the new Rel's
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Check out the system manufactured by Audiokinesis and the posts by Duke over on the Maggie forum at AA. He posts here as well (nice guy... I talked to him for about an hour on the phone one day about planar speaker choices).
A number of Maggie 1.6 owners have had good success with this system, which uses a number of subwoofers scattered about your room, driven off a single plate amp. Some interesting white papers on the theory, and some satisfied owners too.
It's on my Christmas list, so it's top of mind.
Other good choices are the REL Storm & Strata which are often seen here, or the Vandersteen 2Wq subs which use smaller woofer cones and are "fast" enough to be able to mesh. The Vandersteens also allow you to tune the "q" of the woofer to get a nice match, and they use speaker-level inputs, as do the REL, to carry the voicing of the amp to the subs as well to match your main speakers.
I've been using the Vandie, but in my current room, with actively bi-amped Maggies and Mye stands, my bass is strong enough that I rarely feel the need.
For some kinds of music, the solid foundation of a sub really is nice. But you might be surprised at how much bass you can extract from the 1.6's without having to add a sub or two (or four as Duke does). Be sure you've exhausted the other options (like placement and room treatments, such as Roomtunes) before you rush out and buy a sub. Most rooms have issues in the bass, and the sub can simply exacerbate them.
I've had my 1.6's in three different rooms, with wildly varying results. You should definitely experiment a lot before throwing money at the problem (don't ask me how I know this-- )
Subs do more than provide deep bass. They enlarge the sound stage.
I use a SVS 2039 PC Plus, a powered sub. It's a tall cylinder with down firing woofer. Recently I laid the woofer on it's side and was blown away. I bought a n oversized creeper from Harbor Freight http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=2745 ($29.95) which not only holds it nicely, but has 6 wheels, so moving it around to experiment is easy. I find a bit of tilt to improve the soundstage. THe head rest helps this. I tried various locations- sideways firing in/out, then front to back firing front/then into the listening area. Front wall is 10 feet of glass and rattles like crazy at 40-50 hz, let alone deeper, so I am firing into the listening area.
Also I am biamping with a Behrnger CX 2310 XO
I just ordered MMGs and a pair of Velodyne SPLR 8" woofers along with the Velodyne SMS-1 controller. The MMGs should arrive here later this week, but in the meantime I've used the subs and controller with my Verity Parsifal monitors. The results are -so far- very, very good. I'll post when I receive and set up the MMGs.
NO SUBWOOFER CAN BLEND WITH MAGNEPAN SPEAKERS. MAGNEPANS ARE TOO FAST AND SUB TOO SLOW. EVERYTHING WILL SOUND LIKE CRAP IN STEREO.
WORK ON YOUR SPEAKER POSITIONING AND ROOM ACOUST TREATEMENT.
WORK ON YOUR LISTENING POSITION TOO.
MAGNEPANS MAY SOUND MUCH DIFFERENT JUST MOVING THEM FORWARD AND/OR APART OF A FEW INCHES.
THEY CREATE MANY NULLS IN THE ROOM SO THERE IS NO WAY TO HAVE THEM SOUNDING RIGHT WITHOUT A SERIOUS AND EXTENSIVE ROOM ACOUSTIC TREATMENT. REFLECTIONS ARE AN ISSUE ALSO.
IT TOOK ME YEARS OF EPERIMENTATIONS, OFTEN WITH DISAPPOINTING RESULTS TO MAKE MY 1.6 SOUND AS THEY SHOULD.
NOW I REACH EASILY 40 HZ BESIDES GETTING A BEAUTIFUL AND HOLOGRAPHIC SOUND AND HAVE NO NEED WHATSOEVER OF A SUB ( WHICH I USE IN HT BUT THAT'S ANOTHER STORY)
My experience with Maggies is consistent with Alessandro's comments. I have a Velodyne HGS-15 servo controlled sub and it can't keep up with the Maggie's bass drivers. It just blurs everything from the mid-range down.
In my first week with the Maggies, I experimented with positioning following the tips from the manual and I'm getting very powerful bass since. The bass kept getting more powerful as I kept feeding more power to the Maggies. The lower registers really flourished after adding the Joule Electra preamp. This was a total surprise to me as I was not expecting a preamp to help so much with the bass.
I added the Velodyne sub as a test the other day, and I realized that there is no much bass that the Velodyne can add at this point. So the Velodyne sub became a nice, glossy side table.
I haven't experimented with the latest subs that Velodyne, JL Audio, etc. have to offer, but I'm skeptical that a sub-woofer can add more bass without taking some resolution from the upper bass and mid-range.
I think that with proper amplification and acoustic experimentation, the bass from the Maggies can be quite balanced with the rest of the audio band. In the current state of my system, I can feel the bass three rooms away from my listening room, with no sub-woofer.
try to find a panel sub, such as an enigma, or tympani 1 d bass panel.
i have a pair of 1.6s and am reluctant to try a sub. i also own quad unlimited quad 57s. i would be reluctant to use a sub with the quads, as well.
what i have found, is that a high powered class a amp will take care of your bass problem. you may want to bi amp asat that point, which creates other issues.
"Fast subwoofer"? Did you ever hear a fast 30 foot organ pipe? The instruments which generate the frequencies that the subwoofer handles are by their nature "slow".
A bass drum you say? Well, the leading edge of its sound may be steep, but that will be rejected by the subwoofer crossover, and routed to the woofer or midrange driver.
IME,the issues with panels and subs is real, but unrelated to sub "speed". I'd guess that interaction between the dipole radiation of the main panels and the omni pattern of the sub is more complex than that created by conventional main speakers and subs. The result is more "peaks and valleys" in the combined response.
If you can get smooth response through the x-over region, you'll be okay. It can be difficult to acheive this, but I managed to do so in my room - after a ton of tweaking my SMS controller. The odds of success without room analysis and PEq strike me as low, since it took a lot of effort even with these tools at hand.
Since my pair of Velo SPLRs sounded pretty crappy with the Maggies until I got the integration nailed down - and very, very good thereafter, I tend to believe the choice of any particular sub is probably much less important than integrating that sub properly.
PS You might want to scan some of the "subwoofer" threads out there on this forum. There's a lot of good info available on different models.