Is a Sub worth the bother?

I have a small, simple system that pretty much meets my listening needs. It's an NAD C715 (all-in-one deal) with a pair of Epos EL3 bookshelf speakers. I've been kicking around the idea of getting a cheap subwoofer with the idea that it would add a little oomph to things. This is strictly a music system, not home theater. I guess my questions are: 1) would a sub help that much or am I just limited because of the EL3s? 2) If a sub would help, would a cheap one be okay (I'm thinking along the lines of the Dayton sub 100, perhaps an Energy Take Classic 8--$100 at Costco these days). My room is roughly 12 x 20, but again, I'm not looking to bring down the house/neighborhood.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
IMO-I believe a good sub would help, but not a cheap one. Your Epos are fast and detailed, and a crap sub will just smear the speed and detail of the Epos. I know, I have experiemented with an inexpensive sub and Usher speakers (fast and detailed). At first its nice to have the bottom octive, but it doesnt take long before realizing its not an improvement, just different. Good luck.
Amen. It would be one step forward and two back. You might just keep your eyes open for a used sub of decent quality since you are not in a big rush.

I would recommend a small sub. The rated lowest frequency for your speakers is stated to be 65 Hz, I assume at -3 dB. You are missing some of the music. I have Von Schweikert VR-1s, roughly the same frequency response. I added an REL Q108E and I only notice it when I turn it off, but then I realize how much information I am missing. It seems to make the midrange better. TUning it is a challenge. You don't want to "hear" it at all. I like the REL because it is closed, not ported, and it is small. My room is roughly 10' x 13' with a vaulted ceiling and one wide doorway. I tried it without the sub and keep going back to it. It makes music better.
I've owned the ELS3s and a sub is definitely worth the bother, but Tbromgard and Kr4 are correct that a cheap one won't do. In their range the ELS3s are terrific and you'd notice right away if the sub couldn't keep up.

Epos made an ELS Sub that's probably a perfect match and there's one on Audiogon right now, but it will cost you more than $100. I used a Tube Audio Design sub with mine and it worked well. I'm guessing one of the Hsu designs would be a good match too, although I've never heard them.

A good sub makes a big difference with monitor speakers; you'll be amazed.

Man, you guys found the one answer I didn't want (sub will help, but only pricey/good one!)...

I'll research the Hsu. I know used to have the xsub which was somewhat reasonable and well regarded, but it doesn't appear to be on their page anymore. The Epos sub is sadly tempting as I am very much in love with these little speakers, but it's quite a chunk of change.
Try a Dayton Titanic from Parts Express. Not to pricy, sealed box, quick and articulate for the $$$.
Agree small sub is best. And you can turn it on or off depending on your needs. I use my small B&W sub for jazz and classical small groups, solos.. For the vast majority of Rock, I turn the sub off. (I live in an apt building that is quiet, and will remain quiet)
Agreed based on your system, a smaller sub will match with your monitors more easily than a large woofer. Where I don't agree is the 'cheap' part. A subwoofer is often overlooked as "they all do the same thing" which they don't. The subwoofer has one of the most difficult jobs in any system and 'cheap' subs simply can't do the job well.....well being the key here as a less expensive subwoofer or 'cheap' sub will just pretty much make noise and will overall detract from the great monitor sound. A good sub will add much to a system but a poorly designed sub most often the less expensive models will take away just as much. I would suggest waiting until you can justify the purchase a solid subwoofer and save time and hastle of a less expensive model. Just my humble opinion.
A good sub, Yes. A bad one is better w/o.

I'm enjoying my first sub which is cheap, and in my opinion, fairly good. It's a Polk which was barely over a hundred from bb on a half off sale. However, it seems to underpin my monitors nicely and add something i've definitely been missing. It's not the most articulate thing I've ever heard, but still adds considerably to listening experience.
The kit from Parts Express is tempting. Do they ever go on sale (it's $399, but several of the reviewers mentioned getting it for $300)? There are a couple of subs in the classifieds section here close to my price range one by Elan and one by SVS. Anyone know anything about those brands? I did a little research, but didn't turn much up (especially on the Elan).
A find subwoofers to be very important for speakers that don't go too low. They will often make an appreciable if not substantial difference to the overall presentation of the music with a more solid foundation. I concur with most thoughts here in getting a reasonably quality sub to augment the low frequencies of small bookshelves. You may not blow the roof off with the sub but you will tap you feet along the beat of the bass notes once you get a quality sub in.
I have a buddy that uses the SVS (2 of them)and he loves them, personal taste when it comes to subs. After going crazy with better than 10 subwoofers I have landed on what I feel to be one of the most musical subwoofers on the matrket, Rythmik Audio F12-SE. This is an internet only company so no overhead or sales people, rent and all the things that drive up cost. Probably more than you want to spend but worth looking at. Have you looked at the 8 inch Velodynes, the mini series, again a buddy uses one with B&W monitors and the sound is very nice. I think the key for you is to get a solid 8 or 10 inch woofer that will mate well with the monitors, best of luck.
Depends... what kind of music do you listen to? Most rock, pop, and jazz won't really benefit if your speakers will reproduce at least 40Hz. If you listen to a lot of classical and/or anything with a lot of piano, then it might. But don't go cheap. A cheap sub will sound horrible. You can pick up something used, but very good, for a few hundred and be happy instead of having a $100 sub sitting in the closet.
i'm unsure what most would consider a "quality" sub, but yes...adding a sub will help your bottom end if you're running short. am currently running a velodyne but have experience with boston acoustic and polk subs. in every instance, the sub improved the overall sound to my ears. i remember adding a no-name $59 sub to my sisters crap stereo 10-15 years ago. it was no where near as crappy afterwards.

a quality sub would obviously be best but a decent one will also help...when compared to none at all. if your mains don't reach low enough or are short on hit/slam, adding a sub is a good way to go imo.
Yes, it's worth all the bothering and sorrows and despondency which you will undergo through during its setup. I have AE Aegis Evo 3 speakers which go down to 40 Hz (-3 dB) and 36 Hz (-6 dB).

I added a second hand REL Quake sub and it absolutely transformed my enjoyment of music and brough it to another level. But integrating it into the system was a pain. I did it eventually, by ear first. The result was ok. But then I learned how to use software Room EQ Wizard and I found even a better place for the sub using a mike and this program. The result became excellent.

I also use the VST Oxford Sonnox EQ in Foobar2000 to smooth the remaining irregularities in the frequency response of the sub and the woofers (20-100 Hz).
shop craigslist, agon, closeouts etc... you can find a great little sub for under $350 easily. this is a huge buyers mrkt, offer them anything you like and imo you will get a killer deal. dont rush into it and fight the flow, lotsa deals exist well under half retail.
Rob_hughes writes:
>Depends... what kind of music do you listen to? Most rock, pop, and jazz won't really benefit if your speakers will reproduce at least 40Hz

I've never heard a 2-way system which didn't benefit immensely from adding a sub-woofer, even with measured in-room response below 40Hz.

With an 80-120Hz cross-over (the later suggesting one or more sub-woofers at the front of the room) you reduce mid-range IM distortion and clean it up.

SBIR effects (where the main speaker is at odd multiples of 1/4 wave length from a wall) are significantly reduced when you move frequencies matching the first null out of the main speaker into a sub-woofer that's acoustically close to the wall in its entire pass-band.

You also get more latitude in positioning; where the main speakers can go where they image best and are as close to the listener as you can get them for the best clarity (no more than it takes to get beyond the near-field and have the drivers integrate properly; probably at about 8') and the sub-woofers go where they need to for the best interaction with the room (notably its resonances).

>If you listen to a lot of classical and/or anything with a lot of piano, then it might. But don't go cheap. A cheap sub will sound horrible. You can pick up something used, but very good, for a few hundred and be happy instead of having a $100 sub sitting in the closet.

Integration is also an issue. You want to be able to high-pass most main speakers.
I have some ERA 5 Ds. First, what wonderful speakers. I've thought of sub as well, for little more eumph. I've used a new Yamaha YST 50w cheapo. What could I expect from a better quality sub, and suggestions? Thanks. rh
truth be told, that $100-at-costco little energy take sub is damn good--very musical and bereft of the boominess of most cheap subs. it won't plumb the depths like a big velodymne or rel, but give your little monitors some low end, it'll do ya just fine.
Yes! You can find a good M&K sub on ebay if you look for them. Try one with at least 100 watts of power. You're also going to have to decide how to hook it up...using a crossover, or directly wired.

A crossover will take the stress off your speakers and allow the amp to dedicate its power to just the mids and highs, and it will sound better!

Your system will be much more enjoyable.
Yes a powered sub will help - your main speaker will not "try" to do things it can't. The sub doesn't have to be a state of the art one...any powered sub will do.
IME, subs do 3 or 4 things by design (depending on how they're implemented) and a fourth by default:

1) They provide sub bass below 30hz (some say 20hz, as a practical matter I'll say 30hz). To buy a sub that does this well is a very expensive proposition - I'd argue that it's well above your budget. The good news, for a music only system, you don't need this. Even pipe organ recordings have little meaningful info down here (at least the ones I own). By the way, even the subs providing sub bass poor performance (i.e. 30+% distortion which is pretty common at these frequencies) may provide a sense of enhanced sounstage. It's a bit of a mystery to me, but I noted this effect even when I used subs that were "bad" for sub bass.

2) They can provide bass below 100hz. You can actively cross a sub(s) to replace the bottom octave of your monitors. A good one will probably improve this portion of the frequency range. This, of course depends on the monitor in use.

3 - maybe) Depending on the main speaker, even a bad sub will remove the bass load from your main speaker and allow it to perform better, if you actively x-over high enough.

4) A sub allows bass placement near the walls, (and/or digital room correction for some models) which will almost always provide smoother bass performance than even a super expensive speaker placed out in free space.

!) The thing subs do by default is create a real task to achieve smooth integration. There are tools to help you get this result, but they're way over budget.

Bottom line: At $1K (if you're careful with your choices) and (way,way if you like) up, a sub can do great things. At less than that budget, they're much more likely to do harm than good.

IMO and IME.

ime this 1000$ number is way too high! and integration etc is hardly a deal crusher. this high end myth for subs is so much market hooey to me. i paid under$700 new for mk12'250 watt sub with all bells and whistles and it was marvelous addition to my tube system with hardly any hassle. these subs have all the fine tuning controls built in and it was fast tight musical and deep. some audiophiles i think are hung up on this 'seemless integration' mentality when in effect, unless you have main spkrs that dont go below 80hz, the integration is harldy a hurdle. the amount of overlap in actual frequency range is minimal and non directional and at that frq. human hearing is not that well tweeked to notice nuance as it is in rest of sonic range. i want to reassure original poster that he can find and accomplish his goal well within his budget. no offence intended
I'm glad Vero made it work on his budget. Note my qualifications: IME and IMO.

I tried a more modest budget and failed. Wanted it to work - and it didn't - FOR ME. I would not try again without a Digital Room Correction/Parametric EQ device. But as Veroman's experience points out...YMMV.

By the way, it ain't market hooey. I have measured the difference before DRC and after. No mystery as to why the integration issues -and overall performance problems - were very, very audible. I suspect most hobbyists here would be stunned at how poor uncorrected in-room bass performance really is and just how badly mismatched a sub installed by ear will be. (At least my own reasonably obsessive, but sadly ineffective best effort at installation by ear.)

I'd also add that a modestly priced, by audiophile standards (+/- $600) sub like the entry level 12" models from SVS and Rythmik are awfully good. I just personally also needed the $450 Velodyne SMS-1 (RTA/X-over/PEq unit) to achieve integration I could live with.

Your experience may or may not reflect my own.

IMHO, a sub is only needed for watching movie since it needs to produce a continuous and wide bas. For listening to music, if you have a decent pair of speakers, it will beat the sub outright.

I have a 5.1 Polk system with a 10" Polk sub to watch movie and a pair of Celestion A2 to listen to music. The bass from the Celestion simply way outperforms the Polk.

I run 3 subs with my Wilson Audio Maxx3's. MX-5000's.

They are run directly off the pre-amp...NO interaction with the speakers at all, which receive a full signal from the pre-amp/amplifiers.

They are filtered waaaay down below 60hz and add a nice slam when appropriate to the music.

You don't know what you're missing! Do people ever start dancing when you play good music? No???? Hmmmmm. Wonder why not.
For listening to music, if you have a decent pair of speakers, it will beat the sub outright.
That's certainly not true. Subwoofers have an advantage over full range speakers in that they can be placed independently of the midrange/tweeter. It's very unlikely that you'll place full range speakers where they produce the best bass response.
If you dont run a sub, you better have some 10", 12", etc drivers in your mains if you want true live sound. The new speaker building idea is to make skinny speakers. This is for WAF, and causes us to use subs. Bring back the 12" drivers! Subs can integrate perfect, I just feel it should be placed in the center, between the 2 mains to blend (or run 2 subs, 1 behind each speakers).