is a subwoofer for music a good idea??

i have standmount speakers which go down to about 45-50hz.i feel my system lacks low end punch,specially at lower volumes. now i need to know if:
1. a subwoofer for music is a good idea in the first place
2. will buying a budget sub($400) really add sufficient low end there much info in music below 40 hz
4.will i lose imaging if i add a sub to my 2 channel set up

all you experts out there, plese help.
probably...probably not .....oh yea , on many recordings ....probably not if done correctly
In my experience, adding a sub can really help, but only if it's a good sub and only if you really work at positioning and room treatment...or if you 'cheat' by using a parametric equalizer.

If you're willing to go up to something like the Rel Strata and spend the time needed to set up your system carefully, you might benefit a lot.
In the order of your questions:

1. Yes -- a subwoofer can add a lot to the reproduction of music, PROVIDED the sub is of good quality and is compatible with your main speakers. To get a fairly seamless blend between the main speakers and the sub, there should be about a one octave overlap between them, with the crossover point for the sub around 80 Hz.

2. Cost doesn't necessarily equate well with how low the sub will go, although there is certainly some correlation. There are some decent powered subs that sell used for $400-500. What you need to focus on is finding a sub that is reasonably well damped (probably a sealed enclosure), and has 2-3 smaller drivers (which have the ability to move a fair amount of air, but still are quick and tight). The placement of the sub in your listening room will also have a MAJOR impact on the sub's performance.

3. There are certainly frequencies below 40 Hz in music, but not as much as some people may think. Commercial rock and pop recordings, for example, do not have a lot of really low frequency, whereas jazz and classical recordings with acoustic bass and piano have frequencies that may go as low as 28-30 Hz. Pipe organ recordings have the lowest frequencies, which may go as deep as 16-18 Hz.

4. This question is the toughest to answer -- the best I can say is "maybe", but much of this will depend on the quality of the sub and its placement in your listening area. With a single sub, it should be placed between the two main speakers, and if you have the budget and the space then you should seriously consider a stereo pair of subwoofers. Good subs, properly placed, will have very little affect on imaging, and may also have the unexpected benefit of improving the mid-range transients and clarity of your main speakers (since they are not reproducing the lowest frequencies).

You have a few choices to make: do you intend to get a powered subwoofer, or a passive unit and provide your own amplification? If your budget allows, a powered sub makes more sense, since the internal amp is designed specifically for that sub. There are some good passive subs, however, such as those made by Hsu.

One of the most musically satisfying subs on the market is the Vandersteen 2Wq, and is works well with many speakers, provided the main speakers have decent frequency response down to about 40 Hz (to provide the needed one-octave overlap with the Vandy sub). There are a number of articles, some with ratings of subs, available in the A-gon archives, and you might find it helpful to do a little reading through the old posts here.
Yes it is a good idea. One suggestion is REL...
Get the best used sub you can for that price. Try it for a couple of months. If you don't like the level of quality it provides sell it and keep saving your money for a better one. But the answer to the question of whether or not to get one is a slam dunk... yes!
It's not just about reproducing the specific low fequency instrumental sounds. It's also about energizing the room. A good sub, especially if you are using monitor speakers, will allow your music to float in the air, it will make the whole experience more musical.

Look for one you can adjust for frequency response, phase, and "slam." Then plan to spend hours adjusting the location and other parameters to optimize the sound for your unique room and personal listening tastes. When you get it right, you'll know it was worth the trouble.

I have been particularly pleased with my REL subs.
Subs and mains should not overlap. They should be set up to merge at a point where they are both 3 to 6 db down. Combining the output of the two sums them together and produces flat response. Overlap creates a big hump and sounds muddy and bloated. Keep subs crossed very low and just loud enough to contribute impact and weight as needed. Adjust phase according to placement.
I agree with crossing over your sub as low as you can go. I want my main speakers to carry the full musical load and have my sub go where my mains cannot. My last pair of monitors (Revel M20s, just sold awaiting new monitors) were crossed over at 45Hz. Seamless. My new monitors are flat to 30 Hz!! Same size as the Revels. My sub is going to be on holiday most of the time, but when needed it'll be there....peace, warren
Depends on the music. Some music (Classical chamber music)leaves the SW completely quiet, while some (organ music) keeps it busy. Pop/Rock benefits from a SW. Most Clasical music does not require a SW, although it is occasionally helpful.

And what frequency range are we talking about? There really isn't much below 30 Hz, so a SW that is good only from 30 Hz up, and perhaps is therefore capable of 200-300 Hz ("fast")may be a good idea. Getting the 100 Hz-and-down out of your main speakers and their amplifier is the greatest benefit.

Although some main speakers may reproduce 40 Hz, this does not always mean that they have a "full" sound in the sub 100Hz range. When you get a SW you may be discouraged that so much of the time that big expensive object it just sitting there like a rock, doing nothing. But it's like the fire department: you don't need it often, but it's nice to have on hand when needed.
I think that Beethoven's 5th would benefit from sub.
Also having a vinyl playback it's also a large benefit to have a sub especially dealing with warped records.
I use mine on some music..and not on some music. Thats a great benefit IMO.

Great post, Sd.
1. Depends upon your monitors' abilities, and of course whether there's any musical programming below their LF performance cutoff.
2. Sufficient? Probably. Will it sound integrated and tight?
Not easy to accomplish.
3. No. Subs are more important for HT special effects. (C'mon, guys, I'm trying to keep it simple here!)
4. Not if it's a good one integrated at a low freq.
Can't stress the importance of knowing what your monitors are doing in your room. Again, oversimplifying, if they're largish 6.5-7" two-ways rather than diminutive 5" there's less need for a sub. If you do try a sub I strongly suggest that you start with FAST ones like the RELs, some Velodynes, and the one I bought, the Boston PV1000 (Vel clone), and start at the lowest crossover frequency, working up until integration is best. And yes, room placement can be key, even more so if it's a cheap, slow sub, which can very easily be worse than no sub at all!
You state that your monitors "go" down to 45-50Hz, but I wonder how many dB they're down in-room? There are some 6.5" two-ways that are surprisingly full-range, but your room-loading has a lot to do with it too. Perhaps you could tell us what your speakers are and room dimensions for more specific advice....
Marakanetz..Ok, I'll haul out the old war horse and keep track of SW activity.

Your comment about warped vinyl really refers to mixing the LF to mono, as when a single SW is used. Actually, if you have two SW, record warp and rumble will drive you crazy. Even though I have several SWI I also have a rumble filter that does the mix-to-mono thing, and it always is necessary when playing LPs.
I do not agree at all that most classical music does not need a subwoofer. A subwoofer transforms classical music (including chamber) in a way that is not apparent unless you've heard the difference. (Transforms all music.)

The separation of instruments is greatly enhanced using a subwoofer. The sound of every instrument is more rounded.

For example...assume a piano, flute, oboe, violin, etc, play the exact same note (same frequency); if all that was being played was that exact note, then you would not be able to tell what instrument was playing it; the sound would be the same. But of course we can tell what instrument played the note. A flute sound nothing like a piano. How can this be? The simple answer is that any note played by a musical instrument involves a much broader frequency spectrum than the particular note being played.

Adding a quality musical subwoofer fills in the bottom of the frequency spectrum of every note played by every instrument. The result is....every instrument sounds more realistic.
1) Yes
2) No
3) Yes
4) No, on the contrary

I did not believe that a sub could improve the overall sound untill I got one, a REL Strata III. All recordings tend to benefit from the addition of a sub, classical and Jazz music actually benefits a lot more compared to Rock and Pop. One of the advantages of a sub is that it will give you the low end resolution at almost half the volume you are used to listening at.

I will not say that REL is the best (have not heard everyone out there) but it certainly should be on the top of your list when you consider a sub.

The biggest problem with subs is that you will never know how good or bad it sounds until you have it in YOUR system and YOUR own room. For smaller rooms, it is generally a good idea to go for a sealed one rather than ported one, to avoid boominess. I have heard similar subs in different systems and they all sound different in different rooms and different systems.

For music the sub needs to be fine-tuned to match seamlessly with the main speakers. In order to avoid the midbass hump the sub needs to be well under the main speakers low frequency roll off and not overlap it.

Just because one has paid for a subwoofer, does not mean it should be in the limelight! Basically, the sub should tell you I AM NOT THERE, it should disappear. SUBTLE is the keyword here!

Depending on your room size, your preference, taste in music, volumes to be achieved, it will take a while before the sub is seamlessly integrated into your system. Many folks expect the sub to start performing at its best the moment it is hooked up to the system and get frustrated, PATIENCE is again a keyword here.
thanks for the great response ,folks!i'm new to this forum buisness,but of all the forums i've visited ,this is the most active.way to go!please keep the opinions coming to help me decide.for those who may be interested , my system is :
cadence arita bookshelves(i would be surprised if anyone in this forum has heard OF them,leave alone heard them! but they are really high quality stuff!)
rotel 971 mk2 integ.amp
rotel 951 cd player
kimber 4PR cables(the cheapest good quality i could find)

additionally,there is a offer on the REL quake,REL Q150E and DEF tech prosub 100TL.any of these any good for music?
all opinions highly appreciated,guys!
If you can get a good deal on the Q150E it might be worth going for. However I still insist on a home audition. Can you manage that even with the special deal?

On the other hand check out the reviews of the Q series subs by going to the REL website at and see if you can relate to it. Essentially the Q series are all same albeit power differences. Quake is not a good idea though. Too small and for computer application as its main forte.

Have you hear the Quake sub? In a small room it is very effective. I don't know how many folks are buying $750 Rel's for computer systems, although, I am sure there ae a few. If you have a very small room the Quake is the best I have heard. This does make it somewhat limited in most applications.

You admit about its limited application yourself, that is the only reason I was not in favour. If in future the system is shifted to a slightly bigger room or if the system is upgraded the Quake will be inadequate for music applications. Quake will depreciate in value much more compared to Q150E. There will be buyers for the bigger Q series but fewer for Quake. Is it not a consideration?

To answer your first question, no.
Being limited to cerrtain applications vs. being too small and for computer systems are entirely seperate issues. For small rooms I would go with the Quake. I listened to the Q150E and found that the Quake performed better in my room.