug on the signal cable and use an angled IEC ac cable so it fits back there nicely without cable squashing. The room has a very good sound at my "sweet spot" and the crossover is set at around 50hz or a bit under...my mains are Silverline Preludes that don't do much under 50hz, but their bass is nice and fast (four 3.75" metal mid/woofers) and they integrate amazingly well with the REL. I put a "chicken head" knob on the volume pot of the REL so I can adjust it readily if need be. All it needs is a couple clicks up or down sometimes depending on the source and how I feel about it.


I do believe that your "hungry timber wolf" post of 4/8 may be the new champion in the long running Audiogon "most colorful language" contest. IMHO, it would displace the (hotly debated) use of the word "cudgel" (as a verb) by Jax2 from some years back.


Marburg combines florid with lurid and "I like it, it's good" (Robbie Robertson), I concur, and celebrate the lack of mirth control.
YOU LISTEN to justin bieber? I now no it is time to stop reading these postings. I can deal with reading the miss informed posters, but I draw the line at justin bieber!
Subs , well OK . Mine is 6' off the floor , built into the front wall , dead center , 18", crossed over at 40Hz , power by a bridged Luxman amp . With my speakers it's only needed for movies and pyrotechnics .
Best of both worlds, use both. I use both, Legacy Helix full range quad amped floorstanders with Legacy Extreme HD Subwoofers. This way I get a set of speakers that will go down to below 20 hz and then place the subwoofers to reinforce and enhance the bass. One has to hear it to believe it!
Room sound is the elephant in this room. One "leetle" 10" woofer in my old REL (150 watt mosfet) is plenty of bass for my hifi room...I have to keep the REL level under control or my walls would crack, but it is dialed in enough so level changes are minor (it's at maybe a third of its output seemingly, based on the volume knob). One of the things I think is a benefit of discreet powered subs is the ability to control deep bass output as otherwise there are no tone controls on my (or likely your) preamp.
My Rel T5 is only an 8" downfiring, yet it delivers vast bedspreads of sound. I have it set up in the corner, roughly 4 inches in and about 2 feet behind the left Tablette. The sound of Takemitsu's "From Me Flows What You Call Time" hits my chest cavity and auditory apparatus like the Shoemaker-Levi comet slamming into Jupiter.