Good budget sub for music?

Hello Audiogoners, looking for advice on a sub purchase

I want to spend no more than $500 new or used. Sub is just for two-channel music. I prefer musicality and accuracy to deep bass. I most likely want a front-firing sub. One question I have is about sealed vs ported--sealed seems better from what I've read so far.

I have an external crossover and will use the sub in a bi-amp arrangement with an NAD c320bee amp, where NAD gets nothing above 80Hz (I need line-level inputs). Speakers are the Ed Frias-designed AR.COM kit, with 6.5 inch Peerless woofers.

All suggestions appreciated!
Rel Q Series or a REL Storm III if your budget will allow. Very easy to integrate, very musical. The Q's won't take you to the bottom octaves, but are a very nice, fast, musical sub which it sounds like what you are looking for. I don't know your speakers, so I can say whether the Rel subs will be the right speed for them, but if you are crossing over at 80, you should be fine.
Paradigm PDR 12
DIY is your best option. I'd suggest one of these 308SWR51XXLS or 268SWR5XXLS woofers from Peerless and a heavily braced sealed birch wood box - appropriately sized of course - for example the 308 works with 2.6 cu ft in a sealed configuration ( I'd also stay away from reflex or passive radiators if you like high quality musical transient response).

You can get the whole shebang here for less than 500 bucks

This indeed will outperform most all subwoofers on the market - but you'll have some work to do. I'd go for the damped pulp paper cones that Solen suggest over the metal/aluminium unless you are willing to risk audible out of band ringing noise from the bell-like tendencies of a metal driver...remember metal only looks cool...and you are not going to enjoy your precious midrange if the sub is audibly ringing...

This will work well with your Peerless woofer/midrange. Bracing the box internally will be very important - you don't want cabinet waffle. Good Luck. And don't ask me details aboiut woodwork - I am not retired yet and simply don't have time for this - one day perhaps...
Any of the Hsu Research within your budget. Raise your budget some and consider SVS (or upper Hsu). For sealed, the SVS SB-12 Plus is an option. I will be using that sub in my office system.
Mirage S-10. I have been using its predecessor, the LF-10, for 3-1/2 years in a 2.1-channel music-only system. It's a front-firing 10" with dual ports, 150w internal amp with 400w peak power, continuously adjustable output, continuously adjustable crossover from 40Hz to 120Hz, and a 0-180 deg. phase switch.

I mention all this because the Mirages are exceptionally easy to blend with satellites. I've placed Mirage subs in two of my systems and also in a sat/sub 2.1-channel setup in my neighbor's living room. The Stereophile test CD demonstrates that these subs extend down to the mid-20s.

In the 3-1/2 years I used this arrangement, the Mirage sub was unfailingly musical and lively, blending seamlessly with the satellites. It never sounded like a home theater LFE "thump machine" sub, but always supplied an agile and timbre-correct foundation to the music.

And I played every type of music with this setup--folk, acoustic and electric blues, acoustic folk, acoustic jazz, big band, orchestra, chamber music, pop, rock, opera, bluegrass, electrified country, and choral music on SACD, CD, and LP.

I recently replaced it and the sats with a pair of full range floorstanders because I wanted to increase the overall radiating area to fill the open-architecture living space better. HOWEVER, I can't say that doing so particularly improved the bass-to-midrange continuity over the Mirage sat/sub arrangement. Either I'm uncommonly lucky or they're that good at blending musically.
The Velodyne SPL-800II worked for me in a small room. Very compact with front firing woofer. It was also easy to integrate in my system. I moved up to a James EMB-1000 which is better if you have an extra $300 or so.
This is an oxymoron.
I'll second Johnnyb53's recommendation of the Mirage as a very good, inexpensive sub. I have the S-8 and it does a better job in a relatively small living room than the HSU VTF-2 it replaced. Very impressive performance for the money.

Good question as I myself am looking for a subwoofer for my speakers. Anyway copied your post, and sent it to Ed Frias. Once I get a reply from him, I'll post it here on Audiogon.
Thanks for all the suggestions! I don't know anything about Mirage--will look into it. Cleaneduphippy, that's a great idea, I look forward to hearing what Ed Frias has to say.
Vandersteen - Used - Look up the specs on their website and buy the one that is designed for music and not home theater. Considered the most musical cheap sub.
Look at the Martin Logan Dynamo. Small footprint, sealed enclosure and it can be switched between front or downward firing. Very nice little sub.
I agree with the poster who said that your request is an Oxymoron. The qualities of a good sub that makes it capable of integrating seamlessly into a music only system are qualities that do not come cheaply. Adding a sub and intergrating a sub are two different things. Finding a sub that blends with your main speakers without drawing attention to itself is difficult to find...even for subs beyond your budget. I also agree with the poster who recommended the REL Storm III. I use that sub in a 2 channel system and have had success blending it with two separate sets of speakers. The REL Strata would also be one to consider. You might be able to find a used one closer to your budget. A subwoofer not only interacts with the main speakers but also interacts with your room in some pretty significant and sometime unpredictable ways. For this reason I would stongly recommend auditioning them in your home before making a purchase. Good Luck.
Here's what Ed Frias (the designer of the speaker) has to say:

"I sell a pretty decent 400watt JBL sub that my customers seem to enjoy, but you can also buy a 300watt kit from Parts Express that others seem to rave about."

Anyway, here's a link to contact Ed Frias directly -