Finally Learned: Subs serve much larger role than adding more low bass


I sold my older powered sub a while back. reasons-

1. It did not integrate well.

2. I was pretty satisfied with my 2 speakers bass output.

3. Was big, heavy and ugly.

After traveling around the counrty and listening to home systems put together by people who know their way around the industry I realized they all have something I did not. A well integrated bass array.

So what does a bass array add to a 2.0 system?

This is where words fail but I will try:

-Increased Involvement in the listening experience

-More enjoayble sound stage

So if you are like I was, a sub denier, I suggest you try one small

sub, as I did, and see what you experience. My $500 REL T5x experience

did it for me. Now I will buy a second one.

 

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I wasn't so much a sub denier, but thought my 20 year old velodyne sub was fine, until it bit the dust and I brought a new JL Audio with DSP. I agree with your statement of how much better it integrates, it just seems like my speakers noew have better, cleaner bass. The sub seems not to be there, but it is. Enjoy! 

Multiple,properly integrated subs enhance all frequencies. 

Welcome aboard. Your header says it all.. it effects more than just deep bass. I am a Rel owner now for 15-20 yrs

Yep.  Sometimes you have to open your mind.  And your ears.

Initially i was underwhelmed by adding a second sub.  Sure it helped a bit with staging and loading the room but all in all it didnt seem like the gamechanger i expected.  Fast forward and i'm trying a new amp, and whenever i make electronic changes i initially turn the subs off to do a:b comparisons (i don't know why) and my inital reactions to the new amp were mixed - cleaner less distortion and better at high volumes, all of which i liked, but the soundstage was now very much defined almost like a frame by the speakers, as opposed ti the whole front of the room.  I listened for a few days, decided i could live with and enjoy the new amp despite this trade off, and turned the subs back on.  Wow, everything got better - soundstAge was even bigger than before with the old amp, tones got more depth and instruments were more clearly placed, more musical and engaging.  Blew me away!  And i'm not using high end equipment, subs are vintage rel amp change was vintage krell to NAD m22v1, speakers thiel 2.3.

thoseboys, Your example says it much better than I could. Thanks!

Yep, well integrated bass that is quick and tight and something that will play low (25hz) is a game changer.  It adds so much to the music including the mids, highs and soudstage.  Theres quite a bit of music that benefits from a sub, even in the midrange.  There are times were a solo vocalist has tones that go really low.  Somegimes it might just be that they blew into a mic to hard but it actually adds to the music.  Its hard to explain but once you here the bass in parts of the music, you can't unhear them.  

First Velodyne F-1800MkII in southern CO in the 90s was to me. I've had plenty of subs since, some RELs and now some SVS sealed (additional subs, sell nothing!)

Moved from one REL B1 (in theater now) to three subs:  one SVS SB-3000 and two SB-2000s in my primary listening room, set at 50Hz. Need to add a fourth sub still and keep working a bit with positioning but it is much better than a single sub to my ears.

Most of the time they not particularly needed with my mains, but when low bass is on the track I hear it cleanly and with lots of backup reserve with subs set way low in volume. I'm a believer.

Always forget:  first real experience in 'hearing' what a sub does without noticeable bass music was listening to Eva Cassidy's version of "Fields of Gold" a nice REL in the room. Turning the sub from off to on simply opened up the space Eva sang in. It was the first night and day experience I ever had 'hearing the room' through the subwoofer, and with no bass on the track.

musicaddict

173 posts

First Velodyne F-1800MkII in southern CO in the 90s was to me. I've had plenty of subs since, some RELs and now some SVS sealed (additional subs, sell nothing!)

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Big difference going from passive radiators (REL) on the bottom with NO slot, to a sub you can actually decouple, like SVS.

I like SVS they are at least a bit more up to date with speaker design.. REL is WAY behind.. I laugh at the stuff on their web site. That design would benefit from an East LA bass head to teach them how NOT to piss off the neighbors and make GREAT bass.

REL rattles the whole house.. NO ONE around me uses that type of sub.. Pisses off the neighbors, especially in garage systems close to neighbors bedrooms.. .. LOL Waves in the neighbors  swiming POOL. Frogs vacating all the little ponds, JackHammer SUBS.. I Quit using that design in the 90s..

IB servo columns or OB servo stacks are a 10 in my book. REL 3-4, SVS 5-6, JL 6-7, IB servo dual or quad columns 9-10, GRs OB servo stacks 8-10 depends. Need two double 12" cabinets to really reap the rewards.. 

I've never heard ANY of the Wilson subs, but cab loaded drivers (horns) DIY are some of the best overall subs around. Jensen Imperial Subs is a good example.

Regards

Added a pair of SVS subs to my full range Kef Reference towers during covid lockdown.  One of my better upgrades with out a doubt!  I'm pleased with the addition.

My experience has been a combination of validation and learning. The Rythmik F12SE PEQ has been magically supportive of my Maggie 1.7s; however, my integrated Cronus Magnum III has been challenging, because my Maggies can't keep up and need to be crossed over at 80hz, 24db/octave high pass 
 

So, I embarked on a passive crossover journey that resulted in a complicated story, resulting in me looking for a separate preamp, amp, and crossover.  I'm hopeful my journey comes to an end or something close to it soon, because the system sounds so good and is only getting better. 

After years of owning a venue and working with live sound, I came back to my passion for home hi-fi. My budget exceeded my expectation, primarily because I felt that I needed a firmer low-end that a sub could provide.

While subtle, it is satisfying to hear the full range and knowing that there is nothing more.

My components:

Van Alstine - SET 120 and Transcendence PreAmp

Fritz Speakers

Rythmik F12SE

I could have foregone the Transcendence PreAmp and used the speaker level input from the SET 120, but Rythmik recommends low-level signal which the preamp gave me.

Overall, I am happy with the result

Using a sub(s) is a topic that has no end as to whether to use one or not and how to integrate one into a system to produce the sound a listener prefers. I have posted this link in several post replies. Whether you are an expert on subs or not it's an article well worth reading. Quite lengthy but if you have the patience to read it you may gain some useful info......

http://www.soundoctor.com/whitepapers/subs.htm

 

Yes indeed. I put a bi-directional SVS Micro 3000 on my cabinet ...behind my TV, and it really rounds out the sound of my Klipsch Fortes. You can enjoy five or six settings on your cell phone... amazing world of sound now. 

The title of this thread encapsulates my own experience. Several years' experience showed that my "subwoofer optional" Legacy Signature SEs simply couldn't play the Octave 0 notes present on some recordings. The gorgeous, enormous, discontinued Tannoy Definition subs being closed out at Upscale for 1/3 price, I couldn't resist. (This is after corresponding with Duke and realizing that the Swarm setup simply couldn't work in my non-dedicated listening room, and noting that RELs, like Model Ts, come only in black). 
So: the Tannoy crossover can be set at 31Hz, just where Legacys roll off steeply, then slope down at -24Hz/oct. from 31-120Hz. Result is a (nearly) seamless integration (current sub placement is temporary), with the sub not only playing flat & resolving bottom details down to 19 Hz, but also subtly enriching the overall sonic balance. So, yes indeed -- much more benefit than just fully resolving the Octave 0 content.  

 

These days, on the odd occasion that I have someone over or when I am discussing my setup with someone, I will mention that I have five subs. Invariably, they will make a comment about how my home theatre surround sound must sound awesome. I then tell them that actually only one sub is for the home theatre and the other four are for listening to music.  They are dumbfounded until I explain about how things actually work.    

If you like one sub, you will love four.

 

Getting 1 or 2 subs that integrate well with your system after having a boomy sub meant for home theater gives you an appreciation for what subs can actually do for 2 channel stereo.  In a small room you can get away with one good sub.

 

I'm an outlier apparently.

I had two JL Audio subs with their fantastic CR-1 crossover and also added DSP.

Nothing life changing.  Didn't do much for me.   Didn't find the added low bass to be significant and I preferred the tonality of my speakers without the subs.   Sold it all.  Happier with fewer ugly boxes in the room, fewer cables, less hassle etc.

(Great products...I just didn't need them to enjoy music).

I too am a subwoofer convert. I bought a REL S/812 last year and couldn’t be happier. One thing I also notice as it was mentioned many times in this thread, is that the sub also enhances the SQ of mid & high frequencies. I never understood how this works. I always thought if you set your crossover at let’s say 50hz, the sub only outputs sound at frequencies below the crossover.

Can someone help explain in layman’s terms why a sub can enhance the SQ of frequencies way above the crossover point?

Thanks very much.

Post removed 

Extended response down to 20hz without significant rolloff is rare and definitely impacts what you hear on many recordings.  One or more adjustable powered subs  and even a simple sound meter app to integrate properly solves the problem and one is very likely to take keen notice.   Nothing mysterious about it.  Amount of work and expense needed will vary case by case.   More subs can only be better once set up well. 

If I were to use 4 subwoofers, I would need to custom stall wires and run them about 20 feet to the back wall..  

 

I researched subwoofers for a year and I thought REL's were the way to go.  Their high level connection allows them to act more like woofers than subwoofers.  You can adjust the gain, volume and crossover.  I am playing my two S2 SHOs at 40% volume.  I also feel two subs are far better than one for room balance.  My secon choice was Rythmik F12SE.

 

Carbon Miller knows the most about running a 4 subwoofer cluster.  This makes sense because it fills the room.  If you have any questions about how to use subwoofers in your system he is the most knowledgeable.  Averall, he is one of the most knowledgeable in our discussion group.  He is also one of the most willing to help.

@xcool  Seems to me that, because sub(s) complete the holistic frame of the original recording space, that which is not technically affected by frequency augmentation (say, 300 HZ signals when sub's top end is 120Hz) is instead placed in its proper sonic context. Often the most valuable qualities are the seemingly invisible ones we take for granted, such as foundation plantings in a landscape. Nobody pays attention to rows of holly, box, or yew -- all eyes are on the irises, the roses, the cherry blossoms. Yet remove the foundation plantings, and sudenly all the showy stuff looks naked, like a bunch of potted plants set out in a yard, no longer a landscape. So the landscape/soundscape analogy would be my best explanation. 

SURPRISE,  SURPRISE !!  If anyone takes the time to read the product information offered by REL on line, they will understand that REL'S approach to sub design goes way beyond just adding lower octave bass.

-More enjoayble sound stage

This is something that does not get mentioned often enough. Although, it is probably more related to classical music recorded in a concert hall, more than other types of music, at other venues, or a studio.

There is a lot of ambient information carried in low frequencies, that add imporatant spacial cues. A bigger, deeper, better defined sounstage is the result.

I finally bought my first sub. It's a REL T5x and I love it.

Finally Learned: Subs serve much larger role than adding more low bass

My GF commented on how the addition of the subs really helped out the tonal balance in the high end- how the system became more relaxed.

I've had two subs for about twenty years.  Relieving the main speaker othe main speakers of the bottom octaves has several bebefits.  Less excursion of the woofer, lowering distortion.  It also takes load off main speaker amp.  And of course better bass.  On a side note, I recently put springs under the subs.  This added detail, more body to the bass.  I also have much less booming bass in other areas of the house.  

Human hearing is designed to gather far more information from the environment than we are at present able to measure. It is no problem at all to know whether you are in a closet, car, living room or concert hall even with your eyes closed by hearing alone. 

Consequently, the more closely we recreate the sonic signature of the recording venue the more realistically it feels like we are there.   

This is the first thing that hits you with a DBA. I mean, unless you crank it up to where you notice the extra bass. That is too much. With levels properly set you will never know there are any subs at all. People have to be reminded about mine even though they are all around the room obvious as hell. They just don't seem to be doing anything.

But the effect is noticed even on recordings that seem to have no low bass. The speakers and room disappears, the sound stage expands, and there is a sense of envelopment. 

I went through this first when adding multiple subs. Then again to a lesser extent when putting the subs on springs. Then again to a much greater extent when putting the subs on Pods. Each time the bass did improve a bit but this was only noticeable with music with obvious bass. The improvement however goes far beyond this, extending well up into the midrange and also with the really wonderful feeling of envelopment, of being in the sound stage instead of merely looking at it.

I am thinking of getting the Audiokinesis Swarm.

But I can only place them behind my main speakers facing the back wall.

Maybe 2 is enough. I have a friend that does the Swarm with only 2.

I could do all 4 but they would have to be lined up behind the speakers.

Maybe 2 on each side.

Or it the Swarm only effective scattered around the room?

To my ears the most difficult aspect of bass reproduction is keeping up the same efficiency for the bass as for the midrange. When efficiency is kept high, then bass is effortless and flows with the rest of the music.

 

mglik, The key to getting the most from a DBA is to have the subs in different room locations. Four real close to the mains is effectively two locations. If you are stuck with something like that at least try and space them apart, like maybe two an inch or so from the wall, the other two half way between there and the mains. Also remember different locations applies vertically as well. You could get something like Tekton 4-10 and two of those with the woofers stacked the way they are is probably pretty close to 4 smaller subs spaced out better.

I run two SVS SB-2000 subs with my Cornwall III's. Got them dialed in pretty good. You can't even tell they're there if that makes sense. 

Yes subs always subs. Bass needs tuned to the room. Subs make it easier not harder. Adjustability will get you off the marry-go-round. 

Musaddict- I will do that Cassidy experiment on my system-thank you.

Magilic- Just buy 2 REL 5Tx subs. On sale was $1000 all in for 2.

Call it your mini swarm!

Natural- Those Fritx speakers are but kickers! Heard them last week

finally. Carrerras or Carbons?

 

 

 

Old,

 

I like SVS they are at least a bit more up to date with speaker design.. REL is WAY behind.. I laugh at the stuff on their web site. That design would benefit from an East LA bass head to teach them how NOT to piss off the neighbors and make GREAT bass.

REL rattles the whole house.. NO ONE around me uses that type of sub.. Pisses off the neighbors, especially in garage systems close to neighbors bedrooms.. .. LOL Waves in the neighbors  swiming POOL. Frogs vacating all the little ponds, JackHammer SUBS.. I Quit using that design in the 90s..

IB servo columns or OB servo stacks are a 10 in my book. REL 3-4, SVS 5-6, JL 6-7, IB servo dual or quad columns 9-10, GRs OB servo stacks 8-10 depends. Need two double 12" cabinets to really reap the rewards.”

 

I have 2  Rel 812 subs dialed in. Your take on Rel is 🗣💩

Or it the Swarm only effective scattered around the room?

@mglik If your mains make bass, I'd place the Swarms to the side or rear of the room. They are only a foot square and if the driver is facing the wall (and the sub is only 2 inches or so from the wall) then they can be innocuous in the room. The trick is that they are asymmetrically placed so as to have differing distances from the center of the room- in this way they will be more effective breaking up the usual standing waves that occur.

 

I use the high-level inputs on my subs.

Any thoughts about how important the quality of the speaker cable is going from the back of the amps to the high-level inputs on the subs?

Mine is 18 gauge OFC but was cheap on Amazon.

 

 

A few months ago I added an SVS Micro 3000 sub to my system (PL EVO 400, Modwright/OPPO 205, anti-cables, reworked '78 KHorns) as a result of comments on this forum.  My small house requires a living room installation and the right KHorn has only inches of wall before encountering a large door opening between living and dining rooms. The sub fits perfectly under the four-legged antique buffet I modified to install my electronics, and it's located on the same wall the other side of the doorway.

It made a sonically amazing improvement to my listening experience!

The extra 10Hz lower frequency range has smoothed and reinforced the soundstage in ways that I wasn't prepared to believe.....and make no mistake, I am now a confirmed believer! 

The sub has even made up for the bass loss that was noticeable (to me) on the right side of the room.

 

I might be on here asking for some help shortly. I currently have one sub, A Foundation from Legacy as I have an entire Legacy system. Speakers, Surrounds, Backs, Sub, and Amps ..I am about to take delivery of 3 more, and setting up a 4 sub system might be a little over my head. I'm thinking about hiring someone to come help me, if I can find them.  My processor is a Lyngdorf MP-40. I'm told the Room Perfect in the Lyngdorf makes setting up 4 subs much easier, but I've heard that crap before... time will tell.

I'm told the Room Perfect in the Lyngdorf makes setting up 4 subs much easier, but I've heard that crap before... time will tell.

I'm sure it would. You can't fix a standing wave cancellation using room correction. The correction will tell the amp to make more power at the cancellation frequency- and the result is that you could put 1000 Watts into that cancellation and still have a bass problem. With a distributed bass array the standing wave is broken up- allowing the room correction to work properly.

@atmasphere 

I wish more people would realize ^ especially those {names withheld}

that comment on room treatments being of little or secondary attention.

Its all about the order you approach corrective measures the

 room dictates what you hear and there's no getting around that.

Start with the room and treatments then with subs and equalization.

 

 

After around thirty years of various systems moved to a larger room and dual REL Gibraltar G2 (modified internal wiring). 3/4 of what I enjoy is live recordings, some recordings are a sonic astounding engineering feat for the live experience....going to two large and musical subs is like finding the "truth" in a live recording...and its been there a long time, I was missing it, never heard it! I call the current system my "Time Machine" because it will take you back in time to the culture and sound of what was going on. Cranking up live Grateful Dead to "11" with duel subs is like finding the "Ark of the Covenant"...I couldn't be happier (at the moment).

Looking for some advice. I have a NAD M33 with KEF LS50 Metas and a single B&W ASW 1000 sub. The bass is muddy. Would like to improve the sound. I demoed the KEF KC62 but it would fall asleep and not wake up and I’ve read there are problems with it and the NAD. Any suggestions for what I might do to add a pair of subs for <$2k? Also would like to hook them up wirelessly. Thx. 

Love my T9i, it has added so much realism to my 20x22x9’ dedicated listen room. Looking forward to adding another for a stereo pair.

oldhvymec Once you learn how to integrate a sub properly you will appreciate the qualities REL brings to their speaker line.  Plenty of good information in this thread (and some bad).