musical sub

I need to improve my system with a compatible sub for my system as it has evolved so far. My primary concern is the musicality, although Home Theatre is important, it is not as important as the music enjoyment. We watch a lot of music dvd's and play lots and lots of CD's, and of course third is the home theatre.

For reference, the main pieces of my system so far are:

McCormack HT5 amp (5 channel)
Anthem D2 processor w/ Arc
B&W Nautilus series 804 fronts, HT2 ctr, SCM surrounds
McCormack UDP1 disk player (the upgraded model)
Dennon 3800BDI blu ray player

What I am looking for is something that will add to the system, is very musical, and that will survive eventual component upgrades as I learn more and refine the sound.

Any suggestions on the sub? (or equipment)

Many A'gon members, including myself, use JL Fathom subs, and find them very musical. REL is another excellent choice for music. Good luck.
I will second the JL audio Fathom
MSS HIFI now has 2 Wilson Benesch Torus Infrasonic Generators [read subs] WITH they're own dedicated amps at a fraction of the price and they are BRAND NEW!

i am not associated with them but it doesn't get more musical and refined then these!

take a look, it's free...:)

Good luck!

The F Series Velodyne 15" and 18" and the FSR 18", HGS 15" and 18", ALL are very musical sub-woofers.

I am not as familiar with the other models,IMHO, these are
as good as ANY of the other brands, for the same price, and
often for less money.

Most people fail to integrate the sub-woofer with the mains,
so the sub. is OVER playing, the ideal sub. should not be
present when the music is played.

I also vote for JL and REL. SVS makes a decent sub for the money.
Omega Deep Hemp!!!!
I had to sell a pair recently and wish that I had kept them.....Damn economy!!!!
I too use JL. Strength is that the sub has so many different options for settings, you can really get it to integrate rather seamlessly.
I truly feel you would have to get up pretty early in the morning to come close to the Vandersteen 2WQ Subwoofer Made right here in USA.
We have successfully blended these units in many different
rooms with all types of speakers from Magies to Monitor types.
The 2WQ is a sealed system which offers superb in room response, zero Bass hangover when compared to ported designs,and a Sophisticated high Pass that allows your whole system to achieve greater clarity realism and transparency.
Cheers JohnnyR
In a word - REL.
Adding a sub to your system will not deliver the musicality you seek, you'll just have more bass.
((((Adding a sub to your system will not deliver the musicality you seek, you'll just have more bass.))))
This statement in most cases is correct.
If he adds a Vandersteen 2WQ with High pass his system will have a tighter bass smoother in room response with across the board better definition.
Best Johnnyr
Two or more subwoofers is a good idea versus a single of higher quality. Martin Logan has some good fast and musical subs.

I think I understand the point you are making (that if he chooses a 2Wq rather than some other options, it would make it musical). I disagree. Although that is a fantastic sub, I am quite sure that still_learning is dealing with the artifacts of not only lean bass but also harshness, brightness, and bland midrange. Adding a sub may mask some of this in the short-run, but in the long run will still only provide a frustratingly un-musical listening experience. IMHO.
Maneiac your statement of: "artifacts of not only lean bass but also harshness, brightness, and bland midrange",
must come from your opinions of the components. What are your specific concerns and what would you suggest to correct it / them?
I agree with You. Good sound comes from source, amplification,
main speakers. Sub just gives more bass. If set up properly
bass could be good. If not it's just annoying noise.
Maybe I should explain my unique and probably not common version of "musical". I completely appreciate the tube versus digital sound distinctions. With all due respect for that issue, I may be looking for something that is somewhat halfway between both worlds.

I and my sons are guitar players. As such, I want the details and clarity and the nuances for each instrument that digital gives, but I also love and appreciate the warmth that often makes the performance and voicing more musical and avoids the listener fatigue problems. We watch a lot of music DVD's (some Blu Ray) and get to carefully watch the musicians in action and pick up tecniques and licks. I have heard musical tube systems that are warm but muddy without the detail, and digital systems with details galore but a shrill sound without soul; so neither of those fits me personally.

We have quite a few tube and non tube guitar amps, and each one is fine for their own purposes. I love my favorite tube guitar amp and it is my primary amp, but the digital ones are quite good also and I use them too. I know more about those components than I do about the high end audio equipment that many of you have obviously mastered.

I appreciate all of the advice here and am looking to learn from those who know more and have already gone through this. It is also nice to see this without the blogging wars some sites have.

Thanks and any advice is appreciated. You can see by my name here how I view myself in this arena.

When I started I may have bought some components I would not have chosen now. Time can correct that.

I agree with most in this thread- selection of components can take care of a lot of bass issues. Your B&W's are excellent speakers. They roll off at what, 38 Hz? Good for most everything except pipe organs. However, another consideration that affects bass, be it good or bad, is the room. It's much more difficult to compensate for room acoustics. Big, huge space, you're gonna have some issues with bass. Some would say the biggest factor is in fact the listening space. I think that's a fair statement. I had to have a subwoofer when I went to monitors. The music was thin sounding without it. But you have to find something that's going to integrate well into your system- something that's fast, flexible and will "disappear", otherwise, you'll just have a deep, annoying thump augmenting (or interfering with) the B&W's. You've got to find your own sweet spot, what appeals most to you. "Musicality" is a very subjective term- what sounds good to you is "musical" and it may sound like garbage to someone else. I had a sub before the JL that just kind of tossed a low "hum" out there, and it was indeed annoying. The JL doesn't do that for me. It blends. Some may think my system now sounds less musical, but that's their opinion. I'm the one that listens to it every day, just as you do with your rig. Music, cars, your guitar amp that you prefer- those are YOUR tastes. In the long run, isn't that all that really matters to you? A friend of mine plays guitar, and he despises tube amps for his axe. You prefer your tube amp for yours. See my drift here? You've received some very good choices for a sub in this thread, lots of options. Maineiac brings up the valid point of losing musicality with a sub. But, in the end, it's all up to what you think sounds best for your tastes. If you believe you need a subwoofer, go for it. They're your ears.
a subwoofer that is properly integrated and dialed in can take a system to the next level.

this was hard to accomplish even a few years ago but newer models and systems that employ room correction features make it very easy to do.

there is no reason to not have a true full range system in this day and age.
Check out ACI. Their subs are musical and reasonably priced.

Interesting post, thanks.

You have quite a system and obviously put a lot of thought and experience into it. One item on my system that you mentioned was the B&W's. That brand seems to have strong fans and equally strong detractors, I am not completely sure on them myself as time goes on. I'm not sure as sometimes they seem too bright, but other times quite nice and enjoyable.
Rythmik Audio with their sealed design and servo technology are hard to beat for their price point. Fast, articulate, musical with absolutely no flab or boominess. I chose them for the very reason you are looking for a sub... music first HT, second. Due to the size of my room I bought two F-15's from Rythmik Audio. That's a ton of bass for the money. Highly recommend them.

FYI, Rythmik drivers are quite popular in the DIY market.
Since your Anthem already includes ARC, one extra bit of flexibility you might look for in a sub would be adjustable Q. The Rythmiks have this feature (I use two 12" Rythmiks and agree with Dawgyte's recommendation), as do certain SVS models.

Personally, I like B&W. I think they're good speakers. Thin sounding? Perhaps, but almost anything that doesn't have big woofers can sound thin, particularly in a big space. My Aliantes sounded thin in my room- until I got the JL sub. It integrates so seamlessly that now the Aliantes sound like thunder. It's as if the bass is emanating from the mains, not the sub. It's not just JL products that can do that for you- most anything that's fast and offers a lot of flexibility- can and will do the same for you. The thin sound will vanish if you choose wisely. You may find with a sub that you no longer need speakers as big as your B&W's- a bookshelf monitor may be just as good or better.
Still learning just remember that as you quoted sometimes they seem too bright and other times quite nice and enjoyable that this can also be related to the recording;I am not familiar with your speaker but sometimes recordings can be bright.

Interesting post, you got me to realize a couple things. I have not properly considered the room dimensions. It is 13 feet wide by 36 feet long and is a family room evolving into a kitchen at the other end. There is lots of floor stone and flat ceilings and furniture. That probably does need the high quality sub to help out with. I also need to rethink the room correction Arc measurements in the Anthem D2.

Then, I always thought that monitors would outperform bookshelf speakers (ie. my 804's vs 805's). But you seem to say that may not be the case. Why would that be? I know if my 804's are compared to top end bookshelves of the highest quality from priemere makers that is obviously the case. But maybe you have more ideas on this chemestry?

Again, thanks

ps, yes, some recordings are bright and that is the problem with good equipment. It shows what a good and a poor recording do to music.
Bookshelf monitors are usually prized for their midrange timbre and accuracy. They obviously can't stack up to a floorstanding monitor in the bass department. That's due to a number of factors, and the drivers are only one of them. Cabinets are a big issue, and the bigger the cabinet, in general, if it's properly constructed, the bigger the bass. How do you think full range drivers ever even make it to market, and have some people swearing by them? Cabinet tricks help them alot, so they can go deep. Bookshelf speakers are usually more simple loads to drive- one crossover max usually. Floorstanding units usually have, by nature, more complex crossovers. More drivers usually equals more crossovers, particularly in models where individual drivers are assigned responsibility for reproducing different frequencies. That often results in a more difficult load to drive. SET amps don't usually do well with complex loads- they'll clip a lot faster with a complex load, speakers with multiple crossover networks that have varying impedence. Drives SET amps crazy. Conversely, couple a nice SET with a simple bookshelf monitor, and many will tell you that you're listening to midrange heaven. Matter of taste there. But what to do with the low frequencies? Well, particularly in a room of your size, 13 x 36 with an open end, with a lot of hard surfaces, you're going to run into crazy resonant frequencies and generally suffer in the bass department. So, you've got a bit of a conundrum. What to do? Go to gigantic floorstanders and just pound low frequencies, keep what you have and supplement with a sub, or even go to bookshelf for the best possible mid and high reproduction you can get, and then supplement with one or even two high quality subs to take care of the bass. Experimentation is the key. You need, again, to find what suits your tastes best. Raw power from your amp isn't everything. You'll need to consider speaker sensitivity, and monitors usually don't stack up with floorstanders in that department. That's a generalization, but it hold fairly true. In a space of that size, personally, I'd use at least one sub. You'll have to mess with positioning- corner setup usually gets the most out of a sub. Optimizing speaker placement will also help. You'll need to find the "sweet spot" or set up to create a sweet spot. It'll sound different in different listening positions, so you set your sweet spot where you want it. Ideally, you'd have to consider speaker placement- you can use the Cardas Golden Room formula as a starting point- choose what you want in a main speaker- accurate reproduction of mids (where the bulk of music is reproduced) and highs, or a big floorstander with thunderous bass- work in a sub or two, and then get some room treatments going to dampen some of the resonant frequencies you'll deal with in that room. Curtains, furniture, maybe a bookcase....the stone floors are probably pretty nice, and I doubt you'll want to cheapen the appearance with a carpet that may help deaden some of the character of that echo chamber. Rives Audio does room solutions, as do many other companies. May want to have a look there. Scroll some of the virtual systems, and see how people have used room treatments here on Agon to maximize both the sonic quality of their room, as well as making them look great. It's a big space you've got, and there are many ways to improve the sound besides just adding a sub.