Help me understand "the swarm" in the broader audiophile world

I'm still fairly new out here and am curious about this Swarm thing. I've never owned a subwoofer but I find reading about them--placement, room treatments, nodes, the crawl, etc--fascinating. I'm interested in the concept of the Swarm and the DEBRA systems, and I have a very specific question. The few times I've been in high-end, audiophile stores and asked about the concept of the Swarm, I've tended to get some eye-rolling. They're selling single or paired subwoofers that individually often cost more and sometimes much more than a quartet of inexpensive, modest subs. The same thing can be said for many speaker companies that make both speakers and subs; it's not like I see Vandersteen embracing the use of four Sub 3's. 

My question is this: do in fact high-end stores embrace the concept of multiple, inexpensive subs? If not, cynicism aside, why not? Or why doesn't Vandersteen or JL or REL and so on design their own swarm? For those out here who love multiple subs, is it a niche thing? Is it a certain kind of sound that is appealing to certain ears? The true believers proselytize with such zeal that I find it intriguing and even convincing, and yet it's obviously a minority of listeners who do it, even those who have dedicated listening rooms. (I'm talking about the concept of four+ subs, mixed and matched, etc. I know plenty of folks who embrace two subs. And I may be wrong about all my assumptions here--really.)

Now, one favor, respectfully: I understand the concept and don't need to be convinced of why it's great. That's all over literally every post on this forum that mentions the word "sub." I'm really interested in why, as far as I can tell, stores and speaker companies (and maybe most audiophile review sites?) mostly don't go for it--and why, for that matter, many audiophiles don't either (putting aside the obvious reason of room limits). Other than room limitations, why would anyone buy a single JL or REL or Vandy sub when you could spend less and get ... the swarm? 

Does the swarm system work equally as well for home theater and music listening?

@jdlynch wrote:

"Does the swarm system work equally as well for home theater and music listening? I am 90% HT use and powerful, room shaking, chest pounding bass is what I’m looking for. I currently have a single Seaton Submersive with dual opposed 15” drivers."

One characteristic of the distributed multi-sub approach which is beneficial for home theater is that the improved bass smoothness extends throughout the listening area, so the bass is essentially the same for all seats.

That being said, I don’t think my standard Swarm system (consisting of four small subwoofers with 10" drivers) has the output capability of your single massive Seaton Submersive.

What is your room size, if you don’t mind? I might have an idea.


duke,  thanks for your interest in helping. My room is an open basement with dimensions of 17’-6” wide x 32’ long, with 9’ ceiling. My theater is an area at the front of the basement with dimensions of 17’ 6” x 14’ . Pretty big space.
Thank you, jdlynch. That’s a big space. Imo you can probably get good results with three subs, since the space is so large.

Okay, here’s what comes to mind:

Add two more subs, which probably need not be as big and as capable as the Submersive, and spread the three as far apart, asymmetrically, as you reasonably can. Bonus points if you can elevate one so that it’s closer to the ceiling than to the floor. You might find that having a significantly different phase control setting for one of the subs is helpful. Perhaps the one farthest from the screen.

Duke, will I need to get some device to set delays and levels for each individual sub? This is where I would get lost.