Looking for the "better sub"


I have Magnepan 1.6/QRs and would like a sub sometime soon to fill in the low end.
Subs suggested to me have been as follows...

Vandersteen 2wQ....problem with this sub for me is most agree I need two from the start for my 25X15 room.
JL Fathom 113....I would have ordered one, but no high level inputs turns a great sub into a home theater product in my eyes. They blew it.
Martin Logan Depth....still a frontrunner. Quick and musical. And one works well enough to get started.
REL....Still looking into these.

So I guess I'm looking at a budget of about 2K...a bit more or less. Anything else I should be looking into beyond the above? Please comment if you've heard the models above, which (except for the Fathom) are well known for working nicely with Magnepan panels.

Thanks!

R
robbob
I own Maggie 1.6s and had a Rel Stadium III. It was actually too much for my room, but it blended nicely. It cleanly beat the Depth head to head. More musical and better integration. I now have an MJ Acoustics Ref 100, and it's nearly seamless. I actually almost forget the sub is in the room sometimes. I was surprised how much better the Maggies sounded with a properly dialed in sub. For a room that size, I'd recommend the MJ Ref 1. The Vandersteen is musical, but for that size a room you'd definitely need 2.
Rob, I'm also interested in the responses here. I have been debating the fathom but like you wonder about the integration with out high level inputs.

Thanks for bringing that up!
Also try MJ Acoustics.
Again, another recomendation that you consider MJ. i recently bought 2 of their reference 200's and they are working insanely well with my big Soundlab 'stats.
Robbob said:

>> "JL Fathom 113....I would have ordered one, but no high level inputs turns a great sub into a home theater product in my eyes. They blew it." <<

Really?....I don't understand how you have come to that conclusion about subwoofers?

I always thought of home theater subwoofers, as being of the type that have a non-linear freq response...one with bass output in favor of, a little extra boom and bang, for those movie types that don't know any better?.

Any subwoofer, with an linear output, within it's designed freq range, would be equally at home with music or movies...as long as it could reach the desired SPL's, and do so with a low degree of distortion.

I'm sure, I'm right...unless you want to send this on to the "Myth busters" ....for final proof.

Dave
REL R-Series:

R-205
R-305
R-505
I am not sure that something linear is a good thing with panels. You may struggle with different SPL levels ....a match here but then a mis-match there. A small sub might be the optimal fit- something with limited excursion/small woofer and which compresses at modest volumes - like the REL's for example. They would probably be the best fit.
I will throw in a vote for a pre-owned Martin Logan Descent, the reason I say pre-owned, the new I Descent is not as good as the previous Descent model, leaps and bounds better than the Depth that you are considering as well.
Used Alon Thunderbolt.

http://iar-80.com/page60.html
Scroll down to review.
Shadorne..."I am not sure that something linear is a good thing with panels".....you kidding right?

BTW...I have panels, and a pair of very large subwoofers. I also have a pair of smaller subwoofers...I'll place my bet on larger any day.

Dave
>> "JL Fathom 113....I would have ordered one, but no high level inputs turns a great sub into a home theater product in my eyes. They blew it." <<

Really?....I don't understand how you have come to that conclusion about subwoofers?>>>

I tried high level inputs vs. low level on three subs and there is no doubt at all that high level is superior for two channel audio. This is not possible with the Fathom, no matter how good of a sub it is.

R.
Another guy Mvoulu or something like that...asked this quesiton in another thread...got these same players (REL, MJ, Vandy,) and ultimately went with a pair of the ACI Force XL.

I have an ACI and I think it represents pretty good value for the money. Takes some pretty careful setup though, but the folks at ACI are helpful. It is a fast, musical sub and relatively inexpensive. Plenty deep.
One thing you might consider in a two-channel context is that a subwoofer that's "flat" anechoic will have a rising response due to room gain. Typical room gain is +3dB per octave from 100 Hz down to about 20 Hz. In my experience, a subwoofer whose anechoic output falls by 3 dB per octave over that range is less likely to sound boomy.

http://www.speakerbuilding.com/content/1020/rge.gif

Also, there's a correlation between in-room bass smoothness and the number of low frequency sources spead around the room. A dipole can be thought of as two monopoles, one with reversed polarity. So two dipoles would be expected to have in-room bass smoothness comparable to that of four monopoles. People who have compared one sub vs two subs pretty much invariably prefer two subs because it sounds more natural. Imho to blend well with dipoles, four subs are called for. I spent years experimenting with different types of subwoofers (sealed, isobarik, transmission line, dipole, aperiodic, etc) to find what would match the "speed" of a dipole. Then in a conversation, a physicist friend of mine described to me the advantages of multiple low frequency sources, and so I tried that and it worked better than all the esoteric designs I'd been trying. So if the goal is quality rather than quantity, my suggestion would be multiple smaller subs rather than a single ubersub.

Duke
dealer/manufacturer
That's a large room. I'd recommend either the REL Stadium or Aerial SW-12.
I would go with REL, but I have been very impressed with all the REL products I have owned, all the way down to the Q108 (which I ran dual with a pair of Wilson Duettes).

Based on your room size though, I would suggest getting two REL Storm III used subs for a combined delivery cost of under your budget.

The RELs will never overpower your room, unless of course you don't have them set-up well. They are quite easy to set up, very easy to blend with different speakers, have a musical and fast response/output and are easy to own.
I used a pair of REL Storm IIIs with my MG 3.6Rs a few years back with good results. Similar to Ckoffend above. I now use a single REL Stentor III with MG 20Rs also with good results but you do need to work a little harder about placement with the single larger sub.
Couldn't agree less with the statement that lack of high-level inputs makes JL Fathom unsuitable for 2CH audiophile use. Line-level inputs from preamp to sub provides clear, articulated basslines-- as opposed to "room fill." This is particularly true if you're comparing the quality of deep LF from a transformer-coupled amp to a SS pre or to a direct-coupled tube pre like the Atma-Sphere.
"I am not sure that something linear is a good thing with panels".....you kidding right?

Dave,
I was just considering that panels don't play extremely loud and at some SPL level (as with all speaker designs) they inevitably begin to compress (the old Quads used to shut down whilst many others have protection circuitry or limiters as part of the design...we are often talking 1000's of volts here) - therefore I am suggesting that a sub that does not overwhelm them might work a bit better over a wider range of SPL that is all...even the JLF113 suffers serious audio compression at 20 Hz (although it is better than most)....smaller subs will compress more quickly and therefore may work better. Anyway - it is just a thought and I defer to your direct experience of what works with your setup.
I second and third the REL vote...they bland well with about any speaker
Couldn't agree less with the statement that lack of high-level inputs makes JL Fathom unsuitable for 2CH audiophile use.>>>

After trying both hook-up methods, I'm always a little surprised when someone claims they are the same.
Using the high level inputs and connected to the speaker terminals of the amp, the subwoofer sees the exact SAME signal the speakers do and it's transmitted over the SAME type of speaker wire at the SAME time.
Using the low level inputs you're sub sees a signal different from the speakers and probably not even at the same time. On top of that the signal is transmitted over a different type of cable.
Considering all we make of tiny differences in gear and tweaks we make, I find it astounding that anyone even suggests that low level inputs in as good for 2 channel listening. I tried both using SVS and Martin Logan Abyss subs, and the difference in speed was noticeable right away.
Furthermore, I can connect my 2 channel system to the high level inputs of most other high-end subs, and run low level from my home theater system. One sub can work for two totally different systems. The Fathom can't manage that.
So now matter how good the Fathom is, they were shortsighted in their design both for flexibility and the high end audiophiles who prefer high level connections.
Even Martin Logan prefers high level for the reasons I described.

R.
Robbob

>>Considering all we make of tiny differences in gear and tweaks we make, I find it astounding that anyone even suggests that low level inputs in as good for 2 channel listening<<

I gather you are fairly new to audio reproduction, higher end audio, dipole speakers, and subwoofers in general (mostly a lot of reading?).

As time goes on, and you gain more hands on experience....you won't find things quite so astounding...or, absolute.

BTW...I saw a picture of your room at another forum (very nice looking). The curtains covering the wall behind the Maggies are a bad idea though. The rear sound wave is your friend (it's there to help you), it should strike a live wall...and not heavy curtains.

Dave
ROBBOB, here is why I disagree with your stance on high level inputs. I have TRIED both on a very high quality sub ( Wilson Benesch Torus) which allows for both connections and the difference was not noticable. Some people prefer using balanced outs from the pre because it allows direct feed from the pre without the added DISTORTION from both the cables and the amplifier. The low level preamp feed is always purer. There is no significant time delay. If you want to talk about significant group delay ( which is very noticable ) try integrating a sub without infinate phase control. This is a much more significant real world issue. If delay is of concern to you make sure that the subs grill is in the same plane as your speakers. An alternative to infinate phase control would be an active crossover with true linkwitz/riley (24db slope in both directions with -6db at the crossover which eliminates phase issues.) The problem with discussions like this and the conclusions which are drawn is that most people have not actually tried both methods and believe instead in some companies hype. High level inputs are not necessarily a bad thing its just that good sound depends alot more on other issues and I for one would not choose a sub based on the input philosophy.
"After trying both hook-up methods, I'm always a little surprised when someone claims they are the same."

"(Using line-level inputs), on top of that the signal is transmitted over a different type of cable."

I didn't claim that line-level & speaker-level hook-ups sound the same. While admittedly I haven't compared both in a wide range of systems, it's reasonable to expect varying results with different preamp & amp designs & types. As the OTL advocates will say, the performance of transformer-coupled tube amps is attenuated or colored at the frequency extremes. A good illustration is the Jensen Iso-Max coupling transformer that I use in the connection to my subwoofer. The windings are optimized for deep LF use and roll off significantly above 1000 Hz. Doubtless compromises are made in the deep LF performance of some transformer-coupled amps, in the interest of obtaining linearity across a wide spectrum. Some amps are more effective than others with extension & coherance in the sub-bass region.

While it's tempting to believe that speaker-level inputs are better because the sub "sees the same signal" as the main speakers, one must also consider the main amp's performance in the sub-bass region. And lest we forget, the tonality of the subwoofer's SS amp affects integration, whether through line- or speaker-level inputs.

In my system, at least, using a direct-coupled preamp notable for good LF extension & control, the sub sounds faster and more articulate through at the line-level input. Based on rave magazine & forum reviews, I suspect JL chose to omit speaker-level inputs for reasons other than cost. However, it would be nice to have both approaches available to satisfy everyone.
BTW...I saw a picture of your room at another forum (very nice looking). The curtains covering the wall behind the Maggies are a bad idea though. The rear sound wave is your friend (it's there to help you), it should strike a live wall...and not heavy curtains.>>>

Dave, I'm hardly new at audio. I've owned everything from B&W to Carver Amazings and tiny yet lovely Royd Coniston R's. I started off with Canton Quinto 540's many years ago and I still remember choosing them over the far better Frieds! Those Cantons were just too cool when I was in my 20's.
Of course nothing is absolute, but I've heard enough high-level vs. low level comparisons to make it fairly obvious one is "often" best. Does that mean someone's system isn't working better with low level? Not at all.
As for my room and curtains, it's best I've ever heard from a pair of 1.6s. The 120" screen provides just the right reflective properties, while the curtains at the side trap unwanted reflections. The result is an insanely deep soundstage which amazing focus on vocals. The room (via sheer luck) ended up being an ideal space for the systems.

Anyone wanting to see what's up....click on these...
http://ghostlight.zenfolio.com/img/v3/p3696847-5.jpg
http://ghostlight.zenfolio.com/img/v3/p268388597-5.jpg

Cheers,

R.
I would rather use (2) $1000 subs than (1) $2000 sub.
It's pretty obvious to me that speaker level connections are provided for flexibility. The majority of integrated amps can not use line level connections so subs that provide speaker connections have a wider market. There are several things working against speaker level connections, but if they float your boat then who cares.
jl f113

ignorance is no excuse
I think I would prefer 2 SVS PB13's (pair for $3000) to one jlfartom113 ($3400), If I were in the market for a sub.