+ Good shape of the frequency response for smaller rooms
+ Good extension
+ Extremely low group delay and fast decay rate
+ Extremely low crossover setting
- High overall distortion, especially at higher than low output levels
- Really high deep bass output compression
- Low maximum output capability
- Low highest crossover setting
Considering the almost infinite differences in systems, rooms, and personal taste, adding any subwoofer/s is quite a subjective subject.
Subjectively, I find the performance needs for my primarily analog music only system much greater than for my home theater. Home theater controllers 80Hz standardization makes the need for an on board digitally EQd subwoofer unnecessary.
In an in home music only comparison with two other subwoofer owners and their subs the only noticeable difference between digitizing the extra low frequency signal was the ease and preference of system and room integration and their stunningly superior performance. The narrowing sonic differences between analog vs digital doesn't seem to be audibly present at this region of the frequency band especially when considering their equalization and optimization control advantages.
To answer the original poster question, yes it is about the quality of integration. In our comparison the REL Studio III was the quickest to set up as per the manufactures instructions. Unfortunately, it was unanimously the poorest performer in all other aspects. To be fair the most expensive and finely crafted British made Studio III was the oldest sub in the comparison and I haven't kept up with any of the brands current advancements. The other two digitally controlled subwoofers in the comparison are currently using substantially improved second generations of control.
The ultra low Hz is simply icing on the cake.
I have no thoughts about REL, so have not heard them. And, I have read excellent reviews about them.
To deal with a specific issue of lost bass energy due to a large room with open front wall corners, I purchased a pair of semi - DIY GR Research/Rythmik open baffle subs. More like a kit than complete DIY. With help from others here, I would find out that the way these subs load a room, would work best for my situation.
it's also about your taste. I have been working towards a very relaxed sound that is also wide open, detailed, and natural. My system is analog, but many who have built these have digital front ends. With the addition of these subs not only did the combo maintain my taste in sound, but my system plays louder and the soundstage is big and full.
As for the bass, it's completely natural and added focus. In combination with my Horning speakers there are zero coherency issues, so the combo works seamlessly. The subs are capable of dropping down to 14Hz, so I have wound up with a truly full range system that is also completely relaxed. I never thought I could get this without spending what I absolutely cannot afford on ultra hi end speakers.
With that said, this may not be the best option for you. You need to look at the physics of your room before deciding on the type of subs to use. My sub project was a leap of faith, because you cannot listen to them since they are DIY. You may find them at a Show, but that may be rare. IMO- The most important part is matching subs to your system and space. Or, just get better speakers to handle the job.
To be fair the most expensive and finely crafted British made Studio III was the oldest sub in the comparison.
I have considered adding a second Storm 3. However, the price they want is near to what I can buy a new SVS. And, the Storm is now 12-15 yrs old. IOW, its old and ready for service or retirement soon. So I am hesitant. However the storm does integrate very naturally. And I use the high level input as per Rel's advice.
To deal with a specific issue of lost bass energy due to a large room with open front wall corners, I purchased a pair of semi - DIY GR Research/Rythmik open baffle subs.
Rythmik is one of the contenders in my search. I am a woodworker so the DIY kits are interesting. My only question is whether a kit will be cheaper? IOW, if you count your labor as worth something, can you really save any $$$ over a comparable production Rythmik sub? Often this is not the case unless you don't count your time and labor in the equation.
Oteekeekid. I read one user review on AVS forum which put the SVS SB 13 against the Rythmik E15 (?). The E15 was more nuanced and detailed than the SB13. The SB13 was no slouch and was considered extremely close in its bass quality
Thanks for your responses
"REL's top subs" means Studio III, Stentor III, or Stadium III and the current Reference series.The Storm 3 was quite popular also and part of the ST series. I like the small footprint of the Storm 3. This is a battle I'm now having. Thee Rel reference series are extremely expensive. However, the ease of integration and the natural sense of integration is a necessity which I wonder if the others have. The Rythmik also has a high level input (I think). So it is a contender. However I want 2 subs rather than one since I have alsways heard of the advantage of 2 subs. This calls me to question whether 2 Rel T9' (or Sumiko S9) will work? Or 2 SVS SB2000? Though they only have ,low level input. maybe building my own Rythmik is the answer since they have the high level input. like most things, there is always more to consider than appears on the surface. I can say that SVS return policy is really aluring.
Artemus, there are two reasons some Rythmik customers choose to get a DIY kit version of a sealed or ported sub (ignoring for now the OB/Dipole Sub that Kenny chose, as it is available only as a kit) rather than a factory-finished version.
1- Yep, of course a kit is cheaper than a finished version. The kits come with a driver, plate amp, and acoustic material to stuff the enclosure with---everything but the enclosure. There are detailed diagrams of the suggested enclosure (see No. 2 below), and the user can either make it or have it made by a local cabinet shop. There are also DIY "flat pack" enclosures available from both Parts Express and a Rythmik/GR Research owner who has had 1-1/2" thick (!) MDF panels cut on a CNC machine.
2- The other reason is that the optimum enclosure size for the 15" Rythmik driver is 4cu.ft, but the factory enclosure is only 3cu.ft. Rythmik owner/designer Brian Ding is a rather frugal guy, and wanted to keep the cost to ship reasonable, so decided on the smaller enclosure size. The 4cu.ft allows the DIY Rythmik F15 sub to slightly outperform a factory-finished one, in terms of efficiency/sensitivity and maximum volume.
In addition, speaker designer Jim Salk offers both the Rythmik F12 and F15 subs in his own, custom-made enclosures, finished in beautiful natural wood veneer. They are more expensive, of course, but look really, really good. Jim makes the F15 with a really well-braced 4cu.ft enclosure. Details available on the Salk website.
The Rythmik/GR Research OB/Dipole Sub mentioned above by Kenny and myself is a completely different animal, and a very special, unique design. It’s not for everyone, but is THE sub for planar speakers (ESL, ribbon, magnetic-planar), as well as high-resolution dynamic speakers. Details available on both companies websites (the sub is the result of a collaboration between Brian Ding and GR Research’s Danny Richie), and has been discussed on the AudioCircle GR Research Forum quite a bit.
Understand your dilemma. I have two Stadium IIIs and adding the second sub was a nice improvement. Really loads the room. My speakers need no bass supplementation, but the room loading improves imaging and soundstaging when done correctly.
Using a SR Tesla "REL-spec" Hi-level interconnect in place of the mediocre REL-supplied cable was a significant step up in sound quality for me.
As you say, integration is everything. That is where the RELs really shine using the Hi-level input. As you already know, proper placement and phase/crossover/gain settings of the RELs is ultra-important for best performance. I was surprised to read m-db’s statement re: the ease of setup of the Studio III vs the others in his auditions. My experience with RELs has been quite contrary - lots of trial and error necessary to get them optimized and the use of the Hi-Level input a must for proper integration.
The advent of digital room correction in some other brands has leveled the playing field, especially at the lower price points. Less picky in placement too. I will be interested to see where you land and your impressions if you make a change.
bdp24. I am somewhat familiar with the flat packs at Parts Express and the DIY kits from Rythmik. Are you saying to buy the 4 cu ft flat pack from Parts Express and the DIY woofer/plate amp/etc kit from Rythmik? Or is the GR Research kits sold at PE the same as the Rythmik DIY? Sorry if I have confused the issue
i think you have given a good explanation for a viable way to get what I am looking for. Thanks
BTW, does the Rythmik setup allow for high level input? I think it does. But I'm unsure.
I ventured into the Rythmik DIY sub. Went with the DS1501 kit with the DIY Sound Group Flatpack. Total cost, I’m in around $850 total, including all materials and some very high quality curly maple veneer to match my Meadowlark Nighthawks. I’m added some rib bracing to the external walls...only mod I did to the flatpack.
You would have to go VERY high up the chain to beat this sub for the combo of integration, musicality, and extension.
I’m very pleased how it turned out.
And yes, the Rythmik amps allow for high level input. Have a look at their amps available, they have quite a few options. I went with the PEQ amp and use the high level input, which also includes a single band parametric equalizer. My room had one mode that I was able to flatten out quite easily with that option.
Now, my dad has integrated a pair of REL Gibralters with his highly modded K-Horns. They integrate extremely well there too, but cost is significantly more than I was willing to do for myself...that and I can’t resist the DIY bug.
There’s no one single right or wrong answer here. Audition if you can.
Rythmik does offer returns after audition (you pay for return shipping). For $50 or so, that’s a great investment to see if one of theirs will work for you.
"Seems I just read that the Storm 5 was never sold in the US because of its poor performance. IIRC, it was at the time when Rel was 1st sold by the original owner. The Britannia model was sold instead.
Good to see that the older REL's are still in service. I have 2 of the B3's. They're a little clunky looking,compared to newer, compact models, but they seem to do the job.
I think the B series was the last British made before being picked up by Sumiko, and like many-made in China.
To answer your original question in your opening, a resounding YES, I would NEVER EVER sacrifice integration/coherence not to mention the benefits of a meatier more real midrange, greater image and soundstage accuracy and more natural presentation, for the sake of ultra low hz? yeah maybe if you're a headbanger or maximum low frequency SPL's are the goal, different strokes and musical tastes would dictate.
"My only question is whether a kit will be cheaper? IOW, if you count your labor as worth something, can you really save any $$$ over a comparable production Rythmik sub?"
Well, that depends on fit and finish and what you do and don't do yourself. I have a picture of my subs on my system page. I am not a carpenter, nor set up with a shop for that, so I farmed out the finnish work. Plus, I used Tineo (Apple Wood) veneer to match my main speakers for the cabinets and amp boxes. And, I had grill frames made, but will add my own grill cloth later. Parts and labor in the end came to about $4,200 for two subs. Then there's shipping.
I use 2 older RELs with Canare cables I put together. A Q150e and a Q108eII and they're perfect, and each cost around 200 bucks (used of course). I suggest a "swarm" system if you want an ultimate sub experience that's still musical, or do what I did and get another REL…the RELs don't have the alleged distortion at low levels that others have claimed, and although I can't speak for the new stuff (well regarded anyway), the ones I've owned for years are built to last…just tighten the speaker screws from time to time.
artemus, for clarification here's some additional info: Rythmik Audio and GR Research have a unique working relationship and marketing arrangement. Brian Ding and Danny Richie are both located in Texas, and pooled their talents to design some of their products.
Brian Ding of Rythmik is the designer (and Patent holder) of his Direct Servo-Feedback circuit, which is included in all versions of his plate amps. He also designed and builds all the Rythmik factory-finished sealed and ported subs, also designing and having built his aluminum-coned woofers (as well as the paper-coned woofers found in his budget subs).
Danny Richie of GR Research is a speaker designer, focusing on drivers and x-overs for open baffle loudspeakers, for the DIY speaker builder. He offers kits only, no finished loudspeakers in cabinets, though he does have a few guys making enclosures for GR Research customers, built to Danny's specs. Danny is responsible for the paper-coned 12" woofer offered in the Rythmik F12G (he prefers the sound of a paper cone, and feels his provides low-level resolution and musical timbre superior to the aluminum version), the non-G version having an aluminum woofer.
Brian and Danny both sell the Rythmik DIY sub kits, while Brian is the marketer for the finished subs. The sub flat pack enclosures offered by both DIY Sound Group and Parts Express are one and the same, PE buying them from DSG, marking them up a little, and reselling them. There is both a 3cu.ft version and a 4cu.ft. one, the larger intended for 18" woofers, but recommended for the Rythmik 15" woofer as well.
The DIY Sound Group flat pack enclosure is an okay design, but could be better. Adding more internal bracing is a real good idea (Jim Salk's enclosures for the Rythmik subs are absolutely incredible!), as is adding a second layer of MDF to the single 3/4" panels, which are barely sufficient. I designed my own 4cu.ft. double-walled sealed enclosure, drawing up the plans and having a flat pack cut by a cabinet maker in my locale. Assembly with wood glue and braces is not too difficult, and the MDF can be veneered or painted in any way one wishes. I chose "Hot Rod Black" by John Deere, intended for their farm tractors. Looks real cool, like a 50's custom car---not glossy, not flat, more of an eggshell type low sheen. No flames, though!
dlcockrumYes we did. After a side by side comparison with the owners of a Velodyne DD-18, JL Audio F-113v1, and a REL Studio III, the REL's propitiatory speaker/high level connectivity greatly restricted its location within the listening room and affected the imaging of the main speakers.
Feeding the REL a processed low level signal from the DD-18 removed it from the speaker chain which also allowed for better room positioning and improved its performance a great deal. Even so the other two subwoofers clearly integrated better and provided a more robust well defined presentation in this particular room.
artemus_5 OPMy only experience with REL was with our little comparison. The cabinetry was very well done and may have accounted for a large portion of its cost of manufacture but I couldn't say for sure.
As I mentioned above installing the Studio III using the manufactures preferred high level cable connection affected the imaging of the main speakers. The affect was slight but noticeable to me. We used long runs of economical Blue Jeans low level RCA cable in the comparison and Cardas Golden Reference speaker cable to the mains. I've read after market cabling may improve its performance.
You might consider slaveing your Storm from your choice of a newer subwoofer.
Extra low frequency performance is very room dependent. Add in personal taste and the amount of setup involvement make any subwoofer choice a very personal one.
I have an REL S5 and would not trade it for anything. It does everything i, prior to buying it, that i wanted and then some. I great product.The one thing I really like about the Rel is the ease and seamless integration with the main speakers. It may not have the best specs. but numbers don't give the full story. one of my worst purchases was a piece of equipment with #'s to die for. I hated every moment with it..
bdp24. Thanks for the wealth of information you have given. I like the concept of the servo system. And I have read nothing but good about the Rhythmik's musical performance. Since my system is in the LR, I have a limited space and I want 2 subs. The price difference between the 12 & 15" is very small. So I find myself in a quandary of space vs economics
More good feedback m-db. Thank you. I also find that my RELs effect the imaging/soundstage but in a positive way in my room/setup and agree that they are fussy about placement and setup. The SR Tesla REL-spec Hi-level cable was a big improvement over the stock REL cable - tighter, more defined bass, better bass tonality & air, and better soundstage impact. The stock cable is muddy sounding in comparison.
dlcockrumInteresting. Having only one Rel Storm 3, I found the corner to be the absolute best placement for the sub. . IMO, that is the beauty of the Rel. easy placement and integration with the mains. The Rhythmiks scare me a bit with all the fine tuning adjustments,. They remind me of the time I put a graphic equalizer in my system. I spent all my time tuning vs listening. My Rel is basically set it and forget it.
I guess it depends what speakers they are paired with. Given that many audiophile speakers struggle above 95 db and distort and compress heavily then REL actually will integrate much better than other subs.
The distortion and compression have given them an excellent reputation for integrating well. Of course a large JL sub may outperform many audiophile speakers creating a distinct lack of integration as the JL clean dynamics stick out like a sore thumb at higher SPL
ShadorneShadorne. Not sure why you choose to take this route. My system is listed. I notice yours isn't. Why should I give any credence to your cheap shot? You have made your opinion of Rel known.. That and a buck fifty and I can buy a cup of coffee. Sorry, but your comments have become worthless to me. There is more to system building than numbers (specs) and snide remarks.
"The Rhythmiks scare me a bit with all the fine tuning adjustments,. They remind me of the time I put a graphic equalizer in my system. I spent all my time tuning vs listening."
Understood! These are my first subs, because I never believed in these things. Plus, I was happy with the bass of my speakers as-is in my old home. Things changed when I moved. So, I found the sub amp adjustments difficult even with help, because that's space and system dependent.
With that said, I made it through it, and it reminded me of that moment of rightness (YES!) when you zero in on your cartridge setup.
dlcockrumThis is an important point. dlcockrum's room created a different and successful effect than in my room ( by the way it was RELs short cable that limited room placement. It worked better in my predetermined location, no more fussy to locate than the other two subs. )
shadorneAnother interesting point. Our little comparison was done with a pair of three way floor standing speakers only.
To be clear; the Studio III was compared with the supplied cable using the high/speaker level connection and following the manufacture location and recording setup suggestions. This method had a slight affect on the mains and we had to reduced its gain to achieve what we agreed was the most acceptable integration.
We then relocated it to the predetermined room location sourced by low level RCA signal optimized and EQd using Velodyne Digital Drive CD source signal adjusting and visually monitoring the frequency adjustments via a laptop. We all agreed the equalization allowed the sub to play at more realistic gain level, no interference with the mains, and a much better overall presentation IN THIS ROOM.
Your findings re: the adjustment of the REL mirrors mine to a large degree. Since I am also using full-range speakers, I set the crossover knobs to their lowest setting and the gain relatively low too. I found best integration when setting the crossovers/gain occurs when the impact of the REL(s) is noticed when shutting it/them off in the middle of a familiar track (ie setting it by starting with it on and then shutting it off to hear/feel the loss of room pressurization). If you can noticeable hear the REL boosting the bass when listening, the settings are too high IME. Should be felt more than heard.
dlcockrum, yes that's essentially how we did the initial REL suggested corner setup. My rooms close boundary corner location is horrible for all the subwoofers. The Studio IIIs down firing seemed to make things worse. Lowering the gain became the most effective adjustment for that location but it took a great deal out of the low frequency presentation.
murphythecat, after the more important individual comparisons using low level preamplifier source at the same location we then used the source signal from the Velodyne software to all three subs initially adjusting the gain for the 20, 25, 32, and 40Hz bands for flattest response. A more detailed overview can be found on the Velodyne site for Digital Drive Plus Interface Manual.
M-db, ok so gain were not perfectly matched? you eq’ed the REL? im confuse on your method. why EQ the sub?
my rel, if well positioned in the room measure ruler flat up to 80hz. no need to eq it if you measure at the listening position the best location for the rel (ie: where it will measure the more flat)
The Latest Rel made in the U.K like Stadium or latedt storm which is less exprnsive,not the lesser China models
Are without question as musically accurate as the U.S made top tier.
JL Audio ,SVS only their top Ultra I would consider top tier. There are even more expensive from B&W, Wilson, Magico even Revel have a $18k powered 18inch monster.
If you have the $$.
May be "over-thinking" it a bit. The REL T or S series subs are great for music... if... properly set up and integrated.
And... yes... A DAP or EQ (e.g. DSpeaker Anti-mode 2.0, etc.) with automated frequency analysis / set up is invaluable to eliminate the room interaction and "room boom," which virtually all subs / mids produce, without using sound panels and bass traps. Makes a huge improvement in clarity and sound quality - unless you’re into hip-hop car audio.
Using a pair of T9i RELs, connected via their high level Neutrik cabling. Corner placement per REL instruction.
These are the first subs I have auditioned that I can actually stand to listen to because they integrate so seamlessly with my Dynaudio floorstanders.
With my room gain, they measure flat to @ 22hz, but with visceral impact at 16 (I forget the measurement there).
They actually improve the imaging and lowest octave of my floorstanders, but I deviated from the REL guidance this way: I reduce the crossover point to the bottom of the Dynaudio's "flat down to" response (35hz), and increased the REL volume setting.
I am amazed at how well phasing works with the bottom octaves of the Dyn's - which is a significant problem with all other subs I have tried over the years.
Placement took a while - I used the Stereo Review test signals - but this was to get the loudest and most effective room coupling.
But with or without fine-tuning sub placement, integration with the mains was easy and surprisingly nice. Fine-tuning placement only extends the bass.
Other listeners comment that they are pleasantly surprised at the impact AND INTEGRATION of the sub. 2 channel or soundtrack.
They just augment and extend the bass, without calling attention to themselves.
The adjustability of RELs, especially the older ones like mine (certain newer models dispense with some knobulation) , enables you (or, in my case, me) to easily "tune" them to the listening environment. My main speakers, although rated to 38hz or something (lame rating..they’re Silverline Preludes with 3.75" woofers) barely make a peep at 38hz. The sweet spot is around 50hz for the RELs step in. The wireless thing (Longbow?) they offer with new RELs might be a selling point for them, but REL is missing out on a pile of sales to current owners of their older stuff by not making one of these work with RELs like mine (it is, after all, all about me)…I’d buy one immediately, which would seriously free up placement options.
You touch upon something I went through myself in trying to find a proper sub for my all-horn main speakers. Horn bass typically exhibits very little smearing/overhang of the sound they create, helped along by light(er) diaphragms + voice coils that move very little and therefore has less inertia. I then opted to look for sealed subs (or variants hereof) exclusively to emulate as closely the sonic nature (transient speed) of my main speakers, but moreover had to consider the latter’s high efficiency, large radiation area and sheer output capabilities. Horn subs were naturally included in my thoughts, but eventually discarded due to practical constraints (i.e.: size issues). OB subs were discarded for the same reason, at least in my interiors. Classic sealed subs it had to be then, with 15" driver minimum size, and powerful ones at that (driver + amp). A larger driver needs less cone movement for the same output compared to a smaller unit, the added mass of the larger diaphragm I believe still outweighing the drawbacks of inertia (and more violent air displacement) from more cone movement via smaller drivers. Still, what amounted from these considerations led to circling subs using large drivers that could rightly be viewed as the antithesis of the more classic horn bass drivers, with their typically smaller and lighter voice coils + diaphragms, and considerably inferior power handling (which is not needed with horns), and limited cone travel. Here are sub bass drivers with 2-4" more or less linear cone travel, large voice coils (if not in diameter then in height and winding thickness) and huge magnets. And yet, for a 1,500 watts powered 16" driver with an 8"(!) voice coil, the sealed SVS SB16-Ultra sub - which I ended up buying and has used in my setup for now 4 months - I got me both 16Hz (in-room even below that number) and up to some 63Hz (low pass cut) with brutish control, excellent integration and unstrained performance at any desired output level (had space permitted I might even have added a 2nd SB16-Ultra, but in my current listening room is not strictly needed). I guess there is something to be said about the advancement in this particular area of sound reinforcement that defies typical wisdom of driver implementation, output level and the desired frequency span. In other words, from what I can gather, you can have your cake and eat it too with the present state of subwoofers.